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the kind of reckless, consuming love available only to the young
January 1, 2007 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Cold Ground for a Summer Love. A 19 year old visits the grave of her dead 19 year old boyfriend every day. Every day at Arlington Cemetery, she cries. The weekends are crowded there at Arlington, with so many families wishing 3000 dead soldiers goodbye.
posted by four panels (135 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
The fact that his gravestone says "Iraqi Freedom" on it makes me want to cockpunch the nearest person who voted for this mindfuck.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 12:49 PM on January 1, 2007


In case this post isn't deleted. Here are two heartbreaking stories from today's NYtimes. Jordan W. Hess. Charles Monroe King.
posted by found missing at 12:52 PM on January 1, 2007


Youth doesn't have a goddamn thing to do with it. This is so utterly, utterly sad.
posted by facetious at 12:53 PM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does the military provide any sort of grief counseling for the families of the dead solidiers?

(This is so incredibly sad and awful.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:59 PM on January 1, 2007


It is incredibly sad and awful, but it's also shamelessly capitalizing on one young woman's (obviously heartfelt) grief. Look at this cliched carp:

But they fell in love at once, the kind of reckless, consuming love available only to the young.

"The kind of love where your whole world is on fire and you can't stop smiling," she said. "The kind of love where you dance around and you don't feel like you're part of this world anymore."

They dated for one perfect month before he shipped out to Iraq with his fellow Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C., in July.


"Reckless, consuming love"? "One perfect month"? How the hell does the writer even purport to know this? The girl is a teenager in love and so can be forgiven almost anything, but the writer should know better.

Frankly, though I am and always have been the staunchest possible opponent of the war and all it stands for, this kind of grief-mongering makes me just as sick as the Republicans politicization of 9/11.
posted by The Bellman at 1:12 PM on January 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Bush and Rumsfeld and all the rest of that crew of charlatans and influence-peddlers should be forced to sit there every Goddamned day for a week and watch this heartbreak.

And then send them to Iraq for about two years, so they can see the same heartbreak there. It'll just take a lot longer.

I feel so sorry for these people who, through no fault of their own, have lost such huge chunks of their lives and innocence.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:12 PM on January 1, 2007


'Bush and Rumsfeld and all the rest of that crew of charlatans and influence-peddlers should be forced to sit there every Goddamned day for a week and watch this heartbreak.'

sorry DNAB, gotta have a heart before one can experience heartbreak.

now if they had to pay out of their pocket for the funeral expenses for each one... then and only then would they cry.
posted by jcterminal at 1:27 PM on January 1, 2007


I'm as left as they come but this post is just sappy. Its very disturbing how humanity is affected by this, but we have a choice. Either to get depressed about this, or fight back for what is right. We can dwell on the dead or defend the remaining living.
posted by wheelieman at 1:27 PM on January 1, 2007


We can dwell on the dead or defend the remaining living.

You're assuming it's a binary decision, which it's not.

The article is quite emotive and it's clearly meant to tug at your heartstrings, but it didn't strike me as fundamentally dishonest.
posted by dhammond at 1:35 PM on January 1, 2007


Youth doesn't have a goddamn thing to do with it.

Of course it does. The point isn't that young people are the only ones who truly love or some such balderdash, it's that when you're young you have no perspective on life, no ability to realize that you will eventually stop hurting so much and will probably fall in love again. As far as this girl is concerned, her true love is gone forever. For a novelistic exploration of the intensity of love at this stage of life, read Scott Spencer's Endless Love.

And what dirtynumbangelboy said about the bastards who put her love in harm's way.

(found missing: Why the hell would this fine post be deleted? Are you one of those people mesmerized by the supposed superiority of encyclopedic posts with many, many links?)
posted by languagehat at 1:35 PM on January 1, 2007


I'm as left as they come but this post is just sappy.

See, this is one of my problems with lefties: they always seem to think emotion is somehow beside the point or a distraction. Come, comrades, let us stride forward into the future! Leave the past to the bourgeoisie with their pathetic sentimentality! As dhammond says, you don't have to choose. You can let your heartstrings be tugged and still want to fight the good fight.
posted by languagehat at 1:37 PM on January 1, 2007


Hey, everyone, I've got an idea. Let's tell every soldier not to go. Simple as that. Problem solved.

I'm being flip, I know, but, c'mon, it's getting harder and harder to feel heartbroken for these soldiers. They KNOW what they're getting into--or at least they should. Those who joined up in a patriotic furor following those cowardly, cowardly attacks on that fateful fall day perhaps had some excuse, but, please, five years later? Anybody capable of reading (or perhaps WILLING to read) should know about the lies, the lack of planning, the utter disregard for the common soldier, the fact that they'd be going back tour after tour, the lack of proper supplies and body armor.

Nineteen years old? Yeah, that's old enough to take responsibility for your own actions.

Now, obviously I don't know a goddamned thing about this young woman. Maybe she pleaded with him not to go, maybe she told him to come back with his BDUs or on them; I don't know. But the ultimate responsibility, I'm starting to feel more and more, lies not with the murderers in the White House and the Pentagon but with ordinary young men and women who, at this point, should know better.

Mass desertions? Maybe, I don't know. But at some point, someone has to step up and say I cannot--I will not--do this anymore. Some have. Some have gone AWOL or deserted; hate me if you will, but they're the REAL heroes in this situation.

I think that young woman would rather have her boyfriend alive but in military prison for five years.

Sorry if this makes no sense. It's an outburst, yes. I'm getting so so so sick of all of this.
posted by John of Michigan at 1:38 PM on January 1, 2007 [5 favorites]


I don't know which possibility is worse, that they have taken a soldier's death and made it into a Lifetime movie of the week, or that this girl genuinely seems to live in one. Either way this makes me spew burrito chunks.

"Better to have loved and lost..." etc.
posted by BE ADEQUITE at 1:43 PM on January 1, 2007


LH: Why the hell would this fine post be deleted?

A post got canned yesterday commemorating the 3000th US soldier death, and I didn’t know if this one would go down too.
posted by found missing at 1:44 PM on January 1, 2007


A post got canned yesterday commemorating the 3000th US soldier death, and I didn’t know if this one would go down too.

Thanks for the explanation, and sorry for the snarky tone of my response to you. But I think the "3000" part of this one is just a piece of parsley tossed onto the meat of the post, probably to appease the "OMG single-link!!!" people.
posted by languagehat at 1:59 PM on January 1, 2007


Leaving the politics out of it for a moment, I find it very unhealthy for her to be going to the grave so often. Not that I don't understand the impulse. I understand it all too well. And I am not saying she shouldn't be mourning, and mourning for as long as it takes...but this seems to me somewhat akin to stabbing yourself in the heart over and over again.
posted by konolia at 2:06 PM on January 1, 2007


Also from the Times, information and pictures on each of the 3000.
posted by found missing at 2:14 PM on January 1, 2007


It the sum of all opposites, apparently.

Compassion for the shattered love of the couple, that same love we may be living in less exasperated forms, but that we still don't like to see when it is brutally destroyed.

Contempt for her staggering painful unability to let go, compassion for her and the pain she must be suffering.

Contempt for his choice of joining the war, compassion for the fact the probably saw this as a "career" opportunity or maybe the only one he felt able to do , or just needed to.

And after all, he was a man ..or more likely, just a stupid young kid.

It is so ambivalent, so dissonant,s no wonder there are so many mixed feelings about this story.

A bottom line remains : kid dead for a war started by absent and alive adults.
posted by elpapacito at 2:19 PM on January 1, 2007


They dated for a month. She's been mourning for three. I'm not sure if that's creepy or touching.
posted by graventy at 2:28 PM on January 1, 2007


I often ride my bike through the cemetery up by Volunteer Park here in Seattle. There is a grave there for a child who died in 1970. She lived for five days. There are pinwheels and little balloons and flowers put by that grave to this day. Sometimes I think that if there is any life after death, it is for as long as people remember us in living memory. Sometimes people make a vow to never forget and begin a ritual they can never stop thereafter. I, myself, assume that my own name, quite unlike John Keats, is one truly writ in water. All the same, grief is an emotion I don't want to wish on anyone.
posted by y2karl at 2:30 PM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


A post got canned yesterday commemorating the 3000th US soldier death

The reason: we just signified the number of deaths last week, when it surpassed 9/11 tower deaths.
posted by mediareport at 2:37 PM on January 1, 2007


Contempt for his choice of joining the war, compassion for the fact the probably saw this as a "career" opportunity or maybe the only one he felt able to do , or just needed to.

"Career opportunity"? Last time I checked, McDonald's was hiring. Low-status job? Hard work? Shittty pay? Oh, my, yes. But I'd rather be elbow-deep in the grease trap in back than six feet deep in Arlington, with the blood of who knows how many Iraqis on my hands. "Able to do"? Please, give me a giant break. "Needed to do"? Yeah, the invading Iraqi hordes are running roughshod down Main Street in Everytown, USA, aren't they? No Iraqi ever called me "honky."

Sorry, amigo, the dead kid's gotta take the blame for this one. Did the George W., Rummy, and Condi force him into willfull ignorance?

I think not.
posted by John of Michigan at 3:01 PM on January 1, 2007


See, this is one of my problems with lefties: they always seem to think emotion is somehow beside the point or a distraction. Come, comrades, let us stride forward into the future!

That's funny, because to my mind, it's always exactly the opposite way around. It's always the left emotionally bemoaning the destruction of the old industries like coal mining, steel foundries, dock work, etc. and the concomitant destruction of the communities that those industries supported, while the right go on about the need to modernize -- and yes, stride forward into the future!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:17 PM on January 1, 2007


Sorry, amigo, the dead kid's gotta take the blame for this one.

Sorry yourself. Are you blaming the girlfriend and parents, too, because they didn't stop the kid from enlisting or persuade him to desert?

You think not, but maybe you should try it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:21 PM on January 1, 2007


Apparently, this girl has never heard "The Unquiet Grave."
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:24 PM on January 1, 2007


...the dead kid's gotta take the blame for this one.

No one asked you.
posted by airguitar at 4:05 PM on January 1, 2007


"Career opportunity"? Last time I checked, McDonald's was hiring.

Last time I checked, doing shift-work at McDonalds isn't considered a "career".

Also, and you may or may not know this, but you come off as a tremendous asshole.
posted by SweetJesus at 4:14 PM on January 1, 2007


"Career opportunity"? Last time I checked, McDonald's was hiring. Low-status job? Hard work? Shittty pay?

I suspect that both the rate of pay and perceived opportunities for advancement are slightly higher in the Armed Forces than at McDonald's.

Sorry, amigo, the dead kid's gotta take the blame for this one. Did the George W., Rummy, and Condi force him into willfull ignorance?

When the entire government is saying something, and has been allowed to frame the discussion in such a way that anyone taking the opposite view is unpatriotic or a wingnut, then actually I would say that yes, they did push him into a state of ignorance.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:19 PM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Asshole, indeed. And I wish I could have talked to this kid--as I have other kids his age--to make him see that HE'S GOT HIS ENTIRE LIFE IN FRONT OF HIM!!! That, at nineteen, he isn't invincible, that he has options that are far better than shooting Iraqis and securing oil fields.

If that makes me an asshole, then, yep, I'm an asshole. Asshole first-grade!

Everyone who is against this war, or, hell, for that matter, against war in general, should go out and talk to kids this age, considering a "career" in the military, and point out the error of their thinking.

Asshole as charged!
posted by John of Michigan at 4:20 PM on January 1, 2007


Sorry, my dirty, numb, and angelic friend, the "liberal" media is still free and is reporting what is going on over there. If the average young citizen is unwilling to educate herself or himself, then, well, what can I say . . . ?

Other than what I've been doing, and that's trying to educate them as best I can.

Ubi dubium ibi libertas: Where there is doubt, there is freedom. Yes, our school systems--of which I am a part--have done a yeoman's job in turning out mindless, unquestioning sheep. And yet, someone reaching the age of nineteen who still believes that the Iraq "mission" is anything but a bloody imperialistic land/oil grab should have their head examined.
posted by John of Michigan at 4:24 PM on January 1, 2007


Last time I checked, doing shift-work at McDonalds isn't considered a "career".


I doubt that most enter the military thinking of a career. Usually it's a way to get some tuition money. What percent actually reup after their time is up?

At least that's how my family saw it.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 4:26 PM on January 1, 2007


DieHipsterDie: The recruiters always sell that as a point. But check it out. Not always true.

But what does it matter? They can always wave that flag and promise "career advancement" and there'll be someone willing to go.
posted by John of Michigan at 4:29 PM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


They dated for a month. She's been mourning for three. I'm not sure if that's creepy or touching.

Why would that be creepy.? Is there some sort of grieving code going about where the length of time spent with someone when they were alive must be the same time that they mourn for?
posted by liquorice at 4:39 PM on January 1, 2007


I've been told that 3000 US troops is approxmately half a first day at Normandy. But we're seeing US casualties happen as individuals and not numbers, thanks to modern media; there was a hell of a lot better justification for D-day than there apparently is for OIF, or at least the former seemed not to change over time; and the US media haven't had a whole lot to say about the far higher estimated numbers of Iraqi civilian deaths (650,000+, if I remember rightly), especially those that have happened since that "Mission Accomplished" goatrope.
posted by pax digita at 4:44 PM on January 1, 2007


Sorry, my dirty, numb, and angelic friend, the "liberal" media is still free and is reporting what is going on over there. If the average young citizen is unwilling to educate herself or himself, then, well, what can I say . . . ?


If the average young citizen has been taught to be unwilling to educate him- or herself, then, well, what can I say?

Come on.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:51 PM on January 1, 2007


John of Michigan, my son is preparing for a career in the military. (USAFA.) I am surrounded by young soldiers, here as close as I am to Fort Bragg.

I am very proud and very grateful that there are young people who choose the military as a career, or even just for a few years.

These young people are old enough to choose what they wish to do. How about respecting their choices even if you don't agree with them? And how about not being so ethnocentric-freedom is worth dying for, not just American freedom. (I am not debating about whether this war should have started, but I am very sure that if we left now the place would collapse into a much bigger bloodbath.)
posted by konolia at 4:52 PM on January 1, 2007


How about respecting their choices even if you don't agree with them?

That's clearly impossible for John of Michigan, as for so many around here (and, to be fair, elsewhere). He's all Ubi dubium ibi libertas and proud of it, but I'll bet if his students evince patriotic pride and a desire to serve their country, they get shut down pretty damn fast. I had a professor like that in college: sure, question authority all you like, but don't question mine, because I know what's what.
posted by languagehat at 5:05 PM on January 1, 2007


The reality of the death and grieving are sad, but the sob story being sold by the Post is sub par, made-for-TV, tear-jerker material of a sort that's already been done much better. Text like "the kind of reckless, consuming love available only to the young" is so syrupy and insincere that I first thought it was ripped from a Steve Martin monologue. I wonder how long the journalist circled over the grave before swooping down for the interview.
posted by crispynubbins at 5:07 PM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Languagehat, I'm sorry you had trouble with a pedantic professor, but please don't assume you know me. My classroom is all about discussion of ideas. I NEVER discuss politics in the confines of a class, where, by (perhaps unfortunate) definition, I'm seen as the authority figure and that my beliefs are the correct ones.

Please, sir, you're smarter than that.
posted by John of Michigan at 5:12 PM on January 1, 2007


Konolia, I'm sorry to hear that about your son. I wish you'd try to dissuade him from the Air Force Academy. There ARE alternatives to serving in a military that is stronger and better funded than, well, pretty much the rest of the world combined.

Of course, he's his own person; he has that right to choose. But remind him that, far from protecting America's God-given Freedom and bringing democracy to the Benighted Savages, that he's essentially working to enforce and further American corporate business interests.

Of course, it's his choice.
posted by John of Michigan at 5:16 PM on January 1, 2007


dirtynumbangelboy, you're right. Absolutely right. It's a messy dilemma: Kids have been ACTIVELY taught not to think and then we expect them to become citizens capable of serving a democracy.

That's why it's incumbent on us, the educated, those who belief in the freedom that doubt confers upon us, to reach out and, well, knock some sense into the little shits.

Seriously, though. How hard is it to actually interact and befriend a teenager and--far from proselytizing an anti-war stance--ask them to articulate their thoughts and beliefs and then ask them to (a) back those beliefs up with some real thought, research, perhaps, other than, "well, I, uh, wanna kill hajjis because my pastor (or daddy, or president) told me that they want to take away my freedom" and (b) ask them to think, truly think, about the ramifications of what they believe.

The only way to do this is to really relate to a kid.

We as a society turn our back on kids--teens, especially--which is a mistake considering how ill-prepared they are for life, careers, relationship, and citizenship.
posted by John of Michigan at 5:22 PM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


John of Michigan, would just give it up. There was some study that proved conclusively that Following the Orders Takes Away the Blame. It turns out that the Nuremberg trials were totally misguided and "Just Following Orders" makes you worthy of sympathy rather than accountability.

Otherwise, the Republicans can paint liberals as unpatriotic and that's bad because we want to win no matter how much we stain our integrity. So shush because you're flying in the face if indisputable fact or helping the republicans or something by believing in free will and bad choices.
posted by Mayor Peace Love and Unity at 5:32 PM on January 1, 2007


Well, John of Michigan, he's home for the holidays and he said to tell you he LIKES businesses. (Oh, and a little late to dissuade him from the Academy. It's his third year there.)

Oh, and just for the record, he's minoring in philosophy. So I don't argue with him about ANYTHING. He can articulate his beliefs and back them up till you run away screaming for mercy.
posted by konolia at 5:33 PM on January 1, 2007


Well, then, Konolia, I hope you never have to attend his funeral.

The men and women who sent him to his death, by the way, won't give a flying fuck. Keep that in mind.
posted by John of Michigan at 5:38 PM on January 1, 2007


Adios, amoebas, gotta run.
posted by John of Michigan at 5:39 PM on January 1, 2007


Thanks to all of your. These comments keep me a firm beleiver that we continue to see things not as they are but as we are.
As for the bereaved girlfriend, she ought to read Christopher Frye's The Lady's Not For Burning. She won't but she will learn on her own
posted by Postroad at 5:44 PM on January 1, 2007


Well, time for one more:

So shush because you're flying in the face if indisputable fact or helping the republicans or something by believing in free will and bad choices.

Plato's right. Only the dead have seen the end of war. He said that a loooong time ago, so this isn't a republican/democrat thing. This is something that goes to our responsibility as humans. Is war something that can be stopped? I think it is; we have to deglamorize it, get rid of the profit motive, and, above all, stop the steady and ready flow of young women and men, stars in their eyes ready to stand up for God, King (or President), and Country!

And Konolia, I'm glad that your son "LIKES businesses." The foreigners that he'd be killing--because that would be his job; he's training to be a paid killer. In the right (or wrong) circumstances, he'd be a paid murderer--may not share his love of improving the American corporate bottom line. He's not the only one in the equation.
posted by John of Michigan at 5:45 PM on January 1, 2007


Adios, amoebas, gotta run.

You guys think he went out to look for some teenagers?
posted by dhammond at 5:56 PM on January 1, 2007


In the long run, we're all dead.

I've made my peace with my son's chosen profession long ago.
posted by konolia at 5:59 PM on January 1, 2007


Is a Navy Corpsman who joins the military because he wants to save people's lives, whoever they may be, a paid murderer?

Iraq is nasty business - but this 'war on terror' (that I'm no fan of either) isn't the only thing the military has ever been involved in. Remember that Tsunami that happened a couple of years ago? Yeah, what a bunch of assholes all us military are. Did you know that on the Aircraft Carrier parked off the coast sailors didn't take showers so that they could pump more fresh water from the desalination plant to the survivors on shore? What a bunch of idiots, huh?

John of (soon to be disowned by) Michigan - you have a very narrow and uninformed view of the military and apparently see only what you want. Soldiers and sailors join for a multitude of reasons - one among them is to serve their country. If there duties are unpalatable to you, don't blame them - blame the people who sent them there. You find it so easy to attack someone is trying to make a difference in the world from your armchair at home while serving only yourself. Now, since you find it so rewarding - perhaps you should get out of the education business and go work at McDonalds.
posted by matty at 6:08 PM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


there / their... oops. Maybe I should be working at McDonalds too.
posted by matty at 6:09 PM on January 1, 2007


You find it so easy to attack someone is trying to make a difference in the world from your armchair at home while serving only yourself.

Yeah! He should go kill some Iraqis himself before he says anything!

But that's a good point you make about how sometimes our volunteers in uniform might go without showers (gasp!) for you if you're not standing between US corporations and oil deposits.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:20 PM on January 1, 2007


The shower example is not as benign as it sounds. Ever gone a week on a carrier with 100+ degree heat with no shower with 5000 of your closest friends with you in close quarters? Not exactly pleasant - but the point is that it serves as an example of people willing to do things out of the ordinary to help others.
posted by matty at 6:24 PM on January 1, 2007


If people deserted en masse, they would just start shooting deserters again.
posted by tehloki at 6:26 PM on January 1, 2007


Matty, I thank you for your service and I for one appreciate it.
posted by konolia at 6:29 PM on January 1, 2007


Does the military provide any sort of grief counseling for the families of the dead solidiers?

Since 2005, yes.
posted by dhartung at 6:36 PM on January 1, 2007


Ever gone a week on a carrier with 100+ degree heat with no shower with 5000 of your closest friends with you in close quarters?

No. I've never even considered a job where I might have to kill people to protect other people's economic interests. 6th commandment, karma, sense of decency, etc.

I pointed out the 6th amendment for konolia. But I suspect that her bible adds the word "Americans" to the end of it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:37 PM on January 1, 2007


There's a difference between 5000 soldiers not showering so they can pump more water to other places, and being ORDERED not to take a shower so the water can be used elsewhere. You make it sound like that was a big volunteer effort out of the kindness in their hearts.
posted by Balisong at 6:37 PM on January 1, 2007


Mayor Curley, the commandment (not amendment) is "Thou shalt not murder." Nation states are allowed to make war and to institute capital punishment. For example the executioners at Saddam's hanging are not guilty of murder. They carried out their task at the behest of their government.
posted by konolia at 6:51 PM on January 1, 2007


Matty:

Man, it's a slippery slope, but, yeah, if the corpsman were so all-fired concerned about saving lives, she become a civilian doctor, or a nurse, or an EMT.

Now, it's nice that the US occasionally helps out by using its military, sure, but I'm not sure what is so hard to understand about the fact that the job of a military is to kill people.

That's it.

Now, you could say, "But, but John of Michigan (if that IS your real name), the Army and Navy and Marine Corps and Air Force keep us free from those who would harm us!" At first, these seems to make sense. Remember the quotation often attributed to Orwell along the lines of You sleep safely in your comfortable beds because there are rough men ready to do harm to keep you safe, or something like that.

But here's the thing: WHO ARE OUR ENEMIES???? We spend more on defense then the rest of the world combined. We have been brainwashed to think that the rest of the world is a threat and we've got to keep our armies standing and well-equipped. Sorry, man, but we've become the circa-1914 Imperial Germany.

While we're on the subject of quotations, "If all you have is a hammer, you see every problem as a nail." Since the end of WWII, we've had to keep ourselves on a war economy. New tanks and weapon systems need enemies. Can't have a real threat to a war economy like peace, can we? The bottom lines of McDonnel Douglas, Raytheon, et al. might suffer.

What I'm getting at is that if the United States REALLY wanted to live up to its own self-hype, we'd be building schools and water plants and hospitals and roads across the world--AT A FRACTION OF THE COST OF OUR MILITARY EXPENDITURES.

How would al Qaeda recruit members if, instead of madrassas, there were REAL schools, REAL economic opportunities, and REAL justice among the poor in the middle east.

I'll STFU now.
posted by John of Michigan at 6:57 PM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Konolia:

Hold the phone. "Thou shalt not murder"? My bible says "kill."

It's funny. The braindeadfundies get all apeshit and pantytwisted when you point out that Leviticus and Paul were mistranslated, but everything else? Well, that's okay. It was just a mistranslation. Go ahead and rain fire and death upon children. It's okay, the government said it was okay.

What's that line from the Simpsons? "It's not immoral if the government says it's okay!"
posted by John of Michigan at 7:00 PM on January 1, 2007


Loss is always tragic. War is always tragic. Insulting people who choose to enter military service is classless.
posted by The Deej at 7:09 PM on January 1, 2007


Mayor Curley, the commandment (not amendment) is "Thou shalt not murder."

And Jesus liked profit because of your interpretation of the parable of the talents, the whole "easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" refers to some city gate that camels had to kneel to pass through and "that which you do unto the least of my brothers..." was said while Jesus was drunk so it doesn't count, right?
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:09 PM on January 1, 2007


Konolia:

Hold the phone. "Thou shalt not murder"? My bible says "kill."


Dude, don't even bother. konolia's grasp of the Bible is roughly as tenuous on her grasp of the concept that her beliefs have repercussions in the real world.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:11 PM on January 1, 2007


Why We Fight.
posted by homunculus at 7:14 PM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Deej:

It may sound insulting, I know, and I'm ambivalent about the whole thing--believe me. But I don't think that what I'm saying is insulting. When you join the military, you are becoming a killer or helping to support those who are.

It's not an insult. We as a society, with our bases around the world and untold trillions disappearing into the maw of defense contractors, have to believe in the essential goodness, the righness, the pureness of our cause and the military.

There's a reason that, until 1946 or so, when we really began living under a permanent war economy, the Department of Defense was the Department of War. Nifty rebranding, huh? Who could be against that? Adolph Hitler and Emperor Hirohito, THEY made war. WE'RE the country that has to defend ourselves.

Sorry if you think I'm insulting the soldiers, but all I'm doing is calling their chosen profession exactly what it is.
posted by John of Michigan at 7:15 PM on January 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


For example the executioners at Saddam's hanging are not guilty of murder. They carried out their task at the behest of their government.

I take it you didn't watch the video.
posted by delmoi at 7:16 PM on January 1, 2007


On a different note, this is for Konolia.

You posted a link to the USAFA website last week that was ultimately deleted.

Check this out.

It examines the same issues your article did, but (IMHO) in a far less inflammatory, less anti-Islamic perspective.
posted by John of Michigan at 7:25 PM on January 1, 2007


Congrats, John of Michigan, for so thoroughly shitting on this thread. What an investment of time and talent.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:49 PM on January 1, 2007


...all I'm doing is calling their chosen profession exactly what it is.

That's obnoxious.
posted by airguitar at 7:55 PM on January 1, 2007


Heywood, you're so welcome. kthxby!

(Wait? Is that all you've got? You read the comments, logged in, considered all my thoughts and ideas, and THAT'S all you had to say? An ad hominem? Jeez, that's a letdown.)
posted by John of Michigan at 7:57 PM on January 1, 2007


airguitar, if you feel it's obnoxious, then, well, what is the role of a military? This is not a snark, but: Think deep, think hard. Don't hide behind words like duty and patriotism. Challenge the notions that have been inculcated in your head.

One reason why I joined Metafilter is because it's the finest example of a marketplace of ideas that I've ever seen, at least in cyberspace. PLEASE try to convince me. I promise, if you make a strong case, I will adjust my thinking, my philosophy, accordingly. What's the point of having a mind if you can't change it.

I think it was John Hus who pointed out that he would abandon and scorn any idea if a better one could be proposed. That's the goal of having a brain, and instead of calling me obnoxious or a thread-shitter, engage me. Change my mind. I've done 180s before; I'm not too proud to be a flip-flopper!
posted by John of Michigan at 8:02 PM on January 1, 2007


BUT not tonight. It's eleven in Michigan. It's not a schoolnight, and there's some beer that's calling my name.

And to all a goodnight!
posted by John of Michigan at 8:04 PM on January 1, 2007


John of Michigan, I have no problem understanding what you are trying to do. I am saying there is a difference in being opposed to the war, opposed to the military-industrial complex, or opposed to US policy, or whatever, and in being rude and callous to people who oppose your views. Frankly, it becomes easy to just dismiss you as a prick and then your opinions mean nothing.

I would never encourage anyone to military service. I am very close to my daughter's teenage friends, and if any of them asked my opinion about military service, I would try and gently dissuade them. But if they have already decided, I wouldn't call them stupid pawns either.

It's easy to use the internet to make personal insults. It's different to stand toe-to-toe with someone and call them stupid. Your philosophy may be different than mine, but I try to not say things online that I wouldn't say face to face in person. My internet info is public. Anyone seeing my posts can with a couple clicks know who I am in real life. I would want the respect of even those who disagree with me. But the thread-shitting and personal attacks may make even those who agree with you want to run for cover.
posted by The Deej at 8:27 PM on January 1, 2007


"No. I've never even considered a job where I might have to kill people to protect other people's economic interests. 6th commandment, karma, sense of decency, etc."

Just like reaping the societal benefits then?


"I'm starting to feel more and more, lies not with the murderers in the White House and the Pentagon but with ordinary young men and women who, at this point, should know better."

If only they took matters into their own hands and defined the way things SHOULD be, we'd all certainly be much better off.

"Sorry, amigo, the dead kid's gotta take the blame for this one. Did the George W., Rummy, and Condi force him into willfull ignorance?"

My real problem is that he's Jewish and will go to hell for not believing in Jesus Christ as his savior. He should know better. The truth and living gospel is out there. Christ rose, we all know this. It's been written and rewritten and preached from the highest mountains. It's been broadcast in every form of media. If he refuses to accept the absolute truth and remain in willful ignorance, then he deserves damnation and eternal torment.


"and yet, someone reaching the age of nineteen who still believes that the Iraq "mission" is anything but a bloody imperialistic land/oil grab should have their head examined."

Perhaps I'm wrong ... I'm entertaining that notion only for the pure sake of theory of course because anyone who holds a viewpoint different from mine is unforgivably damned. But perhaps his Jewishness is caused by some bizarre psychological problem. In which case, since psychological examination worked so well in the Soviet Union, he should indeed have his head examined.

"we have to deglamorize it, get rid of the profit motive, and, above all, stop the steady and ready flow of young women and men, stars in their eyes ready to stand up for God, King (or President), and Country!"

And the best method to do that is to tell the altruistic idealistic young people not that perhaps they are misguided, or to put them back together when they come home or show them any of the compassion that we're espousing and championing in the face of opportunism, but what filthy murderers they are and piss on the graves of the dead.

Yeah, that'll work. More flies with "babykiller" than honey, and all that.

If one considers my namesake, one might realize maybe it's not the anti-war ethos that I have a problem with.
The business opportunists and war profiteers convince others of the essential goodness, the rightness, the pureness of their cause using the foulest of methods to slander any notion contrary to method because they want con money off of citizens, soldiers (misguided, ignorant, overly altruistic, or whatever) and the blood and sacrifice of the valorous.

What's your excuse?
posted by Smedleyman at 8:27 PM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Deej - well said. I admire your clarity and magnanimity
posted by Smedleyman at 8:34 PM on January 1, 2007


As bad as this is, the situation is, literally, over one hundred times worse for the Iraqis. And we're responsible for all of it.
posted by Clay201 at 8:36 PM on January 1, 2007


John, I already read the article, as I frequent the website that linked to it. So?
posted by konolia at 8:42 PM on January 1, 2007


(Thanks, Smed.) :)
posted by The Deej at 8:45 PM on January 1, 2007


When you join the military, you are becoming a killer or helping to support those who are.

Quite arguably true, but then who supports the military? Who supports the government that orders the military to go kill people? Whose responsibility is it to put a leash on that government, to keep them from doing horrible, violent things? There may be a few Americans out there who aren't the least bit responsible for what this government does and doesn't do. Maybe migrant workers or homeless people who really have zero opportunity to participate in politics in any way. But the rest of us are to blame for what's happening in Iraq today.

Besides, most people who join the military these days do so because they need a paycheck, health care, and/or job training. And it's not accidental that they find themselves in this situation; this economic climate has been quite deliberately engineered. So who's more to blame? The educated suburban professional who can read all manner of political discussion on the internet and whose rights are, for the most part, protected? Or the twenty year old who has to choose between a seven dollar an hour job or enlisting in the military? Which one has more opportunity to participate in the process that determines whether we're going to attack a defenseless country?
posted by Clay201 at 9:11 PM on January 1, 2007


I doubt that most enter the military thinking of a career. Usually it's a way to get some tuition money. What percent actually reup after their time is up?

I think you're probably right about the first part, but one does not have to be in the military to make a career out of being in the military. I know a guy who joined when he was 23 out of sheer desperation (pregnant girlfriend, no real future at home, and a severe sense of wanderlust) and 15 years later he's a out of active duty and is a sonar technician for a helicopter manufacturer, making pretty damn good money I might add. The Navy paid his night school tuition for his degree in aeronautical engineering, and he got his sonar tech job off a DOD help-wanted website. He told me on a few occasions that if it wasn't for the Navy, he'd be dead of in jail by 30. So that's just one anecdotal story, take it as you will.

Asshole, indeed. And I wish I could have talked to this kid--as I have other kids his age--to make him see that HE'S GOT HIS ENTIRE LIFE IN FRONT OF HIM!!! That, at nineteen, he isn't invincible, that he has options that are far better than shooting Iraqis and securing oil fields.

It must be nice to be so completely unencumbered by forces beyond your control. I wonder what that's like.

If that makes me an asshole, then, yep, I'm an asshole. Asshole first-grade!

Sergeant Major Asshole, even...

Everyone who is against this war, or, hell, for that matter, against war in general, should go out and talk to kids this age, considering a "career" in the military, and point out the error of their thinking.

This may shock you, but there are many people who are either active in the military or work for the military as a civilian contractor who are against the war in Iraq. Hell, I'm one of them. But what you need to understand is that the military is a tool, and the success or failure of an operation is wholly based on the use of that tool. If you were to use a sledgehammer to hang a picture frame, would you blame the sledgehammer after you destroyed your wall? No, you'd be right to blame the dope who used a sledgehammer when the situation didn't call for it.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:30 PM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Balisong wrote: There's a difference between 5000 soldiers not showering so they can pump more water to other places, and being ORDERED not to take a shower so the water can be used elsewhere. You make it sound like that was a big volunteer effort out of the kindness in their hearts.

Well damn, I guess you were there and know, huh? Did you ever consider that whether it was an ORDER or not that they/we were on board with the decision??

Disowned John of MI said: BUT not tonight. It's eleven in Michigan. It's not a schoolnight, and there's some beer that's calling my name.

Sounds like it's been calling your name (and you've been answering) for several hours now.

I've said it before (and been deleted because of my argumentative nature - which I'm working on thanks to Metafilter) but I'll say it again... quit blaming the troops and blame the people who order the troops into these situations. Better yet, blame yourselves for allowing these people to be in office. You don't demonstrate, you don't campaign, you don't elect - you just blame the first scapegoat you can find. Blame yourselves, John of MI and Mayor... did YOU really DO all YOU could have to stop this senseless loss of life??? Fuck no you didn't - you just whined about it and decided to pick upon the easiest target along the way.

That 19 year old girl from the original post - and her dead boyfriend - have more courage than the both of you.
posted by matty at 10:04 PM on January 1, 2007


It's actually 3,002 by the way. The march of time waits for no FPP.
posted by delmoi at 10:50 PM on January 1, 2007


Just a comment to those whose "argument" is "You reap the rewards of our military, so you shouldn't complain."
In this country (the USA) we have a system in which, if enough of us complain enough, things will change. That's how it works. And, last I checked, nobody's managed to stop this country's sickening capitalist imperialism by, as an individual, not buying gasoline.
Also, do you know why we reap these rewards? Because we don't have a choice. At least we're trying to fix things rather than contributing our efforts and our lives to the cause of making the rich richer.
As far as people in the military using the tired old excuse of "I joined the military to protect YOUR freedoms", I didn't ask you to. I'd rather you stayed home and worked to fix the problems in this country, whatever you perceive them to be. Individual soldiers don't protect my freedoms any more than the military or the wealthy do. When the US gets invaded, THEN I'll give you some respect for protecting me. Until then, soldiers are a tool of the American capitalist aristocracy, and that doesn't earn my gratitude.
I would like to see a dramatic reduction in the size of our military and a true commitment to the ideals of democracy, otherwise we're just turning into a militaristic Empire which values wealth and comfort over ideas and freedoms. If you asked me today to give up the majority of the comforts I enjoy thanks to my country's subjugation of weaker countries, I would happily move into a tent.
On the actual topic, though, this sort of paltry emotional human interest journalism is worthless outside of a true context. I mean, a perfectly ignorant reader would read this story and say "That's so sad. At least it's only one person who died!" So until the media decides to start being responsible to journalism's ethics, this sort of story doesn't do anything other than fill a few inches.
posted by eparchos at 11:39 PM on January 1, 2007


All needless death is very sad.
John in Michigan, you appear to be disturbed. I hope that our government learns the way of peace, and that you yourself find peace as well.

I can't begin to guess why people still sign up for the armed forces. I'm not one of them. But the notion that they "bear responsibility" for this war is just ignorant. The point of war is that soldiers are proxies for their governments. And because we are a constitutional republic, our government is a proxy for the people. You and I are killing Iraqi civilians. You and I are getting our own teenage soldiers killed for no good damn reason at all.

Your shifting responsibility for an immoral war to a dead 19-year-old is shameful, because you're passing the buck. You, citizen, got him killed. Look in the damn mirror. Don't like it? Fucking do something about it.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 12:06 AM on January 2, 2007


John of Michigan toned it down, and yet his reward from fellow mefites was helpings of shit (seriously matty, what's your problem? You make it sound like teachers are overpaid. Go work at McDonald's? What the hell is that about? And insinuating that he's an alcoholic? Go he hell away.).

I found this piece worth reading, but dangerously purple in its prose. I guess it had to be, given the nature of 19 year-old feelings. At the very least, it seems to me that Americans are no longer afraid to admit that this isn't going to be a Haiti- or Panama-like intevention, with the number of combat dead being close to the number of accidental dead. Remember when 20/20 (or was it Nightline?) tried to do a piece in 2004 simply commemorating the American dead? People went apeshit, and accused the show of "hurting" our effort in Iraq. For doing nothing more than stating the obvious -- thousands of American families are now wrecked because of this war (and it won't be peaches-n-cream for those coming home with missing limbs, pieces of shrapnel lodged in their brain, PTSD, etc.).

I know very few current members of the armed forces. One in particular is very smart, and to indulge a stereotype, perhaps not what you'd "expect" in an Army officer (he's in intelligence, so maybe he's of a different stripe, I really don't know). I don't think he'd take it as an insult to say that the job of the military is to kill and destroy things, period. Sure, there's some stuff after that about honor and duty, but seriously -- from what I know about basic training, your function is to kill and destroy. In the USAF and Navy, it's to kill and destroy via technological proxy.

There's a line between stating this obvious fact and claiming "all American servicemen are killers," and I don't think John of Michigan crossed it. Indeed, if you really want to insult a serviceman, have a few beers with them and tell them how the primary goal of the military is to "nation-build." Well, it probably wouldn't offend them, but they'd laugh at you for a good long time. I'm genuinely curious as to how career military guys are justifying the righteousness of Bush's crusade in Iraq, while pretty much openly mocking Clinton duing the 1990's for getting us involved in Somalia and Yugoslavia (comparatively drops in the bucket).

Best wishes to the families of these 3,002, although the amount of grief, heartache, and irreparable damage to families is much greater for those Iraqis we'll never know the names of.
posted by bardic at 2:52 AM on January 2, 2007


Bardic - if you bother to read the entire post you'll understand the McDonalds and Beer comments.
posted by matty at 6:43 AM on January 2, 2007


Well damn, I guess you were there and know, huh? Did you ever consider that whether it was an ORDER or not that they/we were on board with the decision??
posted by matty


Well, I wasn't there, but I have been in the military (USAF) and know how those things work.

It doesn't matter that you were/were not on board with the decision. You might have been, but I bet some of those 5000 people were pretty damn pissed that they had to forgo showers so people on shore could flush toilets. Did the decision come up for a vote? If it wasn't an order, and you decided to concoct this plan without authorization, you would have been charged with misappropriation of govt. assets, article 15'd, and most probably had to pay back the govt. for the going rate of fresh water at the time.
posted by Balisong at 6:46 AM on January 2, 2007


And if you weren't "on board" with the decision, and caused a fuss, you would have been article 15'd for insubordination, or worse, for failure to follow an order.
posted by Balisong at 6:48 AM on January 2, 2007


Saucy Intruder: And because we are a constitutional republic, our government is a proxy for the people. You and I are killing Iraqi civilians. You and I are getting our own teenage soldiers killed for no good damn reason at all.
Your shifting responsibility for an immoral war to a dead 19-year-old is shameful, because you're passing the buck. You, citizen, got him killed. Look in the damn mirror. Don't like it? Fucking do something about it.


Not to derail this too horribly, but at what point can we start passing the buck? I've devoted insane amounts of time and effort into electoral politics in the last few years, and stood around waving signs when there's no candidate to back. I've made every effort to game the system to make sure that in some minuscule way, my voice is heard, and what exactly do we have to show for it? Do you think the next Congress is going to radically shift its politics, to the point that the body count on either side is going to decrease significantly? No, because a terrifyingly large segment of the voting population consists of broken people. What's it to be, then? Take up arms and march on Washington? Or, failing that, when can we demand accountability from individuals directly involved in this mess, be it generals or bureaucrats?

Don't get me wrong, I have an enormous amount of respect for members of the military--my father was Navy for 30 years, and I've heard many a tale of what it was like to be on a college campus circa 1973, before the 'Support the troops' magnetic ribbon industry reached its zenith. However, it's disingenuous to argue that an 18-year-old kid signing up for military service in the last five years did so without the knowledge that, yes, he's going to be used as a tool for meting out death in the name of empire.
posted by Mayor West at 7:13 AM on January 2, 2007


There's a line between stating this obvious fact and claiming "all American servicemen are killers," and I don't think John of Michigan crossed it.

So - you didn't read this:
When you join the military, you are becoming a killer or helping to support those who are.

He "toned it down" though, so we have to ignore his blaming the kid for dying, right?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:30 AM on January 2, 2007


The 'this' in my last comment was supposed to go here.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:36 AM on January 2, 2007


Well, and, gee, there's a lot of vitriol floating around here, which, I guess, comes from the spearing of sacred cows.

Ad-hominem aside, I'm seeing precious little thought into what I said.

Final homework assignment: Go back and rethink--no polly-parroting--but rethink and coldly analyze the basis of some of your beliefs. How might they be right? How might they be wrong? What have you been force-fed, and what might you have blindly swallowed, whole, without reflection?

This goes for everything--not just the culpability of a dead soldier in Iraq.

This sounds condescending. It's not meant to be. But there is no greater pain for a human than the threat of a new idea, and people often have to be shoved, kicking ands screaming, to thoughtful analysis of their world.

Open your minds, guys. I'm not saying I'm 100% right, or that I'm not extremely ambivalent about my entire position. But at least I've thought deeply about it.

Ask yourself whether you can say the same about your own beliefs.
posted by John of Michigan at 8:43 AM on January 2, 2007


We can't pass the buck. I am a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party, and a majority of Senate Democrats voted, in 2003, to invade and occupy a sovereign power in an act of machismo aggression that rivals only the Mexican War in its unilateralism. Now, I'm just an ordinary guy, but I knew in 2003 that this occupation was a moral wrong and a tactical disaster. Is it too much to ask that my elected representatives have the same capacity for foresight, seeing as that this is their fucking job? Maybe it is, because Warmonger John Kerry and Warmonger John Edwards represented my party in 2004. They were "electable," see? How did that work out? We're a great, functioning democracy, we really are: but we are too timid to vote for leaders who dare to convey a moral compass. Even fucking Daily Kos mercilessly mocked Dennis Kucinich a few weeks back. Dennis Kucinich! Because he dared to run for president without raising a lot of money or kissing Howard Dean's ass first. God fucking damn it, if this is the politics we ask for, if this is the way we use our democracy, the blood of 3000 dead soldiers is on all of our hands. But this is also the price I pay for my citizenship: my love of country runs deeper than my respect, or lack thereof, for those who wrap themselves in my flag. I take my Constitution and my oath to uphold it seriously. It endures far longer than all the gay-marriage-bannin, soldier-killin, corporate-slavin, imbeciles who we've chosen to represent us.

(And that is how rants are done, motherfucker.)
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:48 AM on January 2, 2007


Final homework assignment: Go back and rethink--no polly-parroting--but rethink and coldly analyze the basis of some of your beliefs. How might they be right? How might they be wrong? What have you been force-fed, and what might you have blindly swallowed, whole, without reflection?

wow your a condescending and smug jerk. oh noes ad hominem!

matty, can I ask you something in an email? You don't have one in your profile.
posted by Snyder at 8:51 AM on January 2, 2007


John of Michigan: Final homework assignment. Rewrite your arguments, this time eliminating the superciliousness. I'm not saying it will be easy for you, but it will be worth it in terms of how seriously people take you.
posted by found missing at 8:56 AM on January 2, 2007


Languagehat, I'm sorry you had trouble with a pedantic professor, but please don't assume you know me. My classroom is all about discussion of ideas. I NEVER discuss politics in the confines of a class, where, by (perhaps unfortunate) definition, I'm seen as the authority figure and that my beliefs are the correct ones.

I'm sorry, but based on your comments in this thread I flat-out don't believe you. Anyone who can write "But there is no greater pain for a human than the threat of a new idea, and people often have to be shoved, kicking and screaming, to thoughtful analysis of their world" clearly loves foisting his carefully thought out, deep, hard-won ideas on anyone he can buttonhole, and most especially the poor bastards forced to take his classes. "Ambivalent," my ass. And save your homework assignments for your classroom victims.
posted by languagehat at 9:03 AM on January 2, 2007


(And that is how rants are done, motherfucker.)

::nods::

So it's settled, then. MeFi vs. the the legislative and executive branch. Broadswords in a pit.
posted by Mayor West at 9:38 AM on January 2, 2007


It's all General Casey's fault.
posted by homunculus at 11:23 AM on January 2, 2007


Army Attempts to Redefine Free Speech
posted by homunculus at 12:06 PM on January 2, 2007


The tragedy of this situation, the original boy-meets-girl heart of this convoluted post, is the stage at which the girl lost her boy. If we could all get the hell off of our high-and-mighty horses and remember what love is like when it is so brand new and sweet, then maybe the rest of this mess starts to fade. It is sad enough that the boy had to die, but this girl's world was smashed to pieces right when everything felt absolutely perfect.

Chances are, had he survived and returned home one day, the two of them would've grown apart. She'd find another. So would he. They're kids, after all.

But now, she comes back to his grave day after day because she is trying to hold on tightly to the diminishing joy of a month-old love. Yeah, you and I know that most of that goodness comes from infatuation and lust and newness and mystery and shared firsts and so on ... but this doesn't matter to her.

My own heart goes out to her. And more than a newspaper article, she needs kindness and some mechanism to help her cope. Someone needs to stop watching her crumble. And soon.
posted by grabbingsand at 1:04 PM on January 2, 2007


“When the US gets invaded, THEN I'll give you some respect for protecting me.”

So you don’t buy into this whole “insurance” or “health care” scam thing either then. And clearly, since no nuclear war happened, no one was really protecting you from that either. Even now, there’s no PROOF anyone is protecting you from anything, so why respect them? You personally haven’t been mugged, so what the hell good are cops? Haven’t had a fire in your house yet, so who needs to respect firemen? Say, why don’t we just eliminate the standing military, because the geopolitical complexity of the world hasn’t progressed beyond Napoleonic conquest by military invasion in the past few hundred odd years.

I for one would be glad to see society change. Just don’t expect change to come from the military. You don’t respect them for that? Fine, that’s not what they’re there for. They’re tools of the American capitalist aristocracy? Ok, so, you’re using something other than dollars then? You don’t buy any products manufactured by major conglomerates?
I respect people who fight for their country by sacrificing a large portion of their time and energy to oppose the war. I respected those people when I was in the service as well even though we had different views - because even though they had a different viewpoint they were honestly serving the country the way they thought best.

The point is - not only that yours isn’t the only perspective and others might have different ideas about how to be a good citizen, serve one’s country, get a good job, whatever - but that it’s easier to change the incentives than it is to curse those who seek a different path.

Think drug dealers want to stand on a street corner all day with the risk of being arrested, shot at by rivals, ripped off, betrayed by people in your gang looking to move up or killed by enemy gang members?

Same deal. Your answer - and the answer of folks taking the “blame the troops” position is just as naive as Nancy Reagan saying “Just say no.”
Demonizing drug dealers has accomplished about the same amount of good for the urban poor as demonizing soldiers would accomplish for peace.
And for similar reasons.
It is such a stupid method being pursued by otherwise rational seeming individuals that it makes me suspect that - also given the medium - most of those who complain don’t have the guts to fight even for what they believe in.
I mean the benefits of the drug war was a massive build up of law enforcement and sundry tax benefits.
The only benefit I can see from some folks in blaming the troops is that it alleviates some guilt of some kind.


“I'm genuinely curious as to how career military guys are justifying the righteousness of Bush's crusade in Iraq, while pretty much openly mocking Clinton duing the 1990's for getting us involved in Somalia and Yugoslavia”

Funny bardic, I was opposed to widening the scope of those engagements and left wingers who are so anti-Iraq now, were all over me then.

I’m genuinely curious as to how the folks denegrating the military feel about Afghanistan and looking for OBL. Or how they felt about tracking and striking at OBL and his org. during the Clinton years. Or their thoughts on 9/11 - did we have it coming because we’re such capitalist pigs? It’s ok to kill a few thousand people if they’re vaguely related to a system that’s been exploiting them and oppressing them?

I’ve had time and opportunity to talk to people who’ve done some things and their causes can be very very sympathetic. There are more than a few films on the IRA and other Irish terrorist outfits. I myself grew up catholic. Think I empathize with them blowing up a train station and killing some mother and her kid who don’t know the first thing about the situation?
Much as I recognize the oppression, I know killing innocents - even if it’s the only tactic you can engage in - is wrong.
But there are plenty of people who would be more than happy to hit us again.
Want to change that? Get into foreign policy, change the incentives for business, start moving the world away from exploitation and war - lots of organizations out there doing a variety of work on these things, join one. It’d make us all safer eventually.
In the meantime the only thing preventing innocents from dying is the threat of force.

“What's it to be, then? Take up arms and march on Washington?”

lives, fortunes, sacred honor, all that. Been doing a bit myself. Think I like driving a POS truck? We can demand accountability from the bureaucrats, but right now, we have to change the nature of the debate and grab control of the media. Or rather - wrest control from the small set of interests that controls it now. The way to do that is legislation.
You don’t fight a larger, stronger (or in this case richer) opponent head on. You don’t stop the war by shouting “Stop the war!”
And to get that legislation on the media passed you have to step back further, find the short term pork or half-assed pet project or whatever to deal to get something else done to get those dominos falling.
Extremists are useful in this way, you know upfront what they want. And often it’s some short term nonsense that can be easily remedied later after they hang themselves publicaly - and they always do, you just gotta give ‘em enough rope.


Homework hell, get your hands dirty. I pissed off nearly every conservative in my area when I split and started voting and working third party on GP way back. Now my little contribution was one tiny little bit of the larger effort by many other dedicated and hard working people that gave the Greens in Illinois the success they had. And that didn’t happen overnight and without a lot of sweat (although all kinds of screwups by the Dems and Republicans helped).
Patience, hard work and perseverance eventually pay off. We might not be able to change things now, but we can make it a better world for our kids and teach them to push it a bit further.

From homunculus’ link:
“Among multiple issues this raises, the circumstance begs a central question: Doesn't it fly in the face of the First Amendment to compel a journalist to participate in a government prosecution against a source, particularly in matters related to personal political speech?”

There’s no such constitutional protection. I’m all for Watada, but that right just doesn’t exist as far as I know.
And I’d rather be hanged by my own words than have someone make something up.

Sorry, bit chatty today. Sugar and caffene.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:37 PM on January 2, 2007


One other thing occurs to me - has anyone been forced to “respect the troops”? Seriously, anyone put a gun to your head to buy a sailor a beer? Participate in “Toys for Tots”? Send a soldier a card? Been forced to “feel heartbroken” for their deaths?

Has anyone here been forced to do one thing - beyond paying taxes - in any kind support of the military?

Indeed, odd how some anti-war folks hold up the dead as the horrible cost of the war, yet blame the dead for the war.

And not liking them, that’s what you come up with?
This is what will stop people from joining the military? This is what will stop war?
Gee, it’s a wonder that it hasn’t been tried time and time again (do your own homework on that).
posted by Smedleyman at 2:15 PM on January 2, 2007


Smedleyman writes In the meantime the only thing preventing innocents from dying is the threat of force.

Demonstrably incorrect. The threat and use of force against Iraqis, who had nothing to do with 9/11, has made the likelihood of an American dying due to terrorism higher than ever. I supported the invasion of Afghanistan, but didn't think it would be botched this badly. I place most of the blame on Bush and his people, obviously, but at what point do military commanders become culpable for not speaking up loud enough and stating the obvious -- the military's job is to kill people and destroy things, not plant the seeds of democracy. From my (granted, limited) experience around vets and troops currently serving, this isn't a critique or slur -- it's their goddamn job, and they'd be the first to tell you that it is.

Smedleyman writes Has anyone here been forced to do one thing - beyond paying taxes - in any kind support of the military?

Taxes are a big deal, IMO. Especially in the larger context of a budget surplus that was blown in no small part due to sweetheart deals with Republican-friendly contractors. And while less obvious, let's not forget the sweeping attacks of first and fourth Amendment rights that have gone on under this administration. I don't think you need to don tinfoil to realize that the Federal government, and the Executive branch in particular, have centralized power to an extent that's quite scary and frankly, un-American. An American citizen (Padilla) is still being held without any semblance of due process, with having no evidence presented against him. I kind of see your point, but please don't ignore the many things that patriotic, anti-Iraq occupation Americans have to be pissed off about. Imperialism in un-American, and at some point troops need to assume some responsibility for their actions.
posted by bardic at 4:22 PM on January 2, 2007


*and that would take a hell of a lot of bravery, especially on the part of enlisted guys. Having a knee-jerk hatred of servicemen is a bad idea, and I certainly don't myself. Then again, I'm sure most of them are more concerned about more mundane things as they enter their fourth, fifth, and sixth rotations in a country that doesn't want them there. Speaking as a dedicated pessimist, the wheels are coming of the US military far more quickly due to simple logistics than any amount of bitching about international affairs on my part.
posted by bardic at 4:26 PM on January 2, 2007


The other day, I saw a SUV ribbon that actually read, " Fuck those guys" crossed with, "Leave them there".

That got me to thinking.
I live in a military town that is set to expand by 10,000 troups, where others are downsizing. But right now, they're gone.
There has been a reduction in the domestic violence rate, speeders and "cruisers", even less bar parking lot brawls.

We're doing a lot better with the troups gone, than when they live with us in the general population. Let 'em fight over there, so they don't need to fight at home. Hasn't that been one of the mantras?
posted by Balisong at 5:36 PM on January 2, 2007


So you don’t buy into this whole “insurance” or “health care” scam thing either then.

Insurance and health care are things which I can *choose* to pay for in this country, and which I am allowed to fully review before purchasing. The US military, I am FORCED to pay for and I am not allowed to know what they're doing until at least 25 years later. I can only presume that they are being used in the same manner that they have been used since the beginnings of this country: To subjugate weaker nations for the economic benefit of Americans. I do not support that, and never will. And should I respect a McDonald's employee because he's "honestly trying to sell me a tasty burger"? No, I should think "This McDonald's employee is a tool of a corporate machine which violates many of my principles." Intentions don't count for much.
As far as me being a port of this aristocracy I refer to, again, I have no choice. Yes, I use US dollars. This does not mean that I can all of a sudden go down to the store with a pocket full of pesos and work any change... other than my own starvation.
As for your "drug dealers = soldiers" implication there... I think you are confusing criminals with members of society. Drug dealers are not demonized in urban areas, I don't know where you grew up. Where *I* am from, however, the local drug dealer has status and respect. But the funny thing is, we don't hear people demanding that we respect drug dealers, we just naturally do it because they are successful in a difficult environment. Meanwhile, I see "Support Our Troops!" stickers on every other car.
I refuse to be so disingenuous as to say something as inane as "I support our troops, just not their mission." No, I'd rather every soldier was out of their job, working at some low-paying wage in this country, than being sent to two-bit third world countries to blow up "darkies" so I can drive an SUV.
posted by eparchos at 6:04 PM on January 2, 2007


Plus the bonus of having a town full of hot soldier wives who are out at the bars looking for sex! Sometimes you have to fight them off!

Colorado Springs revealed as divorce mecca

Family values are as elusive as iraqi sands gripped tightly in the fist of the oppressive military.
posted by Balisong at 6:08 PM on January 2, 2007


Apocalypse II in Samarra
posted by homunculus at 6:36 PM on January 2, 2007


“Demonstrably incorrect. The threat and use of force against Iraqis, who had nothing to do with 9/11,”

I’ll concede my comment was a bit hyperbolic and overstretched. But I said nothing about the use of force. Nor about the Iraqis. Nor did I at all link Iraq to 9/11.

If you think that without the threat of force Americans, their interests, property, etc. etc. would be in any way safe from other foreign power’s interests - whether terrorists or other groups and reprisals for whatever kind of thing real or imagined, etc. you’re completely wrong.
Hell, we have problems with our allies (like the French) stealing industrial and commercial secrets from us.
I’m not going to debate what form that threat should take, I’m as isolationist as I can be given the environment. And indeed, I think there should be more emphasis on fighting, say, heart disease than terrorism (it’s more dangerous) in the public eye. Furthermore I think counterterrorism is primarily a law enforcement job.
But at some point the “bad guys” are going to run out of your jurisdiction and beyond ready support and for that you need the military (preferably small unit special operators) particularly under the system we have in the U.S. now without a single multijurisdictional para-military counterterrorist group like the German GSG9. The point is - at heart, we have guys with guns we pay out of our tax money to do what we tell them to do. Most of what we tell them to do is mess up people who screw with us. Unfortunately the message gets garbled because there are so many poor buffers between us and them.
But since we put those there as well...

“it's their goddamn job, and they'd be the first to tell you that it is.”

We agree on general principles the Iraq war is being prosecuted foolishly. But I’ve forgotten more about breaking things and killing people than you’ll ever know.
Military commanders are responsible only to the civilian government. Period. They do what they are told when they are told to do it and if they don’t like it they either suck it up or they do what Watada is doing (or wait until they retire). They can request, ask, suggest, cajole or any number of other things to make sure they’re heard. What they don’t do is countermand orders no matter how silly and ignorant unless those orders are unlawful.

“please don't ignore the many things that patriotic, anti-Iraq occupation Americans have to be pissed off about.”

I encourage those Americans to do something about it. Being pissed off is great, but the difference between a soldier and a pissed off couch potato is that the soldier is actually doing something. I’d respect someone who refused to pay taxes under this administrations for all the reasons you mentioned. I’d greatly respect (and join) someone who organized a sort of pleb revolt (494 bce in Rome) and got people to refuse to participate in any civics until there was a redress. I don’t know that I’m smart enough for it and I’m taking care of a lot of other things right now. 10 years ago though if all this were happening I’d be there.

“We're doing a lot better with the troups gone, than when they live with us in the general population.”

Now there’s an old familiar trope. I won’t even go back to pre-gunpowder, you had decorated black soldiers returning home after WWII refusing to return to second class citizenship, that was a real pain in the ass. Men returing to their jobs - serious blow for feminism.
Y’know, there’s less crime when there are less unwanted children - why not force abortions. It’d have the side benefit of boosting labor wages.
Why not go further and castrate anyone who wants to be violent - even if they find productive or socially acceptable ways to channel it?
...isn’t your nickname a kind of fighting knife? That seems awfully...violent.


“Insurance and health care are things which I can *choose* to pay for in this country,”

Really? You don’t have to, by law, have car insurance? Huh.

“I am FORCED to pay for and I am not allowed to know what they're doing until at least 25 years later”

You’re not forced to pay taxes, there are merely consequences to not paying taxes.
You simply don’t wish to suffer those consequences. Rather a selfish position if you believe they are going to subjugate your fellow humans.
And of course, you misunderstand the, rather simple I thought, analogy of having a standing army as insurance against such things as being invaded rather than waiting until an invasion to raise an army - far less efficient.

I can’t speak to the “25 years later” thing. Far as I know the Iraq war has been in all the papers. Perhaps I’m missing your point there.

“And should I respect a McDonald's employee because he's "honestly trying to sell me a tasty burger"? No, I should think "This McDonald's employee is a tool of a corporate machine which violates many of my principles."”

So I’m assuming respecting someone simply for being a human being, not a big thing for you then. I tend to avoid thinking of people as tools and such unless I’ve walked in their shoes a bit. But I’m sure you have your reasons as well.

“As far as me being a port of this aristocracy I refer to, again, I have no choice.”

So you are unaware there are other countries in which to live and methods of surviving off of the grid then?

“I think you are confusing criminals with members of society.”

Perhaps we’re defining “society” differently.

“Drug dealers are not demonized in urban areas, I don't know where you grew up. Where *I* am from, however, the local drug dealer has status and respect.”

Where I grew up drug dealers were the bad guys on t.v. and politicians and police and other authorites such as teachers said bad things about them.
Perhaps television is different in your area.

“But the funny thing is, we don't hear people demanding that we respect drug dealers, we just naturally do it because they are successful in a difficult environment.”

Y’know I try to reign in the snarkiness. I do. I respect commenters who maintain decorum and cogency and respect, but I get handed lines like that....I mean c’mon.

I don’t seriously believe you stated you respect drug dealers for being successful in a difficult environment whereas soldiers are tools of corporate - blah blah blah - whatever buzzwords you used - oppression.

You seriously don’t see how the economics behind importing and distributing addictive narcotics and glamorizing the “thug life” and such is in any way similar to corporate war profiteering and giving soldiers medals and other sorts of social accolades? You don’t get that at all? The economic structure and charismatic social exploitation of the two systems completely escapes you?

Maybe I grew up in the wrong area watching a different channel.

“Meanwhile, I see "Support Our Troops!" stickers on every other car.”

Wow, what a fucking nightmare. I bet you have PTSD.

“No, I'd rather every soldier was out of their job, working at some low-paying wage in this country, than being sent to two-bit third world countries to blow up "darkies" so I can drive an SUV.”

Not something I can reasonably comment on.
No, no, I’m being too generous. (That is to say, I should just STFU and be reasonable, but...it’s me, I’m friggin Stephen Biko).
I understand the gist of that statement - racism. But I’m struggling to understand the point. You see, I don’t think the war in Iraq is racist beyond the social forces that have already lead to the current state of affairs.
For example, you and I live in America and are supported by the pre-existing racism (indians, slavery, etc.)
Were the Iraqis “white” I suspect there would still be a war. But it’s one of the factors - ok.
Blowing up two bit countries - I assume - entails the process of removing resources from other contries to benefit the aforementioned unsavory corporate interests. - Ok.

Where I lose the trail is where soldiers are at home working lousy jobs - as far as I can gather those ‘lousy jobs’ also support corporate interests and we would be replacing “darkies” or whatever underclass with our out of work soldiers.
You see at no point do I recognize the argument against the entrenched system itself other than your generous willingness not to drive an SUV.

The anger is instead directed at the soldier much as - as I alluded to earlier - members of “society” demonize the drug dealer without examining the pyramid system that supports him.
And indeed much like the neighborhood in which you grew up, there are people with different values who believe that behaving in such a way is a desireable thing - and whether it’s a drug dealer or a soldier or whatever behavior, it’s society - or a microcosm of society that will support that.

And it’s that which needs to be changed.

Anger at pro-troop bumper stickers or soldiers themselves is about as effective as the “just say no” campaign.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:30 PM on January 2, 2007


OK, Smedley, let me try to explain myself clearly and succinctly.
I grew up in a poor, urban area where drug dealers are a fact of life, not just men in afros and pantsuits on TV. They were respected members of the community.

I don’t seriously believe you stated you respect drug dealers for being successful in a difficult environment whereas soldiers are tools of corporate - blah blah blah - whatever buzzwords you used - oppression.

I do believe that. Why? Because drug dealers are independent operators who are earning a decent living in areas which are basically economically DEAD, whereas sodiers are simply taking a job that they are being begged to do. I would think that the very idea of the "entrepeneurial spirit" would be something anybody from America could understand.
And no, I did not refer to "darkies" to implicate that we fight "racist" wars, although that may be the case. I simply mean we go fight weak, easily-toppled third world countries in order to benefit our corporate masters. And THAT is exactly what we have been doing for 200 years, and what the machinery of our militaristic state is about.
As far as insurance goes, if I choose to drive a car I am legally obligated to buy insurance for it. However, I have a choice not to drive a car. Currently, I don't drive a car. As far as federal taxes and me being "selfish" by not wanting to GO TO JAIL for not paying them, that is perhaps the most incredibly stupid argument I have heard. So I'm supposed to go to jail to effect change, smedleyman? IS that the plan? Last I checked, this isn't South Africa, I'm not Nelson Mandela, and there isn't a worldwide publicity movement for my backwater third-world country to change its policies. Oh, but maybe I should "love it or leave it", according to you. Please.
But to get back to my original point, I am not "demonizing" soldiers, and I don't think they deserve that. I fail to see why this means I should idolize them, however.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. Right after our country started this "War on Terror", Bush cut veteran's benefits significantly. Meanwhile, I, who do NOT support the soldiers or this war, regularly drove my friend to the VA hospital 2 hours away, spending all day waiting in lines with her just to be helped by a different doctor every time, usually a student. Then, at the end of the day, I would drive her back to the filthy shack she lived in, being as how that was all she could afford with her paltry checks that she received for her service. This woman died recently from a treatable cancer. Unfortunately, her next VA appointment had been scheduled for just a month later!
No, I don't "support our troops", but I also do my best not to get them killed or condemn them to poverty.
posted by eparchos at 7:59 PM on January 2, 2007


...isn’t your nickname a kind of fighting knife? That seems awfully...violent.

Yep. Gut you in a sec. If you come to my stretch of mountians. I bet there are zero Al Queda in the Colorado mountian front range. But I've been training for Red Dawn since 1984 and was looking down on civilization on Y2K from my mountiantop compound, with an assault rifle slung over my shoulder.
I bury food, ammo, water and provisions in Colorado to defend Colorado from invasion.
If it ain't gonna be the ruskies, it'll probably be the Chinese.
It'll never be the Taliban in full turbans parachuting into downtown Boulder.

I ain't no pacifist. I just know a stupid fight when I see it.
Bush has picked that fight.
posted by Balisong at 8:10 PM on January 2, 2007



“We're doing a lot better with the troups gone, than when they live with us in the general population.”

Now there’s an old familiar trope. I won’t even go back to pre-gunpowder, you had decorated black soldiers returning home after WWII refusing to return to second class citizenship, that was a real pain in the ass. Men returing to their jobs - serious blow for feminism.
Y’know, there’s less crime when there are less unwanted children - why not force abortions. It’d have the side benefit of boosting labor wages.
Why not go further and castrate anyone who wants to be violent - even if they find productive or socially acceptable ways to channel it?
...isn’t your nickname a kind of fighting knife? That seems awfully...violent.

But, Smedley, you sure put a bunch of projections into your post.

WWII Blacks
Feminism
Unwanted children
Forced Abortions
Labor wages
Forced Castration

Damn, dude, that's a record for assumed intentions summed up in two paragraphs.
You win.
posted by Balisong at 8:33 PM on January 2, 2007


Anger at pro-troop bumper stickers or soldiers themselves is about as effective as the “just say no” campaign.

And just how effective are "pro-troop bumper stickers"? Give me a break -- "support the troops" is a total joke when our nation is signing these kids up with blatant lies ("sure, you'll totally be an electronics expert far from the front, free training! Just sign here... SURPRISE YOU'RE INFANTRY!"), making them pay for their own damn uniforms, sending them out without proper armor & training, and then making them go back again and again, even after they've fulfilled their original contracts. Oh, and let's not forget how well the US Government pays for treatment and lifetime pension when they come home missing limbs.

I've got a few choice words for you: "stop loss", "depleted uranium", "cut VA benefits". It is not my job to support the troops, nor is it any ordinary citizen's job, but it IS the job of the Commander in Chief, and he and his cronies are NOT doing it. So long as we let our government hide its indifference and stifle dissent with these meaningless "think of the troops" platitudes, this isn't going to change.

What would support troops today are the same things that have always supported troops: proper equipment, an honest shot at a clearly-defined enemy, laurels when it's over, and commanders (all the way up the chain of command) who are honorable, fair, and decent. Our country isn't doing its best to give our troops these things, as a matter of policy, so who are we to talk about support?
posted by vorfeed at 8:34 PM on January 2, 2007


Actually, Smed, I'm supprized you didn't call me a lefty liberal, instead of all the more specific attacks.
posted by Balisong at 8:50 PM on January 2, 2007


Well, this isn't really going anywhere but I appreciate the discussion.

Smedleyman, again I have to disagree. As a "couch potato" not serving, I'm actually doing a few things that servicemen in Iraq aren't doing--

1) I'm not lining the pockets of Republican-friendly contractors
2) I'm not further enflaming ancient enmities and hatred between the Sunni and Shia
3) I'm not directly increasing the power of the Iranian government, ensuring a mullah-led hegemony for decades to come (guess what the Sunni call the Shia in Iraq, as a form of slur? They call them "Iranians." They seem to know a hell of a lot more about history than our military does.
4) I'm not terrorizing the same Iraqi civilians I'm supposed to be democratizing by driving around their businesses and homes wearing 50 pounds of body armor and waving an M-4 around, even while I think I'm "helping" them.
5) I'm not part of a failed effort that will put my grandchildren, and yours, into virtual debt for decades to come.

Shorter -- "doing something" is not always better than doing nothing. If there's a fire, pouring gasoline on it does not help put it out. (Those who stand back and criticize those pouring one the fuel are actually the smart and patriotic ones. And I agree with you here, the louder the better.) Further, if it's too much to ask for Americans enlisting to at least go to wikipedia.org and do a little research on the cultural and historical situation, I guess it's too much to ask me to drop trow and bend over everytime someone tells me I need to "support our troops," even when they're doing things that go directly against my self-interest as an American citizen.

"My country right or wrong," along with its millitary? Bullshit.
posted by bardic at 9:48 AM on January 3, 2007


John of Michigan, considering that I actually pretty much agree with your points, you still come across like an asshole.

"Career opportunity"? Last time I checked, McDonald's was hiring. Low-status job? Hard work? Shittty pay? Oh, my, yes. But I'd rather be elbow-deep in the grease trap in back than six feet deep in Arlington, with the blood of who knows how many Iraqis on my hands.

I rather suspect that you've either never worked in such a place, or did it so long ago that you've utterly forgotten what it might be like to be 18, have no money for college, no clear prospects, and have been elbow deep in that vat of grease for a year or two already.

I have a young friend who just joined the Navy. She got a $20,000 signing bonus plus the promise of a real education-- an engineering degree, paid for by the State. I was dismayed and afraid for her, but I can't argue at all with her choice, given her alternatives (small town, working class family, no money for school otherwise).
posted by jokeefe at 2:08 PM on January 3, 2007


Yep. Gut you in a sec. If you come to my stretch of mountians. I bet there are zero Al Queda in the Colorado mountian front range. But I've been training for Red Dawn since 1984 and was looking down on civilization on Y2K from my mountiantop compound, with an assault rifle slung over my shoulder.
I bury food, ammo, water and provisions in Colorado to defend Colorado from invasion.


Is... is this some kind of wacky satirical joke? Please? Because last time I looked, Free Republic/LGF was thataway.
posted by jokeefe at 2:10 PM on January 3, 2007


Erm, just to followup my post about my friend in the Navy, and before I attempt to get off Mefi and actually get some work done today, I should both clarify that she's American (I'm Canadian); and add that in addition to all the benefits that she or any other young person is promised upon joining up, that living in a culture that fetishizes combat death, makes saints out of soldiers, and worships the uniform and "the sacrifce for freedom" and all that other American cultish stuff most certainly plays a part. Remember, these are mostly kids. How easily swayed were you when you were 18? How clearly could you honestly conceptualize your own death?
posted by jokeefe at 2:16 PM on January 3, 2007


“So I'm supposed to go to jail to effect change, smedleyman? IS that the plan? Last I checked, this isn't South Africa, I'm not Nelson Mandela,”

Well...I have...so, kinda shows you the level of commitment to our respective ethos. But then I’m not setting the bar for you. You’re the one talking about these horrific things and how “we” support them. I disagree and I’m saying the equivalent of “baby steps” in terms of redress, and without directing acrimony to the troops.


“No, I don't "support our troops", but I also do my best not to get them killed or condemn them to poverty.”

Yeah, I completely don’t get your point there. I myself am a member of the DAV and do a lot of work with disabled vets. I get the schizm between the hypocrites who say “support the troops” and then vote to cut benefits and actually doing something productive and all that. I just don’t see how that supports what I believe is your point. I’m struggling more and more to find one in fact, beyond sounding off at someone you percive to be in opposition because I disagree with certain methods on principle.

“I am not "demonizing" soldiers, and I don't think they deserve that. I fail to see why this means I should idolize them, however.”

Never said you should idolize them. I merely asked in what way is anyone “forced” to respect them. I see no evidence anyone has.
Also, you’re really missing the whole “insurance” concept. Or perhaps you have poor reading skills. Or both. It’s hard to reconcile statements that you’re not demonizing soldiers, but that drug dealers are better than people who serve:

“I do believe that. Why? Because drug dealers are independent operators who are earning a decent living in areas which are basically economically DEAD, whereas sodiers are simply taking a job that they are being begged to do.”

Given that statement we have no common ground we can agree on. I’ve stated that the two are roughly equivalent in economic form. You’ve taken it to some sort of individual initiative level that I can’t possibly entertain - QED - everything I’ve said is based on the individual choices and experiance and not judging from that perspective.


“I ain't no pacifist. I just know a stupid fight when I see it.
Bush has picked that fight.” - posted by Balisong

Agreed.

“Damn, dude, that's a record for assumed intentions summed up in two paragraphs.”

I assumed you were being tongue in cheek and I responded with a similar level of absurdity. If you were serious that things were better now that the troops were gone that’s a whole other social issue. It’s an interesting situation around bases and such, people hate the troops, yet are perfectly happy to squeeze as much money from them and the government as possible. No one says you have to live there, most bases have been there for a long time so they probably didn’t move in and build one next to your house, and as far as I know, the government was closing a lot of bases so there’s plenty of towns without them.

“And just how effective are "pro-troop bumper stickers"? Give me a break -- "support the troops" is a total joke...”
- posted by vorfeed

Uh, yeah, that’d be y’know, the point.

“Oh, and let's not forget how well the US Government pays for treatment and lifetime pension when they come home missing limbs.” - posted by vorfeed

Well, since I and many of my friends are disabled vets, yeah, probably a bit hard for me to forget that.

“So long as we let our government hide its indifference and stifle dissent with these meaningless "think of the troops" platitudes, this isn't going to change.” - posted by vorfeed

Again, pretty much exactly the point.

“Actually, Smed, I'm supprized you didn't call me a lefty liberal, instead of all the more specific attacks.” - posted by Balisong

I attacked you? I missed where I said anything specifically derogotory against you. I’ll grant that I didn’t grasp your position correctly, but I thought given some of our earlier interaction I’d poke fun at you defending what I (wrongly) percieved to be a pacifist stance when I know your predilection for blades, et.al.
What I don’t get is where you - and some others - get off accusing me of such shallow insipid responses. That’s not my M.O.
I don’t believe I have ever - EVER - referred to someone negatively as a liberal or as a conservative or indeed as any political label. I know I’ve commented on various “left” or “right” perceptions and stereotypes and such and noted my distain for the shortcut thinking those labels bring, but I cannot think of any instance on metafilter when I have ever done such a thing or argued against someone on terms other than their words. In cases where I have, or I’ve been wrong, or gotten out of line, I’ve fucking apologized. I’ve enjoyed talking weapons with you in the past, but it remains to be seen whether you have the same amount of character.

“I guess it's too much to ask me to drop trow and bend over everytime someone tells me I need to "support our troops,’” - posted by bardic

It only seems like it’s not going anywhere bardic because I agree to many points made here. And have in the past.
People don’t want to read, that’s their problem.

But again, how exactly is anyone forcing you to “support the troops”? That aside - I agree with your points. Got that?
What I disagree with is that there is one and only one interpretation of patriotism and the cultural and historical situation (over there on Wiki especially) in the US and in Iraq.

I believe that’s exactly the same argument you and others level at the people saying. I attempted to illustrate this with the religious argument.
I believe the reasons a person enlists in the military is similar - in form - to the reasons a person follows a religion or the way they vote, and what-have-you.
I myself agree with the points you listed so I would interpret the situation in the same way and I would not enlist now.
(Although I do have friends in the service now and I feel an emotionl tug to be with them and support them, but there are other ways to do that than enlisting).

However - there are people who do not share our perspective. As in the metaphor above - we might be devout Christians who believe that if a person is not saved they will go to hell. That would dictate our actions in any given social/political/etc. situation.
In the same way, we might be atheists - that too would dictate our actions. Now we might, as Christians, think the atheists are wrong, but that does not give us the right to hate them, mistreat them, blame them for not accepting Jesus or any other such thing.
The same goes for the atheists.
And the same arguments go for how people show their patriotism - my central point remains, blaming soldiers, the military, etc. is the wrong method.

It is patriotic to criticize the government. It is also patriotic to support the government.

Your - and others’ arguments boil down to “but they’re wrong!” - well, yes, I think they are too - but they happen to think you and I are wrong.
What is the difference between them suppressing your criticism and you suppressing their support?

The difference, to my mind, is that you think you are disenfranchised - disempowered. (Witness eparchos’ comments above - I’m forced, I can’t - etc) And I’ve been telling you you’re not.
And if you, and people like you, come into power without realizing that, than it’s exactly the same game but with a different message.

“"My country right or wrong," along with its millitary? Bullshit.” - posted by bardic

What Carl Schurz said against that bit of mock patriotism I say in objurgation: “our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: ‘Our country—when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.”
Doing nothing is not putting it right. That doesn’t mean soldiering, there are any number of things to be done to oppose the war and this administration right now.

But what I mean is that the soldier is doing something to further the fight he believes in. Anyone with enough passion, anger, whatever, who thinks the soldier is wrong should do something to further THAT fight that they believe in. But it should not be a wasteful or hateful method.
Perhaps even the soldier doesn’t believe in his fight once he gains some experiance, but again - it’s a moot point.

The military does not - and cannot - exist to define the country. The country must be defined by it’s civilians. It is pointless therefore to blame the men serving unless you want a military dictatorship.

But to be clear and explicit -
1) I’m not defending war, Iraq, the status quo, the administraion, any ‘wing’ or politcal party.
2) Blaming the troops is a pointless effort and there are better more effective methods of resisting the war and other current trends.
3) Not everyone has the same background, education, time, energy, interest as you, me or individuals who oppose the war.
4) Blaming someone for enlisting now ignores those differences in background, culture, individual situation, etc. etc. It’s not wrong to criticise the decision as a poor one, but the ignorant are there to be educated, not spat on.
5)Arguing that it’s unpatriotic to serve or support the government is equivalent in form to the argument that it is unpatriotic to criticise or resist the government. Thinking you’re right doesn’t justify disrespecting an entire set or subset of people be they the troops, liberals, flag burners, milkmen, etc. -
6) Words /= support or resistance. Do something tangible to attain your goals. Make the changes you wish to see, otherwise it’s just talk.

That’s it.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:22 PM on January 3, 2007


Well...I have [gone to jail in order to effect change]...

And what change did you effect?

The difference, to my mind, is that you think you are disenfranchised - disempowered. (Witness eparchos’ comments above - I’m forced, I can’t - etc) And I’ve been telling you you’re not.

You have absolutely no idea of my situation. I grew up in abject poverty. Don't tell me what disenfranchisement is if you learned about urban rot from the comfort of your television screen.
I'm done with you, you can't even understand a simple point, which is that mindlessly supporting troops at the dictate of an empire is intolerable. Hell, you don't even SEE the problem, and apparently you're so out of contact with reality that you think "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers are a JOKE.
posted by eparchos at 4:39 PM on January 3, 2007



Agreed.

Thanks.

I know you don't use the norm labels of Lefty Liberal or Neo-con when trying to figure out where someone is comming from, I appreciate that. What I don't appriciate is blind attacks if not from my statements, then from my positions.

You threw in the whole gambit.

WWII Blacks
Feminism
Unwanted children
Forced Abortions
Labor wages
Forced Castration

Albeit that you didn't accuse me of being an abortion doctor, a Trotskyite, a Nazi, a labor union member, a comunist, an Islamist, an anti- Merican whateverthefuck, a pro castration, pro abortion, pro jihad, or even pro feminism..


And in closing, Fuck Milkmen. Those guys have no fucking idea.
posted by Balisong at 5:57 PM on January 3, 2007


"And what change did you effect?"

No, that's my point. I have and am acting in accordance with my principles. What change have YOU made in accordance with YOURS?
(You could always donate)


"You have absolutely no idea of my situation. I grew up in abject poverty. Don't tell me what disenfranchisement is if you learned about urban rot from the comfort of your television screen."

Nice assumption. I didn't mention where I grew up. It's not relavent to the issue. You're pretty good at carefully misunderstanding me.
(MLK grew up with the world handed to him then?
Malcolm X was a drug dealer and a pimp, he did pretty well for a righteous cause. (Unless you think dealing drugs is also superior to human rights activism) César Chávez grew up in an adobe hut (and in fact, was in the military - whatta scumbag!). Lloyd Monserratt (RIP) was the son of Ecuadorian immigrants; Catherine Doherty had a number of ups and downs, she's being considered for cannonization; Elizardo Sanchez in Cuba, etc. etc. etc. I was not saying you aren't doing enough, I was arguing against the idea that nothing can be done. And in fact, most likely will be.

"I'm done with you, you can't even understand a simple point, which is that mindlessly supporting troops at the dictate of an empire is intolerable"

I think the simple point I can't understand is your definition of "supporting the troops." Someone has a gun to your head or something?
My points concerning mindlessness, empire, and what's intolerable should be fairly clear all over the thread.

"Hell, you don't even SEE the problem, and apparently you're so out of contact with reality that you think "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers are a JOKE."

Er...aren't they?
Nah, that's too glib. I do think they're pretty stupid tho. And people who sport them tend to not be
geuninely supporting the troops. But I don't then displace that irritation with hypocracy onto the
troops themselves. I'd prefer to do something about the system rather than the pawns.
I tend not to hate drug dealers for the exact same set of reasons for example.

But explain to me like I'm an 8 year old - given that my argument is against John of Michigan's (et.al) assertion that the "ultimate blame" for the war lay with the troops - how exactly will blaming the troops put an end to the war in Iraq and sundry other social ills we're suffering now?
What sort of action are we supposed to take while blaming the troops?
If we are to blame the troops for not taking your position - how do we make sure they don't get any tricky ideas about running things for themselves?
Should we have standing armies at all?
If not, how do we prevent aggressive acts against the country - if not 9/11 exactly (since one could consider that a reprisal for exploitive acts by the U.S. government) than some other form of destructive act designed to coerce us to do something?

If we should have standing armies - I concede to the idea that we should change the military system and indeed the entire defense industry, so moot point there.
But we're still faced with the social problem I outlined - how, if we want them involved in defining the social order - do we make sure they don't wind up running things?


"What I don't appriciate is blind attacks if not from my statements, then from my positions."
&
"And in closing, Fuck Milkmen. Those guys have no fucking idea." - posted by Balisong

See I think the miscomunication we're having Balisong is that bit of sarcasm you're using. And I was using.
Now earlier I admitted I made a mistake and took some of your statements for sarcasm. I didn't
explicitly apologise for the misunderstanding, but I thought that was clear.
Apparently it was not so - I apologise.

However my explaination for sarcastically and absurdly alluding to:

WWII Blacks
Feminism
Unwanted children
Forced Abortions
Labor wages
Forced Castration

- stands, and if I'm going to cut you slack for saying you'll "gut" me and other such statements, I expect
the same consideration when I make a joke or sarcastic or absurd statement that doesn't fly.

What if my dad/grandfather/uncle was a milkman and I got pissed?
You didn't mean anything by it so no foul. Same thing.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:55 PM on January 3, 2007


"Nice assumption. I didn't mention where I grew up. It's not relavent to the issue. You're pretty good at carefully misunderstanding me."

previously....

"Where I grew up drug dealers were the bad guys on t.v. and politicians and police and other authorites such as teachers said bad things about them."


But explain to me like I'm an 8 year old - given that my argument is against John of Michigan's (et.al) assertion that the "ultimate blame" for the war lay with the troops - how exactly will blaming the troops put an end to the war in Iraq and sundry other social ills we're suffering now?
What sort of action are we supposed to take while blaming the troops?


OK, I'd rather not assume you were an 8-year-old, since I think you're smarter and more educated than that, but here's my basic idea.

We blame the troops for what they are doing, nothing more, nothing less. In my opinion, they are the tools of capitalist imperialism, which does not benefit the average citizen of this country (including soldiers) in proportion to the risk they undertake and the crimes they commit. Hopefully, this sort of disapproval lowers enrollment in the military to the point where our country's Keynesian surge towards empire and away from democracy falters.
Now, after that, we help our fellow citizens/former soldiers reintegrate into society with actual, real support (counseling, job placement, etc...)
A standing army may be necessary, but what we in the US have is an extremely large and powerful standing army waaaay out of proportion with any actual threats to our country. What this has done, historically, has caused our leaders to decide that they have to "do something" with our military. This has led to our empire, which has benefitted Americans materially in some ways, but which has tarnished our reputation worldwide and made us concentrate less on domestic issues than perhaps we should. Consider that, of the top 10 countries in terms of per-cap GDP, we are the only one which is warlike. Also, we are right "up there" with such sterling examples as Namibia and Guatemala in terms of real growth rate.
What it boils down to is this: Military Keynesianism does not encourage a stable, happy democracy. What it encourages is raw power and empire.
There are few things that the average citizen can do to stop/slow this trend in the USA today, and there are a great many people well-invested in ridiculing and "stomping out" any resistance to these policies. You invoked MLK earlier, and I would like to take this opportunity to point out what he was doing between the famous Civil Rights years and when he was murdered. Here's a quote:

"Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong…with capitalism… There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a Democratic Socialism. "

Here's a link to his speech on the Vietnam conflict.

These are real problems in this country today, and the fact is that "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers are propaganda mant to stifle real thought and real discussion. This is my issue with them. WHY should we support our troops when they are supporting the wealthy aristocracy who, in turn, are not supporting us? It boils down to who's pulling the trigger.
posted by eparchos at 9:35 PM on January 3, 2007


Alright, Smedleyman. You're one of the good ones. I'm not gonna gut you. In fact, the only blood my knives have ever drawn has been my own so far. Damn knife juggling hobby.
posted by Balisong at 10:16 PM on January 3, 2007


Umm, disregard what I wrote and pretend I said what eparchos said, won't you?

He's stated what I meant to state, in a far more erudite and less inflammatory manner.

Good on you, mate!
posted by John of Michigan at 9:00 AM on January 4, 2007


Thank you, John, I appreciate that.
posted by eparchos at 10:52 AM on January 4, 2007


The Real Cost of the Iraq War: 50,000 U.S. Casualties
posted by homunculus at 12:05 PM on January 4, 2007


“ "Nice assumption. I didn't mention where I grew up. It's not relavent to the issue. You're pretty good at carefully misunderstanding me."

previously....

"Where I grew up drug dealers were the bad guys on t.v. and politicians and police and other authorites such as teachers said bad things about them." “

Again - missing the point. I mentioned televison because because almost everyone watches television. It’s the most dominant cultural medium in history. Therefore it’s irrelevent where any of us grew up as regards the “drug dealers bad” message. In addition, authority figures everywhere tend to give the same messages teachers, cops, etc. So again - where you grew up is a moot point unless of course the cops and teachers in your neighborhood are praising drug dealers.
I should have been more serious and less tongue in cheek though if I wanted to make that point clear, my fault for that.

“the fact is that "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers are propaganda mant to stifle real thought and real discussion.”

Agreed.


“We blame the troops for what they are doing, nothing more, nothing less... Hopefully, this sort of disapproval lowers enrollment in the military to the point where...”

This is pretty much the only point at which we disagree. I can’t comment on the other issues in part because I agree (and earlier conceded) that our standing army is too large, but also because it would further cloud the issue. Suffice it to say I understand and am sympathetic to your position.

The reason I disagree with you on that above point is because in blaming the troops there is some insinuation of action. In fact you hope some action will occur.
If it’s left at, say, explaining the political situation to people thinking of joining and other purely communicative forms I have no real problem with that.
I think it’s misguided, because again, we pay troops to, in essence, shut up and do what their told, not to tell us to do or be anything.
But simply expressing distaste for military service? No, I have no problem with that at all. In fact I’d encourage it. Moms all over the world do that all the time.
In addition, I slightly disagree in terms of strategy with attacking the problem at the enrollment level. We’ve had drafts in the past. And this current administration has proven they care little whether they have enough boots to do the job. Indeed, they routinely hire mercenaries.
Where I have a problem is in blaming the troops and acting on that blame. I don’t know what form those actions might take and, as you yourself pointed out, even the people saying they’re all behind the troops are cutting veterans’ benefits.
And secondly, as I said, I’m opposed to blaming someone over something they have no power over (once they’re in) or judging them on acts they feel is in their best interest.

I don’t buy into the War on (some) Drugs and I don’t blame the street level drug dealer for the games played by the DEA, CIA or what-have-you, for the same reasons.

I think it’s a moral issue on that level. The problem has the same form as, say, a woman wanting an abortion. We can all agree that abortions per se aren’t the ideal outcome. I happen to think it’s morally wrong. I would not however force a woman to make that kind of choice against her will. I think that would be the greater immorality. In the meantime I support counseling, services, education, etc. etc. etc. to convince her to, say, give the child up for adoption.

I think where we were diverging is that I assume action paired with any act. If you’re saying treat soldiers the way we treat women seeking an abortion in (the above outlined -albeit idealized) pro-choice environment, I have no problem with that. Communication and education are just fine by me. That Stephen Biko confrontation is what I’m all about - manifestly, I’m still here.
But if we’re looking at the flip side and forcing someone to do what we think is the more moral choice, than I couldn’t disagree more.

“WHY should we support our troops when they are supporting the wealthy aristocracy who, in turn, are not supporting us?”

And again, I don’t know that we are supporting the troops - in my terms, through any sort of action. Perhaps you mean we are silently aquiescing to what’s happening beguiled by this “support the troops” mantra. That, I agree, has to stop.
But the last people who want war are the people who are actually getting shot at, losing limbs, and watching their friends die.
If there’s anyone who knows better what the costs of war are, it’s the men and women who have done the fighting. And they have NO investment in war. None. They get paid either way. Oh, a bit more for combat duty perhaps. But they reap none of the rewards the “aristocracy” does. You’re never going to convince someone who makes millions of dollars from this to suddenly stop out of loyalty to country or for moral reasons.
Therefore if there is anyone who is more likely to be at your side against the warmakers, it’s the warfighters. So, purely practically, why alienate them? Indeed, they know how to fight.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:33 PM on January 4, 2007


Perhaps it’s the term “blame.”
What if I said we plan to blame women for murdering their children in order to lower the numbers of abortions?
Doesn’t work too well.
Plan to educate soldiers on the causes and reasons behind the war in order to dissuade them from enlisting? I have no problem with.
Similar to educating women on contraception and alternatives to abortion such as adoption in order to lower the numbers of abortions.
A plan of action without condemnation and toward a positive goal, that, I can live with.
“Blame” not so much because of the sort actions implied (whether one means any or not, that’s how it sounds)
posted by Smedleyman at 12:38 PM on January 4, 2007


Perhaps you mean we are silently aquiescing to what’s happening beguiled by this “support the troops” mantra. That, I agree, has to stop.

That is EXACTLY what I mean!

Plan to educate soldiers on the causes and reasons behind the war in order to dissuade them from enlisting? I have no problem with.

A plan of action without condemnation and toward a positive goal, that, I can live with.

Absolutely perfect. Yes!

When I say "blame" I mean "hold accountable for their actions". I don't mean put them in jail or anything like that, I mean just don't APPROVE of their actions either with open sympathy or with tacit, silent approval.
What it really boils down to is that I think this pro-troop propaganda is thinly veiled pro-war propaganda. I believe that a person who TRULY is concerned with the welfare of a fellow citizen is a good person, but "supporting our troops" by sticking a yellow ribbon on our SUVs, well, that's just crap.
(links to a musical video, NSFW)
posted by eparchos at 12:48 PM on January 4, 2007


“What it really boils down to is that I think this pro-troop propaganda is thinly veiled pro-war propaganda.”

Yeah, unquestionably. It’s been that way for a long time. Although the way we use troops is fairly new. Why pay them or give them any real investment when you can socially control them through medals, all kind of vacuous ‘attaboys’ or whatever.
The unstated ‘whatever’ part is pretty powerful. I think everyone has the idea in the back of their mind of some sort of glorious homecoming fuck festival.

Perhaps that’s why, thus far, the only social ostracism that has been really successful is the Lysistratic nonaction by the greek women way back when.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:58 PM on January 4, 2007


Which, I’ll add, seems to be one of the unstated themes in the article here (”summer of love” etc.)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:59 PM on January 4, 2007


Perhaps that’s why, thus far, the only social ostracism that has been really successful is the Lysistratic nonaction by the greek women way back when.

Well, I'm just not equipped to do that! :)
posted by eparchos at 1:00 AM on January 5, 2007


The real Iraq Study Group: The neocon hawks who sold the war, joined by John McCain and Joe Lieberman, unveiled their new plan for "victory": At least 25,000 new troops in combat roles well into 2008
posted by homunculus at 9:33 PM on January 5, 2007


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