Civ-Mil: National Service with General (Ret.) Stanley McChrystal

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Retired General Stanley McChrystal, a Senior Fellow at the Jackson Institute, joins us for a conversation about his avocation since his military retirement. He’s increasingly committed to the idea that our nation could be better off if every young person served for a year in some capacity. He’s not talking about military service, or any kind of service in particular, just the idea that committing yourself to a collective cause can make you a stronger, more civically-minded young adult. We talk in this episode about his hopes for the future of the project.

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One thought on “Civ-Mil: National Service with General (Ret.) Stanley McChrystal

  1. Elmo Wright says:

    Rebecca and Will: just hearing this. As it was posted after the Yale 2018 spring graduation, I tuned out Yale after May 2018. My compliments to the General for publicizing and promoting citizenship and national service. Despite his emphasis on shared responsibility, there’s not a consensus on working for others. Dwight Eisenhower advocated for national service. The German government in the NATO period has a form of national service, yet, few of the overall population actually serves. Who pays? Somebody, some other agency, some nebulous business paying taxes; they pay. And, some other kids (besides my own, whether rich suburbia, or poor urban, or other) “those kids” they do the service. Shared sacrifice, that idea is not embraced by the body politic, from all sides of elite opinion, and from all elements of opinion makers. The idea of national service is one that many in the middle think is a stepping stone to the draft; and they don’t want their kids to be cannon fodder for foreign adventures embarked upon by a national party not their own. Would there be shared sacrifice by all, especially by those who have options for college, for money making, for hedonism; that would inspire those who don’t have those options? Is shared sacrifice still just a cover for a bait and switch? Some random service, that doesn’t lead to all of the strata of society participating? Is it really mandatory? Even if there is an expectation; even if there is a relative amount of monetary reimbursement? I’d say no. There’s no outside threat to the USA that’s existential. There’s no sense that the melting pot needs an impetus to continue to be an overriding metaphor for the USA.
    Don’t mistake my skepticism about shared sacrifice, for national service, as a desire to see the idea fail. Rather, I’d really rather see the idea take hold. I have family that have embraced service to the nation, when they had many easier or more profitable options. So, as the General says, make it easier. Get the multi billionaires to see this as worthwhile for their donations. Take advantage of all the young Americans who are idealistic, who want to give back, who want to serve, but don’t see a military way to do that. So, good luck. Get it on the national news. Get it in the high school guidance counselor way of operating. Recruit in the inner cities. Let the folks who have had problems (tattoos, drug convictions, high school drop outs, etc.) let them participate. And, expect that adults will mentor these younger ones who are serving. The shared sacrifice is not just the young. The shared sacrifice, in so many ways, monetarily, via taxes, via anxiety over their young ones; lays upon the older ones, the “adults”. To go back to the WWII greatest generation, the older ones sacrificed. So, take a moment to ask all, all of us, all strata of American society, to serve.

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