Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Error of "Jointness"

"Jointness" is the new buzzword in the news. It's the word that Rumsfeld is using to describe his plan for consolidating onto the same bases not only the functions of the army, navy, air force, and marines, but also the national guard units of each.

Though I have no problem encouraging cooperation between the different branches of the military, I think it's a huge mistake to conflate the army and the national reserve.

The fact is, they should have a vastly different functions, and very different facility, drawing fron vastly different pools of people. Like it or not, our military--the army, navy, air force, and marines--does and should exist to do a Hobbesian job, in a world that is nasty and brutish. It should be a trained force, designed to kill when necessary. Get in, impose one's own will, and get out.

The national guard should be there to guard borders, build the peace, and fill sandbags. They're the idllyic, liberal ideal, that exist in a world where we can surpass Hobbes and treat men with dignity, building institutions for capitalism and democracy.

The tragedy of recently conflating the two can be seen in the plummeting recruitment rates for the national gaurd, as people are getting much more than they signed up for. This is absurdly unfortunate, and, with "jointness," may destroy the national guard system entirely.

I'm not here to say one is better than the other. I'm here to say that they're both equally important parts of a military that, like that of the United States, has a global reach. Let's keep them distinct, eh?

Further reading on this topic.

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