I am just going to acknowledge as I begin to write this that it may piss off a majority of you. I only hope that you can read it through its entirety before spamming comments calling for and heralding my doom.
A thought resonated with me after reading a very popular article about a dying veteran criticizing Bush and Cheney for the Iraq war. It is the same thought that resonates within me quite often after reading such articles. It must be said that I do wholeheartedly agree with the level of rage felt by many for Bush and Cheney and the disaster that was the Iraq war. It was built on a lie, propagated by a lie, and proposed to be paid for by a lie. The countless thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths alone speak to the atrocity that was the Iraq war. It is also a tragedy each and every time a soldier is wounded or killed and someone’s family is not coming home. But…
Having said that, – prepare your rage and comment bars – If you are angry at the President or another other member of government for what you are required to do in the military, you need to stop yourself immediately and remember – you signed up.
You signed up for the military. You signed a contract. A contract that said you agreed to go anywhere and do anything the military asked of you for pay. While I will criticize the process of recruitment below, it must first be stated again, you signed up. By signing up you give away your power away to complain about where you are sent or what you are asked to do (within International law). If they deploy you to Germany, you go. If they send you on three Afghan tours, you go. If you signed up only put yourself to school and didn’t expect to see combat, you still go. If you disagree with the war, you go.
In the first several years after these wars started, there was a lot of complaining I heard from people about how much their military family members were being deployed. It sounded bloody awful, but I thought then as I do now, it is the job they signed up for. You can’t be mad at the military or the President for requiring them to fulfill the conditions of their contract, no matter how exhausting. That’s why it’s called a sacrifice, not because it is convenient, but because it most certainly isn’t.
I also read about and heard directly from many troops saying they joined the military after 9/11 to “strike back at the enemy that attacked us, not to invade Iraq.” Except you didn’t. You signed up for the military and do not get to choose where you are deployed or whether or not you support that deployment. You simply deploy. And strike back at what? The Afghanistan war is somehow supposed to be more honorable than Iraq? On February 8th of 2012 seven children were killed by an air strike in eastern Afghanistan. May 27th, 2012, eight Afghan family members killed in an airstrike. September, 2012, eight women were killed and seven more injured in an airstrike in Afghanistan. And this is only a partial list of civilian deaths just for 2012 alone. Almost 13,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan total in the past six years. So that’s 13,000 and counting Afghan civilians dead for 3000 of ours – sounds pretty noble to me. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord,” yet plenty of the Christian right has been on the revenge express all by themselves the past twelves years.
I was raised in a heavily military family. I intended to go to the Air Force Academy for quite a few years in my youth or into the Navy. I was raised with the utmost respect for military men, and as I have grown up I still have great respect for many of those that serve. But I did not end up following that path myself, because I knew what recruitment meant – a blind dedication to the will of the government. And at that time, as 9/11 loomed upon us and just after I trusted the government the least that I ever had. I fully realized that recruitment meant I was bound to carry out the will of the military without criticism, and I could not afford such a price.
If you sign up, you cannot complain where you are sent or how you are utilized. As a solider you don’t get to pledge unquestioned sacrifice to the country only when it supports your political views or personal desires. It is horrific to imagine troops daily under threat of being blown up by road mines or ripped apart by suicide attacks, but it is in the job description – no matter how terrible it always will be. There really is no difference between dead in a formal war and dead in an insurgent attack. Dead is still just as dead – whether you support the conflict you have been deployed to or not. Something to be carefully considered before signing on any dotted line.
To note though – the recruitment practices are a total scam. Unfortunately too few realize that and sign away a lot of rights that they have no idea they are giving up in the first place. Anyone that has seen recruitment contracts or knows someone who has enlisted has seen just how evil those things are. Lots of legal speech designed to pull to wool over the eyes of the poor. You would find a straighter set of agreements in a used-car salesman’s pitch.
There is, however, a catch to all of this.
It is not the soldier’s job to question orders, but to follow them. But It is OUR job to question orders, to question long and hard until we have no more breath to lend to the endeavor. And we have failed you, our troops. You sign up to serve a country that you believe has your back, and we don’t. We aren’t fighting hard enough for you at home – for your benefits, for your post-war care, or even for the nature of your deployment. The military may see you as a number, or a tool, and perhaps they have to. But it is our job to see you as people, and protect you at home while you protect us abroad. We haven’t.
The United States’ use of its own military has been headed in a terrible direction for quite a long time now. Once purposed as the defenders of us all, soldiers have been forced to become International thugs, force-feeding democracy to the world. It’s time for a re-evaluation of recruitment practices and for the people to take a more pronounced role in our own defense and how it is operated. The military should not be a body sustained by taking advantage of the poor, but rather a distinguished entity the embodies the best we have to offer.
And Instead of receiving war-free TV as we have now, we should demand to be subjected to the front lines of our military actions each and every night. When a civilian is killed, a terrorist is born, seeking revenge, just like the desire for revenge that caused that bomb to be dropped in the first place. It is a vicious cycle, one that if we cannot immediately break, we must at the very least witness and bear the cost of it in our hearts and minds.
We must have your back troops, but it is up to you to acknowledge what you sign up for. You do not get to change your mind half-way through your term because of an administrative change, or because of a war, or terrorist attack. You are the property of the United States of America for the length of your term-contract (and then some). You are responsible for that contract. It’s just up to us to make sure you and that contract are utilized properly, and take care of you when you get back. That’s how we pay you back for all that you do sacrifice each day you are not at home.
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