Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.
-George S. Patton
Fanbushed: Best of the Hotmail Hate Mail of the Week
Unsolicited Letter to the Editor in Chief Waves a White Flag, Opens Fire:
You are a beautiful and powerful writer. [Still], I have to ask.
What makes you sure that the good night's sleep you rough men leave us to enjoy is what we want? Because it is not your beautiful wives and lovely children who order you off to war, begging you to protect us and our way of life. It is your boss.
I think you want a steady paycheck, and like anyone who wants to be paid, you will do what ever your boss tells you to do. You can justify if with stirring words of honor and self-sacrifice, and you can tweak your boss's personal agenda into a cause worth dying for, but the truth is that you want a paycheck.
Your writing is not truth, it's propaganda. Your boss must be very happy with you... he wants you in his pocket, spinning out his agenda, selling us on war. Any war. ALL wars. You, my dear, are a cog in the war machine. An articulate cog, but a cog, nonetheless.
I do believe that your writing is phenomenally good. It has a cadence and rhythm that is compelling, and it is peppered with terminology and images that give it a romantic, foreign appeal. Whether you do so through the military or some other avenue, I am sure that you have a very successful writing career ahead of you.
And honestly, I don't know that my opinions are right; I just feel that your opinions are somewhat fanatical and may not take women and children into consideration. I mean, what good is a way of life if our husbands, sons, and fathers are away much of the time or dying?
For most people, I think that having loved ones near is more important than war. Most women, I think, don't want their men away for months at a time. Would you want your wife, mother, or daughter off in the military? You might justify such an act after the fact, but your first instinct would probably be for them not to be away from you.
This is what the war machine does, I think; it forces you to suppress normal urges to be close to loved ones. Yes, I know you call that "sacrifice", but it really amounts to cognitive dissonance.
I suspect that many men join the military and volunteer for hazardous assignments as a way out of the rigors and/or boredom of marriage and family life. It is a way for them to be off on a grand adventure; [one] where every meal is provided, where all needs are met, and where, in most cases, major decisions or plans do not need to be made, because those are made by military minds up the chain of command.
So, except for the possibility of death by combat, your job is about as secure as they come, and I understand why you defend and glamorize it.
Then again, I could be wrong about everything.
The Intrepid and “Somewhat Fanatical” Buck Sargent Takes Cover, Returns Fire:
Thank you for the backhanded compliments. As for the rest of it, I find your lack of faith disturbing. You come across like a hybrid of my uber-liberal college professors and Cindy "America is not worth dying for!" Sheehan.
Before you armchair-diagnose me further with “military industrial complex,“ I would like to highlight for you the petty arrogance of assuming that those of us who serve in the military do so only for self-serving reasons. Obviously we would not do it for free, yet all of us make the conscious choice to join the military fully aware of the long days and nights, hazardous duties, and meager compensation. I worked 91 hours last week alone, averaging less than minimum wage for it, and we obviously do not receive overtime in the military. Add in only a few hot meals that didn’t originate from a vacuum sealed pouch and barely enough downtime to rest more than a few hours between shifts, and you have a snapshot of our average workload.
By contrast, a civilian contractor living three tents away from us can pull down six figures in less than a year’s time, he can throw in the towel at any time, and his mission is purely a support role, not to close with and destroy the enemy. His job clearly involves risk, but ours is to deliberately seek it out. While I unquestionably admire the pluck of anyone willing to work and contribute to the rebuilding of any war torn nation, the difference between us and them is that we made a commitment to accomplish whatever tasks our country asks of us, no matter the personal inconvenience or disruption of our own lives. We came over here to honor that commitment, the politics of the matter be damned.
It’s that simple.
We choose to leave our wives, families, and loved ones as ordered rather than run away and hide, because for some of us the words "duty, honor, country" actually still mean something. My wife would prefer that I were home, but she also prefers to be married to someone with integrity and a belief system that includes things other than unbridled egotism and an over inflated sense of entitlement.
As far as my "Boss" goes, I could quit this life at any time, with shockingly few personal consequences; this isn't the North Korean Army we‘re talking about. The Defense Department tends to treat AWOL and desertion cases less seriously than the average New York public school truant officer.
Still, I would rather die over here than forever live in shame over there.
Why is it that those who think as you do demand all the rights, privileges, and freedoms that our country secures for it's citizens, yet you don't want anyone to protect them? Pacifism is only tolerable as a belief system because other people out there who aren't "conscientious objectors" are willing to lay it all on the line for you, whether they be cops, soldiers, or prison guards.
In Iraq’s case, this list tragically includes mayors, judges, legislators, humanitarian aid workers, and even potential voters. Would you like to “cognitively diss” them as well? They have more than “stolen elections” and “hanging chads” to be concerned with; they’re more worried about being shot, blown up or hung by roving death squads of Islamist insurgents from Chad; or as Michael Moore likes to call them, “the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow - and they will win.”
In the past three years alone my battle buddies and I have endured hardships, long separations, and physical suffering that would make the average person break down and cry for their mothers. If we were hardened terrorists, Amnesty International would deem us victims of brutal torture at the hands of the U.S. government. Military life is not a free ride, it is not a cakewalk, and while it certainly may have its moments, an overseas deployment is by no means a “grand adventure.”
But perhaps most of all, I resent the implication by those like yourself (as well as certain television dramas) that we are all a bunch of poor saps with no other prospects or financial options. We are not dead-enders; we are go-getters.
Personally, I knew full well what I was giving up when I signed. A comfortable existence, permanent roots, a normal life. But I felt I owed something back for the previous quarter century of opportunity and privilege that my country had afforded me.
Don‘t we all owe a little something back?
Just Another Articulate Cog in the War Machine
P.S. We are, however, in agreement on one point: You certainly could be wrong about everything.