Doonesbury’s Hypocritical Warmongers

 Posted by on 29 November 2006 at 6:54 am  Uncategorized
Nov 292006

A friend pointed me to the Doonesbury comic strip, where Trudeau has been exploring the phenomenon of those advocating war while not being willing to serve in the military:

What struck me is that Trudeau actually has a point, as long as people conceive of and prosecute war in a sacrificial way. It is indeed hypocritical to advocate that someone else go to war and be sacrificed for your own interests, and it’s positively evil to advocate something like the draft to make them do so. On the other, “moral” hand, there are those who volunteer to be sacrificed for the sake of their countrymen, and there are pacifists who urge that we not fight at all. The premise of war-as-sacrifice seems unfortunately widespread, so back and forth people argue with charges of impracticality against charges of immorality (the “warmongers” on one side and the pacifists on the other, with the martyrs enjoying a status as tragic but respected cannon-fodder).

Of course, Objectivists don’t accept any necessary conflict between morality and practicality, and I wince at the idea that we must prosecute war by either sacrificing ourselves or our countrymen, or resigning our country to an enemy’s aggressive ambitions. We can and should develop a foreign policy of self-interest with a non-sacrificial military.

Americans would then be able to relate to the military and its services just as they do with any other higher-risk profession like coal mining, high-rise construction, test piloting, or whatever. Americans are not hypocrites for advocating and enjoying reading at night, living in condos, and flying to visit Grandma. And even when there is a significant chance of serious injury or death, the companies who bring us these things do not do it by calling for martyrs or seeking to sacrifice their employees. The same should be true of our military: tremendously risky work, yes, but only undertaken in defense of our rights, and never dependent on calls for sacrifice at any level.

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