American Armed Forces: Our Protectors or Theirs?
The purpose of an army is to protect its borders in order to safeguard its countrymen. The military’s function is to protect its country from all domestic, foreign, and natural opposition such as civil outbreaks, invasions, storms, or epidemics by whatever means is appropriate in order to return a secure, peaceful state of existence for its citizens. We as civilians delegate our use of physical force to the armed services to represent us in foreign and domestic issues. The question to ask is who decides when the use of force is proper?
The military is going to want to do what they were trained for, but they must submit to the coolest heads who steer the nation politically. Military men will have their own political ideas—everyone believes they can do the job better than those elected—but the tail cannot wag the dog. A body lives by the direction instructed by its head; not from an arm or a leg. Our political leadership is just as essential as our armies. Armies are the body, policy is the brain. In leaving office, President Eisenhower said, “We must never let the military-industrial complex endanger our liberties or democratic processes.” He said it for a good reason, as it killed his successor. Unfortunately, history has shown how evil those in power can be, but it isn’t always so. Rationality can return, as morality is what drives policy. Despite occasional abuses, we have by far the most moral internal and external civilian and military force on the planet, and they deserve our support. How many other countries use tear gas and rubber bullets when possible?
Still, as military personnel, always side with the people. If you see the citizens running for their lives, from you, you are no longer their protector. You are on the wrong side and it is your leaders who must go. Think of the long-term good for America—peace and freedom for all, oppression by none—and use your weapons wisely.
There is a difference in public reaction to a civilian death versus a military death. We emotionally factor in that possibility for military personnel, given the risk involved in their occupation versus what one would expect to encounter in private life. Military personnel and police officers should be well compensated for that potential—materially and spiritually. First and foremost, they should always have a choice of whether or not to serve in such a manner, including for whom and for how long. Volunteer armies are always the strongest, and there are just as many responsibilities to be addressed at home if some choose not to fight. If the man next to me is not committed, I don’t want my life in his hands. If he can’t handle it, he shouldn’t be here (and probably won’t be for long). Let him support the war effort as a citizen, being useful in his own way; there is no shame in that. Let him object until he understands the issue at stake. No man should die for a principle he has not acquired. No man has the right to push another out onto a battlefield; it is a direct Constitutional violation of our right to life.
Sacrifice is leaned on mostly in troubled times, but it can become an abusive political instrument. No one wants to sacrifice—ever; and they are right not to want to. Great care must be exercised before political leaders decide to risk one single human life. If we were threatened with invasion, I would fight without question, even knowing my chances of survival were not good. Resistance to aggression parallels the resistance to death that nature requires of us every day; such a tribute to life is not a sacrifice. But to be forced to go and die for some dubious cause is a national disgrace, and suspicious intentions always surround those who advocate a draft.
War is a minus-sum game to the mass citizenry—a pure expense in money and blood. Every building built, every creation brought into existence adds to our wealth, as does the steady economic state necessary to maintain it. War just destroys it all, generating nothing but cost. No one benefits from war. No one wants to spend more than necessary, unless some intend to profit by it. “Military businessmen” need a steady state of war; a direct contradiction to the steady state of peace needed by the citizenry. Throughout history, this fatal pursuit of profitability through violence has spread imperialism across the globe by one superpower after another. A company’s military divisions should be a self-sustaining industrial obligation, not a key profit center. Our proper foreign efforts are to assure protection and justice to our citizenry abroad, never to assist them in gaining property for themselves by military means. We must protect only what has been acquired by voluntary trade.
The leaders who stem conflict at the cost of the fewest human lives are the greatest of heroes. The best solve issues on moral grounds without ever firing a shot. As we must defend ourselves, this is not always possible, so we do counter aggression vigorously. The greatest men in government gear foreign policy to ensure a safe world for all of us to venture into, and they work to spread the basic means of that freedom to all governments, who should want the same for their people. Not that their citizens must abandon their cultures or a modest life to pursue the American way of toasters and cars and homes, but simply that they are protected from coercion by their government and fellow citizens; not subjected to it. When their government could care less about their people, we make them pay to trade with us, or refuse them altogether. That is the moral reason for tariffs—to deny slave labor any advantage over our ethically run enterprises. There was a time when these tariffs paid for the entire cost of our government. We should seek this budget solution again.
Look at any totalitarian or socialist government and you will see few loyal soldiers, but many eventual defectors. Until the second Bush administration, no one defected from America. In our culture, every man’s life is valuable. Every man has the right to live without subordinating his desires to anyone, and that is a land worth protecting—worth fighting for—worth dying for if necessary. If it came down to it, most Americans are willing to die for what America is—not for what it promises to be. The men of communist countries are considered expendable and are always left to die for “the noble ideal,” ideals which their fundamental premises make impossible. Americans don’t have to create illusions about their country’s potential greatness to be proud of; our culture makes it great. It is the nearest to Atlantis the world has ever been.