Soldiers trapped into dishonor

Posted: Sunday, February 07, 2010

Let's consider how the American military is used and what they must really sacrifice. Military science fiction writer Lois McMaster Bujold elegantly distinguishes reputation as how others respect you, and honor as how you respect yourself.

Too many people confuse the popularity and pride of our military with its cumulative personal honor. In so doing, America allows unscrupulous political and military leaders to bully individual military personnel into dishonoring themselves. Dishonor is a far greater "sacrifice" than being crippled or killed. The diaries of military suicides and the increasing numbers of our military suffering from PTSD testify to this. So does numerous military personnel joining groups such as the Oathkeepers to halt abuse of the military.

Let me clarify this further. With their oath of enlistment, our military personnel voluntarily give up constitutional freedoms and protections in order to defend their fellow citizens. This makes them helplessly vulnerable to incompetent civilian leadership, and the prejudices and irrationalities of commanding officers. They are even more vulnerable to incompetent citizens who irresponsibly turn over their government oversight duties to an elected or appointed elite. Faithlessness by their country's citizens and superiors is more dangerous than any enemy to the military.

Consequently, ordinary ways our military personnel get trapped into dishonor include:

1. They get sent out on incompetently planned or organized missions that depends more on military willingness than on military skills or capability. This incompetence is often intentional. Intelligence and perception of reality are often manipulated to align planning and decisions to serve special interest prejudices - whatever the consequences. See "War is a Racket" by two-time Medal of Honor recipient Gen. Smedley Butler. Review the information fraud behind the Vietnam War's Gulf of Tonkin provocation or the Iraq War's WMD provocation.

2. They get used as nannies for political romper rooms (i.e. long-term occupation) instead of what their training and equipment are mainly designed for - killing and destruction. To insist that our military - or any military - is adequately trained for humanitarian missions shames them when their inborn unpreparedness becomes exposed. Preoccupation with security and pacification always makes any military develop and use humanized herding and livestock care methodologies - suppressing any pre-existing competence in its personnel.

3. Military personnel often get coerced to cover up high-level corruption and incompetence that inevitably require more men, material and money to fix. Individual honor gets sold for military image.

Do you care?

• Stuart Thompson lives in Wasilla.

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