The Military’s Purpose is Not to Kill People and Break Things

*Note: This essay was published at War on the Rocks on August 26, 2015. It can also be found online here (or PDF). 

I have killed people and broken things in war.

I have killed people and broken things in war, but, as a military officer, that was never the end. There was a purpose, a reason, a goal. Always. My country, profession, and family demand this, as is the case for all in uniform.

So when, in the first Republican presidential debate earlier this month, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee responded to an open question from moderator Bret Baier on the “changing” culture of the American military by saying, “The purpose of the military is kill people and break things,” the audience applause appalled me.

The military’s purpose is not to kill people and break things. This idea is factually, historically, professionally, and philosophically wrong — and must itself be remorselessly killed and violently broken. This 11-word platitude has no place in modern society.

Read the rest at War on the Rocks.

Author: ML Cavanaugh

Unequal parts strategist, assistant professor, wordsmith, runner, wine-o, reader, philosopher of firepower, and hopeless lover of three ladies named Rachel, Grace, and Georgie.

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