Postmodern classic?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Democratic warriors- angels or devils? Or maybe 'kids'...

There is an ambivalence in this country, the U.S., on how to treat the military. Much ink has been spilt in documenting the ins and outs of 'civil-military relations'. It's been important to me, not only as a former military professional, but also as a political science aficionado. Resolving the differing perspectives of warmakers to their political leaders has always been a critical factor in the process of history.

But as in most things, it has been documented and expounded upon many times before- millennia ago during the Greek and Roman era. Which is why our Founders designed the U.S. military in the current fashion with civilian control. But all institutions are as fragile as the societies they represent- so I believe there is some merit to these criticisms.

Part of what I believe is that, due to Marxist-inspired radical politics, a not large but significant portion of our country has turned away from our martial traditions. This is evident when you read the pages of our esteemed editorial pages of the national papers. And they think they are helping.

Take this column by Phil Hendrie (a radio satirist- but not rightwing, does that make him credible? Don't get thrown off by the George Bush stuff.), on how certain people demean the 'Other'. However in this case, the 'Other' in the Edward Said sense of the word is not Orientals or Arabs, but the 'Other' as our Men and Women in the Armed Forces. (via Tim Blair)

"To call the great professional men and women who serve in our armed forces "kids" is a semantical tactic employed by my Poseur Leftist friends. They know that by tossing this little hand grenade into the mix any hope one has for a debate on fact, as opposed to hysterical rumor, flies right out the window. Who can not, at a moment like that, blow their head, and ponder ever so deeply, the meaning of children dying in a war.

Ladies and Gentlemen, calling these great people, part of the best trained and best equipped military in the history of the world, "kids" is an obscene insult.

And it's intended as one.

It implies that these volunteer men and women are unable to decide for themselves their choice of career or understand the mission they're on. It also sets up the "baby-killer" and "torturer" posit, should my phony-left, anti-war friends choose to use it. Finally, it allows my Posing Left pals to pretend solicitude and sympathy for the poor, unfortunate, thoroughly manipulated-by-George Bush soldier "kids". Then they combine the word "kid" with a tireless search of the Internet for pictures of dead Iraqi babies, put the two together and, for the brain dead, successfully infer that our men and women in uniform are war criminals. And they do it all without having to think, reason or research. That is what is called propaganda, a sort of slap-dash Fahrenheit 9-11."

And that's the crux of the matter- these 'progressives', do they think they are working for the benefit of another victim group by working to stop them from doing what they want? We care for the troops- send them home? Poor victims of the Bush junta....

I have a hard time rationally discussing this with non-military folks. They don't seem to get the fact that soldiers and military people don't want special consideration, we're not a minority victim group powerless to do anything. In fact, we want people to stop 'talking for us'. We swore to uphold the constitution, and let our Chain of Command represent us. And in a volunteer military we can show whether or not we support the ongoing conflict by reenlisting or leaving; but we are professional enough to do our duty and fulfill our commitments until we reach that point.

The opposite is equally unsavory- exaltation and ungained respect. There are many examples of unethical and unprofessional people and their consequences in the military, just like the rest of the world. To be put on a pedestal as superhuman displays another fundamental lack of comprehension (one being the simple fact of the different military occupations, but I won't get into that). A democratic military is a part of society, not outside of it. While nitpicking undermines warfighting, the opposite would be equally frightening. The converse of the 'chickenhawk' argument is that just military people would dictate defense policy, which while most likely profitable in a short term would be fatal to democratic society.

A person interested in the health of our democratic society would profit by not bringing the military into politics as a tactic. It worked too well in the 60's and 70's, but we're slowly recovering from that. Things will never be perfect, this is true, but let's try to have some perspective.


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