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Tuesday, May 06, 2003

There are two interesting pieces of rhetoric used traditionally by hawks to great effect on those who would oppose the war, but which don't seem to have much of a basis.

The first of these is the "supporting our troops" line. There are a number of variations, but the essential theme is the idea that "the troops" are in harms way, and by opposing the war one is for their being shot and killed. This is taken as gospel by many of the pro-war folk to be an inexcusable faux pas - not supporting the troops is given as evidence of nothing short of treason. Why is this? It goes without saying that if there weren't useless wars, more American soldiers would be alive, so there's a slight not of hypocrisy in warmonger's condemnation of the people who want to keep our fighting men and women from being killed for profit.

On top of this, though, why is it taken as granted that people who go fight are somehow honorable beacons of light in an otherwise brutal world? These are people who, when presented with a choice between getting a productive job or taking a job where their purpose is to kill people, in some cases, like that of bomber pilots, large groups of people, chose the latter. How is this something we should applaud? Usually when someone decides they'd rather kill someone then get a job, we call it "armed robbery" and "capital murder." Even if they join in the noble persuit of defending the country, when told by their boss that in order to advance faulty political objectives, they will be shooting innocent civilians, they do not question this order and abstain, they just march along with it. This is not someone who gets my support, admiration, respect or any of the other crap attributed typically to those who carry out the barbarism that plagues US foreign policy.

The second thing, which follows from the first, is this idea that somehow freedoms - the one typically quoted is "the freedom to dissent" - are protected by the military, and as such we should support our armed forces unquestioningly. The general response I have to this is, "Huh?" The equivocation I hope is being made (largely because the alternative is just a palpable forced ignorance) is that, because our country's freedoms were granted in many cases by war, that any war necessarily gives freedoms. The obvious falsity of this doesn't phase people (Anyone feel more "free" becuase of the anti-terrorism bills which make privacy an anachronism?). I've challanged people on a number of occaisions to give some example from the past 50 years of when armed conflict which the US was involved in bred freedom for American citizens. So far I haven't actually gotten anything approaching a satisfactory answer, the best anyone can seem to do is say that conflicts which resolve past problems created by our military imperialism help freedom. A little like praising a doctor for setting your broken leg after he hits it with a lead pipe.

I can appreciate that people want to look up to military types as the paragon of virtue the DoD tries to play them up as, but it just doesn't work that way. People need to start looking at reality before they advance this sort of rhetoric. I hold faint hope that they will.

cranked out at 6:04 PM | |

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