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The Role Of The Military In Modern Society?  
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13799 posts, RR: 63
Posted (7 years 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3332 times:

(Warning: Long post)

Inspired by the following quote

Quote:
Konstantin, I am somehow with Quantasforever on this one. I don't trust the Bundeswehr, quite frankly. They are discussions, as you are aware, to give them limited authority for internal security, this would be a disaster! I prefer to make a good example, like Costa Rica, and get rid of it. Someone has to be the precursor for peace, why not Germany (for a change)?


by Subin (MrNiji) in the following thread: http://airliners.net/discussions/non_aviation/read.main/1585805/

1) What is the purpose and the role of the military in a modern industrial / post industrial democratic society?
2) Do we still need a military, how should it be set up (conscription, militia (like in Switzerland), volunteer part time
force (like the British Territorial Army), fully professional or a mix of those)?
3) Which restrictions should be imposed on the military ( e.g. posse comitatus and civilian control)?
4) How do we prevent the military from becoming a state within the state?

My opinion (based on Germany):
1) While Germany has enjoyed peace for the last 50 years and a direct threat by a foreign power has disappeared after the end of the Cold War (where Germany was the predicted battlefield between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces), this condition will not last forever. While there is little danger from our direct neighbours, Russia has under Putin become more and more Stalinist and recently pushed again for hegemonial control over her former satellite states.
On the other hand US President Bush's badly thought through adventures have IMO made the world quite a bit less safe than before, especially by showing how badly overstretched the US military are.
Additionally we are increasingly targeted by assymetric threats of non-governmental organisations, which follow various absolutist religious and political doctrines.

IMO opinion unilaterally disarming NEVER has made a country safer, quite the opposite (as can e.g. seen by Belgium in 1940, which, being neutral, did not even procure a few tanks and refused any military cooperation with France and the UK even after the German invasion in Poland, as not to provoke the Germans).
Agressors usually see steps like this as a sign of weakness, which needs to be exploited.

A Roman said 2000 years ago "If you want peace, prepare for war!"
I think it is the duty of every national government (this applies also to the leadership of multinational organisations like the EU and the WEU) to prepare plans for any reasonable emergency and to provide the means of dealing with them.

Thus e.g. the German government has a "White Book on Defense" which explains the current national security doctrine. This book was under discussion a few months ago, when conservatives wanted, similar to the US, to incluse free access to raw materials and markets into the requirements for using the Bundeswehr. IMO fortunately this proposal has been firmly rejected. IMO a country's refusal to deal with us or to sell us certain goods (oil etc.) should not be a reason for war.

2) The world has become more complex since the end of the cold war. Things like local conflicts in faraway countries, which a few decades ago wouldn't even have made it into the German newspapers are now having a direct impact on Germany (just remember the fights between Turks and Kurds in German cities in the 1990s or continued fights between Serb and Bosnia immigrants during the Yugoslav civil war).
Additionally, due to the huge number of Muslim immigrants, we currently have to deal with the impacts of the current inner Islamic conflicts about leadership in this religion (compare it to Europe during and just after the Christian reformation, when various sects and groups were fighting each other for control of the continent, leading to the 30 year war. IMO Islam is currently at the same stage, an inner religious conflict between traditionalists and reformers).

While we don't expect to have huge tank armies rolling across the border in near future (and opposite to the Cold War, Poland would, in case of a Russian agression be our ally and not our enemy), we can not discount a resurgence of Russian agression, based on Putin's involvement in various countries which once used to belong to the Russian/Soviet empire.
We will also have to play a much bigger role in international peacekeeping, this means, under a UN mandate, to help to stop local conflicts from becoming international or interegional conflicts.
We can not allow to have power vacua to happen again like in Somalia or Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal.

Germany is a medium sized country and as such can NOT afford to act unilaterally (even for the big US, it would have served them better if the current administration would have listened more to their European critical partners instead of offending them. It might have helped them to prevent the Middle East from becoming the quagmire it is today).
Germany's foreign and military policies have to be based firmly on mandates by multinational organisations like the EU, NATO or the WEU.
Additionally we still have to overcome the historical burden placed on us by previous generations. It will still take decades until we are being fully trusted again.

Now set in this context, what kind of military do we need?
Obviously we'll need a professional structure as the backbone, especially in the officer's corps. Also many modern weapons systems require a long time of training and experience to operate them efficiently.
But on the other hand a purely professional military can lead to an elitist attitude and a "state within the state" situation (like with thr Reichswehr in the Weimar Republic, where the staff were plotting against the elected government).
It will also lead to a certain "inbreeding" and disconnection from realities in society. One aspect can be seen in the refusal of people with liberal or leftwing attitude for joining the military (I'm excluding extreme Maoist or leninist groups, which demaned of their members to do military service in the Bundeswehr as military training for the future revolution) , while rightwing people (up to the extremist far right) volunteer for the service.
There are also many intelligent and educated people of liberal to moderately conservative attitude, who volunteered for the Bundeswehr, but quit at the first opportunity, being totally frustrated by continous bureacratic BS and red tape, seeing more future in the private sector, which is bad since I think that some of these people I have met would have made excellent officers or NCOs with very good leadership qualities if not having been suffocated by the existing structures.

The Bundeswehr is also a relatively new military. After WW2 an attempt was made in deliberately cutting off connections with past German miltary organisations, like the Imperial Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany. The Bundeswehr should be something new, free of wrong traditions. This was why e.g. a US type of uniform was introduced in the 1950s, while the rank badges are a mix of British and German (for NCOs) traditions.
Unfortunately the new Bundeswehr needed experienced NCOs and officers, which back then were only available with a Wehrmacht background. These officers and NCOs introduced Wehrmacht habits into the Bundeswehr, drill up to the 1970s was largely based on Wehrmacht traditions.
At the same time many civilians were and are not very much interested in military matters, leaving the Bundeswehr in a kind of ideological vacuum. This lead again to the introduction of Wehrmacht traditions, which again made the Bundeswehr more attractive to the rightwing fringe. At the same time leftwingers would usually decide to evade conscription or opt for the alternative civilian service (e.g. in hospitals or the fire brigade) instead.
Critical career officers or NCOs were often mobbed out of the military.
After the fall of the Berlin wall, many people who else would be unemployed or with a psychological attitude needing a rigidly structured enviroment would join up as well.
This culminated in the 1990s, when members of the Wachbattalion (the unit, which provides the guard of honour to foreign dignitaries) were caught running amok through a small town near Bonn in uniform shouting racist slogans and beating up immigrants.
These "soldiers" were arrested, formally charged, dishonourably discharged from the army and sentenced to long prison terms. the incident also caused a new awareness within the German government and the Bundeswehr for political background checks of recruits and soldiers, to make sure that they are not supporting extremist groups, as well as a cleaning out of "tradition rooms" in military barracks, in which often Wehrmacht units were glorified.

At the same time more and more naturalised immigrants are joining the German miltary. So it is not uncommon anymore e.g. to see a German NCO with a Turkish name.

At the moment the German military at at a cross roads. At the moment we don't need large traditional infantry/armoured forces anymore. Most of the duty of the Bundeswehr is peacekeeping in the name of the UN, the EU or the NATO. At the same time the conscription period has been reduced to less than one year. Basic and specialist training make up for most of this period, the moment the recruit is trained, his time in the military is over. Also conscription is being seen as increasingly unequal, being drafted or not is a lottery today, due to the small number of recruits needed in conscript positions (conscripts cannot be sent abroad, though many conscripts volunteer for a longer contract after their initial training, if only as not to become unemployed on the civilian labour market and are then elegible to be posted into combat zones abroad).
Another grievance is that while men are elegible for draft, women are not.

Concerning the issues Subin has with the Bundeswehr, mainly racist events, I think there are several reasons for them and ways to deal with them.

In first place it is the unit commander up to battalion level who decides to policies within his unit (based on the law and regulations). He has to enforce policies which are coherent with the constitution and other laws.
Then, many good NCOs and officers leave the military because they see better carreer options in civilian life (just look at the salaries: I, as a shift leader and aircraft maintenance engineer in a civilian company earn about as much as a major or lieutenant colonel in the Bundeswehr). This leaves the idiots.

Also I think that the age restrictions for recruits are a problem. Sure, a young man at the age of 18-25 is at the peak of physical performance. Still being quite imature, he can be more easily formed than an experienced person, who has e.g. been successfull in civilian life. On the other hand these young men are more easily brainwashed and not as likely to speak up if their superior talks rubbish.

Another thing I have noticed talking to professional soldiers is a certain feeling of elitism.
After all a soldier's contract requires the soldier not just to willingly risk his own life, but also demands of him the decision to take other people's lives as well (while, during my service in the civil defense, it was expected of me to risk my own life, e.g. I was trained to crawl into a partially collapsed building to rescue somebody, I did not have to make the descision to kill somebody else). This can lead to a feeling that, since it is expected of a soldier to risk his life and to kill, he is above the "generally cowardly civilian rabble". In some countries this attitude lead to military coups. Also many civilians are not interested in what happens behind the barracks wall.
I have noticed here on A.net as well, when e.g. military involvement in Iraq by American or british troops was discussed that there existed a certain attitude" You signed the contract, we our taxes for, now you do as you are told and we want to hear stries of success, but don't give us the unappetising details".

I think the solution for Germany for a better integration of the military in the society would be to introduce a voluntary reserve force, like the Territorial Army in the UK, opem to a larger age range (expect that the soldiers will not be as fit in a physical sense anymore, but they can bring a lot of experience from the civilian sectors and good common sense).
This still leaves the problem of the conscripts, again if we make the military purely voluntary, we'll see the rightwings taking over, while the leftwings will refuse to join. On the other hand we don't need a military as big as in the 1960s, maybe introducing a general national service, which would be mandatory for everybody in a certain age range, men as well as women, and could include a choice the military, hospitals, ambulance services, fire brigades, development aid etc..

Jan

27 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineJetjack74 From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 7387 posts, RR: 51
Reply 1, posted (7 years 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3307 times:
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Quoting MD11Engineer (Thread starter):
Do we still need a military,

Simple answer, yes. The military provides security at home and abroad. The existance of a military provides a projection of power and acts as deterrant against foriegn aggresion.

Ok, now cue the "the USA is foreign aggressors hate speech" mantra.



Made from jets!
User currently offlineBlackbird From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (7 years 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3305 times:

WelI I don't like the idea of national service for the simple reason that it would give Bush virtually unlimited numbers of people to sacrifice for this ridiculous war in the middle east-- A war which was based on lies. Plus I don't think it's right that the government should evem have the power to force people to risk and possibly lose their lives for causes that I don't even agree with.

Andrea Kent


User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13799 posts, RR: 63
Reply 3, posted (7 years 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3302 times:

Quoting Blackbird (Reply 2):
Plus I don't think it's right that the government should evem have the power to force people to risk and possibly lose their lives for causes that I don't even agree with.

But shouldn't be the government in a democratic country represent at least the majority of the voters (and citizens). Shouldn't this prevent the government acting in a way the people don't want?
And shouldn't all citizens with voting rights be held responsible for the decisions made by the government, since they (as a majority) voted for it, instead of making other people (like the professional soldiers) pay the price?

jan


User currently offlineGunsontheroof From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3493 posts, RR: 10
Reply 4, posted (7 years 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 3281 times:

Quoting Jetjack74 (Reply 1):
Ok, now cue the "the USA is foreign aggressors hate speech" mantra.

Hardly "hatespeach". Iraq=foreign, invasion=aggression. Put it together.



Next Flight: 9/17 BFI-BFI
User currently offlineBlackbird From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (7 years 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3262 times:

MD-11,

Not if that includes me, I value my life way too much to risk it. Plus politicians lie to us all the time to get elected then do whatever the f--k they want.


Andrea Kent


User currently offlineTbar220 From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7011 posts, RR: 26
Reply 6, posted (7 years 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 3221 times:

Historically - as in the history of modern civilization (6000 years) - the purpose of a military was to secure resources. Civilization and economics (be it capitalism, socialism, communism, etc.) demands it. It demands the centralization of resources for the use of population centers, be it Greek city-states thousands of years ago or massive metropolitan areas in the modern world. In these empires/states, resources within the boundaries were used up or simply couldn't sustain the populations, so the role of the military was to secure these resources. I still believe this is true in modern society. Consider this in the actions of wars in the 20th and 21st century, it holds true.

So is "modern society" any different? Not really. The government and propoganda may consistently communicate that the armed forces is for protection of people (partially true), spreading of values, etc. but its sole purpose is to secure a nations economic and resource interests abroad so that its domestic base doesn't die from lack of resources. In a sense it is also to protect its people from foreign militaries that have the same goal in mind; resource securing.

This seems true to me for every major power/superpower the world has seen. The Greeks, Romans, Mongols, Persians, Egyptians, all had large armies and conquered major areas of the world for resources. The major European powers for hundreds of years fought major wars for resource control, be it European land wars, wars fought on the Americas, colonialization and wars in Africa, and the major World Wars. The United States and Soviet Union fought innumerable wars with the purpose of resource acquisition being prime. Most conflicts now with armed forces are about resource acquisition - oil, water, diamonds, precious metals, arable land, even people as a resource.

This is what I believe the role of the military is in modern society. I do not believe that our modern society would be able to survive without the military, otherwise there would be no way to acquire resources that keep our wealth chugging right along. Without the military, there would be problems for modern society, culture, and civilization to survive at its current level of consumption. Is that a good or bad thing? You decide.



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User currently offlineNAV20 From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 9909 posts, RR: 36
Reply 7, posted (7 years 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3204 times:

Interesting subject, MD11.

I think myself that the use of nuclear weapons in 1945 was a political and military 'turning-point' which has never really been faced up to. Until then, the purpose of armed forces was to maintain a balance of power, particularly in Europe. If one side got strong enough to challenge that balance by starting a war, both sides fought it out until some sort of 'balance' was restored. That approach effectively ended once weapons became available which could destroy entire countries without the need either to defeat their armies or to occupy them - especially once missiles were perfected, since there was not (and still is not) any defence against them.

But the military has never really 'adapted' - both Russian and NATO forces remain prepared and equipped for a conventional war. This despite the fact that, even as early as the Sixties, the NATO 'plan' in response to any Russian attack was basically for a six-day defensive war, after which it was assumed that one side or the other (probably the one that was losing the ground war) would either sue for peace or resort to nukes.

So, as far as Europe is concerned, the earlier traditional role of 'armed forces' (standing ready to defend your own territory or occupy the other guy's) is largely redundant, as far as the 'great powers' are concerned. Small parts of those forces (mostly air and naval) are still involved on a daily basis at the business end of maintaining the 'nuclear deterrent,' but the future of the rest is largely in the area of 'police actions,' intervening in 'brushfire wars,' etc.

Of course, geography matters. Here in Australia, for example, we don't need a big standing army - any invader would have to come by sea, so the emphasis is placed on having sufficient air power to sink any invasion fleet; and/or destroy any ground forces that got ashore before they covered the thousand miles or so they'd have to traverse to get to any of the major cities.

Trouble is, we've recently seen some 'exceptions to the rule;' fully-equipped 'heavy' armies intended to fill the NATO role used to attack places like Afghanistan and Iraq. They proved equal to the task of 'winning' shooting wars,' but utterly incapable, due to their small size and inappropriate training, of making a success of longterm occupation. The Russians earlier made exactly the same mistake (also in Afghanistan).

I don't know where all that leads, as far as the 'great powers' are concerned. Easy for us, living here - our army is very much trained and equipped (and pretty fully employed) on 'brushfire' situations, police actions, peacekeeping, disaster relief, and the like. But I certainly feel that huge 'continental armies' on the earlier 19th.-Century European model are redundant.

About the political side, Commonwealth countries have a neat way of reducing any risk of military coups. When you join any Commonwealth army you swear allegiance not to the government but to the Queen, who is the Commander-in-Chief. In strict legal terms Blair, Howard, and the rest cannot give direct orders to the armed forces - they can only 'request' them to do things, after first getting the approval of the Queen (or, in our case, the Governor-General). Personally I much prefer that to having someone like Bush in a position to give direct orders to the military.

[Edited 2007-04-19 05:40:40]


"Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.." - Leonardo da Vinci
User currently offlineCairo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (7 years 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3193 times:

Yes, the military has a role in our current world, which is a sad but true commentary on humanity. Although I disagree with virtually every major US military action since the Vietnam War, its very existence has probably helped prevent the kind of major military action I WOULD approve of.

A national service program involving mandatory commitments is a very good idea, I think. The military need only be as big as it is now, or maybe slightly bigger - but everyone else would have the option of 2 years of building affordable housing, reading to young kids, planting trees, driving ambulances, or whatever, and some could still choose the military, to satisfy their national service. They'd get a very small pay, but perhaps a free college education or job training.

The main thing about the military today Is that it should not be used to solve non-military problems like terrorism, drug trafficking or other issues that are really more social, economic or political in nature.

Cairo


User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13799 posts, RR: 63
Reply 9, posted (7 years 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 3166 times:

Quoting Cairo (Reply 8):
The main thing about the military today Is that it should not be used to solve non-military problems like terrorism, drug trafficking or other issues that are really more social, economic or political in nature.

This is an issue I forgot to mention in the original post.
What about using the military in the interior? The US and many other countries (e.g. Germany) have laws banning the use of the military inside the own country ( in some cases with exceptions, e.g. in Germany the military can assist, on request of the minister of interior of a state in unarmed disaster relief (floods, wild fires etc.). Also Bundeswehr reconnaisance Tornados have in the past been used with their IR equipment to search for missing persons after kidnappings on behalf of a state police).
In Ireland e.g., where the police is traditionally unarmed, duties of SWAT teams (e.g. rescue of hostages, bomb disposal) are taken over by the Irish Army special forces unit, the Army Rangers. They also provide armed escorts for money and explosives transports.

After 9/11 and about a year later, the theft of a Katana light aircraft by a psychically deranged man, who threatened to crash it into the business district of FRA (the Bundeswehr sent up 2 F4 Phantoms, but IMO a missile or a burst from the cannon would have caused more damage than the Katana could have ever done), the conservatives around the federal minister of interior, Wolfgang Schaeuble, have been pressing to change the constitution to allow the use of the Bundeswehr in direct support of the police, including the order to shoot down a hijacked plane, if the government thinks that it might be crashed into a building. They also considered deploying AA missiles (Hawk) around the government district in Berlin after a man committed suicide by crashing his microlight on the lawn outside the Reichstag a few years ago, until the military told them what damage would be caused by a shot down airliner crashing into the centre of Berlin.
In my opinion, the police has to be solely in charge of operations inside the country.

Concering UN missions, like in Afghanistan I think the only solution is a two pronged strategy:
1) Development of the country and nation building, so that the living standard and education of the population improves. This also makes them less likely to fall for propaganda of people like the Taliban and will eventually bring them out of the tribal medieval feudalism into the 21st century. Also local corruption will have to be fought efficiently so that local politicians can not line their pockets with aid money.

2) Since groups like the Taliban will try everything to disrupt any development not controlled by themselves, the development aid and nationbuilding process wil have to be secured by the military. In this case strict rules of engagement are needed and this has to be understood by EVERY soldier, so that e.g. incidents like the German soldiers in Afghanistan playing with human remains, which are water on the Taliban propaganda mills, do not happen.
EVERY soldier to the lowest private has to understand this.
I know that soldiers are humans, but if they think a little further, they should behave like they would like to have foreign soldiers based in Germany to behave.
In think also that in these incidents the young age and imaturity of most low ranking soldiers plays a role. An older, more mature, soldier in his 30s-40s (like they had in almost all WW2 armies except the US) would probably had a restraining influence.

There is no question that the Taliban and their ilk will have to be fought, but according to Mao Zedong, an experience guerilla leader himself, a guerilla war only works if the guerilla swims in the population the way a fish does in the water. If the population see that they are better off with the Western development aid than with the Taliban, support for them will shrink to nothing.


Jan


User currently offlineNoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7917 posts, RR: 12
Reply 10, posted (7 years 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 3156 times:

Quoting MD11Engineer (Thread starter):
1) What is the purpose and the role of the military in a modern industrial / post industrial democratic society?

a) Nation building were civilian organizations/NGOs can't go or where they need need protection.
b) Other UNO / NATO approved missions.
c) Homeland defense. Right now this is, fortunately, not likely. But back in 1985 no one seriously thought the Berlin would crumble only 4 years later. So how can we know how our world looks like in 10 years? And it takes decades to develop arms and introduction into service. I know I sound like Mrs. Thatcher, but in this point she was right.
d) Homeland defense does not mean the military can use force within its own country. I'm fine with recce flights to check levees or to search for missing people. Likewise, Bundeswehr could provide NBC recce and protection if need be. But no gun, not even a bullet.
e) No missions outside Germany without the world's approval. At the very least it must be a NATO mission.

Quoting MD11Engineer (Thread starter):
2) Do we still need a military, how should it be set up

I like the idea of replacing the compulsory military service with a compulsory "service time" or however want to call it. If you are healthy, you are going to serve - say: 9 months - in either Bundeswehr or provide community service.

Bundeswehr should be small but modern, deployable, with good firepower and well protected. The more soldiers come home unharmed, the better. No WMD, no anti-personnel mines (so no changes here).

Pay soldiers better so service gets more attractive for well educated people. The problem Subin (and others) have with Bundeswehr should probably be seen against the background that weapons and military notoriously attract Nazis and other weirdos. Around the globe, not only in Germany. I believe most of us remember that abominable video that popped to the surface recently. A better payment would probably help turning Bundeswehr into a more actual copy of our society. But I don't wish to blow the recent affair out of proportion.



I support the right to arm bears
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13799 posts, RR: 63
Reply 11, posted (7 years 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 3152 times:

Quoting NoUFO (Reply 10):
Bundeswehr should be small but modern, deployable, with good firepower and well protected.

Ok, this might be OK for peace keeping and nation building missions, but what about having a reserve e.g. of volunteers in e.g. something like the UK Territorial Army, US National Guard etc. to provide trained manpower quickly IF there is a need for homeland defense? It is not just the development and aquisition of weapons systems which takes time, but also the training of the personnel to operate them.

Jan


User currently offlineNoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7917 posts, RR: 12
Reply 12, posted (7 years 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 3148 times:

Jan, I have no opinion in this regard. My knowledge is very limited when it comes to military and strategies to say the least.
We had this Weizsäcker commission some years ago, but I don't know what the commission suggested in this respect. I said "small" to keep it affordable and modern. After all, member countries of NATO and European Union may not need an army big enough for homeland defense, but I really don't know.

I have forgotten to mention that I hope to see joint European forces, soon or at least a less fragmented defense industry. It seems unnecessary to me that European NATO member countries all have their own subs, tanks and armoured vehicles. We are not even able to develop one fighter jet (instead we have three).

Norbert



I support the right to arm bears
User currently offlineSprout5199 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1833 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (7 years 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 3117 times:

Quoting Blackbird (Reply 2):
WelI I don't like the idea of national service for the simple reason that it would give Bush virtually unlimited numbers of people to sacrifice for this ridiculous war in the middle east-- A war which was based on lies. Plus I don't think it's right that the government should evem have the power to force people to risk and possibly lose their lives for causes that I don't even agree with

Well, even if they did the draft today, it would be a few years before they could actually get it going. The "evil" Bush would be out of office by then.

Quoting Blackbird (Reply 5):
Not if that includes me, I value my life way too much to risk it

And I value my FREEDOM too much not to risk it. And if in the process I save your life(and freedom), then it is worth it.

Quoting NAV20 (Reply 7):
When you join any Commonwealth army you swear allegiance not to the government but to the Queen, who is the Commander-in-Chief. In strict legal terms Blair, Howard, and the rest cannot give direct orders to the armed forces - they can only 'request' them to do things, after first getting the approval of the Queen (or, in our case, the Governor-General). Personally I much prefer that to having someone like Bush in a position to give direct orders to the military.

Here in the States, you dont swear an allegiance to the government, or the President. You swear an allegiance to the Constitution. It may not seem like a big difference but it is. Also, while it may not seem like it, there is limits to what a President can actually do. If Congress really wanted to stop a President from doing anything they can. Its called checks and balances and in theory it works.Look at whats happening now with the funding of the war, it is making the President really look at his decisions in a different light as opposed to 2 years ago. (I am not trying to get into a discussion about the war, just pointing out how checks and balances does work like the founding fathers wanted it to.)


Dan in Jupiter


User currently offlineBlackbird From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (7 years 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 3086 times:

Actually in school every day we said something to the effect of

"I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation (under god - or not take your pick) indivisible with liberty and justice for all".

Which does ammount to a pledge of allegiance.


And MD-11, the reason the military isn't supposed to be able to get involved for policing the people is that the military can be a great weapon of oppression. Leaders could use it to squash any dissent they don't like.


User currently offlineTheSorcerer From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2005, 1048 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (7 years 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3072 times:

Quoting Sprout5199 (Reply 13):
And I value my FREEDOM too much not to risk it. And if in the process I save your life(and freedom), then it is worth it.

I'm not trying to have a go at you here but how does the war in Iraq protect American's freedom?
thanks

Another question. How are people selected for the Wehrdienst atm?
thanks

Dominic



ALITALIA,All Landings In Torino, All Luggage In Athens ;)
User currently offlineSprout5199 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1833 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (7 years 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3065 times:

Quoting TheSorcerer (Reply 15):
I'm not trying to have a go at you here but how does the war in Iraq protect American's freedom?
thanks

I guess I'm talking about things in general, not about this President or the war in Iraq. In the big picture of things, you can't choose the war you will fight in. I fought the cold war, but really I wanted to fight in WW2(flying P-38's of course). And when the people choose a President, it is for him to decide(right or wrong) where and when and how to defend the country against any and all treats. A lot of people are questioning the military(no, not the military, the President) because of the war in Iraq(just like Vietnam) but at least most are not blaming the soldiers themselves. This is good. However the questions MUST not become disobedience, else anarchy rules and the righteous things that good men have given their lives for has been in vain.

Dan in Jupiter


User currently offlineNAV20 From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 9909 posts, RR: 36
Reply 17, posted (7 years 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 3045 times:

Quoting Sprout5199 (Reply 13):
Also, while it may not seem like it, there is limits to what a President can actually do.

Agreed, Sprout. My point was more about what happens if the politicians and the military disagree. If the British Prime Minister 'requests' the military to carry out an operation, and the Service Chiefs consider it unwise (for whatever reason) they can decline his/her request; and it's then up to the Prime Minister and the 'Crown' to sort out the disagreement. The officers concerned don't automatically face being penalised for 'disobeying orders.'

Under the US system, the President, as C-in-C, is giving a direct order. Any serving officer who refused to obey it would automatically have to resign or be fired; and might even face a courtmartial. There have been quite a few resignations recently, General Pace has said that he will resign if he is ordered to attack Iran, and a retired guy just turned down a Presidential request to serve as the 'Pentagon czar.'

I'm not saying that both systems can't be made to work. I rather prefer the Commonwealth approach, that's all.



"Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.." - Leonardo da Vinci
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13799 posts, RR: 63
Reply 18, posted (7 years 1 day ago) and read 3037 times:

Quoting Blackbird (Reply 14):
And MD-11, the reason the military isn't supposed to be able to get involved for policing the people is that the military can be a great weapon of oppression. Leaders could use it to squash any dissent they don't like.

The late Major General Sir John Hackett of the British Army (he is the closest person I know to a philosopher-soldier) wrote in his book " The profession of Arms" (1982):

Quote:

"... If this is so, the chief function of the armed forces maintained by properly constituted authorities, wwhether these are nation states or something else, now becomes thecontainment of violence. We may thus be moving towards what Janowitz has called a constabluary concept. Within such a concept the function and duty of the military professional remain the same. His function is the orderly application of armed force. His duty is to develop his skill in the management ov violence to the utmost and to act in it's exercise as the true subordinate odf the properly constituted authority, whatever this may turn out to be.

A situation can arise where military professionals themselves set up a national authority which then secures wider recognition, even if this is reluctantly given, and is thus legetimized. The junta is an all too frequent and unwelcome aberration in the twenties century. It is unfortunately the case that when civil government breaks down, or is too weak to withstand strong action by ambitious men, armed forces are ideally constituted (and most conveniently located) for the seizure of power. They have a structure designed to ensure the rapid and effective execution of orders from above. They have weapons, mobility, communications and discipline. The seizure of civil power is for the military often too temptinggly easy. Its execise is another matter, for which armed forces are neither intended nor apt. Its devolution is very difficult, which is even more serious. Transfer of power from an army comes about normally through defeat in battle and not through the ballot box. The military can easily seize power. They find it very hard to get rid of it once it has been secured. ..."

And further:

Quote:

"... It should be added here that total, blind, unquestioning obedience in any circumstances whatsoever must never be demanded of any human being. In the last resort a man is answerable to his own conscience for what he does, and nowhere else. He has to be prepared to say "I will not" if his conscience tells him that he must, and take the consequences. These, in war, could be severe. A commander must do all he can to ensure that no man is put into a situation where he is bound, on grounds of conscience, to disobey. A men set under authority must be prepared to go very great lengths indeed before he does so, recongnizing that his disobedience will not only put himself at hazard
but probably comrades too. He must above all be on his guard against manipulation by the ill-intentioned.
Happily, commanders in national armies know, or should know, enough about the nature of the men they command to recognize where limits lie. I have known, in my service, of orders given and obeyed in other armies which I should have for my own part have neither obeyed nor transmitted.
I have never been asked in my own service to do anything that, on grounds of conscience, I could not."

This is one reason why I wouldn't like to have the military to be used for police jobs inside my country.
Also, the whole mindset and training of police forces is completely different from the military.
This stems from the different roles:
A police officer's duty is, if possible, to apprehend a suspect and to deliver him to the court of justice for trial, giving sufficient proof to show that he is guilty. He is not supposed to be prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner in oene person.
The role of the military is to overcome a heavily armed opponent from OUTSIDE the country in times of war. While the opponent will be the enemy, he is in no way guilty of a crime unless he breaks the rules of war (Hague convention, Geneva convention). Being a POW is in no way a criminal punishment.
If a person has been captured by the military, who is suspect of having committed crimes, then he asgain is being turned over to the judical authorities.
A nation's government can not be at war with it's own population, so there is no need for the military to become actibve inside the own country.

Jan


User currently offlineSprout5199 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1833 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (7 years 1 day ago) and read 3029 times:

Quoting NAV20 (Reply 17):
Any serving officer who refused to obey it would automatically have to resign or be fired; and might even face a courtmartial

Unless the order is unlawful. That is why Military people swear an oath to the Constitution, not the President.

So the "Crown" is in charge of the Military in the UK? If the Queen wanted to,she could order an attack on Parliament?

Dan in Jupiter


User currently offlineNAV20 From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 9909 posts, RR: 36
Reply 20, posted (7 years 22 hours ago) and read 3014 times:

Quoting Sprout5199 (Reply 19):
So the "Crown" is in charge of the Military in the UK? If the Queen wanted to,she could order an attack on Parliament?

Not quite - but she could throw them out and make them submit themselves to an election.   If they objected, the courts (also run by the Crown) would enjoin them, and if they still refused to comply, then yes, as a last resort, I suppose that the police or the Army would have to enforce the Queen's decision. Happens occasionally.....

"The years 1972-1975 were a whirlwind of activity, controversy and change, culminating in the dramatic events of October 1975 when the coalition parties in the Senate used their numbers to delay passage of the government's Supply Bills. A three-week constitutional impasse followed, culminating in Whitlam's dismissal by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, on November 11."

http://whitlamdismissal.com/

Personally I wish that sort of thing happened more often. Not taking political sides, it just relieves the boredom of watching both sides of politics stuff things up.

[Edited 2007-04-20 16:20:10]


"Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.." - Leonardo da Vinci
User currently offlineSprout5199 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1833 posts, RR: 2
Reply 21, posted (7 years 21 hours ago) and read 3004 times:

Quoting NAV20 (Reply 20):
http://whitlamdismissal.com/

Personally I wish that sort of thing happened more often. Not taking political sides, it just relieves the boredom of watching both sides of politics stuff things up.

Interesting read. When this happened did both the PM and the Senate have to have new elections? And who appoints the Governor-General? The Queen? And I read where someone actually wrote the Queen asking her to do something, and she refrained. Bet the atmosphere was like Watergate here in the states.

Is enlightening to read/learn about other governments and how they work.

Dan in Jupiter


User currently offlineNAV20 From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 9909 posts, RR: 36
Reply 22, posted (7 years 20 hours ago) and read 2994 times:

Yes, general election, Sprout5199.

Governors-General are 'appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.' All usually done by 'consultation' but in practice they tend to be pretty independent-minded characters - certainly not usually just political hacks. Oddly enough, once in place, they are genuine 'Heads of State,' technically they don't have to consult the Queen about anything they decide to do.

Arguably the Commonwealth has the more genuine arrangements when it comes to the vital issue of 'separation of powers.' In particular, unlike your President, the PM of the time has no direct say in the appointment of judges.

Other differences too. In cases of civil disorder, for example, it doesn't take the Queen or a G-G or the PM to call the Army in - any Chief Constable can ask the Army to act 'in aid of the civil power.'

I always think that having the President as Head of State AND Commander-in-Chief AND head of the Executive AND giving him a big say in who gets appointed to judicial posts is a less balanced system. Sure, the legislature and the judiciary can catch up with a really bad president in the end - but only, in most cases, after he's been freely exercising his very wide powers for six or more years. I suppose the current Gonzales case rather underlines the problems that sort of power can cause if it's misused?

[Edited 2007-04-20 18:10:13]


"Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.." - Leonardo da Vinci
User currently offlineSprout5199 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1833 posts, RR: 2
Reply 23, posted (7 years 18 hours ago) and read 2978 times:

Quoting NAV20 (Reply 22):
Yes, general election, Sprout5199.

Thanks

Quoting NAV20 (Reply 22):
Other differences too. In cases of civil disorder, for example, it doesn't take the Queen or a G-G or the PM to call the Army in - any Chief Constable can ask the Army to act 'in aid of the civil power.'

Civil Disorder--goes back to the revolution and the use of the King's Army to enforce tax laws and such.--Natural disasters--that is use now ask later when you can(common sense)thing.

Quoting NAV20 (Reply 22):
Arguably the Commonwealth has the more genuine arrangements when it comes to the vital issue of 'separation of powers.' In particular, unlike your President, the PM of the time has no direct say in the appointment of judges.



Quoting NAV20 (Reply 22):
I always think that having the President as Head of State AND Commander-in-Chief AND head of the Executive AND giving him a big say in who gets appointed to judicial posts is a less balanced system. Sure, the legislature and the judiciary can catch up with a really bad president in the end - but only, in most cases, after he's been freely exercising his very wide powers for six or more years. I suppose the current Gonzales case rather underlines the problems that sort of power can cause if it's misused?

The Congress can "get rid" of a President pretty quickly see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Johnson
Impeached in 3 days--Senate failed to convict

Certain judges are "appointed" by the President, but have to be confirmed by Congress--
The Gonzales thing is just incompetence, plain and simple. US Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. If he would have said "I fired them for ideological reasons" and not performance reasons that would have been the end of it.
And Gonzales himself is stupid,"I don't recall"? Makes him look like an idiot who is covering for someone(ROVE). Also when Congress made the US Attorney's non-confirmable, that was STUPID.

Dan in Jupiter

PS a thought provoking discussion on a Friday afternoon(its Friday afternoon here in Sunny South Florida)


User currently offlineNAV20 From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 9909 posts, RR: 36
Reply 24, posted (7 years 7 hours ago) and read 2955 times:

Yes, good discussion, Sprout5199.  

Quoting Sprout5199 (Reply 23):
The Congress can "get rid" of a President pretty quickly

Yes - but the party in power pays no penalty, you just get the Vice-President; as in Ford for Nixon. Just IMAGINE Cheney taking over from Bush!   Under the Commonwealth system the ruling party stands to lose power (as happened in 1975).

The other big difference is that the Prime Minister has also to be a Member of Parliament. And therefore has to defend his/her policies and actions, day by day, in searching debates. Alone among recent presidents, Clinton could probably have held his own in that context; but Carter, Nixon, George W. Bush etc. would have been 'easy meat.'

The debates and repartee can be vastly entertaining, too. These are some notable quotes, the same sort of thing still goes on today:-

'Nancy Astor: "If you were my husband, I'd put arsenic in your coffee." Winston Churchill: "If I were your husband, I'd drink it!"

'John Montagu, Earl of Sandwich: "Egad sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox." John Wilkes: "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

"If [William Ewart] Gladstone fell into the Thames, that would be a misfortune; and if anybody pulled him out, that I suppose would be a calamity." — Benjamin Disraeli, when asked the difference between a misfortune and a calamity.'


http://www.answers.com/main/most_popular.jsp?date=2006-02-13

[Edited 2007-04-21 07:09:20]


"Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.." - Leonardo da Vinci
25 Melpax : John Howard in full swing, when he was opposition leader, back when Paul Keating was PM
26 Post contains links NAV20 : Another American President who could have more than held his own in the House of Commons was Lincoln. I don't think I have ever seen anything to match
27 Levent : The military in Turkey serves as protector of the current Turkish society - to make sure that religion and state are kept separate, and also to make s
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