Why Have an Army?

In a blog post entertainingly discussing Bobby Jindal's silly jibe at volcano monitoring, Paul Krugman asks:

Hey, why bother having an army? Letís just rely on self-defense by armed citizens.

In fact, the Founding Fathers designed our government to NOT have a standing army. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution provides among Congress' powers:

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years

(Emphasis supplied.) The Federalist Papers discussed this limitation in detail in Federalist 26:

. . . Let us examine whether there be any comparison, in point of efficacy, between the provision alluded to and that which is contained in the new Constitution, for restraining the appropriations of money for military purposes to the period of two years. The former, by aiming at too much, is calculated to effect nothing; the latter, by steering clear of an imprudent extreme, and by being perfectly compatible with a proper provision for the exigencies of the nation, will have a salutary and powerful operation.

The legislature of the United States will be OBLIGED, by this provision, once at least in every two years, to deliberate upon the propriety of keeping a military force on foot; to come to a new resolution on the point; and to declare their sense of the matter, by a formal vote in the face of their constituents. They are not AT LIBERTY to vest in the executive department permanent funds for the support of an army, if they were even incautious enough to be willing to repose in it so improper a confidence.

(Emphasis supplied.) I am not arguing for abolishing the Defense Department here. I am merely stating a fact - the Founding Fathers did not envision the federal government keeping a permanent standing Army.

Clearly our view of what a national government need do is different from what the founding fathers first envisioned. But it was, as Chief Justice Marshall famously stated, a constitution that was expounded.

Speaking for me only

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    Man oh man (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:06:39 PM EST
    I thought you were trying to knock me off the teat there for a minute :)

    I love ya Tracy... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:14:18 PM EST
    but why have an army?  Seriously.

    When was the last time we needed one to defend our borders?  Pearl Harbor?  Though part of the union, it is a remote outpost of the union...before that, the Spanish American War?

    It sure is expensive...and having one seems to lead to us using it overseas...maybe we should give it some serious thought...we do have the capability to wipe any nation on earth of the map with nukes within hours.  I wonder...


    It's very expensive (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:25:23 PM EST
    One helicopter.....27 million dollars....and that's before we even have taken it to the middle east and played in the sand with it.  When we send you that bill that would be a different bill.  Why have an army?  I had this debate with the dude I married when we were dating, I was on your side in 1997.  Back then my boyfriend told me that he was needed because if he wasn't here some South American dictator would have most likely decided that they needed some of the natural resources around me and I'd sitting here in chains because I'm a girl with a MOUTH.  I gave that some thought, and I thought he could be right about some of it.

    Your man might be right... (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:33:17 PM EST
    though I tend to think having an army is more about us taking the resources other people live around...making us the "bad guys" in that scenario.

    And like I always used to tell PPJ when arguing about the War on Terror...let any potential invaders invade.  We'd wipe the floor with them with or without an army, sooner or later...we have no shortage of firearms in this country...and the home field advantage.  I'd be on the shore ready to fight...and so would you if I know you like I think I do:)


    Right after 9/11 (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:47:53 PM EST
    I remember my husband feeling a little paranoid about so many of our forces leaving our soil, and he was one.  We were talking about it and I told him if they stormed the neighborhood one of the more docile yet loving neighbors would have the children while the rest of us picked em off one at a time.  Becoming a parent really ruins the pacifist in you.  I don't care who the big guy is who you'll meet on the other side, I'll send ya.  And nobody will ever be able to convince me that for Bush and Cheney all the underlying reasons for all the lies about why we had to do Iraq weren't oil, and some oil, and I think a little bit of oil.

    LOL (none / 0) (#38)
    by coigue on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:30:28 PM EST
    Mmm...no (none / 0) (#24)
    by jbindc on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:50:59 PM EST
    Trained police officers and soldiers don't always hit their target - what makes you think Bubba and Muffy and Surfer Dude are going to be any better shots or better equipped to defend us?  :)

    In a word... (none / 0) (#28)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:59:06 PM EST
    necessity.  Besides, you can be a crappy shot when you've got the numbers...I'm sure the Russians had more weapons and tactics training than the Mujahadeen....but they were missing the most important advantage...home field.  

    Who do we need defending from again?  Seems to me the greatest threat to the republic is the government and the financial sector....if we must have an army, lets have 'em occupy Wall St and Capitol Hill:)


    Maybe we can recruit Dick Cheney (none / 0) (#64)
    by vml68 on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:44:02 PM EST
    to teach them how to shoot!

    See George Washington's farewell (none / 0) (#25)
    by jondee on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:55:22 PM EST
    speech; speaking of Scalia & Co's "original intent" and related obfuscationas.

    Btw, kdog, in your Libertarian freedom-fest, whats to keep freely assembled mega-corprations from assembling their own overseas-interests-protecting security/military goon squads?

    And to your point yesterday about unions, with 10% of the workforce unionized and companies more than happy to pull up stakes and, or, outsource jobs, saying people should be able to form unions is a little like saying Tibet should be allowed to defend itself against China.


    It won't be easy.... (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:10:35 PM EST
    Joe Blow will have to take a lot more responsibility for his life and lot in it...no doubt.  If Exxon-Mobil sends Blackwater to steal oil, the local folks will have to defend their rights...in reality, you only have the rights you can defend anyway.  And people will have to be responsible for not patronizing such a corporation.  Only in the current system is their cash-flow subsidized by the government...in freedom-fest they have to earn it.

    And what is the difference on the ground anyway, the adoration on the uniform, flag vs. corporate logo?  At least a private goon squad doesn't have the authority of law and state to go with their money and might.

    Unions...again, people need to stop being sheep if freedom fest is going to have any chance...union-busting laws would be gone, and forming a union will be as simple as getting the workers of a particular company off their arse to form one, and if the boss balks to strike and picket.  If the boss moves overseas...don't buy his product.  


    Alot of those people (none / 0) (#42)
    by jondee on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:34:46 PM EST
    particularly the ones at the head of the gravy train, will immediatly tell you the Central Scrooo-tinizer (shout out to Frank Z), is a convenience device that they've freely chosen and the best way they know of to take reponsibility for their lives and community.

    And we cant let all this theorizing-in-a-vacuumm allow us to lose sight of the fact that we've presently got a 700 bases around the world ongoing be-all-that-you-can-be employment/career training project going on -- with major corporate backing -- that's an entrenched leviathan which will only go away, or even diminish, kicking and screaming.


    Indeed... (none / 0) (#46)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:39:25 PM EST
    it is all moot because it is too big, too f*cked, and who would know where to even start?  And how not to get shot?

    Yep...it is duck and cover till the day I die.


    Forget it, Jake (none / 0) (#47)
    by jondee on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:41:27 PM EST
    it's Chinatown.

    Also (none / 0) (#53)
    by Samuel on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:54:26 PM EST
    Any unions threatening "scabs" would be considered in violation of non-aggression and volunteerism and therefore a non-free market entity.

    Corporate Armies (none / 0) (#52)
    by Samuel on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:50:41 PM EST
    Corporations would need a financial incentive to invade the United States.  If we take the Iraq war as an example - it is a net loss when weighing total expenditure against total revenues (whatever oil we might get).  A corporation, being profit maximizing, would not engage in such a venture.

    As we now know, the driving force behind the the US invasion of Iraq was transfer of US taxpayer money to weapons manufacturers.  If we all held stock in a corporation invading Iraq, we would be best served to sell, sell, sell.


    What? (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by OldCity on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:32:27 PM EST
    You are, I'm sure, familiar with the rest of the world's attitude towards pacificism?

    Even neutral countries have armies.  And in those countries, everybody serves, not just the volunteers.  Frankly, I'm more for that...I think if we had compulsory service, we'd be a hell of a lot more judicious in our use of the armed forces.  



    Well (none / 0) (#18)
    by squeaky on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:35:30 PM EST
    Liechtenstein disbanded their army in 1868 for financial reasons.

    I don't think that they have regretted it.


    I'm hoping you're not serious (none / 0) (#39)
    by OldCity on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:31:23 PM EST
    or failing that, are familiar with the geopgraphy of Lichtenstein.

    Yes, I Know About Lichtenstein (none / 0) (#48)
    by squeaky on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:42:09 PM EST
    Just setting the record straight that some countries do not have armies.

    Very true (none / 0) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:39:37 PM EST
    They have their "professionals" though too, career military serving.  My spouse got to go to some sort of summit with soldiers from more pacifist NATO countries.  He really loved it.  Made many friends, wants to work NATO liaison in Afghanistan if he can get it.  Still drinks Belgium beers because of one of the guys he befriended there.

    Belgian beers (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by sj on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:54:13 PM EST
    Yum.  Recently acquired a taste for these lambics ...

    The two big oceans... (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:50:08 PM EST
    the the left and right are our best defense...and I ain't talking about pacificism, we can keep our guns.

    A draft would certainly give pause to our international occupation adventures, but I've got moral qualms with indentured servitude.


    A draft could help some things (none / 0) (#27)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:58:30 PM EST
    while damaging others.  My husband has always said that a troop on the battlefield that doesn't want to be there is a really bad thing to have.  They can't properly defend themselves or their fellow soldiers serving beside them.  After everything that has happened for the past eight years, at this moment at least, whenever you see an American soldier in uniform you don't have to ask yourself if they are being railroaded.  Everyone from Bush's shananigans who wanted out has finally come to having their contract up and now they are free.  There is a new push as well......that if you don't want to serve and you don't want to deploy you can now leave again quietly.  I know we are overstrength in warrant officers right now.  Don't know about infantry.  Asked my husband the other day but he didn't know.

    Does anyone except for the really (none / 0) (#33)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:22:20 PM EST
    extreme types ever really want to be on a battle field though?  I am not trying to be glib.  I just think that on some level this all volunteer thing has a very real downside in terms of the more extreme personalities it might attract.  Add to that the systematic efforts to inject Christian religious doctrin to the point where if you aren't into it you can't move up in certain areas and I think the entity has the potential to get pretty scary for its own people.  Not to mention the liability of alienating people who might be really good at being military, but not into being church goers.

    I am not a fan of conscription, but I do wonder if it would help us as a nation and improve our armed services if we were to have a military that better reflected the diversity of this nation.


    Without a doubt we have a few (none / 0) (#96)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 08:28:45 PM EST
    questionable sorts of personalities in the military.  The reality of life though is that boundaries will be crossed and some human beings will resort to violence and invasions for such a variety of different reasons we can go on all day long.  When bullies arrive on a scene we all play different roles, and I think genetics plays a part in that but all roles are needed for a healthy society and community.  Our more gentle souls will stand towards the back of confrontations and dangers, not wanting to fight - but they hold the ground that contains all of society's simple pleasures and joys when danger is not present and we can all just relax and live.  I tend to be one who confronts invaders or bullies.  I always have been, my whole silly life.  I never wanted to trust that aspect of myself to a larger authority though, my husband is different and my husband is also more the existing norm of military personalities.  As to our questionable ones I'm told that that is where leadership must come into play.  Isn't it better to have such folks under a wing of sorts if they can manage it where they don't have to deny their natures?  They may never be needed in combat but they may be, and they don't have to spend their lives trying to deny their natures or in prison because they couldn't find a healthy outlet for those natures?

    Well, (none / 0) (#44)
    by OldCity on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:38:29 PM EST
    what you call "indentured sevitude" is seen by other countries as a moral obligation of citizenship.  I think it's far more catholic to ask everyone to serve rather than merely "recruit".

    Like it or not, for all of America's "support", it looks down on it's armed forces.  We don't see the members as patriotic citizens in the main, we see them as economically disenfranchised individuals who joined to improve their lot, which is hardly an altruistic motive.  So, what we see is a curious mix of appreciation and, to a certain degree, guilty relief that we don't number among them.  (I exclude career officers from that statement.)

    It's incontrovertible that we need an army, that we need an air force and navy.  It's blithe ignorance to state otherwise.  But we should be more considerate of the make-up of those forces.

    Full disclosure...absent an eye condition of which I was unaware, I would have served, having won a ROTC scholarship.


    Depends on what you mean by "need" (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by roy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:01:19 PM EST
    The standing army doesn't just defend us by responding after an attack takes place; they defend us by making it clearly a bad idea to attack in the first place.

    Even when they... (none / 0) (#37)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:30:07 PM EST
    are stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan instead of forts on US soil?...:)

    Snark aside, I see your point, but wouldn't the nuke arsenal and the two large oceans accomplish that just as well?


    Nukes and oceans not enough (none / 0) (#70)
    by roy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:58:42 PM EST
    Nuclear deterrence is dependent on our willingness to kill, conservatively, hundreds of thousands of civilians in order to defend ourselves.  We are willing to do so, but I don't see how relying exclusively on that is a more palatable alternative to having a standing army.

    The oceans help, but the same ocean that sits between the US and Eurasia sits between Eurasia and the US, and we've repeatedly been able to deploy troops over there.  Why should we expect our hypothetical invaders to be so much less capable?  The ocean is also a lot smaller around Hawaii and the extremes of Alaska.  And while Mexico and Canada are our dear allies today, they weren't always, I don't think we're required to believe they always will be.


    Not less capabale... (none / 0) (#72)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:04:22 PM EST
    but less foolhardy...it is part of the reason we are broke, sending our troops and arms across the oceans...that sh*t is expensive.  

    Most, if not all, of my opposition to a standing army is that it never seems to stand still.  A true standing army limited to exclusively defending our borders wouldn't be so bad...but that isn't what we have.


    One of the corollary problems with (none / 0) (#95)
    by hairspray on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 08:16:39 PM EST
    having standing armies is that of continually equipping them with newer and more lethal weapons. This fuels an incredible arms trade and pretty soon the world is awash in weaponry.  At this point this hardware is otherwise empowering wannabe dictators.
    Of course the more the merrier!

    It's dependent (none / 0) (#75)
    by Samuel on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:19:15 PM EST
    on foreign leaders taking that risk.  It's much much cheaper to maintain the umbrella than it is to station people all around the world.  

    Why would a country invade the United States?  To get what exactly?  Source code for Windows?


    Risks... (none / 0) (#80)
    by roy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 04:08:21 PM EST
    It's only a large risk if they think we'll use the nukes, and sometimes leaders take risks, especially since the leaders aren't usually the ones to suffer the consequences if the dice fall badly.  If some leader thinks the chance of a nuclear response is small, or will be directed somewhere he personally wouldn't mind losing, it won't be as effective a deterrent.  The US and USSR came close to shooting wars repeatedly, which kind of proves that nuclear deterrence works, but also proves that people will sometimes make risky moves even against nuclear-armed nations.

    There are lots of reasons to invade the US, starting with the fear -- justified or not -- that the US is going to attack you or an ally.  Then there's the reason Europe invaded the Americas in the first place: this land has a lot of resources, ranging from clean water to fossil fuels and uranium.

    It occurs to me... if we disbanded the standing army and instead relied on nuclear weapons, who'd secure the nuclear weapons?


    I partially agree. (none / 0) (#88)
    by Samuel on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 05:09:27 PM EST
    "There are lots of reasons to invade the US, starting with the fear -- justified or not -- that the US is going to attack you or an ally." - If we didn't have a standing army abroad this would be reduced to practically nothing, right?

    "Then there's the reason Europe invaded the Americas in the first place: this land has a lot of resources, ranging from clean water to fossil fuels and uranium." - It's going to take more than small pox blankets this time - army or no - we're an advanced country and if an invasion started coming we'd be more than equipped for an insurgency threat strong enough to detour (is that word?) financial incentives for invasion.  Basically, the costs of obtaining these goods would be way to high to justify the operation - a net loss.

    The only thing we'd have to worry about is if a country attacked us for the same reasons we attacked iraq - sustain war spending at taxpayer expense to profit the few.

    Getting rid of a federally funded standing army does not necessarily mean that local communities couldn't hire protective militias.  I'd pay into that system - regardless of free riders - just for the satisfaction of knowing the US wasn't overseas ruining lives in the name of freedom for the profit of the few.


    Not even a militia... (none / 0) (#93)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 06:05:10 PM EST
    armories would suffice, imo.

    Don't know who you trust with the key:)

    Who would guard the nukes is a problem, call me crazy, I say we wing it without the nukes, maybe it will catch on.


    Tell me. Before you moved (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:26:07 PM EST
    to the South, were you less, uh, "direct" in your manner of speaking?

    I had to work on the farm in the summers (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:31:24 PM EST
    Teats are a life necessity.  I was very motherly compared to most of my male cousins out there so I was often the substitute.  I mostly had bums (lambs) but I had a bucket calf once and a runt pig who made it to market thanks to me. I understand this teat thing.

    So, the answer is "no"? (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:34:34 PM EST
    LOL (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by squeaky on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 05:46:13 PM EST
    I have heard stories of what some farmers have to do to get their animals in the mood for breeding. Some are evidentially naturals at it.

    Maybe We Could Sell Our Army (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by squeaky on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:18:30 PM EST
    That would get us out of hock. I bet the Chinese would pay a premium.

    Two birds with one stone. Reconcilling the constitution and ending the Recession.

    Offer Cuba a buyout on the Guantanamo lease (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Ben Masel on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:22:17 PM EST
    Or At Least Cash Their Checks (none / 0) (#9)
    by squeaky on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:26:28 PM EST
    And then just give it to them as a gift. Free cIgars for everyone.

    I was under the impression (none / 0) (#11)
    by BarnBabe on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:27:11 PM EST
    Castro never cashes the rent checks we send each year. They are very very small.

    It Adds Up (none / 0) (#13)
    by squeaky on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:29:13 PM EST
    As far as I know Cuba has not cashed a single rent check to date.

    According to (none / 0) (#61)
    by KeysDan on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:27:20 PM EST
    Wikipedia, the Castro government cashed only one check (for $4,085 USD/per yearly remt), but it claims this was due to confusion in the early days of the revolution.  The USA, on the other hand, claims that the cashing of this check alone was validation of the 1934 treaty that reaffirmed the lease and converted the previous yearly fee of $2000 in gold to dollars.

    Good Catch (none / 0) (#62)
    by squeaky on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:38:32 PM EST
    Yes, I forgot about that. Been awhile since I thought of the lease.

    Poking around I found this interesting tidbit:


    The agreement holds further that the U.S. will pay $2000 in American gold coin each year in rent. The U.S. agreed to return fugitives from Cuban law to Cuban authorities and Cuba agreed to return fugitives from U.S. law, for offences committed in Guantanamo Bay, to U.S. authorities.



    I don't think Cuba has any money (none / 0) (#34)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:23:57 PM EST
    of their own.  You might as well just sell it directly to China if you're going to sell it.

    Listen to you (none / 0) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:26:13 PM EST
    Sellin your slaves :)

    CJ Marshall's famous graf (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:38:30 PM EST
    One of the best and most important wirtten in our judicial history:

    "A Constitution, to contain an accurate detail of all the subdivisions of which its great powers will admit, and of all the means by which they may be carried into execution, would partake of the prolixity of a legal code, and could scarcely be embraced by the human mind. It would probably never be understood by the public. Its nature, therefore, requires that only its great outlines should be marked, its important objects designated, and the minor ingredients which compose those objects be deduced from the nature of the objects themselves. That this idea was entertained by the framers of the American Constitution is not only to be inferred from the nature of the instrument, but from the language. Why else were some of the limitations found in the 9th section of the 1st article introduced? It is also in some degree warranted by their having omitted to use any restrictive term which might prevent its receiving a fair and just interpretation. In considering this question, then, we must never forget that it is a Constitution we are expounding."

    It is of course (none / 0) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:40:20 PM EST
    from McCullough v. Maryland.

    Wow that is great. (none / 0) (#26)
    by Faust on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:55:32 PM EST
    As opposed to the California (none / 0) (#83)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 04:23:25 PM EST
    Constitution, which does have the prolixity of a madcap legal code.

    Article I, section 9: (none / 0) (#84)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 04:30:14 PM EST
    No (none / 0) (#86)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 04:35:28 PM EST
    Article !, Section 8 is what I am talking about and what Hamilton was talking about in Federalist 26.

    Marshall used Article I, section (none / 0) (#89)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 05:15:28 PM EST
    9 as an example.  I was curious.  Amen.

    as always, (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by cpinva on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:59:12 PM EST
    the "original intent" argument is checkmated by the originals themselves: they wisely inserted a mechanism whereby the constitution could be amended (changed), to more accurately reflect the needs of the present, vs being shackled to the reality of the past. they then used this mechanism themselves, to add the Bill of Rights, not part of the document as originally proposed.

    contrary to scalia belief (i assume he received his law degree at Caveman U.), the founding fathers, and authors of the constitution, were neither naifs, nor blindly idealistic. they were, for the most part, businessmen (planters, lawyers, skilled craftsmen, traders, etc), pragmatic sorts who recognized their own limitations, in forseeing the future needs of the country. they laid out the basic framework (the constitution), leaving it open for tweaking as necessary.

    the "standing army" restriction had its roots in european monarch's use of their armies to squash their subjects; dictators the world over still follow this time honored tradition. a standing navy, not so much, but useful for protecting ocean and seagoing commerce from the predations of pirates (a very real concern in the 18th century, and lately our own), but hard to use against the citizenry.

    clearly, the world has gotten much smaller, and more complex; an enemy intent on attacking us won't spend a month traveling by sail getting here. as well, our interests have expanded worldwide, and counting on other countries to defend them isn't practical.

    hence, our present need for a professional standing army.

    Actually (none / 0) (#60)
    by jbindc on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:21:10 PM EST
    contrary to scalia belief (i assume he received his law degree at Caveman U.),

    He, like Obama is a Harvard Law grad.


    and others (none / 0) (#74)
    by BobTinKY on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:10:25 PM EST

    JFK, FDR, TR, Justice Breyer, Justice Souter, Justice Holmes, Brandeis too I believe.  

    Scalia's originalist philosophy is nothing more than a bogus fig leaf meant to cloak his circumventing of stare decisis with legitimacy.


    Attack? (none / 0) (#68)
    by BobTinKY on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:58:19 PM EST
    Anything other than  nuclear attack aimed at subjugating the USA would be at least months, plural, in the making.  A conventional, non-terrorist attack, state-sponsored invasion by a foreign army or navy is laughably unlikely.  

    If it is a nuclear attack, well, a standing army beyond those manning our own nuclear facilities is useful how exactly?

    And terrorist attacks are mass crimes far more amenable to police response and prevention than a standing army.  I believe Sen Kerry was ridiculed for making this exact point in 2004.  He happened to be 100% correct.

    Our standing army exists primarily to provide muscle for the corporate empire.


    Agreed. (none / 0) (#77)
    by Samuel on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:21:29 PM EST
    In full.  Might I add that the terrorist threat is fueled by the activities of our standing army.

    Q: Where did Hitler keep his armies? (5.00 / 2) (#56)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:03:18 PM EST
    A: In his sleevies!

    You can thank my son for that one...

    Well that got a smile out of me. (none / 0) (#76)
    by desertswine on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:20:48 PM EST
    And yet, there's no limitation on having a Navy... (none / 0) (#5)
    by steviez314 on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:24:37 PM EST
    which is much more defensive in nature, especially re: commerce. (at that time)

    Limitation? (none / 0) (#73)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:04:48 PM EST
    A standing Navy is in the cards.

    To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

    To provide and maintain a Navy;

    Emphasis added.

    In colonial times you could raise an army an two years, not so a navy.  Today its questionable that you could raise an army in two years from scratch.


    Basic Techincal (none / 0) (#90)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 05:39:28 PM EST
    sophistication as well as any sort of command structure requires a standing Army- in the days of the founders the landed Aristocracy basically served as a built-in comand.

    In an Ideal World- Would the Citizenry (none / 0) (#10)
    by TearDownThisWall on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:27:01 PM EST
    be better off if individuals were able to "make it" on their own?
    Or would individuals be better off if they had to depend on others to survive?
    Now, extreme people can take each one of these positions to silly conclusions ("sell the army" or  "Cut all taxes")
    But....the argument (which JINDAl had trouble communicating) of making a society where individuals can "make it" with out help from government, is an argument that most human beings will take a serious listen to.

    The less control... (none / 0) (#35)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:25:52 PM EST
    an easily corruptable beuracracy has over my life the better.

    Nobody can make it totally on their own, we all need some kind of help at sometime or another...my question is the way we help...is grouping us together in the hundreds of millions, all sending money to a central planning locale like Washington DC to fund the help, and them doling it out...is that the best way to help ourselves and each other?  Seems inefficient, wasteful, and again...easily corruptable.  Working out well for Citibank though...I guess that is all that matters:)


    So (none / 0) (#50)
    by OldCity on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:42:59 PM EST
    will we all get together and build us some roads?  Or bridges?  Or be ready at a moment's notice to help our fellow citizens in jeopardy from natural disaster?

    Of course we need a government.  Of course we need a central government.  You know, people may be the "engine", but they're pretty useless without the chassis of government and infratstructure.


    During the power outtages in Tenn. (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:04:47 PM EST
    recently the local Amish community were providing emergency relief better than Uncle Sam was.

    Yeah, we need some central government and some cental planning...but this much?  And this corrupt?  I don't see it ending well...really don't.  And it feels more like a tyrannical protection racket than public service most of the time...really does.


    I'm more open to "Central Government" (none / 0) (#59)
    by TearDownThisWall on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:19:04 PM EST
    control...If the politicians running Central Government weren't in it for "life".
    Something tells me these guys want re-elected  more than they want to solve problems.

    Fivethirtyeight's story on volcano monitoring (none / 0) (#12)
    by magster on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:28:12 PM EST
    reproduced a USGS report detailing how many thousands of American and Filipino lives were saved (as well as  property) at the military base around Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines because of volcano monitoring.

    As a person who grew up in (5.00 / 2) (#54)
    by nycstray on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:58:01 PM EST
    an earthquake state, volcano monitoring doesn't sound like wasteful spending to me! I'm a tad surprised that is a talking point, especially from him. We can't stop Mother Nature, but we can sure enough head her warnings.

    Volcano monitoring. (none / 0) (#40)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:32:56 PM EST
    I just hope I am not on a plane one day that they aren't monitoring.  There are plenty of volcanoes in the US that could pose huge threats to not only the people living near them, but also to the flying public.

    Then there are the tsunamis caused by volcanoes which could as we know come from very far away and engulf an unsuspecting population.  Yeah, we don't really need advanced warning systems like volcano monitoring to save lives.  That's a real waste of money! /snark


    Its the equivalent of having the Governor of HI (none / 0) (#91)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 05:41:51 PM EST
    Single out Hurricane Monitoring and scoffing at it "Maybe they'd be better of monitoiring the Hurricane of wasteful spending that hit congress!" Hey-O!

    Well hey (none / 0) (#30)
    by Steve M on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:02:33 PM EST
    there's a lot of evidence that the Founding Fathers didn't intend paper money to be constitutional, either.

    What about (none / 0) (#31)
    by jbindc on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:06:03 PM EST
    an income tax?

    Presumably not (none / 0) (#41)
    by Steve M on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:34:35 PM EST
    That's why we had to pass the 16th amendment.

    If it wasn't for the income tax... (none / 0) (#87)
    by Samuel on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 04:37:57 PM EST
    The US wouldn't be able to sell bonds in near the same volume abroad...but alas, we're in a huge deficit because they can borrow against our future tax burden.  

    How long did that restriction last in practice? (none / 0) (#36)
    by coigue on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:28:15 PM EST
    Any historians know the answer to that?

    I think we first had a war department (none / 0) (#43)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:35:23 PM EST
    in 1789, so. . .

    Well it seems certainly (none / 0) (#45)
    by jondee on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:39:12 PM EST
    safe to say we've seen the death of Repub Presidents (and maybe Dems) who would talk about the things Eisenhauer talked about in HIS farewell address.

    About what I suspected (none / 0) (#49)
    by coigue on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:42:46 PM EST
    The correct answer (none / 0) (#51)
    by Steve M on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:44:36 PM EST
    is 1792 or so.

    Why have an army? (none / 0) (#58)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:06:22 PM EST
    To keep moths from getting at all those snazzy uniforms.

    Most nations (none / 0) (#63)
    by MrConservative on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:41:55 PM EST
    Did not have permanent standing armies when the constitution was created.  They raised it every time a war started.

    The needs of today are much different.  It would be crazy not to have a standing army, unless you're like Iceland and have the US and the EU to back you up.  The fact is, it took months or years to start a war in the 1700's, so you had the luxury of time.  Now it can start in minutes or hours.

    They still have to get here.... (none / 0) (#65)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:48:14 PM EST
    I see two nations that could potentially invade us...China and Russia.  China isn't gonna hurt us, we buy their sh*t and owe them money.  I don't see the motivation for Russia to invade either...but if they did, they've got a lot of ground between the front (mainland USA) and their supply...we'd kick their arse like the Afghans did....without a standing army.

    Those two oceans are worth their weight in security...I'm tellin ya.  Geographic goldmine of defense.


    Well (none / 0) (#94)
    by MrConservative on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 07:42:20 PM EST
    they can invade us much quicker than it will take us to raise an army.

    I could have a crack team... (none / 0) (#97)
    by kdog on Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 08:26:30 AM EST
    of a dozen urban guerilla saboteurs assembled within the hour.  

    Imagine no standing army in a nuclear armed world (none / 0) (#66)
    by BobTinKY on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:51:01 PM EST
    Your only defense against attack would be to go nuclear.  Between that and the two oceans that provide thousands of miles of water betwen the US and anyone that could even theoretically be considered capable of invading, I think you can very confidently go to bed knowing yoru national security is not in doubt.

    However, as we know, these days national security has very little to do with protecting the borders and/or sovereignty of the USA.  

    We are long overdue for a financial responsibility summit focused on our "national security" budget.

    Why do we need an army? (none / 0) (#69)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:58:28 PM EST
    Well, at the moment, and in the most practical sense I can think of, it's keeping a lot of people employed, and if the economy continues to contract, may be one of the few employers still hiring.

    It will be interesting to see what happens when the expected redeployment from Iraq happens; will those who have been stop-lossed decide to re-enlist because there are no jobs for them?

    We be better off (none / 0) (#71)
    by BobTinKY on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:02:42 PM EST
    using these resources constructing a hydrogen and electric vehicle infrastructure.  And that activity would do far more to further our national security than the standing army , which is and long has been primarily an offensive tool used in expanding and maintaining the empire.

    Yeah.... (none / 0) (#78)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:24:03 PM EST
    if more soldiers and more prison guards is necessary for economic recovery, I'd rather suffer.

    Army employment isn't good for the economy. (none / 0) (#79)
    by Samuel on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:30:18 PM EST
    It wastes limited resources that could have gone into consumer demanded production or savings (which is the basis for economic growth).  If military spending truly was a good use of resources someone would propose we pay all our scientists to build a giant robot navy to go meet a giant japanese robot navy in the middle of the pacific and just let them sink each other while we all prosper.

    The more money we put into the military, the less resources are available to restructure our economy into higher productivity (not measured by gross spending ofcourse).


    At the moment, and for the forseeable (none / 0) (#82)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 04:18:48 PM EST
    future, army employment is keeping millions of people working, both military and civilian.

    It may not be the best use of the vast sums we expend on it, but it isn't going to be unwound anytime soon.

    If you needed any proof of that, check out BRAC - the Base Realignment and Closure - which is engaged in the closing of 33 bases and the realignment of 29 others.

    I'm not saying a full dissolution of the military couldn't be done, but it wouldn't happen overnight, and the cost during the transition would be enormous; I doubt very much if the economic benefits would be felt for decades.


    Yea, it's no light switch. (none / 0) (#85)
    by Samuel on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 04:35:04 PM EST
    But if we reduce dramatically we'll immediately see a reduction in the deficit.  

    Many highly skilled scientists will be available to work in the private sector and apply themselves to increasing productive efficiency ensuring better economic competition in technological goods (like when we told Japan no more military then they took over the consumer electronics sector).  

    Prices for material inputs will be dramatically reduced as the US government would no longer be dramatically supplementing demand.  This would lower costs of production on capitol as well as consumer goods almost immediately.


    The greatest waste in history (none / 0) (#81)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 04:11:06 PM EST
    There's absolutely no reason to spend the amount we do on defense.

    I've read reports that state we spend seventy cents of every tax dollar on defense. We spend more than the rest of the world combined. It's disgusting.

    Imagine the quality of life in this country if the money was reapportioned. Education, intrastructure, healthcare, all which would help to eliminate the millions of American's that now live below the poverty level.

    The real question isn't why have an army - (none / 0) (#98)
    by esmense on Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 09:58:38 AM EST
    it's why have such an hugemungus army and defense budget. And the answer to that doesn't have much to do with security. After all, we managed to go from almost 0 to 60 when we needed to gear up to fight WWII (my Dad was serving in the horse calvary just a couple of years before the war started).

    The money we spend -- often just throw away -- on "defense" is the only Keynesian spending both parties agree on -- it premeates every level of our economy. From the small paper box company in Northern California with 40 employees to huge companies like General Mills and Proctor and Gamble -- they all get defense money in one way or another. And even companies that don't get it directly benefit. My tiny company for instance doesn't depend on defense contracts, but our not that much bigger sub-contractors often do. If they don't stay in business it gets a lot harder for us to stay in business.  

    context ... context ... context (none / 0) (#99)
    by wystler on Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 11:13:15 AM EST
    Let's not forget that, when the Founding Fathers considered the question:

    1. each State had a standing militia;
    2. threat to sovereignty was local.

    The Founding Fathers envisioned neither faster land transport than horseback nor faster overseas transport than sailing ship.

    Original intent? (Scalia can go ...)