Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Defense is Out of Control... and Aparently Rightly So?

One of my favorite lines from the british classic spy series Sandbaggers is when Neil is being challenged on underhanded tactics he used to mount a secret operation against government policy. "What would the people say if they found out about this?" "The people would want me to do whatever I can to protect this country." A wonderful example where the elite wants to do something, the public would want him to do it, and it's some muddled middle management in Parliament that makes it verboten.

I'm sure all the liberal readers of my blog despise excessive defense spending in our government. It's a rather unaccountable field, we spend as much as the next 10 highest nations combined, a great deal of it seems to go to pork, and recent events show that having a large military makes us eager to use it. These feelings could be expanded to military power in general.

But can anyone give me a process-oriented reason to rein in the department of defense? Namely, I supply two propositions. A) The most educated and experienced people regarding the military tend to believe it should have more money and support. B) The majority of the populace believes it should have more money and support. (Let me know if I'm being too vague here.) That being said, why should an intelligenstia class, being just liberal educated people or the checks our constitution places on the military, have much say?

Sure, you can impugn the motives of the pro-military groups as myopic, selfish, or blindly jingoistic, but pointing out their subjectivism doesn't make our subjectivism any better or more reliable. Simply put, if I'm elitist that means the smartest people should decide (and they disagree with me), and if I'm democratic that means the interests of the majority as voiced by their votes should decide (and they too, disagree with me).

And I'm really looking for a legitimate reason to say military power needs to be curtailed. But so far I really don't have any argument besides broad consequentialist beliefs that it makes things worse off.


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