Do you believe it's immoral to willingly enlist in the military?

If you think it would depends on the military then you could use the US Military and the IDF as examples.

For me, personally? Yes, for any military - but orders of magnitude more so for the two example militaries given.


Absolutely not.


In Canada, our military does much more than combat missions serving as peacekeepers, trainers, emergency responders, etc… both domestically and internationally.

I willingly joined the Canadian Armed Forces, so generally speaking, no. It could be immoral depending on the army. It would have been immoral to willingly join the Waffen SS.

I’m with Sparky.

Yes. Unless the martians are invading.


The responses may surprise the OP, but there are a number of left-leaning veterans on this board.
Service taught many people about the need for teamwork. Service overseas taught many about empathy, seeing other people as people in different circumstances.

And then there are the Marines…

Not at all. There are times when I wish I had joined to learn skills of self-discipline that I lacked.

You may want to take in to consideration that this board skews older, so most were no longer on active duty by 9/11.

No. And even though I’m not a huge statist, the older I get, the more I think a year or 3 of mandatory service would be beneficial.

No. The act of enlistment in and of itself is value neutral(*). The morality of stepping forward and joining the ranks is dependent on other factors, internal and external, such as the individual’s motivation and the legitimacy of the state, the government and the mission.

(*so it isn’t per se a mark of great virtue either)

No. The nation needs a military, somebody has to do it. I consider being a soldier neither more nor less honorable than any other occupation. I think those who hold zero respect for the troops and those who can’t stop gushing about them both have the wrong take on it.

In general, I’d say no, although I think it does depend on the individual’s motivation and the circumstances of the enlistment.

I mean, if you’re joining the Marines during wartime because it’s the most likely place that you’ll actually get to kill someone, then yeah, immoral. If you’re joining up in peacetime or in a war that threatens the US because you feel some kind of community service urge, and feel that defending one’s home and hearth is the way to do it, then no. If you’re joining up for the GI Bill and/or to raise your economic status, then I’d generally say no (do we really expect some kid born into grinding poverty to NOT join the military to try and raise out of that because it might be immoral? Seems to me that it’s the least bad of a bunch of bad options.)


No, the military serves a vital purpose in democracies, and service can be an honorable and important choice. And for practical purposes a stint in the military can mature a person, teach them skills, and prepare them for a career elsewhere.

There can be countries where enlisting is much more questionable, but not for the examples you gave.


Also, I think very few choices are purely moral or immoral, and so I hesitate to make a statement in pure agreement or disagreement with the question in the OP.

I do think, though, that many/most of our current military operations fall on the side of more immoral than not, and so people who are choosing to participate in the military as a career choice are volunteering to do immoral work.

Does that make them immoral people? Maybe? Yes and no?

There is a weird thing with military enlistment, because kind of part of the deal is that you don’t get to choose what you do. In order to have a functioning army, we need members who will shoot at the whims of their politicians (theoretically filtered through robust and well-intentioned decision-making). So do we blame those people for doing, on the macro level, the job we need them to do?

Absolutely not. Why would it be immoral?