Cognitive Dissonance Department: Conservatives vs. the U.S. Military

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Some time today, please read this item by Heather Hurlburt, at Democracy Arsenal. It's about the way the professional U.S. military is increasingly at odds with (wait for it) modern GOP right-wingers, on issues ranging from containing Iran to using biofuels.

Part of her explanation for the tension:

The military-industrial complex is small-c conservative -- and I'm using both those terms in a completely value-neutral, descriptive way. It looks for fights it can win, not fights -- like a land war in Iran, or endless, bank-breaking fuel bills -- that might fatally weaken it. It looks to consolidate.  It is a status quo power seeking to preserve the status quo. And these days, preserving the status quo involves fuel made from seaweed, talks with Iranians, and getting out of the prison business.

Whatever the conservative movement in America is at the moment -- conflicted, in a battle for its soul, looking to get its groove back -- it isn't a status quo power... That just may also have something to do with the percentage of military campaign contributions reported to be going to either President Obama... or Ron Paul.

This was the subtext in the series of fascinating appearances yesterday by Colin Powell, about his new book. Several times he was asked about Obama-v-Romney endorsements, and each time he said that it was "premature" to get into such matters. But he explicitly was a fan of Obama's gay-marriage statements; almost as explicitly was suspicious of the hawks on Team Romney who had snookered him [Powell] into the Iraq war; and very obviously is not a fan of the U.S. opening a new front in Iran.  I have first-hand reason to be sure of his views on this point.

The military as Democratic Party bastion? Not imminent, but this item suggests that it is conceviable. Worth reading.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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