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    Thread: Was it worth it?

    1. #1
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      Was it worth it?

      At the risk of sounding disrespectful (Memorial Day just ended here in the states, a national holiday celebrating the nation's military personnel who died in action), I'm posting this article here. It is quite hard-hitting and emotionally powerful, and shifts the focus toward what I think we should really be thinking about on days like these.

      http://c4ss.org/content/27619

      J. Edward Carp

      Two years ago my wife and I lost a baby. We went to the 20 week ultrasound, expecting to hear if we were having a boy or a girl. Instead, we did not hear a heartbeat. The pain was sharp and immediate, though it has dulled with time. In our grief we sought comfort in friends and relatives who shared it, who had also looked forward to a new grandchild or niece or nephew.

      We never got the chance to know our son, Walter Tyler Carp, and so I cannot imagine the grief the parents of my friend Nick Crombie felt when they heard their son had been killed by an IED in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on June 7th, 2006, or the anguish suffered by the parents of Marisol Heredia, a soldier from my unit I helped treat after she was horrifically burned in an accident on our base in Baghdad, as they watched their daughter die on a hospital bed in San Antonio, Texas. But I still grieve for my lost friend and I still remember Marisol pleading with me to kill her as we feebly tried to soothe her burns.

      On Memorial Day, we are offered a national version of that simple sharing of grief that helped my wife and I face our loss. The President calls my dead friends heroes. Media outlets incessantly blare thanks to them and their families and sometimes even to me as a veteran, though I am still alive. We are supposed to think somber and grateful thoughts. Oh, and we are supposed to kick off the summer vacation season with a barbeque and a mattress sale.

      But the mattress sales and the barbeques are not why I hate Memorial Day. When my father called me the day Walter died, he wept with me. When the President solemnly intones his “gratitude” at Arlington National Cemetery, he does so while sending more Nicks and Marisols to their deaths. He does so while turning them from the kids they were into the heroes he needs them to be so that he can dupe another generation of kids the way we were duped.

      But they were not heroes. Telling the truth does the dead no dishonor, and lying does them no honor. Like most soldiers in every war from every country, my dead were just kids who believed the things a sick culture told them about duty, honor, and country. They, like me, maybe even like you, were raised saying the Pledge and standing for the Star-Spangled Banner, playing with GI Joes and being taught to be grateful to the military for their “freedom.”

      We who knew the dead carry our grief with us every day, but on Memorial Day we are offered the chance to subsume our pain in a national ceremony of mourning. The rituals offer more than just communal grief; they offer the chance to assign great meaning and purpose to the senseless horror that destroyed the young lives of our dead. Nick wasn’t a kid from Winnemucca who got killed by a roadside bomb in a futile war he, like me, mistakenly thought was his affair; he was a great hero who died for our freedom.

      But when we indulge in these rituals, we help animate their deeper purpose- the seduction of another group of young men and women by the mythology of the nation. I grieve for my dead, but I look at my young sons and I know that I cannot let myself be tempted into these faux rationalizations of their deaths. We cannot allow our dead to be turned into the iconography of war. We must gird up our loins and face the senseless horror that ripped their bodies apart and the central nightmare of their deaths: that their deaths were meaningless; they died for nothing. They were grist for a mill, and that mill still grinds up lives today.

      The United States government took our dead from us, and now seeks to appropriate their memory and our grief as well. But no, Mr. Obama, you cannot have my dead, and you cannot have my grief. I don’t grieve for fallen heroes. I grieve for Nick. He was young, and you never knew him.

      This is part of what we should be remembering on days like Memorial Day - not just why they fought, but what they died for. We should be asking an important question:

      Was it worth it?
      Original Poster likes this.
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
      Formerly known as BLUELINE976

    2. #2
      Consciousness in the Void Universal Mind's Avatar
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      In some cases, yes. In other cases, no. Sometimes it is a matter of opinion. I think the American Revolution was worth it, the American Civil War was worth it, and the Allied effort in World War II was worth it. The War of 1812 and our part in World War I seem unnecessary. I think World War I was a major WTF all around. Good things have come from our efforts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, but in hindsight, I think we probably shouldn't have fought those wars.

      What do you think?
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


    3. #3
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      That part where he addressed Obama kinda ruined it for me... He should be addressing the entire nation, or at the very least the higher ups who are in charge of military matters. Otherwise it seems like he's blaming it on the president, which sort trivializes the issue by turning it into another my-candidate-your-candidate shitfest.

    4. #4
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      In some cases, yes. In other cases, no. Sometimes it is a matter of opinion. I think the American Revolution was worth it, the American Civil War was worth it, and the Allied effort in World War II was worth it. The War of 1812 and our part in World War I seem unnecessary. I think World War I was a major WTF all around. Good things have come from our efforts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, but in hindsight, I think we probably shouldn't have fought those wars.

      What do you think?
      My view is that when it comes to wars, we should not be so cavalier that we group every killed soldier in a vague hero category. Keeping a family in the dark about how their son or daughter really died may be comforting to them, but it only serves to perpetuate the idea that they died honorably and heroically, serving their country, fighting for freedom, etc. I agree with the author of the article that maintaining the public image of these heroic "fallen" soldiers only maintains the idea that the war being fought is actually just and the soldiers are doing justifiable work. This can have awful consequences, especially when it comes to what are almost certainly unnecessary and unjust wars like the U.S. in Iraq and Vietnam.

      Soldiers often die for bullshit reasons. That will happen in any war, but the war itself should not end up being remembered for having a high body count and no real positive outcome. We can avoid that not by calling every killed soldier a hero but by avoiding the conflict altogether, if we can help it.

      Quote Originally Posted by GavinGill View Post
      That part where he addressed Obama kinda ruined it for me... He should be addressing the entire nation, or at the very least the higher ups who are in charge of military matters. Otherwise it seems like he's blaming it on the president, which sort trivializes the issue by turning it into another my-candidate-your-candidate shitfest.
      I took his mention of Obama more as him speaking directly to the sitting president rather than just to a candidate he doesn't like. The President is the Commander in Chief of the military, so I see the mention as justified.
      Last edited by BLUELINE976; 05-28-2014 at 03:36 AM.
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
      Formerly known as BLUELINE976

    5. #5
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      Quote Originally Posted by BLUELINE976 View Post
      I took his mention of Obama more as him speaking directly to the sitting president rather than just to a candidate he doesn't like. The President is the Commander in Chief of the military, so I see the mention as justified.
      I get that, I just feel it would have been hit harder had he left out the name of the president. Maybe it's just me, but I imagine quite a few readers seeing the article and pinning the blame on Obama, rather than seeing it as a systemic issue that's plagued the States since WWII.

    6. #6
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by GavinGill View Post
      I get that, I just feel it would have been hit harder had he left out the name of the president. Maybe it's just me, but I imagine quite a few readers seeing the article and pinning the blame on Obama, rather than seeing it as a systemic issue that's plagued the States since WWII.
      It's hosted on the website of the Center for a Stateless Society, so I'm willing to bet its readers view it as a systemic issue instead. Plus, there's this line in the article:

      But when we indulge in these rituals, we help animate their deeper purpose- the seduction of another group of young men and women by the mythology of the nation.

      "Mythology of the nation" definitely refers to the system rather than who is leading it, I think.
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
      Formerly known as BLUELINE976

    7. #7
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      Oh, you're right, my mistake.

    8. #8
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      Related topic:

      I saw a bumper sticker today. It featured a soldier taking a knee while aiming a rifle next to the words "IF YOU CAN'T STAND BEHIND OUR TROOPS, FEEL FREE TO STAND IN FRONT OF THEM!"

      I can only roll my eyes at this kind of mindless military fervor. To me, those words present the two arguments.

      The first and more serious argument is that all troops should be respected (we should stand behind them) and that if we do not support them, we can fight wars ourselves (we should stand in front of them). The second and more brutish argument is that if we don't support them, we're just pussies and should stand in front of them, the implication being that we should be shot for 1) being too cowardly to fight ourselves, and 2) being so reckless with our cowardice that we won't even support those who would fight our battles for us.

      My issue with the statement is that it treats all soldiers as worthy of respect (some are not), and implies all conflicts are worthy of approval (most are not). In my mind, the simple fact that one is a member of a nation's military, specifically in a combat role, is not sufficient reason to approve of their actions or automatically hand them my respect. Doing so cheapens the whole idea of respect. Furthermore, not all conflicts are worthy of approval. Some are fought without reason and without a positive outcome.

      The other, brutish argument is just the usual gung-ho, "oorah" militarism that doesn't really warrant a serious response. Not all who protest wars or the sometimes despicable actions of soldiers should be shot or considered to be pussies, obviously.
      GavinGill likes this.
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
      Formerly known as BLUELINE976

    9. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by BLUELINE976 View Post
      Related topic:

      I saw a bumper sticker today. It featured a soldier taking a knee while aiming a rifle next to the words "IF YOU CAN'T STAND BEHIND OUR TROOPS, FEEL FREE TO STAND IN FRONT OF THEM!"

      I can only roll my eyes at this kind of mindless military fervor. To me, those words present the two arguments.

      The first and more serious argument is that all troops should be respected (we should stand behind them) and that if we do not support them, we can fight wars ourselves (we should stand in front of them). The second and more brutish argument is that if we don't support them, we're just pussies and should stand in front of them, the implication being that we should be shot for 1) being too cowardly to fight ourselves, and 2) being so reckless with our cowardice that we won't even support those who would fight our battles for us.

      My issue with the statement is that it treats all soldiers as worthy of respect (some are not), and implies all conflicts are worthy of approval (most are not). In my mind, the simple fact that one is a member of a nation's military, specifically in a combat role, is not sufficient reason to approve of their actions or automatically hand them my respect. Doing so cheapens the whole idea of respect. Furthermore, not all conflicts are worthy of approval. Some are fought without reason and without a positive outcome.

      The other, brutish argument is just the usual gung-ho, "oorah" militarism that doesn't really warrant a serious response. Not all who protest wars or the sometimes despicable actions of soldiers should be shot or considered to be pussies, obviously.
      dat reasonability

      so wet...

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