March 28, 2004


Oda Mae pointed out a recent article in The Prague Post Online written by "a founding member of the Prague branch of American Voices Abroad." That's enough to make me want to stay far away from this article, but there are a few things I'd like to address. (Usch, and I have lots of work to do today...)

Farnsworth's premise is that we should feel more emotion and sorrow for innocent Iraqis who have been killed than our bloodthirsty and automaton troops. While I do regret the deaths of innocent Iraqis, I side with Den Beste when he says that in war there is no such thing as a civilian and that I value American citizens more than citizens of any other country. In that sense, Farnsworth's article doesn't really bother me because we're arguing apples and oranges.

I've also already addressed the meaninglessness of the Support Our Troops slogan, but I'll say again that simply holding a sign that says you support our troops is not the same thing as writing a soldier a letter or donating to Soldiers' Angels. It's an empty phrase when paired with opposition to the war on terror.

So Farnsworth and I have no common ground for any sort of discussion. I've come to the realization that it's hardly worth getting upset over someone who's so far from my line of thinking. But there are a few flaws in his reasoning I'd like to mention.

There are parts of this ruse that I might buy. Most soldiers are young and can hardly be blamed for finding themselves in the middle of a war. Many of them signed up facing the choice between lousier work and joining the military. Some joined to afford college, as did Jessica Lynch, only to find herself maimed in battle and then used for Pentagon propaganda. Some find a military career attractive because it offers the benefits, such as subsidized housing and health care, of a semisocialist organization.

In light of my revelation yesterday, I must strenuously say that if you're not prepared to fight a war, don't sign on the dotted line. This recent (though not surprising) crop of conscientious objectors and jerks fleeing to Canada deserve contempt, not sympathy. Don't join the military for college perks (another post for another day) or housing benefits or any of the other benefits that distract you from your real mission: to go to undesirable corners of the world and kill people. If you can't handle that, then you had no business signing up. Period.

News of such U.S. atrocities in Iraq has come out in scattered reports. U.S. Marine Sergeant Eric Schrumpf revealed that his training in civilian casualties taught that killing a large number of innocents all at once looked bad but that killing them a few at a time was OK. About the civilian woman he had just murdered because she stood too close to his target, he said, "I'm sorry, but the chick got in the way."

Turning to the psychopathic tendencies within the war, we have Corporal Ryan Dupre blurting to a reporter, "The Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy. I am starting to hate this country. Wait till I get hold of a friggin' Iraqi. No, I won't get hold of one. I'll just kill him."

Maybe I'm a hardened old Army wife, but this doesn't bother me at all. Our servicemembers have to have some way to deal with their mission. Whether it's detachment and indifference or raging hatred towards the enemy, they're both coping mechanisms, and they're both valid. I've heard my husband say that he'd take anyone out who looked remotely suspicious. That's a healthy way of dealing with the stress of combat. Would we rather our soldiers stopped to contemplate their ethical dilemma and in the meantime get wasted by an IED in a Coke can?

SOT involves a "my-side-versus-your-side" premise while creating a mental shortcut around actually thinking about it. Are we supposed to support any U.S. soldier on "our" side more than every single Iraqi? ... Are we supposed to support any Sergeant Schrumpf more than however many "chicks" he murdered? Should we support "our" troops over their civilians?


Personally, I support those with whom I feel kinship. I feel none at all with the chicken hawks in government running this aggression and none with troops like Schrumpf. I do not support them. I feel sorry for but little kinship with soldiers who find themselves in a bad position and just shoot wherever they are told, as the captured soldier said. I support them as much as I sympathize with them. But I feel more sympathy for the civilians murdered by U.S. weapons, for the children sliced to pieces by cluster bombs, for the women blown apart by bunker busters -- and for their survivors.

Well, then that is where you and I differ, Farnsworth. Look, I've met dirtbag soldiers. I have heard firsthand one private's despicable tales from Kosovo, and that's why he got chaptered out and his buddy is now in jail. There are jerks in our military, but there are jerks in every demographic of society, and there are Iraqi jerks and Afghan jerks and surely Farnsworth has met some jerks in Prague. But don't quote two soldiers and blow their remarks out of proportion into the reason why we should support Iraqis instead of our troops.

Posted by: Sarah at 07:00 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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1 Yep, that's exactly how I felt. The underlying suggestion seemed to be that we wouldn't be able to fight a war if only we had free universities, free health care and so forth, which are the only reasons the writer could think why anyone would want to join the military. I think a lot of Americans who come overseas to Prague as college students and then hang around completely lose their bearings. Their personalities are not strong enough to withstand the slightest criticism from Europeans. They want so badly to belong that they turn against everything American to appear more 'cultured'. I didn't join the Army for free medical care or free education. And there are many other such men and women in the Army. Wonder what kind of military family the writer actually comes from? Not a very good one, I'd guess.

Posted by: Oda Mae at March 28, 2004 07:36 AM (nAexg)

2 Gag. It's ironic that this expat is living among Czech who probably have a better understanding of freedom. I would like to think that most Czechs believe freedom is worth fighting for. They also understand socialism far better than this expat (or any of us Americans) ever will. "Their personalities are not strong enough to withstand the slightest criticism from Europeans." It also doesn't help that their pro-farcers back home may have taught them that Europeans are "superior." So they had few or no bearings when they came to Prague. Usch!

Posted by: Amritas at March 28, 2004 08:38 AM (+jbFn)

3 As Sarah wrote in a recent post, "He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job." In Farnsworth's world, the job of a soldier is to suck off benefits. That creep would probably feel dirty if he touched AmeriKKKan soil again. Better he stay in Praha (only ignoramuses use the English distortion "Prague") and play the role of the Enlightened American (tm): "Alas, my ... fellow Americans are mired in simplisme, whereas I have risen above them and see the sophistication of le Kerry ..." He probably fits the profile of what I called a "Eurofool": William Grim at Right Wing News described these creatures as "the lowest subspecies of homo sapiens americanus." Let's put this guy on the battlefield and see how he functions under the stress of making split-second life-or-death decisions.

Posted by: Amritas at March 28, 2004 11:38 AM (oC8m2)

4 I wish he would look at the two photos I posted showing what our troops face each day. He'd probably say, "Those teenagers were no threat. They're just kids." And my son would say, "Probably. But I can't risk my soldiers' lives. One wrong step, and they're dead."

Posted by: Mike at March 28, 2004 02:29 PM (00IUf)

5 Mike, I had those very photos in mind when I wrote the line about split-second decisions:

Posted by: Amritas at March 28, 2004 10:31 PM (zNg28)

6 My son is in the Navy, and we had a conversation about duty. I told him that he had to know in his heart that he could "push the button" when the time came *before* the order was given. Otherwise, he wasn't being fair to the Navy nor to his crewmates. If his conscience wasn't clear on that, then he needed to get out before it became a problem.

Posted by: Ted at March 29, 2004 11:17 AM (blNMI)

7 You say American lives are worth more than other people's lives. That is morally depraved. You expect the world to respect you? Believe in the "war on terror"? It reminds me of other cultures that invaded other lands saying "Our people are the real people, your people are less than people, less human, worth less than our people."

Posted by: elizabethswitter at April 05, 2004 05:39 AM (x7iLs)

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