by Simon Black
In May 1969, at the height of America’s involvement in Vietnam, the US military declared victory in the Battle of Hamburger Hill.
The Army had lost only 50 soldiers and killed about 600 Viet Cong in the process of taking the remote hilltop.
But US journalists questioned the importance of the victory: what did some random muddy hill in the middle of the jungle have to do with the broader goals in Vietnam?
Even the soldiers on the ground questioned the operation: they had fought for weeks and lost friends along the way. And for what benefit?
Hamburger Hill was later abandoned by the US military, and it became a symbol of everything wrong with the Vietnam War.
There was little support at home for the war; veterans coming home from the war were often spat upon and called baby killers. Joining the Army became extremely unpopular.
Even with a mandatory draft in place that forced unwilling teenagers into service, the Army still had trouble meeting its recruiting goals.
So the Defense Department started filling the recruiting gaps by offering military service to prison convicts in the US.
The quality of new recruits plummeted. So did morale.
Soldiers became bitter and angry at weak leadership and clueless politicians. Drug usage among the active ranks became a problem, as did “fragging”— or murder— of officers and fellow soldiers.
Discipline within the ranks became almost nonexistent— the Army was in tatters.
And when the US did eventually pull out of Vietnam, it wasn’t the end of the military’s problems.
Recruiting was especially decimated. After the draft was abolished, hardly anyone wanted to join the Army. So the Defense Department had to hire a marketing agency and come up with a new recruiting slogan— the famous “be all that you can be”.
It took more than a decade, in fact, to weed out the discipline problems, fix troop morale, retrain entire units, and begin to attract quality leadership again.
And that should be a lesson about the current Defund the Police movement.
However you feel about the issue— whether you bleed blue or want to see the police abolished— the reality is that every major city in the country has a police department.
And simply calling to #defund them is an emotional temper tantrum that is a textbook example of how to destroy an organization.
Being a police officer these days is something like being an Army soldier in the late 1960s.
Cops are being called White Supremacists when they pull people over at routine traffic stops. Their local city council is selling them out for political points. They’re under intense scrutiny, constantly being recorded, and risk prosecution now with just about everything that they do.
Unsurprisingly, police recruiting is down nationwide. Think about it— what young person wants to be a cop these days, given all the hate directed towards police?
The shortage of new recruits is so severe, in fact, that the International Association of Chiefs of Police considers it a “crisis for law enforcement”, with new recruits in some cities down 75% or more.
There have also been plenty of police who threw in the towel and quit the force, or retired early.
The New York Times reported that retirements in police departments across the country are up 45% this year, and resignations up 18%.
So there are more vacancies to fill, and fewer people to fill them.
Portland is a great example— many police officers there resigned, en masse, to protest how they’re being treated. And, go figure, the Mayor is now whining about an “underresourced” police department amid rising gun violence.
It’s no surprise that there has been a huge crime spike in most major cities across the US.
Look at Oakland, California, which has diverted tens of millions of dollars from the police budget to the new kinder, gentler “Department of Violence Prevention”.
Recently the Chief of Violence Prevention was being interviewed in front of City Hall. Then suddenly two armed robbers attempted to steal the news crew’s camera in broad daylight, right in the middle of the interview!
The only thing that stopped the robbers was the news crew’s private, armed security guard.
About a week later, the city erupted in a twelve-hour rampage of shooting, looting, and “sideshows” where people raced and drifted their cars in the streets.
When police tried to break up these sideshows, they were pelted with debris.
Obviously police morale is low. And as the historical case with the US Army shows, the long-term ramifications are severe.
Of course there are always exceptions. But similar to the Army in the 1970s, most bright, talented young people don’t want to join the police today.
So that means lower quality recruits, who will receive low quality, underfunded training.
If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, just imagine 10-15 years from now— because, in the future, today’s lower quality, poorly trained recruits will be senior leaders in police departments across the country, responsible for setting policy and making far-reaching decisions.
This will create a bottleneck of incompetence at the top, making it even more difficult to fix institutional deficiencies.
But the progressives who scream in hashtags about defunding the police don’t think about any of this. They don’t think about the long-term ramifications of what they’re doing.
They throw their temper tantrums on Twitter, or go out in the streets to destroy property, or attempt to ruin the lives of anyone who disagrees with them, until politicians cave to their demands.
And by the way, this is basically a form of terrorism; using violence, threats, or intimidation to influence public policy is the textbook definition of terrorism, even when it comes from well-meaning woke fanatics.
Not that they care about any of this. And the New York City mayoral race actually demonstrates this perfectly.
Maya Wiley was one candidate for New York City mayor who campaigned on cutting $1 billion from the NYPD’s budget. She also mulled the idea of disarming them.
That’s a cute proposal, given that Wiley lives in a wealthy neighborhood with private security.
There is obviously nothing wrong with living in a nice house and having private security.
But there is something very hypocritical with doing so while threatening to take away the security that has been promised to taxpayers.
Voters apparently realized that, because Wiley lost the Democratic primary to her opponent Eric Adams.
Adams is former police captain who opposes the defund movement; and while Wiley’s supporters were mostly wealthy residents of Manhattan, Eric Adams received the bulk of his support from working-class New Yorkers who live in high crime neighborhoods.
On top of that, countless other New Yorkers have already voted with their feet, leaving the city for greener pastures and saner local governments. Ditto for former residents of San Francisco and other failed cities in the Land of the Free.
And frankly, moving is an extremely sensible solution.
Because the woke terrorists who have hijacked local governments around the country have no idea how destructive their ideas will be.
I’m not suggesting that police departments aren’t in serious need of reform— they are. But however you feel about the cops, it’s sensible to recognize that this movement will cause severe long-term damage.
These woke fanatics are essentially inviting termites into the house. Your house. And even if the politicians get voted out of office a few years from now, the termites will still have caused enormous destruction to the home’s foundation.
And that’s an incredibly difficult challenge that takes years, if not decades, to fix.