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Reply #101: Why are so many so binary on this issue? [View All]

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davekriss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-27-06 12:24 AM
Response to Reply #71
101. Why are so many so binary on this issue?
It is not black and white, on or off. Reality is thick and resists such easy abstraction.

But first, I sincerely apologize, as this is such an emotional issue (for me too though my children are too young to be at war). Continued open discussion of these issues will only bring pain to any of us with friends or family overseas. It is not my intention to bring pain. Forgive me.

However let me ask, are you telling me your son joined the marines in hope "that he could do what all soldiers want to do -- protect their fellow soldiers"? I find that hard to believe. That more likely reflects what his personal motives were reduced to after witnessing the incredible violence of war, no? If so, may I ask what his original reasons were for joining the marines?

I find it frustrating that a few who've chosen to reply to my posts reduce what I've said to a purported assertion that "every soldier is a criminal". That is NOT what I said. I said every act of war is evil, a crime, horrible and ought not happen. But every evil act has to be accounted for. In a just war, the culpability for that evil falls to the leadership that chose to initiate aggression unjustly -- e.g., the Third Reich when they marched into Poland in 1939, the USG when we marched into Iraq in 2003. But when a soldier finds himself on the wrong side of a war and understands he is on the wrong side, he is not absolved simply because he follows orders. It is morally incumbent on such soldiers to put the gun down at the first possible moment, to resist, and sometimes, depending on what they are asked to do (Abu Ghraib, Fallujah), to simply say "sir no sir" and bear what comes. Those that do not are to varying degrees complicit in the immoral actions of their leaders -- often forgiveable and understandable, but nevertheless complicit.

I'm confident you know these words:

    Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic? Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But conscience asks the question - is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.
    -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Consciousness needs to be raised until conscience kicks in, which is what I'm endeavoring to promote with my posts in this thread. You say your son realized within days of his first tour in Iraq that "the people there don't want us there, the situation is much more complex than anyone had described, and that our presence is aiding the insurgents and the fundamentalists". That in itself does not make the war unjust, just difficult (it suggests only errors in strategy and execution). If this is the extent of your son's awareness (or the extent of the problem) than of course there's no knowing complicity. But, as I understand it (I acknowledge that I could be wrong), the current war is far more than that, it is illegal, immoral, unjust -- a crime.

Aristotle was right, all men do seek the good. The problem is in our varied definitions of the word, "good". Therein lies the root of all evil. Knowing what I know -- and knowing what you should know -- we need to wrest back control of the word and set forth a shared understanding that no good comes of injustice, inequality, brutality. Bondage to propaganda spewed forth by agents of the powerful leads to mayhem and misery for the powerless. Smedley Butler was right and every soldier blinded by illusions of altruism is wrong. Your son, when he was in Baghdad (the second time), was not rescuing me nor any of my friends from personal threats. We without property and income don't find ourselves traipsing across the globe in need of a personal military. However, surely Lee Raymond, Sir John Browne, Riley P. Bechtel, the gang at Carlyle and Halliburton, and the rest of the Bush "base" have expressed their extreme gratitude for your son's service, yes? Though I applaud the impulse to brave self-sacrifice made by so many soldiers, when looked at over the last half century it sure seems it could be better used.

USG post-WWII foriegn policy, including (especially) use of the military, was in great part formed by the likes of Paul Nitze and George Kennan, the latter who set forth these basic and enduring principles:

    The US has about 50% of the worlds wealth but only 6.3% of its population. In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming, and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives.

    We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford the luxury of altruism and world benefaction. We should cease talks about such vague and unreal objectives as human rights and raising of living standards and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.
    -- George Kennan, PPS 23, 1948
Isn't that, the maintenance of "this position of disparity", in most part what your son unknowingly fought for? Is that something that should continue? When and how do we say "no"?

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