I was in Long Range Recon in the Army during the first Gulf War.
That's okay, ED, I sometimes found it ethically questionable too. Luckily, I have no moral compass. Well, I have one, but it always points where I want it to point.
I was definitely not one of the honor, duty, country guys. I had a more mercenary mentality.
A lot of people just couldn't understand how I didn't see the enemy as bad guys or evil terrorist scum, but still had no qualms about fighting them.
I also had nothing against the hippie protesters either - aside from their poor hygiene and questionable musical tastes. I like to think if I hadn't been away fighting, I would have been at home protesting. I actually respected them a lot more than the sheep that sat at home with no opinion.
I've never been a soldier. My real experience with war is zero, save reading about it in the news, or reading and/or watching fictional accounts of it. Thanks for that for sure.
It's hard to imagine Military Boot Camp successfully training my instinct NOT to kill my fellow man out of me, but I know it's designed to do just that. It tries to make sure I wouldn't hesitate to kill someone intent on killing me. Even that I wouldn't hesitate to kill in a less clear situation given the order. As I sit here and type this, it's pretty hard to imagine getting there, given my most traumatic battle against another man consists of a college frat fight, thank goodness.
I guess, setting aside the validity of motivations for any wars, I'm grateful that I haven't really been needed, because I'm glad the part of me I reference above is still alive. I'm fairly confident I could 'kill' it and get to work doing the business of killing as a soldier, but I'm glad it still seems foreign. I have no illusion that the killing is the business - and I can totally see Hep's viewpoint about all the idealistic crap not really selling it or justifying it. Especially in every war of the last 50 years or so - where there have been no legions of huns landing on our shores - it's all a lot more abstract about the whys and who benefits.
Given my thoughts about oil, 9/11, the Patriot Act, and pretty much the inherrent lies told by the powerful for most of my adult life about what is really motivating most GeoPolitics these days, it'd be damn near impossible to convince me that I was killing anyone for George Washington's ideals about now.
I know that Nathan R. Jessup would scoff at me as one of the people who uses words like honor and discipline at cocktail parties as punch lines, but he'd be wrong. It's more that I don't kid myself that it's not really this: I'm grateful to those who've served to maintain the status quo, because I am well aware that I personally benefit from it.
I wish for a better status quo in which a far greater number of human beings enjoy a higher standard of living, but in my heart of hearts I have to admit that I don't mean that I'm ready to accept some radically lower level 'average of suckage' in order to get there immediately. I'd like to believe I'd accept something somewhat lower, but I know there are things I wouldn't compeletely give up peacefully.
So I guess when I think of the military being out there 'fighting for the American Way of Life' - I tend to understand that it's more HD TV's and jalapeno poppers on demand, than it is he Bill of Rights that I know most in the USA would vote out tomorrow if they could in favor of tyranny of their majorities.
Back when I was eighteen and trying to escape multi-generational poverty in a dying hick town, things like social consciousness and political awareness were unaffordable luxuries. If military entrance had required me to kill a couple of puppies and kittens, I probably would have rationalized that there were plenty more where they came from. At the time, the United States was still absorbing the lessons learned from getting involved in Vietnam and the Cold War had been a slow chess match that had dragged on for over forty years. It wasn't until the Gulf War started that I considered a world and viewpoints beyond my own little existence. It's easy to be smug about being too evolved to kill for a living when you've never had choose between that and bagging groceries for the rest of your life. That said, I'm still proud of having been one of the people who have defended your right to free speech and pleased that you use it in an effective manner.
Seriously - I will never run for office. Not under the current rules, anyway. If this shit comes down, I'll probably run for 'Warlord' if I survive the inital intellectual purges - which I'd say is a longshot.
I'm really just not prepared to spend 75% of my time campaigning and governing on my knees to monied interests and less than the rest of that time trying to help people. Trying to coordinate my own corporate blow job giving with that of all my colleagues' blow job giving schedules, to manage the inherrent conflicts and timing problems to try to actually get anything done would be impossible at best.
Nor am I prepared to have dudes who fear that if I'm elected that their entire worlds will explode digging through my trash and talking to estranged college girlfriends about what I may have smoked and if I cuddled for long enough after one-night stands before beginning my walks of shame. Not that any research is really necessary these days, because all you have to do is say a thing enough times to make it true. So I'm sure I'd be a sympathizer of Mao or something.
when I was in NYC on 9/11 I felt a strong and almost unavoidable want...and need...to fight. I looked at the person next to me and really thought - "that's my fellow American and we need to get over silly things like race, money and Yankees/Red Sox and make sure this never happens again." I remember seeing a Onion headline and this picture:
And thinking how true it was. In short, at that point, if you had pointed to the people that were responsible and told me to fight, I would have. It was a hopeful time in many ways because it really seemed like we would come together as a nation...the opposite happened, but that's another thread.
I think about that when people discuss the military because - really - we are lucky that there are volunteers that do the things our country asks of them. The problem is sometimes what the country asks of them. I also recognize that while I may not agree with everything they are asked to do, the fact that they do it without question (mostly) is a fact that will hopefully keep my son secure in years to come.
But I also worry that things they are asked to do might also be jeopardizing my son's future.
Either way, I am thankful for people in our military...because Jessup was right, one way or another, we need them on that wall.
Its really a hard thing to resolve internally so I think most people rationalize and just err on the side of appreciating that we have people that would fight if hostile forces suddenly showed up on our shores.