Andrew Bacevich has a brilliant and timely article up in commonweal magazine about the crisis we are facing by having all-volunteer armed forces. I was struck by the point that we've created a mercenary army in which the elites (who don't serve) pay the lower classes to implement their policies. The radical split between the decision-making class and the fighting classes could be very problematic. Anyways, read the whole thing.


il Tucc said...

Interesting, but the article has at least one obvious flow. The premise that preventive war is wrong, is wrong. A strong argument can be made that a pre-emptive strike to an imminent threat falls within the definition of a 'just-war' and is not dismissed as an amoral ‘war of aggression.’ Given that many of the threats our nation currently faces comes from non-state actors (terrorists) with a potential (and proclivity) for mass destruction (biological and nuclear) it is irrational to rely on containment of these threats from those irrational actors.

Perhaps the problem is the re-building (or even peace making) of these countries, but arguing for a ‘rubble makes no trouble’ policy moves out of the just-war realm. So, what to do? We are faced with threats that aren’t easily deterred or contained (or even easily targeted). I think this is where Bush decided to ‘do something’ and it is no misinterpreted as an open-ended war. Further, the threat of “. . . force as a last resort, to be used only after exhausting all other options” won’t work unless you have a credible threat of force. That credibility comes from actually using force effectively. To modify TR, carry a VERY big stick.

The problem then in “ . . alleviating the current disparity between ends and means “ is to match the means to the ends as it’s not possible to alter the ends of those who wish to do us harm.

Bacevich also writes that “ . . . an emphasis on effective defenses, comprehensive intelligence collection and surveillance, and aggressive international police work-not the invasion and occupation of countries in the Islamic world.” Is implied by his prescription and will solve the problems. We have 25 years of trying to contain terrorist threats under this approach with the results of 9/11 to demonstrate the effectiveness. To say that these threats are not existential is subject to debate, but only on the degree to the harm the threats may cause. One of the fundamental functions of the Federal Government is to protect the citizenry from these threats. A pre-emptive strike to clean out a ‘nest of vipers’ to remove the threat is part of this defense. The open question is do we rebuild the countries we strike or leave the innocents in them to try to pull the pieces back together themselves?

CounterClckWise said...

Good points! I think you're right in that just war theory as it is popularly asserted doesn't address modern terrorism effectively. Bush's democracy crusade is certainly not the only alternative to it; a little gunboat diplomacy is certainly less ambitious.