Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tell It To The Marines

The discussion after "Outside the Wire" was shown last night was led by three WSU Iraq vets. One was a Marine who had taken part in the initial invasion and then came back six months later. Another Marine had been deployed in 2004 and was going over again. Another was an Army soldier who had returned from Iraq last November. They took questions from the audience and their answers were fascinating.

ON PROTESTERS - It's too bad the Young Democrats left so early. They would have gotten schooled. At least one liberal stayed behind, however. He asked the vets if they thought that a "war" was being waged here at home by activists against the Patriot Act which "persecuted minorities." The vets answer was terrific. One said he would not use the word "war" to describe what is going on in the U.S. compared to Iraq.

When talking with the vets afterwards, they said one big question was not asked, the one that concerned the famous liberal canard of "Support the Troops, Not the War." There is no such animal. If you don't support what the troops are doing, then you can't truly support them. The vets told us that ANTI-WAR PROTESTS ONLY AID AND ENCOURAGE THE PEOPLE THAT ARE SHOOTING AND BLOWING UP OUR SOLDIERS. Sure, protesters have a legal right to do it. That's what America is about after all. But they are morally wrong to do it with troops in harm's way.

The vets realize that there is a social struggle going on in the U.S. They know decisions were taken at high levels which weren't the best. But soldiers don't make policy. They went over to Iraq with the best of intentions. That is why they agreed with a line in the movie when one Marine stated that he liked it better in Iraq than back home because "things are simpler over there."

ON THE MEDIA - The vets felt that overall the media was doing a lousy job covering the war. They believed that the news media has something to sell, and nothing sells like bad news, the "if it bleeds, it leads" approach. Hence the fixation on the U.S. death count, which as one vet pointed out, is less than the homicides committed in major U.S. cities every year. They and their efforts are constantly impuned, every death exploited, every screw up magnified, every success ignored or downplayed.

The same vet said he didn't watch the news any more. Another said that prior to deployment, they were specifically told not to watch the news.

In any case, they still have to fight whether the media is present or not. Once in Iraq, they are very isolated from news reports anyway.

ON PUBLIC DISINTEREST - The vets said they had tried to arrange meetings like this before to tell their story but only 3 or 4 people would show up. That is shameful. I'm sure one of the reasons the crowd was so big last night was due to the notoriety of the College Republicans. No media was present last night to interview the vets, not even from the Evergreen. Chuck Pezeshki didn't even show up and start singing "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda." Again, what a disgrace. How can people purport to be against the war if they are not willing to hear what is going on from first-hand participants? Are they afraid to hear the truth?

ON FREEDOM - The vets agreed with a line in the movie that "freedom is something you have to fight for." One vet who was present during the Iraqi elections said he broke down and cried at the end of Election Day, after being on duty for 36 hours. The purple finger of Iraqi men and women showed him what freedom was all about.

ON THE IRAQI PEOPLE - In general, the vets said the Iraqi people were supportive and had come to accept their presence as an everyday reality. Since troops will search homes near IED explosions or shootings, many clans had organized "neighborhood watches" to keep insurgents out of the area.

ON MILITARY EQUIPMENT - Contrary to media and Democratic myths, U.S. troops are not being hung out to dry due to a lack of equipment. None of the vets reported experiencing any serious shortages of body armor, uparmored Humvees, or other key equipment. There were some logistical problems, but they felt they had adequate equipment to get the job done.

ON THE STATE OF THE WAR - The vets felt that, overall, the situation in Iraq was gradually improving.

ON THE MOVIE - The vets thought "Outside the Wire" was pretty accurate. They especially related to the "Unlucky Charms" superstition. In some MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), a package of Charms candy is included. Soldiers and Marines in Iraq universally believe that eating the Charms will cause something bad to happen, so they are thrown away. There was a very humorous incident in the movie where a young PFC ate some of the candy and his unit got caught up in a sandstorm followed by torrential rain, turning everything into mud. The vets did comment that no one was shot in the movie (but there was an IED explosion).

Ultimately, however, no one can have idea what is going over there without experiencing it personally. There are times when it gets better and times when it gets worse. The one constant is that the war in Iraq is constantly changing.

22 comments:

Daniel F Schanze said...

I must say that helping put on this event was one of the most warming events of my entire life. We had standing room only! The turn out was amazing, approximately 130 people showed up. Of course, we would have had more if the Majority of the Young Democrats didn't "stage" a walk about. The only YD that stayed to my knowledge was the Fundraising Chair, Jason Putz. I would like to thank him for being open minded and listening to other view points. Clearly, the YD's that "staged" their walk about didn't support the sharing of ideas. They clearly didn't suppor the troops either. What a slap in the face to the many vets in room. More on this later....

I am waiting for Paul to comment.... come on now... LOL

Nic said...

I appreciate the coverage, but the line "... they are morally wrong to do it with troops in harm's way." It's dangerous territory when you start making blanket statement about people's morals.

Tom Forbes said...

Those are not my "blanket statements," those were the sentiments of the combat vets themselves.

In my opinion, anyone who has served their country in Iraq has a right to an opinion on what is moral and what is not, wouldn't you agree?

By any definition of morality, giving aid and comfort to an emeny that is killing and maiming our troops is wrong. If you think differently, you had better re-examine what you consider moral.

Truth said...

However, it is difficult to tell if you were quoting the troops or offering your opinion when you said "...they are morally wrong to do it with troops in harm's way".

Also it is interesting that all Nic said was to avoid making blanket statements, nothing more or less, and you decide that 1)he must be a liberal and 2)he must be giving "aid and comfort to an emeny that is killing and maining out troops". Now I could be wrong, but I'd venture a guess that Nic's not hiding a terrorist in his closet, and I'm willing to bet he's not giving money to a terrorist organization, and to claim that anyone who disagrees with you is doind those things is total crap and I think you know it.

Also, he's correct in saying that its dangerous to start making blanket statements about the troops. While the troops last night had a certain opinion (which was valid) I know others who have a very different opinion (also valid), just try not to use blanket statements like "they are morally wrong".

Tom Forbes said...

No, I have never claimed that the three veterans last night spoke for every veteran. Just themselves.

"Providing aid and comfort to the enemy" is how they view anti-war protesters. I was not referring to Nic. I know the left loves to act under the illusion they are supporting the troops by protesting, but that's utter BS. I invite you and Nic to actually go to one of the events and ask a vet for yourself AND HEAR THE TRUTH, instead of chiming in ex post facto.

Again, I will ask the question of you I asked of Nic: Don't you think those vets have earned the right to at least have an opinion on morality? Who are you to judge what is "dangerous" more than them?

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Daniel -

I've got something, no worries. I saved it when I realized that it was reaching sufficient length to be a post of its own, and I'm thinking I'll finish that up this evening.

April E. Coggins said...

Posting as "Truth" takes a pretty large ego. "Truthiness" would be a more acurate moniker. This is a very short thread, easily reviewed. Even this thread proves too long for left-wing activists to stay on topic and resist the temptation to misdirect and mischaracterize. It's a puzzle why loyal Americans would try such cheap tricks, especially against American troops.

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

"ON PROTESTERS - It's too bad the Young Democrats left so early. They would have gotten schooled. At least one liberal stayed behind, however. He asked the vets if they thought that a "war" was being waged here at home by activists against the Patriot Act which "persecuted minorities." The vets answer was terrific. One said he would not use the word "war" to describe what is going on in the U.S. compared to Iraq."

Hah! What a tool. If that guy can't tell the difference between a place where people kill each other over disagreements and a place where people debate and vote on such, then I don't think there's much anyone can do for him. Maybe a proctologist, someone who could help him pull his head out.

I wanted to comment on the Charms thing - that's 100% true. Bad things happen when you eat the Charms. On top of that, they typically sit in those MRE pouches for years and they taste like crap!

Truth said...

Tom, I was at the Outside the Wire event and I stayed for questions, so to tell me to go to an event is really rather pointless. Furthermore I have talked to a number of vets, so its not like I'm making up these ideas, perhaps a sample of vets not associated with the seemingly neo-con WSU CRs would be in order for you. To April, I never tried to do anything against our troops, and to automatically call me a left-wing activist is total bullshit. The fact that I disagree with you dosent make me a liberal.


And once again to Tom, I dont think the vets have any more or less reason than anyone else to be able to judge morality. But if you claim that they do have more right than I'm guessing (though I dont know for sure) that most people on this forum don't have such a right. And I think that all people liberal or conservative, have the right to comment on whether they think the war is right or wrong, and it seems that while the 3 military personell might not have thought so, you can support the troops without supporting the war. For example, if you feel the president dosent have a realistic plan for victory (and I was a supporter of the invasion).

Tom Forbes said...

Paul's post above answers you better than I ever could

Nic said...

"By any definition of morality, giving aid and comfort to an emeny that is killing and maiming our troops is wrong." I'm guessing an argument could be made that killing in general could be considered morally wrong (anyone want to argue against MLK or Gandhi?), so where would that leave our troops? I won't be making that argument, but when anyone starts claiming a moral high-ground they... well, I think there have been enough recent examples of what usually happens next.

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Nic: "I'm guessing an argument could be made that killing in general could be considered morally wrong (anyone want to argue against MLK or Gandhi?), so where would that leave our troops?"

Oh yes, there it is, the catch-all moral equivalence.

You're being foolish. Killing to defend innocents or defend oneself is morally right. Murder is a moral wrong, but murder is a matter of motivations, not the act of killing itself.

And we're not arguing with MLK or Gandhi, we're arguing with you. Besides, perhaps neither of them would agree with how you're characterizing their philosophy:

"Gandhi’s method strongly emphasizes the need of ethical discipline, whose essential ingredient is courage - the courage of dying without killing. Having decided upon the rightness of a situation, Gandhi would not like one to be a passive spectator to evil. That would be participation in the evil itself. If one does not have sufficient nonviolence to die without killing one should not shamefully flee from the danger in the name of nonviolence. Rather, Gandhi would advise killing and being killed. While for himself he did not believe in the use of arms at all, he would not hesitate to advise their use by those who had no faith in non-violence. “If there was a national government, whilst I should not take any direct part in any war, I can conceive occasions when it would be my duty to vote for the military training of those who wish to take it. For I know that all its members do not believe in nonviolence to the extent I do. It is not possible to make a person or a society nonviolent by compulsion" (emphasis added).

Source: http://www.mkgandhi.org/g_relevance/chap27.htm

Truth said...

Paul, Nic was saying (as I'm sure you well know) is that that argument COULD be made, not that he was (the whole "I won't be making that argument" kinda gives that feel). So your statement on how he's beeing foolish is rather uncalled for. As is your quote regarding Ghandi. If he has said it, then it would be relevant. However quoting a website's interpretation of his life doesnt qualify as fact, especially since I can find no mention of the author of the website having any sort of higher education or such. It would be the same as quoting a wikipedia interpretation of something.

To reiterate what I believe his point was (and if I'm wrong Nic I'm sorry) is that nobody should try to claim a moral high-ground because it doesnt do anybody any good.

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

If all he was saying was that the argument could be made, then he's wasting everyone's time. We already know that. It's also true that throwing in a "could" here and there as a weasel word is a handy way to back out of making such statements when one gets called out on them.

You missed the point of the Gandhi quote, and you've failed to notice that the piece I selected does contain a quote of Gandhi's, one that specifically counters the gross oversimplification of his message that Nic was trying to employ (you can also cross-reference that article all over the 'net). This happens all the time when people try to use tired cliches.

"Truth":"To reiterate what I believe his point was (and if I'm wrong Nic I'm sorry) is that nobody should try to claim a moral high-ground because it doesnt do anybody any good."

Wrong. If no one can claim a moral high ground, then we have no way to compare actions against alternatives, and we cannot determine right from wrong. It makes such statements as "your statement on how he's being foolish is uncalled for" meaningless.

By the way - why don't you put your real name behind your words?

Truth said...

Actually I already did (albeit accidently), Chrissy posting was me, I just didnt realize I was signed into my gmail account until after I posted, my bad (not sure who Nic is though).

And I'm not saying that we should morally evaluate statements, just that to claim the moral high-ground is generally a flawed idea (from my perspective) because in an argument both sides claim to have the moral high-ground and thus the claim tends to be meaningless (there are of course exceptions, for example the holocuast and such genocides clearly have a moral right and wrong, I'm talking mainly about political moral ground).

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

"Truth"/Chrissy": "And I'm not saying that we should morally evaluate statements, just that to claim the moral high-ground is generally a flawed idea (from my perspective) because in an argument both sides claim to have the moral high-ground and thus the claim tends to be meaningless (there are of course exceptions, for example the holocuast and such genocides clearly have a moral right and wrong, I'm talking mainly about political moral ground)."

The existence of a disagreement between parties does not mean that no truth exists - that is the moral relativist thesis, and it is wrong owing to its own internal contradiction.

As a matter of rhetoric, if one is not going to endorse the moral correctness of their claims, then what's the point? What are they going to say to anyone, and why would (should) anyone listen?

Two other possibilities are in fact the case: one or both parties, in regard to a particular claim, could be wrong, or one could be right. There needs to be a claim of a statement of truth to begin from so that the claim(s) can be tested. This is not "meaningless," this is how it all gets done!

Nic said...

"While for himself he did not believe in the use of arms at all...... Paul, what was your point again???

"It's also true that throwing in a "could" here and there as a weasel word is a handy way to back out of making such statements when one gets called out on them.

This is exactly the type of thing that I'm getting at. Paul, you may think you have everything figured out, and that you have many of the world’s problems wrapped up inside of that brain of yours and that everyone that disagrees doesn’t know what they are talking about, but I hate to break it to you, not everything is black and white and that is exactly why you need “could” and “may” and “might.” It’s not a weasel word, it’s a word acknowledging that some things are unknown, and there is no possible way to predict the future so maybe we shouldn’t be so sure of ourselves. Read Gandhi’s words again:

If there was a national government, whilst I should not take any direct part in any war, I can conceive occasions when it would be my duty to vote for the military training of those who wish to take it. For I know that all its members do not believe in nonviolence to the extent I do. It is not possible to make a person or a society nonviolent by compulsion"

See anything exceptionally benevolent there? He’s acknowledging that people may not agree with him, yet he is understanding of what they feel they must do. Why can’t you do the same? I understand why you think we should be fighting; I don’t agree with it, but I accept it. So, why must you label me as a supporter of terrorism because of it?

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Nic: ""While for himself he did not believe in the use of arms at all...... Paul, what was your point again???"

You're still not getting it.

You threw out "Gandhi" as a general refutation of killing, period, also glossing over the difference between justified killing and murder. I pointed out to you that Gandhi was not necessarily against all violence such that he would move to obstruct others from committing violent acts of any kind, just that he prefered to commit none himself (and he would prefer that others do the same), and that you're oversimplifying his message.

Nic: "This is exactly the type of thing that I'm getting at. Paul, you may think you have everything figured out, and that you have many of the world’s problems wrapped up inside of that brain of yours and that everyone that disagrees doesn’t know what they are talking about, but I hate to break it to you, not everything is black and white and that is exactly why you need “could” and “may” and “might."

No, Nic, I don't think I have everything figured out, and I already know and admit that, so you can drop the condescension. What I do have is, to put it bluntly, a pair of balls.

I stick up for what I believe. I'm not given to the false idea that everyone should bumble about professing eternal ignorance and uncertainty - no one truly does that anyway, even though it is fashionable to claim to do so. It is an attitude that at worst places one in an ineffective posture of indecision and apathy, and at best, it makes one a constant hypocrite.

If someone can demonstrate why and how something I believe to be true is in fact not, then I will accept it. If you can come up with something believable instead of standing back going, "gee... ummm... ahhh.. maybe! could be! possibly!" all the time, I might be more inclined to consider what you are saying. Otherwise, all of these weasel words just leave one to wonder what it is that you do really think, and what it is that you are really trying to say.

Nic: "It’s not a weasel word, it’s a word acknowledging that some things are unknown, and there is no possible way to predict the future so maybe we shouldn’t be so sure of ourselves."

Exactly what I'm talking about.

Fine, live in perpetual doubt. It's a much more effective and intellectually/morally consistent way of life to instead be unafraid of being wrong sometimes.

Nic: "See anything exceptionally benevolent there? He’s acknowledging that people may not agree with him, yet he is understanding of what they feel they must do. Why can’t you do the same? I understand why you think we should be fighting; I don’t agree with it, but I accept it. So, why must you label me as a supporter of terrorism because of it?"

"Exceptionally benevolent?" No, not particularly. I see something exceptionally libertarian. As for who should read these words again, it is once again you. Gandhi is saying here only that he knows he has no right to restrict the just actions of others. What this does not say is that one may not also criticise what others do. He certainly had a lot of criticism to hand out in his day, and I doubt you would say he was wrong for doing so.

Finally, I've already been over the reason why you're supporting terrorism by rejecting the fight in another post, but, in short: they attacked us first, and they've made it abundantly clear that they intend to continue. This is not something that will be resolved by leaving them be, negotiating, etc. Their currency is killing, so it is with their currency that they must be answered. They leave no room for other options, so if you will not fight them (or support the fight against them), you're only an aid to them, at least until they get you, too (God forbid). There are so many of us and so few of them, the chances of any one of us falling victim to their attacks is admittedly slim, but that's not the point. There are ideas at work here, theirs versus ours, and the content of your ideas determines which side you're truly on.

Nic said...

Well, that's super. Abandon reason and common sense because you have "balls." Cheers to that!

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Nic -

I accept your surrender.

Nic said...

Enjoy, it's the only "victory" that you and your ideology will ever see...

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

You just keep telling yourself that, Nic.