Because this is my blog, I can do this. I'm going to dissect a comment and use it as the springboard of a larger apologia
. I am not going to limit myself to the intent of the Commentator or the points he raises. I will ramble off on a tangents. I am not speaking to him alone, but to the universe at large.
This is not so much aimed at the person whose comments got this post percolating in my crazed brain, but at the society and culture of which we are both a part.
I realize that I'm terribly bad at polemic
, but I try.
The Commentator spake thus:
The issue I take is with bandying about the words "treason" so casually. As a soldier in the U.S. Army you're arguing from a bully pulpit here whether you realize it or not.
First, I am arguing from such a bully pulpit
as a civilian does not have available. I think the commenter is attempting to use the phrase as it has been commonly (mis)used in these latter times, but I mean it as Teddy meant it. I have a stake in the argument that most people don't have, and a level of experience unavailable to those who have never smelled what an inside-out Iraqi smells like. It's one of my major issues with the way the United States is trying to fight this war.
In World War II, over 16 million men and women served in United States Armed Forces, some 12% of the population of 133.4 million in 1945. Roughly one in eight people, in other words. If you assume that most of these men had two living parents and two siblings, and half were married, with half of the married men having 2 kids each (these are more or less pulled out of thin air, but see where I'm going with this) that would mean that another 80 million folks in the country had an immediate family member--son, brother, husband, or father--serving in the military.
That's 60% of the country. Total: 72%. Almost 3 out of 4.
Most families were larger than they are today. The average age of the WWII infantrymen (a young man's branch if there ever was one) was 26--well past the normal age to marry in the 1940s. My numbers are probably low-balled.
Damn near everyone in the country had a stake. Everyone was at war. No one could sit one their couch and watch the war in living color as if it were a reality show. And anyone who did take the inexcusably stupid attitude that the war didn't matter was, sooner or later confronted by reality in the form of a living, breathing fellow American who had gone and put their life on the line. 418,000 died, a bit more than 671,000 were injured in lesser or greater ways. That's nearly 1% of the nation's population.
Today, your average civilian does have that luxury. Most people in this country don't even KNOW a single Soldier--and reading his blog on the internet doesn't count.
So, when confronted by a Soldier making strong arguments, it makes them uncomfortable. It makes them squirm. Due simply to our rarity and the perception of Soldiers created by the media, a Soldier that does not conform to the stereotypes is something people no longer have experience dealing with.
Good. Something should make them uncomfortable. I've stood around upended rifles with dog tags on them one too many times to give a flying fuck about some civilian's FEELINGS
One of the problems that this disconnect between American society--liberal, conservative, it doesn't really matter--and our Armed Forces creates is that we have fundamentally different views of the nature of reality. In the Army, we have standards. Pass/Fail standards. You don't get extra points for effort--if you fail, you fail. You succeed at a mission or you don't. You meet the standard, or you don't. You are right, or you aren't.
You live to see tomorrow, or you don't.
In the interest of protecting everyone's feelings, civilian society has backed away from standards to the point that people can't deal with being told that they are wrong. They can't deal with being told their ideals and reality do not line up. They do not deal with the world as it is, but as they wish it were. In their ideals, the world is "fair". I imagine that in some lines of work, people can apply this to at least part of the job. Mechanics, for instance, pretty much realize that either they fix the truck and make it run, or they don't. However, that does not penetrate to their larger world view in many cases.
War sucks. War sucks in ways you can't ever imagine, and it is my raison d'etre
to ensure that you never can imagine it. But one of the ways war sucks is that it doesn't fit into the modern wishy-washy, politically correct bullshit way of thinking where everyone is a 'winner', and there are no 'evil' people, just misunderstood people. You did not learn everything you needed to know about War in kindergarten
. In a war, no one gives a rat's ass about your goddamn self-esteem. War is fundamentally, not fair.
Here's another way War sucks: You don't get the luxury of being the nice guy, and still walking away alive and successful. You either win, and win by playing hardball, or you die, or you run away. That's true for Soldiers and it is true for nations.
Don't get things twisted--I am not advocating the commission of war crimes, or torturing Iraqi grandmothers, or any of the other crap the Left likes to get their rocks off on. Putting words into my mouth will henceforth result in deletion of comment. Stick to what I say. War crimes are crimes not because they are mean or cruel. War is cruel. War crimes are crimes because they are unnecessarily cruel.
What I am advocating is a serious national debate in which all sides face up to the implications of their decisions.
You want the United States to withdraw from Iraq? Fine. Face up to the fact that war is a zero-sum game. You don't get to just change the channel when it gets ugly. If you don't win, you lose. If you die in place (Germany in 1945) or run like a rabbit (USA, 1975) it doesn't matter. You're still a damn loser. The other guy wins. The enemy wins. Advocating losing is advocating the other guy winning.
The only guaranteed means to ensure peace is surrender. Give up. Withdraw from whatever piece of the world your enemy is contesting. Then, when he goes after somewhere else, withdraw. When he decides he'd like New Jersey, withdraw.
Just call a damn spade a damn spade. Don't tickle my balls about how you "support the troops." Don't try to pretend you want what is best for the United States. And don't blow any smoke up my ass about you don't support the terrorists either.
Zero Sum Game. Zero Sum
.Spake the Commentator:If it's with ye or ag'in ye, and with ye = no treason, then you're labeling anybody who disagrees with you as a traitor.
No. I am not holding people's opinions to be criminal in and of themselves. Never did. I am not even holding people's speech to be criminal in and of itself--though it is stupid and implies treasonous sentiment. Treasonous sentiment, while an offense against common sense and decency, it not a crime.
is a crime to
"knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise or teach the duty, necessity, desirability or propriety of overthrowing the Government of the United States or of any State by force or violence, or for anyone to organize any association which teaches, advises or encourages such an overthrow, or for anyone to become a member of or to affiliate with any such association."
Since 1957, due to Yates v. United States, teaching this in the abstract is not criminal but is a form of free speech. Only when it crosses the line to concrete incitement or planning to commit a crime can it be prosecuted.
The relevant section of the Constitution discussing treason has been posted.
But voting to cut off funding from Soldiers as they are engaged in combat? Is that speech or an action?
Sadly, Congressmen cannot be held accountable for their actions unless impeached by their fellow Congressmen. It is still treason, just like it is still double parking even if done by a car with diplomatic plates by a driver who is immune to prosecution for that reason.
Cutting off funds is NOT rpt NOT an academic issue. It is not the equivalent of yelling "cut" on a reality show. What that means is that vehicles don't get spare parts. Ammunition, food, fuel, become scarce. People fucking die because of stupid stuff like that.
Whether your views align exactly with the Constitution I leave to legal scholars to determine, but as you are presenting this is the definition held by .
Pretty much everything I put on my blog is what I believe. If I didn't believe it, I wouldn't write it.By defining everybody who is not "with ye" as a traitor, well, what does that mean, exactly? What happens to traitors? The traditional method is firing squad, but hung by the neck until dead is still popular.
I wish people would read what I write, not what they wish I wrote in order to provide a fine strawman to punch against.
A traitor is by definition worse than an enemy, because while an enemy opposes what you believe, a traitor has rejected what you believe. Enemies can become allies, but traitors burn in a society's collective hell.
Fair enough, for someone who supports lunatics who cut other people's heads off for giggles and drop mortar bombs on soccer fields full of kids.I do not agree exactly with what you say. If there is zero nuance, that apparently means you think I'm a traitor and that I should suffer the fate of all traitors.
If there is zero nuance, that apparently. . . That's about as insulting a formulation as I could possibly imagine. "I'm going to assume you are a raving lunatic, and continue arguing against as extreme a form of your position as is possible to postulate." I love how people do this. It's prevalent on the internet, but I run into it in real life. The only thing this is missing is a warning to 'Think of the Children'.
Well, what the heck am I supposed to say to that? Do I call the actively serving sergeant in the U.S. Army on his hyperbole? How can a lowly U.S. citizen with treason in his heart possibly win that battle?
Provide an alternate course of action for the United States that doesn't translate into letting the terrorists take over Iraq and run it like a medieval theocracy. My personal preference would be for a course of action that doesn't require a specific timeline. Unlike what HBO would like you to believe, no war is scripted and planned out with no concern for enemy reaction. I realize that few Americans realize this, but the enemy gets a vote on the course of a war. We act, they react, we react to their reaction, and so on and so forth. Regardless of what armchair commentators would have you believe, no one predicted precisely the course of the insurgency. No one can completely predict the future course of the insurgency.
Let me introduce they who wish to comment upon strategy to a fellow that anyone who dares discuss the topic should be familiar with, Generalfeldmarschall Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke.
He is well known for two aphorisms you should reflect upon.No battle plan survives contact with the enemy
.War is a matter of expedients
Take these into account in your brilliant plan.
Use facts and ideas, rather than emotions
and idealism to debate. I am open to reason. Weak ad homenium
and reductio ad absurbum
merely bores me. If you believe I am engaging in hyperbole, feel free to call me on it.
The anti-victory movement, which includes the national-level leadership of the Democratic Party and many of their hard-line supporters, is providing the greatest possible encouragement of the enemy. They are explicitly encouraging Mr. Hajji to stick bombs under American vehicles and attempt to blow me up personally. They are providing positive reinforcement every single time someone manages to blow up a father of three or someone's fiance or some kid six months out of high school.
How do you expect me to view them, other than as the enemy?
They may be very nice people, ordinarily. They may be kind parents, loving spouses, or whatever. They may be nice to stray dogs. They may adopt kittens.
But when the rubber meets the road, they are on the other side of a vast divide. I am in favor of the United States achieving victory over political and politicized Islam. I am in favor of a peaceful, united, democratic (well, at least relatively), stable Iraq. I am in favor of Usama bin Laden's head on a spike erected in the Rose Garden at the White House.
They are not. And whether they realize it or not, they are working for a world where non-Muslims have the opportunity to die for their faith on a daily basis, where women are walking vaginas shrouded in black, and where any dissent however minor is punished by beheading.
I will not live to see that world.
I wish you the joy of it.