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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

Michael%20Labeit's gravatar image

Michael Labeit

I can't bring myself to answer the substantive question, because it is so embedded in opinion and presumption.

(Dec 24 '10 at 22:55) Mindy Newton ♦ Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

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.
I will not attempt to justify the many tactical blunders that have been made in use of our Armed Forces. One of the most objectionable to me was the (fortunately not carried out) plan to deploy our military into a nation by a beachfront invasion with no weapons. Sacrificing soldiers lives is immoral and, frankly, evil.
So, the bottom line is that I consider serving in our armed forces to be a noble profession. Unfortunately, our leadership, both civilian and military have not always considered the lives and health of our soldiers to be one of our most precious resources so they have squandered this asset in ways that are beyond reprehensible.

answered Dec 25 '10 at 09:25

ethwc's gravatar image

ethwc ♦

I would be remiss not to add to the above comments my conviction that our nation invests far more into military systems than is remotely justified. We could easily cut defense expenditures in half and not lose any effectiveness in our defense. Indeed, we would possibly become more effective through more careful planning. Cutting down on foreign bases, many domestic bases, exotic weapon systems, and deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan could be accomplished were our legislative leaders willing to do so.

(Dec 26 '10 at 09:37) ethwc ♦ ethwc's gravatar image

"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."

This is a claim by our political leaders, and it must not be taken at face value. The whole premise of the original question is how to make this judgment; otherwise, deferring to our political or military establishment would lead us to conclude that joining the military is always "right."

(Dec 31 '10 at 11:10) Andrew Dalton ♦ Andrew%20Dalton's gravatar image

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Asked: Dec 24 '10 at 05:00

Seen: 3,254 times

Last updated: Dec 31 '10 at 11:10