One thing on which all the Republican presidential candidates seem to agree is that our military just isn’t big enough. You know, they could have fooled me, because I thought it was incredibly bloated already. Apparently we don’t have as many bombers and warships as we used to, because I guess the strength of the military can be measured simply by counting how many vehicles it has. I think it was in 2012 that President Obama replied to a comment about the Navy having less ships with, “We don’t have as many horses or bayonets either.” But then, the people who agree with the Republican candidates probably missed the irony here, and are saying, “Why DON’T we have more bayonets?” It’s weird to hear when I also understand that the military is paying for planes they never even intend to use.
And one of the candidates in a recent debate said something about how people don’t want to join the military because of how veterans are treated. Sure, there are a lot of problems with how veterans are treated, but I’m not sure how that’s Obama’s fault.
Really, though, are they sure people don’t want to join the military because actually being a part of it sucks? Quite frankly, everything about the Armed Forces scares me. Not just the strong possibility of being shot or blown up, but the idea that I might have to kill somebody else, the attempts to break everyone down and remove their identity, the strict and mean way recruits are treated, and so on. So I have a lot of respect for anyone who IS willing to go through that, but at the same time I’m not surprised that many people who enlist nowadays are those who don’t feel they have any other options. What surprises me isn’t that a lot of veterans are still under post-traumatic stress, but that there are some who AREN’T. It’s all very well for these politicians to talk about overclocking the military when they aren’t the ones who have to fight. And hey, I guess we DO need an even bigger military if we’re going to get involved in even more wars than we already are.
All this war talk is part of a general trend that I see among a certain subset of the population, probably mostly but not entirely right-wing, where acting tough is considered the best way to deal with anything. People question whether the United States should be the world’s police force, but as it is currently, we’re more like the world’s Mafia. “Nice country you have here. It would be a shame if anything happened to it.” I’m not an isolationist, but aren’t there other ways to deal with international situations than war and the threat of war? Well, maybe not when other world leaders also want to be alpha males. Regardless, I have to wonder if it’s really a great idea for potential leaders to go around insulting other countries. Does it really make sense to spread Islamophobia while also saying we need help from the Kurds to fight ISIS? But then, these people try to make Obama’s skill at diplomacy into a weakness. We need a commander-in-chief who will bomb first and ask questions later!
The tough-guy attitudes are apparently much the same way with guns. Why would responsible, law-abiding gun owners WANT it to be easy for people with criminal records to buy their own firearms? For the gun manufacturers, on the other hand, it makes perfect sense. And that’s likely how it works with the military as well. We probably don’t need any more bombers right now, but the companies that make them are glad to make us think we do.
So it’s tough talk combined with corporate greed, and I’m not so keen on either. Another word the right wing loves to throw around is “surrender,” because apparently there’s no difference between surrendering and bowing out of a quagmire. And of course the hawks are also strict Christians, because it’s not like Jesus promoted not fighting back even in self-defense.