General Question

fremen_warrior's avatar

What do you think about SOLDIERS in general?

Asked by fremen_warrior (5487points) August 24th, 2012

Do you have respect for the profession? What do you think motivates people to enlist? Do you think being trained to be a professional killer is wrong in itself or do you think killing is a necessary part of keeping the world a better place to live?


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112 Answers

whiteliondreams's avatar

I was a professional, but not a professional killer. Police officers are more proficient at shooting a firearm than most soldiers. I enlisted because I wanted to leave New Jersey and do something significant with my “life”. I was in debt, I wasn’t in college and couldn’t afford it, I had no professional skills or credentials, and I was single tired of living under my sister’s roof after a failed relationship with a woman who only enjoyed the idea of me.

Is a military necessary to keep the world a better place? No, a military is necessary to protect the constitution of the United States of America so that the United States of America can remain a better place to live.

I have respect for the profession and what it is worth, but many individuals hired, despite their “voluntary” enlistment, are of low quality because the military was at a point where they needed to fill slots. Therefore, standards and requirements were lowered to permit less proficient individuals to enter. Sadly, these were the people staying and the quality soldiers were leaving due to their intolerance and lack of patience.

Mind you, there are many motivators and intentions that are different for every single person.

Finally, I don’t think it is wrong to be trained in self-defense no matter what the kind. What I think is wrong is when the training is abused and used for anything other than to discourage an opponent from their offensive harm.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@whiteliondreams ah, but some might argue that “discouraging the enemy” is exactly what preemptive assaults are all about (good offense = good defence and all that)

Thammuz's avatar

No respect for the profession. If you’re willing to submit to orders just because the person who is giving them has been arbitrarily deemed fit to give them, which in this case means they’re more capable of a sociopath than you are, you have no respect from me.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@Thammuz I assume you are a freelancer then?

elbanditoroso's avatar

my views have changed.

During the 60s and 70s – which is to say during VietNam when we still were drafting young boys, I had very little respect for soldiers and the army – the soldiers because they were unable to find ways to avoid the draft (like so many did) and the army because Vietnam was such a colossal failure in so many ways.

When the army became all-volunteer and the missions seemed more honorable, my respect for them rose. Instead of being a conscript army made up of people who didn’t want to be there, the US military became a volunteer force of people enthused about what they were doing. That made (and continues to make) them more professional and better at their jobs.

In summary, my views have evolved.

DaphneT's avatar

Soldiering is a respectable way of life when the soldier believes in their cause, when the soldier believes in learning the best of the job and believes in being the best at the job.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Soldiers/military personnel all seem to be looking for something that they can connect with that promises to protect the freedoms of the United States. Increasingly, it seems to me that they are being lied to about what the military is actually doing & in increasing numbers, soldiers are committing suicide (because when they are deployed, they learn that they have been played). In today’s combat situations it is frequently very difficult to tell the “enemy” from the civilian & many of our military personnel have been killed. Over-all, I respect the individual who chooses to enlist because I think they are trying to do the right thing (and jobs are still very scarce & the military is ALWAYS hiring). I think that the tragedy occurs when these young people are killed & then their families have to deal with the pain that happens when we lose someone that we love. And you have to think about the civilian populations that have been decimated by our military invasions. War should NEVER be the first answer or the only answer, to any political situation.

Pandora's avatar

I have respect for soldiers in general. However, respect is something that must be earned. My husband was in the service and so is my son. There are people in the service who give the profession as much respect as if they were working in a fast food dive.
Not all in the service are going to kill in the first place and many get killed. It is a difficult job. You can train men to shoot and kill but there is no training for how to really deal with it. Many know this going in and do it anyway because they consider it an honor to do this. I’ve known quite a few and I applaud those who do take on the responsibility of keeping us safe.

ragingloli's avatar

Whenever I see one I think of the SS.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t approve of the way the military runs itself. I think the military model for management is dysfunctional and very inefficient. It chews up people and spits them out with often horrendous consequences—not just physically, but mentally. Especially mentally. The military is basically an exercise in stupidity.

I think it reflects badly on our society that so many people feel like the military is their only way out of poverty. Or their way out of whatever deadend situation they are in. That is just pathetic and it shows one of the major failings of the idea of capitalism.

But, once you go in, you are going to learn the system. The only way to change the system is from the top, and that’s not going to happen due to the vast weight of history. Only someone who was highly respected inside the system could have the respect needed to try to change the system, and such a person would be so inculcated in the system that he or she wouldn’t be able to think of doing things differently.

So it will go on the way it has. The only thing that would make it change is a major loss, and such a loss would destroy the country. Which, depending on who the victor was, might not be, but most likely would be a bad thing.

So I am resigned. Military is a necessary stupidity. It’s not evil. People are doing the best they know how. But the system is designed to destroy creativity. One exception to this is they know how to buy new technology created by outsiders. And if they want to create something inside, they know they have to create a new organization that is shielded from everyone else (think the atomic bomb project) and incorporates almost no soldiers.

I think of soldiers as people eaten up by the system. I understand why many of them choose to let the system eat them, but I have difficulty respecting that choice. I have seen soldiers come out and, having learned the stupidity of the system, they dedicate their lives to making a contribution to society in other ways. But other soldiers never see what the system has done to them, and they dedicate their lives to bringing up new soldiers. They believe they are doing a good thing. I find this terribly sad.

thorninmud's avatar

I find it difficult to generalize about them. The military seems to attract quite the mixed bag of characters, some of whom I respect much more than others. There are those that fit the pattern @whiteliondreams mentions, who see it as a career of last resort. There are those who see it as a license to kick ass with advanced weaponry, feel powerful, dominant and assertive. There are those who truly seem to be motivated by a desire to serve.

I think it would be hard to spend much time in the military and not be subverted by the doctrine of “us vs. them”. That’s probably true of any profession that routinely puts you into an adversarial relationship with others. Soldiers learn to see in binary terms, good guys and bad guys. I would have a great deal of respect for anyone who could come out of the military and set that mentality aside.

keobooks's avatar

We live in a neighborhood with a large population of retired soldiers. I think this is because there is a (now defunct) military base very near our house. They are the best neighbors I’ve ever had. I had always assumed that military parents would be super strict – but this doesn’t seem true. Many of them leave their toys out in the driveway when their own kids aren’t using them so that everyone in the neighborhood can share them. They are very friendly and personable.

The only kind of annoying thing about them is they all seem obsessed with their lawns. This is especially true for any of them who were stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan. They are all mowed in perfect diagonal lines and they use these trimmers. They make golf courses look shabby. It’s not so terrible except that it makes it really obvious who is not retired military. Our lawns look like crap compared to theirs.

SavoirFaire's avatar

First things first: a SOLDIER is a member of the fictional Shinra elite military group from Final Fantasy VII, whereas a soldier is a person who fights as part of an organized land-based armed force. Capitalization is an element of grammar in the English language, which is why we have alternative indicators for emphasis (e.g., bold or italic type).

Second, @fremen_warrior has made it quite clear elsewhere that he has no sympathy for asking jellies who fail to include all relevant context and expect answering jellies to infer even the slightest detail of a question. As such, I must ask him for an exhaustive list of the time frames and circumstances about which he is asking.

Third, the question is asked in an almost entirely rhetorical fashion. Any honest participant in the discussion must recognize that a soldier is not a professional killer. Many soldiers go their entire careers without killing a single person—something impossible by definition for anyone whose profession is killing, such as an assassin.

With such preliminaries out of the way, we can see that the question is too ill-formed to answer properly. Am I to take a samurai at Kawanakajima, a longbowman at Agincourt, and a 10-year-old with a rifle in the Congo as all sharing the same motivation? To do so would be absurd, but they are all professional soldiers in their way.

Soldiering is a profession that has existed across time. There have been many kinds of soldiers, as well as many kinds of armies. It is not possible to make a single rational determination regarding all of them at once. We’d need to know what kinds of soldiers we are considering, and what kind of respect is being asked about.

Killing is not a logical necessity. If no one ever went on the offense, there could be no need to kill in self-defense. It has been a practical necessity at times, however, as the antecedent of the previous conditional has never been satisfied for long. Ideal though it may be, not everyone can be stopped and rehabilitated without violence.

syz's avatar

I respect the role that they play, but as far as individuals I think they are a mixed bag, too diverse to make such a generalization.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, I respect the need for armed forces as a necessary “evil”, but, personally, my ex husband was in the Navy for a few years, and other military people I have known, tend to be kinda assholes most of the time. A lot of controlling and rigid, by the book, behaviors.
Obviously I cannot generalize, however, those I have known have been this way.
I also think it is impossible to not suffer serious psychological damage from killing, unless you are already a sociopathic personality to some degree.

Infact I have read that the vast majority of military personnel are of the ISTJ personality type, these types are all about structure, protocol, rules, organization, social conformity and following orders. Makes sense, just as my type is one of the most non-conformist, creative and out of the box types. Oil and water with a military partner for me. lol

flutherother's avatar

What I think depends on the times, depends on the war and depends on the soldier. It is impossible to generalise. They can be agents of God or agents of Satan.

digitalimpression's avatar

I think Soldiers are great people in general. It is a respectable profession. I’m betting that anyone saying otherwise has never served and (by extension) should shut the fox up and be glad that someone will do the job in their stead.

ucme's avatar

A necessary evil.

wundayatta's avatar

You’re right. I’ve never served. I apologize for speaking up. Obviously, soldiers have not done a good job, because I don’t have a right to speak up now.

Sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything, @digitalimpression. Please tell me again, since I’m so stupid and am having a hard time with this idea, why I should shut up about it? Use tiny words, please. I don’t see the logic. I know your great soldierly brain must be able to think all kinds of thoughts I just can’t possibly understand, but do give it a try, big guy. Please.

digitalimpression's avatar

@wundayatta What? I’ll admit I have no idea why you’ve beefed up your defenses. My comment was a general one.. but since you brought it up: I wouldn’t expect a random person off the street to know anything about how to be a 5 Michelin star chef either… I certainly don’t. The question was in general terms and I answered as such. So, yes, by all means.. use your freedom of speech. Lots of people do that day by day.. including the Westboro Baptist church…

It’s nothing personal.

whiteliondreams's avatar

@thorninmud I have put it aside. I am working quite diligently on reducing to almost nil the notion of dualism. Still very hard to do.

Thammuz's avatar

@fremen_warrior The keyword here is “arbitrarily”. I have no problem seeing how someone would be fit to tell me my deadlines, or what to change in the specs of a program i’m making, and i have no problem in accepting orders from someone who is demonstrably competent enough to tell me what to do.

What I do have problems seeing is how anyone would be demonstrably competent enough in anything to tell anyone who they should go and kill. Especially if they are not even directly involved, from a certain point in the chian of command onwards.

Mind you, i have no problem with killing, per se. When push comes to shove, if someone kills someone else in self defense, if a policeman kills someone in the line of duty, you know, shit happens and people die. That’s not the problem.

The problem is that being a soldier means implicitly accepting that sgt. Asshole McFuckface is the one who decides whether you pull the trigger or not, and pointing the gun towards whom, and that your killing people is not going to be a “shit happens”, it’s going to be “that’s my job”.

6rant6's avatar

People who choose soldiering earn my suspicion, first of all. Its an obvious choice for people attracted to killing. I know, not every soldier may be so inclined. By I’m willing to bet that any veterinarian likes animals, any librarian likes books, and any soldier chosen at random fantasizes about killing.

The fact that wars are draped with flags doesn’t change the soldier. There are many ways to serve that don’t involve killing people, or supporting others who kill people. So if you choose that profession I don’t trust you.

If you’re getting all red in the face, calling me names, hoping to get a chance to get revenge against me, I thank you for proving my point.

Shippy's avatar

I respect a soldier, I respect anyone who will fight for a cause, but I am talking about an honorable soldier.

rooeytoo's avatar

Generalize much??? Over the course of history there have been millions of soldiers, do I respect them all? I am sure there were some bad apples as there are in all walks of life, but I would wager that most served honorably. And I thank them for my freedom.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@Thammuz I understand where you are coming from with this. All I meant was you have just as good a chance of working for a less than competent boss than you are of being placed under an incompetent commander.

I myself have a similar attitude towards soldiers as @Shippy here: I respect the people who have decided they would learn how to kill people, and be prepared to use that knowledge and skills if the necessity arises, be ready to put their lives on the line for something greater than themselves. It is one of the nobler professions imo. As for individual soldiers, well that is a no-brainer, the world is full of different people.

6rant6's avatar

@rooeytoo So you thank the Russian and Chinese armies for your freedom? The Goths, the Serbs, the IRA, the militias of Sudan, the Red Army, the Viet Cong, and the Confederate Army for your freedom?

All of those armies thought they were doing the right thing. All of them fought, killed and died, believing in the cause, just as Americans have died in Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. You really think you owe soldiers your freedom?

fremen_warrior's avatar

@6rant6 in large part part we all do. For instance, with some hiccups here and there, Poland was more or less freed from nazi occupation by the Red Army. My grandmother, who had survived the war as a little girl, once told me something along these lines:

“Sure the Americans and the Brits helped, but it was the Russians who actually entered Poland, fought, and died here and eventually drove out the Germans, and we have to be grateful to them for that.”

(the Germans had plans to exterminate the population and to relocate the remnants to Siberia, needless to say the Red Army really did save our collective asses back then)

6rant6's avatar

@fremen_warrior I’m sorry, “We all do” refers to what?

fremen_warrior's avatar

All of us, the world in general, the freedoms we have – to the extent that we have them – we owe them in large part to those brave men and women who fought for something they believed in. Naturally you could say that both world wars were started for similar reasons, and that would certainly be true. What I mean is, since the wars happened, if it weren’t for the soldiers who ended them by defeating the Germans the world would imo be a lot less free than it is today.

ragingloli's avatar

If it were not for soldiers, the wars would not have started in the first place.
Should I thank the SS for fighting for my Lebensraum?

6rant6's avatar

ALL wars are started by soldiers, no? Soldiers start wars.

With the help of the Russian Army, Stalin killed 20 million people—not your grandmother of course, so praise the Russians!

Should we have launched nukes against the Russians in the 50s? Many US military leaders thought we should. Would the world now be a “freer” place? The assertion of moral superiority by both sides is the thread running through all wars. Feeling proud of your country is hardly good argument for going to war. Or becoming a soldier.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@ragingloli I referenced just that in the post above. Would you rather civilians duked it out instead of soldiers?

@6rant6 in sporadic cases perhaps, but mostly it’s the politicians that do. And it is not just about national pride, but also about the realization that violence is a fact of life, and you can either try to stop it, and make a difference in your own way, or let it destroy the world. Nobody knows what their actions will cause in the long run. For all we know it might have been better for the world in 3 thousand years from now if the Germans had won the II WW. Just because you’re not sure you will have a lasting positive impact on the world does not mean you must stand idly by.

ragingloli's avatar

They would not have, that is the point.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@ragingloli and what do you think people did before professional armies, huh? Live peacefully together? ;)

ragingloli's avatar

Once a civilian is forced into an army by a feudal lord, he becomes a soldier. A soldier is a soldier, whether he is a professional or not is irrelevant.

fremen_warrior's avatar

Think before that, think hunter gatherer tribes. Violence is a part of our history, and while it is a noble idea to get rid of soldiers, armies, guns etc., it is also IMO unrealistic. Paradoxically armies offer to bring at least an element of civility into all this mess…

Coloma's avatar

I agree it is unrealistic, but, I do not think that soldiers should lose their sense of shared humanity. Killing may be a dark necessity, but, it should never be glorified, or romanticized in any way. It’s one thing to kill another soldier in combat, it is an entirely different thing to rape and murder the innocents of war along the way.

6rant6's avatar

@fremen_warrior Seriously, I don’t think you want, because it’s part of our history to be the reason we do anything today. Slavery, infanticide, racism, starvation, epidemics…

Armies only promise civility for the winning armies. I won’t insult your intelligence by listing armies who have wrought great atrocities on the losers. You know who you are.

Coloma's avatar

Edit: “I think soldiers should NOT lose their sense of shared humanity…”

jerv's avatar


The details on your question are rather loaded.

I served in the US Navy, and that right there makes some people think I was trained to slaughter babies and feast on their entrails. The truth is that my combat training consisted of a half-day course in the proper handling of an M1911 pistol and that was it; I knew more about combat by age 4 than the military taught me.

Employment here is not guaranteed, nor is survival for the unemployed. Most other nations have some sort of systems in place to feed their people, but we don’t (whether that is right or wrong is a discussion I would rather not get into here) so that right there is often reason enough to enlist. One year of college in the US costs more than many of us earn in a year, and we don’t subsidize education like many other countries do. That is another reason, and why I joined; the GI Bill to pay for at least part of my education. I went into a military school that translated to 63 college credits, putting me well on my way to a degree before even going to college.

As for my opinion of soldiers, I have a pretty low opinion of them. See, those with brains become SAILORS, and those with balls become MARINES, those that don’t have either of those things but still want to serve wind up in the Army or Air Farce.

Are they necessary? Sadly, yes. To say otherwise is to be deluded into thinking that 100% of humanity is sane, rational, compassionate, and has at least enough altruism to not kill their neighbors and steal their stuff. Face it, humans are dicks.

rooeytoo's avatar

@6rant6 – to whom do you attribute the freedom you enjoy?

6rant6's avatar

@rooeytoo I’ll start with the majority of the earth’s population who have never put on a military uniform.

Don’t you see that your argument that I need someone to keep me safe is based on the idea that there are soldiers out there who are coming to hurt me? For every soldier who is “on my side,” there are hundreds of millions of people who live in fear that those same soldiers will murder them in their sleep. And so they laud those who take up arms in their country. It’s not a solution; it an excuse for perpetuating what is wrong with us.

jerv's avatar

@6rant6 History has proven that that belief is not unfounded. Or are you going to refute the entirety of history?

Now, if you have a workable solution to end the cycle, then please, let the leaders of the world know! I’m sure that now that Kim Jong Il, Saddam Hussein are gone, the world is now ready for total peace.

rooeytoo's avatar

@6rant6 – Yep without soldiers, we would all make nice and there would be no war. Yeah right, dream on.

woodcutter's avatar

I would hate to live in the only country without them.

6rant6's avatar

@jerv, you assert that history has proven what? I understand you hold beliefs different than mine. But that assertion doesn’t prove your point. It doesn’t really make any point.

Most soldiers feel they kill other people – soldiers and civilians alike – righteously. I would submit that more often than not, they are not. That is, I think more than half of the people killed in wars at the hands of soldiers did not deserve to die.More than half the killing done by soldiers is morally wrong. Soldiers, for the most part kill immorally.

Try to place yourself in the shoes of someone living in another country who is afraid of the military which you feel protects you. Do you think your military is of service to them? Do you think they regard those threatening soldiers as laudable, as upright? Do they see the drone pilots and the corpse pissers, and the mercenaries as men of courage?

At one point in history, conquerors took slaves to bolster their armies. Except in limited parts of the world this has stopped. We have the power to change how we relate to other countries. The single lesson of history that seems constant to me is that countries with armies kill other people. Can’t we rise above that?

I understand that you have emotional attachment to the military; I’m not invalidating that. You may know many fine people who have served. You may have many military friends, and know people who sacrificed much in what they saw as the fight to preserve the freedom of the people who counted. Even so, I hope you can see that those same people posed a threat to other people around the world. Some of them innocent.

I understand that feeling secure is a high priority for many people. What I would like you to understand is that obtaining security through military might undermines that same feeling of security for everyone else.

6rant6's avatar

@wodcutter, You mean Japan? Seems to work for them.

jerv's avatar

@6rant6 Most of my military friends were draftees. (Older folks who fought in Vietnam.) Those who never saw combat generally regarded the military as just a job.

And what is morally reprehensible about repairing a generator to restore power to a ship, or wire in a new light fixture because the old one blew a ballast? Are you telling me that learning to be an electrician makes me a killer?

As for your last sentence, I think you now know why the military is a necessary evil.

Oh, and Japan is unlikely to ever be attacked simply because they have big friends.

6rant6's avatar

@jerv – regarding Japan, I was responding directly to your assertion: “I would hate to live in the only country without them.” It actually seems like a good arrangement for them.

Draftees are certainly not laudable for being conscripted. Also I think in the world as a whole the vast majority of soldiers are drafted. It certainly doesn’t make them laudable for being told what to do. Draftees kill and rape and pillage, just like the pros. You’re familiar with Viet Nam. You don’t need the names and dates, do you?

If you are part of an organization whose mission is to kill, you bear some of the responsibility for the killing, no? I mean you certainly are going to take some of the credit when we win, that is to say kill the other folks. Let’s not forget those whose mantra was, “I was only following orders.”

Looks like we found a point of agreement, anyway. You seem to think the military is evil, too. We just disagree where to draw the line between necessary and dangerous.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
jerv's avatar

@6rant6 Before we can talk about the military, you have to understand why they really exist.

The Military is part of the Executive branch of the government. In the US, our President, the head of the Executive branch, is the Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces; it is similar in other nations. That means that they are there to enforce the will of the government.

Your assertion that the military’s mission to kill proves a bias that makes it difficult to take you seriously though. Their mission is to achieve a certain goal, often control over an area where aggressors have taken over. Now, killing may be required to achieve certain goals, but forcing a retreat or surrender without a shot being fired is preferable. However, the latter is rarely possible for the simple reason that, if the military is even involved, diplomatic options have already failed.

As for the “just following orders” part, while that isn’t an absolute excuse, it carries more weight than anybody who has never served can really appreciate. Then again, maybe you are the type of person to default on obligations and renege on their end of a contract, so you don’t care about consequences.

Your problem is not with the military; your issue is with government. You also seem to have an issue with people who just want the same things everyone else does (housing, food, a good education, healthcare, a job where you won’t get laid off…) and choose to get those things by pledging to work for the government for a certain period of time. Maybe you’ve lived a charmed life where you had all of those things just handed to you. I don’t know.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

My father is a retired Marine. He fought in what may be the biggest hellhole in history, the Battle of Khe Sanh. He hated every single moment. He still has ocassional nightmares about the battle. I believe that soldiers should be respected for stepping up if they volunteered. Many end up regretting joining but believe in what the military taught them. It’s complicated to have any opinion in general aout soldiers. There are so many groups that are completly different.

jerv's avatar

@Mr_Paradox My late neighbor was at Khe Sanh too. He got 100% disability from the VA due to what those weeks did to his mind :(

rooeytoo's avatar

I doubt very much that any army was ever told to rape and pillage. That is a choice individuals make. And if they feel rape is okay in war they probably don’t have much compunction about rape in civilian life either. They are probably not nice people in any circumstances. I am sure there is peer pressure and the pack instinct involved but to me that is no excuse.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

@Jerv My father got out relitivly unscathed. He was one of the lucky ones who managed to find a place within themselves during the seige that kept them sane.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I have full respect for the armed forces but I may be bias because my dad was in the Navy for 25 years and I think he’s the greatest man alive! Seriously though, as @Coloma the forces are a necessary evil and without them, we’d be fucked! Like others have said though, people sign up for different reasons, some honourable and some, not so honourable. I also agree with @Coloma in that I have met many ex military folk who are incredibly controlling and lack social skills (my dad is not one of those), like they struggle to adapt to everyday life after leaving the military. I sometimes wonder if those are the people that originally signed up for less than admirable reasons?

woodcutter's avatar

Who the fuck just said Japan has no military? Too many subscribers here smoke waaaaaay too much pot, way too much pot

fremen_warrior's avatar

@woodcutter I have come across this opinion very often for some reason, thanks for the link.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

Japan’s military is more National Guard than anything else.

woodcutter's avatar

They have weapons and they have been on peace keeping missions and I’m sure if someone brought some shit on them they would kick some serious ass.

jerv's avatar

I’ve been parked next to Japanese Navy ships, and not just in Sasebo. They are not nearly the force America is, but they also have less to protect, and little interest in deploying abroad.

6rant6's avatar

@jerv You keep telling me what military does with illustrations from the US history (cherrry-picked of course).

The problem is that “soldier” isn’t a US thing. A tiny fraction of the soldiers are US. Most of the others are people that the US military is devising ways to kill, should push come to shove.

“Soliders” encompasses them all. I get it; you like the guys you served with. Would you feel the same way if you’d served with a militia in Mogadishu, or in the largest proportional army in the world (North Korea) or in the largest standing army in the world (China)? You keep telling me the soldiers you like are necessary to defend against folks like that. You can’t justify the concept of soldiering on the basis that there are hundreds of millions of them already out there. That’s like the Confederacy saying they needed slaves to compete against other slave owning economies. Wrong is wrong. Soldiering results in killing. People who choose that profession are more likely to enjoy the prospect of killing than are, say financial advisers. It’s morally corrupt and it damages people. It’s necessary in your view of the world, where people go around invading and shooting people, getting their view of things imposed by force. But that, my friend, is regression, not progress.

jerv's avatar

@6rant6 Fire can kill people and is therefore evil; never mind great, light, and cooking.

Your problems with soldiers are based on how they are used, which means that your real issues are with how governments operate. If you cannot figure out that certain things can be used for good or evil, then why are you using a computer; all they are good for is hacking into banks and surfing for kiddy porn.

Also, anybody who joins any military for the prospect of killing is somebody who would likely kill as a civilian anyways; they are merely seeking an excuse to try and justify their psychopathy

6rant6's avatar


Lets define terms shall we? People who kill other people for a living are soldiers. People who fix generators for a living are called electricians.If there were a branch of the US government “supervised by the executive branch” whose sole purpose was to fix generators, that would be fine by me.

Flame throwers can be used for one thing. It’s bad. Flamethrowers are weapons, and evil. Saying we need flamethrowers to use on other people who might use flamethrowers is a Neanderthal argument.

Matches can be used for many things, many good, some bad. Matches are not bad, although they can be dangerous.

Someone who carries a weapon to “take ground” or “render opposition moot,” or any of a dozen other euphemisms is a soldier, and the ultimate form of work is killing people. I am opposed to that. Both doing the work and the effect it has on those who perform it.

My issue is ten thousand years of history – with soldiers killing people, mainly innocents. The fact that you want your side to be able to win does nothing to reduce the suffering of the losing side. You may comfort yourself by thinking your side is always in the right, but that’s childish. All nations fight first for their self-interest, sometimes with bad information egging them on, or prejudice against skin color or religion fueling the nationalistic fervor. It stinks. That’s my issue.

rooeytoo's avatar

In some parts of the country, people of certain families regularly kill and maim each other and they aren’t soldiers, just men. I think men would be killing each other whether they have the title of soldier or not. There were just a couple of mass murders in the USA, they weren’t perpetrated by soldiers were they, well I remember one that was, but the rest are often male students. Maybe the question should be, do we respect male students.

6rant6's avatar

@rooeytoo Wow. That’s like saying more people die of car accidents than sarin poisoning, so let’s outlaw driving, not the use of sarin. We outlaw the one that can do only bad and try to reduce the negative effects of the other.

Soldiers have killing as their reason for existing. Male students primarily do other things which do not involve killing people. We do try to keep male students from doing bad things. But soldiers primarily only do one thing and it is bad.

And you are making the same mistake @jerv is. US soldiers are killing in other countries. Even if you think all those deaths are warranted (which is absurd) there are many more soldiers with other allegiances killing people in many, many places. Soldiering is killing people. Studenting is not.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

@6rant6 just so you know. On average, for most of the worlds militaries, less than 10% are in an active combat role.

jerv's avatar

@6rant6 If that is your definition of a soldier then I am through discussing this with you. You are not interested in facts or discussion.

woodcutter's avatar

Most M.O.S.‘s in the military really don’t involve ending lives unless we want to stretch the chain of responsibility right up to the president Obama.

woodcutter's avatar

What the hell is wrong with killing people really? If they are the soldiers of our enemies it is only a canceling function. Oh wait let’s not forget we can always resort to whirled peas.

And the human animal will fight. I never went to college but I will bet money that every one of you who did took classes illustrating that in some way or another. Not every professor has Birkenstock’s.

6rant6's avatar

People who deliver ordinance so other people can shoot are part of the killing machine. People who maintain combat vehicles such as fighters, bombers, warships and tanks are part of the killing machine. People who transport soldiers to the front lines are part of the killing machine. What is the significance that fewer than ten per cent are in “combat” roles. That’s like saying people who work in hospital don’t save lives unless they are wearing stethoscopes; the people who support the “combat role” people contribute to the outcome of the organization – be it life or death.

6rant6's avatar

@woodcutter I’m not saying get rid of your soldiers. I’m saying get rid of all of them.

I did go to college. No fighting was taught where I went.There was Belly Dancing, though, which was pretty cool.

jerv's avatar

@6rant6 Keep digging.

By your “logic”, people who pay taxes are part of the killing machine. Those who by products made my companies that produce military equipment (or subsidiaries thereof) support the killing machine; your GE light bulb killed an Iraqi school girl.

I understand your desire for peace. What I don’t understand is your BLATANT disregard for reality. I fyou want to be taken seriously, you might want to dial it back a notch.

woodcutter's avatar

Oh what the hell, if you breathe air you are a killer/ enabler in some round about way. We get rid of all the official soldiers and then what? It’s going to make war a real pain in the ass.

woodcutter's avatar

@6rant6 If you took any kind of history/ human behavior courses or any that covered that genre you would have learned that the human animal is just that. Humans fight over shit since the beginning and it can’t be engineered out of them/ you.Your mind seems to share the same mechanics of a communist dictator who believes people can be forced to change by killing them….unless

But it would be for the greater good though, right?

rooeytoo's avatar

@jerv – I am just loving your answers today!

6rant6's avatar

@jerv You’re halfway there. I don’t want taxpayers paying for killing. That is correct. I didn’t say kill all the soldiers. I want to stop creating them.

Your all or nothing argument is transparent. So we can’t get rid of all of them at once. Let’s start reducing the numbers, how about that? It’s the same argument polluters made: “If you make us stop all at once we’ll not be able to compete in the world markets.” Well duh. But we can and have made them reduce pollution annually. And we work with other countries to reduce the levels of pollution in the world. Lets do the same to reduce the number of soldiers in the world.

6rant6's avatar

@woodcutter Again your argument supports slavery, the subjugation of women, infanticide, unchecked pollution, racism, and genocide. All of those things were common in the history of mankind; all continue in some degree today. We learned to walk on our hind legs, can’t we move forward in other respects?

woodcutter's avatar

You can’t take the instinct of man to disagree out of the genome. It’s there now and it has been there for thousands of years. Disagreement is the catalyst for war. The reason we have standing armies to do the protecting is so the people less inclined or unable to fight don’t have to do the dirty themselves. This is how we protect ourselves from those very things you describe. You’re an idealist. You think that if only humans would just stop doing what they instinctively do, then everything would be wonderful. I think it’s nice to have hope but it is also a stupid waste of time to expect.

jerv's avatar

Pretty much. The reason soldiers exist in the numbers that they do is that humanity is not inherently nice. Individual people may be, and sometimes there are groups of benevolent people, but so long as humanity is capable of evil, there will be evil people, and therefore a need to have means to deal with them.

It would be nice if the only thing we needed to defend against was natural disaster, or even had the rationality to engage in mutual disarmament, but humans are humans.

6rant6's avatar

@jerv Would you consider the idea that it’s possible to have too many soldiers? The Romans were pretty much forced to raid surrounding regions to feed their army (and plate their leaders with gold).

Are there too many soldiers in the Sudan? In North Korea? In Iran? Do they increase the chance of strife? Of course they do.

You say humanity is not inherently nice. Jesus Christ, why arm them? How can you not see that that men with guns, trained to kill other people, trained to respond to command without conscience is building the problem and then claiming the solution to the problem is more of the same?

Society deals with problems by changing, not by reiterating mistakes of the past. Why won’t either of you military jingoists respond to the point I’ve made several times that we have stopped (or greatly reduced) stone age problems with the imposition of laws that don’t require the liking of people who are on the other side?

__I suppose it shouldn’t suprise me that all you really want to do is rattle sabres.__

jerv's avatar

I don’t want to rattle sabers, I just don’t want bad people to kill with theirs while good people are defenseless. Eliminate evil.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@6rant6 I respect you for sticking to your guns for so long in this thread despite being the “last man standing”. Having said that, you lost before you have even begun. You criticize the status quo, but you offer no alternative. Wake up and smell the napalm: disarm the entire world, and the next day blood will run in rivers.

You leave me no choice but to use a cliche; damn your guts. Here it is: there is no such thing as a perfect solution. Not in this reality. Lose the soldiers and FARC wins in Colombia (so far only the possibility of an armed confrontation with US forces is keeping them from marching into cities). Disband armies, and the Taliban wreak havoc in and around Afghanistan. Get it?

Whether they are pure evil, or the world’s finest, soldiers are necessary. This is a fact.

You have strayed off-topic. Naughty, naughty.

rooeytoo's avatar

We are still support @jerv, just don’t have his staying ability. Yep, they’re necessary!

6rant6's avatar

@fremen_warrior Last man still reading, apparently. Do you want to respond to the idea that we can reduce the number of soldiers? Or is it all or nothing for you?

And that’s not a cliche. That’s just the voices in your head, apparently.

woodcutter's avatar

@6rant6 So you’re not as apposed to soldiers in general as much as the quantity of them? By what formula do we go by to determine the cut off between having too many soldiers and having just the right amount? Soldiers are an investment by the states who employ them. They are not born knowing their craft. They are trained professionals, most of them. It takes a lot of time to build a soldier to be an integral part of a fighting force. Ordinary citizens simply cannot just step in and fill those boots. Hitler tried doing that as Berlin burned and it was an epic failure.

And sadly many of them tend to die fighting.Sometimes 5 or 6 at a time, sometimes hundreds at a time. Therefore it becomes necessary to have many ready to go at all times because war is unpredictable and we can’t just allow the force to atrit down to some acceptable quantity before we decide we need more,,,,yesterday.

It’s a numbers game, this business of war. So who wants to be the one with the inferior force? The one who wants to lose? No one wants that, and seldom does a force get to take advantage of terrain where a small force takes the numerical advantage away from the superior army like at Thermopylae. Sweet deal if a commander can swing it but it is rare. (King Leonidas was still annihilated after a few days) but I digress

With all the tech the military has at its disposal the number of boots on the ground has been reduced somewhat ( resulting in fewer casualties) but when it comes right down to doing the job it’s going to take a large force of grunts on the ground to go in and handle it, which, actually saves lives, because you just can’t bomb the shit out of everything because a hot B-52 with a small crew can do the same damage as a thousand soldiers.

jerv's avatar

@woodcutter Very true. It only takes a couple of sailors to launch a cruise missile, possibly a nuclear one, but it takes thousands of boots on the ground to take out an enemy without killing every civilian around them. More soldiers often does mean fewer deaths.

wundayatta's avatar

People do have a choice about what they do in life. Many people here are arguing that a military is necessary, and there is something to be said for that argument. Violence is the result of a failure of diplomacy. We all know that political leaders are pretty bad at diplomacy, and it fails a lot. Thus we need to resort to violence to solve disputes, and if you need violence, it helps to have people trained to do violence well.

Should we respect these people? Should we honor them?

Some people argue they are making a sacrifice to defend their country. They are risking their lives to make up for the mistakes of their leaders. They are the last ditch fall back position between us, the civilians, and the depredations of the ravening hordes from other countries.

Personally, I suspect that people who are willing to commit violence have a blood lust. And if not a blood lust, then, like @jerv, they see it as a way to pay for college. It is a means so some other end. How can you tell who has a blood lust and who is just trying to get a cheap college education? I don’t know.

All I know is that it is a choice to enter the military, whether there is a draft or not. Some people choose to enter, and most don’t. We can honor them if we like, for their willingness to sacrifice their lives, but we don’t have to.

I think the so-called “sacrifice” is stupidity. I think there are much better ways that people can help their countries. One would be to pressure their leaders to do a better job with diplomacy. One would be to become leaders and to do the diplomacy the right way.

There’s using your brain, and there’s using your brawn. A lot of people honor the use of brawn in defense of a country, or even in offense against an “enemy.” I don’t. I see it as failure. I see soldiers choosing to buy into the system as making a choice to support a failed system. I see no honor in that. I do not respect people who support failed systems for social engagement.

jerv's avatar

@wundayatta Many would argue that pressuring our leaders is impossible under our current system, so the only way we could accomplish that is to become the leaders (Revolution,. coup, whatever). Just don’t lump the people who support a failed system in with those who only want to pick it’s pocket ;)

wundayatta's avatar

@jerv or by organizing and working within the system. Most people laugh and say change is impossible within the system. But I think that is the only useful way to make change. The Tea Party has had its day. It’s time for the 99% to get their act together, build a strong coalition, and gut the Republican Party.

woodcutter's avatar

Two sides negotiating a peace deal or any other kind of deal also need to have the most chips on the table in order to get the “deal” they want. Negotiating from a position of weakness is foolish.

wundayatta's avatar

@woodcutter That’s kind of odd, because many people have no choice but to negotiate from weakness. It’s not like you can wave a magic wand and turn weakness into strength.

So people have to negotiate from weakness, foolish though it may be. I don’t think it’s foolish. What I think is foolish is not knowing when you are weak and pretending to be strong. That is what gets wars started.

rooeytoo's avatar

I just came across this story, I didn’t snopes it, because I like to believe stuff like this. It is a story about another “killer” soldier:

Cody Green was a 12-year kid in Indiana who was diagnosed with leukemia at 22 months old. He loved the Marines, and his parents said he drew strength and courage from the Marine Corps. as he bravely fought the battle into remission three times. Although he was cancer-free at the time, the chemotherapy had lowered his immune system and he developed a fungus infection that attacked his brain. Two weeks ago, as he struggled to fend off that infection in the hospital, the Marines wanted to show how much they respected his will to live, his strength, honor and courage. They presented Cody with Marine navigator wings and named him an honorary member of the United States Marine Corps. For one Marine, that wasn’t enough… so that night, before Cody Green passed away, he took it upon himself to stand guard at Cody’s hospital door all night long, 8 hours straight.

Nowhere on the face of this planet is there a country so blessed as we to have men and women such as this. I wish I could personally tell this Marine how proud he makes me to be an American. God… I do so love this country.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@rooeytoo what a load of bullcrap.

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo @fremen_warrior I checked Snopes (among other sources) and it’s true

It’s also in-line with what I know of Marines. In fact, especially the Marines. The reason that story didn’t really touch me is that it’s the sort of thing I expect from Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children. As much as I like to crack jokes at the expense of the jarheads (it’s what us navy guys do for fun), they truly are decent people; likely the most decent I’ve ever known,

woodcutter's avatar

@wundayatta There’s no odd about it. Negotiating from a position of weakness isn’t negotiating at all. It’s capitulating with a stiff upper lip to safe face.

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wundayatta's avatar

@woodcutter I didn’t say it was odd. I’m saying that if you are weak, you don’t have a choice. You can’t just wish yourself into a position of strength. You do everything you can to act as if you are strong, but if you push it too far, you end up in deep trouble. You do need to capitulate at times, and that means recognizing your true weakness.

I have found that people who have this skill, do much better in negotiations. They lose less than they would if they pushed things to the brink. They recover more quickly from the loss. It is a valuable skill to be able to accurately assess your strength and to be willing to capitulate instead of taking things to the bitter end in hopes of some miracle.

I have actually helped numerous people get out of bad situations using this technique. The situations have ended sooner and with less trauma as a result of what you call “capitulation.”

woodcutter's avatar

It took two atomic bombs for Japan to sit across the table as gentlemen and call it off. I don’t think they wanted 3 bombs. To negate the bombs and have soldiers go in and do things the “honorable way” to end the conflict would have dragged it out for who knows how long. That was a case where there was no wiggle room for negotiation. I think everyone involved was happy to not have gone with 3 bombs. Did the Japanese do the right thing? Yes, finally. Some could say they negotiated a peace. Some would say they capitulated and some would say they surrendered. It ended. I don’t think there would have been a need to nuke the Nazis to make them stop.They just flat used up all their soldiers. The Japanese where anti surrender no matter what. Fight to the death. A people like that are tough enemies.

jerv's avatar

@woodcutter As an aside, the attitude of the Japanese in WWII demonstrates a weakness in our own military. We, like most Europeans, will galdly fight for our country, even if we have to die; there are certain opponents that will gladly die for their country even if it means they have to fight. Therefore, our difficulties in Vietnam and parts of the Middle East.

woodcutter's avatar

Our military are somewhat controlled by its own citizens. A democratic society can be worn down until the people grow weary of long protracted wars. We generally have a say when it stops and elections have been influenced by war weary voters. That’s how small even somewhat unorganized enemies can eventually prevail. They don’t answer to a president/voters so the countries they represent don’t have a say even if it is a country’s fighting forces to start with. Using asymmetric style of fighting they can take advantage of situations that a nation’s military can’t. Not a reflection of weakness in our military. In order to be on par with these combatants we would have to do as they do, and just burn the fuck out of every single thing. We do have the capability to do just that but we don’t, not yet- well, at least not in quite some time

jerv's avatar

@woodcutter How many US soldiers ever used suicide bomber tactics? Last I checked, pulling the pins from every grenade on your vest and running into a room full of enemies was not SOP for our troops.

woodcutter's avatar

I don’t think using suicide tactics is a good utilization of soldiers that are relatively hard to replace. They can do more alive than dead, That and they are volunteer but there have been accounts of valor when the soldier went beyond what was expected and some even survived, Some may have described those actions as suicidal, on their face.

jerv's avatar

@woodcutter My point exactly. Americans and their European allies have different ideas about how to fight. We believe in sacrifice, but do not actively seek martyrdom.

Which brings us back to “Define ‘soldier’.”.

woodcutter's avatar

The definition will depend on how you look at each. One man’s soldier is another’s terrorist. One man’s terrorist will be another’s freedom fighter.

jerv's avatar

@woodcutter Yep. It really is subjective.

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