The men and women of the U.S. military and intelligence services are the most important part of America’s defense capital. When they enter the service of their choice they are well aware of the implicit contract between the nation and themselves. In return for their career, America has the right to call on them to go into harm’s way, very often at the risk of their lives. I have never known a Marine, a soldier or a CIA officer who did not accept this reality, and I have never known one who balked when called on to deploy. That said, each I have known — and I suppose all — hope that if defending America costs his or her life, the cause for which it is spent is clear and worthwhile. It is precisely on this point that the U.S. government’s executive and legislative branches are lethally failing these men and women.