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Old 07-03-2012, 09:35 PM   #26
hughrbeyer
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Re: Ordered murder

I'd like to point out that, for those living in a democratic society, this is not a moot question, even if you aren't in the military yourself. If you're of the "it's all murder" persuasion, it's your responsibility to be voting for those who, even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, wouldn't have gone after the perpetrators. Because we knew where they were, and we knew we couldn't get them without civilian casualties.

One of the things that happens when your join the military is that you give over a degree of personal control to those in charge in your society--which for us in the US means our elected officials. There's a reason why the Commander-in-Chief is an elected position.

Yeah, in theory every soldier is required to disobey an illegal order... but you know that's a career-ending decision, even when it's the right thing to do. And in practice, 99% of the time, that's not the issue--the issue is should we be there at all, trying to do the things we're asking the military to do.

Remember the blowup about the helicopter gunship that took out a reporter by accident? The main takeaway from that screwup was that the helicopter crew played it by the book. They reported what they were seeing, got the go-ahead from their base (which was presumably not hopped up on adrenaline) and acted on their orders. The responsibility for the screwup doesn't lie on them but on those who put them there--and that's you and me and everyone else who votes in this democracy.

So I'd say, cut some slack to those who agree to be our instrument in the world. Yeah, they agreed to it--but when someone gets cut, do you blame the knife, or the wielder?
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Old 07-03-2012, 09:44 PM   #27
Benjamin Green
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Re: Ordered murder

Quote:
Anthony Loeppert wrote: View Post
This reminds me of a joke (if I could find a direct link, I would provide it) by Nick DiPaolo many years ago, something along the lines of:

"I heard on the news a guy got shot at a gas station..." "...and they said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Where do you go when your tank is on 'E', Chuck-E-Cheese?" It could be that the ones getting shot aren't in the "wrong place and wrong time" but rather the trigger puller is.
Well that's using right and wrong in two different senses there. The first guy's using it in a descriptive sense and making the assumption that the guy filling up didn't want to be shot. The idea that the shooter's in the wrong place is just using the assumption that shooting them was automatically the wrong answer by some moral criteria.

The theme of the platitude is that it can happen to anyone. That in a world of limited evidence, out of which we've not evolved to draw anywhere near the optimum amount of information, you can make all the right choices and end up with the wrong cards.

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Anthony Loeppert wrote: View Post
These are specifics not germane to the question...
Since I view the majority of killing as arising more out of apathy and selfishness than malice, to my way of thinking it's highly germane.

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Anthony Loeppert wrote: View Post
Yes! But. The lack of a "taste for killing face to face" yet the desire to kill is exactly the issue at hand. If I have a task and I can't hire anyone to do that for me.... well, my plan doesn't execute.
It doesn't bother me. If people didn't enable the plan makers, buying the loot and then pretending not to know how it gets there, then it wouldn't matter that way around either. If you remove either part of a system, it falls apart. There is no special sin in being the one to pull the trigger.

If it's a sin at all. It's not like many of the people we kill aren't nasty people who were incharge of nasty areas of the planet anyway.
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Old 07-03-2012, 11:11 PM   #28
Anthony Loeppert
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Re: Ordered murder

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
I'd like to point out that, for those living in a democratic society, this is not a moot question, even if you aren't in the military yourself. If you're of the "it's all murder" persuasion, it's your responsibility to be voting for those who, even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, wouldn't have gone after the perpetrators. Because we knew where they were, and we knew we couldn't get them without civilian casualties.
Who is we and them?

I was 24 years old on sept. 11th. I remember that day in a very strange way, because I had proposed to my wife on Sept. 10th.

I remember being upset. I remember wanting blood. Then I remember hearing George W. Bush explain the reason "why they hate us" is because of our freedom and we should keep shopping. "Wait, what?" That was like someone scrapping the needle across the phonograph for me. So I started trying to make sense of the situation as best I could. I had always assumed those in power were there because they were experts. I wasn't interested in geopolitics but there were experts I could trust to handle things on my behalf.

Well, come to find out... not so much.

Before we (speaking to other united states citizens here) went into Iraq. I knew it would be a boondoggle. I am on published record at the student newspaper at UT Arlington in Oct 2002 if memory serves.

I stood on a street corner, handmade sign, in downtown fort worth texas COUNTLESS times.

I've campaigned for Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader. None of it came to anything.

Nothing will come of this internet thread either. But I won't be quiet. The funny thing is, in these here United States of America, besides absurdly large bill each year which cuts into domestic services, it really doesn't matter what goes on beyond our borders to the non-military citizen.

And you know what, it doesn't matter to me that much either if only by choice. I'm not affected by ongoing war in my daily life. Most days I don't even think about it.

Quote:
So I'd say, cut some slack to those who agree to be our instrument in the world. Yeah, they agreed to it--but when someone gets cut, do you blame the knife, or the wielder?
OK how about I meet you half way? When soldiers are lobotomized upon service entry and/or can be reasonably compared to inanimate objects such as knives - I will certainly consider your viewpoint valid.

Anthony
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Old 07-03-2012, 11:41 PM   #29
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Re: Ordered murder

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Well that's using right and wrong in two different senses there. The first guy's using it in a descriptive sense and making the assumption that the guy filling up didn't want to be shot. The idea that the shooter's in the wrong place is just using the assumption that shooting them was automatically the wrong answer by some moral criteria.
It was funnier they way Nick said it.
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:46 AM   #30
Michael Hackett
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Re: Ordered murder

After reading both threads again, it seems that Anthony is against killing at the direction of another. I don't have any problem with that for him and others who believe as he does. Where it seems to get cross-threaded in this conversation is Anthony's choice of the word murder as a synonym for killing. Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being by another. Some killings are lawful such as self-defense or the defense of others.

If the question is really intended to be "Should a soldier commit a murder because he was ordered to?" the answer is clearly no. That has been addressed time and again in places like Nuremberg and The Hague. Our own military has tried and punished American servicemen for the crime of murder in a combat situation.

If the question is "Should a soldier take a life because he was ordered to?" Assuming we are talking about the implied order of killing an enemy soldier on the field of battle, my answer is yes. If I felt as Anthony does, I would choose not to serve, or be willing to accept the consequences of my refusal.

Thankfully we have honorable men and women like Kevin who are willing to put themselves in harm's way on our behalf. I only wish that the purpose for asking them to do so would always be as honorable.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 07-04-2012, 04:54 AM   #31
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Re: Ordered murder

Agree Michael...good summary

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Old 07-04-2012, 05:14 AM   #32
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Re: Ordered murder

Quote:
Anthony Loeppert wrote: View Post
It seems like we have shifted towards the specific situation of Afghanistan, unless I read something not intended into your comments.

I have never seen the horrors you describe. I do not know how I would react. I have no solution how to drag those that wish to live in the stone age into the present and 10 years later I see our dear leaders don't either.

To training and hypocrisy:
On my less idealistic days, I see Aikido as learning to converse in another language - physical confrontation being one form of (non-verbal) communication. It is uncomfortable to ignore reality and not be at least conversant.

On my more idealistic days, I see Aikido as a path to moving through space from stable configuration to configuration.

But I don't see it as a way to do violence to someone (at least that is not what I'm in for), though definitely that application exists. I never saw an aikido technique that couldn't be defeated by uke simply letting go or walking (not running) in another direction.

I wish you well, safety, and good judgement Kevin.

EDIT: I realized just now I missed a point that integrated circuits contain rare earth metals and these can come from stressed areas of the world. I have no issue labeling these items just like diamonds. It gets confusing though, once the raw materials are processed.
Comments are not intended to apply to any specific situation. Although my experiences have some bearing on my own personal morality and ethics to justify killing. For me it is not something I seek out, but if necessary I don't avoid it or ignore it either. At the base level I am a pacifist and work hard to find peaceful ways to resolve things if at all possible. However, it is not always possible.

I won't comment on the politics of dragging people out of the stone age, it is not my place to do so, but I do have my own thoughts on that issue of course and you'd probably find we have similar views in many respects.

On hypocrisy, it is just something to be aware of and realise that it pretty much exisit in all circumstances and we need to be aware and maintain a certain degree of humbleness about it. I am a vegetarian, for example, but don't see myself as better than a non vegetarian as while I am a vegetarian I am also a hypocrite somewhere on the scale of things.

On Aikido as a method of violence. Same here. I don't see it as a tool for violence as much as I do for peace. However I am always concerned when it gets reframed to the point of lack of understanding of the nature and capacity to do violence. We need to keep this awesome responsibility in mind and practice to do violence for good IMO.

As a philosophical pacifist I struggled for a while over the seemingly contradiction in my beliefs and chosen career. In summary I decided that I had a responsibility and my karma had placed me in my situation. My responsibility was to be a leader and attempt to train others as best I could to be as highly skilled as possible so they might have room to minimize the amount of harm and to try and find peaceful ways to resolve conflict as possible.

Fortunately, I have never committed an act that I have remorse for or regret. Some of it was not pleasant and did not take joy in the actions, but they were necessary and the only option. I was and am glad to have been well trained and have/had a clear mind to make decent decisions. Budo has played a big role in that process.

By all means if uke surrenders or quits...we are obligated to protect and show compassion.

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Old 07-04-2012, 09:46 AM   #33
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Re: Ordered murder

As a fella who spent a awful lot of my parent's money getting a degree in philosophy from an expensive school, let's just say it's a really complicated issue addressable from a variety of angles. And there are a lot of assumptions running underneath most of the replies here that could devolve in to huge threads of their own. And I would suspect many don't even realize the assumptions or problems these sorts of question raise when you drill deeper.

There is a fantastic entry level course covering many of these issues called "Justice". They are a series of lectures by Michael Sandel of Harvard and they are really quite good. The first few involve killing and he dives in to the assumptions we made and the discomfort we feel over some of these issues. Strongly recommended. There are 12 lectures, all very good, by the end you're getting deeply in to Kant, Locke, Aristotle, Rawls, et al. All free and one great thing about the lectures is that he regularly engages the students in the audience to get their thoughts and feedback. Which helps drive the discussion in a rather Socratic fashion.

Free on-line and well worth the time if you're in to digging deeper.

http://www.justiceharvard.org/

Have a lovely Fourth of July all you US folk in the discussion. And to fellas like Kevin, as always, thank you again for what you do for all of us.

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Old 07-04-2012, 10:55 AM   #34
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Re: Ordered murder

Thanks Keith. I minored in Philosophy for undergrad and love it. I'll check it out.

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Old 07-04-2012, 11:25 AM   #35
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Re: Ordered murder

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Thanks Keith. I minored in Philosophy for undergrad and love it. I'll check it out.
You won't regret it. The course is one of the most popular courses at Harvard for good reason. He is an excellent lecturer and he manages to keep his own views out of the discussion early on to allow the audience to struggle with the ideas. I've suggested it to other friends who've enjoyed it immensely. What I found is that often people find themselves changing their minds on issues repeatedly during the course of the lectures. He leads you to the logical implications of your views, challenges their assumptions, and soon you find yourself with that wonderful unease that is the sign of questioning deeply held assumptions. Often assumptions you never realized you had. Good stuff.

Frankly lots of the folk spouting off about "liberty" and "freedom" today in the political sphere would do well to listen to these lectures rather than using the terms as Pavlovian Response Generating soundbites. That pool is awfully large nowadays and barely ankle deep...

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Old 07-05-2012, 10:38 AM   #36
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Re: Ordered murder

When I framed this as a yes or no question, the next two posters responded no and yes respectively. That just goes to show there is no clear answer to this issue because it is not black and white. The realities of violence and killing are immensely difficult and complex and it is impossible to draw a simple and uniform line between the permissible and impermissible taking of life. The morality of that decision is specific to the sitiuation in question (if there is one), which makes it futile to speak about it in generic non-descript terms.

The movie 'A Few Good Men' also addresses many aspects of this issue.
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:47 PM   #37
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Re: Ordered murder

It may not be clear for you, but it is clear for me. A Few Good Men was a movie and the drama in reality is not as nearly ambiqious, dramatic, or philosophical as is potrayed. There is a clear process, albeit involved that determines how all this works, by the time it gets to my level, it is really not hard to figure out.

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Old 07-05-2012, 02:36 PM   #38
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Re: Ordered murder

What is clear for you Kevin? (And I'm not being sarcastic or derisive)

It's clear how to interpret the morality of an undefined situation?

I agree that it's possible to make that determination once you know who the players are and the driving force behind their actions. But what I was getting at is that those things weren't really defined at the beginning of this thread, leaving us with a bunch of hypotheticals.

Also, how can drama be ambiguous? lol
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Old 07-05-2012, 02:59 PM   #39
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Re: Ordered murder

who said the situation was undefined? Dealing with Rules of Engagement and warfare...it is very well defined. Just as it is well defined for Soldiers as it is for Police Officers.

Maybe the thread wasn't well defined? is that is what you are talking about?

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Old 07-05-2012, 03:29 PM   #40
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Re: Ordered murder

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
who said the situation was undefined? Dealing with Rules of Engagement and warfare...it is very well defined. Just as it is well defined for Soldiers as it is for Police Officers.

Maybe the thread wasn't well defined? is that is what you are talking about?
Yea, the thread and what the OP said initially. Kind of left things wide open to thread drifiting. Hence the digression into discussions of soldier suicide and philosophy courses. Not that those are bad things, or completely unrelated, but they don't really address the core issue that the OP started the thread about.
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Old 07-12-2012, 03:18 AM   #41
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Ordered murder

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I agree though that economic concerns and fear tend to be the motivating factors for us to take action.

That said, that while economics and fear are motivators...it does not mean the war is unjust...it might simply be the motivator that forces us to take action.
Quote:
I think the original discussion dealt with the base concerns and ethics of the warrior.
What is interesting to me is how the factors that govern the use of deadly force on the part of individuals is so different from what we do when it is used on a national and international level, For instance, if another person had a business whose success threatened your own business, it would be considered murder and immoral if you went next door and killed him. Yet, on the international level, this happens all of the time.

An individual cannot attack another individual just because he thinks he "might" be a threat. Yet we use that as justification on a national level. Pre-emptive war is ok for nations but is completely illegal on the individual level.

If I decided that it would be in my personal interest to have your house and yard added to my own, it would be illegal and immoral if I went to your home and killed you and took you property. Yet this has been done over and over by the nation and is treated completely differently by most people.

We do things all the time as nations that we would consider highly illegal and immoral if done by an individual and we tell ourselves that our soldiers, the folks who actually do the bidding of the folks that make these decisions are acting legally and morally when doing the very things that we would put an individual in jail for.

Governments would have a hell of a time if they allowed everyone to decide for themselves about the morality of its actions. So we have all sorts of concepts that are used to remove the idea of personal responsibility for ones actions if they are done on the orders of the state. Duty, obedience to authority, etc is crucial in getting people to suspend their individual sense of what is right and wrong.

Look at how much propaganda is needed to get the populace to buy into our wars. That's how we convince ourselves that what we are doing is ok. When the soldiers doing the killing start to lose that sense of rightness you have a situation like we had in Viet Nam where grunts fragged officers who were too gung ho and whole units would find ways to not do what was being ordered.

I actually think that Smedley Butler had it pretty spot on. The public pretty much knows when it is really threatened or not. I think that you could say that the real moral justification for a war is inversely proportional to the amount of propaganda it takes to convince the public to support it. Iraq being a good case in point...

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 07-12-2012 at 03:21 AM.

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Old 07-12-2012, 07:40 AM   #42
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Re: Ordered murder

I agree with your observations and insights based on how you framed it for the most part.

GEN McChrystal recently proposed bring back the draft. I have been discussing this concept for a few years now and support it for the same reasons he does.


http://www.stripes.com/news/army/mcc...draft-1.182321

I think if we would have had a draft, we might have avoided Iraq...at least politically.

When the public is not invested in the process and is detached from it...it is a dangerous situaiton to be in. The draft is a means of investment for the public.

I think a big part of the issue deals with the perspective of threat from both sides. It has to be balanced. Threat that if you support it, you also may have to go, or you might have to send your child or neighbor.

Looking back, I think there are some very interesting reasons why we abandoned the draft. One of the big ones is it gave a great deal of control over to the government on the use of the military.

Thanks for your comments George.

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Old 07-12-2012, 07:52 AM   #43
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Re: Ordered murder

If the father had hired a body guard to protect the daughter and it was the body guard that had killed the child's attacker, would the hired, trained bodyguard had been morally correct?

dps

Last edited by dps : 07-12-2012 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 07-12-2012, 07:59 AM   #44
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Re: Ordered murder

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
When the soldiers doing the killing start to lose that sense of rightness you have a situation like we had in Viet Nam where grunts fragged officers who were too gung ho and whole units would find ways to not do what was being ordered.
Do you have direct experience of this happening or can you back these allegations up with documented proof?

dps
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:47 AM   #45
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Re: Ordered murder

Kevin, I don't want to divert the topic onto the draft, but I want to make one comment for what it's worth. As it is now, the US military is comprised of volunteers, meaning they chose that line of work and whatever consequences come with it. Their fate, particularly if it is undesireable, is something they chose. Therefore the blame, anger, and sadness that results, whether it be their own or that of their loved ones, can not be put back onto the government, military, or anyone else besides themselves.

With the draft, like we saw in Vietnam, ALL the blame can then be put back onto the government and military whenever a soldier dies. Then political figureheads, like Nixon and Westmoreland, can be demonized as the personification of war mongers. Thus reinforcing the divisive "us agasinst them" mentality--which weakens the country from within and makes us less effective at waging war. I just think that is a worse scenario than what we have now. But that's admittedly only one angle of it.
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:53 AM   #46
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Re: Ordered murder

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David Skaggs wrote: View Post
If the father had hired a body guard to protect the daughter and it was the body guard that had killed the child's attacker, would the hired, trained bodyguard had been morally correct?

dps
Well, body guards, by definition of "body guard" well...guard bodies. If they acted within the scope of protecting a person from harm, then I'd say it is morally correct regardless of the fathers ethics or personal situation...ie...he worked for the mob etc.

Now, you can debate all day long about the morality of who the body guard has chosen to work for....but the actual act of protection...welll that is morally correct I would think.

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Old 07-12-2012, 09:02 AM   #47
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Re: Ordered murder

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Roger Flatley wrote: View Post
Kevin, I don't want to divert the topic onto the draft, but I want to make one comment for what it's worth. As it is now, the US military is comprised of volunteers, meaning they chose that line of work and whatever consequences come with it. Their fate, particularly if it is undesireable, is something they chose. Therefore the blame, anger, and sadness that results, whether it be their own or that of their loved ones, can not be put back onto the government, military, or anyone else besides themselves.

With the draft, like we saw in Vietnam, ALL the blame can then be put back onto the government and military whenever a soldier dies. Then political figureheads, like Nixon and Westmoreland, can be demonized as the personification of war mongers. Thus reinforcing the divisive "us agasinst them" mentality--which weakens the country from within and makes us less effective at waging war. I just think that is a worse scenario than what we have now. But that's admittedly only one angle of it.
Disagree. I took an oath to support and defend the constituion. I did not sign up for a particular fate. The military works for both the president and congress...elected respresentatives of the people. It is the people of the united states that are and should be accountable for the actions of our country.

Your very logic is exactly my point. "You get what you deserve cause you volunteered for it". You don't share in the investment of trigger pulling. As a citizen of the US, you share in the actions of our government and the military.

Also your logic about Vietnam is incorrect. The will of the people was not behind the war. I'd submit that the fact that we had a draft was the major reason for us pulling out. I'd bet it'd have gone on longer if we did not have a draft.

I would agree that not having a draft makes it easier to wage war. That is my point exactly. It is why our military leaders don't want a draft. Fundamentally though, while it may slow down our abiltiy to take action, I think that it is a good point to consider that we do not have the investment in our country that is necesary to keep our government accountable.

Basically as long as gas is cheap and we can drive our SUVs with big cup holder with a cell phone and starbucks in hand...then we really don't think too much about stuff that makes us feel sad.

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Old 07-12-2012, 09:38 AM   #48
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Re: Ordered murder

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Disagree. I took an oath to support and defend the constituion. I did not sign up for a particular fate. The military works for both the president and congress...elected respresentatives of the people. It is the people of the united states that are and should be accountable for the actions of our country.

Your very logic is exactly my point. "You get what you deserve cause you volunteered for it". You don't share in the investment of trigger pulling. As a citizen of the US, you share in the actions of our government and the military.

Also your logic about Vietnam is incorrect. The will of the people was not behind the war. I'd submit that the fact that we had a draft was the major reason for us pulling out. I'd bet it'd have gone on longer if we did not have a draft.

I would agree that not having a draft makes it easier to wage war. That is my point exactly. It is why our military leaders don't want a draft. Fundamentally though, while it may slow down our abiltiy to take action, I think that it is a good point to consider that we do not have the investment in our country that is necesary to keep our government accountable.

Basically as long as gas is cheap and we can drive our SUVs with big cup holder with a cell phone and starbucks in hand...then we really don't think too much about stuff that makes us feel sad.
Jingoism is not something I ascribe to, which is where the first part of your post was headed. But you got to the nuts and bolts of it in the middle there, only to end it on a less than positive note by lumping all Americans into the cliche image of consumption-crazed sociopaths. I see that as sandwich with two extremes being the bread, and the truth being the meat.

You're saying that the draft would actually prevent war and death, which seems contradictory, but I do agree with that to an extent. Many other factors though, and lots of different directions to take this. So I'll leave off there.
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:44 AM   #49
Keith Larman
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Re: Ordered murder

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Roger Flatley wrote: View Post
Kevin, I don't want to divert the topic onto the draft, but I want to make one comment for what it's worth. As it is now, the US military is comprised of volunteers, meaning they chose that line of work and whatever consequences come with it. Their fate, particularly if it is undesireable, is something they chose. Therefore the blame, anger, and sadness that results, whether it be their own or that of their loved ones, can not be put back onto the government, military, or anyone else besides themselves.
When you consider that the vast majority of "volunteers" in our army come from the lower socio-economic ranks of our country, do you really believe it is a totally "volunteer" army? Why aren't there more sons and daughters of the upper middle class and higher groups volunteering? I'm sure they believe in noble causes, patriotism, etc. as much as anyone else...

It just isn't so black and white...

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Old 07-12-2012, 10:19 AM   #50
genin
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Re: Ordered murder

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
When you consider that the vast majority of "volunteers" in our army come from the lower socio-economic ranks of our country, do you really believe it is a totally "volunteer" army? Why aren't there more sons and daughters of the upper middle class and higher groups volunteering? I'm sure they believe in noble causes, patriotism, etc. as much as anyone else...

It just isn't so black and white...
You mean people like Pat Tillman?--someone who gave up wealth and prestige in order to serve his country and sacrifice his life defending that which he believed in. And are you suggesting that any US citizen is FORCED into the military. Maybe a few are given a court ordered ultimatum to join (if they got in legal trouble), but thats about it. The reason for the disparity in socio-economics ranks within the military is simply because those on the lower rungs have fewer options for career paths, whereas those higher have things like college, trust funds, and high-earning civilian jobs available at their fingertips.

It'd be like wondering why you don't see any doctor's or lawyer's kids working at Burger King. Quite simply, they feel like they can do better or be more productive doing something else.
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