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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