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Archive for August 15th, 2007

Both Sides

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Like most, Americans you may have noticed that there is a war going on at the moment.

And like many Americans, myself included, you probably have an opinion about it.

The net is already full of blogs which are full of posts detailing the war and every single perceived good and bad thing about it. I am not going to going to talk about my opinion of the war. I am going to address the opinions themselves, and how we react to them.

Almost every person I have ever spoken to on this issue seems to fall into one of two categories.

Type A thinks the war was the greatest idea since pants, it’s going very well, and that anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot.

Type B thinks the war was worst thing since boy-bands, it’s going horribly, and anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot.

Most people try to adopt a black and white, good/bad view of it. I think things are never that simple. And it’s worthwhile to take the effort to try to understand, and perhaps even respect, the opposing view.

For example, I recently heard someone bring up the old chestnut “No Blood for Oil”. And I can understand that sentiment. Human life is precious, and as a society we have a responsibility to protect the lives of our citizens. And material wealth for already rich people probably shouldn’t take priority over that. I can respect that opinion.

And on the flipside, someone I work with responded to the first statement with, “Well wait, how much oil are we talking about?” Our country’s economic function does depend on a regular supply of oil. Safeguarding enough oil for our country to avoid economic collapse is the sort of thing our military can be used for. I can respect that opinion too.

I respect the opinion that some people think we have a valid interest in the region. I respect the opinion of those that think our government misrepresented the case for military intervention. I took the time to listen to the arguments on both sides. And it is possible to be a reasonable intelligent human being and hold those opinions.

I’m not saying I agree with one over the other, only saying that I understand and respect both sides of the debate. And I think a lot of us would be a lot better off if more people tried to do this.

That said there is one set of opinions I have trouble respecting.

I have heard some people express the opinion that the war in Iraq is directly linked to the survival of our country. I’ve seen message boards and blogs full of people claiming that if we don’t win over there, then the terrorists will be in America destroying all that we hold dear. That our soldiers must remain in the Middle East until democracy takes root, or it will go very badly for us.

To those people I say the following:

Enlist, you god damned coward.

Soldiers are spending longer and longer on tours overseas. The military is having trouble keeping up recruitment. These are not opinions. These are verifiable facts.

You can’t say, “This is worth other people giving up their lives for me” and remain worthy of respect. Certain opinions, once held, demand action. Failure to do so renders you a pitiful thing, beneath contempt.

Soldiers, (and of course this includes Sailors, Marines, Airmen, everyone) are of course exempt. By going overseas they have put their body where there mouth is, and can pretty much hold any opinion they want.

But if you think that this war is essential to our survival, and all you can do is talk, and maybe buy a “Support our troops” magnet? Well then all you’re doing is telling the world what color stripe runs down your back.

Edit for response:

I am not saying that you cannot support the war, or the soldiers that fight it. I am merely saying that if you take the very specific, “This war is essential to the survival of our country” stance, well that stance is incompatible with inaction. It doesn’t make your opinion invalid. It just makes you a contemptible human being.

You don’t need to be a police officer to have an opinion on crime. But if you publicly state that you think people should do more to safeguard their own communities, then you witness a crime happen, in my humble opinion, you’d better do something more substantial than wonder “Hmmmm….what’s for dinner tonight?”. Call the cops, get help, intervene, whatever. Just do something.

Yes thousands do more than just make hollow patriotic gestures. But most people don’t. Guess which ones I’m talking about? And I find it hilarious that someone tried to turn my “chicken hawk” argument into a “Guess you don’t believe in supporting the troops argument”.

For Stashiu3:

“Trying to deny them support from the vast majority of people who are not on active-duty is just as bad as trying to silence people who believe we shouldn’t be there.”

This is the line that I interpreted as “You are not supporting the soldiers”.  Which is why I thought your comment was funny.  If that is not what you meant by it, I truly am sorry for treating it that way.

And I think you are slightly misinterpreting my stance.  I have no problem with pro-war.  I have a problem with a very specific pro-war argument, coupled with a lack of action.

Did I oversimplify it?  You betcha.  Are things that easily black and white?  Of course not.  Are there ways to serve besides enlisting? Sure.

You keep overlooking the fact that I am not talking about the thousands of people who find a way to contribute.  I am talking about the thousand upon thousands more who do not, and will not do a thing, while simultaneously claiming that this is the single most important venture that our nation is involved in.

I would never mistake wit for wisdom, please don’t mistake age for it either.

And I do not have the emotional maturity of an adolescent.

I don’t! I don’t! I don’t!