Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters
socratic

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Supporting the troops without selling your soul

What is it that people mean when they say they oppose the war but support the troops. I have heard this phrase many times, and I may even have uttered it at one point or another. My suspicion that what they really mean is "I oppose the war but I don't wish harm on the troops." This is in opposition, and perhaps in reaction, to some of the stuff that when on during the Vietnam war, where protesters spit on and otherwise harmed and traumatized soldiers returning from the war, or sent angry messages to those still in "The shit." It is also in opposition to those who have said that they wish for our troops to be massacred. I certainly don't wish harm on American troops, just as I don't wish harm on Iraqi troops or civilians. Supporting someone is more than not wishing harm on them though. When I watch a Giants football game I may not wish harm on the opposing QB but I certainly don't support him. I want him to play horribly. I want him to throw interceptions and fumble the ball and just stink it up. Sometimes, when I get agitated, I hope he will sprain an ankle or a wrist and be taken out of the game. Nothing serious, but enough to keep him from performing.

Supporting someone is more than just not wanting them to suffer or be killed. It is hoping that they will accomplish their objectives and wishing them success over that of those they oppose. In this area I have a much more difficult time claiming to support the troops. Some I support unequivocally. For example medics, I wish them all the success in the world. There is no moral question when it comes to alleviating suffering and healing the wounded. When it comes to those responsible for battling the insurgency and protecting vital structures I can also say honestly that I hope they will succeed. However wrong the U.S. was for invading, and it was wrong indeed, the insurgency is worse and its success would be a disaster for Iraq and the world. Now we enter a muddier realm, which is the soldiers responsible for enforcing U.S. rules and regulations and making sure that Haliburton gets its big juicy hunk of the Iraqi pie, gorging itself on Iraq's resources and U.S. funds alike to the delight of the cowering Morlocks who run it and our government (the two institutions remain, nominally, separate.) Most of them think they are doing the right thing, and most of what they do is probably for the best. After all it's not like if they weren't there the resources would revert to the hands of those who deserve them. Those soldiers I can support conditionally. I wish for their success when they are in the right and their failure (but not death or injury) when they are in the wrong. Please note that when I say "they" what I really mean is their commanders. I don't accept "just following orders" as a pass on moral culpability. I do accept "I was deceived" (you can not be held responsible for actions you take in good faith if you are being manipulated) but I do not wish them success even if they believe they are doing justice. Would you wish success on someone tricked into murdering your father under the impression that doing so would prevent a disaster from occurring?

Finally there are those who I definitely do not support. They are the ones who are engaging in unabashedly immoral acts, such as the interrogators who slaughter Iraqis (innocent or not) in prisons or those who engage in political terrorism against legitimate groups unsympathetic to the United States. I do not care whether they are acting out of fear or obedience or blind loyalty. All but the weakest and most cowardly cur should know the line between right and wrong when it is drawn in the blood of a freshly slain man, lying there nude upon the floor, discarded out of inconvenience. I wish failure upon those who sully and bring shame upon the name of the United States with their cowardly actions. It is better to spend 20 years in military prison than to kill ONE innocent person, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a traitor and a fool. Now I'm not talking about accidents in the field, those happen. You see something out of the corner of your eye, think it's a man with a gun, and fire. I'm talking about those who knowingly fire upon the unarmed or who, even worse, abuse and degrade captives for fun or 'intelligence' gains. I cannot support them on any level except for my wish that they not be harmed because I wish such harm on nobody. I do hope that they will be stopped.

I am on the side of what I believe to be right in every conflict. I am not a nationalist to the point of wanting America to win when she is wrong. If there are two equal outcomes and one favors America I will favor it, but I do not want us to unjustly conquer. The feelings of American mothers are no stronger or more acute than those of Iraqi mothers. I support what's right, be that our troops or...someone else.

P.S.

I was talking about the women (you know, weird creatures with bumpy chests and a great love of chiffon) previously and forgot to mention the whole courtroom shooting in Atlanta thing. People have been using the example of the deputy being overpowered as a reason why women should not be allowed in law enforcement, because they is so weak. Personally I think it was fucking STUPID to assign THAT particular woman to THAT particular prisoner. She, by all accounts, was small and not particularly strong. He was a muscular ex-football player. The outcome is not overly surprising. On the other hand there's no guarantee that a larger person would not have been overcome, and nor is it particularly relevant that she was a woman. An equally small weak man would have been just as inappropriate a guard. What really matters is competence. We should have equal standards for women and men when it comes to requirements of strength and the like, and we should assign guards to duties based on their abilities. In that case a 6'3" 210 lb man would have been a far better choice to guard this particular inmate. There are advantages to having women in law enforcement. For one male guards often molest and rape female prisoners, so whenever possible it is good to have female guards both as whistle blowers (women are more likely to go to superiors with problems) and because they are less likely to act inappropriately. Likewise it was a woman who in the end managed to convince the guy to turn himself in. Many women are very empathetic and more psychologically adept than men. This counts for plenty in law enforcement, where use of force constitutes a failure of diplomacy and reason. I think that this case provides a good example of the problems that come when you lower standards to meet quotas (I do not support female firefighters who cannot meet the strength standards required of male firefighters) but that's all. Sometimes imbalances in aptitudes at certain things are not because society has failed to be gender blind but because nature has. When that is the case it is not our job to "correct" for nature but just to give those who have the capacities to do certain things the opportunities to do them.
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