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Cards for Troops
November 29, 2006 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Let's Say Thanks is a website that allows you a simple means of delivering a card to a member of the US Armed Forces serving overseas. While some of the pre-written sentiments will not meet with many Mefite's approval, you can just type your own. Of course, you may think that this is a bit cheesy, but maybe sharing a little kindness with someone who risks their life everyday (for whatever reason) isn't such a bad idea.
posted by BrodieShadeTree (75 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
"every day", not "everyday".
posted by wfc123 at 10:29 AM on November 29, 2006


eve‧ry‧day  /adj. ˈɛvriˌdeɪ; n. ˈɛvriˈdeɪ/
–adjective
1. of or pertaining to every day; daily: an everyday occurrence.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 10:36 AM on November 29, 2006


You don't have to actually say thank you, per se. You might say, oh for example, "Stay Safe", or "Make it home."
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 10:38 AM on November 29, 2006


This website is by Xerox. Xerox leans right (or at least it used to). Not a bad little PR gambit.

My initial thought was along different lines -- that the real purpose of this website was to encourage the idea that the troops are doing something useful over there, by exploiting Americans' feelings about individual soldiers.

But no, it's just a frickin' Xerox ad.
posted by gurple at 10:40 AM on November 29, 2006


I also think it should be "every day", since the definition you provided refers to an adjective (while you used the word as an adverb).

Also, thanks for posting. This thread is going to get real ugly, but it is still a good post.
posted by wabashbdw at 10:42 AM on November 29, 2006


All right, sorry. I actually tried to close my browser after I posted that, but it was too late. I flagged my own comment.

The "troops" over there aren't making us safe. I don't wish any harm on them, but they really are over there acting as nothing but a siphon for our money to go straight into the bank accounts of a select few plutocrats. I don't see what I have to thank them for.
posted by interrobang at 10:45 AM on November 29, 2006


I know it will. Alas. I still think it is an OK idea. And in fact, the adverb/adjective issue makes me wrong in my usage. Drat!
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 10:46 AM on November 29, 2006


[bows to interrobang]

I think the comment saying just wish them well or 'come home safe' works nicely.

Although if it's just a Xerox advertisement then I'd say our time would be better spent contacting the USO for ways to send some holiday cheer.
posted by matty at 10:51 AM on November 29, 2006


How about an "I'm sorry" card delivery service for Iraqis? Maybe an "oops" card?
posted by lazymonster at 10:59 AM on November 29, 2006


I saw that it was an ad and thought "I wonder if I can find out what wonderful Xerox product is being used to print these?"

The postcards are then printed on the Xerox iGen3® Digital Production Press and mailed in care packages by military support organization Give2TheTroops®.

It's a little bit of a similar situation...hate the war, don't hate the troops; hate the ads, don't hate the well-wishers. I hope everyone makes it home safe and lives long, productive lives including lots of duplication.
posted by pinespree at 11:02 AM on November 29, 2006


While some of the pre-written sentiments will not meet with many Mefite's approval...

What is the point of this despicable insinuation? You should be ashamed.
posted by prostyle at 11:11 AM on November 29, 2006


These folks really do volunteer in some part out of an intention to keep their homes safe. The guys over there deserve support and sympathy.

They also volunteer in part out of a desire to improve their lot. On St. Croix, there are signs at private schools, "Sign up for the VI National Guard and receive money for the high school of your choice."

they really are over there acting as nothing but a siphon for our money to go straight into the bank accounts of a select few plutocrats.

I wish it were that, interrobang. A war for enrichment would be one thing, but I think we're seeing an ideological belief in a permanent war for permanent peace. I think they're there out of a vague inclination that We Are Good, So Everything We Do Is Good, and They're Going to Love Us.

We're So Happy We Can Hardly Count is lower down on the list.
posted by ibmcginty at 11:14 AM on November 29, 2006


Is Xerox really making any actual sales revenue off of this? Is it just goodwill with a brand name on it? How many hairs make a beard, anyhow?

I'm thinking of sending one that says "Thanks for raising your right hand and agreeing to put up with all the boredom, occasional danger, and never-ending caca del pollo." There's a reason why it's called "the service" -- it ain't much fun, and this is the least I can do.

(Dusting off my mad skilz from the days of ODS, I might have to send Any Service Member a carefully re-engineered bottle or two of mouthwash.)
posted by pax digita at 11:23 AM on November 29, 2006




I concur with lazymonster. Let's Say Sorry. More appropriate than a thank you in this situation, methinks.
posted by Oddly at 11:38 AM on November 29, 2006


When the cards get delivered, do they make the troops chase the mail truck for a few blocks, taunting them with the letters just out of the soldiers' reach? And the delivery guys are laughing at them as they try to get their notes from home? Because that would be awesome if someone filmed that and put it on YouTube.
posted by ColdChef at 11:40 AM on November 29, 2006 [3 favorites]


I wish it were that, interrobang.

You wish it were soulless greed on a gigabuck scale instead of maddeningly simpleminded ideology? Why is that better? Ideology is amenable to politics -- i.e. it can be voted out. Plutocracy is the underlying machinery of power over which politics is nothing but a colorful veneer, and voting doesn't really touch it.

I'm pretty much of the opposite position: I wish interrobang was wrong but I'm pretty sure he's right. The conduct of the war in Iraq involves shoveling money into a furnace, because under the terms of the contract, a set percentage of that money falls off the shovel into Halliburton coffers. The more of our money they throw away, the more they get. This is what Halliburton (including CEO Emeritus Cheney) are in it for, to the extent that it doesn't really matter what anyone else is in it for if the net effect is simply that they're stooges for the former, whether they mean to be or not.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:44 AM on November 29, 2006


As a comic around here said, "Being against the war and supporting the troops is like being against vehicular homicide but supporting drunk drivers."

The US Military has been fighting continuously for almost 70 years now. And they haven't been a force for good in decades. And this is an entirely volunteer army. By immunizing the troops from the moral consequences of their own decisions you are saying that they are morally powerless, that they have no ability to act and are completely pawns.

I do understand that many people joined the military because of financial need. But you would not use "I needed the money" as an excuse for criminal activity -- why is it an excuse for this?

I've talked to a lot of people in the military. While they certainly do talk about "making their homes safe", they are much more into "blowing shit up" as well as ultra-nationalist philosophies which rate all non-Americans as valueless. This is a generalization of course -- many of them are thoughtful and some of them are starting to realize what they have done, but lots of them just think of it as a video game, "Shoot the Raghead".

I should also add that members of the US Military overwhelmingly vote Republican. They chose this war, they killed half a million people, I do not wish them well.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:47 AM on November 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


You wish it were soulless greed on a gigabuck scale instead of maddeningly simpleminded ideology?

Yeah, on the theory that greed is an eternal human foible, while the ideology of a US-led democracy jihad is more ephemeral, and will kill more people while it lasts. I could be wrong.
posted by ibmcginty at 11:54 AM on November 29, 2006


Thanks, but no thanks. Get home safe and soon, and don't kill anyone in the meantime.
posted by pracowity at 11:55 AM on November 29, 2006


Dear Spc. James P. Barker, Lynnie England, et al

Thanks for....
posted by quarsan at 12:05 PM on November 29, 2006


I'm really curious: what do all the "support the troops" guys here think about the German army, ca. WWII?
They were also just doing their jobs, forced by an uncaring government; do you think cheering them on and wishing for their safe return was a good thing for Germans to do? Is it really ok to encourage someone to do his job of suppressing the native populace, enforcing foreign laws and killing all that resist, just because his government ordered him to?

This is seriously not meant as flamebait, but I really wonder how you justify this position of "hate the game, not the player": if you could end an unjust war by not supporting the troops, would that be the moral thing to do?
posted by PontifexPrimus at 12:16 PM on November 29, 2006


This is seriously not meant as flamebait, but I really wonder how you justify this position of "hate the game, not the player": if you could end an unjust war by not supporting the troops, would that be the moral thing to do?

I'll give it a stab. Many (most?) of the people called into service (including Reservists, National Guard troops, etc.) are good, decent people when viewed as individuals. When they signed up for the military, they could not know whether they would be fighting "good" wars or "bad" -- those decisions are left in the hands of the politicians and generals. But from the standpoint of the military person, when they say fight, you fight.

Even if you despise the war, it is not immoral to wish the safe return of someone serving overseas. Even if you despise the war, you are not sacrificing your principles by recognizing an individual who made a decision to put his or her life at risk when their country asked them to. Again, they don't choose the wars in which they fight -- they could have been called to fight in Darfur, or to put a stop to the next Holocaust. That they got tapped to play a role in a Kafkaesque nightmare doesn't make it immoral to wish them well as individuals.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:33 PM on November 29, 2006


"When they signed up for the military, they could not know whether they would be fighting "good" wars or "bad"".

When was the last time the US Military fought a "good" war? Aren't the soldiers (sailors, etc) morally responsible to investigate exactly what they are likely to do?

And if they are called to fight a "bad" war, surely they are morally required not to go? After all, if all the German army had refused to fight, there would have been no World War II.

I repeat -- you cannot absolve soldiers from the moral consequences of their actions simply because they received orders from someone else.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:42 PM on November 29, 2006


for crying out loud, is nothing sacred on here? folks are overseas dying for their people here, and all we can do is mock and ridicule them. there is a circle in hell reserved for all of you, and i hope that in the end you are all royally fucked. peace out, fuckers.
posted by prototype_octavius at 12:52 PM on November 29, 2006


"But from the standpoint of the military person, when they say fight, you fight."

The Nuremberg trials showed that "I was just following orders" is not a valid defense.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:53 PM on November 29, 2006


folks are overseas dying for their people here, and all we can do is mock and ridicule them. there is a circle in hell reserved for all of you, and i hope that in the end you are all royally fucked. peace out, fuckers.

They killed *over half a million people* who had offered us *no harm whatsoever*.

You're calling me a "fucker" because I won't support mass killing of innocents: I'll thank you to keep a civil tongue in your head.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:00 PM on November 29, 2006


Mmm, bankrupt corporate-shilling morally empty gestures which cost the sender exactly one mouse click to support a murderous, illegal and utterly failed occupation of one foreign country by another foreign country.

Best of the web. Yup. Dude, I'm so there.

You would think that MeFites might just possibly be aware that teh Intarwebs extend beyond the borders of the United States. But, apparently not.
posted by unSane at 1:33 PM on November 29, 2006


for crying out loud, is nothing sacred on here?
posted by prototype_octavius


New rule: the 'sacred' US Army may not be criticized on Metafilter. Got that, everyone?
posted by unSane at 1:36 PM on November 29, 2006


folks are overseas dying for their people here, and all we can do is mock and ridicule them [snip]

No, they are dying for sick propaganda and sick lies spewed by their superiors.

Countless armies and soldiers have done so throughout history, but that didn't absolve any of them. It only increased the tragedy of it all.
posted by uncle harold at 1:36 PM on November 29, 2006


It all seems so clear here in the Blue.
posted by MarshallPoe at 1:41 PM on November 29, 2006


lupus yoderboy: nobody's absolving anything. And it's very easy to pass judgement from the couch.

'lies that life is black and white flew from my skull I screamed...'
posted by jonmc at 1:46 PM on November 29, 2006


Dang, somebody want to tell me what you're all talking about? I just got home on R & R from Iraq and from the sounds of it you've been out of the loop with what the media has been telling you. From the sounds of it everyone things we're a bunch of heartless baby killers (wow, how original). What we are NOT doing is randomly running around killing people. In fact, you better be damn sure of your target before you pull the trigger. Simply firing one round means you're going to have 3 days of paperwork to do afterwards. No joke, because of all you "randomly killing innocents" folks back here, we can barely do our damn job. True, there has been a lot of killing going on. But it's mostly Sunni killing Iraqis killing Iraqis, or the scum that comes over from Syria and other countries to fight us. (As if Sunni vs. Shia violence is anything new, it's been occurring since the death of Muhammad in 632 AD.) Much of it is not fighting Iraqis, much of the time we're fighting "terrorists", scum that has come from other countries to breed violence. (The most dangerous roadside bombs we encounter actually come from Iran via Hezbollah, and let me tell you they make some deadly IEDs). Most Iraqis want us there; they'll help you find the bad guys. They want their country to succeed. They realize the part everyone plays to make it work. But alas, I'm sure what I’ve just said is going to go in one ear and out the other and I'll be written off as just another brainwashed Republican pawn soldier randomly killing innocents (thanks lupus and friends, ;-) ). At least I have the opportunity to develop my opinions from events I've seen and experienced with my own eyes, not from word or mouth or from the media.
posted by Logboy at 1:49 PM on November 29, 2006 [3 favorites]


there is a circle in hell reserved for all of you

Don't worry. All reservations in Hell were cancelled in order to accomodate the six hundred and fifty thousand Muslims that showed up unexpectedly.
posted by Optamystic at 1:58 PM on November 29, 2006


I've talked to a lot of people in the military. While they certainly do talk about "making their homes safe", they are much more into "blowing shit up" as well as ultra-nationalist philosophies which rate all non-Americans as valueless. This is a generalization of course

Yes. It's a stupid generalization based on undersampling. In a similar stupid generalization based on undersampling, I hereby unilaterally decree that everything lupus_yonderboy has ever said or written in his or her entire life has been a stuipid generalization based on undersampling.

More seriously, the military people I know don't think that way, hate(d) Rumsfeld with a passion, and mostly want us to get the hell out of Iraq even more than I do.

On preview, what Logboy said.
posted by gurple at 2:04 PM on November 29, 2006


This is seriously not meant as flamebait, but I really wonder how you justify this position of "hate the game, not the player": if you could end an unjust war by not supporting the troops, would that be the moral thing to do?

Well, I guess I sort of said that. I wasn't saying "support our troops", though, I was more specifically saying "hate the game" and leaving it at that. I think most of the troops are doing something that they think is right, so I'm not going to hate on them. But every one of them is doing something that I think is wrong, so I'm not going to support them either.
posted by pinespree at 2:04 PM on November 29, 2006


“I'm really curious: what do all the "support the troops" guys here think about the German army, ca. WWII?”

WHO elected Hitler again? The troops did that did they? And I seem to remember several assassination attempts from military quarters...

So in response: what do all the “the troops are to blame” guys think the troops should do when they disagree with the orders of the civilian government?

“Aren't the soldiers (sailors, etc) morally responsible to investigate exactly what they are likely to do?”
Beforehand? Yes. Afterwards, no.

“And if they are called to fight a "bad" war, surely they are morally required not to go?”

Well, gee, they have guns. Why don’t they simply kill the civilian leaders? And indeed, keep killing the “bad” ones until they find leadership that meets with your approval.

Soldiers obey legal orders (as do you there Mr. Taxpayer). Unless they are ordered to perform an illegal or grossly immoral act they cannot disobey that. The ones that refuse to go on moral grounds I applaud, but they are still open to legal consequences (I don’t have to like it, but it’s fact).

Why the great interest in showing how little interest people have in this topic?
Don’t want to send a card? Don’t. I really don’t see what else enters into it. Oh, wait, yeah, making sure other people aren’t fooled into sending one. ‘Cause we’re not smart enough to see it’s PR bullshit, and that the Iraq war was a predicated on a lie. We’ve all just crawled out from our caves on Mars.

“No, they are dying for sick propaganda and sick lies spewed by their superiors.”
Yeah, what the hell do we need soldiers for?
‘cause no one would ever use something like that to attack our country and kill innocent people here.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:11 PM on November 29, 2006


Soldiers obey legal orders (as do you there Mr. Taxpayer).

Smedleyman wins
posted by gurple at 2:18 PM on November 29, 2006


We support your war of terror!

May we show our support to our boys in Iraq!

May US and A kill every single terrorist!

May George Bush drink the blood of every single man, woman and child of Iraq!

May you destroy their country so that of the next 1000 years not even a single lizard will survive in their deserts!

that should do it
posted by Bletch at 2:25 PM on November 29, 2006


Soldiers, in any democratic country, take it upon themselves to assume unlimited liability (as it were) in the service of the orders they're given. They serve the government their countrymen elected.

Maybe some of them signed up in a fit of pro-Bush zealotry. Maybe they signed up a long time ago because they see following the orders of their elected officials - whatever those orders might be - to be a noble calling. Maybe they liked guns. Maybe they needed a job. Who are we to sort out who's who?

In the end, they're working for us. If we elected different, less insane governments, they would die for those governments too. I think they deserve our respect for that.
posted by bicyclefish at 2:34 PM on November 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Soldiers obey legal orders (as do you there Mr. Taxpayer). Unless they are ordered to perform an illegal or grossly immoral act they cannot disobey that.

I think that was his point. From the deployment, orders were immoral and (from a international pov), illegal.
posted by uncle harold at 2:40 PM on November 29, 2006


Logboy: I never said that soldiers were randomly wandering around killing people: quite the reverse.

The fact is that the US military has basically destroyed a country that never offered us any significant threat. If the US had not invaded Iraq, the majority of these 600,000 people would still be alive -- and this doesn't count the many deaths to come.

This war gained the United States nothing. This war lost the Iraqi people almost everything they had.

While a great deal of moral responsibility lies with the corrupt and mendacious leaders of this country, the troops also bear a great deal of responsibility as well. The fact that they have been trained to ignore the moral dimensions doesn't mean that they don't exist.

I'm curious, Logboy: do you actually support the war? And, if you want to answer this, did you support Bush in the last two elections?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:40 PM on November 29, 2006


From the soldier accounts I've read most of them are not having a good time over in Iraq, nor do they really want to be there. Do you guys really believe everyone who joins is a sociopathic Lynndie England who just can't wait to get out there and crack some skulls? So many of you argue for looking at the gray areas when it comes to analyzing the motivations of suicide bombers, Palestinian rock-throwers, guys thrown in jail for growing pot, Iraqis who hold anti-American opinions. And it is good and right to look at gray areas in those situations. But who are you to go high-and-mighty and refuse to acknowledge the gray areas of the situations of these soldiers? Who the hell are you to judge them, who the hell are you to assume they didn't care about college money, they didn't care about the concept of the citizen-soldier, they didn't care about entering the army to improve it from within, they didn't care about finding some structure and a steady job to escape rural poverty, they didn't think they weren't actually going to go to war--no, they just wanted to blow things up?

Tell me, are people who didn't draft-dodge Vietnam similarly deserving of your bile? How far does a man have to go to prove himself "worthy" of your support?

Do you know why war crimes happen? Why soldiers snap? That's what happens when you throw a relatively untrained (i.e. National Guard) young person in an unfamiliar country, among a people totally hostile to them, throw bombs at them, renew their service, get them shot up, get their comrades shot up (who've they've bonded to--because who else is there to bond with?), take away any feeling that they're actually making progress--and then instill an "Us vs. Them" mentality that turns every civilian into an enemy and a foil for all of the military fuckups and frustrations they have to deal with in their daily lives. Of course they're going to crack. It doesn't make the war crimes OK, but it does make them inevitable in our current military culture.

So, do you really think vilifying them is going to improve the situation? Do you honestly think when they get your card they're going to say "Oh boy, support for killing those Iraqi babies yesterday, I better go kill some more!"--or is it possible a sincere, well-written card or note, a regular correspondence will offer a supporting ear, a slight lessening of tension, provide some semblance of relief and sanity in their daily lives to make the likelihood of snapping less?

God damn, it is this kind of sanctimonious, hypocritical tripe that makes it so easy for Republicans to turn "Liberal" into an insult.
posted by schroedinger at 2:43 PM on November 29, 2006


"In the end, they're working for us. If we elected different, less insane governments, they would die for those governments too. I think they deserve our respect for that."

Every argument you make applies completely to any soldier, be it the Wehrmacht or (name-your-fave-bad-guys).

And it boils down to the same idea: soldiers bear no responsibility for the wars that they fight in, no matter how bad they are.

In any war, there is at most one side in the right. Usually there are zero sides in the right.

If the US's military record over the last 30 or 40 years wasn't so horrid, there might be some mitigation. Conscription aside, soldiers going into Viet Nam had seen the US as a force for good in WWII and Korea -- it's understandable that they would not understand what they were getting into until it was too late. The same is most decisively not the case now.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:47 PM on November 29, 2006


Fellas, the grunts are not constitutional scholars nor experts in international law. Because if they were, THEY WOULD NOT BE GETTING THEIR ASSES BLOWED OFF IN IRAQ RIGHT NOW.

A military that goes around questioning and refusing orders that are not obviously, grossly illegal is a military that will quickly turn on its leaders, uniformed and civilian. That kind of military is great for forming a ruling junta in a banana republic - actually for forming a series of short-lived bloodthirsty juntas. That is not the kind of military I want.
posted by Mister_A at 2:48 PM on November 29, 2006


"Do you guys really believe everyone who joins is a sociopathic Lynndie England who just can't wait to get out there and crack some skulls?"

No, I am saying that *the soldiers in Iraq bear moral responsibility for their actions*.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:54 PM on November 29, 2006


Logboy: "Dang, somebody want to tell me what you're all talking about? I just got home on R & R from Iraq and from the sounds of it you've been out of the loop with what the media has been telling you. From the sounds of it everyone things we're a bunch of heartless baby killers (wow, how original)."

Or people that taunt little kids with fresh water, which has become a precious commodity since the invasion.


What we are NOT doing is randomly running around killing people. In fact, you better be damn sure of your target before you pull the trigger. Simply firing one round means you're going to have 3 days of paperwork to do afterwards. No joke, because of all you "randomly killing innocents" folks back here, we can barely do our damn job.

Good thing the oversight is not so bad that you could shoot a whole family and rape the 14 year old daughter, then.
I personally would have imagined that it would take considerably more than a single bullet; that paperwork must have been a nightmare.

True, there has been a lot of killing going on. But it's mostly Sunni killing Iraqis killing Iraqis, or the scum that comes over from Syria and other countries to fight us. (As if Sunni vs. Shia violence is anything new, it's been occurring since the death of Muhammad in 632 AD.)

Do refresh my memory: how many Iraqis died in religious conflicts from the time Saddam Hussein came to power until the US invaded three years ago? The latest numbers I could find were about 150 dead in the Dujail massacre.


Much of it is not fighting Iraqis, much of the time we're fighting "terrorists", scum that has come from other countries to breed violence. (The most dangerous roadside bombs we encounter actually come from Iran via Hezbollah, and let me tell you they make some deadly IEDs).

The current percentage of foreign fighters helping the insurgents is considered to be less than 10 percent.
The same source claims that "[a]lthough about 80% of insurgent attacks are targeted against coalition forces, the Iraqi population suffers about 80% of all casualties, according to US officials in late 2005."

Most Iraqis want us there; they'll help you find the bad guys. They want their country to succeed. They realize the part everyone plays to make it work.

I respectfully disagree with that statement. According to official polls, the current situation as of January 2006 (the most recent data I could obtain), the situation is as follows:
"Now, this leads to, really, what I think is the most disturbing finding of the poll. Asked "Do you approve or disapprove of attacks on U.S.-led forces," overall 47 percent said that they approved. Among Sunnis this was 88 percent; but even among Shia it was 41 percent. And among the Sunnis, by the way, 77 percent said that they approve strongly.
This raises a kind of curious question. If only 35 percent want the U.S. troops to withdraw within six months, why do 47 percent approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces? In fact, among those who approve of the attacks, only 41 percent of those said that they favored a near-term withdrawal."

But alas, I'm sure what I’ve just said is going to go in one ear and out the other and I'll be written off as just another brainwashed Republican pawn soldier randomly killing innocents (thanks lupus and friends, ;-) ). At least I have the opportunity to develop my opinions from events I've seen and experienced with my own eyes, not from word or mouth or from the media."

On the contrary; I'm very intersted in the opinion of actual soldiers. It just looks from over here that some people seem indeed to be uninformed and not interested in getting an accurate picture, and I whole-heartedly support any attempts to remedy this situation.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:00 PM on November 29, 2006


"A military that goes around questioning and refusing orders that are not obviously, grossly illegal is a military that will quickly turn on its leaders, uniformed and civilian. That kind of military is great for forming a ruling junta in a banana republic - actually for forming a series of short-lived bloodthirsty juntas. That is not the kind of military I want."

You are confusing the concept of "refusing to fight" with the concept of "lawlessly killing people" (I see this in Smedleyman's response too).
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:03 PM on November 29, 2006


Smedleyman: “No, they are dying for sick propaganda and sick lies spewed by their superiors.”
Yeah, what the hell do we need soldiers for?


I was talking about the topic at hand - the Iraq war - not Soldiers in general.
posted by uncle harold at 3:08 PM on November 29, 2006


Best reason not to "send a card" is this is astroturf. I fail to see how this is "supporting" the troops honestly. More like supporting Xerox.
posted by cj_ at 3:10 PM on November 29, 2006


Someone in here sucks like a chronic autoimmune disease.
posted by Carbolic at 3:11 PM on November 29, 2006


“I think that was his point. From the deployment, orders were immoral and (from a international pov), illegal.” - posted by uncle harold

Ok, could well be. But there is no manifestly illegal order from the POV of a currently serving individual soldier. If I’m serving and the U.S. government tells me to go to Alphastan, I have no reason to believe that order is illegal. And indeed, that’s not my job. Much as it is not your job to determine whether your boss is embezzling. Certainly it’s your duty to inform the police if you discover it. But if you’re in the engineering division supervising production of the new whatzit, your job isn’t to make sure the company’s business dealings are on the up and up. In the same way - the U.S. has congress, the judiciary, a variety of I.G.’s, loads of checks and balances that are supposed to be in place to prevent illegal act - not to mention the press and ultimately - the people.
But suddenly it’s Joe Mudfoot’s job to make sure international law is being obeyed throughout the entire operation? Where the hell is Joe Taxpayer and Joe Reporter during all this? Isn’t it their government too?

Now, if my superior orders me to target and kill an innocent civilian or torture some guy, I know that’s against the UCMJ (say, wasn’t Rummy talking about changing that? Hmmm...I wonder why?) so I know it’s an illegal order. And I should (and would) resist that - repercussions or not.
“I was just following orders” would definately not cover that.

But I think the citizen’s response is worse: “There’s nothing I could do about it.”

“...the troops also bear a great deal of responsibility as well. The fact that they have been trained to ignore the moral dimensions doesn't mean that they don't exist.”

Your ignorance as to what warfighters are and aren’t trained in is showing.
Also, you’re completely wrong - or rather - misunderstanding and generalizing the duties of a soldier and, really, basic civics. Taken a political science class at all?

Do troops bear moral responsibility for the wars they fight? Yes, but it’s mitigated by the necessity of honor.
The military cannot choose what war to fight, where and when, otherwise we would live in a military dictatorship. Or we would have no military. Which I’d be all for if it were at all feasible. Most ideas I’ve heard involve sending psychic energy from orgasms to somehow stop Navy Cruisers.
Individual soldiers bear responsibility for their own actions. Not for the actions of their governments.

So - a corporal desk clerk who was responsible for logistics in shipments of rations in WWII deserves the death penalty?
If he’s a corporal shoving people into ovens - solid, he should resist and has an individual moral responsibility.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:14 PM on November 29, 2006


"Warfighters" are trained to obey orders unquestioningly.

There are a very very limited set of circumstances under which they are required == permitted to refuse an order. They certainly are not encouraged to think of the moral questions involved, but to follow specifically miliary law and nothing else.

"So - a corporal desk clerk who was responsible for logistics in shipments of rations in WWII deserves the death penalty?
If he’s a corporal shoving people into ovens - solid, he should resist and has an individual moral responsibility."

Again, you are making a massively irrational jump. There are different levels of moral responsibility, something that was also established by Nuremberg.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:22 PM on November 29, 2006


Hmm. So, we don't like it when The Bad Guys lump us all into one category based on the actions of our leaders, but it's totally okay to do the same thing to our own citizens. ...Citizens who have to make their decisions on the brutal battle scene while we make ours in comfortable voting booths. I don't support this war, either, but I'm thankful for the troops who've held onto their scruples during trying times and NOT engaged in torture, NOT taunted little kids with water, NOT murdered people they knew to to be innocent, and so on. What the hell is wrong with wishing *those* guys a safe return?
posted by katillathehun at 3:40 PM on November 29, 2006


“You are confusing the concept of "refusing to fight" with the concept of "lawlessly killing people"” - posted by lupus_yonderboy

No, it’s that you not understand the impact that would have. Are you that unclear as to how political power works? It’s analogous to chess - NOT doing something can have as much of an impact as doing something. And it’s many orders of magnitude more complex. Do some troops go and others don’t? Do some troops then get mobilized and others stay home? What happens legally? How does the government straighten out those contracts? Does the individual troop need a lawyer? Who pays for that? What if he can’t afford one? What happens to the chain of command? What happens to the constitution now that the President is manifestly not the CIC of the military? Is it determined by the highest ranking officer unwilling - or willing - to fight?
Is there some a priori method in determining on what grounds a voluntary soldier can refuse to fight? If not - how then do we sort out individual moral reasoning from cowardice and milking the government for free money?
...That’s off the cuff. I haven’t even begun to think thru the havoc that would wreak.

I’ll go with you on the concept that the system should change, but it’s naive to believe that such a massive shift in how authority is perceived and how power flows wouldn’t result in a good deal of lawless killing. The U.S. revolution wasn’t bloodless and that was a mere step away from a monarchy that was already recognized as doomed.

“"Warfighters" are trained to obey orders unquestioningly.”

Wrong. I was one. I have a wide scope of knowlege and experiance on this topic. There are categories of orders that one drills men in to obey unquestionably (for example the command “gas!” which is the only command that can instantly stop a formation) but those are by no means the rule. There are even variations in rank due to things other than paygrade. You want focused but intelligent men, not unthinking legions. And moral considerations - even in the hardest hearted bastards - certainly are an issue. If for no other reason than good PR.

“Again, you are making a massively irrational jump. There are different levels of moral responsibility, something that was also established by Nuremberg.”

Then you’re arguing a tautology. There’s no question individuals are to greater and lesser degrees responsible for what is occuring in Iraq. I’m concerned with the practical consequences of your statements.
If it’s no greater than not sending a card, then we have nothing to discuss as I’ve conceded that.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:44 PM on November 29, 2006


Before this devolves into a case of who killed whose grandma, just remember people PHYLLIS DILLER thought it was a good idea.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 3:49 PM on November 29, 2006


What the hell is wrong with wishing *those* guys a safe return?

Nothing. In fact I wish it for every single one of them. But that's different from saying thanks.

lazymonster said it best: "Sorry" would be more appropriate.
posted by uncle harold at 3:50 PM on November 29, 2006


I entirely understand the political impact that millions of soldiers refusing to fight a war of aggression against another country would have.

And, again, Smedleyman, you have the habit of coming up with the most unreasonable and convoluted interpretation possible. It certainly doesn't help clear communication.

To repeat: you are responsible for your actions, whatever they may be. The moral burden of an Army stock clerk in Boise, Idaho is not the same order of magnitude as the moral burden you get from killing someone in Iraq -- and the burden of killing another human being can be very large.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:56 PM on November 29, 2006


“To repeat: you are responsible for your actions, whatever they may be.”

That’s been conceded (as far as your terms go).

So to repeat: the troops are not alone in bearing responsibility for the actions of their country.

My question remains concerning the implications of the military refusing an order by the CIC, backed by (ostensibly) the will of the people.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:04 PM on November 29, 2006


So to repeat: the troops are not alone in bearing responsibility for the actions of their country.

I can't see where anyone suggested that they were.

My question remains concerning the implications of the military refusing an order by the CIC, backed by (ostensibly) the will of the people.

If tomorrow the 'CIC' ordered an attack on Norway without Congressional authority (or on the pretext of unrelated Congressional authority), I think it quite likely that the Pentagon would simply refuse. And the resultant explosion would bring down the Presidency -- the military would not be found at fault by anyone for disobeying. So what was your question again?
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:13 PM on November 29, 2006


“So what was your question again?” - posted by George_Spiggott

Should rank and file soldiers have the right to ignore legal orders given to them by, ultimately, the electorate. The citizenry.

It’s a very simple question if you don’t involve improbable scenarios where we attack Norway. Or suggenst that power is so blatent and unsubtle as to expose itself in such a naked fashion.


“I can't see where anyone suggested that they were.”


from lupus: “The US Military has been fighting continuously for almost 70 years now. And they haven't been a force for good in decades. And this is an entirely volunteer army....They chose this war, they killed half a million people, I do not wish them well.”

from interrobang: “but they really are over there acting as nothing but a siphon for our money to go straight into the bank accounts of a select few plutocrats.”

et.al general comments devoid of anything but negativity.

I grant lupus mitigated his comments. But for the most part the general feeling is blaming the troops for the Iraq war.

My position is that any given standing army cannot countermand otherwise lawful orders given to it by the civilian government. This would include refusing to fight. That individual soliders cannot take the place of proper checks on the systems in place that decide when a country is to go to war. Otherwise you have an army that will desert you at the first sign of real trouble.
By the same token I recognize lupus_yonderboy’s point that an individual soldier bears responsibility for his actions - but I question what the repercussions of those actions should be and how those should be administered. What if the folks you assign to punish the soliders feel it’s immoral?
The Romans got into this question - who watches the watchman?

The answer cannot be: the watchman watches himself. No matter how heavy the ultimate moral question may be.
It takes checks and balances working properly, and involved citizens to ensure the watchman - the military - is not employed when and where it shouldn’t be. It is their responsibility, because it is their power to do so.
To make the military responsible for that is to give them that power which is far far more dangerous and immoral than any acts we’re talking about.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:43 PM on November 29, 2006


It’s a very simple question if you don’t involve improbable scenarios where we attack Norway. Or suggenst that power is so blatent and unsubtle as to expose itself in such a naked fashion.

Gosh, let's make it Finland then! Or do you get to freely refine the question to invalidate the response until you 'win'? Your question was "does the CIC command the military or not?" My answer was not absurdist, it was illustrative: he does within the moral limits of what his subordinates will accept. Where the commander at any level oversteps the bounds of what his subordinates will accept, he loses command. I understand (I'm getting this second or third hand), that they teach this in officer candidate school: never give an order that will not be obeyed. So the answer is no: in the ultimate sense the commander is never in absolute command; it may be at the greatest possible personal cost, but the subordinate always has the option to refuse.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:01 PM on November 29, 2006


How about an 'I'm sorry' card delivery service for Iraqis? Maybe an 'oops' card?

The visual could be President Bush joking about no WMDs at the 2004 White House Correspondents' Dinner, with an overdub of Alicia Silverstone's "my bad!" from Clueless.

Speaking of the White House Correspondents' Dinner, the BBC notes that "there were laughs all round" at the 2004 dinner, while Stephen Colbert got a more subdued response at the 2006 dinner. How many people that laughed in 2004 and didn't in 2006 will claim the opposite?
posted by kirkaracha at 5:08 PM on November 29, 2006


“Or do you get to freely refine the question to invalidate the response until you 'win'? Your question was "does the CIC command the military or not?"”

Do ‘I’ get to redefine the question? Excuse me? “does the CIC command the military or not” is one small, not very relevant nuance of the broader question I had. The CIC is an instrument of the will of the people.
But feel free to keep arguing both sides and attributing your thoughts to me.

“My question remains concerning the implications of the military refusing an order by the CIC, backed by (ostensibly) the will of the people.” /= “does the CIC command the military or not”

But y’know, I’m sure you know better than I did what I meant which is why you asked and I clarified - oh, no, I mean, I tried to redefine the question.

“he does within the moral limits of what his subordinates will accept. Where the commander at any level oversteps the bounds of what his subordinates will accept, he loses command. I understand (I'm getting this second or third hand), that they teach this in officer candidate school: never give an order that will not be obeyed.”

Yeah, your second or third hand conversation about OCS greatly surpasses my paygrade I’m sure. Go watch some more Star Trek.
In the real world mass resistance by the military to lawful orders by the civilian government is called a coup. And officers carry sidearms. And there are consequences whether intended or not. Now within the parameters of what you’re talking about, you are correct. But since our dispute also concerns what it is I’m talking about, and I’m talking about practice not theory, consequences not morality, that “greatest possible personal cost” in the option to refuse amounts to quite a few casualties.

Now to clarify, oh, I mean stack the deck in my favor:
Does that imply that in the improbable event that the president orders an attack on the nordic countries without congressional approval or some obviously flimsy lie about it the military should or would not refuse? No.
But that would never happen. It would occur in increments, over a period of years.
Elements sympathetic to the president and his cabal begin to covertly sabotage Norway’s interests - political, business, academic. They create rumors of terrorists in Norway. The president orders a fleet to the northern latitudes. Should they resist that order? The president orders another fleet to those latitudes. Resist? Congress asks for NATO approval to send in military advisors. Resist? The Norwegian Liberation Front makes a statement denouncing the American presence in Norway. Something in the United States explodes. The NLF (actually a front for those aforementioned false flaggers) takes credit. Etc. etc.

The only reason it seems improbable is because Norway has nothing we want. We’ve been at war with Iraq for more than 20 years. Not officially of course. This latest bit is just a hotspot. Do you understand that? This current bit of political theater has been brewing over several decades.
The reason it’s been going on this long is not because the troops have wanted anything from Iraq, it’s not because the troops haven’t resisted some ultimate authority vested in the CIC, it’s because the American people have acquiesced to this by silent consent.

Or doesn’t the stuff Noam Chomsky says apply to liberals?
posted by Smedleyman at 5:55 PM on November 29, 2006


Gah, been up 35 hours. getting cranky. Sorry for the snarkiness.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:01 PM on November 29, 2006


Or do you get to freely refine the question to invalidate the response until you 'win'?

Any reason you didn't chime in on framing the argument when it happened here and here?
posted by Cyrano at 6:10 PM on November 29, 2006


Y’know, back on topic (I stick by my apology tho’, sorry I got out of line) - is anyone being pressured to send out a card? Why not boycott Xerox? Anyone really think some guy out in the field’s heart is going to be uplifted by some form letter telling him he’s a hero and: “Thank you for all you do. You portray what we Americans value most...freedom.”
‘You portray freedom’? What the hell does that even mean? At best it’s a nasty kind of objectification. (And my God...who wrote these?)

You want to make a guy in the field happy? Send him one of these. (NSFW) Yes, seriously. Or some gatorade chewing gum. Number of other things too.
You don’t? Don’t.
And it’s fine to blog why not, but no one’s seriously thinking of sending guys death threats or “fuck you G.I.” letters or anything, right? Or if you are - I guarantee they’re experiancing worse than your snarky comments. Which is the thing I’m talking about - so? What’s going to happen? What’s the practical upshot?
I mean it’s not like there’s people (other than those select plutocrat chickenhawks) who don’t want peace. I’m sure logboy and many others could do without having to go back. I’m sure he’d like to hang out with his family more than just two weeks leave, you’re not telling them anything by saying war sucks. And if they didn’t know it before they know it better than ‘you’ (the hypothetical ‘you,’ the no one in particular ‘you’) ever will now.
But war isn’t going to be prevented that way.
People come home from it all the time and yell and write about how shitty it is and demand their sons never go and how it’s a racket and go on and on about it. But we still have them.
So based on direct personal experience as well as a wealth of military history and other erudition, I don’t think telling the troops not to go is the way to prevent war. I don’t really think sending out these cards is either.
I’m thinking maybe some changes in government. Seems to me people have a little more of a handle on that, little more control over it.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:38 PM on November 29, 2006


(Actually, women in Greece refused to have sex with their men until the war was ended. We could try that. ...although considering some of the current crop of politicians, they seem to prefer the boys. Still...)
posted by Smedleyman at 6:41 PM on November 29, 2006


Ha. I'll see your Star Trek and raise you Lysistrata, dude.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:17 PM on November 29, 2006


Back on topic, one has to wonder what sort of sentiments Xerox will actually pass on if one used the free-form field. It seems likely that they'll only use the sort of thing that more or less echoes the canned text. I doubt they'd pass on something that said "It's not your fault you're being used in a way that's unworthy of your service. Accept my hope that you get home alive, and soon."
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:51 PM on November 29, 2006


Dear American soldier,

Please don't stupidly and cravenly put yourself in a position where you're supposed to "obey orders". See what happens when you do? You create enormous suffering in the world. You become merely a tool for idiots. You become the problem, not the solution. You cheapen your own life, and the lives of others. You fail. You settle for the easy way out, allowing others to do your thinking.

I hope you come home safe, though your honor will not.

Regards,

fold_and_mutilate
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 8:58 PM on November 29, 2006


Hate the avalanche, support the falling rocks.
posted by signal at 3:27 AM on November 30, 2006


FWIW, there are other efforts to reach out one-on-one to deployed troops (not all of whom are in the sandbox, lest we forget) if you don't like the Xerox one.

I just Googled "any service member" and sure enough, there's one that's been around since well before OIF: Operation Dear Abby. I liked it esp. because I can write my own msg and pick which service branch -- I relate to bluejackets somewhat better than the other flavors.


Maybe you won't like ODA's corporate sponsors either (Wal-Mart? I don't like to shop there either), but if not, I leave IDing the other worthy grassroots efforts as an exercise for the MeFier.
posted by pax digita at 5:05 AM on November 30, 2006


Dear fold_and mutilate,

Please don't ignorantly and cravenly put yourself in a position where you pay taxes and otherwise support the government while thinking you are morally pure. See what happens when you do? You create enormous suffering in the world. You condemn others for not risking their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor." You become the problem, not the solution. You cheapen your own life, and the lives of others. You fail. You settle for the easy way out, pretending you are faultless, while assigning blame everywhere else.

I hope you realize your responsibility, although you are as likely to do that as to respond civilly to this post.

Regards,

snyder
posted by Snyder at 11:46 AM on November 30, 2006


“I'll see your Star Trek and raise you Lysistrata, dude.”

Note to self: stop arguing with otherwise reasonable and well-read individuals. (Again, I apologise - your magnanimity makes it even more clear I was being a hot head.)

I always think about Thoreau in these arguments. He denegrated the men who make themselves tools of what is essentially a tool (government). And he went off into the woods and wrote Walden and Civil Disobediance and did other marvelous work and refused to pay his taxes to support what he felt was an immoral government.
...Then someone came and paid his debts for him and he went back home.

Officers do a great deal of work on leadership, values and ethical studies btw. The Naval War College has loads of work on this - the Legal and Ethical Lessons of NATO’s Kosovo Campaign f’rinstance, there are joint services conferences on a range of topics such as Moral Considerations in Military Decision Making, Dr. Martin Cook a professor at the army war college has written more than a few pieces defending the Geneva convention (Ethical Issues in Counterterrorism Warfare) and ethical behavior of military personnel.

One of the themes in his work is that there must be no illusions on the part of those who serve as military officers.
That one serves the state as it is, not as we fantasize it is.
And he makes an excellent counterpoint to the Augustinian POV - mirrored in part in this thread - that I’ve done little justice to.

Hell, I’ll just post the thing: Moral Foundations of Military Service
posted by Smedleyman at 3:36 PM on November 30, 2006


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