International law should mandate much higher standards for military personnel

The U.S. army says it will reduce personnel from 570k at the peak of the Iraq occupation and 558k as of March to 490k in 2017 in part by lowering the number of personnel with “moral, medical and criminal” problems.

Way too small a reduction if the U.S. is to stanch its long-term decline resulting from maintaining an empire. But nevermind that. Using criminals as occupiers is an invitation to atrocity — as is using teenagers as occupiers. U.S. policy, indeed that of all nations, ought eliminate any possibility of military employment for criminals and those under 21 years of age. Any other policy ought be a violation of international law.

Too little, too late, perhaps, depending on how quickly human military personnel are replaced by robots.

Perhaps of more longstanding relevance (it could include drone actions) invasion/occupation ethics also ought be a matter of international law.

The market euphemistically known as the community of nations must do a much better job of self-regulating…or else!

Have a good upcoming weekend, including those in places where Memorial Day is observed.

9 Responses

  1. Lucas Gonze says:

    Raising standards is a tall order. The military has a tough time recruiting enough bodies. Those employment numbers are pretty jaw dropping. ~500k staff? Seriously?

    How come you’re thinking maintaining the empire is causing long term decline instead of staving it off? That’s a interesting topic.

  2. The first link says the U.S. Army now has too many bodies, but they are concerned about not having enough in the future. .5m is just active, uniformed employees of one branch. and give different numbers for reserves, but there’s about 1.5m active uniformed, 1.1-1.5m reserve, and 700k civilian employees. No idea how many people employed via contractors, but a large number. $550b budget.

    Empire is expensive, very expensive. It only “pays” when highly extractive, and even then so much of the extraction is captured by private interests within the empire that extraction is no guarantee of holding off decline. Of course by historic standards, the US is a non-entity in terms of both extraction from outside and private capture within.

  3. […] perpetual peace and human rights. We’re doing a very bad job of it. As I’ve noted recently “The market euphemistically known as the community of nations must do a much better job of […]

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  5. Lucas says:

    Military adventures are profitable to many people in different ways. Journalists, companies supplying the invading military, politicians who can posture, etc.

    I’m not sure extraction is the metric for valuing invasions. Maybe the empire is the accidental result of corruption.

  6. Military adventures are profitable for many entities, but I see only two ways they can be a net win for a polity’s “the economy”:

    * The adventure has massive positive externalities, ushering in an era of peace, cheap oil, staving off domination of a region by an even worse ideology, etc. These claims seem to always turn out wrong. But are sometimes obtained by accident, as extraction settles into stationary banditry.

    * Extraction. Over the course of human history, this has often worked out great for the extractive polity, sometimes for a long time.

    Sure, empire and (including business empire petit) could be characterized as accidental result of corruption. Or could be dressed up as an “emergent phenomenon”. Maybe this observation is where the characterization of empire as cancer comes from.

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  8. […] step forward might be to end U.S. (and elsewhere) exploitation of uneducated teenage soldiers. But perhaps something else would be more feasible or effective. If conflict reduction bonds […]

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