Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thoughts from an evening at Outside the Wire: What It Means to Truly Support the Troops

In the context of the contemporary university campus, it takes bravery to present the particular side of things the WSU College Republicans showed to the WSU campus by screening Outside the Wire. It certainly is not bombs and bullets that our CR's have to face, which they admitted before the film rolled, but it would be wrong to dismiss as insignificant the social toll that comes with speaking truth to the left-indoctrinated around these parts. It’s an ugly job, but someone’s got to do it.

More than anything else I witnessed last night, it was this frank admission on the part of the CR’s - that they have not fought in the war they support – that struck me, bringing into sharper focus for me the importance of each individual's contributions to a war effort. Having been an infantry soldier, I was for a long time given to believing that only those of us of the "we've put up, the rest of you shut up" set had a legitimate say in and contribution to war efforts. I was wrong.

This is exactly what many of the leftist/unreasonably-pacifist set will often claim, particularly against individuals like our CR's. But the leftists do not say so because they've been in my boots, but only because they perceive this attack as being an all-undercutting criticism of individuals and their support of our nation’s various wars, individuals who have not carried arms in defense of our nation. It is a cowardly ad hominem the leftists know to have some force because of the weight typically given to it by veterans.

That is exactly why I have consciously stopped endorsing that line of reasoning: it only has a hint of legitimacy so long as we warriors also endorse it, which is unfortunate as its most frequent users are those who would do us harm. Veterans – do not endorse this thinking; those who use it are at best not our friends, they are otherwise our enemies, and the notion itself is false!

When one considers everything that goes into winning a war, it is plainly obvious that there is more to it than beans and bullets. No army of any democratic nation will ever win any war in the absence of supporting ideals and individuals; the idea of doing such a thing is meaningless to us. We do not make war for the sake of war.

Overwhelming force is obviously necessary to win strictly as a matter of physics, but human beings are more than simple mechanisms of action and reaction. We require something to believe in to propel us forward; we require ideas. As such, it is our ideas that are truly powerful, for without them we might lack inspiration to do anything at all with our troops and weapons, much less anything else. We know this to be true because the human race has seen it again and again throughout history - if there is not heart in the fight, the fight will be lost.

Therefore the support of those who are not directly involved in this fight is not only welcome, it is necessary for victory! Conversely, those who oppose this war and who actively work against it, their works will contribute to defeat (particularly by emboldening an enemy who might otherwise be demoralized and defeated); defeat is the only other outcome possible if the outcome is not victory. Human beings, being possessed of free will, can choose what it is that they will individually endorse, so it is then worthwhile to examine what it is that individuals do endorse and why to see which endorsement is moral.

In this fight, we are faced with an avowed enemy who is out to destroy our way of life. They are openly hostile to the core values that our nation is founded upon, and they make no bones about not distinguishing between civilians and soldiers as they kill to achieve their objectives. We have been shown numerous times their willingness to kill innocent people, with the September 11th attacks being the most spectacular, and in other attacks they have carried out against our allies, such as the triple hotel bombings in Amman, Jordan on November 9th, 2005, which saw one of those bombs being detonated in the midst of a wedding reception. In the UK and in Spain, they have deliberately killed hundreds of civilians in separate train bombings. Kenya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Israel, the Netherlands, India, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Lebanon… the list goes on.

To support the war on terror, and thus to support our troops, is to oppose these things, to be against the murderers who have set themselves against us. It is to place your personal endorsement on our core values of freedom and justice, to align yourself with the belief that the proper destiny of each person is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It acknowledges that our enemies will not confine themselves to mere words, but do actively seek to kill us, and that they must therefore be destroyed. This is why we fight.

To oppose the war is to endorse the evil committed by our enemies, if not overtly, then at least by a cowardly, passive permissibility, as what they do is without any excuse and can rightly only be condemned and eliminated. The evil acts committed by our enemies do not permit us the space to not act, since their evil is of such a type and degree that it is morally abominable to not fight and defeat them. They must be answered, and they must be made to answer to justice. If you will not do so, or at least agree that this is so, then you might as well be one of them. Weakly throwing in "I support the troops!" as a disclaimer does not redeem you.

With that, I’d like to close with a few words penned by John Stewart Mill:
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse…A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
Thank you for what you’re doing, CR’s. What you’ve done and what I’m sure you’ll all continue to do really does mean a lot to our veterans, both those currently in the field and those of us who have been.

To the protesters… you’re welcome.


April E. Coggins said...

Thank you, Paul. What a thoughtful post. It's a relief from the angry, hopeless posts that I see from the other side.

Daniel F Schanze said...

No, thank you Paul. It's people like you that allow us to voice these opinions. It is saddening how much people take for granted. Those ultra-liberals were a prime example. They should be so thankful. You, the Vets, are our heroes. I just wish I could do more... I wish I could go and serve my country...

Thank you Paul.

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

April - thanks!

Dan - Thanks again (this could go around and around forever, heh). You can serve your country, which doesn't necessarily have to be as a soldier. Like I said in this post, it takes more than beans and bullets. The most important thing is willpower, and that doesn't come from nowhere. Anything you can do to foster the will to get this job done is a service.

In August I was talking to a local recruiter about getting back in as an infantry officer in the National Guard. Right around that time, Xtreme lost its only employee and it's a big advantage for us to not have to pay one (obviously), so I found myself forced to either be in the Guard and risk both Xtreme and N22 falling apart if I got deployed, or not being in the Guard to keep my companies going. I'm still young enough that there's plenty of time for me to reenlist if the situation with the businesses changes, but believe me when I tell you that I'm extremely frustrated and a little depressed over this. You're not alone in wishing you could be there!