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Hey, TJeanloz. About support for the troops. . .(30 posts)

Hey, TJeanloz. About support for the troops. . .czardonic
Mar 20, 2003 3:30 PM
You have been chipping away in a couple of threads at the notion of unconditional support of American troops, especially by those who claim to be against the war but nonetheless for American soldiers. It gave me pause, because I am one of those who subscribed to the notion that troops are "tools" who are not responsible for the way that their commanders wield them.

Upon further consideration, I think that this position is a cop-out. America is a free country with a volunteer army. No one member of today's Armed Services is there against their will. True, there may be consequences for the soldier who decided that this war wasn't worth fighting. But would they be worse than abandoning one's principles and participating, possibly by taking lives, in a war he or she believed to be unjust?

To say that our soldiers are "just following orders" brings to mind the many sorry and tragic incidents that we look back on and wish that someone had possessed the courage to say "this is wrong." It was wrong to demonize Vietnam Veterans as a group, but what about the minority who burned villages, raped women and killed children? What about those who perpetrated recently uncovered massacres in Korea? Do we make the same excuse for Japanese soldiers who brutalized civilians and American POWs in WWII? Or to the guards in the Nazi Death Camps?

Bottom line. Either you believe that joining the military excuses oneself from one's conscience, or you have to hold each troop fully responsible for their participation and assume that they are complicit in its consequences.

I still support our troops, because I believe that at worst their support of Bush's policy is misguided. I believe that they are sincere in their desire to liberate Iraq and protect their country, and I hope that their idealism is not betrayed by a cynical administration or the sheer madness of combat.
re: Hey, TJeanloz. About support for the troops. . .gtx
Mar 20, 2003 6:52 PM
Keep in mind that many of these people join up at age 18 or younger when they feel they have few other options. And I'm sure that there are a lot of people over there who are not exactly pleased about it, but who went with good intentions.

Couple good books by people who fought in past wars:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0743235355/

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0767902890

I don't support the war but I most definitely support the troops.
I don't believe in this war.Spoke Wrench
Mar 20, 2003 8:28 PM
For one thing, it looks to me like we will be less secure from terrorist attacks regardless of it's outcome.

I acknowledge that there are many intelligent people who hold different opinions. Frankly, I hope they are right and I'm wrong because the war is a reality.

Ultimately, any hope that I have of a successful outcome depends upon our warriers winning over the hearts and minds of the people of Iraq and the whole Muslem world. I think that's a pretty tall order, but maybe the professional soldiers that we have today can pull it off. Why wouldn't anyone support our troops who are in the Persian Gulf? I wish them well.
Maybe it's time for you to re-read my original post to the boardsn69
Mar 21, 2003 4:58 AM
Troops--YOUR military--no more support Bush's policy than you do as a tax-paying, participatory American. You want do deal with that, Czar? Go look in the mirror. You're as much a tool as anyone.

I've already discussed motivations for joining the military ad nauseum, and frankly, this post makes me ownder what, if anything, you've ever done that has actively served your nation. You've obviously never been in the service. Have you done anything like Americorps, Teach for America, etc, or are you simply a voiciferous complainer intent on simply poo-pooing everything in sight that's not in keeping with your personal belief structure? Tell me what you've done, if you will please, and you might lend some credibility to yourself...and when next I get the chance to sit at a computer and will concede your contributions.

If not, I STILL won't tell you to shut up. ...And that's what I'm not sure you understand. Idealism has NOTHING to do with what our--YOUR--military does. Democracy has everything to do with it. Imagine, if you will, a military that arbitrarily opted to disobey the orders of any given president. What would happen in that case? Nothing good, nothing even remotely democratic. Let's play that scenario out. Let's assume that the JCSs and theater CINCs deicded to willfully disobey the orders of the NCA. Would we still, in fact, be a democracy? No, we wouldn't. There have been many (read MANY!!!) times that the DOD's uniformed leadership has opposed decisions by various presidents, but they NEVER fail to comply with the legal orders given to them. FWIW, that also includes the TLAM strikes against Sudan, Chad and Afghanistan by Clinton, the way the Lenaese Occupation was conducted prior to the barracks bombing under Reagan, the entirety of the Somalia operation under Bush Sr and Clinton, and many other events.

The day YOUR military starts creating its own policy is the day you should truly fear. That's the day that you'll no longer live in a Democracy.

Here's a question for you. As an officer, to whom do I swear to defend, protect and die for if called upon? My guess is that, much like the rest of your single-sided opinions of the military, you have not a clue. It's the Constitution, not the President. That was done for a very important reason.

As for following our collective and individual conscience, that's a choice that every woman and man in uniform has to make on a daily basis. If one finds oneself in an unreconcilable conflict, than an individual has to step down. But, in the US Military system of regulation per the Uniform Code of Military Justice (which, incidentally supplants the Bill of Rights for active duty memebers), you do so at the peril of criminal prosecution.

And, yes, that is far different than what the Nazis, the Korean-war era Chinese, the friggin' Iraqis and so many others fall back upon as cop-outs for abhorrent conduct. Mei Lai was an atrocious, deplorable event, and 1st LT Calley and gang never received the appropriate punishment. And yet in spite of that horrid war that, incidentally, two Democratic presidents led us into in full force under the auspices of "containment," our troops have never been characterized by that type of behavior on the aggragate.

If you don't agree with this conflict, so be it. That's fine, and I honestly mean that. Discourse, disagreement and conflicting opinions are all guaranteed under the consitution, and I gladly applaud and defend your right to them. Nonetheless, a blanket dismissal or condemnation of YOUR military on the basis that they are morally inferior because they do not share your opinions only belies your greater lack of understanding of what they do on your behalf.

How disappointed you must be, then, that the 3rd infantry hasn't rolled it's tanks through Basra in a scorched earth policy and that the five carrier air wings aren't arbitrarily carpet bombing entire cities. We don't operate th
Part 2sn69
Mar 21, 2003 4:59 AM
How disappointed you must be, then, that the 3rd infantry hasn't rolled it's tanks through Basra in a scorched earth policy and that the five carrier air wings aren't arbitrarily carpet bombing entire cities. We don't operate that way, but I doubt you really understand much about how we operate. That's not entirely your fault, though, for a person not in the service (left or right or the political spectrum), would have to set aside a great many paradigm-derived filters to see how/what the military is actually about and what we do on a regular basis. (Perhaps in a future discussion I can take the time to educate you about the vast preponderance of time spent on deployment for the military, specifically time spent on humanitarian missions providing critical infrastructure, medical and educational support for under-developed nations or those that have recently suffered catastrophic events like typhoons. Then again, you'd really have to read the discussion with an open mind to try to comprehend the nature of our business.)

In the meantime, you go ahead and "support" us conditionally. We, on the other hand, will support your right to that unconditionally in spite of your derisive, condescending blanket condemnation of our so-called lack of morals simply because what we do transcends your limited ability to see beyond your own artificially erected, politically derived boundaries.

In the meantime, that's all I've got time for now. I've got something different to do.....
"applause" nmNo_sprint
Mar 21, 2003 8:52 AM
very well said nmgtx
Mar 21, 2003 9:40 AM
Baboom!! Always out of the ballpark with you.Sintesi
Mar 21, 2003 6:47 PM
Can I call you "Babe."

"Perhaps in a future discussion I can take the time to educate you about the vast preponderance of time spent on deployment for the military, specifically time spent on humanitarian missions providing critical infrastructure, medical and educational support for under-developed nations or those that have recently suffered catastrophic events like typhoons. Then again, you'd really have to read the discussion with an open mind to try to comprehend the nature of our business"

Bears repeating. We're the good guys. Not the "always right" guys, not the "perfect" guys but at the heart of it the good guys. White hats. Gotta have faith in it all. Dig your vibe and perspective.
Dunno 'bout "Babe..."sn69
Mar 22, 2003 8:07 PM
I've got too much of a soft spot for Boston and the Green Monster.

I'm more of a Tony Gwynn fan...long may all Padres fans remember him.
The world will little note nor long remenber what we say hereContinental
Mar 21, 2003 7:38 AM
but it can never forget what the U.S. military has done for liberty, justice, and moral peace throughout the world.
wordmohair_chair
Mar 21, 2003 8:25 AM
"The day YOUR military starts creating its own policy is the day you should truly fear. That's the day that you'll no longer live in a Democracy."

Very well said. Your post reminded me of the speech at the end of the movie "A Few Good Men:"

"Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns....I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom....deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em 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, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I'd prefer you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to."
Noble, but something you said troubles meStarliner
Mar 21, 2003 10:13 AM
i Imagine, if you will, a military that arbitrarily opted to disobey the orders of any given president.

When Clinton was President, scuttlebutt from various military sources revealed a level of dislike and disrespect for him among the branches that suggested that such obedience was not necessarily a done deal.
and yet...mohair_chair
Mar 21, 2003 10:44 AM
Clinton sent troops into battle and they went without hesitation. Talk is talk.
I think you kinda missed somethingsn69
Mar 21, 2003 11:40 AM
Specifically, that while the service(s) didn't much like Clinton (precipitated by several blatant actions on His and Her part), they followed his orders without fail, without question. When it was decided to prosecute Operation Desert Fox off moon phase, we did it. When it was decided to run the same damn package routes every night at the same time for planning convenience but against the advice of the theater CINC in Kosovo, we did it. (...And an F-117 got shot down; fortunately, our CSAR forces got the pilot back quickly.) When it was decided to arbitrarily lob TLAMs into Chad, Sudan and Afghanistan without solid intel (and in contradiciton to the deal being cut with the Taliban to expel AlQaeda), we did it.

That IS the point. We do what we're told as long as it's legal. Unfortunately and shamefully, sometimes illegal things are done too (ref: Oliver North/Iran-Contra, where, incidentally, he willfully violated a direct and legal order from the CJCS).

Likewise, we live by a far different set of rules and standards. We do not enjoy the right to open, public debate that could be construed as disrespect to the president, nor do we enjoy any Constitutional Rights (what we have is guaranteed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice). ...And, yes, that was followed by the uniformed services even when he was living by a different set of standards but seeking immunity under the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act of 1972.

So, what then differentiates us from Nazis simply following orders? Common sense aside, the UCMJ and the ability to be prosecuted under Federal and State statues as well...that's one thing (we don't enjoy double jeopardy protection). General ethics and morals are another (regardless of what some say, Americans really do tend to be good, compassionate people). And the honest, intrusive checks and balances provided by a free press are another. The bottom line is that we do not long for war--hell, we're the poor schmucks who have to go fight, whether we want to or not. Also, we are often constrained by stringent political mandates regarding how we conduct that fight, often at the expense of our ability to prosecute the campaign with minimal danger to our forces.

Remember, war is hellish, gruesome business. You should all be as wary as the pacificsts as you are of the nonsensical hawks. I'll say it again--war is hellish, gruesome business. If you tell us to fight it, we will fight it to win, as quickly and violently as possible to end it as quickly as possible. P^ssy-foot around and all you do is extend the agony for all involved, including the enemy. That is NOT the goal.

As for "why tonight, why now?" I have two simple words that sum up why Shock and Awe (dumb-a@@ name if you ask me) was delayed until tonight: MOON PHASE. Do a little bit of internet research and it will all make sense.
moon phasegtx
Mar 21, 2003 12:09 PM
Could you elaborate? Did a bit of a search and I don't know what you're talking about. Thanks!

btw, great posts
Maybe you did tooStarliner
Mar 21, 2003 1:53 PM
You're an insider, I'm not and have never been. So either you don't realize or forget how such grumblings from the military during the Clinton years could be unsettling to the sensibilities of an outsider, for the best we can do is have faith in the assumption that you have made.

Knowing that things in life happen in degrees, I understand that obedience is not necessarily a black and white concept. One can follow an order, but the degree of conviction and effort by which one follows that order can be affected by things such as one's opinions of the commander.

You ticked off a list of three examples of imperfect military action taken during Clinton's tenure, apparently to show that Clinton's orders were obeyed in spite of him. So what am I to conclude about their imperfections - that Clinton was a lousy micromanager of these events, or that the military top brass didn't advise him fully and expertly before he gave his orders; that by the time things went through the chain of command and reached the operatives, decisions had been made along the line that, if not putting our people in harm's way, would not ensure an optimum result?

I guess I'm just having a hard time understanding who decided "to run the same damn package routes every night at the same time for planning convenience but against the advice of the theater CINC in Kosovo...And an F-117 got shot down". Was it a micromanager from the Oval Office? Or was it a disgruntled top advisor/officer who either gave bad advice or sat on good advice - a form of subliminal sabotage?
With any president who opts to conduct military operationssn69
Mar 22, 2003 4:53 AM
there is a set group of advisors who ostensibly provide him (and hopefully someday her) with the various criteria and parameters used to make informed decisions with regards to that action. To date, the only "recent" presidents we've had who have whole-heartedly relied upon their military (read: uniformed) advisors were George Bush Sr--with the exception of how GW1 ended--and Jimmy Carter. The latter, however, is a case study is the megalomania of the officer who ran the operation in question, namely the Iranain hostage rescue attempt (Desert One). It was doomed from the start due to ego and poor planning, yet the president still fully endorsed his "subject matter expert."

Regarding Clinton, the typical courses of action were more often than not guided primaliry by his youthful group of exceptionally bright but utterly underexperienced advisors within his inner circle. And, to his credit, a large portion of the military's senior leadership at the time was more politically motivated than anything else.

That said, it's worth explaining some of who actually controls troops in battle. It's not the Joint Chiefs, as most people believe. Rather, there are several unified commands (formerly known as Theater CINCs until Rumsie made them change their names), all of whom are 4 star admirals and generals who are in charge of specific war-fighting regions and/or specific functions. Gen Franks, for example, is the Commander of Central Command, a region that encompassed SW Asia, the Eastern coast of Africa and the Indian Ocean. An organizational unified command would be something like the commander of US Special Operations Command.

By way of comparison, the JCSs are the various service heads who fulfill a variety of jobs relating to budgetting, administrative control and military advosory roles. The key to the latter is that they have to rely upon their unified commanders for accurate data. If either one isn't "up to snuff," then the process is corrupted. Likewise, if the receiving end of the information flow is filtered for whatever reasons, then the process is equally corrupted.

For example, accurate, timely info regularly flowed to the JCSs and the National Security Advisor under Clinton, but the filtration that took place with CJCS, SecDef and Clinton's inner circle masked the actual issues in terms of military response. Thus, the F-117s flew the same time every night on the same route because that's how several of the 20-something advisors structured the plan. At no time were ADM Smith or GEN Clark allowed to alter the plan.

To be fair, Reagan's inner circle was equally notorious for this, as evidenced by the direct micro-management of force protection posture in the Bekkah and Beiruit. Casper Wienberger was personally responsible (IOW by direct order) for the defensive postures taken around the USMC barracks and disregarded the intelligence on the impending truck bomb attacks that SEAL Teams 2 and 4 had provided. In the end, 281 Marines died needlessly.....

I don't think subliminal sabotage happens all that often. But politics figure largely into how things happen. "Black Hawk Down" was a compelling story, although not entirely complete. The decision to leave the medium armor on the beach rather than pushing into Mog. to extract the Rangers and 160th SOAR guys was based upon several political decisions made at the NCA levels. The "crime" that occurred at the lower, unified commander level was that the four star in charge lacked the moral courage to say "F-it, let's go in and get our people even if it means my career." Political greed is far too common, unfortunately....
With any president who opts to conduct military operationsgtx
Mar 22, 2003 11:25 AM
sn69, do you have an e-mail address I can contact you at? Or if you prefer please e-mail me at rp23f6@yahoo.com. Thanks.
With any president who opts to conduct military operationssn69
Mar 22, 2003 6:51 PM
sneedle3@cox.net

feel free...just got home today; should be here through mid-April
Did you even read my post?czardonic
Mar 21, 2003 11:26 AM
Please do, and show me where I made a "a blanket dismissal or condemnation" of MY military. Show me the "derisive, condescending blanket condemnation of (your) so-called lack of morals".

Since you are so busy, I'll make it easy for you.

I wrote:

"America is a free country with a volunteer army. No one member of today's Armed Services is there against their will. True, there may be consequences for the soldier who decided that this war wasn't worth fighting."

You responded:

"As for following our collective and individual conscience, that's a choice that every woman and man in uniform has to make on a daily basis. If one finds oneself in an unreconcilable conflict, than an individual has to step down. But, in the US Military system of regulation per the Uniform Code of Military Justice (which, incidentally supplants the Bill of Rights for active duty memebers), you do so at the peril of criminal prosecution."

That sounds pretty similar to me. In essence, our troops could refuse to participate in this war if they chose, though there would be consequences. As such, it must be assumed that they do not oppose the war. I also took it for granted that they were participating out of a sincere desire to liberate Iraq and protect the United States.

Next, I wrote:

"To say that our soldiers are "just following orders" brings to mind the many sorry and tragic incidents that we look back on and wish that someone had possessed the courage to say "this is wrong." It was wrong to demonize Vietnam Veterans as a group, but what about the minority who burned villages, raped women and killed children? What about those who perpetrated recently uncovered massacres in Korea? Do we make the same excuse for Japanese soldiers who brutalized civilians and American POWs in WWII? Or to the guards in the Nazi Death Camps?"

You responded:

"And, yes, that is far different than what the Nazis, the Korean-war era Chinese, the friggin' Iraqis and so many others fall back upon as cop-outs for abhorrent conduct. Mei Lai was an atrocious, deplorable event, and 1st LT Calley and gang never received the appropriate punishment. And yet in spite of that horrid war that, incidentally, two Democratic presidents led us into in full force under the auspices of "containment," our troops have never been characterized by that type of behavior on the aggragate."

Again, I hrdly see the difference. In essence, "just following orders" is not an excuse. It wasn't for the Nazi's or the Japanses, and it wasn't for the minority that participated in the atrocities at Mei Lai or No Gun Ri.

So apart from your demagoguery and cheap, baseless, distasteful insinuation, we seem to be in agreement.
Yes, I did.sn69
Mar 21, 2003 11:49 AM
My demagoguery?! I make NO CLAIMS whatsoever at moral superiority, intellectual gift or ethical righteousness. Can you provide the same assurances? "Dingbatish," I think, was a term once used to describe you, and while I didn't agree with that, I find myself leaning in that direction.

By implication, you suggest that "by following orders" is not an excuse if it is in disagreement with your political viewpoint. What then if you were a Neo-Nazi or a Montana Militiaman? You would no doubt also label the military a willing tool of the secret UN army that has invaded America as part of the far-left's goofy-a@@ New World Order. ...But then again, yours is the only viewpoint that could possibly be correct and moral, isn't it? Demagoguery? Hmmm? A close minded behavioral pattern is more apropos.

Ah, one other minor point since you see fit to speak for all of us in uniform. Actually, a great many that I've spoken to (even many at the admiral/general level)have reservations and/or opposition to this action. Yet still they serve to the best of their ability. I'm guessing you'll construe that activity as being tantamount to willful murder. I, in stead, interpret that as SERVICE, something I have yet to be convinced you understand, Czardonic.

You don't want this war. That's fine. Then do something to end it besides pointing fingers at us simplistic tools.

Convictions are easy to have. Moral courage to act on them is far more elusive.

Scott
Then I don't get where you are coming from.czardonic
Mar 21, 2003 12:17 PM
Other than the personal attacks against me, insinuations about my lack of "moral courage", assumptions about the disdain I hold for soldiers, and inference that only a person who has served some form of service is worthy of a critical opinion, I actually agree with what you have said.

I specifically said that troops were not tools. Again, not tools. Thus, while incidents in the past where troops have commmited murder can only be deemed "willfull", the vast majority of the time when troops put their lives on the line to protect each other, or to sacrifice themselves to protect civilians are just as willfull and evidence of both moral and physical courage.

I really don't see where I am pointing any fingers (much as I have a particular one in mind for you). I take it you don't either, because you've not come up with any examples of the "blanket condemnations" you've accused me of.
I'm going to apologizesn69
Mar 22, 2003 8:39 AM
Sincerely for everyone to read. Mostly, this has been bothering me for several reasons--my behavior that is. While I will elect to discuss your philosophy of "cop out" and the military ethos at a later date, I will nonetheless say that my full-bore attack wasn't warranted and you didn't deserve it. I was wrong for doing that and I apologize.

OPEN FORUM means that everyone has their right to their opinion.

Scott
Appreciated. And, it takes two to tango.czardonic
Mar 22, 2003 11:19 AM
I suspect that either I wasn't making my point clearly, or I wasn't clear on all the implications of the point I was making.

I hope we can clear the whole thing up at some point.
I've concluded that it depends on what the definition of 'is' isTJeanloz
Mar 21, 2003 7:51 AM
I've actually been thinking about it overnight, and my conclusion is that there is a breakdown in linguistics more than emotions here. Many people seem to equate "support" with hoping that American soldiers aren't killed, and lack of "support" being that they hoped American soldiers would die (a position that very few are willing to take). I don't really think that "support" is the right word, as it implies, at its core, that you endorse the actions of somebody.

For example, I didn't support Ralph Nader in the Presidential election in 2000; but I do wish him nothing but the best in a healthy, personal way, I think he's probably a pretty decent, if misguided, individual. I understand hoping that all the soldiers come home alive and well, but that seems to me to be a far cry from "support".

If you are opposed to the only action that a person takes, in what manner do you support them?
I've concluded that it depends on what the definition of 'is' isgtx
Mar 21, 2003 8:36 AM
By 1968, most people had realized that the Vietnam war was a bad idea. Still, when their turn came, most people chose to serve, even those who were against the war. When they got home, these soldiers were met with something less than gratitude. In fact, many people would spit on returning soldiers. I've always wondered, who were these people doing the spitting? Well, unless your daddy got you a nice gig like Bush, or you found some tricky way to get out like Clinton, or you got a medical excuse, or you got lucky in the draft, or (for whatever reason--true political beliefs or cowardice) you packed up and went to Canada, you were probably going to war. If you spit on a US soldier, and you pay taxes, and you haven't renounced your citizenship, you're a hypocrite. If you want to spit on somebody, it should be on the politicians who serve their own selfish interests, not on the soldiers who serve their country.
Critical difference...TJeanloz
Mar 21, 2003 9:01 AM
I think the critical difference between Vietnam and today is that every soldier in Iraq today is a volunteer. They all chose this line of work. Today is not Vietnam, or WWII, and I think its a mistake to draw as many parallels as are being drawn. And yes, if you are adamantly opposed to war, it is probably hypocritical to pay all of your taxes -- though I would argue that you still have the obligation to pay that portion of your taxes that doesn't fund the military [I knew some people who did this, and the end of the story isn't good].
Critical difference...gtx
Mar 21, 2003 9:31 AM
First of all, I think we should probably go back to having a draft--I don't think the current system is particularly healthy for the country. I also think that you are vaguely implying that today's "volunteers" signed up because they like war and killing, which I don't think is the case.
It is, however, worth notingsn69
Mar 21, 2003 12:03 PM
that one cannot "unvolunteer" until the contract by which you joined is fulfilled, be it an enlistment or a commission. To do so exposes you to prosectution under the UCMJ as a deserter. If, however, you develop honest moral objections to the activities of the services, you are empowered legally to seek redesignation as a consc. objector, and you will be granted assignment dispensation until your contractual term expires (IOW, no combat or combat support duty). You are also still guaranteed an honorable discharge. That's not to say it's easy to determine, though, and the process of gaining CO status is lengthy. Essentially, you have to be interviewed by a great many people including psuchologists to determine if your telling the truth or simply trying to run a scam.

Yes, it's all volunteer, and frankly I'd rather see it stay that way. And, if you elect to forgo the portion of your taxes that support DOD's budget, I'd ask to at least to remember that 13% of our enlisted personnel are on AFDC/WIC.
It is, however, worth notinggtx
Mar 21, 2003 12:10 PM
"Yes, it's all volunteer, and frankly I'd rather see it stay that way."

why?