When leaders ask volunteers to place themselves into harms way in an undeclared war using premises that include religious mysticism (Bush) and social mysticism (Obama and Bush) you know you are in deep, deep trouble and it will take a long time to extract yourself (if ever) from the theater in question. Moreover, the cost in lives and money will be insane in the long run.
Such military interventionism is neither virtuous nor prudent. And the brave men and women who volunteer to abet this need to check their premises. A sacrifice, properly understood, is the surrender of that which you value more for the sake of that which you value less (or of a non-value). Politicians and leaders who promote, and the citizens who volunteer to participate (we still have a volunteer armed forces, so no one “has” to go to Afghanistan, Iraq, Afghanistan again, etc – they employed free will in volunteering to participate), who consider it a true sacrifice are implicitly indicating they value the lives and livelihoods of non-Americans, and the funding of military operations and nation-building, LESS; they are willing to surrender that which they value more (their own lives and the money it costs to do what they do) for the sake of others whom they implicitly must value LESS. This is the only premise under which the use of and participation in military force can be considered a sacrifice, and by this standard much/most of our present operations are irrational; operations for which there have been and will be undesired consequences. I do not remember the author, but the quote that “when you pursue the irrational, do not be surprised to awaken one day and discover that the world does not make any sense” seems rather spot-on.
Point being, please, don’t call what volunteer military personnel do at the call of our political leaders a sacrifice as if sacrifice can merely be misinterpreted and then vomited out as some justification for an irrational military operation; or worse, an inherent virtue. A rational thinking person, a proper national military policy, would NEVER sacrifice a greater value to a lesser one. Moreover, let’s keep in mind that the proper use of force is only in retaliation, and never initiated.
This is a truth that Gary Johnson appears to be close to understanding, but has not yet articulated. If he were to do this, he would be the only candidate in the race with a rational concept of military power, its proper and moral use (and there definitely is a proper and moral use of military might), and the proper meaning of what a sacrifice for ones country really is and ought to be about.