The Air Force Over All

William Astore has an interesting, and humorous article in Asia Times about the significance, real or imagined, of the U.S. Air Force’s new motto. He doesn’t take himself just too seriously, but does get a bit disturbed at the implication of grandiose military thinking in this day and age. Here’s a sample:

Mission statements and slogans are easy to poke fun at and shouldn’t, perhaps, be taken too seriously. That said, the people who develop them do take them seriously, which is why they can’t be ignored.

Consider the air force’s new slogan: “Air Force – Above All.”

Okay, I admit it’s catchy, even cute, if, that is, you can get past the “high ground” conceit and ignore the Germanic uber alles overtones. Its literal meaning is obvious enough and it does fit with the air force’s most basic precept, that mastery of the air means mastery of the ground.

Yet today’s air force seeks more than that. It wants to extend its “mastery” to space (“the new high ground”) and even to cyberspace. This is yet another disturbing manifestation of our military’s quest for “full spectrum dominance”, achieved at debilitating cost to the American taxpayer – and a potentially destabilizing one to the planet.

Striving to be “above all” everywhere is ambitious to the point of folly. By comparison, the slogans of the air force’s sister services seem modest. The poor, embattled army is simply “Army Strong”. The navy now promises to “Accelerate Your Life”. Yawn. The US Marines Corps, always faithful, refuse to tinker with their slogan, which remains: “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” Meanwhile, the air force soars above such slavish adherence to tradition – as well as any reasonable sense of boundaries or restraint.

The whole article is well worth reading, and after doing so I couldn’t help but wonder if the Air Force’s new starry-eyed vision doesn’t have something to do with the growing number of evangelical Christians in their ranks.

This has been much written about in other places, i.e. how the Christian Right have worked their way into higher and higher positions in the Air Force Academy, which itself is situated in the evangelical church capital of the country, Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs is also the home of N.O.R.A.D., the mountain bunker that controls all the nuclear missiles and satellites. Add this to the Armageddon-obsessed religious folks in town and you can see why I might harbor such suspicions.

I wrote to Mr. Astore and asked him if he thought I was onto something, and he was nice enough to write back and say that he did not. With all due respect, I’m still skeptical.


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