8 January 2007

Is it morally superior to enlist?

Culled from my email inbox, the daily Andrew Tallman Show newsletter puts forth the question:
I heard a soldier recently talking about his experiences in the military and how beneficial it has been to him both personally and professionally, and then he made a comment about how he sort of looks down on other men his age who don’t enlist. It wasn’t a major point to him, but he just thought that if you love your country and you’re a young man, you would enlist. As someone who’s never served and was a bit concerned about the possibility of a draft, this made me think. Is it morally superior to enlist? Is it practically better? If so, and given the fact that someone needs to do this or else there’s going to be problems, shouldn’t all young men do so? After all, if enough people didn’t do so voluntarily, we’d have a draft. And that would presuppose some sort of general moral duty to perform military service. Also, about half the countries in the world have compulsory service. Clearly, they think it’s a duty.

I believe this to be an absolutely absurd assertion, that an American has an obligation to serve themselves up as fodder for foolhardy corporatists who line their pockets on the sacrifice of spilt blood from fallen young Americans. And our nation's founding fathers had a deep antipathy against the existence of standing armies. James Madison, known as the "father of the Constitution" wrote these words:

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.... [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and ... degeneracy of manners and of morals.... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

True, there is moral foundation in military service. It can instill discipline and put young people on a straight path, sparing them from an otherwise destructive route. On the flip side, and life in the military can be far from an enclave of virtue.

I do love my country and if we were attacked, I would eagerly volunteer for the campaign to repel the invaders and/or enthusiastically enlist in any resistance effort. But I think that's the part of the Constitution about a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State. Not for illegal, immoral invasion of a nation that did attack nor threaten to attack the United States, with the ever shifting justification based on equivocation and outright deception. And once one volunteers to be a party that enforces state edicts, there's no opting out. A majority of the war waged in our nation's recent history (last 100 years or so) has all been the "elective" sort, with our leaders brazenly lying to the public, to escalate hostilities. Once engaged, it's even more difficult to cease the campaign, as no politician wants to give credence to the charges of cowardice. Charges, I may add, that are boasted and brought forward by chickenhawks.

As far as what other countries do regarding compulsive military service, I could give a rat's petunia. I've always considered this debate from the vantage point that if conditions of national defense warranted it, there would be an ample supply of those signing up to fight. When it comes to elective wars, waged to enrich the coffers of the corporatists and globalists, the state must then resort to alternative means — i.e., conscription, highly paid mercenaries, expedited immigration to reward foreigners enlisting, or employing killing machines instead.