“... A state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly
of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.”
—Max Weber (1)
From street corners to city squares, the United States has a long and proud history of respecting our servicemen and servicewomen. While there is nothing wrong with respecting our men and women in uniform, the U.S. military’s particularly problematic and troubled past makes it difficult to glorify an establishment that has caused a great deal of international strife and damage. While the U.S. military isn’t the worst military in the world, there is something to be said about an extremely wealthy nation such as the United States spending absurd amounts of money, resources, and human lives fighting overseas military battles that do not concern the United States and its interests. While we should mourn the loss of those lost at the battle, the over-glorification of the military-industrial complex is a stain that blemishes the red, white, and blue.
War, armies, and government intervention are some of America’s most defining characteristics. Our repeated intervention in the Middle East, the Caribbean, and other regions of the world has garnered the United States a tarnished reputation on the international stage. This reputation has hindered the United States’ diplomatic relations around the world. While every nation should hold and maintain a standing army, this army should only be deployed in times of emergency. This view is entirely in line with the founding fathers’ beliefs and founding documents of the United States. Additionally, when going to war, the U.S. president must petition Congress before declaring war. Only Congress can approve a declaration of war. Without congressional approval, any act of war is illegitimate. Put plainly and simply, while the United States military is one of the greatest military forces the world has ever seen, that does not imply we should glorify an establishment that is the creator of such chaos and death around the world.
United States servicemen and women risk their lives for a whole host of reasons. Maybe they want purpose in life. Maybe they want to serve something other than themselves. Maybe they want to establish American ideals of “democracy” around the world. Or maybe, they just thought joining the military would be a cool idea. Regardless of any single person’s motivations, we should not hasten to paint all military individuals with a broad brush. Maybe some are actually hoping to ensure peace around the world, while others only joined because it seemed like a good job right after high school, and still others could have joined as a result of pressure from friends and family. Regardless of any of these factors, we should be critical of the United States rather than glorify it or paint the entirety of the system as evil and corrupt. There is a great middle road that can be taken as it relates to being critical of the U.S. military. It is neither a perfect American system that is blameless and promotes democracy around the world, nor an evil colonial tool of the United States.
The United States suffers from the military-industrial complex. Following staying neutral in European conflicts and supplying arms to Europe, the United States discovered how profitable war was. As a result, the United States has since been in the business of arms dealing and creating conflict in order to create arms. The United States economy understands the importance of the military in sustaining our huge military-economy sector. However, we should continue to be critical of the military-industrial complex and condemn it, while also understanding and acknowledging the sacrifices of the men and women of the service.