On Veterans Day, remember that someone, somewhere always pays a price

Paul Evans

By Paul Evans of Monmouth, Oregon. Paul is an Air Force veteran who served in Afghanistan. He is also a former mayor of Monmouth. Previously, he contributed "Re-assessing and re-thinking our military structure"

Today is Veterans' Day. A day each year that our country at least attempts to recognize the sacrifice and selflessness of the men and women that defend our freedom.

Upon return from Afghanistan and Iraq our troops are treated relatively well; Americans have worked hard to separate the soldiers sent to fight our wars - from any feelings they might hold about the wars.

This is not accident: the hard-earned lesson of Vietnam is that it takes a nation to fight a war - blaming the troops is neither just, nor worthy of our better angels.

For good or ill, during Vietnam everyone had an opinion about the war - draftees, dodgers, family members, veterans - people were passionate because it mattered.

Today, few even remember that we are at war - or care.

An unfortunate reality of an "All Volunteer" military is that the few, shoulder the burden for the many; people can now avoid service with a clear conscience. The lack of a national service requirement diminishes expectations for all.

Like it or not, a draft guarantees the attention of the country. But in 2001, our nation sent our volunteer military to war - the rest of America to the mall.

This has made veterans almost invisible in the vastness of an America that has blissfully forgotten the daily slog that is Afghanistan and Iraq.

Most have adjusted their lives and forgotten the struggle in far off distant lands because so few have any real connection with the troops standing a post.

The reality in today's America is that a car accident is more likely to harm someone they care about than an enemy Improvised Explosive Device.

This is not inherently wrong, but it is different than wars of ages past. The nation used to go to war - now we send the nation's military. It is a subtle and powerful change.

Whether you know it or not, 2009 is an important year for veterans. This Veterans' Day small groups will huddle together in the shadow of another soon-to-be-shattered illusion. In hushed whispers frustrated veterans will begin to ask each other what happened to the promise of past visions.

Veterans understand the circumstances for what they are. Veterans know that soon enough our adventure - their adventure - in Iraq will end. After what is anticipated to become a hurried departure, Iraq will exist – indeed, it will likely even prosper under the umbrella of a greater Shiite regime.

Its resources are ripe for exploitation when the sound of mortar and rifle shot subsides. And in the absence of US troops an enforced "peace" will most assuredly envelope the country - even if over a quarter of its citizens find themselves living in fear.

Iraq will continue and in time its people will adjust to the new shackles of its new masters.

But Our America will not be the same - ever. The labyrinth at the bottom of the rabbit hole stole our spirit; our swagger is gone - and in its place a sense of wonder at the loss of nearly a decade of blood, sweat, and tears.

We will depart Iraq a lesser power than we entered - and that is a hard pill to swallow for those of us that did our duty in the name of our country. None of us joined the military to fail. We came of age in the post-Vietnam military and believed that our leaders understood the meaning of necessary war.

Like the hubris-filled empires of ages past we spent the promise of our youth - our time, talent, and treasure attempting to win a war in a place our leaders never understood.

The lessons my dairy farmer philosopher grandfather have been relearned on an international scale: "someone, somewhere always pays a price" he told me - especially for war. And for the past eight years the same people have been asked to pay it - we have asked too much of too few.

Ironically, our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq have not quelled our challenges elsewhere. The sad truth is that our military operations may have made some of them worse. And sadder still, is that most people are far more concerned about these other issues than either of our ongoing military conflicts.

Most people are worried about the rise of China - our new overseer. People are frustrated by a "jobless" economic recovery - something that has proven less of a recovery than an induced coma. And our neighbors are weary of the changing world - a place where America is no longer a dominant hegemony.

Some long forgotten general once argued that the only good war is the war never fought. His name is lost, but his message is as important now as then. We must remember that in the future. However, in the present we must keep faith with those we sent in our name.

Since the wars began we have made progress in our care and support for veterans; most of this has been accomplished in the last thirty-six months.

Veterans today receive better medical care than any previous era; we have sought modern solutions for evolving problems. But we have far more work to accomplish.

Today, I am asking you to make Veterans' Day your own personal day of action. Spend a few hours today and honor the service of the troops by using your time to improve their lives.

One person can accomplish little; a nation of persons can transform the universe. It is time we begin that transformation. Consider the following actions and make a difference.

First, we need Senator Ron Wyden to pass his “soft-landing package” for our National Guard and Reservists. It is a solid agenda and he needs to hear you tell him that. Call him, write him - let your voice be heard.

Second, call, email, text, and write all our other members of Congress: then do the same for all the Congressional members you can reach. Tell them - tell them that the Congress must act - that We the People can and We the People must do right by our troops and their families.

Congress will not act unless your voices ring from every neighborhood from coast to coast; together we can make that happen.

After you contact Congress, contact your legislator. Tell them that Oregon needs to maximize the progress made in the 2009 Legislative Session. Tell them that you want our veterans' given the advantages necessary for a good life. And tell them that implementation of good veterans' policy is more than politics - that it is the fair and just thing to do.

Ask them to support the work of the veterans' task forces on reintegration, transportation, and women veterans' healthcare. Remind them that you care about these issues; remind them why they wanted to serve in Salem in the first place.

Finally, seek out information about what is going on in your community. Right now we need you to reach out to your neighborhood association, your congregation, and your service clubs.

There are things we can do this next year that do not require legislation. We can make ending homelessness among veterans' a reality. We can develop tailored local solutions that link needed healthcare services, spaces for living, and hunger initiatives.

Tonight - this Veterans' Day - somewhere between 7,000 and 15,000 homeless veterans' will seek shelter from the cold. What does it say about a community when it allows the men and women that served on our behalf - to seek shelter from the wind under bridges, in forests, or on the streets?

It says we have forgotten what matters; we have forgotten that our nation survives through the willingness of men and women to risk life and limb for our benefit. And it says we have work to do.

Today you have an opportunity to make a conscious choice. You can shrug and move along with your holiday - or you can stand up for those that stood for you - each of us must make our decisions, we must live with our own demons.

If you want to help - we need you. If you know of a successful program - no matter how small - that helps our homeless - especially homeless veterans - email me and share what you know.

If you are unsure of how to help veterans - but want to help - email me. We will link you up with appropriate partnerships in your neighborhood.

Email me at [email protected] or call me at 503.949.6378.

We need your ideas – we need your personal involvement. And even though we cannot help every veteran we most certainly can help some veterans.

Let us renew the meaning of Veterans’ Day in 2009.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    ..."the hard-earned lesson of Vietnam is that it takes a nation to fight a war ..."

    If so, that may be one of very few lessons the American people have learned from all previous wars.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    Wonderful Veterans Day post. A Republican vet family friend told me that whenever he receives "support the troops" e-mails, they are never from Democrats, so I'm going to send this to him.

    (Of course some of the e-mails he received were likely really urging support of Bush-Cheney policies in the name of support the troops.)

    I will definitely e-mail you, Paul about finding ways to help soldiers/vets. One question I have off the top of my head is regarding the airfare reimbursement policy for soliders on leave. I remember early during the war, soldiers on leave were flown home to one of three US cities, but then had to pay their own way beyond that. Many airlines gave the option of people donating their frequent flier miles.

    (Anecdotally, I recently had a free flight through U.S. Air that I hadn't used with the one year deadline approaching. I was disappointed when one of their cust. serv. reps. told me it couldn't be donated to soldiers serving overseas.)

  • Buckman Res (unverified)

    Far too many Americans take their basic freedoms for granted, freedoms guarded by brave men and women who serve in our armed forces.

    Thank you Mr. Evans and every other person who has helped secured our unique rights through their own personal sacrifice.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Who pays? And how?

    Check War is a Racket by Marine General Smedley Butler - especially Chapter 3.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    "remember that someone, somewhere always pays a price".

    Usually civilians

  • (Show?)

    Will be following the work of the governor's commission on re-integration of Iraq and Afghanistan vets with great interest. Veterans' homelessness and disability compensation for those suffering PTSD are prime points of concern.

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    Paul Evans-"It takes a nation to fight a war."

    "Ronald Reagan proved deficits don't matter." -Dick Cheney

    "Now everyone go out and shop." - George W. Bush post 9/11

    The World War II experience showed us it does take a nation to win a war. But since the 1980s and the Reagan military expansion, the right wing has promoted the idea that we can have wars without paying for them, either in money or in caring for our veterans. Just keep putting it on the tab. Post 9/11 when the call for sacrifice should have been made, we were told to go spend more money on "stuff." Borrow and spend to maintain military pre-eminence, to finance wars, to maintain standing armies and bases around the world, while letting our military hospitals and care systems deteriorate, is what the GOP is about. At minimum if the GOP wants to maintain this gigantic military infrastructure they should have the honesty to tell the American people how much in taxes they are going to have to pay for it all. And if they are going to promote wars of choice then they should also tell the American people how many are going to die and be maimed for life for their cause.

    Pat Robertson visited GWB at the White House before the start of the Iraq invasion. Robertson expressed his concern that there would be many American casualties. GWB looked puzzled and stated, "There won't be any American casualties." This is the thinking of the chicken hawk.

  • Aaron Cady, Esq. (unverified)

    The majority of these wars were unnecessary. Well, Cheney said they were inevitable back in 1996. You fight him tooth and nail, the great evil, then give him your sons and daughters' lives. Sorry if that kind of patriotism doesn't inspire.

    No one will address why it is highest public service to defend our freedoms, when it is our gov pissing them away in the first place. The message is clear. Despite the huge sacrifice, it is easier to serve in the military than get involved and demand responsible government. This is the primate follow-the-great-ape philosophy. But dismiss the most evolved exemplars of your species, keep breeding, and elevate all those extra, pointless lives, after gov has created and artificial emergency which gives those lives meaning, but only in their absence.

    When the Blackwater contractors come to take you and your neighbors to the detention center, I'll bet you will still celebrate November 11. You do not die of patriotic sacrifice. You die of hide-bound species specific, hard coded behavior. It's days like today that let true progressives know, in no uncertain terms, that there are limits on rationality, and they will be considered reprehensible, anti-social, ungrateful idiots if we don't straighten up and salute.

    Next time someone plants a bomb in a mall, and you wonder what the hell they could be thinking, reread this and t.a.'s post, then read the masthead statement of BO philosophy. If you are going to systematically exclude people from your society, then kill them outright. It is stupid to beat them down daily with hard coded primate social values, then turn your backs and expect conformance.

    And for all those, "no choice but to fight" carolers, keep thinking that in the coming years, as India eats your lunch, founded and inspired by a man that preached non-violent resistence in the face of the world's greatest empire. "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind". "In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king". The blind following the myopotic. Definitely a much better title for this post!

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    There are civilians in the balkans, central asia, africa, the middle east and the US that will strongly agree, "yeah, when it's the USAF, someone, somewhere always pays a price". A civilian someone, simply unlucky.

    When one elists in the USAF, they either choose to blindly follow or recognize that they will, every action, be bombing civilians from behind an electronic display. From its inception the USAF has killed civilians as freely as combatants. The AAF carried out two nuclear attacks against purely civilian targets to make a point.

    Now, if you can ignore all that, "great post"! Would any of you care to explain to me why yours is "the smart choice" and I am a mindless troll? Don't ever laugh at the right's lack of compassion. You have the same personality traits in spades.

    Don't be hypocrites. Bring back the draft and shoot us non-conformists in a training accident during basic. Admit it. You expect our respect, and will not consider our position ever, not one iota, never.

    At least stop trying to control the internal policies of foreign states. There's nothing worse than saying, "OK. I don't love it. I don't like it. I'm leaving it.", only to find US dolts influencing the reality on the ground, pretty much anywhere you care to go. THAT, THAT, THAT...is what you fight for.

    At the end of the day, this is like arguing with a mentally retarded guy that is a Ducks fan why they aren't going to win the national title. He enjoys being a Ducks fan, and lacks the mental capacity to know anything more. Monkey does as monkey sees. More about "troupe" than "troops". The less intelligent, the more basic instincts rule. This is why I stopped posting here. The depth of willful ingornance is impenetrable. Sorry to see HarryK, Civiletti, rw- so many- gone. You really can't stand progressive talk, can you? That unpleasant, highly odious situation is what it feels like when your mind expands. BO owes most its popularity to using that language, while shielding you from any real growth. That's one good reason to vote for the Democratic Party's candidate. They do that really well. No change required, but you feel like you've addressed the issue. Kind of like Obama. "Voted for change. Candidate won. Job done". Meanwhile, on the ground, no change. That's a Democratic Party solution.

    So for next year's midterms, get ready for it. "Well, yes, we're having trouble implementing change. We need more." A lot of today is about remembering individuals that are gone. What you will not deal with or accept is that to some of us, the name of the individual that was renditioned by that USAF today, is far more important, and far more consequential in judging their legacy.

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)

    "This is why I stopped posting here."

    And yet, here you are. How kind of you to stop in again and try to point out the error of our ways to rest of us. (I'd roll my eyes, but they won't go back that far).

    Paul---nice post, thanks---and thanks for your service.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    "This is why I stopped posting here. The depth of willful ingornance is impenetrable. Sorry to see HarryK, Civiletti, rw- so many- gone."

    Zarathrusta: I have thought several times of discontinuing commenting on BO, but then I thought about the spinmeisters telling their audiences that their emperors and empresses were really wearing fine raiments and there would be no one to say they are really naked. Hang in there, Z, and come back HarryK.

  • (Show?)

    I don't read Blue Oregon much, but I did read Paul's piece. Thoughtful, passionate, sincere. This is a perspective that needs to be front and center more often. If we could get veteran's advocates to support a national war tax that pays for the debt and future outlays in Af/Iraq AND the longterm veteran's health costs, that would help perhaps.

    Thank you, Paul, for bringing this to us.

  • Dale Thompson (unverified)

    I agree with almost everything that Paul Evans said so well in his piece. My one (slight) disagreement is with his statement about Vietnam; "the hard-earned lesson of Vietnam is that it takes a nation to fight a war - blaming the troops is neither just, nor worthy of our better angels." As a veteran from 1957-1979 (before, during and after Vietnam) I never experienced nor was aware of anyone blaming "the troops"for that war. I am convinced that that whole idea was more myth than reality, a myth promoted in too many movies, books and magazine articles. And I say that as one whose opinion about that war, and indeed all wars, was changed radically by my experience of it. Our country was not let down by the troops, it was let down by the people in power in the Pentagon and the Congress and the Executive Branch of government over many years. As for his main point of helping veterans in need Paul is right on. Thank you!

  • Mark Meckler (unverified)

    Great post!

    I agree with Ms Mel that Z should be in front of a firing squad. Good to see some basic values among Dems (I'm a Rep). Pacificsts are not patriots. Ghandi was a fraud.

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)


    What ARE you smoking (and why aren't you sharing)? I never said Z should be in front of a firing squad. I simply made note of the irony of someone telling us he no longer comments here---even as he comments here.

    Seriously, share your drugs. I could use some today.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    "I agree with Ms Mel that Z should be in front of a firing squad. Good to see some basic values among Dems (I'm a Rep). Pacificsts are not patriots. Ghandi was a fraud."

    Mark: Did you support the illegal war on Iraq? Are you gung-ho for escalating the troops into the Aghanistnam quagmire? How about torture? Are you for that? The Geneva Conventions? A step forward for civilization from the barbarism of the two world wars. Scrap them?

  • Peri Brown (unverified)

    uhhh...don't know if you want an answer to that one Bill. "Mark Meckler" is a national organizer for the TEA protests. I suspect it would go something like "heeell, yes"!

    remember that someone, somewhere always pays a price

    and it should be Z! Kidding, couldn't resist.

    Posted by: Bill R. | Nov 12, 2009 7:57:31 AM Paul Evans-"It takes a nation to fight a war." "Ronald Reagan proved deficits don't matter." -Dick Cheney "Now everyone go out and shop." - George W. Bush post 9/11 "What did I buy shopping? A pair of socks. I didn't want to overheat the economy" - George HW Bush

    Seriously, I have to wonder- naively- if middle ground is still possible. Middle ground takes the most hits when two sides face off, literally and figuratively. Anyway, what would Eisenhower say in commentary? Quintessential soldier, iNTj rational (so we know he's data driven, logical, and works backward from a goal with defined criteria), and the first to truly grasp the horror of all the wrong reasons we go off and die.

    What, indeed, one must wonder. Have to admit I would vote for him over Obama. That is one very sad statement. Easier to say with Nixon in the grave.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    "Pacificsts are not patriots."

    In war after war the patriots would line the streets cheering the marching soldiers on - to their deaths or mutilation. They cheered on the soldiers who fired the opening shots at Fort Sumpter and the soldiers marching through New York, Boston, Baltimore and other cities to be among the 600,000 who lost their lives in the Civil War making 9/11 seem like a fender-bender by comparison.

    The patriots cheered the troops marching to the troop ships in 1917 to join the carnage in Flanders Fields and along the some. After time out for training 48,000 marched to their deaths in the mud of that benighted land in less than a year. It took ten years to rack up 58,000 deaths in Vietnam and create that national trauma.

    Patriots proclaimed they supported our troops as they were shipped off to an illegal war on Iraq. It was left to two enterprising reporters at the Washington Post to expose the neglect inflicted on the wounded from that merciless land at Walter Reed hospital. What preoccupied the patriots and promoters of this war so much that they didn't take time to really support the troops? Too busy playing the Wall Street casino?

  • E (unverified)

    Please God, can somebody recommend to me a blog or site upon which morons don't post? Didn't some of you idiots even read Mr. Evans' column?

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)

    Mark Meckler posted: "Ghandi was a fraud."

    Typical of a Gandhi critic- don't even know enough about him to know how to spell his name.

    I say you rack up bad karma by calling Gandhi a fraud, Meckler.

  • Does It Matter With All the Goddamned Spammers? Get Validated IDs! (unverified)

    The Mahatma was complicated. He fought in the Boer War and tried to recruit Indians for the world wars. He lectured that Indians were too weak to throw off Britain because they didn't eat meat, and should start, until he lived in England and discovered the connection between non-violence and vegetarianism. He continued to evolve substantially until he returned to India, after South Africa.

    I'm told that when Mandela visited India, he said, "you gave us Mohandas and we gave you the Mahatma".

    Sorry to come down on the side of the "anti-socials", but the comment that best fits these comments, to my mind, is, "We train young men to drop fire on people. But their commanders won't allow them to write 'fuck' on their airplanes because it's obscene"!

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)

    To "Does it Matter...": Gandhi didn't fight in the Boer War. What he did was organize the ambulance corps. which tended to injured soldiers of the Indian regiments.

    And I doubt he tried to recruit Indians for the world wars. Please cite a reference for that.

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)

    "Does it matter...": turns out you are correct in the case of WW1: in 1918, Gandhi did draft a statement of recruit for combatants as he thought this would lead to the British granting India independence. Of course the war was four years on before he had issued such a statement and he did so only as a possible means towards independence.

    As for WW2, there is no record of Gandhi recruiting Indians to the fight. I believe Gandhi's position was that he could not support a fight for democracy as long as the Indians were colonized. And even if he'd supported the effort he said it would have been nonviolent, material support.

  • Does It Matter... (unverified)

    Posted by: Stephen Amy | Nov 13, 2009 9:06:04 PM

    To "Does it Matter...": Gandhi didn't fight in the Boer War. What he did was organize the ambulance corps. which tended to injured soldiers of the Indian regiments.

    And I doubt he tried to recruit Indians for the world wars. Please cite a reference for that.

    It's very well documented. He was called out by a Brit minister, thought about it, and tried. He failed miserably, but was on board with the idea. If you can't find it, I'll look up chapter and verse.

    Just saw your second post. We're saying the same thing.

    I don't consider any of this "service", so I go with the prevailing definitions. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I've met plenty of family members of people that "only" served with our equivalent of the ambulance corps, and I haven't ever noticed that they have any "buts" to add to their veteran status. If you're on the field, your a vet. Photographers included.

    I'm not meaning to support Mark's statement that he was a fraud. If anything the gray areas make him more real. I'm just saying that he's complicated; you can cite incidents that seem to contradict all the canned images.

    It does show that this is more about what society says about you than what you actually do. In highest patriotic language, he is called the "father of the country", yet he was totally opposed to the partition that created the country he's supposed to be father of! I would like to hear what he would have to say about our protests that its so hard to get a message across. Getting off a ship with nothing, 1/2 million villages, god knows how many major religions, and deciding to unite them against the strongest empire in history- now THAT'S a policy challenge!

  • Emmit Goldman (unverified)

    Re: "the sacrifice and selflessness of the men and women that defend our freedom."

    Are you saying that they would kill on command if they weren't paid for it and if they weren't lauded for it?

    And exactly whose freedom was defended by those who have gladly slaughtered and tortured the innocents of those defenseless countries we have overrun and destroyed?

    The DP and the RP are united in their beliefs in American Exceptionalism, i.e., if we do the killing, it must have been for the spread of democracy and human rights, unlike the Nazis and the Stalinists who preceded us.

    And "Pacificsts" are beside the point. One does not need to be a pacifist to oppose wars of empire, which are the only ones we fight.

    Shame on us all for tolerating this evil.

  • rw (unverified)

    I support vets. Rather don't enjoy posts constructed of platitudes.

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)

    Does it matter: sorry for nitpicking but I reacted to the use of the word "fought" in the Boer War. Sure, he's technically a vet of that and the Zulu wars. But in each case he consciously decided only to participate in the ambulance corps.

    And, as I posted, you're correct as regards the 1918 recruiting letter.

    And of course I agree that his accomplishments are astounding, as you posted.

  • rw (unverified)

    Emmit, I was raised to spout as you do. And then I made my way into the world, a girl unprotected by money or family who cared to step in or around.

    There is predatory wickedness in the world.

    I agree with your points, but not your self-indulgently maudlin tones. Balance your voice and you will find many more receptive to what you are trouble by - yet, if you have not fought off gang rapists, or dodged in and out of dark alleys to try to get away from a predatorily prowling car following you as you go home from your little jobby job you may not really be aware that this is a greyscale battleground, this world. Not one bit of it is black and white.

    As to commemorative moments: my circle, we stand and sing a Going To War song each time we gather, no matter if it is to eat food, listen to a lecture, or enter a ceremony. We pray, and we sing, and we sent a voice of spirits to the ones EVERYWHERE caught up in battles of war. And, yes, we do this especially for those who have been sent by our government, on our behalves, so that you, and your children, my child, do NOT have to go compulsorily.

    I came from precisely the cant you represent. But I've learned to tenor it just a little bit - I still do not believe in what our govt is doing. But I will never, ever, turn against or forget the ones pressed into service, so to speak. Right now the draft consists of economic hardship and lack of educational opportunity. My son is barely holding on against it himself. But in another time we may see the return of the draft that is dodged ONLY by wealth and influence.

    If they do not continue to step forward, we will not have them to thank any longer. We will have a draft again.

  • rw (unverified)

    ... sorry for the couple of misspelled words in there:

    troubled send etc....

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)

    rw: you are saying you support the troops mainly because we have a volunteer system and, therefore, your own child doesn't have to go?

    A "classist" perspective, although it doesn't sound like you're wealthy.

    Brings to mind J.P.Morgan paying $300 so he wouldn't have to fight for the Union Army.

    I say "support the troops" is a meaningless phrase. What means something is an opinion arrived at after careful analysis of what the troops are engaged in. If, in my opinion, the current adventure is a waste of lives and money and there's really not a compelling reason that the U.S. is engaged in hostilities, then, hell no, I will not support troops who're taking part in it. I really can't believe people who will fight a war that they have misgivings about. Take the time in the stockade and the dishonorable discharge- that has to be far preferable to engaging in a shooting war when one thinks it ought not to be happening.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Speciation is painful.

    War, as rw notes, is the human condition. Obviously some of us are no longer in that condition. Hence, speciation.

    Speciation happens. Disappointing that most sci-fi has humans frozen in their 20th century form, thousands of centuries in the future. Red Dwarf was an exception. When Lister wanted to go into status and turn around and go back to Earth, the computer pointed out that, based on the average primate time-on-planet he would get back just in time to be the cave man display.

    "We are living a kind of Red Dwarf existence" - Stephen Hawking

  • rw (unverified)

    Go ahead and bash me Stephen. You are itching for the fight. Enjoy. That is the game you play.

  • rw (unverified)

    So, SA, I was in reaction to your decision to pick at me and assume that the brief writing I did was the sum total of my self.

    Frankly, I've written much of being sick of the whining, entitled song the militaries sing. "We do what you won't do; WE make the OOOOOLteemat sacrifice".... when I never asked them to freakin' do it, and I never EVER wanted to go to war. So I'm not sure where all the entitlement came from, but I CAN tell you that it is a dangerous trend in a military that is moving towards a war hegemony - maybe not in your generation or our grandkids, but eventually it will happen, because they have moved to feeling special, set apart and deserving. Military historians have a lot to say to us about what comes after this shift in culture in the institution of a standing army.

    BUT: I am also trying to understand why they SAY that. And the comment you picked on and criticized is MY effort to understand a point of view so totally divorced from mine... I am really trying to develop a level of empathy that I've never had, and feel could only help us all if we tried harder for it. I get it what they are talking about. And I've impoverished or undisciplined relations who are opting, even in wartime [!] for this only possible road to resource and training.

    So, sorry I reacted. But I did not like the way you started off, and wish you would just have engaged me instead. You are right: I am not well off. Possibly not even at all a well cat! :).... but I am engaged now in the hardest work I've ever done. I want to lose the inflexibility, the judgement. I want to try to understand some positions I've always decried and was raised to reject. I think I owe it to others and to me.

    You should at least show a little bit of gratitude that your ass is not on that firing line right now, b/c a bunch of impoverished or patriotically deluded children have stepped up to do it for you - yes. Sorry it feels so bad to perhaps face that. But it IS a fact. They are doing it so you won't have to. And that may not last all too darned long, that choice. We shall see. Ask a Vietnam vet about that reality.

    What do you think?

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)

    rw: you posted:

    "BUT: I am also trying to understand why they SAY that."

    my response: of course giving one's life or being seriously injured is the ultimate sacrifice. Therefore it can also be said that anyone who is on the receiving end of U.S. firepower is also making the ultimate sacrifice. I wish no one on either side in the conflict were put in the position to make the ultimate sacrifice, especially if I think the U.S. did not have to engage in the conflict.

    One reason why we always hear about how the military must be esteemed over almost all other walks of life is due to the constant PR and propaganda media campaigns which are funded by the U.S. government. And also a whole lot of people, including most prominent people, who seem to agree for one reason or another.

    and, you posted: "You should at least show a little bit of gratitude that your ass is not on that firing line right now, b/c a bunch of impoverished or patriotically-deluded children have stepped up to do it for you...They're doing it so you don't have to..."

    my response: My entire point is that I really don't think the deployment into Afghanistan had to happen (not to mention Iraq; not to mention dozens and dozens of other U.S. deployments- remember the Dominican Republic in 1965? 23,000 U.S. Marines invaded in order to PREVENT democracy).

    The Taliban had offered to turn Osama bin Laden over to a third country after 9/11/01. What kind of an insane country would pass up that offer and, instead, mount an invasion/occupation that has cost hundreds of U.S. lives, hundreds of innocent Afghani lives, led to imprisonment without charge (at Bagram AFB), and cost uncounted billions from the U.S. Treasury? What kind of an insane country would do that? Maybe a country that has a side interest in a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan natural gas pipeline? And our current leader thinks it's all necessary, just like the previous did. Or, at least he says he thinks it's so.

    So, they're not doing so I don't have to- it doesn't have to be undertaken, at all.

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)

    Both these VetDay posts make one wonder. Both seem to follow t.a.'s policy of posting, checking a few responses (must be properly signed; screw your life situation!), then ignoring the rest. Then there are all those "announcement" and pronouncement articles where the authors never check back. Sen. Merkely recently demonstrated the technique well.

    OK. If that's acceptable policy, then don't whine about off-topic discussions. When the presenter "leaves the room", we can talk about what we please.

    How about going to validated IDs and a policy that says a post is either responsive or off-topic? If it's off, delete it, if it's responsive answer it. Kind of banal. Isn't this usually mastered in pre-school?

    Too early. I misread the title as "On Valentine's Day, remember that someone, somewhere always pays a price". Equally true.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    "I really can't believe people who will fight a war that they have misgivings about. Take the time in the stockade and the dishonorable discharge- that has to be far preferable to engaging in a shooting war when one thinks it ought not to be happening."

    When Lt. Ehren Watada was being court-martialed for living up to his oath to defend the Constitution by refusing to fight in the illegal war on Iraq (the only officer to do so) a supporter of Watada's was asked if any fellow officers at Fort Lewis supported him. The response was that agreed with him, but they could join him because they had a family and a mortgage to pay. It's a hell of a thing when someone is willing to kill other people to pay a mortgage.

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)

    Exactly, Bill. That's a hell of a thing. The more courageous thing would be to forget the mortgage.

  • Emmit Goldman (unverified)

    "The task of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much personal integrity as possible; it is to dismantle those systems."

    Lierre Keith, The Vegetarian Myth. Crescent City, CA: Flashpoint Press, 2009

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    There is a valid case for setting aside a day to remember the many good, decent and courageous men and women who have served honorably in the armed forces. Veterans Day should be such a day, but it is commonly tarnished by people spouting a lot of claptrap.

    Not all veterans served honorably and to give unqualified praise is offensive to those we can really be proud of. I won't give an example to avoid digging up dirt. Informed people won't need examples cited for them.

    One of the great ironies of Veterans Day and Memorial Day comes from some people shouting the praises of the military but who made sure they never had to wear a uniform and get their butts in harm's way.

  • rw (unverified)

    Stephen A is crusading, fair enough.

    The Beav' really thinks signing your name will make a huge difference? Folks who know me know my voice. And my stances. Beav, how bout you go first? That might start the stampede, doughty-good fellow that you are.

    My POINT, gentlemen: it does not fucking matter what my personal opinion of the war, of war machinery, of armies et. al. People are fighting and dying. In MY community we remember them all. We remember and call out to those who are fighting and dying no matter where; and we also remember and call out to those who are caught in the way between the chess pieces. We do not discriminate in our compassion or recognition of the humanity. And that includes basic respect for those pressed into the fight. There can be no end to war if you keep it up in your heart SA. You have to extend the compassion to all: because they are human beings.

    Period. End. Of. STory.

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)

    I was agreeing with you, rw. You mistook my characterization of t.a.'s logic for my own. When I say validated IDs, I don't mean posting your name. I mean having your pseudonym tied to a real ID, behind the scenes, to allow for greater editorial control over link spammers.

    Purely a logical point. I'd likely be banned as fast as they would.

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)

    rw posted: "There can be no war if you keep it up in your heart SA. You have to extend the compassion to all: because they are human beings."

    rw: ah so, we end wars by automatically honoring people who fight wars? Seems illogical to me.

  • rw (unverified)

    Well, SA: logic only seems to run reality.

    Beav: so I'm found to be a rather myopic, tendential and reactive WENCH again. Oy mamala.....


  • rw (unverified)

    SA: first law - .... equal and opposite force....

    Is THAT logical enough for you?

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)

    rw: I really have no idea what you're talking about.

  • (Show?)

    We're trying to evolve, even (or especially) those of us who acknowledge a continuing need for a top-of-the-line professionally staffed military.

    As long as there is someone out there eager to steal your lunch money, and you are unwilling for whatever reason to defend yourself, you need a champion to do your dirty work.

    The fact is of course, that these professionals have always been and will continue to be misused by regularly by Victims of Arrested Development with dreams of machismo, but that doesn't mean that we don't need 'em.

    It means we need better politicians, which is something that we actaully can do something about.

  • rw (unverified)

    Thanks, Pat. And SA, of course you have no idea what I am talking about. You do not want to.

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)

    Pat Ryan: almost without exception in U.S. history, excepting just a couple of cases, it's been the U.S. which has "stolen the lunch money" from a weaker country.

    <h2>rw: you decry Emmitt's post as being platitudinal. Please tell me what your last few responses have been, other than nothing but platitudes? "first law...equal and opposite force...", for example. That is very non-specific, i.e., platitudinal.</h2>
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