The US military's first purpose is not to wage war (was: Loving The Troops)

Russell Turpin
Thu, 20 Mar 2003 20:06:05 +0000

The US military's first purpose is to present
a demonstrated capability of waging war. To use
the analogy to a pistol, if you ever go to use
it in a confrontation, things are already screwed
up more than you would ever hope.

Someone who measures the US military by its recent
wars would find a very mixed record. They almost
all represent failures of policy and diplomacy,
and the ones that aren't examples of military
action that should have been avoided often are
bollixed by military action that should have been
made sooner. That's not too surprising. Wars
stem from collosal failure.

But that's the wrong way to judge the US
military. You have to also look at what was
enabled without active warfare. NATO never fought
the USSR, but it did safeguard west Europe during
the cold war. The US stopped fighting North Korea
a half century past, but its continued military
presence is the sole reason for South Korea's
continued existence. The US military also enables
Japan to remain a largely pacifist nation. These
are large successes, representing significant
martial effort, in areas where the US did not
engage in war during those periods.

Of course, even outside the wars fought, the US
military has been put to some dreadful uses.
Defoliating forests in Colombia does little
besides sicken and impoverish poor people, and
denude natural habitat. My point isn't to paint
everything sweetness and light, but to enlarge
the scope by which people sometimes look at the
military, especially during the time of a
controversial war. One can reasonably hold both
(a) that THIS war is misguided, or even that most
US wars have been misguided, yet (b) the US
military serves critical and legitimate purpose,
and service in it is honorable.

Jeff Bone asks:
>Are you really going to blame them for pursuing their own interests, for 
>taking perhaps the one option they had to avoid working in a supermarket 
>all their lives?

For what am I supposed to be blaming them? There
seems to be a tacit assumption that if I am
critical of the current war, or the failure of
diplomacy preceding it, that I therefore should be
critical of those in the military.

I think you were right in identifying the
responsible party. The responsibility for this war
is in Bush's lap. That should be obvious to all.

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