Joel Stein in the L.A. Times in January of 2006:
I DON’T SUPPORT our troops. . . . But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you’re not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you’re willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it’s Vietnam.
Today in the Boston Globe, Steve Almond writes, “I have an ugly confession to make: I don’t support the troops – at least not unconditionally”:
PERHAPS the most insidious byproduct of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has been a reflexive sanctification of the military. To put this in bumper stickerese: Support the Troops.
Well, I have an ugly confession to make: I don’t support the troops – at least not unconditionally. When somebody tells me they serve in the military, my first impulse isn’t to say, “Thank you for your service!” like those insufferable chickenhawks on talk radio.
My first impulse is to say, “I’m sorry to hear that.” Because I am. I’m sorry to know that the person I’m talking to might someday be maimed or killed on the job, or might someday kill someone else. Or refuel a plane that drops bombs on buildings.
I can’t see how anyone who calls himself or herself Christian – or human, for that matter – wouldn’t be sorry.
The fact that we have an army, that we need an army, is inherently tragic. It’s an admission that our species is still ruled by fear and aggression.
As Jeanne Kirkpatrick once said:
Reflecting at a 2002 conference on her early career as a socialist, she said it had been “relatively short.” As she read the works of various socialists, she said, “I came to the conclusion that almost all of them, including my grandfather, were engaged in an effort to change human nature. The more I thought about it, the more I thought this was not likely to be a successful effort.”
Related: The above “Human nature has no history” quote comes from Professor Glenn Loury, whom you can see discussing Obama and feminism in this new Bloggingheads TV interview.