A Parable of Two Sons

Here is a classy Memorial Day story:

During the surge in Iraq in 2008, Nathan Witmer led an Army scout platoon in a thicket of villages rife with insurgents and roadside bombs. What he really wants to do is direct.

Or maybe write — or produce.

“Anything with movies was always the dream,” said Mr. Witmer, who left active duty in 2010.

Like many troops leaving the military, he was steered instead toward jobs in government agencies that offered preferential hiring or with big corporations that recruited veterans, and he assumed his hope of working in show business would remain only that.

But after selling medical equipment for two years, he had the chance to join a five-week industry boot camp designed to bring young veterans into the television business. To his surprise, it was run by one of the Iraq war’s fiercest critics, Jon Stewart, the longtime host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”

“It was actually inspirational,” said Mr. Witmer, who went on to work at Fox News and then found a job as a “Daily Show” associate field segment producer. “We hear ‘Thank you for your service’ all the time, but here was concrete action, people working to really make a difference. And it changed lives. I’m proof of that.”

“The Daily Show” developed the program over the last three years without publicizing it, but now, because Mr. Stewart is preparing to leave the show, he has taken it into the open, urging other shows to develop their own programs to bring more veterans into the industry.

“This is ready to franchise. Please steal our idea,” Mr. Stewart said in an interview at his Manhattan studio recently. “It isn’t charity. To be good in this business you have to bring in different voices from different places, and we have this wealth of experience that just wasn’t being tapped.”

Veterans are less likely to struggle to find work after war — their unemployment rate has been lower than the comparable civilian rate for years — but few land in the entertainment industry, according to the industry group Veterans in Film and Television.

120 veterans commit suicide every week. (17 a day)
• 1000 veterans attempt suicide in the VA each month.
• About 20 percent of the U.S. population committing suicide is our Veterans.
• Veterans who fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and other terrorism-related conflicts were four times more likely to commit suicide (18 to 24 age group)
• 33 percent of our nation’s homeless population consists of veterans (about 200,000 veterans)
• A higher percentage of post-Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffered from PTSD than from any other previous war because of “stop loss” (an involuntary extension of service in the military), multiple tours, and greater prevalence of brain injuries

http://theveteranssupport.org/statistics

There was once a man who had two sons.  To the elder, he said, “Go and help the troops in their struggle.”  So the elder son got five draft deferments, put on a flag lapel pin, sought high office, ordered men into battle in an unjust war, stayed home, got rich, sent their jobs overseas, cut their benefits, said “Thank you for your service”, and drove past them in his limo as they sat homeless and begging on his way to Halliburton stockholder meetings.

To the younger son, the man said, “Go and help the troops in their struggle.”  So the younger son went out, protested sending good men into a futile and unjust war, chronicled the lies and selfishness of the older brother, demanded the troops receive the care his selfish older brother denied soldiers returning from the war, and created a way for soldiers coming back from the war to find work, support their families, afford the medical treatment they needed for their PTSD, express their creativity and live happily ever after.

Which of the two sons did his father’s will?

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  • captcrisis

    Damn right!!

  • Chris W

    Interesting that neither of the two sons actually served, but both judged the action itself as being wrong and unjust. The unwritten part is; your service is judged to be unjust, your actions were for the greed of others. One son says let me help you to judge as I judge. The other says I’m done with you now, thank you. Both actions contribute to the shocking statistics about veterans.
    Meanwhile ISIS grows… takes over more area, killing and enslaving Christians and others, and destroying… no, eradicating ancient cultures. Modern genocide is alive and well but we are too busy judging each other to notice. Maybe if we weren’t so busy pointing to the stick in our brothers eye we could see what is happening to our brothers and sisters a bit more clearly.

    • jroberts548

      You can think sending soldiers to fight a certain war is unjust without thinking the soldiers themselves are doing anything unjust. Soldiers owe a duty to the country; it isn’t their place to decide which wars to prosecute and which orders to obey, unless those orders are manifestly unlawful. You simply can’t have a military where each soldier decides which orders to follow. That moves the point of moral judgment. Soldiers can’t decide which orders to obey (except when they’re manifestly unlawful), but civilian command can decide which orders to give. It’s counterintuitive, but you can have an (non-manifestly unlawful) unjust war which it would be just for each individual soldier to prosecute.

      • Chris W

        I think the statistics cited above state the individual has a problem with segments of society telling them their actions were supporting something unjust and oh, by the way, thank you for your service.
        Keep in mind, it is an all volunteer force. No one is drafted and or conscripted to serve. To say they don’t choose to obey is akin to calling them mindless robots and not choosing to offer a selfless service to others.

        • jroberts548

          The choose to enlist or accept commissions. They don’t choose which orders to obey, except insomuch as they have to disobey manifestly unlawful orders. (I’m going to ignore manifestly unlawful orders from now on, for the sake of convenience).

          The only time the soldier’s will and judgment enters into it is in the choice to become a soldier (or airman, sailor, or marine; from here on, I’m calling them all soldiers). Individual soldiers don’t get to decide which country we invade. They don’t decide whether a war is just or unjust. Soldiers don’t even break the law when they go to another country and start shooting enemy soldiers. This is called combatant’s privilege – if I went to Syria and blew up an ISIS camp, I’d be a murderer; this is not so for a soldier. It’s the reason we only executed or imprisoned a handful of mostly high-ranking Germans after WWII, and then only for manifestly unlawful atrocities, rather than trying to jail every German soldier.

          A soldier who enlists because he or she wants to protect the country is choosing only to be a solider to protect the country. He’s not choosing to commit any particular acts. He’s not choosing whether to invade Iraq. He’s choosing only to be a soldier. The decision to invade Iraq and the decision to be a soldier are different decisions made by different people.

          It’s also the case that the decision to invade Iraq, and what we do having invaded Iraq, are different decisions. Invading Iraq was unjust. Becoming a soldier and then, e.g., a combat medic isn’t. No individual soldier invades Iraq or continues to occupy it. Individuals can choose to become soldiers because they believe that having invaded Iraq already, individual soldiers can do something to help make Iraq better or make other soldiers safer, etc. The decision to become a soldier in 2008 is an act that can be moral or immoral, independent of the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

          Again, the decision to become a soldier and the decision to send soldiers to Iraq are different decisions made by different people. Likewise, I don’t blame Walmart retail employees for Walmart’s foreign labor practices or priests for the bone-headed decisions of certain bishops.

          • Chris W

            It’s not a question of how you may separate the actions of a soldier obeying lawful orders in an unjust war. It’s a question of the individual soldier conducting war time operations and being told the actions they are performing are unjust.
            Conscience is not surrendered with the oath of enlistment or commissioning. The individual does have the right to refuse and face the consequences of that choice.

            • jroberts548

              But who is telling individual soldiers that their actions are unjust? If you’re in Iraq, shooting a lawful target isn’t unjust. Disarming IEDs isn’t unjust. Guarding a base in the green zone isn’t unjust. Obeying orders isn’t unjust. Being a medic isn’t unjust. Doing IT work for the army isn’t unjust. Delivering supplies to a FOB isn’t unjust. Very little that an individual soldier could do in the course of duty is unjust.

              No soldier, by not enlisting or refusing to carry out orders, can undo the invasion of Iraq. What we do in Iraq is a moral decision for civilian command and for voters; it isn’t for soldiers (except insofar as they’re voters).

              Saying that we should put the choice about the ultimate justice of a war on the individual soldier is absurd. You’re saying that POWs should be treated like criminals, instead of like POWs. You’re saying that there should be no combatant’s privilege. You’re saying that soldiers should stop, research, and deliberate before following any order. You’re saying that no one can justly join an army. It’s a profoundly unserious position.

              Countries have a right to have armies. Armies don’t work without obedience along the chain of command. We expect subordinates to obey their superiors. You can’t have an army without obedience. If the moral responsibility for an unjust decision flows down instead of up, no one could morally be a soldier.

              • Chris W

                Society and our media has proclaimed our actions as unjust for over a decade now. Moral responsibility always lies with the individual. It can not be separated, and is reflected in the statistics above.

                • jroberts548

                  Our actions have been proclaimed unjust because invading Iraq was unjust. If you’re not an idiot, you can distinguish Bush’s and congress’ choice to invade Iraq from a soldier’s choice to serve in the military. This should not be a hard concept. It has not been a hard concept for a long time – otherwise, we would have jailed or killed every axis soldier following WWII, every central soldier following WWI, every Confederate, every British soldier, etc.

                  • Chris W

                    So, all our suffering soldiers are idiots.
                    PTSD? must be an idiot.
                    Suicidal depression? must be an idiot…

                    • jroberts548

                      What?

                      No, they have PTSD because they experienced traumatic stress. It’s right there in the name. That’s why it’s called “PTSD.”

                      PTSD and depression are mental disorders. They’re rarely the product of a correct sense of moral culpability.

                    • Chris W

                      It seems you have no problem separating the individual from the act. All I’m saying is the individual soldier does have a problem with it and it is compounded when society says it was unjust. They naturally conclude their actions, on behalf of others, was unjust. You are in essence telling them that it’s ok, you were just following orders, and simultaneously telling them their actions were unjust. You may intellectually separate them; it’s not so easy when it was done by your hand.

                    • jroberts548

                      I haven’t said the soldiers’ actions were unjust. The soldiers were just doing their jobs. There is no injustice there. I have nothing but sympathy for soldiers who feel bad for their participation in unjust war. I put every ounce of blame on the people who sent them to fight an unjust war. If you respected soldiers, you wouldn’t ask them to fight and die in unjust, meaningless conflicts.

                      Also, soldiers suffer PTSD for fighting in just wars as well. We used to call it things like “shellshock” and “nervousness.” When you’re being put through the trauma of war, the brain doesn’t particularly care about the moral status of the civilian leadership.

                    • Chris W

                      If you are a citizen of this country, it was done in your name, They did it for you.

                      I served in combat arms and direct combat support in the 70’s, 80’s, and into the 90’s. This notion of separating the act of war from the individual carrying out combat actions is one that is patently false. Policy doesn’t fight a war, people do, and it has a lasting effect on those who serve. When you look back in hindsight, when you attack and disparage the very institutions that lawfully took them to war, you also attack the veracity of the soldier carrying out those orders. It’s either that, or they are just the idiots you described above.

                      Again, the individual can not separate their actions from what you now call unjust.

                    • jroberts548

                      I’m not attempting to separate the individual from their acts. I’m saying that the acts undertaken by an individual soldier, even while prosecuting an unjust war, are typically not unjust. The civilian leadership, acting on behalf of voters, did commit an unjust act. This is true of the US invasion of Iraq. It was true, to take an extreme example, even for the German and Japanese soldiers who fought us in WWII, except where soldiers complied with orders that were manifestly unlawful.

                      We need soldiers. Soldiers need to be able to obey their superiors. It’s absurd to expect soldiers to second guess every single order they’re given, since an army can’t function that way. So we don’t hold soldiers morally accountable for the choices that are made for them by their superiors.

                    • Chris W

                      It’s absurd to think they have a mental switch in their head and turn all of it off so they can carry out the atrocity that is war.It doesn’t matter a whit if YOU or society doesn’t hold them accountable.
                      They hold themselves accountable.

                    • jroberts548

                      So?

                      Does that mean we shouldn’t criticize civilian leadership for stupid, unjust wars? Do you really think the best way to respect the troops is to not care when people send them to die for no reason? If we really value soldiers’ willingness to serve, we shouldn’t send them off to die or get PTSD in order to prosecute an unjust war.

                    • Chris W

                      The “no reason” would be illustrated by abandoning the area and leaving it susceptible to the very environment we see being realized today.
                      Criticize all you can with every ounce of energy you have, but when the die is cast and the decision made, there is no substitute for victory. Partial victories, through partisan historic perspectives and half hearted efforts ultimately cost more lives. Or in this instance, possibly entire civilizations.

                    • jroberts548

                      There are lots of substitutes for victory. Deciding that the cost of victory in soldiers’ lives is disproportionate to the value of the victory is completely reasonable. If you put any value on soldiers’ lives and well-being at all, you would understand that.

                      (Also, you’re telling me that it’s wrong to criticize the civilian leadership for choosing to prosecute an unjust war. Now you’re telling me that we should criticize the civilian leadership for negotiating a SOFA under which we mostly withdrew. Are you taking a principled position against criticizing the civilian leadership for their decisions about whether to prosecute a war, or are you just advocating whatever policy position you prefer? I’m not going to argue with you over whether we should have abided by the SOFA we agreed to in 2008. I will agree that the decision whether to prosecute a war is a moral decision, the culpability of which is born by our civilian leadership [including voters], but not by soldiers).

                    • Chris W

                      There is NO substitute for victory. If something less is in order, then do it!!!. However, when you put lives on the line, it can’t be done half heartedly.
                      Even more egregious is using partisan spectacles looking back over more than a decade and saying it was ‘unjust’. The use of force was authorized with an overwhelming vote in the house and the senate, and authorized by the UN. When the next election cycle rolled around, suddenly it was all untrue and unjust.
                      Again, the individual soldier cannot fix blame with civilian leadership for the physical acts they committed with their hands. They presume they are being asked to sacrifice based on the full force and commitment of those who sent them. It takes some real mental gymnastics to look them in the face and say what you did in my name was unjust, but I support you now.

                    • jroberts548

                      What individual soldiers did in my name is just. Attacking lawful targets is just. Obeying lawful orders is just. Deciding to be a soldier is typically just. I’m not saying anything done by soldiers is unjust. I can’t be any clearer about that. It is not unjust for a soldier to obey lawful orders. The justice of the soldier’s acts has nothing at all to do with the justice of the decision to go to war: Killing unlawful targets in WWII, which was a just war, is unjust; killing lawful targets in Viet Nam, which was an unjust war, is just.

                      There’s a reason we didn’t execute every German and Japanese soldier following WWII. That’s because our leadership then understood that the decision to go to war isn’t made by individual soldiers. A soldier fighting for his country is typically just, even when his country isn’t. Or do you think it would be just to try every POW – every lawful combatant – for murder or attempted murder?

                      I don’t really care about the partisanship. I voted against Obama in 2012 because of Afghanistan, Yemen, and Pakistan. I voted for Nader in 2004 because of Iraq. I will vote for either Sanders or Paul in the primaries, and probably vote for a third party in 2016, again, because of Iraq.

                      Where was this “victory is the only option” attitude in 2003? Where was “the full force and commitment of those who sent them?” Instead we got a bunch of bullshit about being greeted as liberators, a ludicrously premature declaration of victory, and tax cuts. If we were so committed, why didn’t we pay for the war? Why didn’t we send enough troops, and plan on staying there for a very long time? The 2003 invasion of Iraq, like the 1998 airstrikes, the 1991 Gulf War, and arming Saddam with chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war was part of a long campaign of misguided half-measures. It’s precisely because I value soldiers’ lives – and also the lives of civilians abroad – that I find these bullshit half-measures so abhorrent.

                    • Chris W

                      Actually, I prefer the Viet Nam era protester. They were intellectually honest and consistent in their actions.

                    • jroberts548

                      How am I being inconsistent?

                    • jroberts548

                      I respect soldiers. I don’t think we should abuse them by sending them to die for no reason. That’s consistent.

                      I’m trying to figure out how it’s consistent to “support the troops” by trying to get them killed in a way that doesn’t do anything to advance US interests.

                    • Chris W

                      Catholic Social Doctrine states, “Military personnel remain fully responsible for the acts they commit …Such acts cannot be justified by claiming obedience to the orders of superiors.”
                      You may exercise judgment and say they were just following orders, but the soldier bears the responsibility for their direct actions.

                    • jroberts548

                      The acts soldiers commit are the acts committed by individual soldiers. Individual soldiers don’t decide which countries to invade.

                    • Chris W

                      No they don’t, they are responsible for carrying out what was considered just then, and unjust now.
                      You can’t have it both ways.

                    • jroberts548

                      Catechism 2308. Everyone is obliged to work for the avoidance of war. However, countries have a right to lawful self-defense.
                      2310. Governments have a right to impose obligations on citizens to provide for defense. “Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations”
                      2313. “Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely.
                      Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out.”

                      The Church doesn’t blame soldiers for the decision to carry out an unjust war. The Church (like the US government, and all legitimate countries) does blame soldiers for war crimes.

                    • Joseph

                      Yes, you can. It’s evident in the number of soldier suicides. They weren’t committing suicide *in the field*, they committed suicide when they weren’t, when they had time to reflect. That means that you can’t blame them for the actions they performed in the field. For many of them, PTSD is caused by their troubled consciences… they turn to suicide because they are conflicted. They were told one thing, given orders that were just according to their superiors, but when the dust settled they realised that may not have been true after all and the struggle begins. For many, the struggle is so strong that suicide becomes their final act of contrition because, in their despair, they are trapped to believe there is no other way to express it. Don’t be a jerk, man.

                    • antigon

                      Sigh. Nonetheless, Mr. W, to your two immediate repetitive shibboleths above, allow me to repeat:
                      *
                      ‘A man is only guilty – however much his objective crimes disturb the universe – for committing wrongs he knows are such, that is, for his subjective crimes. Thus only those are guilty who *knew* their participation was immoral; & it is tendentious at best to call those who didn’t idiots for their insufficient study of a moral theology t’was the job of others to teach them.’
                      *
                      As exposing the immoral idiocy of the Iraqi invasion now does.

                    • Chris W

                      Unfortunately, “the man” in question doesn’t understand or necessarily share your philosophical view. ‘The man’ understands he is responsible for his actions.
                      Quit looking down your long and esoteric nose and try having some empathy for those who committed heinous acts on your behalf.

                    • antigon

                      But Chris, that is the problem you refuse to face. Such acts, heinous or noble, were done neither on my behalf, nor yours, nor of our countrymen’s, nor certainly of Iraqis, nor really of anyone’s much, save possibly the Persian government’s.
                      *
                      And if a soldier doesn’t understand – not my philosophical view qua, but rather – the objective reality that is thus necessarily the teaching of the Church, empathy will be found not in hiding it from him, but in revealing it.
                      *
                      Your argument proposes he should be confirmed in his (still) skewered understanding. That’s not empathy, it’s self-indulgent cruelty.
                      *
                      And can only lengthen thy Pinocchio nose, if not esoterically I grant.

                    • Sue Korlan

                      Yes, you can. If you thought what you were doing was just when you did it, then you are not morally culpable if what you were doing was actually unjust. Read part 3 of the Catechism and you will truly understand this point. This does not make what you did right; it removes your responsibility for the wrong you did. This is Roman Catholic teaching.

                    • antigon

                      Actually – not mentioning any names here, Chris W – some hold there is no substitute for meaningless demagoguery.
                      *
                      And perhaps more egregious than putting lives on the line half-heartedly, is doing so when the action is immoral & insane; or more egregious still, pretending otherwise when the immorality & insanity becomes obvious.
                      *
                      Your argument seems to be, nope, sorry, once our dolt politicians invade, we have no choice but to demolish our civilization, establish an Empire, subjugate the population, defend our troops (& children!), & shout ‘there is NO substitute for victory’ at anyone who notices you’re nuts.
                      *
                      No mental gymnastics, W (save from you). Like much of the rest of the country, you were bamboozled, soldier. But the cost to you was steeper, & so the obligation to support you now the greater.
                      *
                      Not all that difficult, save for those who would further exploit those troops in pursuit of policies inimical to their good, & the good of their countrymen.

                    • Chris W

                      I leave you in peace… think long and hard before ever committing troops into action. There are lasting consequences no longer shared by the general population of the country and fellow citizens. When they are committed, they absolutely deserve the full support of the nation. A hollow thank you for your service, but your actions were unjust compounds their feelings of guilt.

                    • antigon

                      It may sound flippant, but isn’t, to note that truth can often be painful. Yet you can’t be set free without it.
                      *
                      And just per accidens, the full support our soldiers absolutely deserve from the nation when they are committed somewhere, means supporting them due to the danger in which, for motives honorable unless otherwise demonstrated one is obliged to assume, they as fellow countrymen find themselves.
                      *
                      It emphatically does not mean obligatory support for the policies that sent them there. If those policies are immoral or insane, even if the soldiers don’t (yet) realize it, the full support of the nation means getting them out from under such policies as quickly as, say, Pat Buchanan would have.
                      *
                      Beware of false patriots who would exploit soldiers to promote foul policies that, among other horrors, leads to the consequences Mr. W seeks to lament.

                    • antigon

                      ‘There is no substitute for victory,’ as an argument deserves as much admiration as the politician’s that ‘Goshdarnit, I love my mother & the troops & my country – & children! – & am not afraid to say it!’ So there’s that.
                      *
                      But otherwise, while of course ‘victory’ so often remains elusively defined – or meant as little more than let’s have some fun & see if that can provide some illusion of meaning to our empty lives – even the pretense of that impossibility through an endless occupation in the middle east would decisively have cost the end of at least our own civilization.
                      *
                      Financially to be sure, but absolutely to our struggling effort at a republic in favor of an Empire composed of subjects, not citizens, to be used, abused, punished, often enough starved, & of course sent off to war with regularity, for the whims of our masters.

                    • Chris W

                      It seems we have created a new class of citizens. The ‘warrior class’. We no longer share the burden of serving. We only accept volunteers, train and ask them to do things we won’t do for ourselves. We direct them to accomplish certain missions and assignments. Is it so surprising that when you later tell them it was unjust, they feel and bear the guilt of what they were trained to do and did?

                    • Andy

                      I agree with you about the warrior class – and it is this “adulation” that the warrior class receives that may be at the root of many issues Vets. feel. The US government said invade Iraq – they did- there was no end game, no victory to be found because all we invaded Iraq for was to re move Saddam.
                      Warriors need an end game in sight else they become less then warriors. They need leadership to “tell” them what is the correct path or at least the path that leads to a victory. In many ways the Iraq debacle was a pyrrhic victory – we got Saddam, rid the world of a dictator only to discover that there was no Iraq – there was a conglomeration of people from different tribes who felt no allegiance to the state of Iraq. We didn’t free Iraq, we in many ways destroyed it. If that doesn’t lead to depression and the like nothing really will.

                    • antigon

                      ‘They hold themselves accountable.’
                      *
                      For being deceived. But doubtful that, or a sense of moral guilt, is what provokes the depression, despite what the tendentious would like to pretend.
                      *
                      The shocking brutality of war – seeing your buddy’s brains blown into your face, if one might get vivid – is depressing even when necessary. So is the intensity it demands, or rather so is the disjoint between that & our difficulty adjusting to the intensity of more normal adventures.
                      *
                      And these are but two reasons it should never be indulged, save when morally incumbent.

                    • Chris W

                      “And these are but two reasons it should never be indulged, save when morally incumbent.”
                      I couldn’t agree more.
                      Consider, the brutality of witnessing your buddies brains blown out is beyond your control. However, it pales in comparison to lining up your sights, squeezing the trigger and blowing someones brains out. This is what we ask them to do in our name. The soldiers only solace is knowing they would not be asked to do this except when it becomes necessary. To look back and tell them it was wrong… how do you expect them to react?

                    • antigon

                      Chris, you keep avoiding the matter of what alternative. As J above noted, pretending the invasion was noble when it was obviously nuts, would by its manifest dishonesty be even more depressive.
                      *
                      So lesson #1 is to avoid such insanity henceforward.
                      *
                      More important is to recognize the still deeper truth that those who claim illusory self-deception to be a man’s only solace, are speaking with a tongue quite forked.
                      *
                      Their solace is in He Who made them, despite their sins, & mine.

                    • antigon

                      ‘when you attack and disparage the very institutions that lawfully took them to war, you also attack the veracity of the soldier carrying out those orders. It’s either that, or they are just the idiots you described above.’
                      *
                      Once again, Mr. W, just nonsense, & nonsense very much of Chesterton’s my mother drunk or sober kind. Quite apart from whether those institutions actually were acting lawfully – which they were not if you define law as something beyond what folks with power decide they like – the ‘veracity’ of a soldier is no more impugned by deception than I am if I pay you for a product you are in fact unable to provide.
                      *
                      And while maybe I’m an idiot for not seeing through that scam (which would certainly be true of any who won’t see through what appears to be your current one), not necessarily, as there might have been numerous reasons to think your pitch less fraudulent than Cheney’s proved to be. The soldiers alas bought that scam & subjectively thought, we may believe, they were doing it for me: but they weren’t in fact, not objectively, quite the opposite.
                      *
                      And how about this? When you attack and disparage the very institutions that lawfully took them to war in defense of the American right to attack & disparage such institutions, by failing thus to attack & disparage, you also attack the veracity of the soldier carrying out those orders.
                      *
                      Still not perfect, but makes more sense than what you wrote.

                    • Sue Korlan

                      According to the Catechism #1746, “the imputability or responsibility for an action can be diminished or nullified by ignorance, duress, fear, and other psychological or social factors.”

                    • antigon

                      Mr. W:
                      *
                      I mean this honestly. Could you be more straightforward about what you consider the implications of your conclusions? Since you are clearly saying depression & such are compounded either by moral guilt or want of appreciation, what follows from this?
                      *
                      That it is but another repugnant consequence of the immoral invasion? That even if the invasion was immoral, one shouldn’t say so since it makes soldiers feel bad? That the invasion couldn’t possibly have been immoral, as proven by soldiers’ depression upon learning that everybody but deadenders thinks the contrary?
                      *
                      Or what?

                    • Chris W

                      It is moral guilt, which is understandable given the nature of war.
                      Now, consider the the very society that directed them to do these acts, looks back and tells them their actions (the actions causing death and destruction) was wrong. Saying ‘Oh, by the way, I still support you’, does little to comfort their troubled hearts. It compounds it.
                      War is immoral, abhorrent, and in itself an atrocity and abomination. Don’t absolve yourself for asking them to go to war, and much later telling them their actions were unjust.

                    • antigon

                      ‘Don’t absolve yourself for asking them to go to war, and much later telling them their actions were unjust.’
                      *
                      Fortunately not necessary since I asked, when’er I was heard, that they not go. Am sorry you chose to neglect addressing me questions, tho, in favor of slaying yet another man of straw.

                    • Chris W

                      I addressed your question directly and replied it is moral guilt.
                      The rest of your questions only lead to a conclusion that you are not in community, in solidarity with those who acted on behalf of the community.

                    • antigon

                      Sorry, Chris, but if you re-read me post, you may note that moral guilt was the accepted assumption, upon the basis of which came the question: what do you think follows from this?
                      *
                      I proposed some possible answers, wondering if one of them might be yours, & concluded with, if none of those, then what?
                      *
                      No answer, presumably since addressing such might interrupt the pleasure you take in solipsistic drivel.
                      *
                      Being excommunicated from that world is a burden one must try one’s best to endure.

                    • Joseph

                      Well, PTSD it may be, but that’s a broad category. My sister was a sergeant in the Army. This year, so far, she’s lost four of her former soldiers to suicide. The PTSD programs didn’t fare so well. That’s because they tend to attempt to convince the soldier that they were justified in what they did, and what they saw was not wrong. They are being told not to trust their consciences… but its not something that can be easily silenced. It actually tends to increase their depression and anxiety because they’re being coached to believe something that their heart and soul tells them is wrong. The result… well, look at the numbers.
                      .
                      In Ireland, after the same sex marriage referendum, the media is still buggered over statements issued by the Vatican. Why? If they declared the Church irrelevant and have declared to the world that they have finally shed it from their culture, why do they still care what those strangers in Rome have to say about their decision. I think the answer is obvious, and it’s very similar to the soldier who is made to believe that the nagging in his head, that incessant knocking at the door, is really nothing and should be ignored. Like the Irish, the soldier can’t silence it no matter how many classes he takes. It drives him mad.
                      .
                      A spouse who felt emotionally abused by their partner can suffer from PTSD. So can a person involved in a major car accident. You can’t lump the experience of a soldier in with those.

                    • jroberts548

                      Are some cases of PTSD the result of disproportionate guilt? Sure. I can’t argue with your sister’s experience. But even soldiers in just wars, like WWII, got PTSD. (Yes, there are caveats to the justice of WWII. If the soldiers who bombed Hiroshima got PTSD that would be a different case than a soldier getting PTSD from the beach in Normandy). The guilt and trauma experienced by the individual soldier isn’t necessarily connected to the justice of the war itself.

                      Even where the soldier really did something wrong, or blames himself for the war itself, that’s scruples. The remedy for scruples-related PTSD is the same for any other scruples. It doesn’t require pretending that the war was just.

                      The mental and spiritual harm done to our soldiers shouldn’t be ignored. It is in fact a significant part of why the war in Iraq is so damnable, and why we should only prosecute wars when we absolutely must. Sending people off to get PTSD fighting a frivolous war is evil.

                    • antigon

                      We understand you’re fond of that smoky trope, Mr. W, but billowing it out to the point of absurdity? Thus am not sure you actually intend a point here, unless it’s suggesting that PTSD & depression are consequences of moral guilt – or perhaps of the monsters who have observed the invasion’s immorality because it provoked that guilt?
                      *
                      If so, may we also assume you are careful never to use the word ‘niggardly’ to describe what that word means?

                    • Joseph

                      It could be… but that still doesn’t mean that the soldier is actually guilty/culpable. I honestly think that there are two problems with this conversation.
                      .
                      1) Chris W seems to be hell bent on painting the soldiers as equally guilty as their superiors who put them in that position.
                      .
                      2) It seems to me that you and jroberts are in total denial that the PTSD and suicides of soldiers may have something to do with a struggle of conscience.
                      .
                      Both points of view are wrong.

                    • Chris W

                      I’m not blaming the soldier, I am pointing out their troubled conscience for our decisions. The only solace they have is the sacrifices they make are for a higher purpose. When we state in hindsight that it was for no higher purpose, it was unjust and immoral, you strip away that veneer and leave them adrift.

                    • antigon

                      Were that their only solace, then suicide would make sense to a point. But facing the reality of that invasion is, if a small one, yet part of the equation that the truth sets you free.
                      *
                      Fortunately such an illusion is not their only solace. The deeper aspect of the above equation is.

                    • antigon

                      ‘It seems to me that you and jroberts are in total denial that the PTSD and suicides of soldiers may have something to do with a struggle of conscience.’
                      *
                      Caro J:
                      *
                      Allow me then, to correct that misperception, tho of course I can’t speak for the estimable JR.
                      *
                      There are a lot of soldiers, a painful lot of suicides, & I knew at least one of the latter as more than but a passing acquaintance. She succumbed when her husband left her, but it is not hard to suspect her two stints in Afghanistan helped to cloud her soul.
                      *
                      Given the great complexity of the human soul, no doubt many soldiers do struggle with guilt over things they did, & that this is compounded by what all now can see as both the immorality & noxious futility of the invasion.
                      *
                      And some of these, it’s conceivable, are depressed for allowing themselves to be duped when they might have known better.
                      *
                      Yet surely there are a multiplicity of reasons that lead to suicide, & one may suspect there are very few who succumb solely because their good will, if such it was, got manipulated by dolts at best, traitors at worst.

                    • Chris W

                      I’m saying you are standing off from afar and telling them let not your heart be troubled, go and do these actions in our name. Later, while still standing from afar, you proclaim their direct actions were unjust and still saying let not your heart be troubled.
                      They didn’t cause death and destruction by accident, it was done with specific intent. You may absolve them from guilt, but it is their conscience that is troubled.

                    • antigon

                      Save what you are saying to me is as false & silly &, you know, as fatuously precious as your other pretenses; for I would have told any soldier who sought my perspective that his heart should be troubled & he should not go since the invasion was immoral & insane.
                      *
                      Nor can I absolve them from guilt now, but were with a troubled conscience one or more to seek such counsel as I might provide, I’d propose no crime can trump God’s love, not even the self-damning one of refusing to see that, of somehow insisting one’s own foulness beats that love when it manifestly doesn’t.
                      *
                      So, would be the current counsel, if your conscience is troubled, you ain’t alone, & doubtless have cause. That’s why Christ died on the Cross. You caused it, me too, but He amazingly & to me quite incomprehensibly (so I defer to Him on the matter) thought we were worth it.
                      *
                      And why He established a Church, that through Her priests you can confess your sins, receive true absolution, & afterwards recognize that any sense of guilt is but the devil tempting you to trust him instead of the God Who knew you were worth dying for. Not sure, you know, what more He could have done to make that clear.
                      *
                      And I mean, really, what is there to be guilty about unless there is an objective standard? If none, no such thing as crime in se, so just self-indulgence to pretend so. But if your guilt has cause, if there is truly a reason for it, there has to be an objective standard.
                      *
                      That means there has to be the God who establishes it. Follow that out, go to Confession, & then you exit it as free of guilt, as spiritually as young, as the 9-year-old who preceded you there.

                    • Chris W

                      Near as I can tell, I’m the only one commenting from a soldiers perspective. I understand them from years of shared experience.
                      Apparently, that perspective is invalid.

                    • antigon

                      Only when it’s fatuous Chris.
                      *
                      For example one can’t but doubt many soldiers, or even any, hold what you call the ‘soldier’s perspective’ that those who went to Iraq were the equivalent of hitmen.
                      *
                      They might even that perspective invalid come to think of it.

                    • Chris W

                      And there you have it. Any perspective other than your own, is fatuous. Including the ones who are sent to accomplish the task. Fatuous indeed…

                    • antigon

                      You mean those you consider the equivalent of hitmen?
                      *
                      But no, Chris, there is a difference between conflicting perspectives of merit, & those that exploit soldiers by pretending to speak for them when in fact & manifestly do oppose their good, slaying straw men with phony tropes & precious self-regard as the means.

                • antigon

                  Dear Mr. W:
                  *
                  One assumes (& hopes) you aren’t arguing the bastards are right to kill themselves. But if that assumption & hope is correct, allow me to repeat:
                  *
                  ‘That we cannot condemn the policy without condemning the soldiers is reminiscent of the one that says we cannot condemn abortion without a willingness to hang any woman pressured into having one.
                  *
                  ‘Neither are serious arguments, nor meant to be. They are tendentious smokescreens flung to deflect from the real matter in order to defend & promote the crimes those screens would prefer to keep hidden.’

                  • Chris W

                    It is more akin to hiring a hit man to kill someone, and absolving the one who pulled the trigger from the crime.

            • antigon

              Dear Mr W:
              *
              See above. ‘A man is only guilty – however much his objective crimes disturb the universe – for committing wrongs he knows are such, that is, for his subjective crimes. Thus only those are guilty who *knew* their participation was immoral; & it is tendentious at best to call those who didn’t idiots for their insufficient study of a moral theology t’was the job of others to teach them.’

              • Joseph

                The soldier isn’t *guilty* of the crime… but in hindsight they begin to blame themselves. And PTSD programs don’t touch on this, they merely try and brush it under the rug and convince them, always, that everything they did was justified… though the heart of the problem is that they have a nagging feeling that it wasn’t (called a conscience). The PTSD programs are put in place to brainwash the hurt soldier to make sure he either kills himself or, if he doesn’t, does not question the orders given by his authority or the duties he carried out at the behest of that authority.
                .
                It’s not the fault of the soldiers. Anger should be directed always at the weasels who put them in that position, that’s where the true guilt lies.

        • antigon

          ‘To say they don’t choose to obey is akin to calling them mindless robots and not choosing to offer a selfless service to others.’
          *
          Nonsense. It is to say their (one has cause to believe) nobler aspirations were manipulated by dolts at best, traitors at worst. A phenomenon common, albeit hardly unique, to soldiers.

    • MarylandBill

      I know of very few people, even the staunchest opponents of the war who believe that the service of the soldiers generally is unjust (obviously there are exceptions). Most people are intellectually and logically able to distinguish between those who choose the war and those who fight the war.

      Oh, I agree about ISIS, except of course it was the war in Iraq that kind of gave them the space they needed to get started. While Saddam certainly was a brutal dictator and I was not sorry to see him go, our leaders were not wise enough to know that there really was nothing better ready to replace him.

      Pushing regime change is a risky business, for every good outcome you probably have three or four very bad outcomes.

      • Chris W

        It is not what others think, it is a question of the individual soldier being told their actions were in support of something unjust. The statistics above speak rather loudly about the affect.
        WWII ended and we maintained a presence in Europe and Asia for many years to ensure the peace. Last I looked, we are still there. We abandoned the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan because it was all “false, built on lies and unjust”. The price is being paid by those ancient communities today.
        Was it unjust?
        Would it be just today?

        • MarylandBill

          We spent what, more than a decade in Iraq and things were not getting better. By 10 years after America entered WWII, West Germany was being rebuilt and any Nazis left were trying to pretend they were just regular Germans.

          By then, the main reason we stayed had far less to do with the Germans than with the Soviets.

          • Chris W

            We were there less than a decade, 2003-2011. I believe I said we stayed in Europe and Asia to ensure the peace. The power vacuum of what was Germany would have quickly been over run by the Soviets, as you suggested.
            It would have been better to do nothing in Iraq than to take down a despot and abandon the area to more despots.

            • Joseph

              You’re assuming that wasn’t the plan all along. Haven’t noticed any patterns since the Iraq war?

              • Chris W

                only a pattern of a fish floundering on a beach.

                • antigon

                  Like the rest of US foreign policy since the Soviet enterprise bit the dust.

                • Joseph

                  I don’t think they are that *stupid*. Based on the pattern, I’d say the mission is clear. If the *mistakes* stopped with Iraq, I’d think otherwise… but then, the ‘Arab Spring’, Egypt, Libya, Syria, the active funding and arming of ISIS, Benghazi, etc. tell a different tale. Either the US government and all advisors who had their hand in convincing leadership to go down this road are complete idiots who would run a grocery store into the ground should they be managers of one, or they know damn well what they are doing and they are following the plan to the ‘T’. The anecdote of the outing of the CIA agent as revenge for exposing a lie seems to suggest that it’s the latter, not the former. Same with the events surrounding Benghazi. No one is forcing you to get up out of bed instead of constantly hitting the ‘snooze’ button, you know… but maybe, just maybe you should heed the alarm that keeps waking you from your slumber.

            • antigon

              ‘It would have been better to do nothing in Iraq than to take down a despot and abandon the area to more despots.’
              *
              Not a few noticed that before the invasion, for which they were branded unpatriotic by Mr. Frum & other traitors (to the American public) in a magazine that used to be called conservative.

        • antigon

          ‘Was it unjust? Would it be just today?’
          *
          Yes to the first, no to the second, as well as insane both then & now, as is, however comparatively a tad less, the absurdity of US troops still in Europe.

    • antigon

      Dear Mr. W:
      *
      Perhaps if you had a clearer grasp of the difference between objective & subjective wrong, you would find it easier to cease poking your brothers’ eyes for not poking the way you prefer they would; & see what happened, & is happening, more clearly. Just for one example, that it is US allies across the board who set up & funded & are responsible for ISIS; & her supposed enemies – Iran, Syria, Hezbollah – who provide much of the effort against that branch of Islam.
      *
      The invasion of Iraq was immoral & insane, but (as you partially point out below) the propaganda was such either to convince soldiers otherwise, or to create sufficient doubt as likely to spare them moral culpability in hesitating to embrace imprisonment & opprobrium for letting their brothers absorb the consequences.
      *
      Objectively those soldiers were wrong to join the invasion. But a man is only guilty – however much his objective crimes disturb the universe – for committing wrongs he knows are such, that is, for his subjective crimes. Thus only those are guilty who *knew* their participation was immoral; & it is tendentious at best to call those who didn’t idiots for their insufficient study of a moral theology t’was the job of others to teach them.
      *
      The exposure of Usa’s insane & immoral invasion is part of that teaching obligation, as it strengthens resistance to comparable adventures, as it did when the population rose to stop Obama & allies from further assisting ISIS by an insane & immoral attack on Syria, not to say against the enthusiasm in certain quarters for an assault on Persia.
      *
      Your argument that we cannot condemn the policy without condemning the soldiers is reminiscent of the one that says we cannot condemn abortion without a willingness to hang any woman pressured into having one.
      *
      Neither are serious arguments, nor meant to be. They are tendentious smokescreens flung to deflect from the real matter in order to defend & promote the crimes those screens would prefer to keep hidden.

      • Chris W

        A lot of words, and they make sense to you and to me. BUT it isn’t about what we believe. It is about what the soldier asked to do these things believes.
        Go and kill in my name… they did.
        Looking at them today and saying that was wrong may comfort your troubled soul, but the acts were not done by your hand.
        They are troubled and apparently bear your guilt as well as theirs.

        • antigon

          Not that many, & all apposite allow me to propose.
          *
          Along with these: they didn’t kill in my name & don’t bear my guilt, since I publicly opposed the invasion before, during, & after its launch. So while my wicked soul is troubled by many things, that isn’t one of them, particularly as I voted for Buchanan in 2000 (& haven’t voted since, save for Ron Paul in primaries).
          *
          But that isn’t the only false trope to which you cling, for to repeat my proposition below, the depression they suffer is unlikely to be inspired by moral guilt, much as some would exploit them further by pretending so for reasons quite unrelated to them.

          • Chris W

            It is not at all false. I am adamantly opposed to the death penalty as exercised in the US today. Make no mistake, when the State executes a prisoner, they do it in the name of every citizen in the State. They do it in my name.

            • antigon

              Sure it is. They only pretend to do it thy name, but don’t really, since you’d stop them if you could.

  • Gunnar Thalweg

    Some context: 41149 suicides in the last year (CDC) divided by 365 equals 112.73 suicides per day. According to Nate Silver’s reputable 538 website (as well as a VA web site), 7.3% of all Americans are either active duty or military veterans, that is, they are veterans. 112.7 equals 8.22 expected rate. That would seem to mean 2x greater risk.

    Except the suicide rate among men is 4x that of women (CDC). In 2013, nine percent of U.S. veteran population were women. This will create some complicated math equations, which other readers are welcome to attempt, but clearly, these numbers weigh heavily in favor of the idea that veterans are committing suicide at about rates you’d expect in the general population, or perhaps slightly higher, when you adjust for sex demographics. I don’t know if you further refined it for age.

    One of the big myths from the last century was the “crazy Vietnam veteran.” It wasn’t true then, and please don’t play that game with our current veterans now.

    Like it or not, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush made a good-faith decision to invade Iraq and replace that brutal dictatorship with a modern republic. They were unable to overcome the underlying tribalism, but also, they kicked over an essential domino in the entire Sykes-Picot balance-of-power dynamic in the region. That it wouldn’t work was predictable; however, the bastards nearly pulled it off, leaving Iraq in halfway decent shape, although requiring a permanent commitment from us in that region.

    Sykes-Picot, unfortunately, was based on some pretty Machiavellian power politics, namely, minority rule over majorities. This was standard colonial practice, but once the colonial power leaves, you end up with carnage. Hutus and Tutsis. So England/France post-Ottoman Empire put in place a brutal Sunni leader over a majority Shia population, and we Americans come along and say, what’s with that? That’s not right. And we remove the dictator, and set loose a hostile dynamic. Right now, we don’t have a good guy to choose to back. ISIS v. Shia militias.

    The closest thing to an answer is to restore the provincial borders of the Ottoman Empire … allow majorities to rule themselves. That’s close to what we will end up with at the end of this.

    The state of Cheney’s soul is up to God to judge.

    • Mike Petrik

      Agree Gunnar, though I would characterize the necessary commitment as “indefinite” rather than “permanent” — but I realize that is really a pedantic distinction.
      While the so-called “just war” calculus is fundamentally prudential, that calculus nonetheless requires a good faith analysis of concrete criteria, and on balance I believe the decision to invade failed that calculus. This does not mean that Bush/Cheney lied (that accusation itself is actually a lie) or that they are villains. Good people do bad things with good motives all the time. It can be a difficult temptation to resist. There are a number of reasons why I believe that the just war criteria were not satisfied, but one has to do with the evaluation of the likely outcome. The claim that things were not improving in Iraq is silly and easily belied by the evidence, but such improvement was sustainable only if accompanied by a long-term indefinite US military and aid commitment, something that Bush and Cheney should have known was impractical. Modern democracies do not have the stamina for such sacrifice either in terms of military casualties or financial costs. Moreover, any belief that Iraq could have been converted into a reasonably stable republic in fairly short order was embarrassingly naive and grounded more in hopeful idealism than sober realism. All this renders Bush and Cheney as mistaken, both morally and practically, but efforts to cast them as lying villains are simply odious nonsense.

      • Gunnar Thalweg

        Well said.

      • Ken

        Scooter Libby case revolved around the White House undermining the credibility of a person hired by them to see if Iraq had gotten nuclear material from Niger. When the evidence came back that Niger had not given Iraq this material they suppressed the evidence and continued on this narrative.
        They repeated a story that they knew wasn’t true. When Joseph Wilson heard this repeated several times he went public. The White House then went after his family by outing his wife in order to get revenge.
        If a person repeats a story that they know isn’t true how is that not lying?

      • antigon

        Mr. Petrik:
        *
        Would villainous deceivers do?
        *
        And as to ‘Modern democracies do not have the stamina for such sacrifice either in terms of military casualties or financial costs,’ surely that is true by definition in that such is the business only of Empires without concern for the plebs they sacrifice & are content to bankrupt.

    • antigon

      ‘The state of Cheney’s soul is up to God to judge.’
      *
      Mr. Thalweg:
      *
      That being so, your judgment that his & the puppy’s enthusiasm for invading Iraq was done in good faith, arguably covers territory beyond thy provenance.

  • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

    Bravo to Mr. Stewart. This is likely to help the entertainment industry overcome its parochialism and I’m all in favor of that.

    • Dave G.

      To a point. It goes down tough given what Stewart stands for in other areas. But there’s also something else. My supervisor, including being an awesome person, is a veteran. Some months ago he was talking to another vet at work. He asked him if he had served overseas. The other fellow said no. Parts of his division did, but so many volunteered there was no room since they weren’t sending everyone. I thought that was something. Even a few years ago, after no WMDs, Bush lied, and all that, and people were still volunteering to go. I normally don’t talk politics at work. Or anything much for that matter. But I asked my supervisor about that. He said yeah, we’re fighting for our country and our freedoms. And I asked him what he thought about the failings and the critics. And he said this: ‘I’m not saying we were right about everything, but I think there would have been fewer people killed (on both sides) if those who saw the mistakes could have done something other than just constantly criticize and complain.’ I’ve thought about that quite a bit. Almost an alternate reality when set against the narrative of Stewart and company. But at least what Stewart is doing will help. And that’s worth something.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

        The epistemological closure of the left is a major problem in the USA. It’s dangerous in a ‘coup d’etat’ sort of way. I’ll cheer anything that gets us away from that cliff edge.

        • Dave G.

          That’s why I say at least it’s helping which is worth something.

      • antigon

        Dear Dave:
        *
        Forgive me, but let us hope your supervisor’s awesomeness does otherwise transcend his awesomely silly quip.

        • Dave G.

          I found it a profound, and damning, insight.

          • antigon

            Damningly fatuous anyhow, if neither profound nor an insight.

            • Dave G.

              Why?

              • antigon

                Dave:
                *
                Allow a serious, not snarky, answer. a) it’s an empty platitude, & b) is guilty of the very carping it pretends to criticize, providing no alternative of the kind it smugly demands.

                • Dave G.

                  Empty platitude seems to fall short when we at work can all see the hunk out of his neck and the scars on his arms from being wounded. Platitude maybe. But not an empty one. All he did was answer an off the cuff question, and reminded me just how we’ve become completely content with being armchair quarterbacks rather than helping the team try to win. And since he actually did something, his platitude trumps the criticisms of those who seem content in letting that be our singular contribution to the effort. Even if, having helped the team lose, we now feel inclined to help the players after the game.

                  • antigon

                    Sorry, Dave, but scars, even heroism, does not fill a platitude that’s empty (as most of them are, & by indulging the very thing it sought to critique, this one decisively), however much we might wish to join Chris W. in pretending otherwise. Since it was off the cuff, you ought to have resisted embarrassing your poor supe by reporting it, & yourself by praising it.
                    *
                    On the matter of empty platitudes meantime, am not sure sports analogies are the best means to address the serious horrors either of war or of Mr. Shea’s painful post.
                    *
                    As to the something your boss actually did, for all the nobility of intention as we hope & may believe there was, & wounds to show for it, that something does not appear to have born much fruit save of a poisonous kind; & one fears not even heartfelt platitudes can trump that fact, nor the comparative wisdom of those whose not wholly singular contributions spared others the scars you’ve considered it appropriate to introduce.
                    *
                    Perhaps, as you appear to suggest, the decades of occupation & pacification necessary, after many more scars & wounds, many more deaths & suicides, not to say the final implosion of our own republic, that almost video-game like team you speak of would have ‘won’ something.
                    *
                    Not for the American people, tho, as wiser patriots knew from the outset.

                    • Dave G.

                      I reject the idea that it was an empty platitude. First, I can’t think of too many in modern discourse who have said ‘oh yeah, we can agree things were screwed up, but I think we do a disservice to our vets by doing nothing but criticizing.’ I think it was an apt criticism of a generation of adults who would gladly sacrifice the future and our fellows rather than actually take a chance on doing something to help solve the problems. And please, dispense with the whole ‘don’t use sports analogies and the horrors of war.’ It’s not like I’m the first to use the comparison. Plus, I fear our tendency to complain over helping extends to issues beyond war and the battlefield. But my respect is much higher for someone who actually has done the work in the real world of fighting and dying, and that includes veterans who may not agree with my supervisor.

                    • antigon

                      What an intrepid position to hold Dave, no wonder you wouldn’t recognize a fatuous platitude even if it raped you repeatedly, like yours rape readers at CAEI.
                      *
                      But try to contain the vapidity some Dave. I know you love slaughtering straw men with the same fervor by which you swoon for dumb platitudes, but what sacrifice of our future & fellows by the occupation’s opponents are you talking about, when it was precisely defenders of that occupation who thrilled to the sacrifice of our fellows & as your post above shows, would still gladly sacrifice our future, having done such savage damage since the invasion to our immediate past & present.
                      *
                      And what do you propose the occupation’s opponents do were they somehow able to overcome this mythical claptrap against ‘taking a chance to help solve problems.’? Other than constantly indulging the very thing you pretend to critique, the only concrete suggestion you’ve made is that once the insanity was launched, those who recognized it was insane, should have stopped saying so & instead helped promote the insanity. Not sure how many problems that would have solved, Dave.
                      *
                      And I’ll tell you what the opponents of the occupation accomplished, of far greater value than what your boss’s did, noble as his intentions might have been. They stopped Obama from strengthening ISIS further via an attack on Syria, & so far, they have stopped an attack on Iran, which would be an even greater insanity than our government’s catastrophic Iraqi adventure.
                      *
                      Now, go gather that straw, avoid all these matters beyond your competence, & once constructed, let them know there’s NO substitute for victory, & they can’t tell Dave G any different.

                    • Dave G.

                      Heh. I love it. I have so much fun reading your replies. And you probably can’t imagine why. But alas, I have work to do. My time is best reserved for people interested in discussion like Andy,and jroberts and TMLutas, not whatever it is you do.

      • jroberts548

        What else are you to do when you see mistakes? In what world can you point out mistakes and not be accused of “criticizing and complaining”?

        I guess critics should have peppered in false praise. “You did a really great job convincing people that Hussein had a threatening WMDs program. I wish I were as persuasive as you. Also, you’re sending soldiers to die for no reason and destabilizing the region in a way that will have disastrous consequences later.”

        • Dave G.

          Say ‘that was a disaster and those in charge need to be held accountable…now let’s come together and figure out what to actually do rather than say ‘it was all a waste and we lose.” That’s what I think. He didn’t say beyond that. It was just a wounded veteran giving an answer to a question I asked. An answer that humbled me when I think of my ease in criticizing when set in juxtaposition to my snail’s pace in being part of the solutions, which I fear is far too common nowadays. A nation populated by armchair quarterbacks. Good for seeing the problems on the field, bad for actually being about winning games.

          • jroberts548

            Lots of people were saying what we should actually do. Before the invasion, they were saying not to do it. Afterwards, they were saying to leave. Compared to the alternatives offered by the pro-war side – staying indefinitely without committing enough troops to actually do anything, arming Sunni rebels in Syria while arming a Shia autocrat in Iraq – I think the critics came much closer to offering constructive, feasible ideas.

            • Dave G.

              Those who said we shouldn’t have done it were right. I think the many of the critics had excellent points. But far too many apparently were content with the criticisms, even after the troops were on the ground, and doing little else. There comes a time when you say ‘criticism noted, now let’s get in and help win.’ Not ‘losing just proves how awesomely right we were which is why I’m content to let it happen, no matter what the cost.’ I get the feeling that’s what he was meaning. I know it made me think of how easily I’ve thrown out opinions with nothing to lose and nobody I know to suffer the results.

              • Andy

                You said “There comes a time when you say ‘criticism noted, now let’s get in and help win.'” In this case there was no winning – we assume in a very north American-centric fashion that everyone is like us – that they want the same things we do. SO we went to Iraq to remove a dictator who allegedly had WMDs, who allegedly was involved with 9/11 and so on, without recognizing that in the Middle East very few people identify with a country – they identify with a “tribe”, a “clan: or a sect of religion. For many of these folks elimination of the others is more important.
                I am not sure what could have been done to “win” this misbegotten activity.

                • Dave G.

                  I think there could have been a win in the long run, how I can’t imagine. But yes, I fear too many assume that the Middle East is simply us with different scenery outside the windows. I believe any mistake can be overcome. But not by doing nothing but perpetually pointing out the mistakes. I hadn’t really thought of it in terms of the war, however, until he said that.

                  • Andy

                    I think that the “how I can’t imagine” summarizes much of our foreign policy for the past 50 years – we blunder from action to action with little thought about outcomes int eh long run. As Americans we are looking for the quick fix, our immediate gratification culture drives that, and have little or no concept of looking more that a few months/years in the future.
                    I think the big problem is that our “win” was removing Saddam, so we “won”. Our loss was not realizing that his removal would lead to chaos. A friend of mine who was with the State Department pointed out that we as Americans actually in terms of foreign policy base everything on democracy as the answer, and that sometimes that is not the answer.

                    • Dave G.

                      Yep. I think there are definite issues beyond a simple ‘there’s the problem.’ A generation that can’t stand waiting a minute for microwave soup won’t do well against real enemies with real goals. And there is much to fix as a society. I think his point was that while our endless debates and discussions and criticisms were appreciated, some coming together to fix the problems – even ones we created – without creating worse problems would have been even more appreciated. And I can’t help but feel a little humbled by the observation.

                    • Andy

                      I agree – and the coming got gather requires leadership, a commodity that we in America seem to have in short supply.

              • jroberts548

                “criticism noted, now let’s get in and help win”

                Winning was never on the table. No one on the pro-war side ever proposed doing what it would have taken to win, in the sense of turning Iraq into some number of functioning democracies or republics. Hindsight is 20:20, but that would have required vastly more troops and more money than even Bush in his wildest dreams would have considered. It would have required undoing the Bush tax cuts, and maybe even doing something to increase the government’s revenue.

                So the only other option was to get the hell out. Which is exactly what the anti-war side suggested. Once we were there, we should have left. We should not have continued to fight a war which we had no feasible prospect of winning. The advocates of war were declaring mission accomplished when victory was never in sight. Losing did prove how right the anti-war side was, which is why, once it was clear that we were losing and would never win, we should have left. Not every war is armeggedon. Not every retreat has to be turned into a route.

                • Dave G.

                  Perhaps get the hell out, but obviously not the way we did, which took the defeat and brought it into new directions. Not every retreat is a route, but some, apparently like ours, has been a disaster. That’s the point. We’re at a stage where everything we do seems to be failing. Why is that? Perhaps he was on to something about being big on pointing out the failings, and small on coming together to figure out the solutions. But as a wounded veteran saying it to me, I can’t help but feel I’ve been part of his wounds by not doing more than I have.

                  • antigon

                    Dave:
                    *
                    Obviously not the way we did, it should have been faster & sooner. The disaster is when we meddle, almost period since the Cold War ended, but certainly where we aren’t defending specific domestic interests, not to say where we have no capacities. So I’m all for coming together to bring our troops home from all the far-flung places they don’t belong, unless you’d prefer gibbering meaningless platitudes instead.
                    *
                    And am not sure all is failing, since accommodation with Iran seems possible, which might mean supporting its efforts against ISIS, despite the support that group has from most of our current allies in the area.
                    *
                    But don’t worry about your part in those wounds, Dave. Surely you’ve done enough since your support for the invasion & occupation helped inflict them, so now it’s probably best just to lay off, don’t you think?

              • antigon

                Dave, what you’re saying here is that upon recognizing the invasion would be insane, those who so recognized, once the insanity was indulged, ought to have ceased observing the obvious, & instead help to uphold the insanity.
                *
                Dave, that’s insane. And precisely the kind of preposterous insanity proponents of the invasion have indulged from the outset, right along, & as you & Chris W reveal so abundantly, right through to this very day.

                • chezami

                  The vast capacity for denial and blameshifting by the Party of Personal Responsibility is a wonder to behold.

                  • Dave G.

                    As far as I know he’s not a republican. Though I could be wrong. It hasn’t come up. He’s just a wounded vet I
                    I work with who gave an answer I found humbling. I thought maybe others would too.

                    • antigon

                      Dear Dave:
                      *
                      We know you hoped others would anyway, though they’d have no cause. In fact, one begins to suspect you’ve made the whole thing up, since the supe’s empty platitude sounds so much like your regular straw man whine virtually whenever you write.
                      *
                      But surely even you realized Mr. Shea wasn’t referring to your imaginary supe, but to your own hopes of condemning opponents of the insanity you endorsed for their failure to endorse it too, once it was underway.

                    • Dave G.

                      I’d be offended at being called a liar. But then I remember where I am and who is calling me a liar. No sense expecting better than common sense and observation should allow. I won’t say his name, since there are certain blogs I don’t give proper names on. He was an army medic. He’s also quite a mechanic, and has volunteered to work on our vehicles on more than one occasion, free of charge when we’ve been strapped. He enlisted a couple years after the invasion of Iraq. His injuries are from an explosion, though he doesn’t go into detail about them. The fellow he was talking to is a department head and also a veteran, though he now works for a different company. For what it’s worth. And in some places, it isn’t worth much. But again, expectations.

                      Oh, to illustrate the changes here, ten years ago when I first started visiting CAEI, an accusation made against someone would see Mark swoop in and warn the accuser. No accusations allowed on this blog. Disagree all you want, attack ideas all day long, but no accusations. And those who continued to accuse people would be shown the door. I remember someone banned for calling Pavel a Socialist within the first year I began stopping by. That was c. 2005/2006. Just saying. Times, they do a’change I suppose.

                    • antigon

                      Distinction of note between accusation & suspicion, Dave, tho one may be confident you will seize no matter what is said to beat that dead hobby horse of yours, the one full of straw, about how unkind or unmannerly or unsomething ‘we’ all are, especially to Dave G.

                    • Dave G.

                      Typical justification. But at least grow a couple and admit what you did. And I said nothing about it being unkind or unmannerly. Just typical.

                    • antigon

                      Well, it’s true, I admittedly seek to be typically precise about the meaning of words, which, despite that one is aware this an aspiration you don’t share, surely needs no justification.
                      *
                      But tut-tut Dave. Confident as one is that the anatomy is stable & sans need of growth (could actually use a bit of diminution there in the mid section actually, just above the area of interest to you), wasn’t your penultimate post one with (as ever) the winsomely reproachful sigh about the unmannerly lowering of standards at CAEI?
                      *
                      Dismaying to see ye ol’ beam blocking thy vision yet again dear boy, & so quickly!

                    • Dave G.

                      I think you’re still trying to wiggle out of what you did. And darn it, you’d almost make it if you hadn’t said this:

                      But surely even you realized Mr. Shea wasn’t referring to your imaginary supe,

                      Having moved to the next step and simply dismissed the existence of my supervisor (team lead, to be precise), which will be news to him, you obviously made it clear where you are on the whole ‘it’s just suspicion’ thing. If you hadn’t said that, you’d almost have some of that cherished wiggle room so popular in certain corners of Catholic life. Ah, but alas. He is quite real, and your accusation that I made him up is quite false. A good thing for him! A bad thing for awesome Catholics on the blogosphere trying to score points any way possible.

          • antigon

            Translation: by which I of course don’t really mean *my* ease, admirably at least snail pacey unlike yours as it is, but instead only pretend self-criticism – as my ‘which I fear is too common nowadays’ should make clear – in order to condemn YOUR ease, you swine, followed by the concluding two sentences further illustrating how humble that wounded veteran didn’t actually quite make me since that’s hardly necessary, but certainly should you!

  • Dave G.

    Our company also has special programs set up to help Veterans get hired. Many do. And that’s good. Why there is still so much unemployment I don’t know. I just wish we did a better job of being worthy of the sacrifices they have made.