OAF Does Analytic Philosophy

"Why do we fight?" is the question. The answer he gives is not the one you usually hear, after he's given an account of why he thinks the usual accounts don't measure up. They are, as he explains, inadequate motivation. Yet we lack a cultural context to support the true answers.


MikeD said...

I think he lost the forest for the trees. "Why does that soldier there fight" has absolutely nothing at all to do with "why is his platoon in this particular combat zone". Those are not at all related. That soldier may fight (and indeed, it seems to be a commonality for soldiers spanning hundreds of years) because they feel an obligation to the men around them to pull their weight. But why are they fighting right there is almost never in the hands of the men doing the fighting. Even when you leave conscription out of the equation, the soldiers go where they are told and fight because that is where they are told to fight (and to preserve their own lives, and the lives of those around them). Why they joined the military in the first place is a third, completely separate question again.

Grim said...

True. On the other hand, you can't fight a war without an army, and we have an all-volunteer force. So there turns out to be a connection between "Why do we fight?" and "Why did I sign up to fight?" That's where his analysis is at work.

You're right, though, that to take that as the final answer governing all levels of organization would be a fallacy of composition. Still, I think it leads him to an interesting insight.

MikeD said...

This was remarkably easy for me to understand on a personal level. "Why I signed up" has a completely different set of answers for me than "why did you try to perform your duties to the best of your ability day-to-day" (which is the closest my time in service came to "why do you fight"), and "why were you doing your duty at THIS duty station" has yet another completely different set of answers. And none of those three questions has a blessed thing to do with the others.

And if you're interested in the answers to those three questions (so you can judge for yourself if my statement they're unrelated are correct):
1) Why did you sign up? Multiple reasons. I had failed out of college due to laziness and a lack of maturity, I had always considered military service anyway (given that roughly half of my immediate and extended family have served), patriotism, and a general feeling of indebtedness to the country and the military in general for the blessings in my life.
2) Why did you do your best day to day ("fight")? I worked intel in a non-deployable unit. The intelligence we produced was never going to influence the people around me, but it could potentially save lives downrange. I always kept that in my mind while doing my job. I did it for the guys on the sharp end, even though I never would (and never have) met them.
3) Why did I do it at [insert duty station]? Because that's where the Army put me. My entire input into where I got stationed pretty much ended after I picked my MOS. I think I was asked my preference about where to go once that I actually got input on the decision (and that was a TDY).

Grim said...

Heh. For me, I never wanted to go to college. (Which makes it very ironic that I've spent so much time there.) I had a buddy who'd always wanted to join the Marines, though, and he and his recruiter made it sound like a glorious warrior society to my 18 year old ears.

Anyway, the non-relation is obvious enough just from the inverse of the question: "Why don't we fight?" Pretty much all those guys would be willing to saddle up against ISIS or Iran getting nukes, but that's just not on the table. It's not because of their personal motivations.

Still, I sympathize with the motivation. When I was in Iraq, I went outside the wire every chance I got. I did a lot of things I wasn't required to do, and I did them because it was glorious and joyous and it gave me a sense of being a worthwhile part of the war. It was absolutely to pull my weight and work for the guys I was with, but it was also because it struck me as the best way to live. I loved doing it.

One of the things I really liked about it was the effect we had. We weren't just spinning our wheels over there, doing stuff to no effect. You made a plan, took action, and things happened. If we were going to build a well, we built a well. If we were going to help a couple of warring tribes reconcile, we set up meetings and worked with them until it happened. You could see the country change as we worked together toward a good end.