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General Discussion > Militaries

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message 1: by Mike, Margrave (new)

Mike (mcg1) | 35 comments Just grabbed this quote by George Washington and wanted to post it:

"To place any dependence on Militia, is, assuredly resting upon a broken staff. Men just dragged from the tender scenes of domestick life; unaccustomed to the din of Arms; totally unacquainted with every kind of military skill, which being followed by a want of confidence in themselves, when opposed to Troops regularly train'd, disciplined, and appointed, superior in knowledge and superior in Arms, makes them timid, and ready to fly from their own shadows."

-Letter to the Continental Congress, September 24, 1776


Reading about the intense difficulties of Washington's militia against the British professional army put the two in sharp relief. The authors of The Federalist got the message also:

Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 25:

"Here I expect we shall be told that the militia of the country is its natural bulwark, and would be at all times equal to the national defense. This doctrine, in substance, had like to have lost us our independence. It cost millions to the United States that might have been saved. The facts which, from our own experience, forbid a reliance of this kind, are too recent to permit us to be the dupes of such a suggestion. The steady operations of war against a regular and disciplined army can only be successfully conducted by a force of the same kind. Considerations of economy, not less than of stability and vigor, confirm this position. The American militia, in the course of the late war, have, by their valor on numerous occasions, erected eternal monuments to their fame; but the bravest of them feel and know that the liberty of their country could not have been established by their efforts alone, however great and valuable they were. War, like most other things, is a science to be acquired and perfected by diligence, by perserverance, by time, and by practice."

There are debates about what size military a country should have, and what the mission should be, and those are valid questions. At the minimum, though, I think history has shown us that a modern country demands a standing army. So, I think the minarchist belief that militias are enough to defend a country is utterly bogus.


message 2: by Jon (new)

Jon | 2 comments I agree. It is clear that we must have a standing army, but we must also have militia. The most important reason for militia is not to stand against invasion, but against tyranny.


message 3: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Cataldo | 1 comments Both Costa Rica and Switzerland seem to argue, in different ways, against countries needing an army (Costa Rica) or an army that is entirely unlike a militia (Switzerland). These are special cases, but they are also the only cases I can think of where a country tried not having a military. I would agree with a subset of your hypothesis: a modern country that wants to fight wars needs a standing army. Tyrants are ruined when the people can divide the tyrant from their military: that means *winnning* a war against the military (usually done with the help of an outside power, though that's fair), or civil disobedience or other nonviolent or slow change. Nothing locks a tyrant into place like someone shooting a few soldiers, and making the army feel united against the rebels, Star Wars notwithstanding.


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