Soldiers, Heroes and Pawns

The political powers that be seem much more concerned with appearances, a few votes or breaking ranks with the devil than performing their duty and saving lives. In contrast, some of us actually consider that those shedding their blood in a far-away desert for mysterious objectives are real people with real families who will be sorely missed. The American dead in this senseless war is much more than an emotionless number — each represents an unimaginable loss and a hole of empty nothing can ever fill.

I can’t, and won’t pretend to have any idea what that loss feels like. But I can hazard a guess that it stings more than had the death been from a car accident or heart attack. It would for me, and I think it does for most. The questions of who lied and why and what the hell we’re really doing over there would drive me mad. And so it is easier to accept the dogma evangelized by the Administration: your loved one died in the service of his country. He died protecting our freedom. Take the flag that draped the casket of a hero and remember him as such.

That tenet accomplishes two things. It rounds the edges of the jagged pill of death, and it reinforces the odious lie that there is some legitimate reason that we are engaged in this war.

The idea that someone close to you has died so you can enjoy the few liberties the government has left you must be more comforting than the awful reality that those he was fighting aren’t the slightest threat to anyone who isn’t there. The “hero’s death” concept is a psychological narcotic. It is a normal defense mechanism to cling to whatever analgesic one can. But in such situations, truth, regardless of how bitter it tastes, should be the only end. Lies, however comforting, hobble justice and only cause more death.

There are likely plenty of heroes among the many military personnel in Iraq. There have been those who put the lives of others ahead of their own and died valiantly. But death alone doesn’t elevate one to the status of paragon. The attitude that it does perpetuates the nakedness of the emperor as it falsely inserts pride and acceptance in the rightful place of anger and inquisition.

The blind devotion both to bad policy and substitutive emotion has so skewed our collective psyche that questioning the war has somehow been equated to treason, political pawns declared heroes, and accountability been deemed a luxury we can’t afford in a time of war. The adage, “my country, right or wrong” has been further muddled to “my government, right or wrong.”

Instead of anger and demands to bring our people home, manufactured pride has given way to the attitude that everything else is cowardice. Our departure from a situation our mere presence is worsening is likened to a frightened plan to “cut and run.” And the parrots squawk in agreement.

Opposition to a confusing and open-ended war, we are told, is akin to opposing those on the ground. But who is less supportive of our troops, those who would have them remain in a cesspool of insurgency, the fires of which we fuel daily, or those who want every last one of them to immediately come home?

I for one, truly support our military. I want them all to come home prepared for their actual duty of national defense. To wish them to stay away, in a dangerous occupation of a place growing ever more hostile to them and without the slightest justification for their presence may masquerade as support. But it is nothing more than a contemptible betrayal. It sacrifices the living for an imagined memory of the dead.

posted by artusregister
  • Dan

    Excellent post. Thank you for writing so concisely what many of us are thinking and feeling.

  • Artus Register

    Thanks, Dan.