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What is the motiviation of military recruits?

In an earlier thread, someone who served three years pointed out that Americans do not sign up for the military to defend the nation. Rather, they're motivated by the kill.

(In response to "The problem is that people don't usually sign up to kill. They sign up to defend their nation," he replied that was "the most naive thing" he ever read about military service. Then he explained the 82 Airborne Division's motto is "Death from Above.")

Is this true, or at least how Republicans tend to see things?

When a recruiter called me, his carrot was to subsidize my college. When he realized this wasn't an issue for me, he politely thanked me for my time and went on to the next number. A sniper I once knew explained he wanted adventure and to see the world. However, I had assumed these people genuinely believed they were doing something honorable, or at least justified. Had you asked people if they wanted to kill on command, no matter if they realized their mission was an error where innocents would certainly be written off as "collateral damage," I think many fewer would join. I haven't yet met a military person cynical enough to say otherwise.

Is this why the government implements stop-loss policies, which even Republican Senator John McCain calls a "back-door draft"? Because they believe our soldiers are really killers rather than defenders, and they deserve involuntary conscription?
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
March 25th, 2005
My response wasn't that they were motivated to kill. Your assertion that they were motivated to defend, but not kill seemed absurd.

Personally, I signed up for the Army College Fund. But I knew that during my service, war was a possibility. In war, "defending" and "killing" go hand in hand. I just don't see how you separate the two in this context.
Permalink Cowboy coder 
March 25th, 2005
if people were joining just to kill you would expect army subscription to go up during war time.
instead over the course of the Iraqi war it has gone down, way, way down.

this makes me suspect that most people genuinely sign up to defend their country and fight a just war, there is nearly no interest in invading other countries unilaterally.

This thought comforts me :)
Permalink FullNameRequired 
March 25th, 2005
Well then Cowboy, you have strawmanned me (as some might think I strawmanned you). I certainly believe in a military; just that it's a tool to wield properly... and most people don't know how to use tools right.

Of course, some guy was calling people idiots in that thread, so perhaps it was hard to extract signal from noise in that discussion.
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
March 25th, 2005
I wasn't trying to straw man you. I just strongly disagreed with you.
Permalink Cowboy coder 
March 25th, 2005
Oops, you found an error!