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Strange Bedfellows: The American Public and Its Military in the Aftermath of September 11th

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Technical rept. 2002-2003

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The attacks of September 11th and the ensuing war on terrorism breached the traditional barriers existing between the American public and its military. It brought them together, which makes for strange bedfellows. From the Civil War until the attacks of September 11th, American society developed personal liberties, individuality, and self-expression virtually free from interruption because the winds of war and its military took the fighting overseas to places like Europe, the Pacific, Korea, or Vietnam. Over the same time period, the military retained its traditional values of discipline, teamwork, and selfless service because the functional imperatives of combat demanded it. Consequently, the American military adheres to a unique code that distances the military from the American public and creates two separate and distinct cultures separated by significant barriers. One culture based on conformity and discipline, and the other on individualism and personal freedom. However, the violence and indiscretion of terrorism ruptured these long-standing barriers by bringing war to America and its people. This undertaking aims to identify the impact of September 11th on this relationship and develop recommendations Defense Department officials can use to formulate proactive National Security Strategy guidelines. In doing so, research will focus on public opinion and the ongoing debates in the media, Congress, and policy forums. These sources are critical, and they offer the insight and analysis needed for the military establishment to evolve and effectively manage the relationship between the American public and its military in the aftermath of September 11th. 60 refs.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Intelligence
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Unconventional Warfare

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