Foreign Policy: “Yes, Marcus. They did die in vain.”

A powerful piece by Jim Gourley, a former military intelligence officer, about whether any service members ever die in vain. According to Gourley, they sure do. It’s written in Foreign Policy, and titled: “Yes, Marcus. They did die in vain.”

“Marcus” is Marcus Luttrell, a former NAVY Seal who fought in Afghanistan. But more on that in a moment.

The notion that any American service member has ever died in vain is a sentiment that’s accurate, and dangerous to admit in America. Some Americans, usually Republicans, pride themselves on using the troops, and their supposed support thereof, as a political cudgel to beat the opposition on any issue even vaguely dealing with the military.  If you don’t agree with the Republicans (or with every soldier’s opinion), then obviously you hate the troops, and thereby America.

In this case, Gourley is weighing in on a topic I covered the other day.  Former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s book, and new movie, “Lone Survivor,” about a failed mission in Afghanistan that took 19 lives.  Luttrell was the sole survivor of his four-man team.  During an interview last week with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Luttrell got visibly agitated because Tapper began to speak from the heart about his mixed feelings on the war in Afghanistan, and the “senseless” American deaths that have taken place over the past 12 years of fighting.

Military silhouette via >Shutterstock

Military silhouette via >Shutterstock

Here’s some of what Tapper said:

One of the emotions that I felt, while watching the film is first of all the hopelessness of the situation — how horrific it was and also just all that loss of life of these brave American men.

And I was torn about the message of the film in the same way that I think I am about the war in Afghanistan itself. I don’t want any more senseless American death. And at the same time I know that there were bad people there and good people that need help. Was that intentional?

Luttrell became upset at the suggestion that the over 2,000 Americans killed in Afghanistan died senselessly.

Gourley did an amazing job responding to Luttrell’s comments, and explaining, far better than I did, or could, why it’s not just patriotic, but absolutely necessary, to question American deaths in wartime.

Here’s a snippet of Gourley’s piece in Foreign Policy – do read the entire thing, it’s not that long, and worth the read:

Throughout history, our nation’s greatest leaders have understood on a deeply personal level that however honorably a soldier acquits himself, he can die in vain, and that it is the responsibility of the leaders and citizenry to see to it that they don’t. Our country has lost its sense of that responsibility to a horrifying extent. Our generals have lost the capability to succeed and the integrity to admit failure. Our society has lost the courage and energy to hold them accountable. Over the last decade, our top leaders have wasted the lives of our sons, daughters, and comrades with their incompetence and hubris. After each failure, our citizens have failed to hold them accountable, instead underwriting new failed strategies as quickly as their predecessors with our apathy and sense of detachment. And then we use the tired paeans of “never forget” and “honor the fallen” to distract ourselves from our guilt in the affair. When we blithely declare that they did not die in vain, we deface their honor by using it to wipe the blood from our hands.

We have lost our collective ability to win a war as well as the strength of character to accept defeat. And in the end, it is those who represent the epitome of that character we lack that pay the price. Can there be a death any more in vain than one that secures for us freedoms that we hold in such low regard as to not even use them on behalf of those that protect us? If there is, I cannot think of one.

It is my greatest hope that Luttrell’s response opens a national dialogue on this subject, and that people finally embrace the true, terrible nature of our self-inflicted losses. Let us as a nation finally feel the guilt we ought to for failing our civic duty. And let that be what we remember before we send the next servicemember to battle. For surely, there will be a next war. When it comes, let us be a nation of people who are as faithful to our principles and considerate of our obligations as those who fight for us. Let us be worthy of their sacrifice. That is the only way to prevent them from dying in vain.

Seriously, you have to read the entire piece.  It was extremely difficult to excerpt.  Gourley just hits the nail on the head, repeatedly, in terms of how we actually fail our troops, and fail the nation, by not considering if and when we have sent them to war to die in vain.


(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • TBAquinas

    No, I believe you miss the point. History, the politician, and the victor, decide who was right and who was wrong, just as the politician decides what we go to war for. That has nothing to do with the act of service. If a German Soldier goes to war to defend his family and his homeland, then that is service. Should it change the nature of that service if he was fighting in the Napoleonic Wars or in WWII? Again, you are confusing what the Soldier does with what the politicians (and in the US, the people) do.

  • Nathanael

    Except you’re wrong.

    Would you say that the soliders who fought for Nazi Germany’s conquest of Poland died in vain? I sure would say they did. How about the soliders who committed treason in defense of slavery, fighting on the Confederate side in the Civil War, in order to keep the slaves chained and beaten? They died in vain.

    If you would say that they died in the service of others, and that this was not in vain, then I have nothing more to say to you.

    But if you’re willing to admit the point, then perhaps you can see the point. Fighting and dying for an unjust cause, a cause which you do not even approve of, *is* dying in vain.

    You can fool yourself by claiming that you do it for your fellow soliders (it doesn’t help them), for your families (it doesn’t help them), or for the citizens of your nation (it doesn’t help them), but that’s just not true. Your intentions are probably honorable, just like the intentions of most Nazi recruits were probably honorable, but your death in an unjust cause is a death in vain.

    You misunderstand what “service” means in “military service”, and you insult the memory of every service member who ever fought for a cause which was actually worthwhile. General William Tecumseh Sherman would have something to say about your attitude — he knew better. It matters what you are fighting for.

  • Zorba

    I never did understand it, and never will. That was why I got involved with the anti-war movement, way back when.
    I will never forgive Lyndon Johnson for having escalated that war.

  • vickif

    I’m 68 and it’s true for me as well. I’ll still never understand why we were in Vietnam.

  • Gamby

    Fuck off asswipe

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    All of your other posts have been about fantasy football. Now, that is useful!

  • LanceThruster

    If I’m gonna get my balls blown off for a word…my word is poon tang.

    ~ Animal Mother – “Full Metal Jacket”

  • TBAquinas

    Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines who die in combat never die in vain. Soldiers (I
    use the term here to represent all service members) are in the business of death. We understand that implicitly. We don’t go to war intending to die but we understand it is a real possibility. We understand the risk. We do it for our fellow Soldier, our families, and the citizens of our nation. If we die, it is never in vain.

    To say that a Soldier dies in vain because they did not win the war is to say that every Police Officer who dies in the line of duty dies in vain because crime still exists. Every Fireman who dies fighting a deadly blaze did so in vain because there are still fires. A death in the service of others is never in vain.

    The military answer to our civilian masters. Do not confuse what the Soldier does for the political nature or objective of the war. The validity of the war is a matter for the people and the politicians. We made that mistake with Vietnam – we blamed the Soldiers for the war. We should not politicize the nature of a Soldier’s service. That was a mistake I hoped we corrected.

    To make comments like “Soldiers who died in Iraq or Afghanistan died in vain” is to both misunderstand the nature of military service and an insult to the memory of service members who made that sacrifice.

  • cambridgemac

    These people demean our troops by comparing them to football and baseball teams. It demeans all citizens to do this.

  • cambridgemac

    Mission Accomplished!

  • cambridgemac

    Saying they died in vain is not demeaning our soldiers. It is an indictment of our elites. Hiding behind their victims – the poor, the cannon fodder – is an old and tired maneuver of the elites.

  • http://www.theangryfag.com/ TheAngryFag

    Exactly. It’s the mantra “support our troops” is nothing but lip service. I remember seeing John McCain over and over profess how he was a friend of our troops during the 2008 campaign and how veterans and troops “know [he's] their friend”. Yet he voted against them at almost every turn such as voting down billions in money going to VA for health care and such (One vote was against $1.5B that would have been paid for by closing tax loopholes and another was for $1.8B also paid for by closing abusive tax loopholes). He also voted against the bill that would have given troops serving in Iraq equal time home between tours as they spent out there.

  • Zorba

    Hahahahahaha!

  • HelenRainier

    Knock it off.

  • HelenRainier

    The content of your post is what is important — and I believe you stated it very well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on a very important subject.

  • chilly

    You’re all a bunch of pansies. Why don’t you do something useful.

  • In vain

    I like that we are all able to post our thoughts and ideas on how to fix this country,obviously it isn’t perfect,what country is?
    There is no need to demean our service men and women……none have died in vain.
    I would guess that most of the posters including myself don’t have 1/10th the intestinal fortitude of Marcus Luttrell .

  • Valerie Steven

    my&nbsproomate’s&nbspmother-in-law&nbspΜ­­­­­­а­­­­­­K­­­­­­е­­­­­­ѕ&nbsp$­­­­­­­­­­­­82&nbspan&nbspհ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ս­­­­­­r&nbspon&nbspthe&nbspс­­­­­­ο­­­­­­Μ­­­­­­ρ­­­­­­ս­­­­­­τ­­­­­­е­­­­­­r.&nbspShe&nbsphas&nbspbeen&nbspfired&nbspfor&nbsp7&nbspΜ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ո­­­­­­τ­­­­­­հ­­­­­­ѕ&nbspbut&nbsplast&nbspΜ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ո­­­­­­τ­­­­­­հ&nbspher&nbspρ­­­­­­а­­­­Уcheck&nbspwas&nbsp$­­­­­­­­­­­­20686&nbspjust&nbspW­­­­­­ο­­­­­­r­­­­­­King&nbspon&nbspthe&nbspс­­­­­­ο­­­­­­Μ­­­­­­ρ­­­­­­ս­­­­­­τ­­­­­­е­­­­­­r&nbspfor&nbspa&nbspϜ­­­­­­е­­­­­­W&nbspհ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ս­­­­­­rs.&nbspgo&nbspto&nbspthe&nbspwebѕ­­­­­­і­­­­­­τ­­­­­­е,…&nbspWW&#87&#46Googleproject2014beautifulmademWq&#46&#113&#114&#x2E&#110&#x65&#x74&#x2F&#x6D&#x4Bl&#x6A/

    ☢☢☢☢ ☢☢☢☢☢ ☢☢☢☢☢☢ ☢☢☢As a country, we became addicted to war and the use of military force, and falsely came to believe that other countries and their peoples would thank us for invading and occupying them.

  • http://blogvader.tumblr.com/ Blogvader

    They die for money and natural resources, just as soldiers always have.

  • cole3244

    i will store this trivial info somewhere but it won’t be in my mind.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Basically it’s the same as a typewriter (remember those?).

    I store useless trivia information in my brain. That’s why I know that this keyboard layout is called Qwertyuiop. If you want to know where that name originated, just look around.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Aw shucks. Sometimes you and Becca cause me to question my orientation.

    There’s also this weird thing about Angelina Jolie.

  • PeteWa

    lol

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Like+++++

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    And is quite eloquent in the third person singular!

  • PeteWa

    I had a feeling you would appreciate that – being there is something else, really quite magical. some very powerful art by gifted artists.

  • http://poodyheads.wordpress.com/ zorbear

    That’s just great. The GOP WAS willing to give them exactly that (half a chance) until you let them know that people could accomplish something even with that little bit of allowance. Now I guess they’ll cut it down to a tenth of a chance and call it tithing…
    :-

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  • Zorba

    Oh, I love this, Pete! Thank you. I am book-marking this site and sending it along to others.
    Individuals who are intellectually and educationally handicapped, learning disabled, emotionally disturbed, central auditory processing disordered, on the autism spectrum, on the ADHD spectrum, and so on- these people have so much to offer, if only the schools, the families, and society would recognize this.
    I loved my students dearly, and I did my best to teach them and reach out to their parents and the community.
    It always amazed me what they could accomplish, if they were given half a chance.

  • PeteWa

    have you ever heard of creativity explored?
    lots of beautiful and thoughtful art made by a large number of wonderful people, it’s a really cool place to visit if you ever go to SF.
    if you do, be sure to not be shy – everyone is welcome in the artist’s space in the back, behind the gallery:
    http://www.creativityexplored.org/
    it was the highlight of my last trip there.

  • goulo

    Soldiers also aren’t always terribly friendly, and sometimes commit atrocities far worse than policemen do. And just saying that will probably get me accused of not supporting the troops. :/

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Well, policemen aren’t always terribly friendly, firemen on the other hand, sure. (But I do think police tend to hurt their own image far too often to get that kind of praise, though post 9/11 they all did)/

  • Zorba

    I love Mike dearly, but since I have had a whole lot of experience reading stuff written by severely learning disabled and developmentally disabled students, I may have more patience with the lack of capitalization and proper punctuation than he does. I will give a pass to former teachers on this one however, particularly if they have not worked with the types of students I had.
    I mean, I was just extremely happy that my kids could get their thoughts down on paper in a comprehensible way. And many of them had very, very good thoughts, especially expressed verbally, but it was difficult for them to put them down in writing.

  • Zorba

    LOL!

    Okay, we will have to agree to disagree on this one.
    I still love ya’, Mike. ;-)

  • PeteWa

    After reading Mike_in_the_Tundra’s comment, PeteWa laughed out loud while punctuating and using grammar correctly!

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Obviously, I don’t agree. However, the real problem is how to get the red pen marks off of my laptop screen.

  • Drew2u

    I can’t speak to that as I don’t remember seeing that happen, but I do think I hear that on the radio – I’ll have to pay closer attention, thanks.

  • goulo

    But it happens outside of contexts where you can tell by looking. E.g. someone mentions in a forum thread that they were in the army and several people reply “Thank You For Your Service”. Someone mentions that they are a policeman or fire fighter (who also risk their lives in danger) or a doctor or teacher, and no one says anything like that. It’s a peculiarly military-specific ritual which doesn’t seem to exist in other countries from what I can tell.

  • goulo

    If it’s about risking one’s life in danger, there’s policemen and firemen; I never hear people saying “Thank You For Your Service” to them.

    It’s a specifically military worship kind of thing. People I’ve mentioned it to from other countries find it odd.

  • PeteWa

    well, that is certainly true for the aggressor.

  • PeteWa

    all caps does drive me nuts, I can’t help but read it in a scream voice…

  • ComradeRutherford

    The sole purpose of all war for all time is transferring wealth to war profiteers. If you willfully delude yourself into believing the lies about ‘duty’ and ‘honor’, then don’t expect sympathy when you finally realize it was all in vain.

  • Zorba

    I’m switching to Diet Pepsi, then. ;-)

  • Zorba

    Sweetie, I have to disagree with you on this one, which I seldom, if ever, do.
    I am also a retired teacher, although I was a special education teacher, so perhaps I may have more patience with capitalization and punctuation errors.
    I don’t find the lack of capitalization to be the annoyance that you do, nor do I think that it detracts from the comprehensibility of the post.
    The thing that I find to be like “fingernails on a chalkboard” is when commenters post in all caps, thinking that this will emphasize and make their comments “more important.”
    YMMV. Namaste, my brother. ;-)

  • PeteWa

    abundantly.
    however, that requires reading past a headline…

  • PeteWa

    so sad, so many generations put to such misuse.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Try Cherry Coke Zero. My laptop seems to have developed an immunity to it. Now that Coke is sponsoring the Winter Olympics, the laptop is trying to develop an immunity to ice tea.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Oh Z, Z, Z, Z. I can’t possibly be the only ex-teacher around. The lack of capitals is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Think about it. I know about fingernails on a chalkboard.

    If you think about it, the purpose of capital letters and punctuation is to make it easier for the reader. If other commenters ignore someone’s comments because they are difficult to read, why should the original commenter bother to comment?

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    :-)

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Not ‘wrong’ — Nicho clearly stated ‘OUR interests’. The people who are on the hook to pay for these unnecessary wars, and the men and women who die in them are the ones whose interests are not served.

    Corporations and the 1% have long since made it clear we peons and neo-serfs are no longer relevant to THEIR interests.

  • Zorba

    Hahahahahaha! Thanks a lot, k. I just snorted Diet Coke out my nose. Fortunately, I was on my tablet, not my desktop, or you would owe me a new keyboard. ;-)

  • Zorba

    I’m in my mid 60′s, and it’s true for me, as well. See Becca’s comment.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Every single war and armed conflict in which America has been involved since WWII was by choice.

    And every choice could have been avoided.

    Unfortunately, as President Eisenhower warned us, we also came out of the Second World War with a ridiculously huge military-industrial complex, powerful corporations, and an excess both of paranoia and hubris. As a country, we became addicted to war and the use of military force, and falsely came to believe that other countries and their peoples would thank us for invading and occupying them.

    We’ve become a nation of willingly ignorant hypocrites — and yes, global bullies, willing openly to talk about acts of overt war just to make a point or to punish some other nation for failing to do as we dictate, as if we have any right.

    By the way, as an ironic trivia detail, whatever its message, I consider the movie “Lone Survivor” to be cynically tainted. It was filmed in New Mexico’s Manzano mountains, near Chilili, intended to stand in for Afghanistan.

    They brought in 150 crew members, 20 semi trailers, eight vans, three generators and a mobile kitchen. And then they transformed (Patrick Elwell’s) quiet New Mexico paradise into war-torn Afghanistan.

    They built a replica of an Afghani village and then bombarded it with simulated grenades and gunfire. There were explosions, helicopters and firefights.

    The problem? The man who took $30,000 from the Hollywood production company, Juan Sanchez, was not the rightful owner of the acres of land which were essentially destroyed in the making of the film. Sanchez’s claims have been refuted many times by New Mexico courts, including the New Mexico Supreme Court and in fact the land belongs to Patrick Elwell — who has received not one dime of compensation from the film production company. What had been beautiful forested hills full of piñon and juniper is now a dusty, trampled waste.

    The land in question had been in Mr. Elwell’s family going back to his great-grandfather, 80 years ago, and had been deeded to him by his grandfather in 1987.

    This also wasn’t the first time Mr. Sanchez took money for films to be shot on land that wasn’t his. Apparently some scenes in The Avengers were also done on private property in the Chilili Land Grant. The guy just says he refuses to acknowledge the authority of the NM state government. Despite other people holding clear titles and deeds, and paying property taxes on the land for many, many decades, he just shows up and says, “I own all 40,000 acres” — and because it’s convenient and he can be bought off relatively cheaply, he’s believed.

    Source: http://www.krqe.com/13investigates/larry-barker/hollywood-blunders-in-nm-production

    Anyway, this all feels somewhat symbolic and ironic because as with many of America’s wars, this new film — “Lone Survivor” — depicting the futility and hopeless of war itself, was itself the result of lies, corruption, theft, and unwarranted collateral destruction of other people’s property.

  • PeteWa

    what a tiresome comment.

  • PeteWa

    I had no problem understanding you.

  • PeteWa

    Great article, but one complain:
    I’m in my mid 40s. There has not been one war in my lifetime that even comes close to “securing my freedom”.
    Anyone who believes otherwise is deluded at best.

    edit: after commenting I see that nicho has done a much finer job than I at making the same point.

  • lynchie

    Wrong, they have advanced the interests of the corporations and the 1% who are in the business of profiting from such excursions.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    iT tOOK ME a wHILE TO GET MY lARGE FINgER TO HIT ‘SELecT’ INStEAD oF ‘cAPS LOCK’ or ‘A.’

  • lynchie

    Congress just increased the Pentagon’s spending in the $1.1 trillion budget they are trying to pass. How come it is ok to screw the poor and elderly and spend more to kill and maim. In the same breath they cut food stamps which are helping nearly a million vets and at least 5,000 active duty families. Ok to send them for a senseless war but not ok to be sure they are healthy and nourished.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2013/10/30/mistreating-the-military-nearly-one-million-veterans-to-suffer-the-pain-of-food-stamp-cutbacks/

    I support our troops but I want them alive and at home and prepared to defend our borders. Not fighting some senseless, unwinnable battle for Exxon or Walmart or J.P. Morgan or Haliburton. Seems we never have enough to treat our troops right but more than enough to give increased tax breaks to corporations and the 1%.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    It’s not how you type, but what you type. Keep up the good work!

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    America: The Clockwork Orange of Empires.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I don’t find it odd. I think it’s a hell of a commitment, being willing to risk your life for something. It deserves praise. It does not, however, mean that putting a ribbon on a tree while voting for people who decimate the VA and then send our troops, willy nilly into wars of convenience based on a lie, is “supporting our troops.” That’s my problem with all the military hagiography. Much of it, is, at its core, fake. It’s the change.org of supporting our troops. It gives everyone a chance to claim they support, and actually feel like they support, the troops, without actually doing anything to support the troops, and in many cases voting for people who ignore veterans and don’t seem terribly interested in the plight of the active duty members either. That’s my gripe.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Particularly considering Anna’s long record of service to the Netroots – she was one of the original top progressive political bloggers – that’s a tad unfair.

  • cole3244

    i’m not computer literate and i can’t find the necessary keys to comply, i will try later though, be patient.

  • Indigo

    God bless our troops, God forgive (punish?) our leaders.

  • Zorba

    Absolutely correct. George Carlin once did a riff on this:

    “Now, there’s one thing you might have noticed I don’t
    complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians.
    Everybody says they suck.
    Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t
    fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another
    reality. They come from American parents and American families,
    American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses
    and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens.
    This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s
    what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out.
    If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish,
    ignorant leaders. Term limits ain’t going to do any good; you’re just
    going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans.
    So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe
    something else sucks around here… like, the public.
    Yeah, the public sucks. There’s a nice campaign slogan for somebody: ‘The Public Sucks. F*ck Hope.’”

  • Zorba

    Thank you, Mr. Capitalization Cop. What’s it to you?

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    I’d love to think that Gourley’s well-written and quite correct piece will start an important discussion and actually bring about the change that we need to see. However, the shallow-thinking loudmouthed Right-Wing pundits who pay no attention to detail and subtlety will doubtless start screaming that anyone who takes his words to heart is not “supporting the troops”.

    We’re coming to a critical point in this country. Well-informed people absolutely have to take back their government and change this imperial madness we call U.S. Foreign Policy. This requires a cultural change that is not going to come without a lot of bloodshed, sweat and tears. If we don’t do it, the U.S. is done for. The writing’s on the wall.

  • Drew2u

    (Well to be fair I’m sure the serviceperson was wearing his uniform. Unless a doctor is in scrubs at the grocery store, I don’t think anyone could tell that person’s a doctor; same with a military person out of uniform – but that’s just my assumption. Plus for the most part Teachers and Doctors aren’t sent into a line of fire as cannon-fodder)

  • goulo

    The compulsion many US citizens have to ritually say “Thank You For Your Service” to military people is very odd.

    Teachers and doctors, for example, have done far more to improve my life personally and to improve society as a whole, but I never hear any of these people say “Thank You For Your Service” to teachers or doctors. Somehow only the service of soldiers seems to matter that much to the service-thankers.

  • emjayay

    Is pressing two keys at once beyond some people’s capabilities?

  • emjayay

    Two shift keys on every keyboard. One on the left. One on the right.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    And the article I write about above makes that distinction clear.

  • devlzadvocate

    “With the Congressmen” is the saying the same thing as “the American people”. The people elect their Congressmen. How many times have I heard we get the government we deserve? Those Congressmen are not appointed by some detached body. They are sent there by the electorate. We may not like the composition of the electorate, their representatives, thier decisions, etc. but the blame is ours, our culture, our goverment, we the people.

  • Bill_Perdue

    More to the point, they didn’t just die in vain, they were murdered by Bush and Obama, along with countless civilians.

    The Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama wars against Iraq, Palestine, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Afghanistan and Pakistan cost the lives of well over a million civilians, including the murder of half a million children under Clinton and hundreds of thousands during the Bush-Obama invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    Those wars, and the huge numbers of civilian dead are typical of US military and foreign policy beginning with the wars against native nations and continuing to this day. Vietnam and Iraq were not aberrations or mistake, they’re a continuation of US policy for the last two and a quarter centuries.

    We need a government that will order the immediate, total and permanent withdrawal of all US
    troops, air and naval fleets, spy agencies and mercenaries to US home bases.

    We need political parties that will cut all war and munitions aid to the zionist colony in Palestine, convene an International War Crimes Tribunal to investigate US involvement in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Korea, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Palestine, Pakistan and elsewhere.

    We need a government that will convene an International Peace Conference based on a US constitutional renunciation of violence to solve international disputes and laws making it a capital crime, punishable by death, to lie and plot to begin wars of aggression to further enrich the rich and build and American empire.

    Democrats and Republicans will never do that. The left will.

  • cole3244

    i was in vn and was too ignorant to realize america was the aggressor and the vietnamese were in the right.
    i was against both gulf wars and become very despondent while they were going on and my country was celebrating the slaughter of people that were vastly inferior in arms and equipment to defend themselves.
    we have become imo the 20th & 21st century version of fascism abroad and are close to turning into that at home.
    now we have 16 dem senators that want to increase the sanctions on iran rather than negotiate and try to reason with those we disagree with. the cons in this country will not be satisfied until they have seen the day of judgement they believe is their destiny and destroyed the world in the meantime.
    the elites use the patriotism card on the masses to get them to carry out their dirty work and they benefit win or lose which was the case in vn.
    until we get an electorate that is informed and too intelligent to be led down this primrose path of stupidity nothing will change, and eventually we all will pay the ultimate price of annihilation by wmd’s of some kind, and we will deserve everything we get.

  • nicho

    Everyone who has died since the end of WW2 has died in vain. None of the wars since then has protected the country, advanced any of our interests, or were even necessary. In fact, quite the opposite. Our corporate/military adventures have drained the treasury, made innumerable enemies, and have destabilized large parts of the world.

  • annatopia

    thanks for posting this piece john. i’m going to use it in my federal govt class when i give the lecture on foreign policy.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    If they didn’t die in vain then the congressmen did their job. Dying in vain is not shameful for the person who dies, it’s shameful for the government that allowed it. Those men and women gave their lives for nothing, but that doesn’t make them less of a person nor does it dishonor them – they gave their lives so that we may hopefully put an end to this corruption.

  • keirmeister

    Brilliant article, and refreshing to hear. It alway annoys me how wimpy America can be when it comes to criticizing itself. As a European friend once said to me, Americans are the only people in the world who believe their own BS. When did it become unpatriotic to point out hard truths?

    I was at a grocery story once when a soldier was nearby (we were in one of those self-checkout aisles). The attendant went out of her way to say “Thank You For Your Service!!!”, like, incessantly. She may have been sincere, but it was nauseating…like she was still feeling guilt about Vietnam or something.

    I simply smiled to the guy, but the attendant was FURIOUS with me. “You should be thanking him for his service! Don’t your care about our troops?”

    That was over the line for me. I said back to her, “I contact my congressmen and have even written to the President urging them to bring our soldiers home and fix problems with the VA. THAT’s how I support our troops.”

    The soldier heard me say that, and he gave me a smile back. Greatest feeling in the world. :)

  • goulo

    You seem to be confusing “dying in vain” with “blame”. They are 2 different things. Saying that someone died in vain is in no way blaming them.

    Certainly those who send the troops to fight in misguided lie-based wars are to blame. But how does that mean that the troops who died for a “wrong policy” did not die in vain?

  • caphillprof

    To acknowledge that troops die in vain is no dishonor to the troops themselves. The only ones dishonored are those who sent them.

  • http://liberawheeler.blogspot.com/ Elijah Jacob Shalis

    I disagree that the troops ever die in vein. Certainly the politicians serve in vein at times due to their wrong policies. We need to keep the blame where it belongs, with the Congressmen.

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