This recurring theme was curious to me, but I think I may have finally come onto an explanation: The Left hates soldiers because they represent all that they are not. Is a soldier an innocent dupe, or an economic refugee? If you look at them that way, you can feel better about your own lack of service, because you are too smart, and you have a job that means that you don't have to enlist.
But the problem for the Left is if they actually encounter a real soldier, that is, not one as portrayed in the movies, they don't fit their nice, neat preconceived notions. The real soldiers are more likely to stand up straight, and look you in the eye. They are inherently polite, while at the same time exhibiting a certain disdain for those who are not one of them. Sure, they are a little rough around the edges, more likely to swear, smoke, and have a wicked sense of humor than their supposed betters, which can be really infuriating since they refuse to be victims.
Soldiers also remind the Left of how little importance they really are. I remember a bumper sticker that said "Some people wonder if they will make a difference. Marines don't have that problem." If you are ever asked "What have you done for your country?" How would you answer?
Could you say "I marched and picketed and protested the war." Great, that must be really tough. Stand around on a street corner with a bunch of like minded dolts, annoying people, then retire to the after rally party, and hope to get laid. Yeah, that's significant. Or maybe you wrote letters to the editor, or made comments on blogs. Well, there you go. Everyone should recognize how smart and caring you are.
But measure that against the person who does what is ordered, even while scared, and works to protect the innocent, while eliminating those who run actual torture chambers.
Shakespeare had it right, when he wrote:
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
If I am upset with the New York Times, or the Independent's style of reportage, it is because those soldiers are my brothers and sisters. Although at my age, they are more my little brothers and sisters. And those who would criticize them for their service may think themselves the "gentlemen in England now a-bed," but they know, just as the soldiers know, that their manhood is quite cheap.