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So we had to give speeches in class today with the goal of informing the audience about any subject of our choosing. The girl who gave her speech before me talked about the marines, their codes of honor and ethics, and how she wanted to become one. My speech criticized the military for their lack of constraint, reckless government spending, killing of civilians and journalists, and employment of torture against their own fellow soldiers. If you're wondering which speech was better received by the class, I point to the title of this post.

Since 9/11 the military has seemingly been immune from any type of critical analysis. Any time a fact might turn out to be unpopular with the military's vast ocean of support, dissidents will face a backlash of rage lacking any type of finesse usually boiling down to idiotic slogans such as "support our troops." They will never try and refute criticism, mostly because these people don't pay enough attention to foreign affairs or the government budget to make a stand.

When people cite the numbers from the Iraq War, they will most likely bring up 4000, the number of troops that were killed. They do not mention the 66,000 deaths of Iraqi civilians though. In comparison to the soldiers, we generally tend to think of the civilians as unpeople. The Iraqi's don't count. Neither do the Afghans, the Libyans, Vietnamese, the  Koreans, or the Japanese.

They will not get a massive wall with their name engraved upon it, or 21 bullets shot into the air, any decorative medals sent to their family, a welcoming parade to their homeland, a free education to any school of their choosing, free healthcare for the rest of their life, separate and faster waiting lines for their convenience, 10% off discounts at their local grocer. Let alone immunity for any war crimes they may have committed.

 Every other branch of the government is free to be criticized. The White House, Supreme Court, Congress, Department of Education, Department of Health, The Peace Core, Child Protective Services, you name it. The people will agree with you full-heartedly. The second you scratch the branch of government that intimidates foreigners with lethal force though, then they will stare at  you with death in their eyes.

They will often recite the motto "freedom isn't free." If it wasn't for the military, I wouldn't have the freedom to criticize them, let alone do anything. However as a friend of mine said today, underneath the last 10 years of military action, our freedoms have been greatly eroded by things like the PATRIOT act, NDAA, and now this latest H.R. 347, reffered to as the "Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011" which prohibits public protests near any official with Secret Service protection. Yeah, freedom isn't free, so why isn't the military protecting them? Why are they actively trying to erode them? Why do we pay them if they do not protect our rights?


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Comment Preferences

  •  One Critical Propaganda Detail Near the End: (6+ / 0-)

    (Good diary by the way, I don't mean to criticize your main point.)

    If it wasn't for the military, I wouldn't have the freedom to criticize them, let alone do anything.
    The troops and the military do NOT give us our freedom. Throughout history it's usually been the opposite.

    Every nation has a military. Hitler had a military, Stalin had one, Mao had one, Pol Pot had one. Their people had no freedom.

    The military is the source for security, not freedom.

    The opening line of our founding document explains where our freedom comes from:

    We the People of the United States

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 03:41:29 PM PDT

  •  You raise a valid point (4+ / 0-)

    and I have thought about this myself from time to time.  You deserve high marks for having the courage to address it.  Criticism of the military in any real specific way has been mute since the start of the first Gulf War.  I don't think that there is a real simple answer to why this is.  Maybe criticism of the military can be divided into three categoris - criticism of our total military posture and policy as an extension of our foreign policy, criticism of specific military involvement such as the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, and criticism of the men and women who serve.   I can't expound on what is muting criticism at the levels of policy and large military endeavors other than to say that all of these are intertwined and lack of criticism of loud criticism in the first two areas are in some ways related to the lack of criticism at the individual level, but also probably have a lot to do with our collective image of ourselves (not yours or necessarily mine, but the nation as a living social system).  For a very cogent view of the errors we are committing in these first two areas I recommend two books by Andrew Bacevich to you if you are not familiar with them.  These are The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism and Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War.  Fromwhat you have written I suspect you will find them interesting and informative.  Now, I want to give a few very simple answers for the lack of criticism of the individual's who have been a part of our military for the last 20 or so years.   These answers are based in my own personal story so please understand that that filter is there.  From some rather indeterminate date we entered the conflict known as the Viet Nam War.  If I put a date for its start it is 1964 because that is when the troop build-up began.  Historians would place it earlier, perhaps even in the Eisenhower years, but this is my war and for me it started in 1965.  I was afforded the opportunity to be an indentured servant to my Uncle Samfor 24 months.  For 12 of those I was posted to Viet Nam in the Army infantry.  I rejoined my brethern and sistern in civilian life (except for an inactive reserve status) in 1967.  My experience upon return wasn't brutal as some of my comrades will describe, but I was lucky in a sense - I served early on in the war.  I feel so for those who put there time in between 1969 and the end.  It was so much harder.  Even with that I received no respect for my service.  I went to university and I didn't talk about my service because the response when I did was seldom sympathetic and sometimes hurtful.  But the most hurtful experience was the lack of welcome I received from older vets at the VFW and American Legion.  Especially as the war went on somehow I personally was a failure.  Anyway, to the point.  It took decades before the country acknowledged our service and when it came I think it came in a fashion that was in a way overdone to the point of making it superficial.  Based on the experience of the Viet Nam vet upon return we will not demonize our military personnel, nor should we crticize them for what they did as their duty.  But this has carried over into, as you put it, almost a religion.  The second reason I think is the professinal nature of the military.  With no draft service impacts so few that it is easier to ignore them.  It is not so much that we are actively embracing the military, but more that we can say "thank you for your service" and then got about our business.  We don' want to be reminded of what that service might have really entailed for both the soldier and those on the other side.  Just my thougths.

  •  I agree with Gooserock (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaveinBremerton, TiaRachel, Kiterea

    The military was never meant to give us freedom, but to protect us from invaders and to protect our citizens in foreign countries. Our military, in specific, was created as a defensive force, not the mercenary force it currently is.

    We, the voters of the United States, are the ones who create and preserve our freedoms.  Those who don't participate in our government are allowing those who do to dictate how our country goes. Sadly, the people who want to restrict our freedoms are the ones most likely to vote, and therefore change our country.

    As former military, and with my father a war casualty and my children currently serving in the military, I do criticize it. I am not pleased that my children were and are pressured to attend Christian services and neither are they.  

    I support the troops because they are family, but I do not support many of the policies controlling them.

    All knowledge is worth having.

    by Noddy on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 05:58:20 PM PDT

  •  I don't see a lot of rage in this thread (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kiterea, Old Gray Dog
    Every other branch of the government is free to be criticized...The people will agree with you full-heartedly.
    What do you mean by "agree with you full-heartedly"?  Do you mean the people will agree that you have a right to criticize, or that the people will agree with your viewpoint?  The former is a right, but the latter is at best a crap shoot.

    I served a very long career in the military, and I certainly encourage anyone to diary their forthright, well-thought, adequately researched opinion on any military topic from policy, to employment, to spending, to personnel issues such as pay and benefits, to alleged wrongdoing.

    But I would emphasize the importance of accuracy, and I've seen way, way too many opinions that had the basic facts grossly incorrect.  You posted a few in this diary.

    a free education to any school of their choosing, free healthcare for the rest of their life, separate and faster waiting lines for their convenience, 10% off discounts at their local grocer. Let alone immunity for any war crimes they may have committed.
    I thought about responding to the inaccuracies but decided it would detract from the intent of my response, so I thought better of it.  Suffice to say the quoted passage is hyperbolic and we'll leave it at that.

    Seriously, if you post a well considered, well researched, and accurate complaint about any military topic, I'd probably tip and recommend it regardless of whether or not I agree because well crafted writing is worthy of recognition.  But you might want to stay away from phrases such as "free health care for life" because they project the image of a poorly researched diary.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by DaveinBremerton on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 08:35:00 PM PDT

    •  Well put. I suspect (0+ / 0-)

      that this is a student who has an interest in writing and is making a credible effort, but needs some input.  I hope he reads the responses to his diary.  BTW - Other than some ed benefits back in the '60s I didn't put in the time to earn any long-term benefits from my millitary service (other than some of the "school of hard knocks" type) but you are right on the money about the benefit packages.  Based on the experiences of friends and family they are not what they are seen to be and it is a constant fight to maintain benefits at the level promised when the individual was on active duty.

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