The NY Times' Timothy Egan refutes "the conventional wisdom, which holds that those in the military support a [commander in chief] itching for a fight":
[T]hese soldiers, sailors, air men and women, and assorted boots on the ground know the cost — in trauma, in lives ruined, in friends lost, in good intentions gone bad — of going to war far more than the 99 percent not currently serving.
Egan's second proposition is, I think, unimpeachable. And because of that I'm skeptical as to the degree of conventionality embedded in the preceding "wisdom," at least barring Homer's exhilaratingly savage times, whose exhileration never materialized in Ilium, either.
Something I read a few months back in Evan Thomas's history of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, in his marvelous Sea of Thunder, couldn't help but register and add to my skepticism. If ever we engaged in a "good" war, an inexpressibly righteous one of towering revenge, which surely would outlast the horrors of war, it was that half of a global one against the Japanese. No? Yet the American boys who enlisted with such patriotic extravagance soon witnessed their "itch for a fight" on the rapid mend. One brief passage, from Thomas:
The crew was largely populated by teenagers who began the morning believing they were immortal and invincible. By evening, the survivors would be prematurely old men.... [Some] acknowledged that most of the brave talk, before the battle, about wanting to "see a little action" was obliterated by the first salvo of 14-inch shells. [One seaman] recalled simply thinking at the time, "I want to be home."
I emphasized those three words above to highlight the tenuousness of any such fighting itch. Elsewhere, another seaman related that when he saw his buddy's head rolling across the ship's deck, repaying the enemy for even Pearl Harbor just didn't matter anymore. He, too, just wanted to go home.
We'll always have our Caesars and Napoleons and Custers and Curtis LeMays, but most real uniformed men, if they've even a smattering of wits about them, itch for peace -- and that's a little something of conventionality that's been recorded throughout the ages.