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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Outrage, a Bit Late

I've met Bill Arkin. He did some fine reporting back the '90s concerning Iraqi WMD and UNSCOM's failures to adequately monitor Iraqi programs. When he held a colloquium with some of us back when I taught at Air University, he did not seem anti-military, especially for a self-proclaimed liberal.

So it came as something of a surprise when, week before last, he delivered one of the most egregious anti-military screeds yet heard from the left. It has taken me a week to calm down enough to respond in a relatively reasoned manner. Thursday before last he wrote:

I'm all for everyone expressing their opinion, even those who wear the uniform of the United States Army. But I also hope that military commanders took the soldiers aside after the story and explained to them why it wasn't for them to disapprove of the American people...
...[NBC reporter] Engel relayed how "troops here say they are increasingly frustrated by American criticism of the war. Many take it personally, believing it is also criticism of what they've been fighting for."

...These soldiers should be grateful that the American public, which by all polls overwhelmingly disapproves of the Iraq war and the President's handling of it, do still offer their support to them, and their respect...

...Through every Abu Ghraib and Haditha, through every rape and murder, the American public has indulged those in uniform, accepting that the incidents were the product of bad apples or even of some administration or command order...

...So, we pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society?

...But it is the United States, and the recent NBC report is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary - oops sorry, volunteer - force that thinks it is doing the dirty work...

...I'll accept that the soldiers, in order to soldier on, have to believe that they are manning the parapet, and that's where their frustrations come in. I'll accept as well that they are young and naïve and are frustrated with their own lack of progress and the never changing situation in Iraq. Cut off from society and constantly told that everyone supports them, no wonder the debate back home confuses them.

America needs to ponder what it is we really owe those in uniform. I don't believe America needs a draft though I imagine we'd be having a different discussion if we had one.

Outrageous. I have never seen a more insulting swipe at the military and their families.

Last week, I wrote a fisking of his column, using language that was very insulting to the public, to those elements of the public who don't support the war, to Mister Arkin, and to members of his lineage. I will not repeat it here. However, decent wage? That's why half of the enlisted in my previous squadron were on food stamps. We are not robots, we are not idiots, we are not baby killers...and, Mister Arkin...the public owes us, we do not owe the public.

Preventing the kind of stab in the back we recieved from the mainstream media and the anti-war crowd in Vietnam is one of the main reasons I joined the military...voluntarily Mister Arkin, not as a mercenary...and I vowed then that I would never see my country go through this again -- taking whatever means are necesary to prevent it..."all enemies, foreign and domestic" the oath we swear. Those are words Mister Arkin would do well to remember. He would do well to remember these words as well:

Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? ...I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for [the public] and curse the [military]; you have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that [a trooper's] death, while tragic, probably saved lives and that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use them as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand to post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think...

...Mister Arkin. 'Nuf said.


Update 23 Feb 07: Further Bill Arkin sophistic treason:

The troops need a little re-education...

As Stalin did in his "re-education" camps, presuably.

...I'm also critical of these troops' commanders, who indoctrinate these troops and teach these troops about the nature of American government, about the war, about the struggle they're involved in...

Mindless automatons and blank slates, which the evil officers inclucate war-kill-war, like the clone armies in Star Wars.

...Ultimately, those young men are our servants, we are not thier survants...

Yeeze. True as far as it goes, but I do not serve those who represent domestic enemies, per the sacred oath I swore so many years ago. There is a superiority to our domnestic enemies, Mister Arkin, and thus there is a Rubicon to be crossed when more of the public opposes the troops than support it. We may be pretty f&ckin close to that line now, you son of a bitch. Closer than you realize.

Okay, I'm getting emotional again. Hard not to when the issue of "the public" vs.the "miltary" comes up.

Arkin also offered a non-apology in a CSpan press conference the day following the blogstorm of reaction to his orinal screed. Apology most certainly not accepteed Mr Arkin.

Mr Arkin also responded with a condescending Wapo column a few days after the controversy over his remark started to boil (albeit the MSM didn't pick it up for about a week after the original comunm):

The Arrogant and Intolerant Speak Out

These are opinions about the war in Iraq and the "war" against terrorism. They aren't facts. I understand people need to believe that the United States is engaged in a grand and noble mission to continue to support the deaths and sacrifices being made by American forces. Nonetheless, there is also an equally valid opinion that not only is the United States NOT involved in some fight for our lives in Iraq but that our military actions merely increases and complicates our insecurities tomorrow.

An army Major with the 1st Cavalry in Baghdad writes: "there is no way to accurately opine about the war unless you've been on the ground."

KJ (and many others) adds that I am just "sitting in the lap of luxury that is the United States."

Again, I understand the frustration of those in uniform and the supporters of the war. But these are not the only people who have a valid opinion, and there is great danger for the nation - as Bush-Cheney and company have already demonstrated - when people arrogate to themselves the sole determinant to make a judgment about national security.

The Army Major goes on to say that "soldiers -- unlike journalists -- have values inculcated from the very beginning of basic training."

D speaks of "last week's leftist freak show in D.C." to describe anti-war protest.

"Sitting in the lap of luxury" hits the nail on the head. There are many in the US who perform vital and noble roles -- firemen, doctors, ministers, etc. -- and perform them well. This group most certainly does not include journalists -- the chattering class -- nor does it include those Americans who care more about the next episode of "American Idol" and when their next shit is coming -- and who disregard thier right to vote -- than it does about those with the vocation of defending our way of life. And it is a vocation, Mister Arkin. Make no mistatke about it. Most every member believes he is defending that "wall."

Further...if understand you correctly, Mister Arkin, those with pro-war sentiments -- especially those in the mindwashed military -- don't have the right to defend the war, because they are members of the poplation living under the delusions created by our Evil Masters, while you and your noble Resistance are the only ones with the moral right to speak out against the war, precisely beause you don't support it. Am I getting this right? And those who believe we are engaged in a larger war than Afghanistan and Iraq entail are equally mindwashed and have similarly pathetic beliefs.

For you and those like you, Mister Arkin: there are only two types of opinion, valid and invalid. Generally, those closest to the source on which the opinion is based have the advantage of being bolstered by facts.


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