Monday, January 15, 2007

Defining a just society

Speak softly and carry a big stick

The world is a dangerous place, with dangerous people in it. Self-defense is a necessity. Internally, this means police, courts, judges, juries, jails, prisons, and mental hospitals. Externally, this means a standing military and all its accoutrements.

A society has all kinds of people in it, and a just society would make room for all of them, including those most inclined to be of the warrior mentality. We need protection, they need a job --- voila! --- police, jailers, military.

Where we need to be very careful is in deciding exactly when to call on the services of our professional warriors, and just how often. It's a resource that most definitely needs to be under-utilized. Diplomacy, negotiation, gentle guidance, often just carefully watching and analyzing a situation; all these need to be tried first.

One would have thought that the Constitution had established some checks on our powers to wage war, but between those of us who want to be kept safe and secure from every imaginable danger all the time and those of us who want to be warriors by proxy [not to mention those who expect to profit from conflict], we've instead over-utilized this resource, and stretched it to the breaking point.

Not to mention all the people we've killed and all the havoc we've now wreaked on a few other societies, none of which were an imminent threat to us.

Then there's the war on drugs, but you get the picture.


Keifus said...

It's hard to begin, and I'm not brilliantly qualified on this subject. At the very least, I'd append "...and what the military is used for." (E.g., ixnay on teh proactive foreign interventions.)

In the U.S., the principles of military (okay, the constitutional ones--forget about the various imperialist doctrines for a moment) have been relatively sane, but that's certainly never stopped the practice from being fucked.

Alarming trends in the U.S. military policy seem to have most to do with a failure of vigilence in the face of greed, opportunism, and exceptionalism run amok.

Which, I suppose is true with the rest of them too. But militaries can do a lot of damage. More perhaps (well maybe not, depending on how you measure), than corrupt insurers.


brzgzeu: braziers glow for Zeus

hipparchia said...

i'm with you on the imperialism and [i'll call it a spade] the foreign invasions.

ha. "Alarming trends in the U.S. military policy seem to have most to do with a failure of vigilence in the face of greed, opportunism, and exceptionalism run amok." bingo. you took the words right out of my mouth [off my keyboard? out of my head?]. qualified or not, dude, you're smart.

it's time-honored method, and i've seriously considered it, but i think having a standing army is possibly [marginally] better than hiring

i'm open to arguments to the contrary, though.

ztnsryjd: zeus takes neptune on a joyride [i do not have a dirty mind]

hipparchia said...

the other model i gave some serious thought to: everyone --- man woman child grandma grandpa --- would have a gun [maybe sword canes for the old folks] and know how to use it. then we'd all hunker down in our houses and not fire on the invaders till we saw the whites of their eyes. possibly we'd advance as far as hiding behind the sand dunes and wait till they land on our beaches.

i don't know if this is what the framers had in mind, but it is awful close to what the colonists actually had.

not much use if someone fires a few nuclear warheads at us from the middle of the ocean.