The Magazine

The Decline of the Military He Loved

Tom Clancy, 1947-2013.

Oct 14, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 06 • By MAX BOOT
Widget tooltip
Audio version Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Naturally, reality and make-believe blurred, so that before long Clancy was producing nonfiction accounts of various corners of the military, such as Airborne (about the 82nd Airborne Division and an obscure colonel named David Petraeus), Armored Cav, Carrier, Submarine, and so forth. Some of his nonfiction books were written in cooperation with retired generals Fred Franks, Chuck Horner, Carl Stiner, and Anthony Zinni, who were happy to share a byline with someone who had become much more famous than they were and whose very name could guarantee mega-sales. Military personnel loved Clancy’s work; indeed, many testified that he helped to get them interested in military service in the first place.

Unfortunately, the military buildup that Clancy championed started to be undone after the end of the Cold War and the Gulf war, when force levels were cut by a third. Now even more draconian cuts are under way, totaling a trillion dollars over the next decade. Sequestration and the budget showdown are forcing ships not to sail, aircraft not to fly, and troops not to train. If this trend continues unabated—and odds are it will—we risk a return to a hollow military. Tom Clancy will be spared watching the military he loved at risk of being dismantled, but the rest of us will have to live with the dire consequences.

Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers