Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Cruel Unfairness of War

So the best student from my intro to philosophy class came by today to get his grades. He got an A of course, and we had a nice chat about Political Liberalism. I mentioned that I looked forward to seeing him in my ethics class next year. He said he looked forward to it as well, and hoped he'd be here.

But, this morning at 7am he got a call that he was being re-upped in his military unit. He served six years ending last year. Infantry. He served in Kosovo, Haiti, Afganistan and Iraq, all frontline combat. How much can we ask of him. Now he is one of my most promising students, one who does all of his homework, who does the reading, who is thoughtful and an active participant.

The thought that he could be killed by some car bomb in Iraq, or friendly fire in Afganistan just makes me sick. Intellectually I felt bad for all our soldiers (and those of Iraq, Afganistan, etc..) but this is different. More emotional. I feel sick.


At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm with you steve,

a fellow capoeirista is being shipped off to iraq... and i am paralyzed with what to say to him or anyone else in our shared community... grappling with the broad picture is hard enough for me, but when it's personal i am devastated. and he's not even someone i am particularly close with.

take care of yourself, and continue to do your good work.


At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Makes me think that the people making the decisions to send troops should have someone they actually know going. Then they'd have to come to terms with what their decisions really mean.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger jeff said...

In a way, though, the 'real'problem isn't that we went to war in Iraq (and Afghanistan, etc.)--it's that people who signed up for our military were lulled into a false sense of security that it would be a cakewalk, and that the government wouldn't do something like re-upping people against their will. It's the false advertising that led to people making uninformed decisions to join the military that gets me.

At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

jeff wrote "the 'real'problem isn't that we went to war in Iraq (and Afghanistan, etc.)" and while i appreciate the point he was trying to make about the bill of goods we sell to (mostly poor, therefore in out society mostly brown) youth, i want to point out that uncritically accepting the "reality" of the problem this way de-problematizes the suffering inflicted on the afghanis and iraqis (and others) who our military personal are busy invading/occupying, raping, murdering, and torturing.


At 3:18 PM, Blogger Scholz said...

I am against this and all wars (except the War of the Worlds) on so many grounds that it hardly seems worth mentioning anymore. I was really making a more personal point.

But here is something from my home Red state. Carly, Sophie and I were out for a walk to look at some houses that really decorate for the holidays One of our neighbors (a sherrif's deputy who goes to church with my cousin) drove by in his squad car then pulled up to chat.

He too has a baby close to Sophie's age. He was very excited to tell us that he was shipping off in January for "year's" tour in Iraq. He didn't seem particularly torubled by the circumstances, or the fact that he was leaving his family here.

I could almost understand that sort of enthusiasm in the post-911 disinformed haze days when recruitment went sky high as naive Mericans sought to defend us from them nasty terrorists. But today, years later. It really surprised me. But knowing his politics, I wasn't terribly surprised. I just thought that conservatives wanted other people to go fight, not join up themselves. So, I for one urge you all to fight against East Asian, they have always been our enemies, Eurasia, has always been our ally.

At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"am against this and all wars (except the War of the Worlds) on so many grounds that it hardly seems worth mentioning anymore."

oh, yeah? what about the "Star Wars" Sextet, or whatever it is now? (remembering Bart Simpson's quote)

At 3:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops, sorry that was me with the star wars.

At 7:52 PM, Blogger jeff said...

of course I meant the 'real problem for the US citizens signing up to fight in the US military'. I mean, when I said 'real problem' I didn't include ALL KINDS of stuff, right? Part of the real problem is scarcity of resources, part of it is overconsuption, part of it is sexism, part of it is...etc. This is where intersectionality pisses me off. I mean, I can't include everything in every freakin' sentence!!

At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


appologoies, my point was to put you on the defensive, and i am glad you raised the issue you did. if you've read my own journal recently you know that one of my great concerns is the old, yet still relevant post-colonial critique that the people who matter are the western audience and western elite. so whenever the lens starts to shift so as to exclude the folks we are "so much more exceptional than" i try to point it out. hence, my jumping on the word "real." sorry if i was clumsy. though, i might suggest taking care with terms that have strong connotation like "what is really important" or even "what is real" when one is seeking to focus on a particular issue.

as always, context is everything.


At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ooops! "point was _not_ to put you on the defensive"


At 7:17 PM, Blogger jeff said...


Paging Dr. Freud...

Thanks for the response, lex. I probably should make it a rule to leave out the 'what the real problem is' sort of phrasing, when what I mean to say is--what I think another, more pressing problem is...or some such.

Thanks for the personal take on the war, Steve. I think I have been so pissed off and feeling abused since the election that I just don't have the strength to take on that monster very much...


Post a Comment

<< Home