Monday, August 01, 2005

Penny patriotism

I can't add a thing to Uwe Reinhardt's sobering editorial in today's Washington Post about why it's so easy (for at least some Americans) to say we should "stay the course":

  • A policymaking elite whose families and purses are shielded from the sacrifices war entails may rush into it hastily and ill prepared, as surely was the case of the Iraq war.

  • In wartime, the TV anchors on the morning and evening shows barely make time to report on the wars, lest the reports displace the silly banter with which they seek to humor their viewers.

  • We paste cheap magnetic ribbons on our cars to proclaim our support for the troops. But at the same time, we allow families of reservists and National Guard members to slide into deep financial distress as their loved ones stand tall for us on lethal battlefields and the family is deprived of these troops' typically higher civilian salaries.

  • We offer a pittance in disability pay to seriously wounded soldiers who have not served the full 20 years that entitles them to a regular pension.

  • Food pantries for American military families? ... For the entire year 2004, slightly more than $400,000 was collected ... or 3 cents per capita.

When our son, then a recent Princeton graduate, decided to join the Marine Corps in 2001, I advised him thus: "Do what you must, but be advised that, flourishing rhetoric notwithstanding, this nation will never truly honor your service, and it will condemn you to the bottom of the economic scrap heap should you ever get seriously wounded." The intervening years have not changed my views; they have reaffirmed them.

Unlike the editors of the nation's newspapers, I am not at all impressed by people who resolve to have others stay the course in Iraq and in Afghanistan. At zero sacrifice, who would not have that resolve?


At 8/01/2005 05:58:00 PM, Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Well, if one is lucky enough to die in Iraq, at least they died in the war. If they die enroute to Germany or in the military hospital in Germany, they are not tallied among the war dead. Right now this number is about nine thousand. I don't know that if not official dying in combat affects anything your widow may receive, but it'd be interesting to find out.

At 8/01/2005 09:19:00 PM, Blogger Mixter said...

Very good opinion piece.


At 8/02/2005 04:42:00 AM, Blogger Schroeder said...

Yes Lew - I've read reports that touch on this, but it seems there out to be a move in Congress to relate casualty figures to the well-being of soldiers well after their return home from combat, in whatever condition they were when they left the battlefield.

Thanks mixter - complements to Uwe Reinhardt who obviously invested a lot of personal insight and pain in the piece.


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