Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Is the Military off limit to Criticism?

Over the weekend MSNBC’s Chris Hayes took a lot of heat after questioning the word “hero” when applied to every American soldier killed during combat.


Of course since (1) he is on MSNBC, and (2) it deals with the military, the right wing COULDN’T WAIT to criticize: Chris Hayes 'Uncomfortable' Calling Fallen Military 'Heroes' – Marines respond by protecting his right to menstruate, said Ann Coulter in her famously classy style.  

Of course, as quick as his comments were, his retraction was even quicker on his blog: Hayes apologized for not living up to his own “standards of rigor, respect and empathy.”

Since the invasion of Iraq, I've had several conversations with my more conservative friends about what it means to "support our troops." While heroism hasn't come up, the debate on whether or not the troops are "fighting for our freedom" has.  Let's not get this twisted, I, like many of you, come from a family FULL of military men and woman.  My father, my friends, my family, and even the young lady I've chosen to spend my life with, all vets.  So let's be clear, there is something to be said for someone volunteering to put themselves into harms way -- more so today than say during the draft -- but are we allowed to disagree with whether they are or are not heroes?  

Actually, I'm more interested in "fighting for our freedom."  To me, this is a better conversation.  For one it isn't a criticism of individual service people, and, two, the conversation moves past service men and woman and incorporates the President and war itself.  Carl Von Clausewitz said, "War is the continuation of Politik by other means."  Said another way, war is simply politics of our day played out with weapons.  I agree with him, especially under neo-con administrations.  If you listen to Mitt Romney, you'd think that military conflict was the ONLY way to resolve current international conflicts.  If I didn't know any better, I'd guess that a Romney administration would have our troops or weapons in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, China, Venezuela, Afghanistan, and North Korea... all at the same time.  Am I to really believe these military conflicts are to protect OUR freedoms here in the U.S.?  Is Syria threatening our freedoms? Which ones?  Can we list them?  

Is it more true that today, military conflict has more to do with the bickering between leaders of countries than threats to our freedoms?  This doesn't mean that a country couldn't attack us -- a la 9/11 -- but was our constitution and infrastructure in peril?  I'd argue that Bush did more damage to the constitution than Al Qaeda did (Oops, I'm sure that will piss someone off).   Side Note: 9/11 was TRAGIC and I agree with both Bush and Obama taking the fight to Al Qaeda and ultimately bin Laden, but actions like this and this add fuel to the fire and are the real "truths" behind attacks on our soil.  

There have been wars where our freedoms where in jeopardy: Civil War, Revolutionary War, etc.  But was Vietnam for OUR freedoms?  Above all, our individual service men and women deserve our respect and appreciation for doing something most of us wouldn't do, but questioning the military at the control of the President is very appropriate. 

What do you think of Hayes' comments?
Are all fallen soldiers automatically "heroes?"
Is every military conflict a protection of our freedoms? 
Is criticism of the military off limits?
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