January 9th, 2007

Soldiers and politics

gigglingwizard posted about the origins of the warrior spirit, and it got me to thinking.

Being a warrior is neither good nor evil; it's one of the way humans are. A warrior who defends an admirable way of life is doing something I see as being good; a conquistador out for blood and conquest is doing something I see as being evil, but these are value judgements I place on the values I want to see practiced in my world, not intrinsic characteristics of warriorhood.

The current social milieux of worshipping warriors probably bugs real warriors as much as it bugs me; they're as aware as the rest of us that their comrades are not always honorable, and that the bigger the scoundrel the more likely he is to hide behind the reputation of his honor. Examples of that from the top ranks of the current American military may be suggested.

A key issue I'll need to get into at some point is how little control the overwhelming majority of people have on their own moral structures. On their own lives, too, for that matter, but I'm trying to limit the subject a bit. If behaving well is rewarded, they'll be good; if behaving in an evil fashion is rewarded, they'll do that, and then put whatever effort is convenient into justifying it. A lot of slippery slopes going on in there.

I don't know about you people, but I've been living in a fascist dictatorship for half a dozen years, and I very much don't like it. I see this as being as much the fault of the utter spinelessness of the Dumbocrats as the greed and sadism of the Rethuglicans, but I've been seriously and deeply wondering if it's time to move to Box #3 in defense of personal rights. (For those who don't follow the idiom, the three boxes are, in order, Soap, Ballot, and Ammo.)

But if our society *is* to be saved, holding thugs to account is a vital and necessary concern, *including* those thugs who happen to be in the military. No, *especially* those in the military, specifically including our now-militarized police forces; thugs in other places aren't in nearly the same position to curtail the rights of others.

And to do so, we have to deal with the issue of differentiation. One of the big errors of the VietNam era was castigating the military as a whole, the innocent along with the guilty. We need to make it clear that we are not castigating soldiers for being soldiers, but disavowing the actions of those parts of a citizen soldiery who had forgotten that their obligations as citizens come before their duties as soldiers.