There is no such a thing as a volunteer army...

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Syzygys, Aug 17, 2008.

  1. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    Ah, there's no argument like a semantic argument

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    I don't know the answer to that. But I noticed that my dictionary defines "volunteer" (when used as a noun) as "A person who renders aid, performs a service, or assumes an obligation voluntarily"

    The inclusion of "assumes an obligation" seems to imply that you could voluntarily commit yourself to something that you were then obligated to do (like be in the military for a certain length of time).
     
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  3. Simon Anders Valued Senior Member

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    I don't see this as an issue of hating america. It is about the ethics of a certain kind of contract. I don't assume that the contract rather than the people trying to get out of it is really American.
     
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  5. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Could be, I'm not aware of the requirements for military service in the 1600s.

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  7. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    Quite honestly, we don't care about 200 years old usage. The word "gay" refered to "carefree," "happy," or "bright and showy." Interestingly, almost nobody use it that way.

    SAM, you need to look up certain organizations and forces such as police, firefigthers etc. where you can not just leave them on a hunch. It doesn't make them volunteer organizations...
     
  8. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    So is a surgeon in the middle of a surgery allowed to leave??

    I noticed nobody DARED to touch my argument of usage in other countries.

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  9. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Volunteer distinguishes it from the mandatory service required in many European countries. You do volunteer to join and give up some of your basic constitutional rights, so in that sense it is different from most other jobs.
     
  10. Simon Anders Valued Senior Member

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    Which would be the counterpart to leaving in the middle of a specific battle or shift. Like leaving a watch post in the middle of the night. You will find very few doctors who sign contracts that state that at the end of the contracted time the hospital can compel the doctor to serve indefinitely.

    That is only a problem if you are obsessed with the word volunteer. My problem has been that it is an immoral contract both in practice, how easy it is to miss or underestimate - hence not good faith on the part of the 'employer' - and also in that it is similar to other clauses in contracts that can be nullified by courts. Again. I am not contending it is illegal, but that kind of clause would not be considered moral in pretty much any other 'profession'.

    If an astronaut found out that the space station he was working on was being used for immoral purposes and his contracted time of service was over and he wanted to NOT sign up for another term he would probably have very good grounds for a lawsuit.

    You opened the door with the 'profession' argument. I do not think it holds. Volunteer, professional army, it is immoral to force people to continue service past the originally intended time. The reasons a government has to do this or thinks it does has to do with the importance of the war, whether it has lied to citizens, how the war is being carried out, and whether the public thinks the war serves its interests. If it does that army will have enough people. Sure some may refuse for the wrong reasons, but this would be no problem in a just, relevent modern war.
     
  11. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Certainly!!! See, that just underscores your lack of understanding.

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    If a surgeon feels unable to complete the task for whatever reason, he/she may turn it over to another doctor - and leave. In most cases in the U.S. there is almost always a second doctor in attendance.
     
  12. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    I understand, but my point is that the word professional would do the same, just like it does in everywhere else in the world. Here is a scenario what I call volunteer army:

    Tomorrow the Canadians decide to attack the US. Since lots of soldiers are abroad, America would need a few extra volunteer, so people could form a volunteer army and they would be soldiers only for the time period of the conflict. After the conflict done, they would go home.

    Now in my mind, THAT is a volunteer army....

    P.S.: Since America tends to get its soldiers everywhere in the world, the professional soldier describe the average US soldier much better, in practice....
     
  13. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    For education:

    Certain jobs have certain special rights or obligations. For example generally police don't have the right to strike, for security reasons. Imagine a big city's police going on a 1 year strike...
    Certain medical professionals can be called in duty in the case of national emergency, that is the job's obligation. Same with firefighters...
    To be a professional soldier has certain obligations too, one of them not being able to leave whenever one's feel like it...

    Apparently in England the police union wants to get the right to strike:

    http://www.politics.co.uk/news/opinion-former-index/policing-and-crime/labour-fight-back-against-police-right-strike-$1223804.htm
     
  14. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    Obviously "volunteer" is used that way - it's what you're complaining about.

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    Historical usage, modern dictionaries, and current usage all seem to agree here.
     
  15. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    Apparently according to the dictionary the volunteer usage is still correct. My problem was/is that the word has a connotation with the service being free, and obviously soldiers in the Army are paid workers, thus that meaning doesn't apply. So I would rather use the professional soldier, which by the way an example in Miriam-Webster:

    Professional:

    2 a: participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs <a professional golfer>
    b: having a particular profession as a permanent career <a professional soldier>
     
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    You've managed to get this hopelessly muddled and your conclusion is incorrect. Including the conclusion that the hundreds of millions of English-speakers who call America's armed forces "volunteers" are idiots, and you owe us all an apology.

    I'm not quite sure where to start to unravel this mess. How about the fact that drafted soldiers are paid salaries, so they are just as much "professionals" as those who volunteer? The U.S. armed forces have used the word "volunteer" clear back into my grandfather's days in the 19th century, and I'm sure long before that. A volunteer was a guy who walked into a recruiting office and volunteered to join the service. The term was used to distinguish that guy from one they had to track down and conscript involuntarily in order to raise a big enough force to fight a war. Those guys were "conscripts" in the old days, but going back at least to WWII, they've been just "draftees."

    They both get paid, so they're both professional soldiers. This terminology distinguishes the formal army, which is organized, funded and equipped by the government, from a militia or irregular force, which although voluntary, is ad hoc, provides much or all of its own gear, is not paid, and does not report to the same chain of command as the national army. These people are not considered professional soldiers and do not go through the basic training that both volunteer and conscripted members of the armed forces are required to take.

    There are other types of professional soldiers, for example mercenaries. The American colonies hired mercenary soldiers to help fight the Revolutionary War. They were paid out of General Washington's budget and they reported to him. There are quite a few mercenary soldiers fighting in various battles in modern times, and they are all being paid by one side or the other.

    The United States currently employs a large number of mercenaries in its unconstitutional debacle in Iraq, most notorious of which are those from Blackwater International. The government vehemently objects to calling them mercenaries and insists that they are just providing "security." However, they behave like mercenaries, inflicting more collateral damage on non-combatants than true soldiers are comfortable with, and they are treated like mercenaries, exempt from prosecution for their war crimes. Therefore, they are mercenaries: professional soldiers fighting voluntarily, but only for money rather than for a cause.
    Well that's not exactly correct. When you volunteer for a position you're free to question the terms of the employment and you choose whether or not to accept them. The laws of my country outlaw genuine, voluntary slavery: No one has the right to sell their freedom for any price. It even goes a little beyond that into the concept of indentured servitude. But if a person signs a contract and forfeits the right to cancel it before a specified period of time has lapsed, that's not quite the same thing. In the private sector he could probably get away with breaching the contract and simply paying monetary damages. But in the military he'd be prevented from breaching. This is not exactly hair-splitting. Still I think it's fair to call these idiots (hey I can throw that word around in anger too) who love our traitorous, brain-dead president so much that they're willing to kill and die to support his criminal adventures, volunteers. Our country has no draft.
     
  17. Simon Anders Valued Senior Member

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    Often in the private sector some sort of mutually agreeable solution would be found. It just doesn't look good when a company has to force people to work there. Further you want employees who want to work. If you have a systemic call for leaving before the contractual period ends, it is time to look at your business. To have a clause in the contract with the military where the persons contract can be extended ad infinitum is not moral, though I have no doubt it is legal in regard to the military.

    I think a good measure of a war's relevence to its citizens, morality as a war in general and morality in how it is carried out is given a good feedback mechanism by allowing people to leave at the end of their original intended contract final date.

    Hell, it makes me think a draft would be better. Make sure the children of the rich are out there as much as the poor. At least than you have a vocal, powerful feedback about stupid wars.
     
  18. Simon Anders Valued Senior Member

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    Sure, but they can quit their jobs as individuals.

    It is legal to simply extend their terms. It is not moral.

    If it were a real security risk for Americans to stay put, americans would be in line in good enough numbers. If, however, the war is serving the interests of a few people, those lines will not form. Hence the can extend your time clause is a way of avoiding having problems with a stupid war.
     
  19. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    I might. As you can see in my previous post, I started to acknowledge that the volunter army is also a valid expression. But (as usual) I still have a problem with it...

    Aren't drafted soldiers there for a length of period? To me that would make a difference. Let's say if the draft is for 2 years, you are only a professional soldier if you stay longer voluntarily, otherwise you are doing national obligatory military service, and the money that you get can be called service fee instead of salary. The point is that being paid for draft service doesn't make you a carrier (professional) soldier.

    The army we have in the US today is this one. This would be called the professional army, we agree on this.

    This would be the volunteer army. So it looks like you are making MY point....Not to mention muddled the situation.

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    Now I don't really want to go into politics, so let's just stay on the linguistic side. So how come other countries call their national army professional army, and not volunteer army? After all their soldiers are their voluntarily too...
     
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Volunteers only serve for a limited time too.

    There are a variety of definitions of the word "professional." But what all the lists have in common is that at or very near the top is the concept of "livelihood." A professional in any activity earns money for performing it. As a musician I run into this all the time. Even though music is not my full-time career, when I play I'm usually paid, so I'm a professional musician. The guys who play for free are amateurs. Sometimes we play charity gigs, but the contracts are carefully worded so as not to give the impression that we're playing for free: We are donating our time to the cause.

    "Professional" can also carry an inference of training and discipline. Again, this does not set draftees apart from volunteers in the army. They both go through basic training and they're both well disciplined--to the extreme degree that they would sacrifice their lives for the cause. It can, however, set them both apart from the "volunteer" soldiers in a militia, who may lack both training and discipline.

    Volunteer, draftee, professional, militia, mercenary... all of these words have subtle differences in meaning, and some of them overlap.

    As for length of service, both volunteers and draftees in the U.S. Army and other services serve for limited tours of duty in peacetime and for indefinite tours in wartime. The fact that in peacetime volunteers are discharged after four years and draftees serve only two is hardly a significant enough difference to determine who's made it a "career." You'd have "volunteer" only being legitimate for they guys who keep re-upping until they retire. And as much as I hate war even I think that does a disservice to the guys who volunteer to go to war and then run back to civilian life as soon as the war is over.
    But you can't get very far into linguistics before you run into politics. Each country forms its own linguistic community and builds its own dialect. The various English-speaking countries disagree on a lot of terminology, so why should they be any different when it comes to the politics of war? Not to mention, I'm sure some of the words you see applied to armies have been translated from other languages. The communist countries were notorious for redefining words.
     
  21. temur man of no words Registered Senior Member

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    That means pretty much indefinite

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  22. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Yet another major misunderstanding on your part. There are several countries that force you into military service. Three that come to mind right of the top of my head are Switzerland, Israel and Iraq. The age varies but is usually around 18 to 21.

    Apparently, you aren't any better informed about the "workings" of the world than you are about proper usage of language.

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  23. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Not really. Historically, the U.S. has not been engaged in a war nearly as much as otherwise.
     

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