Not everyone in uniform is a conservative. The need for defense and a better national consensus on which uses of miltary overstep the definitions of defense are matters for wider and more informed debate than all the threat-reflex and gotta-get-elected posturing we have seen so far [from both major parties]. Debate is not often fostered by generalizations such as I am prone to offer but I just have to remind us all to free ourselves up a bit. I believe that inside of all that I and many others feel has gone wrong with US employment of military options lately we will find some misplaced values.
Before policies harden into military campaigns, individuals make speeches and individuals vote. After, individuals get other people's blood on their hands or get killed and wounded in body and mind. My hope and intention is that we, not just progressives, but all Americans, would be a little more individualistic in considering exactly what threatens us before the voting and demand apolitical and thorough information about what threats exist. After the belief is planted that we need to fight, the most amazing displays of courage ensue...we as a country really lucky that large numbers of men and women are willing to be led in front of bullets for the sake of the rest of us. These amazing people know they give up the luxury of thinking like individuals for the sake of the cause and the policy and still know that as individuals, a few of them will die. If we do have enemies, just knowing that willingness exists among thousands Americans must be a greater deterent to them than all bombs we have ever bought. That that willingness is content to be misinformed may, on the other hand, make enemies.
Not every liberal is pacifist, a few are in the military, more work directly or indirectly for the DOD. The ending of DARPA grants for basic reseach will reduce those numbers, perhaps not an unintended consequence. A few are even veterans decorated for courage and selflessness in battle. Within the political ghetto of the left, [behind walls the left did not erect], there is not one but a range of answers and opinions about alternatives to combat, about what conditions justify going to war and about what combination of aid, diplomacy and means of combat are most effective in bringing hostilities as humanely as possible to quick but lasting end. From what I can see, the greatest difference between the eager warriors of the right and the reluctant warriors of the left is that on the left, they recognize that
you need to know the difference between being the strongest kid on the block and being the neighborhood bully.
The US has faced and overcome many dictatorships which could not see that difference. The unjust wars we wage all begin with blinding ourselves to that difference. That distinction is hardest to maintain when individuals quit thinking as individuals. Don't just get in line.