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Meditations - ta eis heauton

Location: Austin, Texas, United States

I'm a software engineer / partner working for a young company in Austin, Texas, USA. I spend most of my free time hanging out with friends and family, eating out, and partying in the Warehouse District. I should spend more time working on my house....

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hitched to Idiocy

I read this post on Washington Monthly's Political Animal, then read the Slate article. Here are some thoughts:

1) The armed forces should be open to any who are willing and able to serve regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality or nationality. As a liberal this is what I believe and what most liberals I know believe. This is an entirely separate issue from how people feel about the conflicts we are involved in.

2) There is good reason why people (liberal or not) bring up the point about pundits and leaders sending their grown children off to war. These people argue for sacrifice of other people's children (usually lower income, often minorities) to fight and die in these battles. These chicken hawks have no investment in the battle themselves. They don't go to the funerals. They don't visit the hospital rooms of the wounded. They speak blithely about the greatness and honor of our soldiers, but do little to actually show respect or help them. The calls for them to send their children or themselves is a rhetorical tool to provoke thought about the fact that other people, OUR TROOPS, DID make that exact choice. Our soldiers did chose to enlist and make that sacrifice, but these chicken hawks have shown none of that integrity. In fact, not only do they not choose to enlist themselves or suggest it to their families they don't attempt to encourage ANYONE in their spheres of influence to enlist. It is that arrogance and hypocrisy that induces the "send your son or yourself" response.

3) Everyone has the right to speak about the war however they wish. I have never served in the armed forces, that shouldn't exclude me from the discussion either. It is as much my country as theirs. But I am not calling for the sacrifice of lives. The hypocrites being attacked are and there is an exception in 1st amendment rights about fighting words that goes to the basis of my concern. Chicken hawks urge and incite people to support an action, but they run away from the consequences.

4) Hitchens flails his hands with an argument about how people didn't send their children into the twin towers. The number of differences between that tragedy and the war in Iraq are so numerous as to make comparisons ludicrous.

5) Hitchens mentions the sons of Stalin and Moa. He is right that the actions of those children do not spur endorsement of Communism. Rather, it shows the intellectual honesty of those men. They believed in their ideals and encourage those closest to them to make the ultimate sacrifice for those principles. The principles were wrong, but at least they weren't hypocrites sending other peoples children to die for what they professed.

6) Note that Hitchens attempts the disgusting strategy of conflating Afghanistan and Iraq in his final paragraph. He notes that nobody is asking for an "exit strategy" for Afghanistan. What idiocy! We have literally one tenth the number of troops in Afghanistan. For all practical purposes we have already exited (see Korean troop levels for comparison). Iraq on the other hand looks to be a *very* long term engagement. Rumsfeld has mentioned, "[I]nsurgencies tend to go on 5, 6, 8, 10, 12 years". Rice has said, “[T]he Administration, I think, has said to the American people that it is a generational commitment to Iraq,". These are unbelievably different scenarios and the fact Hitchens attempt to connect the two (and thus Saddam = Terrorists, despite zero evidence) is Orwellian.