Veterans, Whistle-blowers, and War Crimes
As I continue doing political research, I see two major directions in politicians' thinking regarding the military. One is concerned with taking better care of the veterans. The other is concerned with deciding the rightful conduct in America's present wars.
Having lived extensively both in America and outside America, like many others I see it as a disgrace that 130,000 American veterans have no home. That however is not where the issue starts or ends. When dying for the country is seen as the highest honor, the country becomes incentivized toward not only needless deaths of its citizens but a destructive activity that destroys millions of lives. If people who've gone to war are honored more than anyone else in society, then everyone starts wanting to go to war in order that they have honor or consider themselves real men. Consequently people start agitating for war in all kind of situations, including solutions that do not require military action. Instead of becoming a hero, one becomes a bully. And the pigs and the men start looking a lot alike.
So that while it is important for the country to take care of its veterans, it is also important to avoid the incentivization of the country toward military aggression. Most conflicts do not require military solutions, and if people think that the only way they can be real men is by going to war then the country will fulfil that demand by manufacturing needless wars. The only way to disincentivize this destructive activity is to see war, not as something glorious or honorable, but as a political failure. That does not mean not taking care of the veterans, who in many cases have in fact endured extreme hardship and danger in war. It means working on diplomatic solutions where possible and only going to war as a weapon of last resort.
There is a very good reason why America's founders have intended that the military be at all times under civilian control. Military regimes have been a disaster in every part of the world in which they existed. From Nigeria's Abacha and Babangida, to Argentina's Galtieri, to Burma's Shwe, to Liberia's Taylor, to Uganda's Amin, military regimes inflicted upon their countries unmitigated ruin. The military - which lest anyone forget is a taxpayer-funded branch of the government, precisely its biggest and most expensive bureaucracy - when unchecked, wants to do two things: Beat up on the civilian population and then beat up on the rest of the world. And that makes a profoundly destructive position from which to run a country.
Should America go without a strong military? Not in this world. But pursuant the logic and the intent of the Founders, the military must be subject at all times to civilian control. Containing the Taliban, deposing Saddam Hussein, and supporting emergent governments in those countries, does not require massacring civilians by the hundreds of thousands. The American people - even the ones who supported the war in Iraq - did not choose for American military to commit abuses of power on this scale. It does not take a flag-burner to know how these actions are a violation of public trust. And the truly patriotic thing to do is not to go after the whistle-blowers, who have provided the valuable service of informing the public of what is being done in their name and at their expense, but prevailing upon the military to end such abuses and prosecute those responsible.
If the impetus for the same does not come from within the military, then it must come from outside the military. The military is sworn to protect and to serve, not to massacre unarmed civilians and children by hundreds of thousands. And while there are many within the military who have apparently decided that Constitutional principles and accountability to the public do not apply to them, that is still more the reason to see and prosecute such actions as criminal, unconstitutional, violation of public trust, and conduct unbecoming.
As somebody who actively supported the war on the Taliban, I cannot be accused of unpatriotic or saboteurial conduct. I read the Constitution, and I agree with the logic of the Founders as to the rightful role and parameters of the military. The military is meant to protect and to serve while remaining firmly under civilian control. And if the fact that it is stated directly in Constitution is not reason enough, the wisdom of the Founders' logic on this matter is found in the fate of any country that has had a military coup - as much as it is being discovered in America as it sees the military high command going after the whistleblowers instead of the war criminals.
True patriotism therefore does not consist of protecting abuses done by the military in people's name and at people's expense, but correcting, ending and prosecuting these abuses. America was never meant to be a country that commits mass murder, including of children, on this scale. A true American patriot would see these abuses as a disgrace and a violation against America, and would work to restore America's honor by ending and prosecuting these abuses.
Bill O'Reilly can howl all he wants about whistleblowers; but him doing the same shows him not to be the American patriot that he says he is. When some in the military decide that it's OK to commit crimes of war on a vast scale, they are in direct violation of public trust and in direct violation of Constitutional intent. And that makes them the true criminals and the true danger to America - as much as it makes Bill O'Reilly a cover for these crimes.
So it is time that truth be stated for what it is. The military was sent to Iraq and Afghanistan to accomplish a mission. It was never advertised to the public that the military would be going around in those countries, at the American taxpayer's expense and in the name of the American voter, committing atrocities to equal and possibly exceed those of Saddam Hussein. And the truly patriotic, constitutional, course of action consists not of prosecuting the whistleblowers but of ending and prosecuting these war crimes and restoring the honor of American military and the honor of America.