“Machiavelli, Candy, and the Military Industrial Complex”
Hung over and completely out of cigarettes, I ended up in Walgreens this morning. The nice lady behind the counter asked me if I would like to donate candy to the troops. I generally see sugar as one of the worst poisons, so that sort of transaction seemed odd, or at the very least counterproductive. The lady could tell by my confounded expression and a slightly audible grunt that perhaps we had a misunderstanding. She explained that sometimes soldiers give children the candy, so that they, I guess, lose a part of the instinct to kill by making our soldiers seem friendlier. It is a testament to the archaic core of war that peanut M&Ms have become one of its tools.
I don’t know if I truly agree with the sweet old lady’s assessment of where these candy coated weapons were ending up. I think it’s safe to assume that the soldiers were consuming a heavy bulk of them, simply because candy is delicious. However, the principle that she speaks of, the candy, represents a timeless tactic. Some people would call it propaganda, but to me, propaganda lies at root off all communication, and a person’s ability to with stand it, is what makes an individual’s constitution. I would call this tactic Diplomacy more than anything else. It is a failure of scope to see the War in Afghanistan as anything other than an occupation where nation building is outranking combat. This type of strategy can only stand on the basis that our incentive structure is universal, and though the comfort we Americans enjoy is becoming more globally sought; there are pockets of the world that just don’t want to do the things that we do, and historically Afghanistan is Afghanistan, and will stay Afghanistan. Though, this Model of War has proven itself inefficacious in the land of the Khyber Pass, I whole heartedly believe that the model can be extrapolated and shaped into a paradigm for a fully educated citizenry and an end of xenophobic calamities.
Niccolo Machiavelli wrote the “book” on diplomacy. He wrote “he who would keep a city accustomed to freedom will hold it more easily by the means of its own citizens than in any other way.” That sentence has always stuck out as foundational in the way I view the world. My interpretation of that sentence lended a prescription for a more peaceful world. A world were in stead of sending planes full of soldiers armed with guns, we sends planes full of students armed with iPhones and forcefully opened minds. There is no way to quickly reverse the expansion of the Military Industrial Complex, but it can be directed off its current course. Think of it…The U.S. Military holds real estate assets throughout 50 different countries. These bases could serve better as dormitories rather than barracks. Perhaps, in exchange for basic military training 18–19 year olds can be sent all over the world in the capacity of a Diplomat rather than a Soldier. Sharing culture is paramount in a world that is becoming rapidly globalized. Machiavelli writes “from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.” This idea must be viewed through lens of the incentive structure of a child. Think how differently a young person will adapt to the world knowing he will one day come face to face with it. The Diplomatic Industrial complex incentivizes a greater understanding of language, history, trade, and culture.
“This man abolished the old soldiery, organized the new, gave up old alliances, made new ones; and as he had his own soldiers and allies, on such foundations he was able to build any edifice: thus, whilst he had endured much trouble in acquiring, he had but little in keeping.” Machiavelli writing of Hiero the Syracusan.
This radical thought experiment works well through economic inputs and outputs, but most importantly can feed the utility of peace which is at the heart of freedom. I wrote this because I think the best way to honor our Veterans is to stop creating them. Well that and candy.