In the comments on my earlier post, Will phrased a common sentiment–that the professional volunteer military might favor militarism because it insulates the population at large from the costs of war. Since it’s not the children of (most) voters or the elites of the country who die, they come to regard the military as a tool to be used as they see fit.
If I can generalize from one case, Iraq doesn’t fit that picture. We have an all volunteer army, and yet we’re ready to cut and run after 3,000 some casualties. To my mind, that shows that our willingness to fight a war has more to do with the nature of the war than than ‘warrior spirit,’ to use Kaplan’s silly terms, or even the question of who makes up the military, which is Will’s more reasonable interest. It’s also true that since the beginning of the past century, our faith in war has decreased, but as late as Vietnam, we were willing to accept hundreds of thousands of casualties. Vietnam was a stupid war, but communism still looked like an existential threat in a way that Iraq or even Al-Qaeda never did.