Richard Sharpe replied to Peter Jones Thu 14 Aug 08 (09:32pm)
Do 15 years and three operational tours overseas (soon to be four) count, or does that make me an indoctrinated automaton brainwashed by the “Military Machine”? I tend to agree with a lot of the people here because I’ve been to some of the s**tholes you talk about in coffee shops, and given the alternative, we are doing what is right for the people who live there. I don’t think any less of those who post in here who haven’t served in the military, sometimes you don’t actually need to put your hand in the fire to know it is hot. I do have a problem with poseurs who waltz in and make sweeping generalised statements about the courage or lack thereof in others without knowing anything about those they are insulting.
What about you hotshot? Do you hold the courage of your convictions? Did you volunteer for the Red Cross or MSF or any of a multitude of other organisations who send people into the same sorts of places we go to? Did you feel so strongly for the plight of the Iraqi people that you gave up your skinnychinos to work with UNICEF in Baghdad helping orphans? Did the plight of the Afghani people so move you that you decided to leave your loved ones behind to teach reading and writing to the little girls of Kandahar who for so long had been denied an education?
Let me guess; you went to a few rallies, wrote a nasty letter to your local member, and waged righteous cyber-war on nasty little conservatives with the audacity not to share your utopian (read totalitarian) worldview.
No soldier loves war. We are far too close to it to be caught up in the idea of romantic heroism. We do what we do because there are some real bad people out there. There are also good people who need our help. We are not saints. There will always be someone who spoils it for the rest. Most of what we do we do for each other. The bigger picture really only snaps into focus in an instant and gets just as quickly buried under the minutiae of operational life. Those brief moments though, the kid smiling as you drive past, seeing a school open for the first time in years, watching the women walking to the markets safe from murder and rape, help you understand why it is sometimes necessary to inflict violence in order to prevent it. You also gain an understanding of why it is the free western democracies on which this burden falls, not out of an imperialist drive to subjugate lesser peoples, but to give them the chance to strive for the way of life that people like you take for granted.
If some people here reached those conclusions without having to see some of the things I’ve seen, that makes them a whole lot smarter than you.
Tim Blair's given this beaut slap-down it's own post... worth a read.