Monday, May 28, 2012

Maybe it's better than being called 'babykillers' but...

Raw Story, links and video.

MSNBC host Chris Hayes offered up a not so common perspective on Memorial Day Sunday, sharing that elements of the day, including calling soldiers “heroes,” makes him “uncomfortable.”

“Why do I feel so uncomfortable about the word ‘hero?’” Hayes asked himself on Up with Chris Hayes. “I feel uncomfortable about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war.”

Mr. Hayes, whom I like, is catching all kinds of shit for his remark, probably because he's right.

I damn sure wasn't a hero, and I never waved a baby in the air on the end of my bayonet either. In Vietnam War days we were accused as a group of the latter in the national, and justified, anti-war fervor of the time. Nobody really believed it, but it was good hyperbole.

Some of the anti-war activists even accused the Vietnam War of being the troops' fault because they answered their country's call and followed orders and went to fight in it instead of doing the honorable thing like deserting or fleeing to Canuckistan. I had moments of prayer with more than one of them over that, and left them with the painful understanding that no lowly EM ever started a war. Except with them then and there. Heh.

When I bring up the tone of that time and the epithets that were ignorantly hurled at us, folks today say it was only the commie left, Jane Fonda types, that said that. Most of those folks didn't serve, got college or medical deferments which were too damned easy to get, at least if you were white and not poor, and don't have the memory of being on the receiving end of it.

I don't blame anyone for dodging the draft in that unnecessary and unpopular war that should not have been waged and was waged all wrong and divided the country for over ten years. Nobody wanted to die for a war they didn't believe in.

The draft was dropped after Vietnam. Now, since nobody has to go, there are few protests of our nation's wars, and even fewer that make the ruling class and the MIC uncomfortable, more's the pity, and our "leaders" have used the military exactly as the murderer Kissinger said in the post just below.

And now your average snuffy is a "hero" just for being there. Horseshit. The word "hero" has lost its meaning. Yes, their service is admirable in a country full of people who will never have to put their asses on the line and wouldn't if they could, but "heroes" most of them are not. Just doing the duty they signed up for, which they probably never thought would be for a failed political ideology, hegemony in places we don't belong, and corporate profit. The ones who figure it out realize full well that once you're in, you're stuck with it.

If I had a dime for every time I've heard "I would have joined up, but...", I'd be a lot richer than I am. Lip service patriots. Phony bullshit. The tone of this time.

Denoyer previously said earlier this year that any cuts to military spending could result in a return of the draft, despite no evidence or news indicating such a thing would happen.

Damn good idea. If we made getting killed or injured equally available to all, people would have motivation to bitch loudly and maybe the warmongers would be forced to think twice and forego disastrous foreign adventures that only benefit a few at the expense of all.


JEG43 said...

Damn fine post, Gordon.
I agree.

Gordon said...

Thank you.

BadTux said...

The draft, if reinstated today, would end up just as fucked up as in the Vietnam era. You don't *really* think that the rich would allow *their* sons to be drafted, do you? Fuck no, they'd come up with some sort of draft deferment system to allow them to buy their sons out of the war just like their daddies did during the Vietnam war.

Which is why I rolled my eyes at lefty notions of re-instating the draft during the Chimperor's regime. Anybody who thinks the draft wouldn't be gamed by the rich and powerful who decide what happens in this country hasn't been paying attention to the last thirty years of this nation's history...

-Badtux the Realist Penguin

Anonymous said...

Good post, Gordon. "The word "hero" has lost its meaning." I happen to agree with you on that one.

I saw Oliver North on some Fox show this morning and if I understood him (I wasn't paying attention), I think he was arguing that Vietnam was not a "draftee" war and that most of the troops were volunteers.

I might be off-base on that but that's what I thought I heard. Mr. North and I must have been living in parallel universes as that is NOT how I remember the time period.

Jay in N.C.

**SARGE... are you out there? If you're reading this, please post a line or two.

Civic Center said...

Best Memorial Day essay I've read today. Thanks.

BadTux said...

Jay, a majority of the infantry combat troops sent to Vietnam *were* volunteers. Remember, we never had more than 50,000 actual infantry combat soldiers on the ground at any given time in Vietnam, the rest of the 550,000 troops we peaked at over there were support and logistics. The Pentagon didn't like sending draftees to infantry school unless the draftees volunteered for infantry school (I mean *really* volunteered, not "volunteered" in the usual Army sense of the word) because that was a lot of training that would be lost once they left when their service requirement was fulfilled. The average age of American soldiers killed in Vietnam was 23.11 years -- so clearly the average American soldier killed in Vietnam was a volunteer, not a draftee, since the draftees would have already fulfilled their service requirement and been discharged by the time they hit 23 years of age.

The exception was the Marines. To the Marines, a Marine was a Marine was a rifleman was a combat soldier, whether draftee or volunteer, and draftees made up around 1/3rd of the Marine combat troops sent to Vietnam. The numbers were similar for the Army, but as I noted, the Army didn't like putting draftees into combat (considering draftees to be little more than cannon fodder and largely useless) so most of the draftees were in non-combat billets.

Of course, there's no telling how many of the volunteers were like my father, who volunteered for the Navy during the Korean War because he didn't want to be drafted as cannon fodder for Hamburger Hill. Volunteers generally got better billets than draftees, so if you were pretty sure your number was up and you were about to be drafted, volunteering seemed like a good idea for some folks. So it may well be that even the volunteers who served in Vietnam were in some respects there because of the draft, rather than because they truly wanted to be soldiers, but still, on paper at least they were still volunteers, not draftees.

There's a reason why one of the firmest opponents of the draft is the U.S. Army... their experience during Vietnam was that draftees were largely useless, because by the time you trained them well enough to function in a modern combat environment they'd fulfilled their service requirement and the Army had to let them go. Thus when Reagan wanted a million-man Army in the 1980's, he did it the old-fashioned way -- by destroying the economy so that if young men (and women, increasingly) did not want to starve, they *had* to "volunteer" to join the Army. Call it a back door draft, if you will...

- Badtux the Numbers Penguin

Gordon said...

I watched some my-era Vietnam stuff on TV and the figure came up that 1/3 of the Army troops in VN were volunteers, at least in the first year ('65) and the draft increased after that. The Corps started drafting in '65 and was generally 1 in 3 or 1 in 5 of the guys at the induction centers.

No deferments before reporting to recruit training. Let the services decide who they want. Make me Emperor (EOTUS) and watch and learn. The rich and powerful will not be happy, but they'll get an equal chance.

Fuck what the Army wants. I will return them to civilian control.

BadTux said...

I think the Army's big beef with the draft is that generally it's 2 years and out for draftees, and it just isn't worth spending a lot of time and training effort for someone who's going to be with you for such a short amount of time. A majority of the Army personnel in Vietnam were draftees, but 70% of those KIA in Vietnam were volunteers -- probably representative of what proportion of the actual combat infantry troops were volunteers. And as I noted, even the draftees who were sent to Fort Benning for ITS were generally those who volunteered for infantry upon joining, rather than being "volunteered" for infantry, so the front line combat Army in Vietnam was mostly *not* draftee cannon fodder like the movies make it seem. The draftees were behind the lines driving the supply trucks and pumping the gas at the depot and restocking the helicopters with rockets and machine gun bullets as they came in and otherwise doing non-combat stuff, some of which ended up with combat anyhow of course since there were no front lines as such in Vietnam, but so it goes.

Your numbers on the Marines pretty much match mine. And the Marines never differentiated between volunteers and draftees. A Marine is a Marine, period, and the USMC combat troops sent to Vietnam had the same number of draftees as at the induction centers. One thing I have to admire about the USMC is their long history of being hard-headed about what it means to be a Marine.

wkmaier said...

Good stuff Gordon, thanks.

Fixer said...

The word "hero" has lost its meaning.

The term is bandied about far too often. I served with guys who were decorated for valor yet would think nothing about raping one of the local girls. That's no hero.