"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

First offering

For, for my first salvo . . . I ran across this little number on the Drudge Report today, and while I have to say I find its tone rather repugnant, I give Mr. Stein kudos for intellectual honesty. I've always found the whole "Support our troops, bring them home!" message to be a rather contorted rallying cry. I understand that some who shout this mantra really care about the welfare of our fighting men and don't want to see hundreds of selfless young men and women die violently far from home. Fine. But it seems to me that "support" extends beyond bodily health. Saying that you support something implies wishing that object success. To say that you support the troops but believe what they're doing is wrong, that their best efforts are accomplishing nothing, that what they volunteered for is a farce, is dishonest mental gymnastics. Even the personal welfare argument is rather silly. Yes, we hate to see these motivated youngsters put in harm's way, but if we took everyone we supported out of danger we'd have no police force to protect us from criminals or firefighters to douse our homes when they're ablaze. "Support our cops, keep them at home" might stop Daddy from having to face drug dealers, but only at the cost of turning civilization into anarchy.
Mr. Stein is also right about the lack of sacrifice on the part of the American public for our troops. Part of the blame falls on the leadership of this country for failing to call upon its citizens to pony up and endure a little hardship. Apart from the daily headlines, the war has no impact on the average American unless he knows someone in the service. He pays no extra taxes, is not encouraged to buy war bonds to provide extra equipment for our soldiers, is called on to sacrifice nothing. Just because we have an all-volunteer military doesn't mean the rest of the nation can't pitch in. Indeed, given the generous spirit of Americans after the tsunami and Katrina, I'm sure that the public would answer a call to sacrifice for the troops, if only such a call were made by our leaders. However, there are many private organizations around that either support our fighting men or the Iraqis they're trying to help, and I'd be surprised if half the folks with a yellow ribbon magnet on their trucks contribute to them. It easy to shout one's support and then turn one's back, because no sacrifice has been demanded.
Although one note to Mr. Stein: this IS an all-volunteer military. No one is tricked into going anywhere. No one twists our arms to sign up. When you swear your oath to the Constitution, you have no idea where your service will take you, but you understand that risk and swear the oath just the same. And these days, no one in uniform has any illusions about where they're going: it's Iraq or Afghanistan. People are still volunteering, no trickery involved. Perhaps they find meaning in the conflict where you find none. That's fine, but don't act like we're stupid or easily susceptible to obfuscation.

Enough on that. Now, how about that other conflict in the Middle East . . . it's getting harder and harder to blame Israel for the state of Palestinian government. Israel pulled out of Gaza, left it to the P.A., and the place has gone to hell. Eventually the Palestinians are going to run out of excuses and be forced to look themselves in the mirror and fix their own damn problems. Smart Palestinians should do this right now, because this is their first and possibly only chance to prove that they can govern themselves without turning Palestinian territory into one massive terrorist training camp. Ball's in your court, guys. What are you going to do with it?

Munich. I wasn't sure what to make of this movie at first (though I knew immediately after walking out of the theater that the sex scene intermingled with the murder of the Israeli athletes deserved a Raspberry for Worst Editing Choice of the Year). I know it was Spielberg's "cry for peace" or something like that. When it comes down to it, it's a cry of moral equivalency that we've been hearing for too many years. His point was the violence begets violence, etc, which we've heard before. I don't buy the argument, but still, even if every Palestinian terrorist the Mossad assassinated was replaced by another, so what? Does that mean they should just throw up their hands and say, "They just keep coming, why bother cutting them down?" If we killed bin Laden or al-Zarqawi today, someone else would take up the mantle of "Death to America." Big deal. We hunt him down too, keep him on the defensive so he doesn't come over here. That's not to say we shouldn't pursue other avenues to cut down on his base of support i.e. support democracy in his homeland, provide aid for the suffering, offer economic development to replace the despair of terror with hope in the future. But the bin Ladens of the world must be kept on the run, because if we give them any breathing room then they have tiem to think of things like Munich and 9/11.

More on this movie, and other things, later, as it's quite late and I have early morning duty tomorrow. But please, leave comments and I'll try to keep a good dialogue going here. Peace out!

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