Thursday, November 27, 2008

"Thank You" to GIs?

Heartinsanfrancisco's blog has provoked me again and this time, I won't cogitate, write and rewrite endlessly before responding. She proposes sending thankyou cards to the U.S. troops in Iraq.

No. I disagree. For a million reasons, none of them intending the slightest disrespect to Heart, whose posts force me to think out my views.

First of all, there's the matter of soldiering and moral responsibility: following orders is not an excuse. I already explained my views in detail in the post titled On Armistice Day.

Second, these folks weren't even drafted. They volunteered. They're being paid. When they come home they will get medical and educational benefits that Americans who have not trained to commit homicide on order can only dream of ... on our dime. We've all said and will continue to say "thank you" any number of ways, many of them against my will.

Third, the whole American love affair with veterans and the supposed patriotism of war (Dulce et Decorum Est?) is a rank falsehood, designed to con the least educated, the poorest to be used as cannon fodder for the bond traders, the jetsetting CEOs and the glitterati.

Fourth, and this goes to the specifics of Heart's post (but, again, not the author personally), the whole notion of a company paying for thankyou cards is PR. Xerox wants everyone to know how good they are, how "patriotic" -- and to keep buying Xerox products.

To say "thank you" allays our complicity in the con and the merchandising of war as good.

Yet how can we possibly take pride that our society is capable of producing amoral men and women capable of aiding and abetting atrocity committed in our name, such as Lynndie England and Charles Graner at Abu Ghraib. Their explanation? They did not know it was wrong.

Thank you? More like "you make me sick and ashamed."

Where is the military person of principle who resisted the invasion and participation in the occupation of a country that did nothing to us? Where is the soldier with courage of conviction?

Insofar as I am concerned, they are all cowardly mercenaries -- killers for hire -- and I sure as hell never wanted them hired. Not for Iraq, Grenada, Panama, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic ... shall I go on?

Yes, I did say "cowardly." When the one superpower with an intact nuclear arsenal, possessing a military that is larger than the next ten armed forces put together, takes on -- unprovoked -- a 50th-rate ragtag army of a poor country, that's called cowardly bullying.

So, no thank you from me. Yes, I am sorry for the mothers who lost their children in an insane war project that I opposed from beginning to end. I don't know how Bush can even sleep knowing he wasted thousands of lives for ... what?

But if these mothers' children had stood up for decency and principles with courage, and refused to go, they would all most likely be alive today. The ones who went and survived are no heroes to me.


thailandchani said...

Politically, I agree with you completely.

On the other hand, I see many of the "troops" as victims of all this. Brainwashing, conditioning and acculturation have led them to make such a choice.

That gets into the issue of real freedom of choice. Perhaps even accountability to a degree.

I do see what you mean though.


Anonymous said...

Hai assolutamente ragione, come e' spesso il caso con il tuo blog.


heartinsanfrancisco said...

I can't argue with anything you've said here, Cecil.

I have also opposed Mr. Bush's wars from the beginning, but I try to think of soldiers, no matter how misguided, as doing what they believe is right. That is no excuse for wholesale murder, but in the wake of 9/11, many people who had never felt the slightest patriotic stirrings were deeply touched and it made them especially vulnerable to the brainwashing of the evil despot who is our president.

Perhaps my great failing is that I tend to focus on individuals and while this does not blind me to the issues involved, I know that when we consider the humanity of others it is easier to understand and even forgive their motivations.

Of course Xerox is performing a feat of PR. That is by far the smaller issue.

I also do not believe that such shameful atrocities as what happened at Abu Ghraib are the norm.

I should also tell you that I do not come from a military family and am a pacifist. I marched against the Vietnam War and have also worked against the Iraq War. I am not espousing war in general or this war in particular; I have simply found it in my heart to accept young servicemen as a part of the human race and as such, to wish them well even as I wish them the hell out of that country and that war.

Anne said...

My wont is to say "I'm sorry" instead.

Cecilieaux said...

Thank you, all. This was a difficult topic for all of us, I'm sure. Then again, that's the fun of blogging for me: to attempt to tackle those topics that are thorny.