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Source: (consider it) Thread: The military
Schroedinger's cat

Ship's cool cat
# 64

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Some of the discussion on the Aleppo thread has made me think (again) about the military and the status they have.

Just to make it clear, I am not knocking the role they play, that is for another place.

But those who enter the forces have at least some idea of what they are joining. It is an organisation whose role is killing and being killed. While we hope that there is as little of this as possible, it is part of their role.

So they are sent into dangerous places, heavily armed and with knowledge and intelligence about the situation, and they take carefully calculated risks. When they are killed, they are accorded a huge about of honour and respect because they have "died for our country".

I think there is some evidence that being in the military in many parts of the world is far safer than being at home. When schoolteachers (particularly in the US, but not solely) are killed protecting the children in their care, when someone randomly decides to shoot the school up, they are not given the same level of honour. And yet they have no real idea of their danger, they are not trained or prepared for a gunman arriving. They are not armed (thankfully). They also die for the country, for the people they are looking after.

So to argue that "we shouldn't send our forces into xxx because they might be in danger" seems like a strange idea. If, by going to xxx they will make us safer, that is what they are for. And the danger is part of it. If they are going the xxx and it doesn't make things safer then they shouldn't go because it is a wrong strategic decision, not because it is dangerous.

I am not suggesting we should ever return to the WW1/WW2 approach of sending tens of thousands of men into a slaughterhouse. But that is not what it is about these days. The chances of death are not 50%+ as they were.

The chances of dying seem to be more if you are poor or disabled or black than if you are in the military. In fact, there seems to be all sorts of roles that are far more dangerous. And yet these don't get the level of respect or honour that people who have chosen a dangerous profession get.

And I think it is wrong.

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rolyn
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# 16840

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Many years ago, a time when one has a different clarity of thought, it did occur to me that the military, (not conscription), is just a job like any other. Apart from the fact that it can be rather a horrid job. This is provided we look beyond all the flag waving, jingoism and wobbly chin bit.
In the 60s and 70s we felt free, and maybe were even encouraged to think in such a way. Then came the Falklands and later the Iraq business. Now, with all that has followed, little by little we are moving ever closer to restoring pre 1914 sentiments where the military matters are concerned.

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simontoad
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# 18096

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what military services are you talking about?

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The opinions expressed above are transitory emotional responses and do not necessarily reflect the considered views of the author.

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Leorning Cniht
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# 17564

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quote:
Originally posted by rolyn:
Many years ago, a time when one has a different clarity of thought, it did occur to me that the military, (not conscription), is just a job like any other.

There aren't many jobs where "get killed" is practically in the job description. The police and fire department put their lives on the line, but AIUI, their rules of engagement place a higher emphasis on their personal safety than the military at war. And there are certainly plenty of jobs that are dangerous - ones where accidents happen quite often.

I don't think you need to go all rah rah jingo or dulce et decorum est to think that the military at war isn't "just another job".

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Kaplan Corday
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# 16119

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“Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.” Samuel Johnson
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Sioni Sais
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# 5713

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quote:
Originally posted by rolyn:
Many years ago, a time when one has a different clarity of thought, it did occur to me that the military, (not conscription), is just a job like any other. Apart from the fact that it can be rather a horrid job. This is provided we look beyond all the flag waving, jingoism and wobbly chin bit.
In the 60s and 70s we felt free, and maybe were even encouraged to think in such a way. Then came the Falklands and later the Iraq business. Now, with all that has followed, little by little we are moving ever closer to restoring pre 1914 sentiments where the military matters are concerned.

My views on the military are coloured by having spent twenty years between 1957 and 1977 trailing round after Dad as a forces brat (or a "scaley" in RAF terms). In my lifetime he spent four years at the main base for Thor ICBMs, to the north of Lincoln, three at Akrotiri on Cyprus working on Vulcans then his last two years at HQ Strike Command at High Wycombe. We didn't feel free, but there was a fatalistic approach because we knew damn well that these were three of the top ten, if not the top five British targets if the balloon went up, and we'd turned to glass in seconds.

It does rather affect ones attitude to boring stuff like school work, especially when an afternoon at the beach is an alternative. That was our kind of freedom.

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
When schoolteachers (particularly in the US, but not solely) are killed protecting the children in their care, when someone randomly decides to shoot the school up, they are not given the same level of honour.

I've seen plenty of TV and newspaper reports, and lots of stuff on social media, which give as much, if not more, honour to the bravery of school teachers (and other civilians) who have been killed or seriously injured protecting children. But, those are honouring individuals who protect others, the honouring of members of a profession doesn't happen in quite the same way - teachers in general don't get respect and honour just for being teachers in the way that soldiers in general will. You probably get closer with emergency services. The first responders in NY to the 9/11 attacks would be held in high honour, and that honour extends to the whole NY fire department and probably beyond.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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I have significant trouble with "died for our country", and calling military people heros. Almost all soldier dying is elsewhere, serving some strategy to do with economics, and most often more non-military are killed than military.

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cliffdweller
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# 13338

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To me the real problem with military service is the requirement to follow orders no matter what-- to basically turn your ethical and moral reasoning over to the generals and other higher ups.Except, of course, when you don't and are held morally/ethically responsible for your actions. The difference generally not parsed out until after the fact.

I recognize it would be pretty much impossible to run a military force any other way, but that seems to be an incredibly problematic system in terms of any development of moral and ethical reasoning. And we can all see how well that works out all too often.

The only solution I can see if conscientious pacifism, but that's a pretty hard sell.

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Og, King of Bashan

Ship's giant Amorite
# 9562

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I think the justification for treating soldiers who die on duty differently from others comes down to the fact that many of us are unwilling to sign up for a job where we will routinely be in mortal danger. We honor the fact that this person took on a job most of us wouldn't.

The teacher who dies is a totally different kind of tragedy. The teacher didn't take the job with an expectation that being killed was part of the job. So we react differently, out of a different kind of sorrow.

I also think that a lot more goes into deciding when to take action than is suggested above, and the balancing of civilian safety, soldier safety, ability to make a difference, and likelihood that you will lose political support for the action before you have cleaned up the mess is the only reasonable way to go about macro-level military decisions. Anything else would be extremely irresponsible.

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Jane R
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# 331

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cliffdweller:
quote:
To me the real problem with military service is the requirement to follow orders no matter what-- to basically turn your ethical and moral reasoning over to the generals and other higher ups. Except, of course, when you don't and are held morally/ethically responsible for your actions.
Yes, but of course some soldiers do retain their ethical/moral sense of responsibility and will refuse orders that they think are wrong - such as

James Blunt who refused an order to attack Russian troops in Kosovo (admittedly, this order came from a US general who was in overall charge of the action but not his commanding officer).

Or Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov who did NOT launch a nuclear strike on the United States in 1983 because he (correctly) thought that his early warning system was malfunctioning. If he'd been wrong, there wouldn't have been enough of him left to carry him home in a bucket... if he'd had an itchy trigger finger and launched a retaliation... well, we probably would have had more pressing concerns by now than Brexit or Donald Trump, if there had been any of us left in the smoking ruins.

Soldiers are supposed to follow orders, yes, but they're expected to use their judgement too. Of course, even if you do all the right things you might still end up being screwed over by the court-martial, as Admiral Byng found to his cost (no, I don't mean Admiral Byrd).

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cliffdweller
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# 13338

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quote:
Originally posted by Jane R:
cliffdweller:
quote:
To me the real problem with military service is the requirement to follow orders no matter what-- to basically turn your ethical and moral reasoning over to the generals and other higher ups. Except, of course, when you don't and are held morally/ethically responsible for your actions.
Yes, but of course some soldiers do retain their ethical/moral sense of responsibility and will refuse orders that they think are wrong - such as

James Blunt who refused an order to attack Russian troops in Kosovo (admittedly, this order came from a US general who was in overall charge of the action but not his commanding officer).

Or Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov who did NOT launch a nuclear strike on the United States in 1983 because he (correctly) thought that his early warning system was malfunctioning. If he'd been wrong, there wouldn't have been enough of him left to carry him home in a bucket... if he'd had an itchy trigger finger and launched a retaliation... well, we probably would have had more pressing concerns by now than Brexit or Donald Trump, if there had been any of us left in the smoking ruins.

Soldiers are supposed to follow orders, yes, but they're expected to use their judgement too. Of course, even if you do all the right things you might still end up being screwed over by the court-martial, as Admiral Byng found to his cost (no, I don't mean Admiral Byrd).

Yes, it's quite ambiguous, which certainly can't help matters. But the whole notion of "following orders" and "chain of command" is itself ethically problematic and, despite notable exceptions, not well suited for good outcomes. Yet it's hard to imagine how an alternative would work. Add to that the life-and-death stakes-- that you are literally trusting your very life to these few souls who are making the Big Decisions-- and it's a system uniquely designed for Very Very Bad Outcomes.

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Jane R
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# 331

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*remembers the occasion when Respecting The Chain of Command enabled Captain Sheridan to get Babylon 5 out of a very sticky situation*

(well, with the assistance of a fleet of Minbari battle cruisers)

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rolyn
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# 16840

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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
You probably get closer with emergency services. The first responders in NY to the 9/11 attacks would be held in high honour, and that honour extends to the whole NY fire department and probably beyond.

That is a good point. Only a heart of stone could not feel a sense of admiration for those guys heading upwards into the two infernos when everyone else was trying to get down. They put their lives on the line, and forfeited them, in order to save others.

If I compare this with the feeling I get from thinking of the 20,000 British soldiers who died on July 1st 1916 there is a subtle and significant difference. Indeed it is very sad that such a large number were misinformed as just how impossible their assignment was. But this has to be tempered with the fact that had they reached opposing trenches then their job was to kill others.

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Hiro's Leap

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# 12470

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Treating soldiers as heroes is a prehistoric piece of social engineering.

One individual will make relatively little difference to the outcome of a battle (especially with larger populations), yet taking part carries a huge risk for them. This means nobody will fight but then you're all screwed when you come up against a culture which does. It's the free rider problem.

Glorifying warriors is part of how humans have dealt with this. High status, statues of heroes, victory parades - they're the carrot which persuaded men to act against their immediate self-interest. (The stick is shaming them for cowardice - white feathers in WWI, Spartans being told to come home with their shields or on them, etc.)

You can see similar behaviour in monkeys.
quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
“Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.” Samuel Johnson

Exactly - status and shame rolled together.
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Arethosemyfeet
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# 17047

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quote:
Originally posted by Og, King of Bashan:
I think the justification for treating soldiers who die on duty differently from others comes down to the fact that many of us are unwilling to sign up for a job where we will routinely be in mortal danger. We honor the fact that this person took on a job most of us wouldn't.

I see more to honour in deep-sea fishermen. They do a difficult and dangerous job to put food on our tables. The death and injury rate is pretty awful. Even the local boats round here have people lose fingers or get into difficulties at sea.
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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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I remember 9-11. My daughter was 16. On the following day, September 12, she said to me, "The world is screwed up." I had to agree; it was obviously true. She went on reasoning, "It's adults who have messed it up." Also true, I had to admit. Who could argue it? And she went on, "It has to be fixed." And then her conclusion: "I have to fix it."
And at this moment I should have weighed in with the wussy and Barbie-doll comment. Something like, "Oh but darling, boys don't like girls who rule the world with a rod of iron," or "Honey, math is hard," or "Being smart will impact your social life!" Instead, like an idiot, I said, "You do that, dear."
And she said, "I will." From that moment she set herself to become Osama bin Laden's worst nightmare. She graduated from Stanford, joined the US Army, and is now a major, an Afghan war vet. Only the kindly intervention of the Navy Seals kept him from her vengeance; I trust that even on his rock in Hell bin Laden is grateful, because she's a terror.
So why, precisely, did she (and my son, too) become a soldier? It was not patriotism, exactly. I think it was a desire to combat evil in the most effective way. You can certainly argue that there has been mission creep; the military is not always effective. But few mortal entities are.

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Og, King of Bashan

Ship's giant Amorite
# 9562

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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
quote:
Originally posted by Og, King of Bashan:
I think the justification for treating soldiers who die on duty differently from others comes down to the fact that many of us are unwilling to sign up for a job where we will routinely be in mortal danger. We honor the fact that this person took on a job most of us wouldn't.

I see more to honour in deep-sea fishermen. They do a difficult and dangerous job to put food on our tables. The death and injury rate is pretty awful. Even the local boats round here have people lose fingers or get into difficulties at sea.
If you want to play that game, we could go into statistics about dwindling fish populations in our deep seas from over-fishing of species that are not evolved to reproduce in numbers necessary to keep up with human demand.

But what's the point of taking broad potshots from the safety of our own desk, other than to make ourselves feel smug? Maybe get out and talk to folks who do enlist, figure out what they wanted to accomplish, and then see if you still want to tell them that they should do something a bit more honorable with their lives.

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"I like to eat crawfish and drink beer. That's despair?" ― Walker Percy

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Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
# 273

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Schroedingers Cat

Have you looked where the military recruit from?

Jengie

[fixed link]

[ 20. December 2016, 16:47: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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HCH
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# 14313

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Chris Hedges, a war correspondent, has written a book titled "What Every Person Should Know About War", which is relevant to this discussion. It is written in a question and answer format and it is immaculately footnoted. If I knew a young person who was thinking of enlisting, I would provide a copy.
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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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quote:
Originally posted by HCH:
Chris Hedges, a war correspondent, has written a book titled "What Every Person Should Know About War", which is relevant to this discussion. It is written in a question and answer format and it is immaculately footnoted. If I knew a young person who was thinking of enlisting, I would provide a copy.

Excerpt here

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Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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This is also useful. Written in a cheeky manner, but is backed up by references to articles you may click on and at least read the abstracts.

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Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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Arethosemyfeet
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# 17047

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quote:
Originally posted by Og, King of Bashan:

But what's the point of taking broad potshots from the safety of our own desk, other than to make ourselves feel smug? Maybe get out and talk to folks who do enlist, figure out what they wanted to accomplish, and then see if you still want to tell them that they should do something a bit more honorable with their lives.

I don't recall telling anyone what they should do with their lives, merely questioning the necessity of "honouring" them for their choices. And I've known plenty of aspiring soldiers, and they have a variety of reasons, from the noble to the terrible, to the mundane. I also appreciate the job the military does with some kids for whom school didn't work.
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rolyn
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The Military serves a purpose both in offering a satisfactory career to those who choose it, and as an an instrument of those who wield ultimate power. I can't see that anyone could deny that, not even a pacifist.

But does that alone make it a different job from someone working and risking their life in the rescue services? Or indeed someone working and knowingly risking the onset of an industrial disease?
The difference seems to come when the public of a particular country gets behind it's military in an emotional way. We saw it here with the Falklands war 1982, something that we hadn't seen through a previous whole decade of military involvement in Northern Ireland.

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mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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The purpose of the military is to defend our nation by killing people. It spends millions and millions of dollars a year training people to kill, and buying hardware whose only purpose is to kill. No other occupation has that distinction.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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rolyn
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H'mmm , put like that MT I'm suspecting that much of the flagwaving and burning tingle in the depths of the emotions is partly down to the fact that killing has the potential to be a massive turn-on.

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Change is the only certainty of existence

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mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by rolyn:
H'mmm , put like that MT I'm suspecting that much of the flagwaving and burning tingle in the depths of the emotions is partly down to the fact that killing has the potential to be a massive turn-on.

I have talked with two former soldiers, 20 years apart, who both said that the ultimate power rush was to kill another man.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
The purpose of the military is to defend our nation by killing people.

I'm not sure about the 'defend our nation' part. 'Defend our national interests', okay, but then we get to the difficult debate as to what precisely constitutes 'our' national interest. (I've no interest in bombing the crap out of Iraqi conscripts, and I'm not in any danger from them either.)

So I've probably come to this point of view rather late, which is all to do with having relatives in the military (mainly WWII, and national service thereafter. Also, reader, I married her).

The problem - and I think it is a problem - is that with every serving soldier I've ever met, I've got on just fine with them. We've talked and joked and eaten together and sometimes got drunk together. But while I did that, I should have had a thought in my hindbrain which ought to have told me that this man/woman would kill me if ordered to do so. Their own feelings and beliefs would be immaterial. It wouldn't matter if I was on the right or the wrong side of history. It wouldn't matter why I was now the enemy, whether I presented an existential threat to the soldier, or whether I was simply in the way. This person should kill me if they were ordered to do so.

I don't know about you all, but the idea that someone has given another that much authority over them, that they would do that? I don't like that. I'm uncomfortable with that. I look on that as a flaw, a vice, not a virtue. I don't see that abandonment of responsibility, of agency, of conscience, as at all laudable.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
The purpose of the military is to defend our nation by killing people.

I'm not sure about the 'defend our nation' part. 'Defend our national interests', okay, but then we get to the difficult debate as to what precisely constitutes 'our' national interest.
National interests seem to align rather closely to economic interests. Which means those of large companies who will profit from it. And very weirdly they get the people they sell to, to pay for their wars.

Better is to not. Universal Soldier lyric.

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Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
The purpose of the military is to defend our nation by killing people.

I'm not sure about the 'defend our nation' part. 'Defend our national interests', okay, but then we get to the difficult debate as to what precisely constitutes 'our' national interest.
National interests seem to align rather closely to economic interests. Which means those of large companies who will profit from it. And very weirdly they get the people they sell to, to pay for their wars.

Better is to not. Universal Soldier lyric.

I think it is truer to say that the purpose of the military is killing people. It is necessary (or rather, that is another discussion), but distasteful. Which is why I ask the question.

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rolyn
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# 16840

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I have talked with two former soldiers, 20 years apart, who both said that the ultimate power rush was to kill another man.

Not knowing any soldiers personally, many documented accounts I have heard from former soldiers does,(though not always), more than bear this out.

It has even been suggested that Germany, as a Nation, only really gained it's real *taste* for battle and total war as a result of the Somme slaughterhouse.
Straying into controversial territory here it does seem, to me anyway, that such lust and fatal attraction is only really challenged when death is served up wholesale, in the form of Hiroshima, Nagasaki or Dresden.

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Change is the only certainty of existence

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Anecdata - the RSM at school once told me how he'd enjoyed emptying a semi-automatic into a couple of people. You could also see how much he enjoyed my distaste of his bloodlust. He was making me uneasy and thoroughly enjoying that as well. But he already loathed me anyway because I couldn't make boots shine. A complete knob.

It was at that point that I became to all intents and purposes a pacifist.

N=1 and all that.

[ 23. December 2016, 10:07: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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mdijon
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# 8520

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quote:
Originally posted by rolyn:
It has even been suggested that Germany, as a Nation, only really gained it's real *taste* for battle and total war as a result of the Somme slaughterhouse.

That doesn't seem to take account of the Franco-Prussian war or the wars enlarging the German empire in Africa and Samoa which show a taste for battle and conquest already.

Or the role of the economic conditions leading to fascism following WW1 rather than an inherited national taste for battle as the cause for WW2.

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ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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I can understand the desire to shoot up "the bad guys". I resist it, because I have to live in a civilised society. But I cannot deny that I understand the appeal, and the sense of power that it gives you.

They don't do it "for us". The politicians direct them on our behalf, but they do it because they find it a fulfilling role to play surely? Is there anyone in the forces who really doesn't want to be there, but feels that they have to do it to serve the nation? I doubt it.

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mdijon
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My guess is that most people are in the army for the peace-time life rather than wartime. Many probably find that their mix of abilities (or in some cases lack of abilities) fit them for life in the army, and I expect many regard being sent to war as an inevitable price to pay for that rather than anything they relish.

I don't doubt that some develop a taste for shooting people on exposure, but I doubt that is an initial motivator for many.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
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rolyn
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# 16840

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I don't doubt my own morbid fascination with the Great War is also a form of blood lust.
However the most telling documentary that I have watched to date was about the vast collection of photographs taken by soldiers themselves, (from both sides), who were amateur photographers.

Interesting were the similarities of young men on all sides, broad grins and posing in front of the latest weaponry. Also common we're pictures of shattered trees and destroyed buildings.
Most revealing of all, as these images were unpoliced, and what war censorship couldn't hide was the way in which the expressions on those soldier's faces were changing. Little by little the early glow of excitement and adventure was being replaced by the gaunt grimace of resolution, together with the profound realisation that most of them were not going get out of that predicament unscathed, or even alive.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
I can understand the desire to shoot up "the bad guys". I resist it, because I have to live in a civilised society. But I cannot deny that I understand the appeal, and the sense of power that it gives you.

I don't. Really, really I don't. For me, the biggest deterrent against joining the army, the thing I most dreaded about being called up if there were a war, would be that they'd want me to kill people, which I know I can't do.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Martin60
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# 368

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
I remember 9-11. My daughter was 16. On the following day, September 12, she said to me, "The world is screwed up." I had to agree; it was obviously true. She went on reasoning, "It's adults who have messed it up." Also true, I had to admit. Who could argue it? And she went on, "It has to be fixed." And then her conclusion: "I have to fix it."
And at this moment I should have weighed in with the wussy and Barbie-doll comment. Something like, "Oh but darling, boys don't like girls who rule the world with a rod of iron," or "Honey, math is hard," or "Being smart will impact your social life!" Instead, like an idiot, I said, "You do that, dear."
And she said, "I will." From that moment she set herself to become Osama bin Laden's worst nightmare. She graduated from Stanford, joined the US Army, and is now a major, an Afghan war vet. Only the kindly intervention of the Navy Seals kept him from her vengeance; I trust that even on his rock in Hell bin Laden is grateful, because she's a terror.
So why, precisely, did she (and my son, too) become a soldier? It was not patriotism, exactly. I think it was a desire to combat evil in the most effective way. You can certainly argue that there has been mission creep; the military is not always effective. But few mortal entities are.

A nice slice of life. But Osama Bin Laden is in paradise. Not a boulder in Tartaroo. And not with seventy virgins (are they perpetual?). But with Jesus.

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Love wins

Posts: 16593 | From: Never Dobunni after all. Corieltauvi after all. Just moved to the capital. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
rolyn
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# 16840

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Yep.
Heaven is universally big enough to take the military and it's harvest. Also every scrap of human folly and endeavour/failure that ever existed, or will exist.
Thank God for that.

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Change is the only certainty of existence

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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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Yes, thank the Lord, the fate of the deceased is Not Our Problem.
But there is certainly a military metaphor in Christianity. All those hymns ("A Mighty Fortress," "Onward Christian Soldiers"). All the hosts of Heaven. Michael with his angelic sword. Even if we argue that this is a faulty mortal metaphor, drafted to depict a Heavenly reality that we can't otherwise grip, there's something there. Christ was silent as a lamb to be slaughtered, before His oppressors. But he also kicked over the money-changers' tables.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
I can understand the desire to shoot up "the bad guys". I resist it, because I have to live in a civilised society. But I cannot deny that I understand the appeal, and the sense of power that it gives you.

I don't. Really, really I don't. For me, the biggest deterrent against joining the army, the thing I most dreaded about being called up if there were a war, would be that they'd want me to kill people, which I know I can't do.
The great evil is that they'd train you with operant conditioning and other behavioural techniques to do exactly that. Plus the pressures placed upon you by those ordering you so to do, and the desire to defend your buddies, the other soldiers. I wish we'd all realize that we are all capable of the hatred necessary to kill. And not just assume we have only nice motives.

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Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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rolyn
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# 16840

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
?... there is certainly a military metaphor in Christianity. All those hymns ("A Mighty Fortress," "Onward Christian Soldiers"). All the hosts of Heaven. Michael with his angelic sword. Even if we argue that this is a faulty mortal metaphor, drafted to depict a Heavenly reality that we can't otherwise grip, there's something there. Christ was silent as a lamb to be slaughtered, before His oppressors. But he also kicked over the money-changers' tables.

He's also advising the disciples to take up swords ahead of the Gethsemane showdown in one Gospel account. In fact a large part of the NT is ambiguous to the point that it can quite easily be used in support of militarism any day of the week.
Probably the reason that most major world Powers have been keen to foster it. Didn't even Rome embrace Christianity after some general or another had proved it's effectiveness in psyching his troops for battle?

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mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by rolyn:
Didn't even Rome embrace Christianity after some general or another had proved it's effectiveness in psyching his troops for battle?

No. He saw a miraculous chi-rho in the sky and heard a heavenly voice say "In this sign conquer" as he was readying his troops for battle. Just a wee bit more than finding it useful for psychological bolstering.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Brenda Clough
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There are very few things that you can't find a Scripture, somewhere in the Bible, to back you up on. There are whole websites devoted tho lists of questions like, "If God commands us to kill our neighbors do Canadians count or can we only kill Mexicans?"

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Barnabas62
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Wow, Brenda. This is a version of "peace on earth, goodwill towards all people" that I wasn't aware of.

Must have led a sheltered life.

But seriously, the church militant is a bit of challenge to folks from my part of the Christian rainbow. It's a pretty short step from defending the faith to fostering aggressive attitudes. Despite the universal awareness of "love your enemies", which appears in many minds to have been relegated from an "impossible possibility" (Reinhold Niebuhr, on the Sermon on the Mount) to just "impossible", or even perfectionist naivety.

In my part of the rainbow, we do our best to keep that "impossible possibility" possible; at least worth striving for.

[ 25. December 2016, 08:31: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
I don't see that abandonment of responsibility, of agency, of conscience, as at all laudable.

That's how I feel about fundamentalists...

But conversely, some of the most successful business partnerships involve a salesman type who's good at seeing the big picture of what products there's a market for with an engineer type who's good at the detail of how the product could be made to work. And the engineer trusts the salesman that the product development is worth the effort and the salesman trusts the engineer to make the technology do what he says it will do.

And the relationship between the soldiers and the army commanders has something of that mutual trust and specialization of role, as well as something of the blind faith of fundamentalism.

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Kaplan Corday
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# 16119

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quote:
Originally posted by rolyn:
He's also advising the disciples to take up swords ahead of the Gethsemane showdown in one Gospel account. In fact a large part of the NT is ambiguous to the point that it can quite easily be used in support of militarism any day of the week.

There are three possible attitudes toward armed conflict derivable from the NT - pacifism, just war and crusade.

A case can be made for the first two, but there is not a single verse in the NT which sanctions the third, ie armed coercion to defend or propagate the faith.

Any attempt to extract such approval from Luke 22:36, which can be taken ironically or figuratively, and which, if taken literally, flies in the face of everything else which Jesus taught, would guarantee you a fail in Hermeneutics and Exegesis 101.

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Martin60
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# 368

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
Yes, thank the Lord, the fate of the deceased is Not Our Problem.
But there is certainly a military metaphor in Christianity. All those hymns ("A Mighty Fortress," "Onward Christian Soldiers"). All the hosts of Heaven. Michael with his angelic sword. Even if we argue that this is a faulty mortal metaphor, drafted to depict a Heavenly reality that we can't otherwise grip, there's something there. Christ was silent as a lamb to be slaughtered, before His oppressors. But he also kicked over the money-changers' tables.

That's the problem, the fate of the deceased is Our Problem: Does Christianity have anything to say to the bereaved?

The fact that we are a martial monkey means that God symbolically deals with us as such. It has nothing to do with God's being violent in any recognizable way. Ooh, apart from when He was a bloke He turned some gangsters' tables over and shooed some big thick skinned animals away. Doesn't quite compare in any category of violence any of us ever encounter really does it? Mild physical aggression to inanimate objects and cattle desecrating a highly sacred place? Not exactly the Battle of Antietam?

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Posts: 16593 | From: Never Dobunni after all. Corieltauvi after all. Just moved to the capital. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Martin60
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# 368

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quote:
Originally posted by rolyn:
quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
?... there is certainly a military metaphor in Christianity. All those hymns ("A Mighty Fortress," "Onward Christian Soldiers"). All the hosts of Heaven. Michael with his angelic sword. Even if we argue that this is a faulty mortal metaphor, drafted to depict a Heavenly reality that we can't otherwise grip, there's something there. Christ was silent as a lamb to be slaughtered, before His oppressors. But he also kicked over the money-changers' tables.

He's also advising the disciples to take up swords ahead of the Gethsemane showdown in one Gospel account. In fact a large part of the NT is ambiguous to the point that it can quite easily be used in support of militarism any day of the week.
Probably the reason that most major world Powers have been keen to foster it. Didn't even Rome embrace Christianity after some general or another had proved it's effectiveness in psyching his troops for battle?

That was to fulfill prophecy, as He said. There is nothing in Christ that sanctions the use of violence in His name.

We do violence on our own recognizance. Some of which is Christianly mandatory in self defense and protecting the weak of course, duties of citizens of the state in being automatically deputized in the state monopoly of violence and even in, most rarely, taking up arms against the state. Which does take us in to military territory as citizens in between those positions at least I now accept.

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Love wins

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rolyn
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# 16840

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Just thinking back to a time, a long long Century ago when the pews were full and so were the marching boots.
To be fair the churches didn't initially back the impending bloody nose contest on mainland Europe. They were though directed by a governmental decree to amp up the 'I do not bring peace but a sword' bit when it became clear that a call to arms was imminent .

I have every respect for a pacifist, or indeed someone who can identify a predominantly pacifist narrative in the bible. However, apart from certain aspects of the Gospel, along with St Paul's campaign of non-violence, it seems a bit of a stretch to me.

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