Veterans Day and the Troops

Veterans Day (which I’m terribly late in acknowledging, I know) is an interesting holiday. In my youth, it was one of those batch of second-tier holidays that I could never keep straight in my mind (Labor Day? Memorial Day? Veterans Day? Which one is it in November?). No special colors to wear, no significant food to prepare, no candy, no presents. Only as I’ve grown older and become a devotee of history has it developed any meaning. As the holiday approached I couldn’t help but wonder about the significance of the holiday in the face of current events. After all, hardly a day passes without mention of veterans in the broadest sense of the word. Virtually every day we hear an update on fatalities or casualties among the troops, their successes and failures, their noble deeds and their tragic crimes, and the expensive price paid by both the veterans themselves and their families for their service in our nation’s current foreign adventures. Over the past several years, I’d venture to guess that in public discourse, we’ve heard more about the troops than any other single topic. The troops are cause for action and outrage from all sides of the political arena. And everybody everywhere claims to “supports the troops.”

What does that even mean?

What, especially on a day of remembrance for those who have taken up arms in the name of our government, should we think of the troops and the debate raging around them?

To some on the Right, the answer is cut and dried. These claim that you cannot support the warrior but oppose the war. Some make this claim in a cynically calculated bid to stifle opposition. Many others do so out of genuine concern for the well-being and honor of their loved ones in the services. Either way, their position lacks merit. Such warriors (past and present) as national figures Wesley Clark, Anthony Zinni, Ann Wright, John Kerry, John Murtha, Max Cleland, and Karen U. Kwiatkowski; bloggers from Ranger Against War, A Silent Cacophony, the Democratic Veteran, Main and Central, Pen and Sword, and One Pissed Off Veteran; locals such as Ed Partidge of Part of the Plan (whose blog, sadly, appears to be down; I hope you’re still around in the blogosphere, Ed) and Jim Warnick of One Utah; and various and sundry others by their words and examples very forcefully and effectively refute that claim.

I’ve heard some with close family serving in war zones insist that public challenges to the war and its execution undermines our policies, demoralizes our troops, and comforts “the enemy.” They declare that we shouldn’t change course, because these people don’t want the sacrifice of their friends and family in the service to end up vain. I can sympathize with the anguish and suffering of these families. But they cannot allow their pain to blind themselves to reality. The service of their children already is in vain. The war is illegal and immoral, born of deception, arrogance, and ignorance. No amount of perseverance can change this fact. No amount of U.S. blood, sweat, and tears will make this war just.

Unjust wars should be undermined. Does this demoralize our troops or embolden our foes? To the latter, I say no. Muslim extremists could have asked no greater gift than the invasion of Iraq; they now have evidence of the “The Great Satan’s” imperialist intentions around which to rally, and a land in chaos in which to grow. To the former, I cannot say. I’ve heard soldiers take both sides of that question. Many of the former soldiers mentioned above well know the impact of dissent on soldiers, and feel opposition is still crucial. Defending truth is first priority. Harsh as it may sound, better demoralized troops than the unchecked pursuit of a disastrous and unprincipled foreign policy agenda.

The manner in which we take that stand is just as important as the stand itself. Ed Partridge was in his blog rightly concerned that we who oppose the war lose credibility and moral high ground if we target the troops for our outrage. We cannot allow the troops to serve as scapegoats for the misbegotten decisions of this administration. No matter how vehemently or vulgarly some individuals in the armed services may support the war, anti-war advocates must remember that these soldiers had no part in the decision to invade. The soldiers are only pawns. Hold the Decider responsible. As much as I respect those soldiers, such as Ehren Watada, who have refused to participate on principle, I am unwilling to blame those who have felt was their duty to serve when their government called.

In challenging some Democrats and liberals for perceived criticism of the military, one blogger insisted that “I believe that there should be nothing but respect, complete and totally (sic) respect and awe, shown toward the men and women in uniform. Period. Anything else is, I believe, unpatriotic.” The attitude reflected in the post is one common in the U.S. and in Utah. But I struggle to reconcile such effusive praise, even adulation , with my experiences relating to and observation of the military. Of the handful of people I knew growing up who joined the services, most (not all) seemed notivated by a desire to see action, to prove their manhood by taking the lives of others. For several months of my mission, I served an area which included Camp Pendelton. While there, I met a number of very humble, very devoted young men. I was also shocked at the number of soldiers who expressed in terms in very explicit, vulgar, and racist language how eager they were to kill Africans in upcoming deployments in Somalia, or in very profane and misogynistic language described their exploits in taking advantage of, even raping, women. I heard many casual or boastful references to infidelity (and many rather pained but fatalistic references to the same stories from wives).

I remember reports of Tailhook, and evidence that the naval bases in the Pacific have over the past several decades keep thousands upon thousands of women employed in prostitution (see Blowback, by Chalmers Johnson).

I hear of the tragic examples of sexual assault within the armed services—over one-fourth of women using Veterans Administration health care report at least one sexual assault during their service. Adding insult to injury, many claim that their superiors pressured them to not report. Bear in mind that the sexual assault is typically far underreported in the best of circumstances; the percentage of women sexually assaulted by their peers in the service is likely much higher.

I see documentary film of soldiers in Iraq ranting about their hatred for and desire to nuke or otherwise eliminate the “ragheads,” (along with other, even less civil terms). I’ve seen members of our armed services involved in torture, gang rape, and the slaughter of civilians.

I would in no way tar everyone serving in the military with the same brush. I’m willing to believe that the majority of those serving in the armed services are indeed trying to serve with honor and dignity. But those engaged in degenerate behavior do not appear to be an insignificant minority. I wonder if they point to a problem with the very culture of the armed services. Military service can both attract those who aspire to a higher service and hone the virtues of sacrifice, dedication, honor, and discipline. Military service can also call to those whose motives are more less noble, and can breed aggression, callousness, brutality. Much like athletics, there appears to be a masculine culture in the military which can lead to incredible ugliness.

Perhaps this sort of desensitization to humanity is the inevitable price of the training necessary to train people to readily take human life. There can be no doubt that the brutality of war can exact a devastating toll on the soul of those who serve in it. I’m not going to try to judge whether these are examples of “bad” people or of good people driven to horrendous crimes by the conditions they are thrust in. In the end, it does not matter. We cannot with integrity claim that an institution which harbors seeds of such iniquity deserves unreserved “respect and “awe.” I am compelled refute any attempt to romanticize those in military service—particularly in pursuit of a particular political agenda.

For that is the peril of idealizing “the troops.” The glorification of the military is a step in the militarization of that society. A nation succumbing to militarism begins to see military solutions as the primary means of dispute resolution between nations, it becomes tempted to use its military might to intrude on the affairs off other nations to promote their own values (or their self-interest), and the leaders of the nation become tempted to use the military power to their own advantage. They will encourage that militarization in pursuit of that advantage. Liberty and democracy becomes increasingly difficult to maintain under those conditions. This is how the Roman Republic fell; the senate and the people of Rome became increasingly enamored with their military power, encouraging ambitious Roman leaders to use the Roman army to expand Roman power-and not coincidentally, their own base of power, until the competing interests of the leaders and their factions led to a series of civil wars and ultimately the replacement of a republic with an autocratic emperor.

(interesting to note that the Roman army evolved during this militarization from a citizen army to a professional army—another fact which does not bode well for our nation and the professional military Friedman favored)

Militarism is not the sign of a principled nation. WP is fond of noting that President Kimball warned that we (the U.S.) are a warlike people. The Prophet saw from his vantage the birth and rise of the Cold War, and saw how eager we were to turn to steel and lead to solve our problems. Andrew Bacevich, Vietnam veteran, points out in his book, The New American Militarism, a renewed rise which he—no dove himself—asserts does not bode well for our future. We cannot allow the U.S. to follow the path of Rome. If we value our nation and our freedom, we must avoid the siren song of militarism. If we exalt “the troops,” we risk the subjugation of more humanitarian and holy values to more harsh, worldly ones. We risk providing the opportunity for ambitious and conniving leaders to pursue their own interests, and those of their factions, at the expense of our republic.

Despite all that, it cannot be denied that there are times when one must indeed take up arms in defense of our homes, families, and liberty. There have been times when they have been morally called to establish our liberty, to protect the union, and defend people in the world from tyranny and genocide—precious few times among the number of times we’ve called up the military, but essential nonetheless.

Given all this, how then do we “support the troops?” If not with paeans of acclamation, how then do we honor the men and women who are put in a position to sacrifice so much in the name of our country?

First and foremost, we honor them by being politically vigilant and doing our utmost to prevent their being called into service except when absolutely necessary to protect the lives and freedoms of the citizens of the U.S. We do everything we can to keep them from being asked to sacrifice so much and to risk delving into the dark side of their souls. We should ensure that those leaders who have abused their power and sacrificed troops for lesser causes are held accountable for their crimes.

Second, we honor them by ensuring that our nation provides just compensation for the costs the troops pay for our nation’s military actions. No veteran, when they return home, should be left alone to pay the toll exacted from them by their service. Even now, far too many of our troops are not getting the long term care they need for their physical and particularly their emotional wounds. Every time one of our troops is left on their own to nurse a broken body, broken family, broken career, broken education, or broken psyche, it is an insult to the honor of our nation. We must, as individuals and as “the people” from which the government is derived, share the burden placed on them by war for more than we are doing now.

I believe such support would prove much more meaningful than facile cliches of appreciation and support, or flags and parades on a handful of national holidays.

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16 Responses to “Veterans Day and the Troops”

  1. Jon Stone Says:

    Hey,

    As a left leaning latter-day saint, I enjoy your blog. However, I wish that you would change your settings so that when you do post it will all show up in my rss reader. It would make for more convenient access.

    Just a suggestion,

    Jon

  2. Aaron Orgill Says:

    You bring up some interesting and uncomfortable points. It is never insignificant when our armed services participate in rape, torture, massacre, or even the sad lack of self-control (which exists in most men, not just the military) that leads to prostitution and infidelity. And the worship of the military by some does approach obnoxious and inappropriate proportions. I myself feel that discipline in the military is far greater than that of the general populace, and I do feel goosebumps when I see men in uniform returning, and usually I wish there were something I could do for them, buy them a nice dinner or just some small token of appreciation. But you are right that they are only men, and not all of them conduct themselves in a way we should be proud of.

    There are a couple other points I’d like to challenge you on. First, “the service of their children already is in vain,” and that this is an “illegal” war. That claim is really starting to make me sick. You may believe that the war was rushed into way too fast (as I do) and even that it is utterly wrong, but Bush went through the same channels as you always do when you start a war, and Congress gave their stamp of approval, so the war is very legal. Now, some of the techniques themselves may be illegal (i.e. torture), and we’ve already talked about that. Furthermore, why is the service of their children in vain? That seems so presumptuous of you. All wars have started because of a failure on one end or the other, but that does not mean that all is lost and nothing good can come of it. There has actually been some good accomplished recently, and if our Muslim brothers get a taste of freedom that comes about from this conflict, I wouldn’t be so rash to say it’s all been in vain. If nothing else, from a theological perspective, we know that all nations will one day have the gospel, and current events may open many doors to that.

    Secondly, I’d like you to clarify what you mean by “risk delving into the dark side of their souls”? Certainly that is a risk in any war, as you’ve aptly demonstrated, but certainly not every soldier has a blot on their souls from combat (and I don’t think that was what you were suggesting). The late Paul Tibbets, who dropped the bomb that devastated Hiroshima, said repeatedly that he slept peacefully every night and would have no hesitation doing it again given the same circumstances. Incidentally, I find it sad that the likelihood of demonstrations and desecration of his grave made him choose to be cremated and have no headstone. Sometimes the so-called “lovers of peace” are the most combative and show the least reverence for what should be a peaceful place.

  3. Farnsworth Says:

    Thanks for the mention of One Pissed Off Veteran, and keep up the good work. It’s good to see that even someone associated with what is known as a very conservative religious organization can see the light from The Left.
    And Orgill: Just because Congress seemed to “authorize” the war on Iraq (a questionable assumption in itself), that still doesn’t make it legal. There are certain international treaties and other concerns (such as those “quaint” Geneva Convention provisions) that trump any unilateral action on the part of the United States.
    Remember, even Der Monkey Fuehrer (i.e. GW Bush) has admitted that Iraq had NOTHING to do with attack on 9-11. And pretty much everyone except for Darth Cheney now admits that Iraq DID NOT have those highly-touted weapons of mass destruction.
    And where is that “taste of freedom” for our “Muslim brothers”? I certainly don’t see it, and I don’t think any of them are seeing it either.

  4. Aaron Orgill Says:

    You see what you want to see, Farnsworth. Iraqis turned out to vote in droves that puts our contemporary countrymen to shame. And Congress absolutely did authorize the war. How is that a questionable assumption? Because they felt pressure to? What do we have them in there for if they just accept everything? Someone like Obama or Gore I can actually respect for being against it from the beginning. And in Obama’s case, actually not reminding us of that fact every five seconds. The Hillarys and Harry Reids can all just go to hell.

  5. jennifer Says:

    It’s a valid concern, Derek: how to show honor appreciation for the noble and honorable without validating the ugly and criminal. I often cringe at the “soldier glorification” but feel a duty to respect those who serve so well. Each year for Veterans’Day our community orchestra does a concert of patriotic music and short addresses to recognize veterans of all ages, so I’m privileged to participate in that.
    We have a couple of guys from my ward who are serving – typically prayers at our ward include a petition to “bless those who serve our nation” or something along those lines. I’m fine with that. But sometimes things can go too far.
    The idea about bringing freedom to Iraq, Aaron, is not black and white. The whole premise of this exercise was that given a choice, Iraqis would want a representative government and capitalist economy like ours. Because we are the best and everyone wants to be like us. It seems that many times people who have a chance to vote prefer their own traditions over ours (can’t blame them). The American style democracy/republic is a very foreign idea and it presupposes a population with basic education, basic rights, basic press, etc. etc. It also presupposes laws that facilitate our economic engine. To set those up in a country whose traditions, religions, government, culture, history are so vastly different – – is to tell them that all their previous experiences are null and worthless. Things that work well here in the USA are not patently applicable everywhere else – the starker the contrast, the tougher that application. But to assume that people in other countries wants to be like us is arrogant at best.

  6. cb Says:

    Derek et al,

    Prepare for a long comment 😉

    Again a well thought out post. It raises a very real problem — how do we honor people who engage, for our benefit, in the type of conduct we generally find deplorable. Your suggestions are good–I agree that it is a dishonor to the troops and everyone in this country when veterans (and their families) are not taken care of either while they are “over there” or when they return home. Additionally, I think all of us can agree that we should deploy the troops only when necessary. What your post does not offer, however, is any suggestion as to how to support the military while they are fighting. If we are wholeheartedly behind America’s involvement in a particular conflict, then this question seems easier. The initial answer becomes do whatever is necessary to help them win (although, in reality, there may be times where enabling the fighting to continue might not be the best thing). The question really becomes difficult when you deplore what they are sent to do (and perhaps how they are doing it) even as you admire and respect their willingness to sacrifice on your behalf (however misguided that sacrifice may be). I’m not sure there’s a general answer on this one. I think it must be left to individuals. But I wouldn’t discount the parades, flags, and salutes . . . I bet those are important to the vets. And I don’t think that they necessarily glorify war.

    Jennifer – be careful! Freedom is as close to a ubiquitous (sp?) cultural value as you will find. “Democracy” is a closer question . . . but opposing its extension is a hard argument to make (which is probably why Bush has seized on it as his justification once the WMD assertion failed to pan out). Capitalism, that’s much different, but I don’t think America’s there to impose capitalism on Iraq (although I know there are those much more skeptical than I who will strenuously disagree). While there is little to be said for cultural imperialism, there is much to be said for the extension of freedom, and the Iraqis have received some of that, and the prospects for more seem somewhat better as of late. If you take the unique culture and experiences argument too far in the Iraq case it degenerates into the Islam is not compatible with democracy argument. Interestingly, I wonder whether you would accept the premise that some cultures might be incompatible with global environmental regulation or racial or gender equality and on that basis should be left alone–lest we become cultural imperialists? Would such pressure be tantamount to asserting that all their previous experiences and values are null and worthless? Although you might argue that we should pressure but not invade (and this is a very legitimate argument), not all attempts to export ideals amount to unjustifiable cultural imperialism, IMHO.

    As far as the war authorization, Congress gave Bush the authority to go in. They continue to ratify that vote every time they fail to demand that he pull out. Both Democrats and Republicans realize this–especially the Democrats who attack each other on that point quite often. As far as the war being illegal under international law . . . international law is largely irrelevant. It is a tool selectively used by individuals and countries to support their own cause. The only time an IL-type of argument sways me is when you can point to some kind of international standard that the US has codified by adoption in its domestic law. That binds me. If it’s not in the US Code, Federal Register, or US Reports (and their state equivalents), I’m not legally bound. Now, morally, that’s another question entirely . . .

    Aaron, largely agree with you here. Good point about the fact that even though all war results from a failure of the human social/political process, it does not mean that all sacrifices in war are in vain.

  7. Farnsworth Says:

    Several of you are on really shaky constitutional grounds. Article Six establishes that the United States Constitution and the laws and treaties of the United States made in accordance with it as the supreme law of the land.
    You can weasel all you want about whether Congress authorized the Quagmire in the Deserttm, but the fact remains that the illegal occupation of Iraq — and the establishment of torture facilities in Gitmo and other places — is in violation of International treaties and International law.
    Like my mother used to say, “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you follow them?”
    So it doesn’t mean a rat’s ass whether Congress voted to go to war in Iraq.
    It’s still illegal.

  8. jennifer Says:

    Hey CB – I agree with you. We do have to be careful – freedom does carry lots of cultural overtones, and it can be so tricky to draw those lines in the midst of culture/religion/economic differences.
    You asked if I would “accept the premise that some cultures might be incompatible with global environmental regulation or racial or gender equality and on that basis should be left alone–lest we become cultural imperialists?”
    Again, I think we have to be careful !!! I would not use the word “incompatible” but I would use the word “difficult”. I agree that gender issues, environmental issues, and others might require intervention of the global community! I believe that with patience, respect, kindness, cooperation, and those other flowery ideals, we can accomplish much more. It takes a lot of time to accomplish those ideals, but time is better spent than lives, IMO. It seems to me that the current mess is largely a result of haste and assumptions that Iraq would fall “into line” with the grand scheme (which was hazy at best).

  9. Derek Staffanson Says:

    I’m glad you enjoy the blog, Jon. I had never thought to change the rss settings. It should now feed entire posts.

    Always glad to show the all-too-repressed liberal side of the LDS faith, Farnsworth. I’m glad you like it. And thanks for starting to address the “illegal” question. I’ll respond myself shortly. I hope you’ll take a look and let me know what you think when I do.

    Aaron, the sacrifices of the soldiers and their families are in vain because he premises upon which the soldiers were sent to war were false, and thus vain. We are talking about more than merely a war started by “a failure on one end or another.” The war was unjust–and yes, illegal. We, the “good guys” pursued an unrighteous path (take a look at what happened in the BoM every single time the Nephites undertook aggressive action against their enemies (ie, “preemptive war”). Look at how the BofM judged them every time they did so. Injustice invites Karma. In foreign relations, karma for unjust foreign policy is called “blowback,” a principle well documented in history (and about which I’ll elaborate at some other point). One example? as I said in the post: the invasion has helped mobilize terrorists. Instead of reducing terrorism, the occupation is actually helping engender it. In other words, the occupation and the service of the troops upon which that occupation is built is vain.

    You are right, Aaron. Not every soldier has a blot on their soul. Nor, if you will read my words, did I imply they did. I deliberately chose to say “risk delving…” Consider why I may have chosen to use that word, rather than skipping over it. I did so because the word “risk” implys that there is the chance, the possibility that they be dragged into the dark side of their souls. “Risk” does not mean, as you erroneously assumed, that they inevitably will do so. Because of the incredible pressure, chaos, brutality, and insanity involved in war, everyone involved runs that risk—even “good” people. Or rather, we all run that risk, but those involved in the brutal nature of war run a far greater risk. Unjust violence, rape, spouse/family abuse, alcoholism, ptsd, depression, suicide—all are evidence that the dark side of war has tainted people who may very well by nature be very good people. So we should avoid war whenever possible so that they don’t face that greater risk of being stained by the dark side of human nature.

    Jennifer, you’re right; sometimes it goes too far. In fact, I’m not sure I believe it very Christian to ask for blessings only upon those who serve our nation. Don’t the Iraqi people deserve our blessings? Didn’t the Savior ask us to pray for our enemies? Rather than “God bless America,” I proudly agree with the bumpersticker “God bless the whole world—no exceptions.”

    Excellent points about cultural imperialism, Jennifer. It is rather arrogant and condescending to suppose that it requires the action of the U.S. to bestow a taste of freedom upon our Muslim brothers. Believe in the White Man’s Burden? No, there are plenty of examples out there of liberty among the Muslims which has nothing to do with oh so benevolent U.S. Intervention. I believe that if you were to study it, you would see that the U.S. has had much more to do with stifling freedom and supporting tyranny in the Middle-East than in fostering it. Perhaps if we stopped forcing our influence into other peoples’ business, freedom would blossom without the need for U.S. Munitions. Jennifer is right: certain principles are difficult to translate across cultures. It is best done through righteous methods of persuasion, not at the point of a bayonette.

    CB, I do not believe in helping the troops win, because as I’ve said before, I believe when we worry about winning, we are looking at it from the wrong (prideful) perspective. But you raise some interesting points about the complexity of “support.”

  10. cb Says:

    Farnsworth–of course you’re right about Article VI. My point was that no “international treaties” or “international laws” bind the US unless they have been adopted as part of the US domestic law. Until you point me to a ratified treaty or some other provision of what has become the US domestic law that establishes that the war was “illegal,” I’ll take Congressional authorization at face value. It seems to me that most of these “illegal war” arguments are based on emotion rather than law. The word “illegal” means “not in accordance with law” and has nothing to do with whether something was wrong or ill-advised. And the constitutionality of detention practices in Gitmo has nothing to do with whether Congress authorized Bush to go into Iraq.

    Jennifer, I agree with you and understand that just because one doesn’t believe it is legitimate to forcibly export democracy or freedom doesn’t mean that they believe it’s not legitimate to try and export those ideals through “flowery” methods like “meekness, gentleness, and love unfeigned” :). I also agree that anyone–whether a country or an individual–gets much farther when they don’t look like the bully on the block, and President Bush has been about the worst public relations manager the US has ever had. Time spent is better than lives lost. However, there are some times where time spent = lives lost, and, in those cases the kind of forcible intervention we generally don’t like is probably necessary. The real question is whether a single country’s lack of freedom, democracy, capitalism (or any other “ideal” the US espouses) poses such a threat to life–ours or another’s–that is justifies forcible intervention that will cost life in its efforts to preserve it. I’m just not sure.

  11. Aaron Orgill Says:

    There’s been a lot of commentary recently. Farnsworth, YOU are on shaky ground, not I. CB has already slapped down most of your ridiculous “illegal” mumbo jumbo, and he is 100 percent right, immoral or rash does not make it illegal, so stop with the argument that it is. Your idiotic and unnecessary “der monkey Fuhrer” swipe shows how invalid anything you say is. You could say, accurately, that Bush is arrogant, reckless, rash, and shameless in overstepping his bounds, but the minute you compare him to Hitler all credibility goes out the window. And your worship of international bodies is pathetic. If the U.N. would grow some cajones, they wouldn’t be the pathetic joke that they are, and perhaps we could have a decent worldwide governing body. You don’t accomplish anything by sending a letter to a dictator.

    Derek, I specifically said I didn’t believe you were suggesting that every soldier has a blot on their souls. I was just trying to clarify that you were talking about the side effects and not combat itself. But you are ridiculous in saying that worrying about winning is the wrong perspective. At this point the military is trying to secure the best possible outcome for Iraq, and that is exactly what we should do. I agree that some of Bush’s speech sounds like a pep rally, but I think behind all that there is very good reason to care about winning.

    Jennifer, I’ve come to have a soft spot for you, but if there is one universal value, it’s freedom. No one is pushing the Middle East into being exactly like us. We have an interest in shaping things, but they’ll continue to have their own culture, and religion, and values. But suggesting that “maybe they don’t want freedom,” (which I understand are not your words, but they are words I’ve heard before) is ridiculous. Kind of like 18th century slavetraders who said, “we have no evidence that the Africans themselves object to the practice”. How anyone can really believe Iraq was better off under Saddam is mind-boggling to me. Their country was far more stable, but at a terrible cost. I agree with the mantra that “those who value security over liberty deserve neither”. I realize that will sound ironic given what the Bush Administration has done here at home, but I’m just pointing out that that’s a double-edged sword. As I mentioned before, Iraqis turned out in droves to vote, at a significant personal risk. But apparently that’s one of Derek’s many ways the war has been completely “in vain”.

  12. Farnsworth Says:

    Orgill: “…at a terrible cost”?
    And I suppose you think that the 600,000+ dead Iraqis since 2003 is immaterial? That the inability of the average Bagdad resident to have even the hope of clean drinking water is minor? That the infant mortality rate has skyrocketed since the fall of Saddam is an inconvenience?
    No one is saying that Saddam was a good guy, but it’s disingenuous to think that the average Iraqi is sooo much better off now.
    Out of the Vietnam War came the quotation that encapsulated the entire war effort: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it”.
    And that’s the mindset that prevails today with our misadventure into Iraq. Arguing whether or not it was illegal to go there is a sideshow. We’re there and we have to get out. We can argue how many angels can dance on the head of pin later, after our troops are home safe.
    And you are correct in your assumption that I hate the current resident of The White House, but if it is in my internet interest to compare him to Hitler, it doesn’t detract from my central argument about him. Ever heard of exaggeration for effect? Maybe if more people starting comparing him to the bloody dictators of the past, they might see beyond that completely bogus homespun a-guy-you-wanna-have-a-beer-with demeanor of his to the iniquitous Mayberry Machiavelli that lurks beneath.

  13. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Farnsworth, it’s pointless to even have this discussion. You are going to believe anything to feed your hatred. If you heard a rumor that Bush ate the livers of dead insurgents, you’d believe it without hesitation and probably add that to your postings tomorrow. Wow, the average Baghdad resident has been deprived of even the HOPE of clean drinking water. And now all of a sudden the infant mortality rate has “skyrocketed”. Don’t report the entire story, that those statistics start in 1990, with the largest increase between 1990 and 1999. None of that could be because Saddam was an evil bastard, it’s all Bush’s doing, even if it’s before he was in power.

    Yes, I understand exaggeration for effect. Good job. Except it’s the asshole that was removed from power that was guilty of genocide and deserves comparison to Hitler. There is no grounds for what you said. And now it’s a sideshow to argue about legality, since I called you on that bull.

    Look, dude. I don’t mind that you have a problem with Bush. If you go back on this blog, you’ll see that I’ve consistently conceded that he is brash and stubborn and terrible at any kind of diplomacy, and caused a lot of damage. I’m going to feel relief just to have someone in there who tries to talk things out and not polarize the country. The only candidate I see who can do that is Obama, so that’s who I’m supporting (yes, even above Brother Romney). But it is a lie that this is solely Bush’s war. We all got in this together, and there were channels to stop it, and now you and so many others are just so blind in your hatred. And it’s robbing you of your brains. You refuse to believe that there could possibly be any good news, that the country is irreparably damaged, and I just don’t buy it.

  14. Farnsworth Says:

    …and if there were an NSA-validated home video of Bu$h stomping kittens to death, there are people who would find a way to justify it: “They were terrorist kittens.” Not saying that’s you, buddy, but you know what I mean.
    This has been fun, but I think we’ve pretty much reached an impasse, and we’re pretty much never going to agree on anything. Except maybe Obama if he gets the nomination (right now I am supporting — big surprise — Dennis Kucinich.
    Good luck to you.

  15. jennifer Says:

    During the last set of primaries, I voted for Kucinich too. Electable in the general election? Maybe not. But many ideas he brought up then are being widely discussed now (not just in the progressive “fringe”) and I am glad to see someone “calling it like it is” regarding the war and the administration – – who has done so consistently.

    BTW I really like Obama too. Really, I’d take about any of the democratic candidates over any of the Republican ones – Romney being somewhat less offensive.

    Derek – about the prayer for safety/blessings for the troops – I agree with your recoiling at some of the stuff people say…. However, I HAVE heard a number of times a request to bless those in uniform, regardless of their country or nation or race that they could be safe etc…. a bit strange but a big improvement. I think in my ward there is a certain anxiety because we do have families w/ someone in the military – so it’s more a personal “Bless Brother So&So” request than a blanket “bless the USA” (I would hope) – – although they might not explicitly state it that way.

  16. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Farnsworth, thanks for having some fun with it and having a thick skin. I agree, people will follow along blindly and justify anything Bush does. I just hope you’ll look inside for times when you might be guilty of the same thing. Hate never brings you to a good place.

    Final thought about the “bless us all” vs. “bless the U.S.A.” – I agree that it’s better to look at the big picture and pray for our enemies, but I don’t think most people at the heart of things are really doing anything offensive. It is the same idea as “bless my family”. There’s nothing wrong with asking God to specifically bless those close to you.

    I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving and look forward to the next post.

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