|Surviving Human Nature|
"The abolition of war will demand distasteful limitations to national sovereignty. But what perhaps impedes understanding of the situation more than anything else is that the term “mankind” feels vague and abstract. People... can scarcely bring themselves to grasp that they, individually, and those whom they love are in imminent danger of perishing agonizingly. And so they hope that perhaps war may be allowed to continue... this hope is illusory." Albert Einstein
Military organizations have grown large and complex with an abundance of machines and electronic communications. Military personnel have fancy uniforms, medals, marching bands, impressive rituals and a strict hierarchical order but when all is said and done, the military has only two functions:
1. Destroy property and assets
Soldiers act on the ground. Pilots destroy from the air. Naval personnel
destroy from ships at sea. Governments tend to include military
organizations which have grown large and complex with an abundance of machines and electronic
communications. It is easy to argue that most humans seek dominance are ready to
fight, and support governments with advanced weapons. Soldiers
are rewarded for destroying property and killing other humans; they cannot make independent
evaluations based on deeply felt, personal expressions of caring, concern,
justice and freedom. Military personnel have ethics or rules of conduct that
control their behavior within military organizations. There are also “rules of
war” that are often ignored in combat situations. An ethical soldier may do
great harm to others as long as he protects his comrades and follows orders.
Some soldiers are sociopathic criminals who take advantage of war to commit
atrocities against civilians. While you could argue that many soldiers are
basically good people who commit socially sanctioned crimes, there is an equal
argument that soldiers are the agents of evil and cannot be excused. There is
another argument that soldiers are also victims. They are killed by the people
they are supposed to kill, but more, they are agents of political elites who
chose war over negotiation and compromise. The politicians do not go to war, nor
do their family members. High ranking officers stay at a safe distance from the
battles and order others to kill and be killed. The families of soldiers also
suffer from relative poverty and live with fear of news of a dead or badly
wounded loved one. In the best case, families must cope with all the
difficulties of soldiers returning home with military habits, destructive
intentions, fighting skills, and bad memories that are not compatible with
well-adjusted family life in a civil society.
One of the clashes in every society occurs between hawks and doves. While one group is directly or indirectly approving of soldiers killing others in defense of “freedom” another group is opposing combat roles. Weapon lovers talk about the enemy with great enthusiasm. They want to use freedom destroying weapons to defend freedom. Without an enemy, expensive weapons look ridiculous. Hopeful idealists imagine a different nonviolent world with an external nervous system that links minds in grooming and altruistic information sharing that will render the two military activities (killing and property destruction) obsolete.
Every country that can afford high-tech weapons makes a substantial investment in armaments. As new weapons are manufactured in more affluent countries, older weapons are sold to poorer countries so that the ability to destroy property and kill humans is well distributed over the planet. India and China, the two most populous nations on the planet are creating large, powerful military organizations with nuclear weapons. China has advanced missile and submarine technology that gives them the offensive capacities. The balance of power is shifting to Asia. The idea is not avoid war, but to avoid losing a war. Eisenhower was right. The military industrial complex is a powerful and atavistic force that absorbs inordinate wealth, dedicated to destruction and death. The cover of national security and military honor keeps most citizens confused and docile. At home, military personnel wear attractive uniforms adorned with badges and medals. They have bands, marches, and perform impressive funerals. Their cemeteries and national monuments to honor dead soldiers are often visited by patriotic citizens.
In the US as the war in Iraq continued without purpose or plan,
resistance from military personnel grew. One mother reported that her son told
that he wanted to be injured so he could come home; he admitted: “Mom, we killed
women on the street today. We killed kids on bikes. We had no choice.”
organization, Iraq Veterans Against the War, started in July 2004. An Appeal for
Redress Project advises active duty military members and reservists on how to
write to their representatives in Congress expressing their opposition to the
war. The US army reported that 3,196 soldiers had deserted in 2006, 2,543
deserted in 2005 and 2,357 soldiers in 2004.