To think being a member of the Armed Forces does not make someone "incredibly Right Wing".?

(75 Posts)
Sparklysilversequins Wed 10-Jul-13 12:25:44

I used to be in the army and was asked this week if now that I was out I still held such Right Wing views. I do not and never have though perhaps was not quite as Liberal as I am now but that was as much do do with lack of life experience than being particularly Right Wing.

The person who said it was actually quite accusatory in her manner as well.

So would you think this? It never occurred to me that anyone might.

prettybird Wed 10-Jul-13 14:54:47

I have a friend who is an officer in the TA and he is definitely left of centre (even in Scottish terms).

He was also against the war in Iraq.

Crowler Wed 10-Jul-13 15:04:36

Now, how can someone be extremely liberal/anti-war AND join the armed forces?
Within a certain context, it's revealing.

Sparklysilversequins Wed 10-Jul-13 15:14:13

confused Revealing of what?

AuntieStella Wed 10-Jul-13 15:18:05

A pacifist/conscientious objector wouldn't join up.

But you cannot extrapolate from that to say that all those who are not pacifists hold the same political views.

AuntieStella Wed 10-Jul-13 15:20:15

And of course, I wouldn't expect all pacifists to have the same political leanings either.

curlew - just butting in to say that he must have done. It is very thoroughly covered during the recruitment process and then again in initial training (ie the times when you can decide not to continue or you can still leave easily).

skylerwhite Wed 10-Jul-13 15:21:18

Being liberal is not synonymous with being anti-war crowler

Crowler Wed 10-Jul-13 15:24:31

It's revealing of a set of views.

People who join the military generally support our recent wars, isn't that a safe assumption? Correct me if I'm wrong. Our most recent wars have been incredibly controversial and totally avoidable.

Certainly I can agree that within this group of people, there is a spectrum of political views.

Not crazy about this idea of the milliary as a humanitarian wing of the government. That's just simply not true.

prettybird Wed 10-Jul-13 15:28:07

From what admittedly little contact I have had with member or former members of the Armed Forces (c.5 people - all officers), they were all anti-war and anti-conflict even though for different reasons they had gone into the Forces. The thing they had in common (knew them at different times over the last 30+ years) was that they saw their role to avoid conflict.

But to a (wo)man, they despised politicians as the politicians had no real understanding of the ugliness of real war.

ilovechips Wed 10-Jul-13 15:29:55

I don't think people who join the military necessarily support our most recent wars. It's hard to explain but you just do as you're told, you don't have the right to express an opinion on it. (Hence why I left after 6 years, not good at being told what to do pmsl!). Certainly in the Navy it's a small percentage of people who even go anywhere near a current war zone and most of the time it felt very far removed. For me it really was just a job.

Crowler Wed 10-Jul-13 15:32:20

Being liberal is not synonymous with being anti-war crowler

Sure, but they are highly correlated.

thebody Wed 10-Jul-13 15:32:58

Yes curlew he has as he is probably just as intelligent as you, degree, worked ft for a few years as well.

He would do what his elected government asked of him.

You sound very simplistic and also a bit immature?

skylerwhite Wed 10-Jul-13 15:33:02

Yes, but correlation is not causation smile

Crowler Wed 10-Jul-13 15:34:35

How have I suggested causation?

skylerwhite Wed 10-Jul-13 15:36:29

You used a slash sign to imply equivalence between the two terms... Besides, the term 'liberal' covers a very broad range of views: yes, some liberals are anti-war, some are not.

AuntieStella Wed 10-Jul-13 15:36:34

crowler I agree that the purpose of having Armed Forces is to use force in support of the Government's aims, or in self-defence. I would not exist for humanitarian purposes, and peacekeeping is not a soldier's job, but only soldiers can do it (a quotation from 'Wider Peacekeeping' - the basic UN book on that topic).

But I disagree that Armed Forces personnel inevitably support a particular Government's decisions on the application of force. There is a difference between supporting a particular political line, and carrying out a legal operation. And it must be much the same for all those who work in the public sector who could find the application of their role changed by politicians whose view they do not support.

thebody Wed 10-Jul-13 15:37:21

Most normal people are 'anti war' arnt they?

FrankellyMyDearIDontGiveADamn Wed 10-Jul-13 15:41:25

Ah nice to see the MN stereotype of "all members of the armed forces are blood thirsty violent thugs" is being trotted out by some posters again.

Obviously it hasn't occurred to some that the armed forces do a hell of a lot more than just fight.

I think that most people (including my husband) join the army with the belief that they can do a lot of good.

It's not about killing it's about defending the rights of our country, enabling others to have the same freedoms (such as the right to vote, worship as they choose).

The general population did not know what Hitler was up to when we went to war in 1939. Just as well we did (go to war).

I have met equal numbers of the armed forces who support our recent conflicts and those who don't. When someone joins the forces they sacrifice their choice to act in support of their commander. At times this can be very very difficult and leads to enormous stress. But sometimes it is worth it. I am positive there were some soldiers who did not want to fight on world war 2 but without their sacrifice many more may have suffered.

Warfare and peacekeeping are incredibly complex subjects. Many of our military leaders have spent years studying them in an attempt to enable them to make the best choices possible.

Crowler Wed 10-Jul-13 16:29:01

Nicknamegrief, I agree with what you are saying in principle.

In practice, the military has overstepped the mark. In particular the US military, which has caused untold grief around the planet. The UK military seems intent in following suit, thanks to Tony Blair.

But like I said, I agree with your statement in principle.

FrankellyMyDearIDontGiveADamn Wed 10-Jul-13 16:33:35

Crowler you do understand that the military do not take their own decisions about where to, and where not to, intervene? The Government sets policy and therefore if you have a problem with the actions being taken you use your vote. Don't lay the blame at the door of those carrying out the instructions.

WilsonFrickett Wed 10-Jul-13 16:34:29

As the forces recruit from society, I would expect the views of the rank and file members to broadly reflect the views of UK society.

I would probably make a judgement that the officer classes would broadly reflect the views of the more wealthy/establishment/dare I say upper-class members of society though, and I wouldn't expect those views to be die-hard socialism. Although of course that's a sweeping generalisation...

FrankellyMyDearIDontGiveADamn Wed 10-Jul-13 16:38:53

Officers are not upper class - my DH is an officer (14 years in RAF) and he is by no means upper class, and neither are any of his friends and colleagues. Anyone can apply for officer training, DH applied after finishing university and one of his friends did 8 years in the RAF rising up to Corporal before applying for officer training.

AuntieStella Wed 10-Jul-13 16:39:44

Only the Government can authorise military operations. Blair hasn't been PM for years now. I think his war-mongering legacy is an absolute disgrace.

But that's nothing to do with stereotyping the political leanings of military personnel (unless you equate Labour with 'incredibly right wing' - and I suppose you might have a point there).

elfycat Wed 10-Jul-13 16:40:11

My DH (now retired and working elsewhere) joined the army so he could run a fire service whenever better paid people who don't have to work away in war zones at the behest of the democratically elected government everyone in the UK is responsible for and are allowed to join a union to have some rights in their working life can have a tizzy and cut off an essential service.

WilsonFrickett, yes sweeping statement and more relevant in the past and in some Calvary regiments but not so true now. The better educated perhaps but a fair few are commisioned from the ranks. That is my experience anyway. Some of the Calvary people I actively avoid cerain topics with, as their policial views make me froth at the mouth (but they probably say that about me).

Crowler- the problem is sometimes that our political leaders make military mistakes. That is not the military's fault. Of course if the military had control that could lead to a whole host of other problems as we see in other countries.

No perfect solutions as ever was. Still a world ruled by MN would be interesting.

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