I found the following article through Little Green Footballs (LGF), called “The Troops Also Need to Support the People”, by William Arkin of the Washington Post. He complained about a segment that NBC News aired recently where troops were given a chance to give their 2 cents on the anti-war feeling back at home. Arkin is employed by NBC News from time to time as a “military analyst”. As you can see, that’s a farce. NBC News should be ashamed of itself.
It was striking for me to hear about the NBC News segment with the soldiers. I had been hoping it would happen because people need to know that there are soldiers who believe in what they are doing in Iraq. I thought they would not say such things, however, because of the military’s traditional role of just doing their job and not getting involved in politics.
The newspapers and TV news have shown plenty of segments with soldiers who disapprove of the war. It was nice seeing the other side of it from their perspective. The soldiers shown in the segment did not see Iraq as a lost cause. I value this feedback from them. As long as they believe in it, it should give people back home pause when they think the war needs to end right now.
Where William Arkin stepped over the line was when he chided the troops for saying anything contrary to public opinion. He got an earful from readers about this. Arkin later issued an apology, which was a little nicer. He said that he was grateful for the soldiers putting their lives on the line for him. He couldn’t help but put the soldiers down a peg, though, by saying that they are mere “pawns” in this situation.
He is right when he says that the military serves at the pleasure of the American people. The Founders wanted it under civilian leadership. He asks a valid question that liberals have often asked about expressing dissent with the war, when challenged.
Liberals are hung up on the idea that the war was a “war of choice”. This reminds them of Vietnam and all that it implies. Vietnam was a war we could get out of without risking our necks back at home. The only example most of them have though is Vietnam, so they have no context for this sort of war where there is a consequence for the U.S. if we lose. Yes, you can express dissent. You have that right, but keep in mind that some forms of dissent are encouraging to the enemy. It makes them think they are winning. Morale counts for a lot in war. If you think you’re winning you try harder to reach your goals. You’re more focused and ambitious. I’d rather see that we didn’t provide that edge to those who would want to kill you and me. So how do we express dissent? My answer is express thoughtful dissent. Come from a standpoint of facts, not emotions. Also, if you can, communicate your dissent discreetely. By this I mean in a manner where it can’t be transmitted all over the world. Write to your representatives and to the President. Express it at organizational gatherings where it’s in context. Let your opinion be known where it could actually do some good. Don’t say it on TV, radio, or the internet where the radical Islamists can pick it up and use it. These are just my suggestions. Do what you like, but I’d encourage those who are against the war to consider them.
Back to the article. What Arkin fails to grasp is the need for some kind of victory in this war. All he sees is a boondoggle, a massive mistake. He condescendingly says that the troops think it’s a worthy cause because that’s what they’re told by their superiors. They don’t know any better. Tell that to the soldiers who went to Vietnam and fragged their superior officers. This happened quite often. If anyone is naive here it’s Arkin, not the soldiers.
The soldiers see what’s happening on the ground in Iraq every day. How much has Arkin seen? They hear about the suicide bombings. They know what it’s like to get shot at, and to shoot and kill the person shooting at them. Arkin is oblivious to any of this. Of course when a soldier is doing these things they ask themselves, “Is this worth it?”, and, “Why are we doing this?” It’s natural for someone in that situation to ask such questions. Who does Arkin think he’s fooling? The reason there’s a disconnect between what Arkin and I dare say the American people see, and the soldiers, is that the news that people see is not reporting the whole story. But Arkin doesn’t want to look at that. Instead he blames the soldiers for bringing up the fact that there is a disconnect. He thinks they’re the ones who are out of touch. The American people know what’s going on in Iraq better than the soldiers do. Yeah, right. What a pompous ass. The American people only know what they are told by news outlets unless they’ve actually been to Iraq themselves. It may very well be, Mr. Arkin, that one reason the American people think Iraq is not worth it is that’s what they’re told day in and day out in newspapers and on their TV sets.
Arkin further discredits himself when he says that soldiers get “obscene amenities”. What, like hotel rooms? What planet is he from? You know what soldiers are issued to sleep on in combat zones? A sleeping bag. That’s it. Not even a kot. No pillow and no sheets. If they do have these things, they were donated to them, or sent from home.
I’ll grant him one thing. Soldiers do get served delicacies on military bases. I’ve seen documentaries where they show what the meals are like. They serve stuff like lobster sometimes. Soldiers also get to play video games when they’re off duty at the bases. The thing is, there have been times when soldiers have gotten killed waiting in line for these delicious meals, because the people fighting us shoot mortars into these bases, and they do it around meal times, because they know a bunch of people are congregated around the mess hall. So it’s no country club by any stretch. In my opinion what they get is fine. They’re doing a hard, dangerous job. They deserve some pampering. I don’t see a problem with that. They deserve good medical and rehabilitative care when they get injured. They’re doing a job that you or I would s**t our pants doing if we tried it. Just be thankful there are Americans willing to do it.
This piece by Arkin is idiotic. He never learned that lesson about how it’s better to be thought of as a fool than to open your mouth and confirm it.
I’m sure when soldiers think about the anti-war sentiment back at home, what they’re thinking goes something like a little saying I see often on Tammy Bruce’s blog. Mr. Arkin should hear it from them. It goes:
“Saving your ass like it or not”