By Doug Newman
June 4, 2005
Posted at Old
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Joseph Sobran, with whom I almost always agree, recently wrote a column on the absence of any real contemporary anti-war movement. In it, he cited three differences between 2005 and 1968.
Now, we hear that the Army and Marine Corps are having trouble meeting their recruiting goals. We are witnessing an anti-war “movement” of a different type.
I cannot remember either of the parties to this story, but I will tell it anyway. Someone once said of a famous philosopher, that “he loved humanity, but he hated people.” He cared deeply about humanity in the abstract, but he was frustrated unmercifully by the unwillingness of people to behave in accordance with his ideals. Oh, if it weren’t for those pesky, inconvenient people!
We Americans love to talk about war. Many of us cheerlead for perpetual war. We “stand behind” our president and our troops. We brand anyone who criticizes our military policies as liberal, communist, pro-terror and a lover of al-Qaeda. We always speak in the first person when promoting war. (“We” ought to bomb the crap out of this country and “we” ought to pulverize that country!)
But we never want to talk about what actually happens in war. For a refresher, let me recommend the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan. Talking to one segment of America about war is like talking to another segment of America about abortion.
Heaven forbid that we actually go fight it ourselves. We deride John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and other “limousine liberals” for not parting with their wealth while they tax the rest of us into poverty. Yet, many of the most vocal war hawks in the executive branch, in congress and in the media have never lifted a finger to serve one day in the military. The same goes for many of these same war hawks at work, at church and in your neighborhood.
I cannot speak for people half my age. However, I am going to put myself in the shoes of a 19-year-old looking at his options, with the military being one of them.
Iraq never attacked us. They never threatened to attack us. If they had attacked us we would have whipped them good. They never had the means to do so anyway. There were no WMDs. We got Saddam. They have had their election. And now, they are so busy fighting among themselves that they aren’t about to attack anyone.
Why are we even over there? If some other country comes and invades, then I will go fight. Gladly! But, I am not going to risk my life in Iraq.
He speaks for the anti-war “movement” of 2005. You’ll note no social commentary here. No ulterior motives. He just is not willing to be meat on the hoof when he sees no threat to himself or his country. Who can blame him?
In 1993, someone told Hillary Clinton that the costs imposed by her husband’s national health care proposal could put a lot of small business out of business. She responded that it was “not (her) job to go out and save every undercapitalized businessman in America.” Conservative commentators rightfully compared her arrogance to that of Marie Antoinette.
When someone asked Vice President Cheney why he never served in the military, he answered, “I had other priorities.” These same commentators ought to be similarly indignant about his arrogance.
There is a black wall in Washington, DC, with 58,000 names on it. Many of these people “had other priorities” as well.
War is easy to talk about and easy to be self-righteous about. However, it has consequences.
This isn’t the hood. This is not the South Bronx, South Central Los Angeles or Five Points here in Denver. This is WAR!!! To quote the Talking Heads, "This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no fooling around."
Chuck Baldwin, another one of my internet punditry faves, recently wrote eloquently of the “scourge” of war:
“To those who are engaged in war, the consequences can be nightmarish! Arms and legs cut off. Eyes put out. Flesh burned. Intestines ripped out. Backs broken. Skulls crushed. Lives lost. Families torn apart. Homes destroyed. Children left without parents. Parents never able to see their children again. Wives without husbands. Husbands without wives. Souls snuffed into eternity. Emotional scars that never heal. These are the realities of war. And this is what the neo-cons who profit from war never have to see up close and personal.
“Instead, pro-war neo-cons sit in their comfortable, air-conditioned offices and send other husbands, other wives, other parents, other children, other people to incur the "scourge" of war. But the neo-cons who trumpet war, who promote war, and who finance war never actually experience war. “
This is America. You can have whatever opinion you want. If you want to believe the earth is flat or worship Mungabunga, go ahead. However, it does not mean your opinion has any worth.
You can support perpetual war all you want, but if you yourself have never served, your opinion is of no interest to me. If you feel threatened by some fourth-rate, tin pot, Third World potentate, fight him yourself.
The late Pat Tillman gave up a pro football career to become and Army Ranger. Colorado State Treasurer Mike Coffman, a retired Marine reservist, took a leave of absence to rejoin the Corps in Iraq. So why don’t you drop what you’re doing, head to Baghdad and bust a few caps? Yeah you, Rambo!
The War of Northern Aggression (1861-1865) was once ridiculed as a “rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.” It was easy to talk about it, but hard to find people to fight it. Indeed, the worst riots in American history were the 1863 anti-draft riots in New York City.
Before you whine about France not joining us in Iraq and before you say a word about the “need” for a draft, do it yourself! Why is it “wimping out" only when someone else refuses to fight?
I’ll say one thing about the draft dodgers in Vietnam: they had the courage to act on their convictions. I’ll say one thing and one thing only on behalf of John Kerry: he was in harm’s way for four and a half months during ‘Nam.
I know a great place where the military can find tons and tons of fresh meat to be ground pounders in whatever war is next. They need to put recruiters in the evangelical churches in this country and see how many folks actually enlist. Each Sunday, they could set up tables in the lobby. The pastors shouldn’t have a problem with this.
Come on, now! Raise your hand! Swear that oath! Sign that paper! Ship out and destroy some country in order to save it. It’s your Christian duty! Dude, this is a jihad for Jesus. I think it is based on the book of Jebediah or Paul’s letter to the Estonians.
If you are too old, or for some other reason not qualified to join the military, form your own expeditionary force. Call it the Sword of the Lord. There are precedents of Americans volunteering to fight in other countries for causes they support.
It is easy to talk about your Great Christian President and to praise his wars as doing God’s work around the globe. It is easy to have a yellow ribbon and a W’04 bumper sticker on your car. It is, as they say, a whole nother thing to support his policies by participating in them.
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Freely Speaking: Essays by Doug Newman