The fall of the Roman Empire did not occur over night. It is widely understood that there was no one cause of the fall of the Empire. This fact is particularly true for all great nations at the end of their power cycle. That said, one of the many reasons Rome did fall was the overall degradation of its military. I am not going to discuss funding, although that was an issue, rather I am going to focus, in short, of the moral down fall of the military structure. So, what does that have to do with the crisis of the American military? There we find the question at hand: how does the fall of the Roman Empire relate to the crisis of the American military.
As I stated at the outset, the fall of the Roman Empire is many fold. Once cause that was a major influence of that fall was the degradation of the Roman Army. Once the powerhouse of the ancient world, the last days of the Empire saw the Army fall to the greed of power that it, and its generals, had come to realize it had. Those that ran the Army, and those that served in it, no longer served for the greatness and protection of Rome, they were there for their own wealth and power. This lead the Army to become weak, and so self focused, that it was unable to defend the Empires boarders.
Of course, this behavior was naturally a reflection of what was going on in the Empire at the time. The people, at least those that were of a reasonable amount of money and power, seemed to be completely ignorant that the Empire was falling apart around them. In one account, researched discovered a letter sent from someone living in Spain to a friend living in Roman. The letter spoke as if everything was perfectly normal in the Empire. It spoke of sending their son to school in Rome even though barbarian tribes were baring down on the Empire. Albeit this was not the reality of many Roman citizen, this one letter shows how disconnected many of the most powerful had become. In years past, at the height of the Empire, these individuals would have been highly engaged in politics, and the Army. Now they were more worried about petty personal wants, then overall social safety.
There, for even the causal reader, is a very easy connection to the state of American society and the state of Roman society at its death. More so, then in generations, the average American is more worried about personal wants and desires then it is about the overall social health of the Nation. Individual greed, the power of conspicuous consumption, is stronger then ever. Marketing schemes from the very highest levels of capitalist American has coerced the American citizen to forgo rationality to act against its own best interest. The great experiment of American democracy is in danger even as the body politic cheers for million dollar athletes, all the while people starve on the streets.
This is the social reality for those that are entering into the American military today. Are all those that enter singled minded egoists that are only looking our for themselves? No. But far too many, venturing to state the majority, of those that enter do so for some individual gain. Year over year one of the major reasons individuals give for joining the military is for the education benefits. Others major reasons include travel, pay, development opportunities. It is very rare that you heard about social duty, national duty, or some other similar reason.
To be clear, it is not necessarily a bad thing that individuals join the military for education benefits, or travel, or some other reason. These are noble goals that can go on to be beneficial to the individual and society. What is problematic is there is little or no sense of social duty or responsibility coupled with these other reasons. It means that those that join the military, as stated above, are doing so out of an individualist focus and desire. Which means that there is little to no social care or feeling of responsibility. A total moral collapse of social value. Of course, on the whole, leadership does not worry about this issue as they are more focused on accomplishing the mission, meeting recruiting numbers, and overall looking like a stable organization.
This lack of social care and responsibility is at the root of the social crisis of the American military. When the body of the military does not see their service as an import duty to the overall society, then it does not see the value in social service whatsoever. Which means in turn, that too often, members of the military see society as a combatant, an ungrateful mass that is somehow misguided in everything. Of course this point is not to far from being true. Unfortunately, what members of the military, and society, do not understand is that it is the failings of the American society that have created this crisis, as described above.
So what is the fix, how is this even addressed? The answer is not an easy one. The answer requires a genuine revolution is our social order. Which is a paradigm shift in the American social identity. This shift cannot occur under the current status quo. The result could see a total break down in the quality of the American military, at the same time American society itself enters a collapse similar to the decline of Rome.