Thursday, February 01, 2007

Who's a mercenary?

From the WaPo:

[T]he recent NBC report is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary - oops sorry, volunteer - force that thinks it is doing the dirty work.

Get that little sneer at soldiers who volunteer? Arkin has discovered that they get--wait for it--paid. Obviously, this makes their motives suspect:

I don't believe America needs a draft though I imagine we'd be having a different discussion if we had one.

Yes, indeed. Some of the discussers would be contributing their opinions from Canada and Sweden. But leave that aside. Let's grapple with the problem of who is a mercenary--a mere money-grubbing cynic.

I don't know about Arkin, who obviously moves in more exalted circles than I do, but money is definitely a motivator for the people I know who work. My own career would not have been possible without a bi-weekly paycheck. Absent that check, I would have spent my days lying in bed, eating chocolates and reading the novels of Anthony Trollope.

And so it is with everybody: doctors, lawyers, business tycoons--none of them would like to work on a strictly volunteer basis. They may enjoy their work, may think they are making a contribution to society, may hold themselves to the highest professional standards. But they need financial remuneration to live in our society: to pay the rent and buy food and shoes for their children.

In addition, our military are sworn in upon induction. They are not some Hessian rent-an-army. They have an oath to uphold.

What's the use? The man is a poor writer and a muddled thinker. It's difficult to know just what he is getting at--I'm not sure he can figure it out himself.

Thanks to Lileks for the reference.

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