[A post after a long time! And its more the economist in me which is doing the talking. Also this post is more generic than country specific]
When I was little I was enamoured by the armed forces. They had the fastest jets, sleekest ships and the most rugged looking tanks and jeeps. Soldiers I thought were the backbone of a country, ready to lay down their lives for all of us and seemed to me to be the coolest people in the world. For a large part of my school days I wanted to be a scientist for the armed forces and work with all that awesome technology.
And then I grew older.. and hopefully smarter...
Now I think that the armed forces are useless. With there being nucler weapons, no country would dare launch a full a scale occupation of any other country (unless you're Saddam Hussein and dumb enough to not suck up to any of the nuclear powers before you had a weapon yourself) for threat of nuclear obliteration. So why have the armed forces?
I can think of the following reasons:
1) Disaster Relief
2) Border Patrol
3) Counter Terrorism
4) A signalling mechanism to satisfy investors about the stability of a country
5) Reduce Unemployment (A current dismantling of the military machine would lead to an influx of so much labour that a country's economy would collapse)
Now I don't see why points 1 & 2 cannot be left to the hands of smaller and more specially trained teams or even completed automated!
But I still see soldiers, brave soldiers protecting our country from the greatest villains of the coming century, such as
2) Economic Inequalities
Yes, I'm talking about social workers. The unsung heroes of the modern day world who fight against those enemies whose one agent (HIV?) kills more humans than all the wars in the world combined. They are battling not in far off lands using big machines, but most likely in your neighbouring street and with their bare hands. It is indeed a great shame that billions of dollars worth of weaponary is being procured by countries all over the world just to build machines most of which are never really used due to fear of all out nuclear war. I can only wonder how much good these resources would bring if channeled to the proper agents. Why we might even be able to bring down the prices of green technology making them far more affordable and accessible! I truly feel that the possibilities are endless if the resources wasted on the armed forces are put to good use