After we've decided that we made a mistake, we don't want to blame the soldiers who were ordered to fight. Or even our representatives, who were deceived by false intelligence. And certainly not ourselves, who failed to object to a war we barely understood.
But blaming the president is a little too easy. The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying. An army of people ignoring their morality, by the way, is also Jack Abramoff's pet name for the House of Representatives.
I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country, especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq. I get mad when I'm tricked into clicking on a pop-up ad, so I can only imagine how they feel.
But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it's Vietnam.
And sometimes, for reasons I don't understand, you get to just hang out in Germany. |LA Times: Joel Stein|
(Via Ezra Klein)
I'm not sure. There are so many issues whirling around here that all I can do is suggest a few questions. Is there a kind of virtuous life that is a soldier's life? If there is a virtuous marshall life, does the possibility of living such a life depend on living within a state which only fights just wars? How responsible are soldiers when they fight in unjust wars? Assuming that there isn't really such a thing as marshall virtue, how responsible are individuals in our society for thinking that there is? For acting on such judgements? In blaming the troops, isn't Stein avoiding his own responsibility as a citizen? And so on.