Thursday, January 11, 2007

Downgraded from Soldiers to Rent-A-Cops

I wandered into Kung Fu Monkey a few months back*, thought to myself, "Say, this is good stuff," and wandered right back out without subscribing to its RSS feed, just as I do with 95% of the good blogs I find occasionally, because I'm a disorganized airhead who can't remember to click one little "Subscribe" button.

That situation has just been remedied, and this is the post that did it. That is my clever way of telling you to read it, all of it, but here's some of it anyway:

There is truth in the idea that soldiers are our designated warriors. But the accidental revelation in these attitudes is the bizarre concept that by soldiers choosing a life of taking risks on our behalf, these war supporters are somehow absolved of any responsibility to them other than emotional support and approval. There is the stink of ... the troops as employees. Like, say, gardeners. Not that I would ever make such a crude comparison.

But the fact is that soldiers make this choice in a specific context. They are not just entering a job. They are, to pull up my Catholic high school education, entering into a covenant with us. They take an oath to sacrifice their lives, if need be. That is, in my faith anyway, the holiest thing a person can do. In return, the civilian side of the covenant is a deep responsibility, a responsibility far beyond the emotional support one gives a sports team, or the minimal responsibility one has with employees. Our oath is simple:

We will make sure you have the equipment you need.

We will make sure have a clearly defined mission.

We will make sure that such missions are as well-planned as possible.

We will take care of your families while you are gone.

We will take care of you when you come home.

That's not a lot to do for someone who's out there getting shot at for you.

Indeed it isn't, but right-wing blogs are so formulaic these days that I know exactly how this is going to go over. If this post is not ignored entirely, it will be met with a response like:

The overwhelming odor of sanctimony in this post by some numbnuts leftist is particularly piquant when one considers how seldom any member of The Left can be found making even the most superficial show of support for our soldiers; they can't be bothered to slap a ribbon magnet on the Prius, much less send a care package. But "support the troops" means different things to different people, and to liberals, it means "Make a hollow gesture of supporting the troops, and then only as a last resort when other, more satisfying means of raging against President Bush have temporarily lost their appeal."

Seriously: One or more of the usual suspects has something very, very like that in draft mode right now. I should take bets on this, because I would win, except that (1) none of you are stupid enough to take that bet and (2) none of us will ever be able to prove how completely right I am about this, though I am, I really am. Just you wait and see what floats to the top of the sewers tomorrow.

This is why any right-wing response will have to be something like the above: Because there is no way around the validity of what Rogers is saying in his post. They can't say that the post from The Corner that Rogers is responding to ("I am a loser, hypocrite, chickenhawk, and barely half a man in the War on Weeds. I tried digging them out of my yard, but found I didn't have what it takes, so now I sit in my comfy chair and watch while other people's loved ones put themselves at risk.") didn't set things up for everyone to make the employee comparison, because it did all that and more--it sent out engraved invitations for everyone to make the employee comparison. And they can't say "Of course our soldiers are our employees; what's wrong with that?" because only reprehensible shitheels would say such a thing, and while some bloggers on the right are certainly shitheels, they don't usually prefer to display that shitheeliness so brazenly.

No, the only thing left to do here is attack Rogers' credibility with some bloated, gassy verbiage amounting to nothing more than a big nyah-nyah-nyah (or bwa-ha-ha): "You don't fool us, commie! We all know you don't really care about the military. Now suppose you run along off the internet, maybe drive your little hempmobile down to Starbucks for a nice soy milk latte, fag, and leave this 'blogging' stuff to tha professionals." And having so thumped their chests they will then sign that very post with some nerdy, homoerotic handle, and not even notice what they just did there, because irony is dead.

Last chance: Are you sure you don't want to bet me on this?

*Then, as now, I'm pretty sure I got there via Sadly, No!

And that's another thing: There seem to have been a few temper tantrums on the right recently that blogs like S,N! or TBogg, I think was the other one, don't do anything! Except pick on other bloggers! Other bloggers who are reporting actual news! News which is fiction half the time, but by gum! At least it's original! Not like you hacks, TNo!

Even if all of the above were 100% true, tantrum-throwers, I'm afraid Sadly, No! and TBogg would still be doing me a great favor, because before I found them I had to read you jokers myself, and the contents of my skull are much less for it. I was this close to needing a 24-hour caregiver just so I wouldn't walk into walls; whereas now, my doctors tell me that if I keep working hard at therapy, I might someday be able to remember not to stick forks in the toaster.


Elizabeth said...

In return, the civilian side of the covenant is a deep responsibility, a responsibility far beyond the emotional support one gives a sports team, or the minimal responsibility one has with employees.

I think that sports team comparison is a very apt one. I'd never thought of it like that before, but its very true. except that I think that aside from people with family members/friends overseas, people may be more invested in their pet sports teams....

gennimcmahon said...

The war is unpopular, hence the government has not called upon the "home front" to rally (in any meaningful way), which increases the isolation of the soldiers fighting the war. We civilians aren't having to sacrifice anything, so it's easy to ignore the sacrifice others are making. Having once been a military wife, the emotional strain of living with someone who has pledged their life in blind allegiance is incredible, whether they are called to the front or not. I can barely watch the news when the send the troops out, because I know how terrifying that ordeal is. Unfortunately, we don't convey that to civilians, and it's an opportunity lost, both in terms of reminding us of our covenant, and in terms of bringing the reality of war home. I had the same sentiment when Bush was (and perhaps still is?) refusing to show the flag draped coffins returning home. If the only way support of the war can be gained is to pretend it isn't happening, it's an invalid war to begin with, and the troops become mere bullet sponges. Truly, we do them great disservice.

Hubris said...

To me, the chickenhawk term best applies to those who equate supporting the war with bravery. Mark Steyn started doing this back on 9/12/01 as he wondered aloud who would be willing give up their lives in order to fight the good fight, with a use of the term "we" that was, in retrospect, rather expansive. He goes on to challenge even the courage of reporters who are on the ground, but much to his chagrin, are "hunkered down" in the comparative safety of the Green Zone. He continues to tie support/lack of support for the war with "will" and "humiliation." People who believe we are on the cusp of the implementation of Sharia in the States (I'm still not exactly sure how that is supposed to happen) think that writing blog posts against political correctness is the best defense they can muster. Max Boot is sensible by comparison.

I supported going into Iraq, and I must candidly admit that taking that position required no personal courage whatsoever.

It's when you equate holding a pro-war opinion with bravery, and holding an anti-war opinion with cowardice, that you ask for "chickenhawk" insults. Well, that, and when you grow a Bob Ross beard of rugged individualism in an effort to be more hard core.

Someone being a chickenhawk doesn't invalidate logical arguments they make in favor of the war; it just means they're a dick.

Hubris said...

Link inadvertently omitted:

People who believe we are on the cusp of the implementation of Sharia in the States (I'm still not exactly sure how that is supposed to happen) think that writing blog posts against political correctness is the best defense they can muster.

My apologies.

Moebius Stripper said...

K, I know I've been MIA for the last however long, but I have to say HALLELUJAH AMEN to this. I'm reminded of a life-changing talk I attended a few years ago by Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian general who led the UN intervention in Rwanda. (His book, Shake Hands With the Devil, is a very disturbing and very worthwhile read.)

His entire talk was brilliant, but the part that stood out was one that dovetails nicely with the covenant analogy you quote. He mentioned an air force commander, who was asked by a reporter what he was doing in Afghanistan.

"I'm leading a mission of 200 pilots," he said.

"And what is the purpose of your mission?" asked the reporter.

"To bring them all home alive," replied the commander.

At this point in the talk, Dallaire mused, "Then why don't you just stay home?"

In order for a war to be moral, argued Dallaire, there MUST be a risk to the soldiers. If there isn't, then we're pretty much saying that the soldiers' lives are worth more than what they're fighting for, in which case - why are we even fighting the war?

And unlike most politicians and warbloggers these days, Dallaire - who'd spent a year in Rwanda during the genocide, and not on the sidelines either - had the moral authority to make such a bold statement.

He continued: by elisting, a soldier is promising to give their life for something that they think is worth more than it. And hence, governments and voters who choose send soldiers to war have a moral responsibility to ensure that we're sending them to fight for a cause that is more important than soldiers' lives, and that they have all the tools necessary at their disposal to succeed.

It was worth noting that this decorated military man gave this talk sometime in mid 2003, and mentioned (briefly but emphatically) that the Iraq war did not fall into this category.