How crucial is the military to the advancement of humanity? While the military is the main force behind war and imperialism, it is also a tremendously efficient system responsible for churning out some of the greatest technologies known to man. The world is divided among pacifists and fascists; those who believe war is central to humanity, and those who wish to see it end for good. In the United States, the military budget completely dwarfs the budgets of any other sector of the country. Many believe that drastically defunding the military would allow the country to flourish in different ways; others see once again the central role the military plays in the advancement and security of the nation.
Well over half of the entire federal budget in the U.S. goes towards the military alone. Billions of dollars are being funneled into defensive & offensive measures, maintenance & supplies, research, and more. At the surface it would seem that military action and spending is all geared towards the singular goals of protecting the nation while exerting imperialistic pressure in foreign countries. What some people forget however are the incredible technologies that have already come out of the military and trickled into our everyday lives, as well as the future technologies that are currently being researched. For instance, the creation of the Internet itself can be attributed to the military’s ARPANET project. GPS navigation, EpiPens, and computers themselves can be attributed to military research. Furthermore, the U.S. military has a special division known as DARPA which is responsible for conducting secret science experiments and technology projects. Some of these projects are public knowledge, and feature some extremely futuristic technologies. These include Boston Dynamic’s various robots, and different types of exo-suits meant to increase the strength and stamina of troops. The military is also involved in everything from space exploration to human augmentation. President Donald Trump recently approved a 6th branch of the U.S. military called the “Space Force”, which will further extend the military’s reach into space.
The central force behind the military’s endeavors is conflict. International conflict seems to be the defining factor behind militaristic innovation. Without war between human factions, there would be no need to pool money into developing advanced technologies. This is one reason why some may think that military and war in general are central to human advancement — it seems as though many of the weapons and vehicles invented during wartime also end up becoming the tools for expanding into space. Rockets, nuclear research, and the Internet are all central to space exploration, but came initially from the military. Astronauts themselves – the pioneers of space exploration – are usually trained ex-military pilots and engineers. If the military-industrial complex is so fundamental to the current state of the space program, it’s hard to see how it would ever be removed from the top tier of government funding. Additionally, assuming humanity does become an interstellar species, run-ins between us and potential alien species may result in new types of inter-species conflict. If this is the case, it will obviously be necessary for us to have adequate warfare technologies so that we are not easily conquered.
On the contrary, it might be possible for humans to advance technologically without the need for heavy military funding. Like mentioned before, military funding far outweighs budgets for other sectors of society like education, space, and infrastructure. Perhaps billions of dollars could be pulled from the more aggressive aspects of the military — such as offensive measures — and instead pooled into these other fundamental sectors. If the educational system were adequately funded it could be enough to completely reform it. When teachers are paid better; when research and advanced technologies are used to inform instruction; and when students are motivated towards STEM paths, it may be possible to usher in a new generation of people who are prepared to conquer the biggest problems humanity faces. This includes foreign affairs. At the moment it seems as though most Americans aren’t globally informed enough to vote for decisions based around foreign policy. As the current state of the space program becomes more stable, and privatized space agencies perfect their methods, the need for using military personnel as the pioneers of various space-based projects will become minimal. The main strength of the military is that it instills discipline, detail-orientation and perseverance. These are traits that should be taught earlier on in a person’s education. More money pooled into infrastructure means safety and continuity in the face of natural disaster. Earthquakes and Tsunamis wipe out huge chunks of the human population. That means thousands of potential innovators, humanitarians, engineers, and scientists are being needlessly wiped out. Better architectural policy and considerations could be researched and implemented to ensure public safety in the face of these events. In other cases, the massive amounts of people who die from car accidents and general infrastructure failure (collapsing bridges, poorly-designed buildings, etc) could be reduced with the introduction of self-driving cars, and again, research and implementation of better architectural considerations. Lastly, pooling more money into the government space program speaks for itself. NASA for example would have wider flexibility with projects involving the expansion of the frontier of space. Basically, billions of dollars can be redirected from portions of the military that generally involve aggressive tactics against foreign adversaries. Instead, the military should be able to retain an appropriate defensive budget and whatever amount of resources are needed for strong research programs like DARPA. It may be an overly-simplistic idea, but perhaps if other countries observed the U.S. cutting down on their military budget and focusing more on humanitarian, infrastructural, and exploratory endeavors, they too would be inspired to do the same.
The military will probably never go away; it is a system designed for efficiency. This efficiency, unfortunately, is mainly directed towards the acquisition of resources dominated by other human factions. This of course leads to war and the death of millions. As a result of this efficiency, the military is able to produce the tools necessary for the accomplishment of objectives, which includes the general advancement of humanity through advanced technology. But are certain aspects of the military really necessary? If we could stifle funding of overly-aggressive military objectives, that money could be redistributed to sectors of society that would better serve the grandiose purpose of space exploration, which is to ensure human continuity while unlocking the mysteries of the universe. With decreased military spending, we could better cater to the well-being of the citizens of Earth and colonize the solar system.