Social Question

Linda_Owl's avatar

Do you think that military service has become just another form of a 'government job'?

Asked by Linda_Owl (7738points) July 7th, 2011

Our military personnel are being used to protect US business interests & to secure US access to the natural resources (basically oil at this point in time) of the countries in which we now have a military presence. Given the fact that there is very little in the way of job opportunity available for our young people, it makes it a great deal easier to recruit our disenfranchised young people & persuade them of the supposedly “honorable” service in the military. The military is still wrapping itself up in the flag & telling everyone that they are “defending the freedom” of the US – but what it is doing is protecting the business interests of the various big US corporations. The military is using drones & heavy duty weaponry to decimate the populations of these countries that have been invaded. The military keeps propping up the various governments that have been put in power in these countries, governments that really have almost no support among the people they are supposed to represent. To keep these governments in power in these countries, it will take decades of our military presence to stop them from being toppled. We have been in Afghanistan now for 10 years; we celebrated the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq – but we still have thousands of troops on the ground in Iraq who did NOT get to come home. Our military has not been involved in any war that represented anything in the way of “Honor” since WWII & this was the last war in which our military was actually defending our freedoms. Now the military is just another facet of the military/industrial complex.

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26 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Sure, but a lot more dangerous. It really is unfortunate how disproportionately the military target urban youth of color that have even less options than other youth in order to get them to serve and waste their lives. I also love going up to recruiters on the subway and asking them why they didn’t reach out to me, specifically, as someone to talk to, is it that I don’t look young and naive enough? They always think they know human nature and maybe they do since they recognize fast enough that I’m not their ‘fish’ and that I won’t take the bait.

jaytkay's avatar

I see your point, but I don’t see it as new. We had the same situation with the Indian Wars, the Philippines around the turn of the last century, Nicauragua in the 30s, etc.

marinelife's avatar

I think that “just another government job” is quite a slap in the face to the families of the those killed in the wars this year and every year.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@marinelife Well, naturally – of course they want to think it’s more than just that. They’ve lost loved ones, they have to think it was for something.

TypoKnig's avatar

@marinelife Lots of people die doing lots of different jobs. Aren’t you slapping all of them in the face by only giving military people special recognition for it?

marinelife's avatar

@TypoKnig The relative numbers of people who die in other jobs vs. in military service is much smaller. Also, people working in other jobs are working just to make a living while those in military service are signing up to defend our country and to fight for our beliefs.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@marinelife Yes, to a mother who loses a child on any job ..that’s the only death that matters so who cares how many die doing what? Obviously more people die doing work for the military, since that is the nature of their job…as to your last sentence, do you know motivations of all people involved ‘cause I know dozens and they’re doing it for the money not politics or noble thoughts.

TypoKnig's avatar

@marinelife That’s not true. US soldiers die at a rate of 0.2 for every 100,000 per year. US truck drivers die at a rate of 27.1 for every 100,000 per year. And in pure numbers, about 950 truck drivers die every year, while about 1000 soldiers die every year. The soldier number goes up and down depending on whether or not we’re at war. The truck driver number is more stable. Also, truck driver is only the tenth deadliest job in the US.

And people living their day-to-day lives aren’t always just doing it to make a living. Some are upholding family traditions, some are doing the basic labor their countries (and soldiers!) depend on, and some are defending their countries without picking up weapons. I also think @Simone_De_Beauvoir is right to point out that every death is meaningful to the people who know and love the deceased.

Jaxk's avatar

What an astute observation. I sure the S.Koreans can’t wait for us to leave and let thier puppet government fall. Then they could enjoy the good life of the N.Koreans. And let’s not forget the Massive base in Germany that has brought nothing but pain and strife for the Germans and all of Eastern Europe.

Of course we have to acknowledge that we are in Afghanistan for their oil. Or maybe it’s to take advantage of their thriving economy. Not to mention all the oil contracts we’ve gotten from Iraq. Now that was a powerhouse of business for the US. We should have listened when they screamed to get Saddam back. And how much louder could the Libyans be at asking us to get out. Certainly no freedom issue there.

This sounds vaguely familiar to the sixties and seventies. Defile those in the armed service to make some obscure point. Except it is a volunteer service now. If you don’t like military service, don’t join. If you have a problem with international policy criticize those that create it rather than those that choose to defend you. Their job is hard enough already.

TypoKnig's avatar

@Jaxk The question isn’t necessarily saying anything bad about soldiers themselves. It can easily be read in a way that has it asking about the purposes to which soldiers are put by the people you say are the right ones to criticize.

Blackberry's avatar

Some really think they’re serving their country valiantly; others just need a paycheck, yes. I don’t blame people for joining just to get benefits and a steady check. The GI Bill has actually created opportunities for poorer people have a chance to make it in their lifetime. It irks me when people I know don’t even use it. I’m using every penny lol.

CaptainHarley's avatar

There have always been those we call “careerists.” They view the military as just another job. There have also always been those who view the profession at arms as a matter of honor and obligation.

mazingerz88's avatar

@CaptainHarley Well, thanks for that level headed response. And I thought you would say something along the lines of what @Jaxk said! Lol.

Why can’t people see that when someone criticizes the US military, it is not the soldiers that are criticized but the policy makers and philosophers directing them? To think of it that way is too emotional and quite short of thinking, imo.

Jaxk's avatar

@mazingerz88 @TypoKnig

When you say ‘The Military’ I assumed you meant…... well, the military. The policy makers are not the military.

woodcutter's avatar

No, it’s ts the nature of our very small world. It’s going to done by some country with the resources. Would you really want China , or Russia watching over the Straight of Hormuz?

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s nothing new, I think it’s always been that way for the enlisted.

blaze626's avatar

If people are targeted as saps for military service, as Simone suggests, it is primarily young and white poor people. There are very few urban youth of color in the military. It’s largely white and rural/suburban lower-middle class, in my experience.

I also surely agree with CaptHarley that there are veterans of all motivations although it has been my experience that more and more are realizing the economic value of military service and are staying in for that reason alone. During the Bush years (the time of my service), military pay skyrocketed, and you would now be hard pressed to find a comparable waged job in the civilian sector without going to college first. Enlisted pay is still weak in boot camp, but with nearly any promotion come huge pay raises. And, for officers, even newly commissioned, their pay is far more than other college grads.

Also consider 90% (I’m just making that number up, but it’s roughly correct) of military people are at risk due to industrial type accidents, not combat. Of course there are different stressors the military must deal with such as separation from family, being on a ship, etc. But there is extra pay for that.

The average military person is a well-paid, blue collar worker of humble origins who believes he is doing something important while taking care of his family but always wonders if he could do something more.

Joining the military was easily the best thing I’ve ever done for my life. Re-enlisting was arguably the worst, however, although I was well compensated for my sacrifices. Also, my opinions of what the military and this country are about have evolved over time and now believe it wouldn’t be the best use of my time and believe I may have taken part in operations I would now disagree with. So, in a way, I do believe the military is kind of just another government job. We still try to cling to the ideals as veterans, but it doesn’t seem like the military is as noble an endeavor as it once was in our American history.

CaptainHarley's avatar


I largely agree, but it has been my experience that African-Americans are represented in the military in almost the same percentage as they are in civilian life.

blaze626's avatar

I expect you are right, Capt. I guess my comment was more of an economic status / class distribution…

And an effort to shoot down Simone’s inflammatory implication that urban youth of color are gullible and naive enough to waste their lives fighting for this country while she is not.

Linda_Owl's avatar

To jaxk…. I was not putting down the military personnel – I am saying that they are being taken advantage of in that they are being told one thing, while behind the scenes they are being used to advance the interests of the military industrial complex.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I don’t want those who aren’t properly motivated to be there beside me when the balloon goes up!

geeky_mama's avatar

I’ve always thought Eisenhower’s farewell address warned against the very situation we are in today:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Longtime Foreign Policies (not just one or two administrations, but DECADES) and economics have made America the Global Policeman.
I agree with @YARNLADY – there is nothing new about the experience of being an enlisted soldier. It’s merely the roll of the dice whether you’ll be sent to Okinawa or Afghanistan, Iraq or Kuwait.

I feel most badly for our National Guard soldiers, however. They thought they were signing up for domestic “weekend warrior” and occasional deployment to keep the peace, or fill sand bags during a local flood…and now they’re on 2 and 3 active duty tours in the Middle East.
These poor guys and their families seem to have the least support, too… because they aren’t “active duty” except during deployment. So when you come home with PTSD or even a lingering injury from a road-side bomb the military medical establishment doesn’t want to help because aren’t you supposed to go back to your “day job” and whatever medical benefits you had as a civilian?

CaptainHarley's avatar


They do seem to have more problems than the active duty people, but it’s not nearly as bad as it could be.

ETpro's avatar

<rant>I’m fed up with people puking in my ear about government jobs. Anyone who wants to live free of all those hideous, greedy government workers should just pack up and catch the next plane to Somalia, where you will be free from the encroaching evil of government workers. I hear it’s a veritable paradise over there. No taxes to pay, either.

My son’s serving in Afghanistan right now in the US Army Infantry. He had a college degree, a great job he loved, and he left it all to serve because he wanted to do something for his country and he wanted to actually lead men in something meaningful with real challenges that matter. Even though he was on the ladder to corporate success, he knew something was missing, and he wanted to fill it in. Anybody that thinks the men and women coming home from Afghanistan in body bags are just there for oil has one damned short memory. Does the phrase 9/11 lose all meaning to you in just 10 years?

I hate to tear into people posting honest questions here, and I know we have used our military wrongly at times, but that’s not the fault of the men and women who serve. But this question touched a raw nerve! I worry every day my boy is over there that he’ll be the next one to step on a roadside mine or have some Afghan National Defense Force guy he’s training turn coat and use himself as a human bomb. I have VERY low tolerance for those who suggest our service members are just in it for the money. </rant>

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ETpro I agree that much of my anger is towards those who send troops into these situations and not the troops themselves who are as varied as any group but I do stand by the very real fact that people do get into it for the money…not that they just do it for the money, but that it provides them with an opportunity to make money when in their life they don’t see other ways. I’ve several close friends who are not happy they’re enlisted but they wanted to help their families.

mattbrowne's avatar

There’s a huge difference between a clerk handling passport applications and policemen, firefighters and soldiers. So, no.

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