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Monday, February 19, 2007
Why he joined....
The other day I had a conversation with a dear friend - a friend who also happens to be an Operation Iraqi Freedom vet. The conversation wandered through many issues with respect to the current war, some things we agreed on, some things we partially agreed on and some things we did not agree on.
I told him that my reason for supporting the troops is because I believe they are the very best and bravest that America has to offer. I know my opinion may be a bit starry-eyed and that when it comes to the troops I do wear rose-colored glasses, so I couldn't argue with him when he told me that yes some know exactly what they're getting into but that many others do not. Certainly I couldn't disagree that some of our troops over there joined not out of any deep patriotic fire burning inside them but simply because they weren't sure what else to do with their lives. I can't argue with the fact that he probably knows them better than I do.
However, I still believe that the record-breaking numbers of veterans re-enlisting should prove that at least a significant number of our brave troops know exactly what they're getting into and why. And this is one of my main reasons for continuing to support the war - the very people who risk their lives still support it so who am I to say otherwise?
The other day, after the conversation, I was perusing DW's blog and I found a link to this (which Michelle Malkin has also discussed several times now).
Why I Joined: This question has been asked of me so many times in so many different contexts that I thought it would be best if I wrote my reasons for joining the Army on my page for all to see. First, the more accurate question is why I volunteered to go to Iraq. After all, I joined the Army a week after we declared war on Saddam's government with the intention of going to Iraq. Now, after years of training and preparation, I am finally here. Much has changed in the last three years. The criminal Ba'ath regime has been replaced by an insurgency fueled by Iraq's neighbors who hope to partition Iraq for their own ends. This is coupled with the ever present transnational militant Islamist movement which has seized upon Iraq as the greatest way to kill Americans, along with anyone else they happen to be standing near. What was once a paralyzed state of fear is now the staging ground for one of the largest transformations of power and ideology the Middle East has experienced since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Thanks to Iran, Syria, and other enlightened local actors, this transformation will be plagued by interregional hatred and genocide. And I am now in the center of this. Is this why I joined? Yes. Much has been said about America's intentions in overthrowing Saddam Hussein and seeking to establish a new state based upon political representation and individual rights. Many have framed the paradigm through which they view the conflict around one-word explanations such as "oil" or "terrorism," favoring the one which best serves their political persuasion. I did the same thing, and anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception (though there are countless like me). I joined the fight because it occurred to me that many modern day "humanists" who claim to possess a genuine concern for human beings throughout the world are in fact quite content to allow their fellow "global citizens" to suffer under the most hideous state apparatuses and conditions. Their excuses used to be my excuses. When asked why we shouldn't confront the Ba'ath party, the Taliban or the various other tyrannies throughout this world, my answers would allude to vague notions of cultural tolerance (forcing women to wear a veil and stay indoors is such a quaint cultural tradition), the sanctity of national sovereignty (how eager we internationalists are to throw up borders to defend dictatorships!) or even a creeping suspicion of America's intentions. When all else failed, I would retreat to my fragile moral ecosystem that years of living in peace and liberty had provided me. I would write off war because civilian casualties were guaranteed, or temporary alliances with illiberal forces would be made, or tank fuel was toxic for the environment. My fellow "humanists" and I would relish contently in our self righteous declaration of opposition against all military campaigns against dictatorships, congratulating one another for refusing to taint that aforementioned fragile moral ecosystem that many still cradle with all the revolutionary tenacity of the members of Rage Against the Machine and Greenday. Others would point to America's historical support of Saddam Hussein, sighting it as hypocritical that we would now vilify him as a thug and a tyrant. Upon explaining that we did so to ward off the fiercely Islamist Iran, which was correctly identified as the greater threat at the time, eyes are rolled and hypocrisy is declared. Forgetting that America sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler, who was promptly confronted once the Nazis were destroyed, America's initial engagement with Saddam and other regional actors is identified as the ultimate argument against America's moral crusade. And maybe it is. Maybe the reality of politics makes all political action inherently crude and immoral. Or maybe it is these adventures in philosophical masturbation that prevent people from ever taking any kind of effective action against men like Saddam Hussein. One thing is for certain, as disagreeable or as confusing as my decision to enter the fray may be, consider what peace vigils against genocide have accomplished lately. Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about how pure your intentions are. So that is why I joined. In the time it took for you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny. Every tool of philosophical advancement and communication that we use to develop our opinions about this war are denied to countless human beings on this planet, many of whom live under the regimes that have, in my opinion, been legitimately targeted for destruction. Some have allowed their resentment of the President to stir silent applause for setbacks in Iraq. Others have ironically decried the war because it has tied up our forces and prevented them from confronting criminal regimes in Sudan, Uganda, and elsewhere. I simply decided that the time for candid discussions of the oppressed was over, and I joined. In digesting this posting, please remember that America's commitment to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his sons existed before the current administration and would exist into our future children's lives had we not acted. Please remember that the problems that plague Iraq today were set in motion centuries ago and were up until now held back by the most cruel of cages. Don't forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans will always have a responsibility to the oppressed. Don't overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war but don't cheapen the moral aspects either. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction. So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include "Good Luck" Mark Daily
He was 23. He was a Political Science major at UCLA. When I read that I knew that we had sat in the very same lecture halls, listening to the same professors and in fact, we'd probably even sat in the very same lecture halls at the same time seeing as he graduated only one year after me. Maybe myspace isn't so bad, it gives our troops the chance to become real to all of us, to have voices even from beyond the grave. And I hope the page stays available forever, a testament to the fact this courageous young man was not only a warrior, but a genuinely good man with a heart of gold and a true desire to make the world a better place. If Democrats like Obama consider his life wasted...well I can't help them...because clearly 2LT Mark Daily did not feel the same.
To me, Mark Daily embodies all of our troops, and he always will.
Labels: Death, Support the troops, war on terror
wingless was still breathing at 4:35 AM
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