Though the U.S. government has proven to be quite a meddlesome institution, it still serves some noble and necessary functions according to Objectivism. The police still pursue and apprehend violent criminals and defrauders; the courts still prosecute and punish violent criminals and defrauders. However, of the three aspects of government that are sanctioned by Objectivism, it appears that the military has the worst record in recent years with regard to protecting individual rights. Very little, it seems, of U.S. foreign policy is actually geared towards the protection of the rights of Americans from foreign aggression. Instead, the military has been tasked with offering foreign aid in the form of security, infrastructural support, and various other services. Thus, military personnel killed in combat zones today are very likely killed while participating in such welfare-like operations. If so, why then should individuals consider enlisting or being commissioned into the military? The military by its very existence does offer deterrence which is necessary, but perhaps the majority of those who enlist today will be required to engage in its altruistic foreign policy.
asked Dec 24 '10 at 05:00
As Mindy Newton implies, this is a complex issue. However, I will initiate the discussion and stick out my neck with several observations.
First: the US Armed Forces take an oath not to protect individuals or individual rights. Their oath is to "Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States of America." The Constitution as interpreted by the courts, legislature, and executive branches is our protector of individual rights. There was a very good reason for the Bill of Rights limiting government, not citizens.
Second: In our system strategic goals are decided upon by the civilian leaders (Congress and the President). The military leadership is responsible for creating tactics that will achieve those strategic goals that are realistically military in nature. For example, "Cripple or destroy al Queda" is a strategic goal. Several strategies were prepared to achieve this strategic goal. Included were invasion of Afghanistan and coordination with various war lords to remove Taliban leadership and then establish an alternative leadership. Invasion of Iraq was "justified" in great part based on that strategy (despite lack of evidence that al Queda had any significant presence in that government). Support of Pakistan comes under this umbrella of tactical decisions".
When you refer to the "welfare like services", I assume that you are considering medical, food distribution, construction assistance and related activities. My response to that is that these are considered as effective tactics in which to improve stability and effectiveness of local governments which will lead to our being able to exit and leave control to those agencies. Such tactics are less costly of persons and money than simply "kill them all and let "God" sort them out.
answered Dec 25 '10 at 09:25