Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why We Serve(d)

Hat-tip to the Mad Rocket Scientist for bringing my attention to this incredibly stupid, dishonest, vapid bigotry on Daily Kos. I invite you to read it for yourself, but you might need copious amounts of antacid and brain-scrubber afterwards. Proceed at your own risk.

I simply can't understand the loony left. There's a perfectly rational, intelligent "left wing" in politics and society with whom I can conduct a normal conversation: people with whom I may disagree, but whose convictions I respect and whom I regard as Ladies and Gentlemen (with capital letters). They think, they're prepared to discuss issues rationally, and they're open to persuasion. I'm honored to call some among them my friends. On the other hand, there are those on the ideological fringe, such as (it would appear) the author of the article linked above, who are in-your-face dishonest, blatantly ignorant and have no clue whatsoever as to the realities of life, the universe and everything. They seem to live in a little bubble of their own imagining, viewing life through ideological lenses that distort, twist and mangle every reality that doesn't fit into their world-view.

(Pauses to spit vehemently into convenient cuspidor. There - I feel better now.)

I'd like to quote a few passages from that drivel article and show how "misguided" (for want of several more forceful words I'd prefer to use) the author proves himself to be.

Those of us in the reality-based community know that it's a myth created by the right wing that liberals and anti-war protesters ran around attacking soldiers returning from Vietnam.

Oh, yeah? Then why do so many of those veterans have so many stories of precisely such attacks? Are you telling me that they're all lying? And what makes your community "reality-based"? As far as I can tell it has about as much relationship to reality as I have to Mata Hari.

The author goes on to examine why soldiers enlist, citing at length a left-leaning source (without bothering to cite any source offering a different perspective - not that that surprises me, of course). He/she "demonstrates" that most of them enlist for economic and social reasons rather than any innate patriotism or commitment to the ideals that have historically motivated military personnel.

The article goes on:

What kind of country have we become when the only way for young Americans to be assured of the basic social safety net provided to citizens of just about every other advanced country requires them to risk death in a war that their fellow Millennials overwhelmingly oppose, and which many of the enlistees themselves view with ambivalence if not hostility?

You know, I'm a veteran myself. I mingle with veterans almost every day. I've worked with veterans from the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines for years, in more than one country - and NOT ONE OF THEM ever said that he or she went into military service in order "to be assured of the basic social safety net provided to citizens of just about every other advanced country".

I repeat. Not. One. Of. Them.

As for a war "which many of the enlistees themselves view with ambivalence if not hostility", I'm sure many servicemen and -women have their doubts about how the Iraq war was and is being handled. I have such doubts myself. However, those doubts aren't directed at the military services themselves, but at the top commanders and politicians running things. Politicians are notoriously bad military commanders, and the top commanders in any defense force tend to cover their asses rather than stand up for their men and women. When one gets crossways with the politicians (as General Shinseki did with Donald Rumsfeld concerning the forces that would be required to conquer and stabilize Iraq), the other top commanders all too often don't stand up to support their colleague, but duck for cover instead. (By the way, time has proved General Shinseki to have been absolutely correct. No apology was ever issued to him by Mr. Rumsfeld or his successors in office, needless to say.)

Our present Administration has screwed up mightily in Iraq, as I think any fair observer will concede - but our military has done its best under extraordinarily difficult conditions, and continues to do so. They did the same under the former Democratic administration of President Clinton, which screwed up just as spectacularly (albeit on a smaller scale) in Somalia and the former Serbia. They've done so despite political screw-ups since the beginning. (Ask veterans of World War II about some of the screw-ups by politicians and generals and admirals sometimes. The needless and very costly invasion of Pelelieu; the abominably bad generalship during the Italian campaign, causing immense casualties; the daylight bombing of Germany without adequate escort fighters, which led to catastrophic losses . . . the list will be a very long one indeed.)

You don't go into combat (or refuse to go into combat) because you agree (or disagree) with the cause or like (or dislike) the politicians concerned. When you join the military you take an oath to (among other things) obey the lawful orders given you. That's part of the deal. You also know that your life depends on your buddies, and their lives depend on you. You're a team, and you fight together - for one another, perhaps even more than for your country.

I don't doubt that one factor influencing many recruits who enter the armed services is economic motivation - "What's in it for me?" It's been that way since the dawn of time. However, economic motivation alone doesn't explain it. Anyone entering the military today knows that he or she is more likely than not to be sent into combat, or at least into a combat zone. It's the way things are. That being the case, I'm pretty sure that economic motivations aren't the primary factor in anyone's decision to join the military. After all, they'll surely be saying to themselves, "No amount of money or benefits will do me any good if I'm not alive to enjoy them!"

(Is it even possible that the author of that article can be so blind to reality that he/she genuinely thinks military recruits are so stupid that they can't see that little fact for themselves?)

A final quote from the article:

To repair its stature among young people, the Military needs to be viewed by young women and men as a institution prudently employed to protect America, and not a plaything abused by a reckless administration and it's Republican supporters. The military can easily survive and thrive in the presence of a New Deal that ameliorates the economic and life pressures currently afflicting the age cohort targeted by military recruiters, but only if we end our disastrous war in Iraq.

Oh. I see.

Well, ducky, for a start I don't think the military's stature among young people needs repairing (except, of course, in the case of your unfortunate children, who couldn't choose their parents and thereby escape such indoctrination). The fact that recruiting goals are consistently being met tends to demonstrate that quite conclusively, I'd say. Your complaint that such goals are only being met because of added incentives is puerile. The military is in competition with the rest of society for its recruits. If the attractions of life outside the military are too great, people will opt for the greater reward. If the military has to up its ante to compete, guess what? That's capitalism. That's the free market at work.

As for "a New Deal that ameliorates the economic and life pressures currently afflicting the age cohort targeted by military recruiters" (what a mouthful!), those economic and life pressures will afflict them whether or not they're in the military. Life happens - or had you forgotten that little fact? If we're ever unfortunate enough to have your socialist-wet-dream "New Deal" inflicted on us, it'll be inflicted on all of society and we'll all benefit or suffer equally (I suspect the latter). That won't change the reality of military service.

As for ending "our disastrous war in Iraq", you basically mean cut and run, don't you? You might want to ask the ordinary Iraqi man and woman in the street about that. You'll find they view the prospect very differently. Almost all of them who've been interviewed by objective, rational, reliable sources (I suggest Michael Yon and Iraq The Model as good places to start) have indicated that they want American troops to stay, because they offer the best hope for peace.

Indeed, so "oppressed" are the Iraqis by the presence of US forces that some detainees are refusing to be released from US-run detention camps! They're getting better education and training there than they ever got from their own government, and they don't want to cut it short by being kicked out. So much for Abu Ghraib. That admittedly unacceptable incident is now clearly demonstrated to have been an aberration, a blot on the landscape - but hardly the norm for the behavior of US forces.

That puts a rather different spin on your blinkered, blindfolded, indoctrinated blathering, doesn't it?


OK, I'll get off my soapbox now. Sorry for the rant - but sometimes idiots get under my skin with their idiocy, and I need to work it out.



Anonymous said...

Well said, Peter.

I lost too many of my family in WW II.

They did not serve "for benefits"-there were none.

They served because they had a moral obligation to do so, and asked nothing in return.

The freedom we enjoy today was bought in blood, one shattered body at a time. One of my uncles-an RCAF aircraft mechanic-had to hose down the interiors of badly shot up Lancs in England before he could get to work making them airworthy again.

And it wasn't just spent shell casings that he flushed.

Lest we forget.

Anonymous said...

Well done, Peter: a home run with bases loaded.

I am in daily contact with lower- and mid-grade officers and enlisted people--most veterans of combat now--from all the services. To the last, they impress the Hell out of me. They're a cut above me and my fellow Vietnam veterans. God bless them.


Anonymous said...

Thank you!

I'm the proud daughter of a career Navy man: a Master Chief Torpedoman who served on six submarines in the course of 32-years in the service. He joined literally on his 17th birthday in September 1946: not for some 'social benefits' but because he perceived it to be his DUTY, as well as an honor.

And though I was (for medical resons) unable to serve myself, I am proud to be the aunt of both an Army Captain (Airborne, home now from Afghanistan) and a Marine MSgt. (currently in Iraq), both of whom joined for the same reasons as thier grandfather: Honor, Duty, Patriotism, and all those other old-fashioned virtues.

-Proud to be a former Navy brat

Anonymous said...

I lost a Uncle in World War II.
I have a Uncle dying from radation
poisoning.They served due to a love for this country.It is something the left will never understand.

Don said...

My experience may be atypical, but my experience with people who served is people like you, Lawdog, Son Tao, and John Shirley. John put a lot of his life on hold to join up, and it's only now getting back on track.

Son Tao took a huge pay cut and left behind his fancy Mustang, his fancy guns, and a pretty flash lifestyle to go hump all over Korea, the Middle East and the Philippines--and that was after he'd served his time already.