Archive for July 6th, 2008

06
Jul
08

March ’em off to war

Today’s message is probably more suited for a Veteran’s Day weekend or Memorial Day weekend kind of post. But Miz Pink’s post yesterday somehow sparked something in my head, and I feel I simply have to talk about it. And what do I need to rant about?

Our proclivity in this country for marching our men and women in uniform off to their doom. If that sounds ominous, it’s only because even when you grant that most of them come home alive and even unwounded (physically) from our overseas conflicts, they bear a great emotional and psychological load, and that has been evident from our two-front war in Afghanistan and Iraq that has dragged out year after year after year.

Now, let me point something out right now: I am neither anti-military nor anti-war. I’m not some naive peacenik who thinks we can beat all the guns into plows and deal with lives full of puppies and flowers for the remaining days of this Earth. God Himself sent the ancient Hebrews off to war many times and for various reasons. The Bible tells us in various ways and various places that sometimes, peace is not an option, though certainly it is the path we are supposed to start with. There is, after all, a time for war and a time for peace.

Personally, I’m not in favor of anyone I love ever joining the armed forces. This isn’t some liberal wingnut stance but a practical one. I recognize the need to have a “standing army” (although really, that’s the navy, marines and air force, too) and I know that the people who choose to serve in the military are doing a great service to me, to mine and to the rest of the country. God bless them. But our government has a tendency to send them into places they have no business being, usually because of misplaced political bullshit or economic interests (often blind avarice), and not because of truth, peace, justice or any other noble reason.

I do have liberal tendencies on many political and social matters, I admit. But my belief that the death penalty has a valid place in the justice system, and a general strong queasiness about abortion (not enough to overturn Roe v. Wade, mind you), among other things—well those two alone will make me an unwelcome guest at most gatherings of true liberals. So, this isn’t about me being against war in all cases nor about me thinking the military creates a huge cadre of potential baby killers. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

But I was looking at a calendar on the wall of Mrs. Blue’s office today, and there are pictures of four Iraq War veterans and quotes from them. One of those quotes was something to the effect of “Refuse to fight this unjust and illegal war.”

Now, whether that comment was meant to be directed toward the U.S. citizens in general or the members of the armed forces specifically—or both perhaps—I just don’t know. I don’t know anything about the context of that quote. But it got me to thinking about something.

It’s not up the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines to refuse to fight. To expect people who are trained to obey and trained to respect hierarchy for the sake of military discipline and peak effectiveness to do something like that is ludicrous. We cannot ask our soldiers to stand up en masse and say, “this is wrong” because that isn’t their place or their duty. Or their strength, frankly.

It’s up to us.

We, as a nation—and I speak in particular to my God-fearing and Jesus-loving brethren though also to everyone out there—we need to stand up and stop letting our government perpetuate bullshit. We have to stop signing off on military actions that do nothing but stir up animosity, weaken our economy (while enriching certain huge corporations and government contractors), and generally serve no pertinent interests of the American people. We have to stop believing our government when they say they are protecting us from terrorists/communists/religious extremists/etc. when it is clear that our government in on its own agenda and doesn’t give a shit about what’s good for us, the average American.

This is Independence Day weekend, for God’s sake, so let’s remember that people fought and died for our freedom. Yes, the country was fucked up and had slaves and shit when we declared independence and that’s nothing to be proud of but still there was a good fight in there—it just wasn’t fought on behalf of the slaves. In World War II at least, we were attacked and there was a madman leading a swath of destruction across Europe and murdering millions of innocent Jews for good measure. Even in the Cold War, where I had serious reservations about our motives at times, there was another superpower other than us (well, I’m not sure we’re a superpower anymore either, but that’s another discussion) and it was indeed often out to get us.

There have been good reasons to fight, but most of our conflicts have been pure nonsense and fought for bad reasons and often with horrible strategies. This isn’t a game. And my image above notwithstanding, this ain’t no damn comic book, either. This is real life and it needs to be taken more seriously.

What we Americans need to remember on this so-called patriotic weekend holiday (if we can drag ourselves out of the liquor and food long enough to do so) is that when we go to war, we generally don’t march off ourselves. No, we send our sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters and friends off to war. And if we are going to send them off to possibly die for us (or worse), we fucking well ought to make sure we’re doing it for a damn good reason.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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