Thoughts about a war culture after reading the text of the speech given at the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act on August 13, 2018, at Fort Drum, in Jefferson, New York. The following quotes are from that speech (emphasis added by me). Words following in italics are some brief thoughts.

Military Might Before All Else

“[I]n this case, military might is more important than even jobs.”

This sounds like the priorities that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

Addition of Thousands of Military Service Members

“With this new authorization, we will increase the size and strength of our military by adding thousands of new recruits to active duty, reserve, and National Guard units, including 4,000 new active-duty soldiers.”

Nuclear Build-Up

“Funding to modernize our nuclear arsenal is so important. We’re doing a major upgrade of our missile defense. We’re spending a tremendous amount of money on our nuclear arsenal. Nobody will have close. [sic]”

We have learned nothing.

Blaming National Debt on Service Members (even if in jest)

“And we are proudly giving our troops the biggest pay increase in a decade. And I know you don’t want it because you’re very patriotic. You’ll say, just save the money. We’re going to pay down debt. Does anybody not want it? Please raise your hand. What’s going on here? (Laughter.) Are these real patriots? I don’t know, General. I don’t know. It’s the biggest increase in a decade.”

Economy Existing to Fund a Military

“We have the great [sic] economy we’ve ever had. I think that’s going to help us a lot in a lot of ways. It also helps us a lot in funding and doing all of the things we’re doing for our great military.”

Sounds like the military-industrial complex.

War for Over 17 Years and Multiple Deployments in Short Intervals

“The armed forces have endured continuous combat for the past 17 years. . . .

No one better understands how stretched our military has become than the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division.  Is that right, General?

You were the first conventional combat force to deploy after 9/11.  Since then, no division in the Army has been deployed more times to Iraq and Afghanistan than you.  You’ve sent over 9,000 courageous soldiers to 26 different countries all around the world in the past year alone.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team just returned from a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center, and later this year they will once again bravely answer our nation’s call and deploy to Afghanistan.”


“In a few moments, in honor of that sacred obligation, I will put my signature on the National Defense Authorization Act.  This authorization will give America’s warfighters the firepower they need to win any conflict quickly and decisively.”

Continuous war for 17 years has evolved to embracing the term warfighter. We are not using the term “defender,” and we are not satisfied with “soldier,” “service member” or even “warrior” anymore. We accentuate the violence by combining “war” and “fighter.” The government wants our young people to aspire to be warfightersThe National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service has a mission statement which reads “This Commission will . . . recommend to the President, Congress, and American People ideas to foster a greater ethos of military, (national, and public) service.” [Emphasis and parentheses added by me because the focus on the military/national security by this Commission is concerning to me as the likely main intent of its creation and outcome.]

Also, note the phrase “any conflict.” This may just be the imprecise language of oratory grandeur. Or, it  may be an indication that we are abandoning the concept of “just war” (which some now see as a flawed concept in itself (NYTimes, Pope Francis)). It is getting harder to understand the underlying motivations of our longstanding wars. 

Removing the Act of Killing Other People Further from Our Conscience and Closer to Automation

“Thanks to the leadership of Representative Stefanik, we’re also making an unprecedented commitment to developing our artificial-intelligence capabilities.”

Where is “that of God,” “the Light,” “the Inner Guide,” or “the Light of Christ”–or even intention and responsibility–within artificial intelligence?

We are already seeing an increase in moral injury among drone operators, when originally it was thought that distance (geographical and vicarious nature) would decrease moral injury. [1] Artificial intelligence (with eventual full automation) will not decrease problems. It will increase them. The United Nations is already discussing this ethical issue and Google employees successfully pressured Google not to accept any new contracts for this type of Department of Defense work.

Commitment to Being the Leader in Making Space an Additional Warzone

“In order to maintain America’s military supremacy, we must always be on the cutting edge.  That is why we are also proudly re-asserting America’s legacy of leadership in space. . . . They [other countries] want to jam [our] transmissions . . . “

So we develop a whole new branch of the military that is modeled on Special Forces to stop hackers and jamming technology? Surely, this can be addressed by existing forces and specialists. But . . .

“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space.  We must have American [lethal] dominance in space.”

* * * * *

Learn of peace, rejoice in peace, teach of peace, and talk of peace with your children and with each other. [2] We cannot slip into a culture in which the people accept nonstop warfare with glassed over eyes and a shrug of the shoulders just because their combat-enthralled leaders pursue war with dizzying and incentivized bloodthirst.

[I understand that this speech was given on a military installation, with military service members in the audience, in preparation for signing into a law a bill that relates to the military. However, this is a vision of the future that affects military service members and their families on a personal and real level, not to mention our national identity and the fabric of civilian society.]

~ Kindra Bradley, Quaker House Executive Director


[1] From notes from presentation “Isolated From Grace” at Conference Against the Use of Drones in Warfare at Duke Divinity School on Saturday, October 21, 2017, by Chaplain (Major) Jeff Matsler.

[2] Based on 2 Nephi 25:26 (Book of Mormon (my background before Quakerism)). Reworded a little and replaced “Christ” with “peace.” The verse continues that we should do these activities so “that our children may know to what source they may look . . . ” If we only teach and aspire to war, we will eventually no longer know how to achieve peace.