Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Joel Stein Is Blethering Gobshite Says Socialist

Joel Stein is, as they say in the auld country, a blethering gobshite - and it's a socialist saying this. That socialist is me.

Today Stein tried...I'm not sure what. It's almost as if any attempt at understanding the issues was deliberately avoided in preference for sensationalist shitstirring. Either that or the L.A. Times is now hiring sub-grade morons to write op-eds. I suppose the latter is possible - after all, NRO and the Washington Times have been doing it for years.

Why am I so pissed? Take a look.

I DON'T SUPPORT our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.

I'm sure I'd like the troops. They seem gutsy, young and up for anything. If you're wandering into a recruiter's office and signing up for eight years of unknown danger, I want to hang with you in Vegas.

And I've got no problem with other people — the ones who were for the Iraq war — supporting the troops. If you think invading Iraq was a good idea, then by all means, support away. Load up on those patriotic magnets and bracelets and other trinkets the Chinese are making money off of.

But I'm not for the war.
And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken — and they're wussy by definition. It's as if the one lesson they took away from Vietnam wasn't to avoid foreign conflicts with no pressing national interest but to remember to throw a parade afterward.
Is this guy being paid by Karl Rove to give the wingnuts hardons?

He has a couple of valid points - mostly about yellow car sticker ribbons not aising the troops, only some Chinese entrepreneurs - but he's totally unglued on this whole thing about if your against the war you can't be for the troops. Of course, that's the bit the wingnuts have honed in on, saying all liberals secretly feel that way, and the bit that means this column should've been used to wipe his ass with instead of being submitted for publication.

Look, for those who are hard of understanding. My family has a long tradition of being lefties - most of my uncles held elected posts for the Labour Party. They all also fought in WW2, in Africa, Europe and Asia. My Grandfather was one of the founders of the Communist Party in Great Britain. He fought in Europe against the Nazis and twice only escaped death by sheer accident - once when a sniper's bullet hit the binoculars he had illegally looted from a dead German officer and once when a shell hit the bunker he had 30 seconds before been playing cards in, killing his entire section. In Holland, he was told by his commanding officer to crawl forward towards a dug-in Tiger tank with the platoons only PIAT (a primitive anti-tank missile) and "have a go". His response was "after you, Sir" - a perfectly reasonable and legal answer to any order of that idiocy. The officer demured...since the attempt would have been suicide.

My Grandad came home, unlike more than one in ten of the menfolk of the village (and the nation). Their names are on the memorial and Grandad knew and remembered every single one. This giant of a man was a pacificst and a hero who fought with honour. He extracted my promise, when I was about fourteen, never to volunteer for the military but to gladly go if everyone was called up - he felt a general draft was a sure sign of a needful war. Our local regiment is the Black Watch, which has done more than its fair share of dying over the years - including the distinction of being bombed and straffed by it's American allies in three major conflicts. Everyone in the area knows someone who has died in Iraq. My own most poignant are of a three year old I used to babysitt when I was a teen. He was killed last year leading his squad.

Maybe it's because Americans of this century haven't experienced so huge a loss of life as the European nations saw during WW2 that so much utter crap is spouted about military duty and how the populace should feel about it by idiots from both Left and Right. Imagine for a second applying the following sentiment to other past wars:
There is a time to be against a war, and that time is before the war begins. Strategies for victory are legitimate debate, but as long as troops are on the ground then that is where debate should end."
Now apply it to the Confederate side of the American Civil War, or the common soldiers under the Nazis, or any in a long line of conflicts which were ended by people realising that the war was wrong and speaking up, so that ceasefire terms could be agreed. If Japan had held to the same credo, MacArthur would have had to invade. Yet it's constantly advanced by Bush and his sycophants as a reason not to dissent against his own wars. In such a light it is seen for what it is - unaldulterated partisan idiocy.

Many Americans on the Right also don't get one of the most basic and crucial verdicts of the Nuremberg Trials - that every soldier has a duty to refuse an order if he truly thinks it illegal.
Our soldiers were sent to Iraq by the president pursuant to an overwhelming authorization of force by the Congress. At that point, they have a duty to go off to war regardless of whether they like it. It would be untenable to put the country in a position where it is paying for warriors that it relies on in times of crisis and then give those warriors the ability to opt out at the moment when they are needed.
If they were writing in Germany, where everyone is very aware of international and German military law, such a call for blind obedience to the flag would raise all kinds of hackles and several hefty woodsheddings from military commenters. You see, having a volunteer military which opts out of an unjust order is exactly what Nuremberg and the Geneva Convention both decree.

So just for the idiots I will lay it out as simply as I can.

We all have the right:

  • To agree or disagree with our nation's wars, even while they are being fought.

  • To disagree with the way the war is being fought if we think different leaders, strategies or tactics would fight it better.

  • To call for a halt to the war, or a portion of it, if we think the incompetence of national and military leaders means we aren't winning or suffering unacceptable/unneccessary losses.

  • To support each soldiers individual decision on whether their orders are lawful or not. Only the individual soldier can make that decision for him or herself.

  • To support the poor bloody infantry by wanting them to have the best of equipment, the best of leaders, the best of tactics and the luck or acumen to not have themselves killed or too many bystanders or enemies killed. We are all, first and foremost, human and every death is a tragedy to some extent.

    I can support the troops, both British and American, while not supporting the war in Iraq and anyone who says otherwise is a blethering gobshite.

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