General George S. Patton delivered a lecture, known as "Why Men Fight," in 1927 that closes with three very important lines:
"Nothing new was discovered since the soul of man is changeless.
Our difficulties differ in manifestation but not in nature from those Alexander experienced and Caesar knew.
Our success or failure in the next war will depend on our ability to face the naked facts as they exist, and to utilize our means not as we would, but as we may."
Over the course of the more than 8500 word lecture, Patton provides his view on the foundational elements of human conflict, a historical-theoretical sourcing of warfare and organized force, military motivations and training, and far more, although in a decidedly non-academic and unsourced manner. However much Patton's remarks may occasionally appear antiquated or even discriminatory, a gift given through the passage of time, they provide a specific perspective worthy of consideration. In 1927, the inter-war period that still thought of World War I as the unimaginably devastating and impossibly unique Great War, technology and warfare had yet to progress to its modern level of sophistication, and there still existed a traditionalist understanding of how to execute a war.
Fundamentally, the same problem occurred in 1927 as now: addressing the world, or "the next war," as it is and not as it should, might, or would be preferred to be. Patton outlines a few ideas for the improvement of the military, its strategy, and its tactics, in accordance with the ills he perceived at the time of writing, but his strength in this rousing, semi-anecdotal lecture is the understanding that humanity, both as a whole and in more disparate collectives, is shaped by its environment. Both World Wars, for example, were the product of a confluence of circumstances and could only exist as such -- Patton acknowledges this as true for all known incidents of state and sub-state aggression.
Essentially, Patton makes a subtextual argument, perhaps inadvertently, for realism. What is state-level security balancing if not a higher-level abstraction of humans uniting against another enemy, or pursuing self-interested courses of intimidation? What is the effective use of force, if not attempting to profit from the loss of another? What is military might, if not the development of a professional fighting force, who will risk their own lives, to avoid the conscription, and promote the well-being, of the general public?
"The man who fights for a living must, unless he is a very rare person, live in order to profit by his fighting."
Some of Patton's advice is strangely applicable to a modern environment that may soon see a remarkable decrease in the Army, such as placing a greater emphasis on properly educated and experienced Officers, decreasing in the use of Reserve forces (presumably the National Guard, as well), and returning to the extremely effective, if not always publicly palatable, training environments that produce the exact type of soldier needed. The distinction between a professional military and an amateur one, created through forced or inadvisable service, is, in "Why Men Fight," clear: selflessness, honor, and dedication versus self-interest, external motivations, and identity crises. Amateur forces are a substantially greater liability when the time comes for true soldiering, as Patton may have observed of Vietnam, had he survived to see one of America's greatest military embarrassments.
According to Patton, not yet a century ago, it may be better, therefore, to retain a larger professional Army than be forced to expand ranks on extremely short notice, sacrificing quality at the altar of quantity, and to keep general or inexpert civilian opinions out of military matters, as much as possible. This, too, would seem to apply to the paramilitary efforts of non-military national security organizations for which the public is too ill-informed, ill-fortified, and ill-adjusted to be involved. In a democratic republic overseen by a President both civilian and Commander-in-Chief, however, such a distinction is clearly problematic.