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

Eugen Leitl eugen@leitl.org
Thu, 20 Mar 2003 22:26:25 +0100 (CET)


On Thu, 20 Mar 2003, Bill Stoddard wrote:

> Russell Turpin wrote:
> > The US military's first purpose is to present
> > a demonstrated capability of waging war. To use

That's a rather broad envelope, you know.

> > Someone who measures the US military by its recent
> > wars would find a very mixed record. They almost

No need to limit the scope unnecessarily. All nonconscript/professional 
armies are the same within this classification cluster. Higher order goals 
are another kettle of fish entirely.

> > 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.

I'm not sure. I'd like to see a superpersonal organization level analysis, 
where superpersonal goals override the local goals (again apoptosis in 
multicellular organisms, populations of related agents where agenda 
operate at gene, not individual level).
 
> > But that's the wrong way to judge the US
> > military. You have to also look at what was

"Wrong" is wrong. There is no right. There are just some current-consensus 
meaning clusters.

> > 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

My view of it (from both sides of the ferrous curtain) was that of two
drug-crazed rattlesnakes, and some good luck. I still thank my good
providence for nonnuclear resolution of the Cuba crisis, by virtue of
personal-level decisions. That was a close call. How close a call it was 
should have been are monumental lesson to us all. It wasn't, though.

> > 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

I think nothing immunizes more than having recovered from a totalitarian 
state perspective. Dunno about Italy and Russia, it sure applies to Japan 
and Krautland. Won't last, of course.

> > 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

Don't have to look that far, the War on Drugs has created heavy domestic 
casualties indeed.

> > 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.

The last paragraph was competely gibberish.