I once assumed the best of those who back the war in Iraq, believing that they unknowingly sent them off to die unnecessarily. But recent conversations with warhawks have convinced me otherwise. And the conclusion I've come to is that there aren't any thoughtful supporters of the troops who truly support the war.
Of course there are legions of boobiosie, a majority by some polls, who believe the fantasy that Iraq had something to do with 9-11. But many others who support the war are doing so with full knowledge that Iraq has never attacked the United States and had no credible plot to do so. They support our war of aggression because Saddam Hussein has killed and tortured "his own people." They always seem to stress the "his own people" part, as if that would distinguish Hussein from any of the more than three-score dictators across the globe who have done precisely the same thing.
The attitude these people have about America's uniformed services really bothers me. "We are the world's policeman," I have heard more than once in the past week, "and if we don't stop Hussein, who will?" The implication always given for the "boobus Americanus" in the audience is that Hussein is a potential Hitler who will be rolling panzers across the Potomac within a few years without our unprovoked act of aggression. The fact that Hussein's forces got their fannies handed to them in a sling by Iran in the 1980s has no impact upon the chickenhawks. Iraq lost to Iran even though the United States was supporting Iraq in the war (despite the fact that Hussein's worst human rights violations occurred during this time period). The fact that Iraq's army has been about as potent against American military might as a junior varsity pep squad also appears irrelevant to them.
The arrogance of chickenhawk sentiments is that the lives of American servicemen are a dispensable and even a tradable commodity. I even asked someone if she would be willing to trade the lives of 125 million Americans for 1 billion foreigners if military intervention could accomplish it. She replied unhesitating: "Yes. It's the greater good. Right?" Wrong. Let alone that such a trade would result in the death of every American male, the whole calculus is a ghastly evil.
It's the worst and most despicable of all evils. Yet this same calculus is precisely what has brought us into this war. Many are willing to trade the lives of hundreds even thousands of our friends and neighbors in exchange for a possibility that some unknown number of strangers might live. The willingness of our servicemen to make this sacrifice is nothing less than noble, but their fellow citizens requiring the lives of their friends and neighbors for reasons unrelated to national defense can't be described as anything less than treacherous.
The simple truth is that our servicemen signed up to put their lives on the line in defense of their country. They did not sign up to become legionnaires or mercenaries whose lives would become mere pawns in the hands of the majoritarian mandarins. What can "Support the Troops" mean in such a context? Servicemen's lives become nothing more than a business transaction, with an effort to make a "three-for-one bargain" in the blood trade.
Servicemen's lives simply aren't ours to trade away, even though the warmongers seem to treat them like last year's baseball cards. There is a coldness of the heart that brings a person to make such a calculation. I shiver for my country when I think that so many people are willing to make it.
Christ said that there is no greater love than to sacrifice your own life for a friend. What can be said in favor of a person willing to sacrifice the lives of his friends for strangers he's never heard of? Is a greater breach of trust or betrayal even possible? The most sickening thing about the whole business is that the chickenhawks actually take a measure of pride in noting that they have traded away the lives of their friends. They count it as their own generosity to sacrifice the lives of others.
May God protect us from such "generous" monsters.
April 4, 2003