November 27th, 2009

How I Support the Troops


photo credit: rcvernors

Drive around town for a few minutes, and chances are you’ll encounter a car emblazoned with a bumper sticker or magnet that encourages you to “Support Our Troops”. With almost 1.4 million active duty soldiers and close to the same number in the reserves, tens of millions of Americans are connected to a solider either through immediate or extended family ties, friendship, or some other close association.

If 1% of our population is in the military, then a whole lot more are inherently its supporters by virtue of the fact that a loved one’s life is being put in danger in its service. The emotional ties involved in such a relationship to the military and its campaigns have resulted in the slogan “Support Our Troops” becoming almost entirely synonymous with support for whatever campaign they are engaged in, and whatever policies come down from their commander-in-chief and his war-making subordinates. The slogan lacks any qualifiers, promises and encourages an endorsement of whatever action the troops are assigned, and perpetuates a blind allegiance to what has long become a mighty military machine.

Such a situation often makes me think of a man by the name of Alexander Doniphan. Latter-day Saints often revere this man for his courageous rejection of military orders he did not agree with. Doniphan, not a member of the Church, risked his reputation in his community by defending the Mormons against expulsion from Jackson County in 1833. As a state representative, he was able to convince his colleagues in the Missouri legislature to create Caldwell County for their settlement. A few years later, when anti-Mormon troops surrounded Far West and ultimately forced its surrender, General Samuel D. Lucas ordered Doniphan, a member of the militia, to summarily execute Church leader and Prophet Joseph Smith, along with six other leaders who were being held in custody.

Astonishingly, he chose a path that I like to call “righteous insubordination”, and wholly refused to carry out such orders. Further, his response to his superior officer shows his bold adherence to the principles at play in this politically-charged circumstance:

It is cold-blooded murder. I will not obey your order. My brigade will march for Liberty at 8:00 tomorrow morning, and if you execute these men I will hold you personally responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God.

Rather than execute a group of men who had not been found guilty by either a civil or military tribunal, Doniphan was willing to face a court-martial and jeopardize his military career and reputation.

In my mind, supporting the troops 170 years ago would not have meant turning a blind eye to their thievery, drunkenness, and in many cases, brutal oppression of innocent individuals. It would not have meant supporting Doniphan and his associates in faithfully and unhesitatingly carrying out the orders to execute a group of men who many Missouri officials would likely have classified as being “terrorist suspects” or “enemy combatants” in today’s propaganda-laden vernacular. And it would not have meant supporting them in executing Governor Boggs’ extermination order of an entire religious community.

Troops are individuals with spouses, parents, children, and many other loved ones. They are not pawns in a large game of chess—world empire edition—to be cheerfully supported in their role in the game, whatever that may be. Thus, supporting our troops is better done by supporting the individual, and doing whatever possible to ensure their safety—not simply on the battlefield. It implies ensuring that the only active campaigns they are engaged in are those that are absolutely necessary, fully justified, and as efficient and short-lived as possible.

I like to think that I would have supported Alexander Doniphan—not as a cheerleader on the sidelines of his various engagements in the militia, but as an individual who adhered to principle, rejected an immoral and unjust order from his superior, and sued for peace both on the battlefield and in the court room, as a trial lawyer who saved scores of people from the death penalties they were threatened with—Joseph Smith included.

Likewise, I support our troops by opposing unjust war and rejecting the bi-partisan idea that they should be spread out across the world to maintain over 700 bases in over 150 countries, to say nothing of the various wars and covert campaigns conducted in the name of spreading democracy and waging war on “terrorism”. I support them as husbands and wives, sons and daughters, and fathers and mothers who deserve to remain at home with their loved ones, only to be pulled away for war in the most exigent of circumstances that are in our legitimate defense—not aggression carried on in the name and under the false cloak of defense.

82 Responses to “How I Support the Troops”

  1. Kelly W.
    November 27, 2009 at 4:27 pm #

    Support individuals?

    Many of those “individuals” are as corrupt as their corrupt, empire-seeking leaders.

    My only support would be to educate these brainwashed troops to become “unbrainwashed.”

    The “war on terror” is a cruel hoax used as a cover for control-seeking, power-hungry groups seeking Empire.

  2. Connor
    November 27, 2009 at 4:36 pm #

    By “support individuals”, I am by no means inferring that they be supported in immoral, illegal, or aggressive actions. I think I made this clear when saying that I would not support soldiers engaged in “thievery, drunkenness, and in many cases, brutal oppression of innocent individuals”, and would support people who adhere to principle and sue for peace.

  3. Kelly W.
    November 27, 2009 at 6:06 pm #

    Connor, your comment is valid. I have a neighbor who was in the military and who quit the military because he saw through what was actually happening. He is a very fine man indeed.

  4. Jim Davis
    November 27, 2009 at 6:28 pm #

    I believe the overwhelming majority of those enlisted in the military are honorable, well-intentioned men and women who want to make a positive difference in the world. I agree with the idea that supporting the troops should mean something more than standing behind whatever conflict those troops are engaged in. When I say I support the troops it comes from a desire to keep them out of unnecessary wars. It comes from my own opinion that that our military should only be used for defensive purposes only. They shouldn’t be used as pawns to expand aggressive, unjust and immoral nation (empire) building.

    People have a hard time differentiating support for the troops (which as Connor put CAN mean individual based) and support for government foreign policy (which IS purely political).

    It’s just a slogan. A sound bite that I prefer to interpret my own way even though I understand most people with those bumper stickers are not being patriotic. They’re just being jingoistic.

  5. Rock Waterman
    November 27, 2009 at 6:30 pm #

    Connor, where were you when I needed you?

    I just spent the last three entire entries at Pure Mormonism trying to clarify and convey what you just said in one. I’m sitting here wishing I was as smart and concise as you are.

    I’m linking to you immediately. Consider me a fan.

    Rock Waterman

    http://PureMormonism.blogspot.com

  6. Jay
    November 27, 2009 at 7:52 pm #

    I mostly agree, but here’s where I have a problem. The troops take an oath to defend the Constitution. It is their responsibility to know what it is they are defending. I compared it recently to purchasing a house. It doesn’t matter if the documents are two inches thick, when I sign the note, I agree to the conditions attached to it. I can’t later say, “I didn’t know it said that.” I agreed, I must do. I’m bound by contract.

    Part of defending the Constitution would be to refuse to deploy to military bases where we have no business being or getting involved in unconstitutional wars. I find it a little difficult to say that I support our troops when they are doing something illegal. You can’t blame it on the leaders. The Nuremberg defense doesn’t hold, in my opinion. They volunteered to do what they are doing and by gosh, they need to be honorable in their oaths to those who are paying their salaries.

  7. Mike
    November 27, 2009 at 9:13 pm #

    Jay, I agree with you. I’ll just go out on a limb here and say that most likely the majority of those currently in the ranks of the United States Military have not read the Constitution. Sadly, the same can probably be said about those currently in the ranks of the United States Government.

  8. TruthSeeker
    November 27, 2009 at 10:05 pm #

    For those who are interested in these kinds of debates, I quote below a comment that the author of the Pure Mormonism: blog recently posted in the comment section there.

    It’s unfortunate that some people shut their eyes and cover their ears when faced with hard evidence that they may be advocating positions contrary to God’s will and destructive to the Saints.

    As evidence of what a powerful effect Connor’s piece (linked above) can have on a person bogged down by his own fixed beliefs, the following may be of interest.

    After reading “How I Support The Troops” at the blog “Connor’s Conundrums”, I left a brief comment on S.Faux’s blog, “Mormon Insights” linking to Connor’s article and simply asking him if he found anything therein he disagreed with.

    Readers may recall Brother Faux was the first to leave a comment in this section above, inviting my readers to go to his blog and read his dissenting essay. I did so and left what I believed to be a polite critique of his understanding of the early Mormon history of taking up arms.

    Since S.Faux claims to support the military, today I felt we might finally reach some area of agreement on that topic if he looked at Connor’s piece and told me what he thought.

    Upon checking back, however, I found that he had deleted my query and replaced it with a curt statement that the debate was over. Subsequently, he has disabled comments on his blog.

    That’s a strange reaction from someone who is convinced he’s in the right.

    Connie believes that Faux deleted the link I left to “How I Support The Troops” out of fear that his readers -including many in the military- may click on it and come to the conclusion that “Supporting the Troops” might actually consist of something different than the religion of death Faux frequently advocates on his site.

    In light of what I’ve read, I think Connie may be right.

    Like I said, Connor’s argument for the proper support of our brethren is powerful. Too powerful, perhaps, for those who hide from the light.

    Again, you can find it here:

    http://www.connorboyack.com/blog/

    You can read the dialogue between S.Faux and me at Mormon Insights here:

    https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=6879358639471220898&postID=936188246731516185

    I hate to see Mormons take the side of darkness and believe they are doing good. The reason I’m re-posting this here is to throw down the gauntlet. I agree with Rock Waterman at Pure Mormonism. I challenge the author of “Mormon Insights” to stop hiding and tell us what he thinks of How I Support The Troops. He keeps telling us how much he loves the military on his blog, but he wouldn’t explain how sending them to die for nothing supports anyone. His reasoning is that he comes from a family of soldiers. Well, who doesn’t?

  9. Dave P.
    November 28, 2009 at 2:41 pm #

    Mike, they’ve most likely read it. They just love to use the “Constitution is a living document” argument to twist anything it says to fit their agenda.

    What they haven’t read is Article V, which outlines the Amendment process. That’s the only way that it’s a “living” document because it can be changed, but only by a process that is set in stone.

  10. Quincy
    November 29, 2009 at 8:41 pm #

    I’m surprised by the earlier comments. Kelly thinks the troops are “corrupt” and “brainwashed.” Jay thinks they are oath-breakers and—judging from the reference to Nuremburg—maybe even as culpable as Nazi political and military leaders. Mike thinks they don’t really care about their oath. And Dave thinks they are sophisticated, closet-lawyers who rationalize their conduct by appeals to leftist constitutional theory.

    Wow! Those are some pretty serious accusations.

    I’ve spent a great deal of time with members of the military. Like people in every other profession, they come in all varieties, but are essentially good people. And I think it’s more than a little ridiculous to expect them to resign or disobey when they are deployed to wars that contradict the conservative or libertarian constitutional paradigm. To demand that they do so is a simple failure to understand the scope of a military member’s role.

    Members of the military do indeed take an oath to, “support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” but this does not give them a special right or duty to become constitutional interpreters in their role as military members. In fact the only reason that the Constitution is mentioned at all is because the founders didn’t want to follow the European tradition of requiring military members to swear fealty to the monarch. In fact, a subsequent phrase in the oath of enlistment reads, “I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” Notice, the only qualifier on the soldier’s absolute duty to obey is that the solider is required to obey only those orders that comply with “regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” Certainly, if the soldier—as a solider—was oath bound to second-guess legislative and executive decisions, the oath would have also excused solders from obeying orders that contradicted the soldier’s understanding of the Constitution.

    So, since a military member’s oath clearly doesn’t create a special duty of constitutional interpretation, perhaps the simply duty of every American citizen to support constitutional laws requires military members to resign when they think their government is engaged in unconstitutional war? I don’t believe so, and I believe that people who take such a position are inconsistent and probably hypocritical. Such a position would require police officers to refuse to enforce laws that contradict their understanding of the constitution; doctors to refuse to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients; medical personnel to refuse to work in hospital emergency rooms that receive government funds; school teachers to refuse to teach in the public school system; citizens to boycott government funded public schools, recreation centers, art museums, utility services, highways, dams, airports, and any business that benefitted from the unconstitutional use of eminent domain (all the big-box stores fall into this category, and most chain stores as well).

    My point is that the decision about the constitutionality of a war or law is made by the legislative—and occasionally the judicial—branches. Once that decision is made, it becomes the duty of the executive branch—which includes the military—to carry it out. If the voting public doesn’t like it then they can change their leadership and set a new course. It isn’t the duty of the military to hijack the process by refusing to carry out its orders. Nor is it wrong for someone who recognizes that the government often engages in unconstitutional wars to serve in the military. Or at least, it is no more wrong than it is for a citizen to do business with any of the many many other unconstitutional manifestations of government power.

    Alexander Doniphan’s refusal to execute Mormon Church leaders is not at all relevant here. He refused to execute those men because it was “cold-blooded murder,” not because it was unconstitutional. A general serving today would have also refused that order because it contradicts the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

    Finally, if you are reading this blog post, you are taking advantage of the arguably unconstitutional use of eminent domain to take land for the telephone and cable lines which form the backbone of the internet, and you are also taking advantage of an arguably unconstitutional agency called DARPA (a defense department agency) which developed ARPANET—the predecessor of the internet itself.

    So, accusations of Nazism, oath-breaking, corruption, brainwashing, and so on are a little extreme don’t you think?

  11. Kelly W.
    November 29, 2009 at 10:43 pm #

    Quincy says:

    “So, accusations of Nazism, oath-breaking, corruption, brainwashing, and so on are a little extreme don’t you think?”

    Well, I don’t think so, I think Quincy is rationalizing and is a little brainwashed himself.

  12. Jay
    November 30, 2009 at 12:19 am #

    Yes, Quincy used a lot of words to justify abuse and deterioration of the Constitution. It’s not rocket science. The declaration of war is not the right of a president and even a child can read the Constitution and understand that.

  13. Mike
    November 30, 2009 at 7:22 am #

    Quincy,

    I felt like you pulled a MSNBC, at least with regards to my comment. I re-read it just in case I had, in fact, said that I felt our service members, under which category I fall, didn’t care about their oaths. Lo and behold, I didn’t say that. I simply said that I feel – and that is in large measure based on what I have observed first hand – that most members of the military have not not read the Constitution nor understand its meaning. This says nothing about their character.

  14. Quincy
    November 30, 2009 at 9:53 am #

    Mike,

    I apologize for lumping you in with those who want to blame individual members of the military for what they consider unconstitutional wars. I suppose that I wrongly applied the principle that words take meaning from the soil in which they are planted.

    Kelly and Jay,

    Your comments and ad hominem attacks don’t move the discussion forward. It would be more helpful if you engaged my arguments and tried to show why you think it is appropriate to hold the troops responsible for what you conclude are unconstitutional decisions.

  15. Kelly W.
    November 30, 2009 at 10:19 am #

    Quincy, yep, my comment was ad hominem. But I based my comment on what I have perceived in conversations with other military personel. All, with the exception of my neighbor who left the military because he saw through the lies, have displayed ignorance when it comes to facts.

    Example: Most I’ve talked with have claimed that we found all of Saddam’s WMDs. They claim their killing in Iraq is justified because the WTC was hit by jets.

    These false claims by military prove to me that they have been brainwashed. No matter what I say to them they are unswayed.

    Therefore, I was short to you with my ad hominem attack. I figured such an attack at someone who rationalizes the truth was probably a waste of time, but perhaps I misjudged you.

  16. Jay
    November 30, 2009 at 10:33 am #

    When did we declare war in either Iraq or Afghanistan?

    Is that an ad hominem attack?

  17. Quincy
    November 30, 2009 at 10:51 am #

    Kelly and Jay,

    The question here isn’t whether the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are unconstitutional. The question is whether the troops should be held specially responsible for that. That is where I disagree with you; I don’t think they should be held responsible for that because it isn’t their role. I think you are being wildly inconsistent when you excoriate the troops for continuing to serve in the military unless you also agree to boycott public schools, state universities, any business that benefits from the use of eminent domain, and in short, any other entity that benefits from the unconstitutional use of government power.

  18. Connor
    November 30, 2009 at 10:55 am #

    Eminent domain is constitutional. (I may disagree with it in the vast majority of instances, but it’s constitutional nonetheless.)

  19. Quincy
    November 30, 2009 at 12:39 pm #

    Connor,

    There is an important difference between eminent domain for “public use” and the abuses of eminent domain that I referred to in my previous comment. The Constitution permits eminent domain for “public use,” but certainly does not permit it to advance private business interests.

    State and local governments frequently take land from one private citizen and transfer it to another private citizen (usually a large corporation with political power), and they justify this by claiming that the forced transfer will create more jobs, beautify the neighborhood, or provide some other public benefit. I believe this violates federal constitutional protections.

    True, this flexible variety of eminent domain was approved by the Supreme Court in the 2005 Kelo decision, but I am one of those obstinate people who rejects the position that the Constitution simply means whatever the Supreme Court says it means.

    Constitutional protections of property rights would be weak indeed if government could take or transfer property that they thought was not being used in the most economically efficient manner–as in Kelo. From what I know of American history, I don’t believe that the writers and ratifiers of the Constitution intended the Fifth Amendment to grant such expansive power. That is why they limited that power by including the requirement that eminent domain be used only for “public use.”

    So, while I agree that the Constitution does allow eminent domain in very limited circumstances, when eminent domain is used to take land for the benefit of businesses rather than for public use it is unconstitutional. It is this abuse of eminent domain that I alluded to in my comment above.

  20. Julien
    November 30, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    quincy, i agree with you on the eminent domain issue. today’s interpretation is simply based on the idea that the more tax revenue that flows in (i.e. from giving an underused spot on the riverbanks to a big hotel or corporation that will build fancy condos and convention centers), the better off the public. This seeming logic suggests that tax revenues (in the form of reduced property taxes, etc) will flow through to individuals at the local level.

    I find the logic appalling and only one more example of the level of corruption our nation (not just government) has achieved. Anything for the sake of the almighty dollar and, especially, anything which increases the local tax base.

  21. Morgan Deane
    November 30, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

    God Bless you Quincy. I appreciate and agree with much of your statement. I was appalled to read the first few comments. With the kind of “support” that compares me to Nazis, implies I am stupid and don’t know the constitution, and suggests that I am “brainwashed” who needs an enemy?

    To answer the OP. Its pretty tough to feel like you “support” me when you don’t support the mission for which I trained and many of my brothers deployed. My fellow soldiers would tell me sarcasticlly every time somebody said what you did: “Well great, you support me but you think I just wasted the last year of my life. Thanks, I really feel supported now.” In short, I sense a disconnect when you don’t support a soldier’s mission but then claim you still support him. Well if you don’t wish them support their mission what do you wish hope for them? They are already there, and your political activities that try to end war appear to many soldiers and to the enemy as comfort for the latter. Wishing them safety while degrading their ( or their government’s) motives is incredibly demoralizing to say the least. When a Bin Laden videos echo the same rhetoric as the leading war opponents many soldiers are left stratching their heads at all the “support” they are getting in completing their mission.

    These opinions are certainly subjective and I don’t mean them in a way to imply that you are treasonus. I did want to let you know what how many service members feel when they hear such things as “I support the troops but not the war”. In short: many hear that and feel that you wish them failure. Again, this is not meant to start a long debate over the wars, but to give you a window into what many military members think and feel.

  22. Jay
    November 30, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    Quincy, of course that is relevant, whether or not the wars are unconstitutional. The soldiers are not responsible for the war, but they volunteered to do what they are doing and they took an oath to defend the Constitution. How is that not relevant? That’s like saying that if I did something unethical at work because my boss told me to, then I’m not responsible. No, I’m ad adult. It’s my responsibility.

    And even if you want to take out of the equation, those who were already in the military, how can you extend that to those who joined the military after we entered the wars, knowing that they would likely be deployed? There were choices to be made and oaths that were taken. How are they not responsible for that?

  23. Connor
    November 30, 2009 at 4:24 pm #

    Morgan, your entire argument falls apart with the following rebuttal:

    Imagine yourself as a commissioned officer in the Royal Navy under King George, fighting the rebel colonists in 1781. Now imagine using your same words above to defend “supporting the troops” by likewise “support[ing] the mission for which [you] trained and many of [your] brothers deployed”.

    Oopsies.

  24. Quincy
    November 30, 2009 at 4:36 pm #

    Jay,

    Did you take the time to read my first comment about the significance of the phrase “support and defend the Constitution of the United States”? The oath of enlistment does not give soldiers a right or duty to assert their own interpretation of the Constitution. Certainly soldiers have the same duty that every American citizen has to make thoughtful decisions about good government, but they have no special duty of constitutional interpretation due to their oath.

    Furthermore, I think that your analogy to unethical behavior at work is misleading. There is a meaningful difference between a decision to violate professional ethical standards and a decision to serve in the armed forces when there is a likelihood that the political branches of government may employ you in an arguably unconstitutional manner.

    In your opinion should the military be abolished until the country comes around to your position on constitutional war? That would be the result if military members were to take your kind seriously.

    Lastly, you haven’t addressed my point that your wish to blame individuals in the military for what you think are unconstitutional wars is inconsistent unless you also blame police officers for enforcing unconstitutional laws, blame every parent who sends their children to arguably unconstitutional public schools, blame every person who transacts with businesses that benefit from unconstitutional eminent domain, and so on.

  25. Jay
    November 30, 2009 at 5:35 pm #

    Of course I read your first message in its entirety.

    “The oath of enlistment does not give soldiers a right or duty to assert their own interpretation of the Constitution.”

    I don’t necessarily agree with that. First of all, I believe it everyone’s responsibility to study and make their own interpretation of the Constitution. How they will carry out that interpretation is a personal matter. Whether it is in agreement with the courts or not is a different matter. But that is totally beside the point. How do you interpret “Congress shall have the power . . . to declare war”? Is that something that takes a college education to understand? Do you honestly believe that every, or even most, who enlist even consider whether or not the wars that they are agreeing to fight in are constitutional? I doubt it.

    “In your opinion should the military be abolished until the country comes around to your position on constitutional war? That would be the result if military members were to take your kind seriously.”

    Heaven’s no. We need a standing military for our defense. But that isn’t what our military is primarily about.

    “Lastly, you haven’t addressed my point that your wish to blame individuals in the military for what you think are unconstitutional wars is inconsistent unless you also blame police officers for enforcing unconstitutional laws, blame every parent who sends their children to arguably unconstitutional public schools, blame every person who transacts with businesses that benefit from unconstitutional eminent domain, and so on.”

    Good point. I do blame them the same.

  26. Kelly W.
    November 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm #

    We need an army for defense?

    Our Military budget is larger than all other countries’ on the face of the earth combined. That is NOT defense. That is offense and seeking for domination and empire. This is NOT keeping with what the Gospel teaches us scripturally.

    Therefore, I wish to go on record saying that I do NOT support our troops because they are actively engaged in offense and empire seeking and domination under the false guise of “patriotism” (through a brainwashing process which has given them a skewed sense of reality).

    Even Mormon refused to lead his troops when they got to that point.

  27. Jay
    November 30, 2009 at 6:47 pm #

    Kelly, was that comment made to me? If so, then you misunderstood what I said. I believe that a military is necessary for defense, but what we are doing with our military is not defense. IOW, I agree totally with you including your non-support of the troops. Unless you are saying that we need no military and no provisions for defense. But I don’t think that is what you are saying and I don’t think you understood what I was saying.

  28. Morgan Deane
    November 30, 2009 at 7:05 pm #

    Connor, your analogy is rather superficial and unhelpful because I don’t know what I am supposed to be in it. Am I a British subject living in England? I am a fisherman from New England? Am I a tobacco farmer from North Carolina or a squatter from what will be Kentucky? In every case I would react differently to the principles declared in the DofI and have a different opinion of each sides army. What would probably be the same however, is my belief that I can’t support a side while opposing the mission of their troops. I could oppose war in a general sense, but would still hope my “side” wins, and support that effort.

    If I were a loyalist and tried your support the troops but not the war position, I would love and support England and love the Redcoats but hope they fail to defeat George Washington and destroy the rebellion, but at the same time I wouldn’t want them to die because I still support them. I love the King but really don’t care if he (and my country) “win” this war, because winning will only encourage future unjust wars. So I love my country but hope they lose this war, while at the same time I support the instruments of that war (the soldiers). Huh?

    What I do know, is that If I opposed a nations’ war I would hope that the troops from that country FAIL in their goals. Of course being a good person, I would hope that they don’t die, just that their (or even my) government gives up and quits. In order to do that however, they will probably need to face battlefield defeats combined with political pressure at home. In any case I would not try to pretend that I support the troops while hoping aand maybe even working for their defeat. My baseline concern for the suffering of any human and any soldier would not really qualify as “supporting” them.

    I don’t care for an extended back and forth I simply wanted to share the soldiers take on your position, and why your position seems logically untenable. In short, after reading your post I found no indication that you actually suport me and my brothers in winning, you simply tried to justify how patriotic you supposedly are by hoping for failure in prosecuting this unjust war.

    If you want to oppose the war, thats okay. But do so in a straightforward manner; proudly proclaim that these wars are evil and the soldiers who DO NOT refuse to serve are complicit in the prosecution of them. At least then we can stop the pretense that you can have it both ways, wrapping yourself in the flag while condemning it.

  29. Kelly W.
    November 30, 2009 at 7:07 pm #

    Jay, apologies. It was not directed at YOU specifically, but was intended as a statement of MY OWN PERSONAL BELIEF. I am more than happy to give any poster of this thread their personal belief. In fact, I welcome all the posts because it allows me to consider my own personal beliefs and see if they correspond or counter everyone else’s beliefs. If I offended, it was not my intent. My intent was to state my thoughts as they apply to the subject that was being discussed.

    Actually, I could agree with the view of a military for the intent of defense only. But, that is NOT what the USA is about.

    Actually, my comment was directed as much at Connor as anyone. Connor’s post is intended to proclaim that he is against the wars but for the troops.

  30. Morgan Deane
    November 30, 2009 at 7:19 pm #

    Sorry Connor, I misread part of your analogy. Being a British soldier I would probably have no problem shooting at rebels. The rest of my response still applies. Any British subject that did not wish for me to defeat the traitors would not be supporting me. I would rather they proudly proclaim their opposition to me instead of having both ways.

    Thats why I appreciated Kelly’s candor. If I understood her correctly, she opposes the war and anybody prosecuting it. Thats a straightforward and easy position to understand.

  31. Jay
    November 30, 2009 at 7:33 pm #

    Kelly,

    No offense taken. I just wanted to be sure you understood where I stand. I’m pretty much in agreement with you. I think that Connor’s point was that his support of the military is about bringing them home, not propagating the war in which they fight. In that, I support the troops. But that isn’t so much about supporting them as supporting the cause for which I believe and that is that our military should be about defense, not wars of aggression of imperialism, or globalization.

    I am always bothered when the troops are paraded about as our heroes who are fighting for our freedoms. I’ve got a lot of close family members who serve in the military and they don’t appreciate my feelings about what they do, but I make no apologies for my position.

  32. Jeff T.
    November 30, 2009 at 7:59 pm #

    Morgan,

    In this hypothetical scenario, are you saying that you would be willingly be King George’s pawn in an unrighteous war, and kill other human beings who are fighting for a righteous cause, merely because you once pledged yourself into King George’s service? I think integrity implies much more than keeping commitments… it also entails breaking them when God and good moral sense demands it.

    I think it is a form of pride for one to place one’s commitment to man above one’s commitment to God. God is a jealous God. To use “integrity” to excuse one’s compliance with unrighteous, even murderous campaigns is to simply mask an underlying lack of integrity… using a so-called “virtue” to excuse taking the easier path of fewer personal consequences. It is simply cloaking murder in the guise of virtue.

  33. Quincy
    November 30, 2009 at 8:25 pm #

    Reality is more nuanced than the hard line support or hard line opposition that some of you are advocating. I oppose unconstitutional war, yet I support the troops. And I experience no cognitive dissonance from simultaneously advocating these two positions.

    I oppose unconstitutional war because it breaks down the checks and balances that are so essential to the restraint of government power. I oppose unconstitutional war because it allows politicians to avoid responsibility for their actions or inaction. I oppose unconstitutional war because it allows for the growth of massive war industries that bleed out the wealth of American taxpayers. I oppose unconstitutional war because it allows our political leaders to wield unchecked a terrible influence over other nations thereby planting the seeds of hatred and terror against the United States that will be reaped by future generations.

    Nevertheless, I support the troops because they face hell in the service of this country. Whether this country is right in sending them there is irrelevant to the value of our soldiers’ sacrifice; the soldiers are there because America sent them there. I support the troops because for the rest of their lives they must bear the psychological, spiritual, and physical wounds that they suffer in war. After living in a place where strength, vigilance, ferocity, and aggression are essential for survival, they must come back here and learn again to submit to the decisions of pen-pushing bureaucrats who can barely make it up the stairs to their large plush office chairs. I support the troops because no matter how often they are sent away to fight for unjust causes, they still stand ready to fight in the heroic and just cause of defending this country from all enemies foreign and domestic. They volunteer to place their bodies and minds in the path of threatened violence so that America can be safe.

    Any person who condemns the troops because they don’t turn themselves into unemployed federal fugitives when they are sent to fight an unconstitutional war is blatantly hypocritical unless that person is himself engaged in constant civil disobedience against unconstitutional laws and strictly boycotts any organization or entity that receives unconstitutional federal funds.

    I oppose unconstitutional war, but I support the troops.

  34. Jay
    November 30, 2009 at 8:32 pm #

    Nevertheless, I support the troops because they face hell in the service of this country.

    For starters, it was their choice to be in hell. Secondly, they aren’t serving the country. They are serving the warlords who run this country.

    Any person who condemns the troops because they don’t turn themselves into unemployed federal fugitives when they are sent to fight an unconstitutional war is blatantly hypocritical unless that person is himself engaged in constant civil disobedience against unconstitutional laws and strictly boycotts any organization or entity that receives unconstitutional federal funds.

    To the extent possible, that would pretty closely describe me. I’m quite disobedient when it comes to unconstitutional laws and I’ve sometimes paid a pretty serious price for it, but it’s what I do.

  35. Morgan Deane
    November 30, 2009 at 8:47 pm #

    Jeff don’t bend yourself into knots over a hypothetical scenario. I don’t know how I would feel, because I was raised in the 20th century, not the 18th. Who were my parents in this scenario? How educated was I? What religion was I raised as? Where did I grow up? I’m not so inclined to believe that I would be the same person if you changed every variable in this mortal life that makes me me. I simply ran with the scenario to show the mental gymnastics required to somehow support troops while opposing the war in which they fight.

    In case you forgot, George Washington was the lawbreaker in this scenario, and many colonists loyal to the British crown lost their lives and property for HONORING their covenants. The righteousness of the war for either side, let alone every soldiers decision in that war, are far more complicated than the simple black and white dichotomy that you seem to apply.

    In my life, I have carefully examined the many demands that the military may place on me, these include the potential that I have to kill, and the possibility that I may face unlawful orders. Despite the decision I made, I can stand before cleanly before God after being an honorable and obedient soldier (along with the numerous Apostles that have served as well). I would say that I am a better husband, father, and Latter Day Saint because of my military service, not in spite of it. I am proud to have served and supported the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve had many long and fruitless debates about the Wars so I will not repeat my reasoning here.

    The rest of your post describing how my lack integrity or fake “virture” condones murder and imperialism is incredibly insulting and doesn’t merit a response. I hope I just misunderstood you, and you were simply discussing the very complex nature of war time morality.

  36. Morgan Deane
    November 30, 2009 at 8:57 pm #

    Quincy: Where is the unconstitutinality of this war? The President sought and recieved authorization from Congress for military action according the the War Powers Act of 1973. And you seem to ignore that as Commander and Chief, and due to established precedent, he has far ranging authority to use force without explicit congressional approval. In fact, the War Powers Act gives the President 100 days of military action before he must report to Congress. This allows him to quickly deposit troops to protect embassy personal in the time of a crisis and other types of action that require imediate responses.

    This is one reason why the country has an executive- because some situations, such as a nuclear crisis, rebellion, or a strike in a pivotal industry during wartime, require one decision maker who can act immediately backed up by military force. I don’t have my research handy, but this kind of flexibility with the application of force was expressly intended by the Founding Fathers, and needed even more in a post World War II environment.

  37. Jim Davis
    November 30, 2009 at 9:34 pm #

    Well put Quincy. Your last post was very logical and ethical.

    I can honestly say I care about our soldiers. This is one of many good reasons I want them to be used for just causes (defensive purposes). I don’t want them to be used for these unjust/aggressive purposes that they have been used.

    Morgan, in your opinion, if I profess to care about the troops should this mean that I turn a blind eye to any and all unjust missions in order for my support to be true?

    In my mind, not being able to compute the idea that a person can “support” the troops but not support their mission might be like someone not being able to compute the idea that we can love a sinner but hate their sins (I’m not implying that military personnel are sinners for enlisting).

  38. Jay
    November 30, 2009 at 9:40 pm #

    The War Powers Act cannot trump the Constitution and many parts of the War Powers Act are unconstitutional.

  39. Jeff T.
    November 30, 2009 at 9:56 pm #

    Morgan,

    Yes, I was talking about wartime morality in general, not about you per se.

    And no, I haven’t forgotten that George Washington was a lawbreaker. That is my point. He broke the laws of King George because that is what his integrity demanded that he do. His integrity and loyalty to principle demanded that he not simply stand back, complicit in King George’s power grab.

    Sometimes integrity demands that we break promises. And sometimes keeping promises (especially if they require that we participate as pawns in a murderous campaign) violates principle and integrity.

  40. Quincy
    December 1, 2009 at 8:57 am #

    Even if the War Powers Resolution is constitutional—a debatable claim—the War Powers Resolution of 1973 was enacted to prevent the president from usurping Congress’ authority to control the nation’s entry into war.

    It is the purpose of this joint resolution to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgment of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities. (50 USCS § 1541)

    This makes it especially ironic that advocates of the extended undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cite to the War Powers Resolution for legal justification.

    The War Powers Resolution grants the President the power—subject to reporting requirements—to deploy troops in response to an emergency for a maximum of 60 days; Congress can extend that 60 day period for 30 more days, but that is all. If Congress does not declare war within that 90 day period then the President must bring the troops home.

    Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.

    50 USCS § 1544(b)(emphasis added).

    So without a congressional declaration of war, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan not only violate the Constitution, but also the War Powers Resolution.

    In any further discussion, I think it might be helpful if we are careful to differentiate between unconstitutional war, unjust or immoral war, and illegal war. Unconstitutional war is—unsurprisingly—any war that violates the balance of power articulated in the Constitution. Unjust or immoral war is any war that—although entered into in the way that the Constitution requires—contradicts moral requirements for the use of military force. And, illegal war is any war that violates either international or domestic law governing the use of military force.

  41. Jay
    December 1, 2009 at 9:25 am #

    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are illegal, immoral and unconstitutional.

  42. rachel
    December 1, 2009 at 11:07 am #

    I have a nephew who was born to be a soldier. HIs mother had a vision when he was four and saw him in uniform. He has always been fascinated and preoccupied by military games, movies, toys, etc.

    That said, he is now an army gunner in one of the most active parts of Afghanistan, right over the mountains from Pakistan. His parents are beside themselves with concern for his life, and the only thing that keeps them from going crazy with worry is the peace they gain from prayer and faith.

    I disagree wholeheartedly with the war. I think my nephew is following orders because he signed on and that is what’s expected of him and also because of what he has always been taught about our military. His parents take the position that their son is on some sort of “mission,” and they have gone so far as to say that their son is out there destroying evil men and “bringing the world His truth,” quoting from the primary song about the Army of Helaman. When I read that in one of their emails, my stomach turned. My nephew was counting the men he had killed, calling them “notches,” until one particularly bad firefight where he lost count. I found myself thinking, aren’t those “notches” children of God like we are, and loved by him? It seems very contradictory to say that the military is bringing the world His truth, considering the fact that He is the Prince of Peace. Doesn’t jive with me.

    I support my nephew because I love him. I don’t agree with the things he is doing, but I feel that it is a very unfortunate situation with some ignorance involved. We pray in our Sunday services and thank God for our troops who are fighting for us and protecting our freedom, and we all feel that lump in our throats when we see the flag or hear the national anthem. I think we have been taught for so long that those who fight in our military are noble, that we can’t see that our leadership has been twisted and turned to a very wrong agenda. Remember the Paul H. Dunn days of thrilling and faith-promoting military stories? Boyd K. Packer also often tells of his days in the air force.

    I don’t say anything to my nephew’s parents because it would only create a rift. I think it comforts them to think that their son is sacrificing for something right and good, so I won’t try to take that from them. They wouldn’t listen anyway. I pity the troops for the pawns that they are.

  43. rachel
    December 1, 2009 at 11:18 am #

    By the way, this reminds me of President Obama’s recent address to school age children. I read it with a scrutinizing eye and found several things that, although subtle, were concerning. One of those things was that when he listed all the careers they could grow up to pursue if they worked hard in school, one of the things he mentioned was “a soldier in our military.” If I remember correctly, he also mentioned being a doctor and finding a cure for aids and being a scientist that solved climate change. Propaganda at its best. Back in the day, the list was more like” veterinarian, astronaut, chef, zookeeper, and homemaker.” I think the President, as part of the combination, plants every seed he can.

  44. Morgan Deane
    December 1, 2009 at 12:37 pm #

    Jeff and Quincy: Thanks for clarifying your respective positions. I still disagree with you about the Constitutionality of the wars Quincy. But that is based on precedent in the two hundred years since it was written, and not so much on a strict interpretation of it. I can go over this more, but I would have to find the files from my crashed computer. Send me a message if you care.

    Jim Davis: I appreciate your question. I don’t feel supported in the least when many back home are calling this war “immoral, unjust, unconsitutional” and imply that I am antithesis of what Christ taught because I participate in a war. So I don’t believe you can support me if you feel my mission is unjust (outside of a general concern for my life).

    Napoleon once called his soldiers the “instrument of his policy”, and Clausewitz said that “war is a continuation of policy by other means”. So policy of the leaders are connected to the soldiers that implement them. Yet you love and support one, even after they willingly signed up to support the other.

    I look at the news and see leading politicans repeat things I’ve heard Bin Laden say, such as soldiers that are cold blooded murdurers, we are the terrorists, we can’t use the Nuremburg defenese(for the war crimes we are committing I assume), our country is waging an unjust, illegal and immoral war, we are pawns of evil men etc. As I said the first time I posted, with “supporters” saying those kind of things about me, who needs an enemy?

    I find these arguments against war seem to ignore a large part of scripture. For instance, Jesus is the Prince of Peace but he is also the man seen sending plagues, fire, against horsemen of death against large segments of the population. Before he came to the Nephites he decimated entire cities with divine acts arguably far worse than Napalm. In preaching the gospel, Christ said he brought division and the sword. And I haven’t even mentioned the Old Testament yet!!! Don’t mistake me, I am not arguing for unbridled war from a selective reading of the scriptures. I am saying that some of you are selectively editing the scriptures (as the other side can do as well) to create a false sense of scriptoral support for your position.

    Again, I am a better person for having joined the military and its not brainwashing children to cite that as an honorable profession.

  45. Clumpy
    December 1, 2009 at 12:38 pm #

    Rachel, I’m not sure how mentioning a doctor curing AIDS is propagandistic. I seem to recall that the favorite career list when I was a kid was something like “astronaut, police officer, firefighter or veterinarian,” a list nearly entirely populated with public servants :).

  46. Jay
    December 1, 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    Being in the military can be honorable, but that isn’t where the brainwashing is taking place. Brainwashing is when we tell our children that those who are in Afghanistan and Iraq are fighting for our rights and freedoms, and that they are our heroes. Brainwashing comes from teaching our children that serving in the military is good, even when the cause isn’t. Brainwashing comes from taking our kids to 4th of July shows where the servicemen are honored for defending our country. That gives our children a skewed picture of what patriotism is. Honorable military service comes through defending our country, our lives, our freedoms. That isn’t what the current wars are about.

  47. Kelly W.
    December 1, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    Jay, your comment is very insightful, and very true I’m afraid.

    Rachel, thanks for your insight about the nephew. I appreciated your comment about pitying the troops.

    I stated that I do NOT support the troops, but I do pity them in the same sense you do.

  48. carissa
    December 1, 2009 at 9:22 pm #

    Connor, this is a good post- very reflective of how I feel. “Supporting the troops” shouldn’t include blind acceptance of whatever campaigns our politicians happen to involve them in.

    To those who condemn the troops for serving during unconstitutional, illegal, or immoral wars, I would hope we could back off from that a bit and allow God to judge their hearts while we do all we can to change policies from their source.

    The military serves an important and necessary role here at home. They are involved in many other things besides overseas deployments. Quitting the service when one disagrees with the current policies may be the right thing for some to do. For others, it may not be. I don’t think it’s for us to judge. Let’s reserve our judgments for the decisions made in Washington, of which we should appropriately have a say in through our Representatives and our votes. THAT’S where our focus should be, in my opinion.

    “God will work out in His own due time and in His own sovereign way the justice and right of the conflict, but He will not hold the innocent instrumentalities of the war, our brethren in arms, responsible for the conflict”First Presidency Message Apr. 1942

    Now the qualifier “innocent” is used here, but again, I think that judgment should be left to God in most cases.

  49. Jay
    December 1, 2009 at 11:05 pm #

    I’m not judging them as evil or playing the role of God. That is not what this is about. I’m placing some of the responsibility where it squarely goes. What some here seem to be saying is that there are two conflicting laws that the servicemen have to choose between–that of obeying their superiors or defending the Constitution. I’d say that since the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and all judges are bound by it, then the proper response of a serviceman is to defy orders to do something that is illegal and unconstitutional.

    The statement you gave was from 1942. WWII was a declared war. It was legal. And many, like my father, were illegally drafted. I don’t hold him responsible. He had two choices–go to war or go to jail. He chose the first because he had a wife and a young son and wanted to be with them when he time of duty was over. He is not proud of being in the war. He said it was hell. He never talks about WWII. I’ve never seen a uniform or a single medal or one iota of WWII paraphernalia from him. My dad turned 90 a couple of years ago. On his birthday, we threw a big celebration. A man the VFW was there to present my dad an honorary medal. After the party was over, I never saw it again. I suppose it was tucked away in a drawer or perhaps discarded.

  50. Quincy
    December 2, 2009 at 8:51 am #

    Jay,

    I think you are missing an important piece of information. The Constitution was created to restrict government, not individuals. Therefore, unless an individual is a government servant and has discretion in that role to make decisions about what the government will do, then that individual is not bound by the Constitution at all.

    On a side note, Moroni used the draft. The choice he offered was go to war or die:

    Alma 51:15, 20

    Just throwing that out there.

  51. carissa
    December 2, 2009 at 9:10 am #

    The statement you gave was from 1942. WWII was a declared war. It was legal.

    And yet, we have President Hinckley saying basically the same thing a few years ago:

    “I believe that God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do”

    There is no draft today. The legal obligations to serve are entered into voluntarily. And yet this concept is reiterated.

    there are two conflicting laws that the servicemen have to choose between–that of obeying their superiors or defending the Constitution

    You see it as black and white and the choice is obvious (for you)
    but surely you realize that others may see things differently. Therefore, the “proper” thing for them to do varies based on their understanding and their intent.

    Do you really want to see our military devoid of all those who don’t agree with the nature of the current conflicts? Would you prefer that it only contain those without conscience, those who are unwilling to consider for themselves if what they are doing is right or wrong?

    How differently would things have been if those soldiers stationed at Abu Ghraib (and elsewhere) had the integrity and courage to defy any orders of torture or mistreatment? If you had your way (as I understand it), many of the “Alexander Doniphan” types would not exist within the military because they would either never enlist, or quit immediately. All we’d be left with is those who support the war unquestionably and perhaps blindly.

    I understand where you’re coming from Jay, I feel like I really do. I don’t think your position is entirely wrong. But it sounds like you want every decent, Constitution-loving person to get out of the military. And I just don’t think that’s prudent.

  52. carissa
    December 2, 2009 at 9:39 am #

    I want to add that perhaps it may be prudent some day. I am open to that possibility. I just don’t think that’s the case right now.

  53. Jim Davis
    December 2, 2009 at 11:55 am #

    Thank you Carissa for bringing some sense to this conversation. A few people here seem to be holding all military personnel accountable for the faulty policies of our government.

  54. Doug Bayless
    December 2, 2009 at 12:09 pm #

    Thanks Carissa for quoting President Hinckley’s feelings on a soldier’s accountability! I had to read all the way through the fifty comments looking for someone to remember that. It’s pretty important to me.

    I agree with Connor’s thoughts here and I strongly oppose our current wars. However they began — whatever well-intentioned ideals or people were involved — it is clear to me, at least, that there is no longer any justifiable, moral reasoning for our troops to still be in any foreign theatre of war.

    Nevertheless, I try to show genuine gratitude for any who are willing to put their lives on the line out there. I believe that by and large (and in huge disproportion to any other other type of soldiers) these are great men and women honestly trying to do the right thing. Sure, as in any organization, there are those ‘bad seeds’ who glory in the killing, etc. Part of that is simply due to actual ‘approved’ [immoral] military training (ie http://is.gd/5af3z) But, I don’t find any justification in dishonoring the rest of our nation’s brave soldiers due to those few.

    I don’t think it is very reasonable for most soldiers to refuse orders. Just for starters, most soldiers simply don’t have the resources to determine, for certain, what they should believe about our foreign policy. For the time of their enlistment, it seems reasonable that they fulfill their contract and try and trust orders.

    I do, however, have stronger concern about those of us under no such military obligation to ‘follow orders’ who don’t exercise our freedoms to investigate what is being done ‘in our name’, ‘with our taxes’, and — seemingly — with our complete approval. I’d like to see the citizenry help make military orders more trustworthy rather than simply expecting everything to fix itself.

    I was very grateful for President Hinckley’s comments at the outset of our Iraqi invasion (the same ones Carissa quoted). I try to keep them in mind when engaging in dialogue about our foreign policy:

    It is clear from these and other writings that there are times and circumstances when nations are justified, in fact have an obligation, to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat, and oppression.

    When all is said and done, we of this Church are people of peace. We are followers of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was the Prince of Peace. But even He said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34).

    This places us in the position of those who long for peace, who teach peace, who work for peace, but who also are citizens of nations and are subject to the laws of our governments. Furthermore, we are a freedom-loving people, committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy. I believe that God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do. It may even be that He will hold us responsible if we try to impede or hedge up the way of those who are involved in a contest with forces of evil and repression.

    Now, there is much that we can and must do in these perilous times. We can give our opinions on the merits of the situation as we see it, but never let us become a party to words or works of evil concerning our brothers and sisters in various nations on one side or the other. Political differences never justify hatred or ill will. I hope that the Lord’s people may be at peace one with another during times of trouble, regardless of what loyalties they may have to different governments or parties.

    Let us pray for those who are called upon to bear arms by their respective governments and plead for the protection of heaven upon them that they may return to their loved ones in safety.

    I find much of interest in those words (and the rest of the talk, as well as other talks he gave referencing the wars).

  55. carissa
    December 2, 2009 at 12:40 pm #

    Doug- you have always been a model of reason and compassion to me (although I’ve never met you) and I want you to know that. Thanks for your example.

  56. Jay
    December 2, 2009 at 1:49 pm #

    “I believe that God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do”

    The military oath contains an affirmation that the person will support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. It also contains an affirmation that the person will obey orders of the President of the United States as well as officers appointed over him/her. So how do you choose which of those two the person is legally obligated to do? He obviously cannot do both.

  57. Jonathan
    December 2, 2009 at 3:21 pm #

    Morgan,

    I appreciate your comments because of the context. You have first hand experience regarding military service, including serving overseas. Too many people use the “my friend/neighbor” scenarios.

    I also disagree with you. I certainly can support the troops without supporting their mission. I pray for their safety. My kids are preparing care packages to send to them this holiday season. I think about them often. If I see a man or woman in uniform I make a point of thanking them. To me, it means little if they’re a cook, mechanic, infantryman, medic, etc. I am simply grateful that they are willing to sacrifice and serve when so many of us are not willing to sacrifice our comfort or time in less dangerous or committed ways. Too often we take for granted our freedoms and are often ingratious toward those who protect them.

    I am not interested in flame wars about if the troops are in actuality protecting our freedoms. So if you’re working on one of those responses…save it. I have yet to meet an individual serving in our military that does not want to protect my freedom. I believe that is the most common motivator for people who enlist.

    Back to the topic. I have a non-military example. I have a brother who is gay. He uses alcohol and drugs. He views pornography. I do not agree with any of those activities, but I love and support my brother. I pray for his well being. I will help him out. I want him to be a part of our family and the activities we do together.

    Just because I do not agree with the activites he partakes in, does not mean that I do not support or love him.

    Just because I do not want our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, does not mean that I want them to fail or die. I don’t see how a serviceman would be offended by knowing the citizens at home want their soldiers home and safe with them.

  58. Jonathan
    December 2, 2009 at 3:29 pm #

    Rereading my post made me want to clarify that in saying, “So if you’re working on one of those responses…save it.” I was referring to readers in general, not Morgan. I think Morgan’s responses are appropriate, although I may disagree with him.

  59. Morgan Deane
    December 2, 2009 at 4:23 pm #

    Thanks for the comments Jonathon. I sincerely appreciate them.

  60. Mark
    December 2, 2009 at 8:34 pm #

    I love and support our troops. That is why I want to BRING THEM HOME. America has become an empire, not a Republic. No wonder so many around the world hate us. BRING THEM HOME.

    http://www.campaignforliberty.com

  61. Kelly W.
    December 3, 2009 at 9:05 am #

    Jonathan says:

    “I have a non-military example. I have a brother who is gay. He uses alcohol and drugs. He views pornography. I do not agree with any of those activities, but I love and support my brother.”

    His example does not work for me. When I say I DON’T support the troops, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love them as individuals, it means I don’t actively give them bullets and depleted uranium.

    I have no doubt Jonathan doesn’t love his brother. But I DO doubt that Jonathan supports his brother by giving him porn and drugs.

  62. carissa
    December 3, 2009 at 9:56 am #

    Kelly- will depriving our troops of weapons help end this conflict and bring them home? Or will it just increase their mortality rate?

  63. Jay
    December 3, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    Isn’t that like the same justification for handing out condoms in schools? Hey, they’re going to do it anyway, so we might as well make them safe . . .

  64. carissa
    December 3, 2009 at 10:11 am #

    So Jay, you would support this tactic during your father’s deployment?

  65. Jay
    December 3, 2009 at 10:33 am #

    My father was an employee of the federal government. He worked his whole life for the Department of Interior. I opposed it. I think it was wrong. The federal government has no business being involved in fish and wildlife management. I’m opposed to wrong, no matter who it is.

  66. carissa
    December 3, 2009 at 10:40 am #

    You didn’t answer my question. Knowing your father was overseas in the middle of a war, would you have chosen to deprive him and all those around him of all their weapons and leave them defenseless just because you disagreed with the war?

  67. Clumpy
    December 3, 2009 at 10:55 am #

    Kelly- will depriving our troops of weapons help end this conflict and bring them home? Or will it just increase their mortality rate?

    Agreed, naturally. First, the best way to “support the troops” as human beings is to keep them from being troops for as long as possible, out of danger. It does disgust me that we have a society where some people are forced to join a military to make ends meet – where is the logic there?

    The reason that we are told to “support the troops” is pretty simple: it’s code for “support any and all military action our superiors see fit to foist on us.” Play off of the human tendency to minimize small risks and kill however many hundred thousands of people under the guise of fighting terrorism, sure. But perpetual war for perpetual peace doesn’t support the troops – it puts them in danger and creates more enemies for them and their children and their grandchildren to fight in another convenient war down the line.

    But as long as they’re fighting I think it’s decent to do what the most self-righteous “patriotic” war-mongers rarely seem fit to do, even in this age of military spending sinkholes – give them the armor and weapons they need to stay safe, while still holding those accountable who use them in a criminal manner.

  68. carissa
    December 3, 2009 at 11:17 am #

    You know, one of the reasons I admire Ron Paul so much is because he doesn’t let his principles and ideals preclude his compassion for humanity.

    Our welfare state is wrong. No doubt about it. But he doesn’t seek to punish the masses (regardless of their ignorance or their willing compliance in using state assistance) by immediately shutting down all social programs. Mercy and reality seem to guide him in deciding how he would implement those ideals.

  69. Jay
    December 3, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    I agree with you about Ron Paul. But remember what he said in the debates about the war? We marched right in and we will march right out. It took years to build up our welfare state and I don’t think anyone in their right mind would cut off the food supply over night. The same goes with the war. I didn’t answer your question because it was an “either-or” question and neither was a viable option. I wouldn’t choose to cut off the support, but I also wouldn’t vote to send more. I would start by bringing home the troops as quickly and as safely as possible.

  70. carissa
    December 3, 2009 at 12:27 pm #

    I want them to “march right out” as soon as anyone. But seeing as how neither our president nor our congress plan on doing that, I don’t want their supplies cut off in the meantime. Thankfully, it seems as though I misunderstood your comments.

  71. Jay
    December 3, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    I hold congress responsible for much, if not most of what is going on, but to me, some of the responsibility still rests with the people who volunteered for the job. On one hand, I see them as victims. On the other hand, I wish we lived in the days of old when an a person would die before they would break their oath. Do you think it isn’t incumbent upon the troops to know what it is that they swear an oath to do?

    I hope you don’t take my words as personal or meaning to offend. Some of what I say is to play the devil’s advocate. Some of what I say is what I really feel. I like this place because most people here are pretty even tempered and debate in a civil way. If I ever get out of line in that respect, please tell me. I have no need to make enemies out of anyone.

  72. Kelly W.
    December 3, 2009 at 1:08 pm #

    A common thought seems to be among all – – support the “innocent” troops – – because they are children of God and we are Christians.

    If this be the case, how about “supporting” the innocent women and children that are being killed because of our military machine?

    I could not, in good conscience, support “our” troops, while not also supporting the innocent Afghanis and Iraqis.

  73. Jay
    December 3, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    Just like President Hinckley said . . . we should pray for the servicemen and women of all countries, which is what I do. Contrary to popular (Mormon) opinion, God is not an American.

  74. carissa
    December 3, 2009 at 2:11 pm #

    Ditto, Jay ;)

    Do you think it isn’t incumbent upon the troops to know what it is that they swear an oath to do?

    You asked something like this before and I apologize that I forgot to answer. You seem to see it as a black/white contradiction. That the oath to defend the Constitution = disobeying any orders to serve any overseas deployment (correct me if I’m wrong). Not everyone sees it that way. In fact, some think the best way to defend the Constitution, or our form of government, IS to fight the enemies that have openly avowed:

    “We declared jihad against the US government, because the US government is unjust, criminal and tyrannical.” Osama bin Laden
    CNN interview 1997

    So in many minds, fighting the terrorists is doing just that- defending our Constitution.

    Of course, people like you and I accept the truth in Bin Laden’s words. We are aware that our government has strayed far from what the Constitution allows. We suspect (or know) many of our leaders are doing criminal things and undermining our Constitution from within. We take these inside threats to our way of life much more seriously than the threats of the terrorists.

    Having said that, we still suffer from external threats. So we still need our military. And hopefully we can have a military that contains righteous individuals that have good judgment. We just need them to be used correctly- in my opinion that’s for a strong defense here at home and not for aggressive action around the world.

    As to placing some of the responsibility for the war upon the shoulders of the soldiers themselves, I understand your feeling. I know some members of the military who seem eager to kill (in a revengeful sort of way) and it makes me mad. I realize they are probably not seeing the whole picture but it still really bothers me. But then I know others who are some of the best people I’ve known and they have no desire to further the causes of this unjust conflict we are engaged in. Could they get out? I suppose so. It would not be easy and there would be punishment and sacrifice. But many of them feel the need to stay. I can’t explain it. But I would not condemn them for it. Everyone has his own destiny to follow and perhaps they can do some good in a bad situation. Does that justify the bad decisions of our politicians? Certainly not. That is why I still think we should be doing all we can to get our country out of this mess. But in the meantime, I know God knows their hearts and whether they deserve some of the blame or not. He’ll sort it all out someday.

    Kelly, you say:

    I could not, in good conscience, support “our” troops, while not also supporting the innocent Afghanis and Iraqis

    Well, I could not agree more with that. I loved it when Pres. Hinckley reminded us “There are other mothers, innocent civilians, who cling to their children with fear and look heavenward with desperate pleadings as the earth shakes beneath their feet and deadly rockets scream through the dark sky”. I especially feel for those who experience the fighting in their own lands- their own backyards. How difficult that would be. It truly makes my heart ache. I want it to be over for everyone. It’s all so unproductive and wasteful.

    And since this comment is already a novel, I wanted to add an example of how I mentioned Ron Paul’s compassion for and commitment to the troops guides his decisions.

    In 2005, he introduced legislation designed to postpone military base closures in the United States. He said, “We should not be shutting down domestic bases that provide critical support for our troops who are fighting in places like Iraq and Afghanistan”.

    No one could be said to be more against the wars than this man. And yet, he knows while they’re there, they deserve our support.

  75. Jay
    December 3, 2009 at 3:08 pm #

    Carissa, I understand more now where you are coming from and there’s nothing there that I disagree with. I think we’re getting a bit caught up in the semantics of what support means.

  76. rachel
    December 4, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    I’m a little late in responding to comment #45, and it is a little off-topic, but I see the President with a list of things kids can grow up to be, and the list is infused with controversial topics. He could have said “doctor,” but he said “a doctor that will cure AIDS. I realize that AIDS has affected more than just the gay populuation, but it is largely associated with homosexuality. I see his comments as playing into one of the current “hot topics,” that of gay rights and gay marriage. I personally think AIDs should be eradicated by those infected not being sexually active and not sharing needles and not donating blood. In addition, the mention of a scientist who will reverse climate change also plays into the current debate as to whether climate change is a real issue or not. And the mention of becoming a soldier was not qualified, but our government is currently using our military in wars that are not justified. SO….being a soldier, doctor, or scientist would be noble in the right context, but in my opinion, the president was subtly using those statements to the youth in a propagandist way. “Propaganda is a form of communication aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position.”

  77. Liz
    March 26, 2010 at 12:39 am #

    Oh great, you’re a subversive. A very talented one, nonetheless. I’ll bet your mother has gray hair over this one. I’m going to quit posting now because I’m going to be annoying here, I can tell, but I’ll definitely drop by to read your stuff. Well worth the time.

  78. Liz
    March 26, 2010 at 12:41 am #

    Remember, we are all enlisted ’til the conflict is o’er. Happy are we, happy are we.

    Support the Troops.

  79. oldmama
    March 26, 2010 at 8:52 am #

    this is a very interesting (and time-consuming) read, if all the posts/replies are read!

    I’m just glad to find Mormons willing to discuss this. I think I might be the only Ron Paul-type pro-life libertarian in our ward, and it gets lonely at times (though my husband and I agree).

    About the war.

    We had a very close family member join the military right before the very worst in Iraq. This is a person who was taught all about the constitution, etc.

    This was very shocking, and much prayer and fasting went into the safety of this young person, who was injured before being deployed.

    Injured seriously enough to get an honorable discharge.

    Person came home vowing that a dire mistake had been made and would never be committed again, but the fact is that this young person was terribly desperate, having been let go from a much-desired job and not admitted into a much-needed school program.

    The desperation in a bad economy was keen.

    *We* all (those of us who loved this young person) felt the distress deeply. But the military seemed like a drastic choice, even though scriptures were lovingly packed and temple garments taken along–

    glad for the outcome, the sad story is that some of the companions of our family member didn’t make it. Suicide and death–

    many were sent to some of the worst places.

    I have felt all the possible emotions here. Grief. Anger.

    I know that many of these young people are deluded, but good. Some of them are without good standards and ideals and even without appropriate training in what is right and what is wrong.

    But most of them really want to be good. Some want to be heroes.

    I have swung every which way on this.

    The wars are wrong. Wal-Mart (shocking to say it aloud here; will I be sent packing?) is wrong. Our current medical establishment is seriously lacking. Is there anything very ‘right’ in our current society? I don’t think so.

    If my fellow church members or my neighbors shop at Wal Mart, which I think is a corporate twin to invasive pre-emptive, illegal wars–

    do I shun them? Do I pray that the things they buy at Wal Mart dissolve or explode?

    No.

    If I have knowledge about something in our society that is grossly wrong; if I have had an experience that is so bad that I want to warn everyone against it–

    and *they* go ahead and follow the sad path I would warn them against, do I hope they receive hurt for their heedlessness?

    No.

    Even though a close family member was damaged in receiving surgery, which caused immediate death–

    I continue to pray for the person who is getting surgery in the ward, that all will go well–

    and I don’t ‘curse’ my fellow ward members who shop at the big box stores.

    It’s a hard situation, being confounded on all sides like this. I think Nephi might have felt it when he was told to kill Laban. I have sorrowed over that.

    I hate war. I have suffered directly because of past wars. I have seen much ill come of war and not much good, if any, even in ‘declared’ wars.

    But in *my* mind, everyone is a victim.

    Or almost everyone. There are those who perpetrate, and God knows who they are, and He will see that they are exposed.

    In the meantime, keep seeking for truth–

    you are appreciated.

  80. Kelly W.
    March 26, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    Hi old mama, you mention a close family member who was taught correctly, yet joined the military. Young men and women who are deceived into trying to do something honorable, but then might go on to experience the realities of why we really are at war. Perhaps this delusion is what drives many of the War on Terror’s veterans to commit suicide after returning. I just found out the horrible fact (a fact that is conveniently left out of the newspapers) that there are TWICE the amount of deaths from suicide after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as there are actual deaths reported from seeing combat action.

  81. Liz
    March 26, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    Woah.

  82. oldmama
    March 27, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    you are correct; the suicide rate is very high–

    so sad–

    so unnecessary.

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