I am an 8-year veteran of the US Army. I served from
1992-2000, 4½ years on active duty and 3½ years in the LANG.
I was in the 3/75th Ranger battalion from 1992-1994. During
those two years I lost friends in training accidents, in Somalia,
and to suicide. I lost other friends to different incidents
throughout my active duty service and even lost friends in
My question is simple: where were the anti-war activists
during Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo, and Rwanda? I see this "movement"
against war that I feel is insincere. I believe, from my experience,
that you people do more to damage the safety of others than
help. For example, in Somalia it was a belief among the warlords
that military blunders and US deaths would force us from the
country. Their plan worked and starving people were left to
fend for themselves against thugs and outlaws. Have you ever
handed food to someone that was literally starving and suffering
from the abuse of others?
New Orleans, LA
First, please let me thank you for the service you have
given to me and other Americans. I am deeply appreciative
of the sacrifices that you and your comrades have made in
service to America, and of the sacrifices that hundreds of
men and women continue to make today.
To answer your question, there are many different types
of anti-war activists, and they are motivated by a variety
of beliefs, including:
- All violence, regardless of the reasons, is morally
- Violence must be applied only as the last resort, only
where it will save innocent peoples from an incontrovertibly
clear and imminent danger of genocide, and only where
the cost in lives will ultimately be less than the cost
of waiting through diplomatic, economic, and other efforts
to solve the problem;
- Military force should be applied only under circumstances
which meet defined criteria for a "just war;" or
- The potential foreign policy benefits to the U.S. must
clearly and substantially outweigh the terrible costs
in lives and dollars of a military effort.
In Rwanda, Somalia, Kosovo, and Haiti, some individuals
who might have been anti-war activists in other situations
did not protest strongly because they felt that their particular
criterion had been met. This may seem 'insincere' to you,
but it is perfectly consistent with their beliefs. Still others
protested quite strongly; but the media did not cover it.
Those serving in the military have a painful awareness of
how support (or lack of support) for their efforts from "at
home" has an impact on their mission effectiveness. So do
America's elected representatives, who are ultimately responsible
for how and where America's military force is applied. And
because of the character of America's military efforts in
the last fifteen years, the general public increasingly shares
that awareness. Auntie Pinko does not believe that anyone
who is currently protesting the conduct of America's military
operations in Iraq is doing so frivolously, insincerely, or
in ignorance of that effect.
The awareness of the 'public support' dynamic and its impact
on military effectiveness was a large factor in the development
of "the Powell Doctrine," formulated during Colin Powell's
tenure as Chief of Staff. It dictated criteria for American
military involvement that took this dynamic into effect. It
was widely circulated and policy makers were well aware of
it. Perhaps, had it been applied conscientiously to the situation
in Iraq, events might have proceeded differently.
I know it is hard for military personnel who are aware of
this dynamic to understand why their fellow-citizens still
express opposition to military actions. But I can only hope
that they are remembering the reason the most fundamental
reason of all to serve in the military: to protect all Americans'
freedom of speech. It seems hard to do so when the exercise
of that freedom makes a soldier's job more difficult, but
that is the essence of why American ideals are worth fighting
for, even sacrificing lives for.
You ask, "Have you ever handed food to someone that was
literally starving and suffering from the abuse of others?"
The answer is yes, Benjamin, I have. Right here in America,
too. And a number of my "peacenik" friends have also done
so, in parts of the world where such actions put their lives
at risk. Some died in the process. Conviction comes in many
forms; courage is not limited to soldiers.
The question of whether America's military power should
be used to prevent brutal and tyrannical dictators from oppressing
and abusing their own people is very old. This reason has
been used to justify many military efforts in the past, clear
back to the Spanish-American war. Sometimes it works, sometimes
not. Sometimes it is used as a moral figleaf to achieve other,
less purely altruistic objectives - a mistake which profoundly
damages America's credibility and effectiveness. Indeed, it
probably impacts military effectiveness to the same (or possibly
greater) degree as the 'public support' dynamic.
These factors should all be taken into account by a prudent
Commander-in-Chief prior to hazarding the lives of our servicemen
and women. Do you think the current Commander-in-Chief did
an adequate job of that in the case of Iraq, Benjamin? Auntie
Pinko fears not. But I'm very glad that you shared your question
with me, anyhow.
Do you have a question for Auntie Pinko?
Do political discusions discombobulate you? Are you a liberal
at a loss for words when those darned dittoheads babble their
talking points at you? Or a conservative, who just can't understand
those pesky liberals and their silliness? Auntie Pinko has
an answer for everything.
Just send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org,
and make sure it says "A question for Auntie Pinko"
in the subject line. Please include your name and hometown.