Our militarized society

Ian Welsh has an excellent piece on the effects of our militarized police, private guards and prison guards. It is well worth the short time it will take to read and the somewhat longer time it will take to ponder.

The observations can also (perhaps more forcibly) be applied to our militarized foreign policy. When we undertake military action in lands that have no particular desire to have our military, we place our own soldier in a position where their only recourse is increase militarization. We require more soldiers to handle a situation, which past history shows militarization never handles, and an increased number are trained in deadly force and the mind-set to use it. Many are physically and emotionally scarred for life. Many take their lessons and use it in ways that people find shocking as in the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin yesterday.

It was long known that War is Hell. But we forget that when we choose war we are making a decision about what we will do to ourselves. The larger the number of people taught to use efficient machines of death, the larger number potentially will use them pathologically, because pathologists are a small but present percentage of any group. Perhaps the militarization of our society increases that percentage. Perhaps militarized organizations select for a group with a higher percentage.

But the fact is, we know that war will blow back, first, on our troops, then on our civilians, sometimes by the troops. Violence has violent and deadly effects upon the perpetrator (whatever his motive) and his victim (whether innocent or not), perhaps in equal degree, like a moral Newtonian third law of motion. Perhaps the effect on ourselves is even greater.

What is most worrisome is that in this country, where the “left’s” President has wholeheartedly embraced violence as a primary foreign policy tool, is that we have lost the principle that we once at least claimed to hold: that force should be the last option. Having taken no care whether we trouble our own house, we will now inherit the wind. But unfortunately the fools and not the wise of heart will remain masters. That’s why they arm themselves.

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