Sinking a Wrong Idea, Again

*Note: This essay was published at War on the Rocks on October 5, 2015. It can also be found online here (or PDF). 

A little over a month ago, I made the argument that the military’s purpose is not to kill people and break things but instead to serve and protect America, Americans, and American interests. Fair winds and full sails carried the message far and wide.

From the same sea, a thoughtful naval officer (and War on the Rocks contributor), Matthew Hipple, raised a rebuttal, arguing that the “core purpose” of the military is to kill people and break things. While allowing high praise for his excellent podcast, as well as all things Navy football related, I respectfully dissent.  Ironically, I find myself doing so on behalf of his beloved Navy, as this week we found out the only ship left in our seafaring force that has sunk another is a 200-year old frigate, which, of course, is in dry dock for two years. If we were to accept Hipple’s argument, and judge our military services by killing and breaking figures, then that does not bode well for our Navy.  So, in defense of sea power and Sea Control, we will apply one more intellectual strainer to this sopping wet idea, wring out the wrong, and let the mistakenness run into the drain of history. Let us keep the logic dry, and simple.  Here goes:

What we do – and who we are – is different from why we do it.

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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