In light of the recent article about the military-industrial complex, I felt it necessary to bring some alternative views to light.
In the column “U.S. brainwashed to support military-industrial complex,” the author fails to accurately describe the military-industrial complex and instead directs his anger at the spread of generic views about the military. The “military-industrial complex” refers to the complex relationship between the government and the industrial sector in order to facilitate contracts and research for the armed forces. Instead, the article focuses on the prevalence of commercial forms of support for soldiers, whether it is deals with restaurants or the ads the military itself puts out to court volunteers.
While some may criticize the abundance of the military support in the media and pop culture, I say, why not? These men and women voluntarily gave up a normal life to protect our right to bemoan the abundance of military images all around us. Voltaire, the French philosopher, said roughly, “I may not like what you say, but I will fight for your right to say it.” In this country we have the amazing right to say whatever we believe so long as it does not cause direct harm to another person. This right is denied to hundreds of millions of people around the world, but we are lucky enough to have a military who answers to civilian control to protect and guard this right and others like it. Unlike some militaries, ours is one who doesn’t forget what they are fighting for.
Don’t get me wrong, war is a terrible, terrible thing. I bemoan the loss of life and destruction it causes. But when people attempt to blow up buildings and hijack planes, I have no sympathy to spare. When I was in fifth and sixth grade, my mother would take me to peace protests because she believed they were an educational experience. Before that, I had no idea what to believe, and I instantly became pro-peace. Then I attended a very conservative high-school and met my best friends. One has a dad who served for two decades with the Marine Corps. Another of my friends from cross-country joined before he turned an adult and is currently in Afghanistan. Finally, a young man I consider to be a second brother decided to enlist in the Army and is currently trying for the Rangers. They are deeply rooted in military tradition. I got to witness both sides of the issue and have been able to make an informed opinion about the issue of the military in our society.
My first realization is that these men really are heroes. I can say with complete assurance that I would be scared out of my mind in a warzone. At my high school, we were known to be jerks to the other side, taunting their players and getting rowdy. But when the national anthem played, it fell completely silent. Everyone stood to respect these men and women, not because we are blindly following some mysterious panel of corporate leaders, but because these soldiers deserve our thanks.
In regards to the military complex, it is too simple to say it is all bad or all good. The relationship between the government and industry does indeed need to be overhauled. We need more oversight to reduce costs and increase transparency. We need to focus less on imaginary forces of the future and instead focus on the issues we face now. But it is not all bad — without this complex most sectors, including aviation, medical, communications and more, would not be the same.
All I ask is that when we consider this inflammatory issue, we take the time to constructively fix the issues and not insult the men and women who give us the right to disagree with one another.
Freshman, School of International Service