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Are young Americans skeptical of our military?

Yes they have a right to be. In fact if you're not skeptical dare I suggest you are a fricken idiot.

Our nation hasn't won a war since Korea and spends $1 trillion/year on defense buying $200 screwdrivers. We routinely send Americans into proxy wars to get their heads shot off and leave our allies high/dry.

I consider myself very patriotic, support our military but don't support the generals in charge who are in the pocket of the defensive contractors who reward these folks with cushy post retirement jobs and Congressmen generous campaign donations.

Just kidding...they're all great. Full speed ahead. Man the torpedoes. Scratch that, I'm going to guns!

Why Doesn’t Gen Z Want to Be All It Can Be?

Young Americans are skeptical of the military. That’s a reason to worry about national security.

By Mike Gallagher and Kevin Wallsten, WSJ

Dec. 13, 2023

Soldiers next to a Taiwan flag after a preparedness drill simulating the defense against Beijing in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, Jan. 11. PHOTO: DANIEL CENG/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Optimism was in the air at the 2023 Reagan National Defense Forum, where the annual survey of American opinion showed growing public support for defending Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion. The survey also revealed high levels of support for continued assistance to Ukraine and Israel. It found that most Americans are confident in the armed forces, support increases to the defense budget, and view the U.S. military as superior to China’s. As Roger Zakheim, director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Institute, put it: “Our survey shows that Americans remain resolved, like President Reagan was, to support those defending freedom around the world.”

Yet the survey’s results also forecast dark clouds on the horizon. Vast and expanding gaps between how the youngest and oldest Americans think about international affairs point to contentious times ahead. Consider Taiwan. More than 75% of those over 65 say they would support economic sanctions, relocating American military assets, and sending military equipment if the Chinese invade. Less than 50% of those under 30 favor these responses.

The survey, conducted in November, tells a similar story regarding Israel. While most Americans describe Israel as an ally (71%), there are profound generational differences on this question, with those under 30 being six times as likely as those over 65 to call Israel an “enemy.” The youngest Americans are also three times as likely as the oldest to oppose U.S. assistance to Israel.Opinions about Taiwan and Israel are representative of a burgeoning preference for isolationism among young people. Only 29% of Americans under 30 say it is “better for the United States to be more engaged and take the lead” in international affairs, while those over 65 are twice as likely (60%) to agree.These generational divides aren’t limited to perceptions of the U.S. relationship with other countries. They are also apparent in feelings toward the American military. The Reagan National Defense survey results across time show that confidence in the military among senior citizens has barely moved since 2018, inching downward from 97% to 90%. By contrast, confidence in the armed forces among 18- to 29-year-olds has cratered, from 87% in 2018 to 64% in 2023.

This rapidly diminishing faith in the military threatens to undermine support for defense spending, as young people are now twice as likely as those over 65 to oppose increases in such spending. This is a growing problem for a military struggling to address an unprecedented recruitment crisis. Willingness to serve is six times as great among potential recruits who have “a great deal” of confidence in the military as among those with less confidence in the military. Unsurprisingly, the share of young people who say they’re unwilling to enlist is up nearly 10% from last year.

Compositional differences among generations help explain some of these divisions, but the role of social media can’t be overlooked. According to recent data from the Pew Research Center, nearly a third of 18- to 29-year-olds regularly get news on TikTok, compared with only 3% of those 65 or older. TikTok’s algorithm has promoted anti-Israel and anti-American content to these young users, including Osama bin Laden’s 2002 “Letter to America.”

Gen Z’s voice is getting louder. Next year 41 million of its members will be eligible to vote. As we grapple with a war in Ukraine, unrest in the Middle East, and a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan, Gen Z’s ascendancy will make maintaining public support for a lethal, forward-deployed all-volunteer force more difficult.

President Reagan—the most popular recent former president, according to the 2023 survey—grappled with a similar concern in his farewell address. He wondered whether America was successfully transmitting an “informed patriotism” to the next generation. Reagan suggested we should “teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important,” and better emphasize civic ritual, with an understanding that the No. 1 lesson is that “all great change in America begins at the dinner table.”

Reagan’s words are a reminder that all Americans have a role to play in the defense of our country and in defense of our allies. We can’t outsource civic education to woke school administrators, ideologically captured news organizations or foreign-owned social-media apps.

Mr. Gallagher, a Republican, represents Wisconsin’s Eighth Congressional District and is chairman of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party. Mr. Wallsten is a professor of political science at California State University, Long Beach.

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