The U.S. military establishment takes a right and a left to the jaw this week, but probably will live to tell the tale.
The right is delivered by Sen. Malcolm Wallop, appropriately enough, in the pages of The American Spectator's July issue. The Wyoming Republican, a proponent of the Strategic Defense Initiative, struggles in this essay to demean or rationalize away the opposition of the nation's most senior military officers, without addressing even the gist of their objections to SDI.
"The services have a history of resisting change," he writes. The Air Force and Navy, especially, "see lean years ahead for defense and know that funds for strategic defense deployment will have to come at the expense of their more traditional interests." What's more, Wallop contends, for seasoned officers to advocate SDI requires "an uncomfortable reassessment" of their confident pronouncements about U.S. nuclear superiority over the years.
If they won't salute SDI, Wallop seems to say, they're expendable. "A constituency for strategic defense must be established within the armed forces," he writes, even if this means creating "a new military service," presumably one that puts a higher premium on obedience than on judgment.
The left jab, in the July 13 and 20 New Republic, is less of a surprise, and even less of an argument. "This administration has placed more military officers in non-military positions than any other in the postwar period," writes Fareed Zakaria. The Iran-contra mess "was run from start to finish by career military personnel," he goes on. "These men in uniform did not understand politics."
Beginning to get Zakaria's drift? Whoa! "This is not to suggest that all military officers are incipient fascists." Perish the thought, now that Zakaria has articulated it. All he wants to say is that there were too many military men in the administration; that they were badly supervised; and that they were given too much power.
Now think hard: Who is responsible for that? Over and Out
They say that breaking up is hard to do, but finding a pattern that applies to every breakup is easy. Dubious? Check your favorite dissolution against sociologist Diane Vaughan's description in the July Psychology Today.
"Dissatisfied partners tend to keep their unhappiness secret," she writes. Established habits and familiar signals between couples obscure the signs of impending dissolution. Indeed, couples in trouble cling even more fervently to these outward signs of stability and security rather than facing the more troubling realities beneath.
As things get worse, Vaughan writes, and one partner begins to express unhappiness, the approach is usually indirect ("Why do you watch TV all the time?"). But in due course, the motivation for complaining changes. The "initiator" of the breakup will "express discontent to convince the partner that the relationship is not working, rather than to change or improve things."
A final paradox. "Though they are separated in many ways, both members of the relationship remain full-fledged partners in one endeavor: suppressing the true status of the relationship," Vaughan concludes. "Nobody wants to discover that a valued way of life is ending."
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One of the last magazines in America not to have done a cover story on Bryant Gumbel has thrown in the towel. Behind the mindless grin on the cover of the July GQ, the "Today" program host obligingly confirms the impression he has left in previous interviews -- counting the ways he loves himself, trashing his betters (such as Diane Sawyer, the recipient of a particularly unconscionable, and unprintable, remark), and condescending to his morning TV guests. "The worst ones have nothing to say and say it poorly," he tells interviewer Bruce Buschel. "You just want to lean over and say, 'Why are you here? You're wasting my time, your time, the audience's time. Why are you doing this?' " Is Gumbel's agent listening?
The voices of Wall Street are neither as fiendish nor as tedious as you might imagine. The respected Institutional Investor, to mark its 20th anniversary, conducted interviews with 85 corporate chieftains, market analysts, bond traders, takeover artists, investment bankers and other pooh-bahs of high finance, including Walter Wriston, Carl Icahn, Felix Rohatyn, Henry Kaufman, T. Boone Pickens, David Rockefeller, Muriel Siebert and Dan Dorfman. What emerges in the massive (516-page) June issue is a strikingly candid and lively oral history of the financial world in the last two decades; and as anniversary issues go, this one is remarkable for resisting self-aggrandizement and promotional hot air.
Pathetically little is known about chronic Epstein-Barr virus, except that it tends to afflict people in their thirties, most of them women, most of them educated professionals (it's been called the yuppie disease). Hillary Johnson, a victim, describes the nonfatal sickness as "a kind of endless mononucleosis with a touch of Alzheimer's disease." In her lengthy and terrifying report (the first of two parts) in the July 16-July 30 issue of Rolling Stone, Johnson combines her own excruciating case history with what she was able to learn from experts about the mysterious disease -- including one prediction that it will afflict 12 million Americans in the next few years, 50 times the number of expected AIDS cases.