Creativity and the Military

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.
Charles M. Province

Some, actually a lot, German universities have a “Zivilklausel”, a “civil clause”, which mean that they must not do research for military purposes.

There are a lot of … difficulties with such a clause, among others, the secondary usage of inventions, originally for peaceful means, for military purposes. For example, encryption might protect citizens and dissidents, but it might also be used by the military in communication. But that’s literally secondary, let’s talk about the primary usage.

Why shouldn’t creativity be used to improve the lives of soldiers? Why shouldn’t the weapons or other tools and systems they use be usable? After all, we are talking about tools that cost lives when they are designed badly.

Frankly, I find the attitude of excluding research for the military … naive. As if being weak would ensure peace. I’m a bit reminded of a quotation by Jordan Peterson:

«A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very, very dangerous man who has it under voluntary control.»
Jordan Peterson

And don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that attitude in a totalitarian, aggressive-expansionist regime … where it would be very unlikely to be seen in practice. But in a democracy? Or a republic? Shouldn’t that democratic/republic system be able to defend itself?

And yeah, I do see the risk if such a system turns into a dictatorship. It can easily happen. And all that technology, all that creativity now serves a different function. But that is not the problem of the military. I never understand the hostility to soldiers, e.g., to those soldiers in the US returning from the hugely unpopular war in Vietnam. It was not their decision to go there. And likewise, I don’t understand the antipathy towards soldiers in Germany, who do a really difficult and extremely dangerous job — and who should do it well.

Just a thought.