Niall Ferguson, author of Colossus and The War of the World, argues in today's L.A. Times that the United States must retain and expand its ability to project naval power.
A strong blue water navy underpinned the military strategy of both Great Britain and America during their respective heydays, and Ferguson argues that having presidents now for nearly 30 years who lacked military service may be weakening our supremacy on the waves.
Ferguson goes a bit far in his analysis, however:
It is, of course, a great English-speaking tradition to undervalue military experience in politicians....Yet there is a lot to be said for militarism where military matters are concerned.
Neither Stanley Baldwin nor Neville Chamberlain, the architects of appeasement, had served in the armed forces. The same was true of their American counterparts, Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt. Their legacy was a near-fatal unreadiness for the greatest conflict of all time.
Being in the military certainly helps with perspective in the presidency, but it's a lot to imply that lack of service was the main reason. Let's just say that military experience is one of many factors we should consider as we choose for 2008.