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The Military Makes the Man

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The Military Makes the Man

Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution requires that the US President "shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States . . . ." (US Constitution). In that same section the prerequisites to become president are also declared. To run for president you must be a native born United States citizen, resident of the United States for at least fourteen years, and at least thirty five years old (US Constitution). It seems that the founders of our nation left out one very necessary requirement; in addition to these requirements, presidents needs to have military experience. They are going to be ordering people to give their lives for America, so they should have at least some concept of what it is like to risk their lives for our country. Based on past incidents, present threats, and national security, the future presidents of this country must have a military background.

In their role as Commander in Chief, Presidents frequently have used infantry, naval, and air might to accomplish the nation's goals abroad. "Since the late 18th century, the nation's armed forces [at the direction of the President] have been involved in well over 350 incidents or military actions" (Department of Defense). Never believing that the military would become a huge part of the national government, the founders of our country provided no elaboration in the Constitution of the President's powers as Commander in Chief, nor anything about qualifications that the Commander in Chief should possess.

George Washington served as the model of a military commander in chief in his time, but much has changed since then. Since his time, we have had many presidents that served without military background. Woodrow Wilson was president during the United States' involvement in World War I. He had no military experience and led the soldiers into a pointless war (O'Brian). Wilson's slogan for the 1916 election was "he kept us out of the war", this was a pledge that President Wilson should have stuck with. In 1932 a group of angry Soldiers marched onto Washington D.C. in order to collect the bonuses promised to them. This would later be known as the Bonus Army March. Hoover sent US Armed Forces, led by General Douglas MacArthur, to stop a march. In the ensuing clash, hundreds of civilians were injured. Hoover had sent orders that the Army was to not move on the encampment, but MacArthur chose to ignore the command. If Hoover had more military experience he would have had a better command on his lower ranking officers and would have made a more tactical decision in ending the march. Another instance in which the lack of experience inhibited a major presidential decision was the US involvement in World War II. "FDR waged an undeclared, semi-secret war against German U-Boats during1941, well before Pearl Harbor."(O'Brian). He did this in the face of public opposition, with some polls showing up to 80% of the public wanting no involvement in the war (Whitney). President Roosevelt showed a lack of respect and concern for the citizens of his country.

On the other side of the spectrum, those presidents who had a military background made more tactical decisions in times of war. An example of this good judgment is Harry Truman's involvement in World War II. He

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