I had an interesting conversation the other day with a friend of mine about joining the armed services. My brother just joined up about a week ago and is getting ready to be sent off to basic training. My friend’s opinion, being a soldier himself, was that being a soldier was an honor, serving his country was an honor and knowing that you are fighting on the side of truth, justice, and all of that "comic book right and wrong good and evil" stuff is life affirming.
My attitude was that serving in the armed forces was none of that by default.
What being a soldier is, in my opinion, is a necessary job.
Saying that it is an honor to follow someone else’s orders to accomplish objectives while being kept in the dark as to what the big picture is asking a lot.
We need soldiers and it's probably one of those jobs that no one would do if you didn’t hype it up as being the fastest way for the bottom 10 percentile of every high school in America to make something of themselves.
It’s just like how those "Cleaners" in Africa are told that they are doing this incredibly important job by sleeping with widows because if they didn’t cleanse these widows of evil spirits the community would run the risk of not having a good harvest in the spring.
I remember thinking if that were true, that if no one slept with the widows no one would eat come spring “why would you bestow such an important job on a tard?”
Likewise, if being a soldier is so life affirming and makes you such a whole human being, then why are army recruiters in every high school in America requesting the names of the kids with the poorest grade point averages or are in some way practically insured of having very little future outside of military service.
If you are holding an acceptance letter from Harvard, military recruiters want nothing to do with you. Now on the other hand, if you scored a 10 in reading on you ACT and the only thing you are looking at after graduation is working double shifts at Wal-Mart stocking shelves he wants to be your best friend.
And it doesn’t stop there.
Who is the leader of the Armed forces? It isn’t some decorated military person who has been there done that and has respect for sacrifices his troops are being asked to make.
No, the highest ranking officer in the military’s is a shmuck civilian that is elected by the people because they thought he looked presidential (whatever that means) and they liked his plan to cut taxes.
Now that the people have made him in charge of the military because they liked his stance on gun control he gets to decided who is evil and who isn’t in the world and it’s your job to make whatever he wants happen.
Fighting to secure the financial interests of major corporations isn’t fighting for truth, honor and the Justice League of America is it?
What you do when you are a soldier is that you follow orders. What you do is learn to either have faith that those above you giving you the orders are telling you to charge up that hill for all the right reasons or you learn to not care.
You learn to live with the fact that you have done some very bad things but you absolve yourself of culpability because you were just following orders.
Crack heads try to use that same argument, “hey I am battling addiction had I not been a drug addict I would never had done this or that, under normal circumstances.”
We all ways come back with, “well who made you an addict? You did that. Therefore you are still responsible for every decision you do under the influence of that addiction.”
Likewise, who put a gun to your head and made you join the armed forces?
Who ordered you to make those Iraqi civilians form a naked pyramid or drag some guy by the neck with a dog collar?
That is why I would never join the armed services. That life is not for me. If you want me you better draft me.
And it isn’t because of some personal distain I have for violence. I am very much capable of violence.
More so than my distain for violence is my distain for giving my life for something unjust, immoral, and inconsequential to the security and safety of our nation and way of life because someone has a hard on for a dictator that has fallen out of our favor.
If I was asked to fight and it was for the right reasons, then yeah, I would be all about it.
I would have gone fight to liberate African countries from European colonialism. America didn’t want any part of that.
I would go fight in Africa where ethnic cleansing is a regular issue and kick the shit out of everyone responsible until those giving the orders to wipe out entire ethnic groups are brought to justice.
I would have gone off to fight Nazi for systematically killing off Jews.
I will go fight Israel for forcibly deporting a million Palestinians, tearing down their homes, businesses and offering no compensation for their loss, just so that they could have an all Jewish state. I would fight to make it one nation and if Jews are outnumbered by Muslim Arabs then so be it. That’s just tough.
However Bush and Kerry have already made it clear that isn’t an option.
See, none of those conflicts are on the “to do list” board for one reason or another.
So if they come up with some system where I can pick and choose which conflicts I wish to participate in then sure sign me up. However, if the rules are I go when and where you tell me to go and do what you tell me to do, well, I don’t have that kind of faith.
For all I know you could have me taking over another country all in the name of liberty and helping out the children, but instead destabilizing it, furthering to help the spread of terrorism throughout the region, so you can siphon off their oil reserves so the vice-president can get rich before he goes back to his cushy job at Halliburton and then leaving everything worse than the way you found it, if that is even possible.
Thanks but no thanks.
See I don’t assume that the President of the United States is sending me off to war because he wants me to give my life for freedom.
I understand why someone already in the military would want to believe that is what they are doing when they get the orders to fire rounds into a building.
Never would your own mortality be more evident than at that point, therefore believing that you are dying for something larger than you would be a nice way of looking at things, and in fact, under those circumstances I would encourage it.
However, before you find yourself in that situation, sitting behind a machine gun on top of a vehicle in the desert somewhere, there is no excuse for being so naive.
Whether or not something is the correct thing to do doesn’t change based on public opinion. Whether it is Vietnam , Iraq , Korea or WWII the moral correctness of fighting in those wars is not predicated on opinion polls.
It isn’t right when public support is at 80% and it isn’t wrong when it dips below 50%.
Tom Clancy told CNN news of a prewar encounter he had with Pentagon adviser Richard Perle who was one of the main cheerleaders for this invasion of Iraq . He said he almost “came to blows” with Richard Perle who as calling Colin Powell a wuss because “he was overly concerned with the lives of the troops.”
Clancy replied. 'And I said, 'Look ..., he's supposed to think that way!' And Perle didn't agree with me on that. People like that worry me.'"
I would never give my life for George Bush or his administration.
Tom Clancy is a republican cheerleader. He repeatedly declined to comment on the war in Iraq because he said that he thinks President Bush is a “good guy, well grounded both morally and philosophically”. Evidently when you are a good guy and you have a conservative lean that means you bite your lip out of respect.
This war wasn’t about starving children or human rights abuses.
You don’t get to wear the superman cape because you decide to play hero when there are atrocities in countries that have natural resources that you can confiscate as payment for your services.
I am not catching a bullet for Halliburton. Is Halliburton doing the greatest example of charity work you have ever seen in your life? Are all of these independent contractors are over in Iraq rebuilding their infrastructure out of guilt for having blown everything all to pieces during the war so that the Iraqi people can start anew with a fresh new democratic way of living.
I doubt it.
And when you have advisors to the pentagon like Richard Perle that are calling people wusses for caring too much about the safety of our soldiers I would be more likely to put a bullet in his ass than any mujahadeen just on general principle.