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  #1  
Old 05-06-2012, 03:20 AM
etv78 etv78 is offline
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Why no Korean vets became POTUS

It's the only U.S. to that point that never produced a veteran. Any guesses why no Korean vets ever became President?
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  #2  
Old 05-06-2012, 04:28 AM
Lord Feldon Lord Feldon is offline
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Even if you don't account for any other issues, not that many people get to be the president. Only 43 people out of something like 472 million people born here have been the president. That's not a very big sample, so it's probably going to be skewed a little.

The 1930s didn't produce a president either (well, it could still happen, but John McCain was probably the silent generation's last chance).
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Old 05-06-2012, 04:40 AM
AK84 AK84 is offline
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Neither did Vietnam.
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  #4  
Old 05-06-2012, 06:08 AM
LouisB LouisB is offline
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It's a conspiracy, I tell you, a conspiracy; probably the Illuminati are behind it. Or maybe the Koch brothers.
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Old 05-06-2012, 11:15 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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It's mostly coincidence.

Look at the birth dates of the presidents. It's not a perfect pattern, but in general presidents are clumped into generations and then the voters decide to go young and start a new clump.

After the Civil War every president from Grant to McKinley had served in that war. Then the youngest ever president, Teddy Roosevelt, happened to get in and the next several stayed around the same age. They were all too old for WWI, and only Roosevelt was among the few who served in the Spanish-American War.

The next group, FDR, Truman, and Eisenhower, were all associated with WWI and were all too old to fight in WWII, except that Eisenhower happened to be a top general.

Kennedy was 27 years younger than him, so he led off a group that was the right age for WWII. This group stayed in office until another jump was made with Clinton, who was 22 years younger than Bush I. Reagan was the anomaly here - he was older than the previous three presidents, something that had never happened before.

But you also can't make the statement that Presidents skipped Korea and Vietnam. No involvement in the action, true. But definitely veterans. Carter was active duty Navy throughout the entirety of the Korean War. And Bush II was in the National Guard during Vietnam, and could, theoretically, in a different universe, have been called up.
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Old 05-06-2012, 11:18 AM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Originally Posted by Lord Feldon View Post
The 1930s didn't produce a president either (well, it could still happen, but John McCain was probably the silent generation's last chance).
I thought the "Silent Generation" was the Korean-War generation -- the generation, that is, between the G.I. Generation and the Baby Boomers. At least, that's how it is in the Strauss and Howe theory. In that theory, there are four types of generations -- Prophet, Nomand, Hero, and Artist -- and the Silents are an Artist generation:

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Artist generations (recessive) are born during a Crisis, a time when great dangers cut down social and political complexity in favor of public consensus, aggressive institutions, and an ethic of personal sacrifice. Artists grow up overprotected by adults preoccupied with the Crisis, come of age as the socialized and conformist young adults of a post-Crisis world, break out as process-oriented midlife leaders during an Awakening, and age into thoughtful post-Awakening elders.[25] Due to this location in history, such generations tend to be remembered for their quiet years of rising adulthood and their midlife years of flexible, consensus-building leadership. Their main societal contributions are in the area of expertise and due process. Their best-known historical leaders include William Shirley, Cadwallader Colden, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. These have been complex social technicians and advocates for fairness and inclusion. (Examples among today’s living generations: Silent and Homelanders.)[26]

One reason why the cycle of archetypes recurs is that each youth generation tries to correct or compensate for what it perceives as the excesses of the midlife generation in power. For example, Boomers (a Prophet generation, whose strength is individualism, culture and values) raised Millennial children (a Hero generation, whose strength is in collective civic action). Archetypes do not create archetypes like themselves, they create opposing archetypes. As Strauss and Howe explain, “your generation isn’t like the generation that shaped you, but it has much in common with the generation that shaped the generation that shaped you.”[27] This also occurs because the societal role that feels freshest to each generation of youth is the role being vacated by a generation of elders that is passing away. In other words, a youth generation comes of age and defines its collective persona just as an opposing generational archetype is in its midlife peak of power, and the previous generation of their archetype is passing away.[28]
And that might be why it has produced no presidents.

Last edited by BrainGlutton; 05-06-2012 at 11:21 AM..
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  #7  
Old 05-06-2012, 11:54 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Besides just being luck of the draw, it might very well be that Korea and Vietnam weren't thought of as being the kind "good war" that WWII was. In other words, being a WWII vet counted a whole lot more on your president-to-be resume than being a veteran of either of those two wars do. And we didn't win either of those wars, so you're not one of the victors.
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Old 05-06-2012, 12:00 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Besides just being luck of the draw, it might very well be that Korea and Vietnam weren't thought of as being the kind "good war" that WWII was. In other words, being a WWII vet counted a whole lot more on your president-to-be resume than being a veteran of either of those two wars do. And we didn't win either of those wars, so you're not one of the victors.
I would've called bullshit on that . . . before 2004. Imagine any WWII vet getting swiftboated!
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  #9  
Old 05-06-2012, 12:12 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Originally Posted by BrainGlutton View Post
I would've called bullshit on that . . . before 2004. Imagine any WWII vet getting swiftboated!
But then, no WWII vets came home, protested the war, and then ran for president.

They were very different wars, and produced very different veterans and our perception of them.
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  #10  
Old 05-06-2012, 01:34 PM
etv78 etv78 is offline
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AK84-I explicitly said "to that point". I wouldn't be surprised if we have a 'nam vet eventually.

I also was thinking about "saw combat", I knew Carter was of age for Korea.
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  #11  
Old 05-06-2012, 02:11 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is online now
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Also, not only is having served a minority of the overall population, "seeing combat" is as well a minority of the total force, in most conflicts.

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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
The next group, FDR, Truman, and Eisenhower, were all associated with WWI and were all too old to fight in WWII, except that Eisenhower happened to be a top general
And in the specific case of FDR he would not have been considered a "veteran" at all, as he was not enlisted or commissioned in WW1 but rather was a politically-appointed civilian official (Assistant Secretary of the Navy) in DC.

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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Carter was active duty Navy throughout the entirety of the Korean War.
Plus he entered Annapolis in 1943, so he can be considered to have been in service in both the WW2 and Korea time periods. From Ike all the way to Bush41 it was 40 years of presidents who were in uniform in one way or another during WW2 - from the Supreme Commander to the youngest pilot, from people getting shot at to REMFs to an academy midshipman.

Last edited by JRDelirious; 05-06-2012 at 02:12 PM..
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  #12  
Old 05-06-2012, 05:10 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Another factor is there were a lot fewer Korean War vets (1,789,000) than there were WWII vets (16,112,566).
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  #13  
Old 05-06-2012, 05:45 PM
etv78 etv78 is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Another factor is there were a lot fewer Korean War vets (1,789,000) than there were WWII vets (16,112,566).
Excellent point Nemo! Goes along with "coincidence".
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  #14  
Old 05-06-2012, 05:59 PM
Cheshire Human Cheshire Human is offline
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Originally Posted by Lord Feldon View Post
Even if you don't account for any other issues, not that many people get to be the president. Only 43 people out of something like 472 million people born here have been the president. That's not a very big sample, so it's probably going to be skewed a little.
Really, the answer is this, and nothing more. It's an incredibly tiny sample size, plus it's spread out over more than 2 centuries (which introduces its own problems, which I haven't even addressed). "Korean War Vet" isn't even remotely 1 in 100 million in the running for "Presidential Candidates" from the current population.

Pick 3 people, at random, from the current population of the US. Now look at those 3 people, and find some common characteristic in the general population and see if one of them matches it. You will find that most characteristics you could name won't even be represented. For example, you are much more likely than not, to not even have an example of "black people" in that "random sample". Add in the fact that 'presidential candidates' are not picked randomly, but rather for "appeal" characteristics, and if the characteristic you are picking for has no appeal, there is no selective pressure for it, it's not a surprise that no one with it got picked.

It's not a case of "so it's probably going to be skewed a little." It's a case of 'probably going to be skewed by a "heluva lot". Probably to the point that it's statistically "utterly fucking useless".
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  #15  
Old 05-06-2012, 06:56 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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If war record were a random factor, then what you say would be true. But war record has always been one of the major factors in getting people to vote for a candidate. Eisenhower became President solely because he was the leading face of WWII. Kennedy used his war record to win over Nixon, but Nixon was helped getting into politics because he was a veteran. The 19th century is full of generals who became president, and most of them never would have based solely on their political record.

I think people who didn't live during the reign of WWII veterans can't appreciate how powerful this was. In politics you almost had to be a veteran to succeed. Lyndon Johnson knew this and was, IIRC, the first Congressman to enter the service. "Tail Gunner Joe" McCarthy succeeding because of his "war record", even if was as true as everything he said later. No matter. When veterans were associated with a party, or even the extreme wing of one, they were still national heroes.

Korea was a much smaller war, smaller than even the figures than Little Nemo gave. A large percentage of participants were WWII veterans called back into service. So in addition to having a comparatively tiny number of new bodies, it seemed less of a new war than a continuation of the old.

No national heroes came out of Vietnam, just as no national heroes came out of the Gulf War or Iraq War. The aftermath appears completely different than any previous American wars. Service was once almost mandatory. It no longer is, except to a small segment who wants to politicize service. Note that it wasn't an issue at all in the Republican primaries.

I can't even imagine what circumstances could lead to a future nationally popular war, but if one ever happens participation in it will be mandatory for future presidential candidates.
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  #16  
Old 05-06-2012, 09:37 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
No national heroes came out of Vietnam, just as no national heroes came out of the Gulf War or Iraq War.
I would dispute this. The Gulf War was seen as a "good war" and it produced Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf as national heroes. There was presidential talk about both men in the nineties.
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Old 05-06-2012, 11:51 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Originally Posted by etv78 View Post
AK84-I explicitly said "to that point". I wouldn't be surprised if we have a 'nam vet eventually.
The youngest Vietnam veterans are in their mid-50s and many (like John McCain) are much older, so I don't think it's going to happen. It's hard to predict who could become a candidate in the future, but as far as I can tell, there's nobody in either party who served in Vietnam and would be considered as a likely future nominee. The 2012 election is going to be the first without any kind of veteran on either side since, what, 1984?
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  #18  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:10 AM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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I would dispute this. The Gulf War was seen as a "good war" and it produced Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf as national heroes. There was presidential talk about both men in the nineties.
Purely disgusting, that was. People were talking about Colin Powell as a presidential prospect when nobody even pretended to know the first thing about his politics!
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  #19  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:20 AM
Namkcalb Namkcalb is online now
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[Racism] Because there is no such thing as Korean vet, they eat pets, they don't treat them [/Racism]
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  #20  
Old 05-07-2012, 11:13 AM
Jas09 Jas09 is offline
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Purely disgusting, that was. People were talking about Colin Powell as a presidential prospect when nobody even pretended to know the first thing about his politics!
The same thing has begun to repeat with Petraeus, although that seems to have quieted a bit.

I think the cultural shift that accompanied the Vietman war dramatically changed the way the public viewed veterans. It is nowhere near the boon it was politically prior to that. The idea that a WWII draft-dodger could be elected president seems ridiculous, but Clinton dodging Vietnam was only a minor issue.
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  #21  
Old 05-07-2012, 11:42 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Originally Posted by Lord Feldon View Post
Even if you don't account for any other issues, not that many people get to be the president. Only 43 people out of something like 472 million people born here have been the president. That's not a very big sample, so it's probably going to be skewed a little.

The 1930s didn't produce a president either (well, it could still happen, but John McCain was probably the silent generation's last chance).
While this makes sense, it's interesting to note how many Korea/'nam vets have been the losing candidate in recent elections; practically all of them, in fact.
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  #22  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:09 PM
ITR champion ITR champion is offline
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While this makes sense, it's interesting to note how many Korea/'nam vets have been the losing candidate in recent elections; practically all of them, in fact.
In 7 of the past 8 elections, the loser has been a veteran and the winner has been someone who either didn't serve in the military or got a cushy position and avoided combat. Moreover it seems that in 6 of those elections ('80, '84, '92, '96, '00' and '08) the winner avoided military service by questionable means. So it doesn't seem as if the voters have any particular desire to put a veteran in the White House.



Okay, of course we all know that in 2000 Al Gore was the real winner according the greatest number of voters.
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  #23  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:44 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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In 7 of the past 8 elections, the loser has been a veteran and the winner has been someone who either didn't serve in the military or got a cushy position and avoided combat. Moreover it seems that in 6 of those elections ('80, '84, '92, '96, '00' and '08) the winner avoided military service by questionable means. So it doesn't seem as if the voters have any particular desire to put a veteran in the White House.
Reagan was a veteran. Yes, he never served in combat but he was in the Army from 1942 to 1945.
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Old 05-07-2012, 02:14 PM
BobLibDem BobLibDem is offline
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The same thing has begun to repeat with Petraeus, although that seems to have quieted a bit.

I think the cultural shift that accompanied the Vietman war dramatically changed the way the public viewed veterans. It is nowhere near the boon it was politically prior to that. The idea that a WWII draft-dodger could be elected president seems ridiculous, but Clinton dodging Vietnam was only a minor issue.
Puh-leeze. Clinton used political connections and got favors to avoid Vietnam, just like Bush. Excecpt Clinton didn't get into the Champagne Squadron of the Texas ANG and then drop out because they started testing for cocaine.

I don't think a Vietnam vet will ever get elected. From the ones I know personally and the ones whose writings I read, they tend toward being hyper-patriotic right-wingers. Not all of them, mind you, but a disproportionate number. Such people tend not to have the political savvy to compete in the political arena. So it's only a minority of an aging small set of people that could potentially get elected. Kerry was the best chance that a Vietnam vet will ever get.
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Old 05-07-2012, 02:52 PM
Skammer Skammer is offline
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Looking at that list of presidents on Wiki, I guess I never connected the fact that Carter (who served most of his term in the '70s) and GHW Bush (who served most of his term in the '90s) were born less than four months apart. And Bill Clinton and GW Bush were born only six weeks apart.
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  #26  
Old 05-07-2012, 03:09 PM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is offline
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Eisenhower was on active duty during the Korean War - he was serving as SACEUR at the time.
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Old 05-07-2012, 05:29 PM
gamerunknown gamerunknown is offline
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From the ones I know personally and the ones whose writings I read, they tend toward being hyper-patriotic right-wingers.
I know of three Vietnam vets that wouldn't fit that description. I can't think of any of their names, but there was that gay one that Romney spoke to, then there was one featured in a documentary about COINTELPRO and there was a friend of Chomskys that later went back to Laos (IIRC) to set up telecommunications towers and distribute cell phones to poor farmers to make their transactions easier.
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Old 05-07-2012, 05:49 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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Moreover it seems that in 6 of those elections ('80, '84, '92, '96, '00' and '08) the winner avoided military service by questionable means.
How did Obama avoid military service by questionable means?

Obama graduated High School in 1979. The way you avoided military service in 1979 was by not volunteering. How is not volunteering for the military questionable?
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Old 05-07-2012, 06:08 PM
Jas09 Jas09 is offline
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While I agree that declining to volunteer is not questionable, it does indicate the shift in norms.

I think (and perhaps someone more familiar with mid-century social norms could correct me) that failing to volunteer if you were healthy and able to serve was seen as rather distasteful and dishonorable during WWI and II. I have to think that if Nixon (to use one example) had used his Quakerism to avoid service during WWII he would never have been elected president.
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Old 05-07-2012, 07:10 PM
ITR champion ITR champion is offline
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How did Obama avoid military service by questionable means?
I meant to write "04" , not "08". Apologies.
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Old 05-07-2012, 07:28 PM
Zakalwe Zakalwe is online now
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I meant to write "04" , not "08". Apologies.
ITR, that's the second time today I've read a post of yours making this kind of apology (typing an Obama year in place of a Bush II year). Lest you be thought the SDMB incarnation of Fox News (D for R), might I suggest you double-check your posts before hitting "Submit"?
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Old 05-07-2012, 07:34 PM
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I would like to suggest that any "clustering" that is observed with presidential birthdates may be due to randomness. Randomness does not mean "evenly spaced" as most people think.
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:27 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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While I agree that declining to volunteer is not questionable, it does indicate the shift in norms.

I think (and perhaps someone more familiar with mid-century social norms could correct me) that failing to volunteer if you were healthy and able to serve was seen as rather distasteful and dishonorable during WWI and II. I have to think that if Nixon (to use one example) had used his Quakerism to avoid service during WWII he would never have been elected president.
During a war, perhaps, but in peacetime, the vast majority of able-bodied men don't volunteer, and if they did, the military would have no way to use them all.
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:48 PM
Jas09 Jas09 is offline
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During a war, perhaps, but in peacetime, the vast majority of able-bodied men don't volunteer, and if they did, the military would have no way to use them all.
True, of course.

I do think there is a qualitative difference in the way veterans are viewed today, particularly when it comes to politics. It's just not a liability to not be a veteran these days, even if you were "of age" during a war. This is dramatically different than for men of age during the World Wars.

I personally think this is due almost entirely to Vietnam and the way that has changed the entire conception of warfare in the modern American psyche. It will be (and perhaps already is) interesting to see how Iraq/Afghanistan vets will be seen. I imagine it will be the similar to Vietnam vet's experiences - fine if you have it, but not at all a difference-maker electorally.

That doesn't really answer the OP's question re: Korea, however, which I think is actually more due to chance than anything else.
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  #35  
Old 05-08-2012, 08:47 AM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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R. Lee Ermey for President. He'll kick your ass and fuck your mom!
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  #36  
Old 05-08-2012, 10:53 AM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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I think WWII was such a major event that it tends to be treated as if it were a typical war, even though it was a radical outlier.

In WWII just about everyone served in some way. Maybe they were in an essential civilian job. Maybe they worked in a factory. Maybe they were a supply clerk in Kansas. Maybe they had garrison duty on some island in the middle of nowhere for the whole war. Or maybe they were at Normandy.

Not everyone was a war hero, not everyone saw combat, not everyone wore a uniform. But enough did that if you weren't a part of it, you were in the minority, you didn't share the same experiences that most men of your generation did.

Other wars just weren't the same. They were fought by a small number of men, they didn't require a total mobilization of the country. Yes, lots of people were in Vietnam or Korea or the Gulf War, or Afghanistan, or Iraq. But those wars were something most people read about in the news, not something they were involved in. Even for Vietnam, there were plenty of people drafted in the Vietnam era, but plenty of them went to Germany or stayed stateside. And it was very common in that era for people with certain connections to avoid service. They could get a college deferment, they could get family deferments, they could get medical deferments, they could get into the national guard. Nobody got a college deferment in WWII, and the national guard wasn't a safe place for kids from good families. Everybody from every strata of society was in WWII, even people in the pool of people who would go on to political careers. But WWII wasn't your average conflict.
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Old 05-08-2012, 11:08 AM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is online now
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During a war, perhaps, but in peacetime, the vast majority of able-bodied men don't volunteer, and if they did, the military would have no way to use them all.
Right. The historical pattern tended to be that if there had been a war at the suitable time in your life and you served, that was a positive in your resume, but otherwise there was no expectation to serve an enlistment just because.

If you go far back enough you get to the times when the militia was every able male citizen, but then it was a matter of actually being called up or not. And the US only had a standing peacetime draft post-WW2, but that in turn was NOT universal service, even during the Korea and Vietnam hostilities.
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