The Volunteer Army's Deal

Julian Sanchez responds to a Dish reader:

This is, I suppose, one of the perils of a volunteer force, but scratch the surface a bit to see precisely how ugly and desperate this argument is. People who join the military, of course, surrender a great deal autonomy to their superior officers and, ultimately, their commander in chief. It should be obvious why this is necessary for them to serve effectively, but it should be seen as part of a bargain that comes with a profound obligation not to abuse the enormous trust the enlisted must place in the political leadership by sending them into battle, or keeping them in the field, except when victory is achievable and the cause is vital. You can't just brush away concerns about whether our leaders are taking their end of the deal sufficiently seriously, or exercising that trust with sound judgement, by suggesting that the troops deserve whatever they get because, hey, they signed up. This is the Animal House theory of military leadership: "You fucked up! You trusted us!"