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A group of us old codgers recently got to kicking around the important questions about the reasons

‘A group of us old codgers recently got to kicking around the important questions about the reasons men fight. Fighting, of course, can be hazardous to your health, and when one puts himself deliberately at hazard he must have a reason. We came up with the following tally:

1. Protection of the home. This is probably the best reason, and cannot very well be faulted on either political or religious grounds. Men fight their best when they see strangers invading their native fields, farms and cottages. 2. Religion. Absolute faith in absolute truth is more powerful than self-interest, and when God is on your side you need have no fear of death. 3. Professionalism. Elite units, such as Napoleon’s Old Guard, the British Grenadiers, the United States Marine Corps, the Spanish Legion, have always distinguished themselves out of a sense of group superiority. They were taught from the first that they are better than other people, and it is then necessary for them to demonstrate that fact beyond doubt. 4. Loot. Men have always fought for fortune, and as much as it is frowned upon in some circles, the loot motive lead the armies of the steppes to conquer the world. 5. Escape and Excitement. The life “of quiet desperation” which seems the lot of so many can be alleviated by running away to sea or joining the Foreign Legion. Men do not often choose to die for the sheer excitement of it, but once they have fallen into the cauldron they often do very well. 6. Patriotism. The love of country is a difficult thing to identify, especially when one is called upon to fight at vast distances from one’s country. Nonetheless, political idealism has often served as a very good motive. The American Expeditionary Force in World War One is a good example. It must have been pretty complicated for a doughboy to explain to a Frenchman or a Belgian just what he was doing in Europe, but he must have had some notion that he owed his life to the Stars and Stripes. 7. Pride. Pride is not quite the same as professionalism since it is an individual matter. The Medieval knight, the Renaissance duelist, and the fighter pilot are examples. 8. “Peer Pressure.” This is the lemming instinct, “Everybody is doing it.” I do not believe that this motive stands up well in the face of terror, but it can certainly get people in the right place to experience it.

Your contributions on this matter are invited.’

Cooper, John Dean. “Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries.” Molonlabe.Net, 2008,