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Old 06-18-2012, 06:05 PM   #21
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I think I would have fought in WWII, but nothing since. I'm not a total pacifist, but most wars are about money and power and I would choose not to participate in those. I feel for those that fall for the propaganda of the military or have to sign up because they have few better options. I feel sympathy for them rather than any thanks for "their service". I would certainly never feel a coward faced with someone who had served in the military.
Whether we personally agree with any particular war or not, when the troops are sent, they are sent in the name of all of us. That is the very essence of participatory democracy -- the actions taken by our nation represent the collective will of the people. We all then, collectively, send those troops and we ask them to suffer under horrific conditions in our name. And based on my knowledge of the military, they all strive mightily to do everything we ask of them. At the very least, we owe them our gratitude and respect when they return -- war opponent or not. And we have an obligation to honor the memory of those who never return.

I leave you with Simonides' epitaph at Thermopylae:

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That here, obedient to their laws, we lie
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Old 06-18-2012, 06:13 PM   #22
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I would hasten to add that conscientious objectors, those who refuse to directly engage in combat, have also established a record of honorable and heroic service to the country. When called, they went, and many died.
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Old 06-18-2012, 06:14 PM   #23
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Should you express your sympathy to some vets for having had to serve I sure hope you'll post here to let us know how it works out.
I would never do that because I realize it would be considered rude and probably ill informed.
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Old 06-18-2012, 06:34 PM   #24
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This thread has churned up a lot of old emotions in me. I served on destroyers from 1968 until 1972. Having a father who served in the infantry starting at Omaha Beach, I never considered not serving as a option. As fate had it, I never made it to the Viet Nam war zone. I had orders for two different ships deployed there, but a broken leg in OCS delayed me from war deployment. At the time I was disappointed. I was confident in my abilities aboard a destroyer, and I was ready to prove it. It turned out when I was separated in 1972, my ship had orders for a Med deployment and the captain asked me to stay for that. I declined. Their orders were changed underway to Viet Nam. Weird how things work out.
The years have seasoned my vision of war since then. I agreed with previous posters on one thing. People and politicians who have never served a day in the military have little credibility with me for ordering young men to war.
The stress of multiple deployments for so many soldiers is a tragedy that I feel we will regret for a long time. And as much anxiety as the draft imposes on our people, it is needed. It's the only way for everyone to have skin in the fight. Plus, I feel everyone should be required to serve their country in some way for at least two years It angers me to listen to people I know argue for war knowing they never spent a day in uniform or in service to their country, much less in combat.
Sadly, war is sometimes necessary. I just haven't seen one lately I could support.
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Old 06-18-2012, 08:29 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by nun
I feel for those that fall for the propaganda of the military or have to sign up because they have few better options. I feel sympathy for them rather than any thanks for "their service". I would certainly never feel a coward faced with someone who had served in the military.
I'm not sure whether I'm in the category of "fall for the propaganda" or in the equally attractive category of "have to sign up because I have few better options",* but another one of the reasons I spent ~24 years in the military is because it turned out that I was defending the right of people like you to say things like that.

You don't have to feel like a coward. But if I was harboring sentiments like the ones that you've expressed, then I'd certainly feel grateful for the efforts of those who have defended the liberty of Americans to express them.

You're welcome!



*P.S.: What should I tell my daughter? Is she another sucker for the military propaganda, too, or does she just have few better options? Or should we simply be content to see her service as "your tax dollars at work"?
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:00 PM   #26
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Interesting thread - as a Reservist who is still serving, albeit not in a deployed state, as well as working in a non defense industry in a civilian capacity, I find those who have not had any experience with the military quite ignorant of what is expected of a person in the military and how the institution (one of the oldest!) works. It is a shame that many of those elected for government service do not have any experience in the military either, for I think they would be more cognizant of the impact of their decisions on those who do serve.

I worked in Berkeley in my civilian job while also being a Reservist......the cognitive dissonance there regarding the citizenry not understanding that someone willing to give their life for the civilian's ability to speak their mind and act on that mindset, which may be of an opposite tack than mine was quite evident. I always respected those who truly were not hypocrites regarding their stance....for those who didn't get it, I had to (and still do) exercise great patience and also realize that I have been to places where it is not possible for them to dissent. Therefore, my appreciation was of a kind that is practical - truly experiencing the inability to speak my mind due to the governance, culture and possibly laws.

I am very grateful for the experiences, education and opportunities the military has given me - I feel I am a much better citizen for the experience....a much better person, in fact. As for tax dollars at work, well, at least the government role I fulfill is something that is expressly called out in our founding documents. To me that is a valid use of tax dollars - and today, the size of the military has really decreased and is decreasing even further - the costs issues will be the modernization of the force....or removal of some capabilities due to the inability to afford them, what with the deficit and other financial issues our country is facing. Bottom line to me - if we become a country unwilling to have a military or use it, we will lose our unique status as a country that is founded on ideas and documents that enshrine those ideas of equal opportunity, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and freedom of association along with the other items of justice we take for granted while living here in the USA.
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:54 PM   #27
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Like many who have served in uniform it's difficult to say what our country sends it's armies to do could ever be wrong for fear it would be viewed as unpatriotic. But I just recently (June 4th) met my son at Ft. Hood the day he returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. His second combat deployment, the first was to Iraq. But this one was much different than his first, I could see it in his eyes. He lost at least thirty pounds that he didn't need to lose, his whole mood and attitude is much more subdued. He is different. He's 31, an officer and a pilot and has seen more in his eight years of service than I saw in over thirty years on active duty. This generation, at least the ones that are willing to serve in the military are bearing an unbelievable burden. And this country just does not get it. We as a nation are not at war. Our military is but not the country. And until the "country" wakes up and fully understands the total impact of sending our youth to an unwinable war young kids will die for nothing. Either fight this war as total war or not at all, take the gloves off and let our Soldiers fight like our fathers did in WWII.
5 years ago I was thinking this generation has seen as much combat as any generation since the Greatest Generation. Now days I think you'd have to go back all the way to regulars in the Continental Army to find a group of men who have seen as much combat and been in harms way as much as this generation. The burden is falling not only on smaller group, but increasingly in smaller number of families, like the McCain's or Nords, with multiple members serving and across multiple generations.


This creates all of the problems the veterans have talked about in this thread; a vast gulf between the warrior class, and everyone else. The political consequence of military action are reduced, because while the military is at war the country really isn't. While it is tempting to suggest bringing back the draft to broaden the exposure to the military. Virtually none of the commanders want it and I think with good reason.

I think the only thing worse than fighting a land war in Asia for the last 10+ years, would have been fighting the war in Afghanistan with a largely conscript army like the Russian tried to do or we did in Vietnam. I shudder to think how many more casualties we would have if we drafted 18 year kids, sent them to basic for a couple of months and then shipped them off to Afghanistan. 1587 KIA is tragic loss but it is so much smaller than Korea, Vietnam, or even the Philippine insurrection . The bad thing about multiple deployments is the truly awful toil it takes on the troops and their families. The good thing is the US is fielding the worlds most professional army, filled with combat veterans, and with even the newest recruit trained by combat veterans and lead by combat veterans, is remarkably effective at executing the Patton rule. "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.".

Lord knows there are no easy answers.
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Old 06-19-2012, 11:06 AM   #28
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My pet peeve is protesters who confuse "the right war or the wrong war" with "the right war in the wrong way".

Anti-war protesters who've never been involved in a war would seem to have a difficult time finding a base for their credibility. But anti-war protesters who've been there, either as military veterans or with NGOs or perhaps even in the political/diplomatic realm, would appear to have more credibility. I don't think media embeds or USO tours count, although it's an encouraging start.

My personal hope is that the U.S. military is downsized enough to remain an effective defensive force for American interests without offering those who've never served the delusions of imperialism.

Maybe I am reading your post wrong, but I am one who does think that we have been doing a lot of 'the right war the wrong way'.... at least with the info we had when the decision was made to go to war (this can be very political with 20-20 hindsight)....

I believe the military is there to win a war... not to occupy a country for years on end when the military of the other country has been defeated... I do not believe in the theme of 'if we break it we own it' and have to stay around for the infighting of the country.... if the country wants help in rebuilding etc., sure.... but if they want a civil war etc., we should bow out...


Now, I know that the war on terror has many facets to it that I will never understand... but I do think we have done a lot of things the wrong way lately.... but, as always, I could be wrong...
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Old 06-19-2012, 12:53 PM   #29
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And this country just does not get it. We as a nation are not at war. Our military is but not the country. And until the "country" wakes up and fully understands the total impact of sending our youth to an unwinable war young kids will die for nothing.
"It is well that war is so terrible; we should grow too fond of it!"
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Maybe we have made war less terrible than it should be for the general population?

I have long felt that our elected leaders who want to send our troops to war should have the guts to also raise our TAXES to pay for it. They should be able to look the citizens in the eye and say "We think this war is justified and necessary and this is what it is going to cost you." If they can't justify a tax increase to pay for the war then I don't see how they can justify the war in the first place. War should be a difficult and painful thing to start and to continue. It should not be painless and civilized. (Note: See Start Trek, TOS - "A Taste of Armageddon")

Also, it would be great if, like the WW2 generation our elected public servants had some skin in the game, either their own skin or that of a family loved one (like many of us here.)
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Old 06-19-2012, 01:54 PM   #30
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You don't have to feel like a coward. But if I was harboring sentiments like the ones that you've expressed, then I'd certainly feel grateful for the efforts of those who have defended the liberty of Americans to express them.
Thanks for putting into words more graciously than I would have (BTW, that's why he's been added to my ignore list).
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Old 06-19-2012, 02:28 PM   #31
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Thanks for putting into words more graciously than I would have (BTW, that's why he's been added to my ignore list).
I've had some practice at that one. I still hear the sentiment expressed at social gatherings. And posters keep quoting posters who are on other posters' "Ignore Poster" lists, so eventually it gets seen anyway.
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Old 06-19-2012, 02:38 PM   #32
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I would hasten to add that conscientious objectors, those who refuse to directly engage in combat, have also established a record of honorable and heroic service to the country. When called, they went, and many died.
I met one coworker who was a conscientious objector... he said it was a long process with many people involved before he was able to get it... as you said, he served and did not try and duck his responsibility... he just did not believe in killing people no matter what...
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Old 06-19-2012, 02:43 PM   #33
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I've had some practice at that one. I still hear the sentiment expressed at social gatherings. And posters keep quoting posters who are on other posters' "Ignore Poster" lists, so eventually it gets seen anyway.
I hope we'll continue to get a range of opinions as this is a social forum. I definitely do not agree with many who post of here, but I value the conversation.

Getting back to the OP, the article expresses a thread in US society that I find worrying. If we don't participate, cheer lead or express our gratitude for the military we are suppose to feel inadequate in some way and voices that question the value of war and the military are are not given consideration. I worry that the US is becoming overly militaristic and too easily uses it's military as a tool of foreign policy. Many will disagree with me, but I hope they will listen.
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Old 06-19-2012, 03:40 PM   #34
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This thread has run its course. Thanks to all that participated and also those just followed along, for a thoughtful discussion.

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