Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sigh . . .

At the above link, Jay Stevens of LITW thinks he makes some cogent points by linking to other half thought, or completely wrong assertions. More than anything, Jay exemplifies the problem with civil discourse. It feels like I am dealing with a severe schizophrenic when I read his stuff sometimes.
The most offensive to me though was the link about the doxa of the military being the true defenders of liberty and freedom. I became so enraged at the half truth and invalid assertions while reading the article that I couldn't finish it. Some of the points that the author was trying to make are that lawyers and protesters are greater guarantors of our freedom.
How do they get the right to protest or sue anyone, unless the military has provided the basic structure of stability necessary? The most amazing thing about the American military is that they could stage a coup at any moment, because no one has the force or capability to oppose them. Wait, you say, protesters would rise up, letters to the editor, the ACLU would be in the courts. If the military was as ruthless as some have insinuated they would move quickly to set an example by summary execution. And then what would we do?
Instead, the American military is made up of individuals who have the personal sense of loyalty to which they have sworn their allegiance: The Constitution of these United States!!!
God help us all if that ever goes away.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. My evil twin is out drinking tonight, so I thought I'd pop in and challenge some assertions made here and defend myself.

First, the links, like MtPolitics Craig's one-liners, are meant to be provocative. I don't always publish links because I agree with them completely, or at all, but because they're interesting.

Second, we must have read different posts. Nowhere in WF's post does she mention that lawyers or protesters are better guarantors of freedom than the military. Nowhere does she say that a strong military isn't necessary for domestic security. (In fact, in the post, she says the opposite, that our nuclear arsenal has protected us from invasion.)

The thrust of her argument revolves around our military's role in wars, specifically about the role of our military during and after the Cold War. That is, she questions how and why our military is used.

The quote I culled from her post talks specifically about the Iraq War. Is the U.S. military in Iraq fighting for our freedoms, as is so often claimed? I don't think so. I think if we never got involved in Iraq, we'd pretty much be the same as we are now. Maybe in less danger.

Some might assume that, if I make that claim, I'm slighting the service-men and -women serving, calling into question their motives or their honor. That I'm really a soldier-hater.

I don't see it that way. That someone would risk their lives for ideals -- American ideals of civic liberties -- is really a pretty cool thing. And absolutely necessary. That our military has knuckled under democratic rule is cooler still. In fact, I think today's US military is the best educated, most moral, thoughtful, and dedicated army in the history of the planet.

That is, they're products of our educational system, free discourse, and the ideas that live in our country.

It's the policy for which the military is used that bugs me. I think these people are being used for reasons that have nothing to do with libery or the Constitution. And that makes Iraq all the more abhorrent to me.

As for what's wrong with discourse these days...well...accusing your ideological opponents of mental instability don't help much, eh?

Anonymous said...

If the military was as ruthless as some have insinuated they would move quickly to set an example by summary execution.

Don't smoke too close to that strawman buddy.

Thers said...

The military does not provide the "basic structure of stability" of the American system. The purpose of the military is to provide for defense against external threats. Allegiance to the Constitution does. The subordination of the military to civilian authority is a part of that structure. And, historically, it has been quite rare that external forces have posed anywhere near as great a threat to Constitutionally protected American liberties as have domestic forces.

If your only response is that the military could stage a coup, well, that strengthens my argument, not yours: the founders did not want a standing army for precisely that reason.

I honor the ideals of members of the military, but it is inaccurate, unhistorical, and frankly un-American to state that citizens "owe" their right to free speech, to name but one Constitutionally guaranteed liberty, to the military. Sorry if that offends you. If you have a disagreement on the merits of the argument I'd be interested to hear them.

Jay is quite right to say that I think that the troops in Iraq are not protecting American liberties. If I thought they were I would support the war. I don't think we should be involved in wars unless it is in response to such a threat. (Something that used to be quite the conservative position.) Jay is wrong about calling me "she," though.

Thers, Whiskey Fire

Dave Budge said...

"As for what's wrong with discourse these days...well...accusing your ideological opponents of mental instability don't help much, eh?"

How abut calling people "creeps", "cheats", "liars", etc.

Anonymous said...

My apologies, Thers. *blushes*

Steve said...

Okay, I feel a little like the guy trying to describe an elephant to a blind man. I still stand by my assertion that the military is our basic gaurantor of freedom.
Suppose someone infringed on your right to free speech, and you go to a lawyer to enforce the law. But your lawyer is shot down on the street, and in any event, the courthouse has been closed. Who do you turn to?
Only the military provides the basic stability that allows all of the other functions to operate.
But the beauty of the situation is who the military are. They are not economic refugees with no better prospects than getting shot at. They are smart, hard working and dedicated. But my point about the military coup is reinforced by Thers comment. The only thing that stops a military coup in this country is the self restraint and moral obligation to serve a higher cause than self.
In a rational self interest world, we would be living under a military regime right now. But we don't because the military, serves us without being servants. A pretty complex idea wouldn't you think?
As to the idea that the military in Iraq is not part of our national interests is so 20th century. We are not in a war with nation states anymore, but with a dangerous ideology that wants our destruction.
How do I know this? Because they say so. The least we should do with an enemy who has sworn to destroy us is to give them the courtesy of believing them.
Ah, but the 9-11 terrorists were not Iraqi. True, but there really weren't that many Afghans if I remember right. The ideology that led to 9-11 is not rooted in any one country. It stretches from the Atlantic to the Philipines. Using Iraq could have been an interesting insertion between the two prime centers of Islamofascism, Tehran and Saudi Arabia.
It didn't work out, but it seemed a reasonable idea at the time.
Well, I am running on too long. All of this time I have been blogging to myself, and then Dave notices me.

Anonymous said...

I understand what you're saying, Steve, and neither Thers nor I would disagree. The military protects the country. But then the country is its ideas, really, of which the members of the military more or less subscribe to.

But we question the necessity of active and aggressive military intervention we find in Iraq.

BTW, compaing to Iraq to Afghanistan is just plain wrong. If our prime concern was Islamic radicalism, then we were fools for taking out the one secular regime in the region, which had a long history acting as a bulwark between Sunni and Shia and was a prime enemy of Islamic radicals.

Afghanistan, as you know, was controlled by the Taliban, who aided and abetted al Qaeda, and threw open its doors to that organization. I suspect you'll find little or no opposition to that intervention among...anyone.

Iraq couldn't have been about Islamic radicalism, because it wasn't present there.

It couldn't have been about the WMDs, because most of the intelligence indicated there weren't any, and the Bushies had to cook the books a little on that score.

It can't be about fighting terror, since our presence in Iraq actually has whipped up anti-US sentiment in the region and has led towards more men, material, and financial backing to terrorist organizations. The longer we stay, the worse the problem.

It might have been about promoting democracy, but our remaining works against democracy, so it doesn't appear to be about that, either.

Why are we there? That's what the discussion should be about. To what end is Iraq? And is this something we want to support?

Right now it appears that the administration has its own agenda for Iraq that it's not letting us in on. If I'm going to fight a war, I'd like to know what it's about.