Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Would You Like Some Perspective With That?

Something that I've come to with age is the realization that things are not black and white. That also includes things and people and positions that we align ourselves with. Too often we're encouraged not to talk about them-I'm told that for the sake of the anti-war movement, I shouldn't talk about disagreements in it.

This is nothing but blatant hypocrisy. If you're going to be telling soldiers that they should be able to feel safe speaking out against the camouflage wall of silence in the military, I think you need to be telling peace activists that it's also okay to speak out against the tie-dyed wall of silence in the peace movement.

Emerson has some interesting words about those who have become bound by communities as surely as anything else:

"Well, most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief, and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion. This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars. Their every truth is not quite true. Their two is not the real two, their four not the real four: so that every word they say chagrins us and we know not where to begin to set them right. Meantime nature is not slow to equip us in the prison uniform of the party to which we adhere. We come to wear one cut of face and figure, and acquire by degrees the gentlest asinine expression. There is a mortifying experience in particular, which does not fail to wreak itself also in the general history; I mean "the foolish face of praise", the forced smile which we put on in company where we do not feel at ease, in answer to conversation which does not interest us. The muscles, not spontaneously moved but moved by a low usurping willfulness, grow tight around the outline of the face, with the most disagreeable sensation."

I'm going to practice this courage by speaking out not just about the problems in the military and with the war, but also the problems with individuals with blinders on.

I believe that the war in Iraq is wrong. It was unnecessary, illegal, and it hurts America. That's why I'm a member of IVAW, Iraq Veterans Against the War. But that does not make the insurgency right. The insurgency is not noble. They are not, as some would have you believe, just like the Americans fighting the British for their freedom. This isn't a popular opinion, because many peace activists fear that by talking about the evils of the insurgency, we'll arouse sympathy for the war. Some even call it 'racist', saying that they don't have the right to 'defend themself'.

This is morally disingenuous. The Iraqi insurgency bears little similarity to our revolutionary fighters. Our revolutionary fighters never went around cutting off people's heads, or killing women for talking to soldiers, or throwing acid in children's faces. We didn't target civilians in the revolutionary war. They weren't full of religious fundamentalists-and since when has the activist community supported religious fundamentalists?

We do not have to beatify evil men in order to say that the war is wrong, or that it hurts America, or our military, or our national defense, or even that it hurts innocents. And any peace activist that mourns and condemns the death of Iraqis while refusing to mourn and condemn the death of soldiers is a hypocrite.

I remember once holding a fellow soldier as he cried about the young kid he had to kill because the kid was aiming a weapon at the soldiers. It's a terrible thing. Is it the soldier's fault? No, it's not. It's whoever put a weapon of lethal force in the hands of a child and told them to go hunting Americans. And we have to condemn that equally as much as we have to condemn the officer who gives the order that there is a free-fire zone in effect. We cannot pick and choose.

I would like to end this post with the following:

I condemn the war in Iraq, and politician's willingness to sacrifice innocent lives.
I condemn the insurgency in Iraq, and their willingess to sacrifice innocent lives.
I condemn anyone who would try to whitewash evil for the sake of political expediency.
I condemn anyone who thinks that the United States government is so wrong they have to destroy it by force.
I condemn anyone who tries to destroy the civil rights of another by force.

And I encourage everyone else in the activist and anti-Iraq war community to take, post, and share via email the following pledge:

"My opposition to the Iraq War does not translate into support for the violent actions of the insurgency. American soldiers did not create the war, and are not my enemy. Though I disagree with the war, these soldiers deserve and have my support. I will neither encourage nor tolerate any actions against them, and will refuse to work with any individual who does."


WOTN said...

The Realization that the "insurgency" is an atrocity is a healthy development.

The Realization that the "peace movement" is intolerant of dissent is progress.

But given the atrocities and intolerance, how long will it take to realize that the "leadership" of the movement is using its membership for political expediency, for attempt to gain power, that they will toss it aside like yesterday's underwear when they achieve their goals?

No honest Troop can believe that the Military endorses, nor accepts the taking of innocent lives. We go out of our way, we risk our lives and our careers to protect unarmed civilian bystanders. We investigate those that fail to maintain the values we hold dear. We watch as our Brothers are accused and investigated based on the lies and innuendo of journalists and politicans, as well as the IVAW and their nefarious allies.

It will take the DNC aligned Veterans to end their malignment of our troops. The Independents and RNC Veterans are ignored by The Party. It is your duty to end that which your group and your party has wrought.

The Iraq War is won. The Iraqi people are freed from the tyranny of Saddam and the terror of AQ. They are throwing off the influence of Iran and its terrorists. They are now free to change their government without resorting to war, death and destruction. They now have independent news, cell phones, internet, and cars. They now have a democracy of their choosing. They have schools and hospitals. It took longer because AQ studied the works of Viet Nam and Somalia, because they saw a fracture in our National will and thought if they could just kill a few more, we would retreat. They were wrong about the US as well as the Iraqi Culture.

Party is NOT more important than Nation.

Army Sergeant said...

WOTN, you do know I'm not a democrat, right? I think I'd classify myself more as a libertarian.

SSG Thul said...

Nice post and well stated. I disagree with you on the need for the war, but that's what we do in America, disagree.

The Streetsweeper Chronicles said...

Sometimes AS, there is the rare moment when you are stellar...Going to post this over at my blog if you don't mind.

*tip of my hat*

Jen said...

I just wish all people who were so willing to see the wrongs of the Iraqi Insurgency would be so willing to open thier eyes to all forces that kill innocent civilians or use military force for political objectives.

That being said, if someone invaded the US I imagine people would fight back, and I don't think you can blanket the entire insurgency as the fundamentalists who target civilians (although I don't think, as you said, you should ignore the ones that do, whatever percentage that is).

There has to be the same room made for the soldier that shoots an armed child for the Iraq that shoots the armed soldier. Not all want to do it, not all feel pride in it and most do it for survuival at the behest of someone who will never have to be on that battlefeild.

I don't like either, and want the war to end because of it.

LT Nixon said...


Glad you're coming to this realization, albeit a day late and a dollar short. Jodie Evans, co-founder of Code Pink, actively supported the insurgents back in 2005. These people are so deranged to take down the government (or at least make it look bad) that they will support Islamic extremists in the process. Recent support for Hamas is a disturbing development as well. It is not difficult to be opposed to military action while denouncing the extremism of the other side, but many people don't see it that way. The exploitation of veterans is a symptom of lambasting the government "by any means necessary". It is appalling and you are much better than that.

ABNPOPPA said...

I guess my only comment would be that as you profess to support our troops you fail or refuse to realize you and IVAW and Code Pink DO endanger our "fine and upstanding" warriors by giving the the enemy political cannon fodder and propaganda material for them to fuel the fire of their cause.

It's sad you fail to recognize and understand this. I urge you to put your country first and your personal feeling aside and truly support our soldiers.

They call me Pops,
Proud father of an 82nd Airborne Warrior and Veteran.

Chris said...

As you said to put some perspective on this, there is no black and white clear cut morally correct decision, and while the Iraq war does hurt America, it hurts Iraq a hell of a lot more. You are also correct to say ideology shouldn't blind people from reality.

I think its a little bit disingenuous or naive to say that people fighting in the US revolution didn't rob, torture, and execute Tories, and the British. They definitely tarred and feathered a few as well as used them for hostages, and at first were regarded as little more than bandits and brigands by the British. Tories were civilians to, they just happened to still be loyal to Britain. The war has been romantasized a bit because it is what did give us our independence in the end, and in my view I'm glad it happened. Bad stuff always happens in war, usually by both sides. Thats part of the human condition.

There is a large cultural gap between the middle east and the US. Democracy, especially when it is forced upon them instead of coming from within, is looked at as a western imperialist influence that seeks to destroy their traditional way of life. Their culture is completely different then ours, and from my snooty western point of view I think equality for women, and tolerance for other views are parts of our culture that are more developed than theirs (though I'm sure there a couple of individuals in the US that could give them a run for their money).

As it has been pointed out by other armchair pundits who think their opinions matter, its important not to generalize the insurgency to much and make a blanket statement on the diverse factions of the Iraqi insurgency. The insurgency is made up of individuals as well. Some of them have been brainwashed in Madrassa's in countries outside of Iraq, others are fighting for a chance to control Iraq's future, and others are truly fighting because they feel they truly are defending their home. An insurgency that was universally horrible to their civilian population could not have long term viability and would not have enough sympathy to survive. Thats not just me saying that, you can probably find that quote somewhere in FM 90-8.

streetsweeper said...


My blog has been removed. I will be formally staying out of the fracas. I had posted your post over there believing that you touched upon some key points.

Most of all, I felt you finally figured out what was what.

While this line of thought will and has probably cost me friends on my side, I will stand my ground.

Uh, I got teh same comment from ABNPOPPA you got here. To him:


Never mistake where my patriotism lays. I have no lost love for the anti-war crews what so ever. I served at the end of Nam.

As a military policeman I did the best I could with what I had.

I never, not *once* ever thought of selling out my fellow service members of their honor, service and sacrifices nor mine.

There was nobody covering our sixes THEN like there is now. I shall not ever sell them out now either.

I simply felt Army Sergeants post made sense in some key parts that you sir need to re-read.

But never brand me with the same branding iron you will the anti-war crews, sir just because I feel someone from their side has finally gotten it right.

From other comments I read here, I am not alone.

Jen? Don't know what kind of world you grew up in baby, but gang bangers ain't different.

Attend your local drive-by shooting with innocents laying around bleeding or dead and tell me whats different.....

AS? Thanks. I am outta here. Catch you around sometime. When you get stateside the dinner offer still stands.

So does the "we're gonna go at each other on the street". This lil fight ain't over yet, baby.

Love my country, support my troops. I want them to win, each time, every time.

JM said...

I strongly agree with much of what you have said. As for the commenters, I think some don't understand the difference between the anti-war movement and the peace movement (which are two very different things)

I think both the insurgency and the US occupation are wrong. I know there are some in the anti-war movement who want to glamorize and romanticize any who fight against imperialism, but I think the true peace movement can't do this. All violence is wrong, no matter how supposedly "noble" the cause.

But beyond the issue of the morality of violence in the abstract, I think most agree that there are varying degrees of wrong. For instance combatants targeting other combatants is seen as lawful under the laws of war, but combatants targeting non-combatants is seen as a war crime.

In this analysis, it seems to me that the insurgency and the US military are both at fault. Both sides have engaged in tactics that are violations of international law, and that is why I condemn them both.

- James M. Branum
Proud supporter of IVAW