About 2 days a week, I work from Cup a Joe Hillsborough in Raleigh, rather than driving all the way home after dropping my son off at school. This morning, I sat down at my table to see a copy of the Triangle Free Press, which the previous occupant left behind. The headline: “Top Commanders Oppose Iran Attack.”
So far, nothing too surprising. But then I read the first paragraph of the article, written by Chris Hedges. Here it is:
When military command is the voice of reason in a debate about a new war, you know our democracy is in trouble.
Chris, Chris, Chris. Come on. Where have you been the last decade? Here’s the point you miss — the last person who wants to go to war is the people who have to live through it. It’s the stay at home couch commandoes who yell for war. The soldiers go where they’re told, and no doubt if they have to go to war, they do it without question and with absolute loyalty. But our recent history demonstrates all too well the fact that those who have to do the shooting (and dying) want to see reasonable steps taken before they are sent into combat.
Here’s a quick review. It was the Chief of Staff of the Army who gave the only realistic assessment of how many troops would be needed to have a successful occupation in Iraq. It was the Marine commanders who argued against stupid and unnecessary punitive expeditions to level Fallujah instead of a genuine counterinsurgency — and the civilians who overruled them. It was the soldiers, who argued strongest against the use of torture, and it was a soldier who reported abu Ghraib and risked his life and future to make sure the right thing was done. It was the military lawyers who fought the Department of Justice (!) against the use of extreme interrogation techniques, and the counterintelligence experts who argued publicly that torture wasn’t going to get us anywhere. In Congress, it was the military veterans, including John McCain, who argued most aggressively against failed techniques that violated the Geneva Conventions. It was veterans groups like Veterans for Common Sense that made the most cogent and reasonable arguments against going to war in the first place in Iraq.
Chris, this is coming from an avowed left-of-center American. It’s comments like that, which make the left look like a bunch of latte-drinking Volvo driving America haters. When you base your argument off an assumption that all too many in the left make, that the military is made up of a bunch of gun toting thugs who love to go to war and KILL KILL KILL, you miss the whole fucking point. You hand ammunition to the culture warriors, and take us all a step back into the time warp of the 1960’s that all too many of the culture warriors on both sides want us to stay in.
Finally, you alienate the very people who have the most to lose in any conflict — the people who have to fight in it.