"To the American military on Memorial Day, thanks, but no thanks"Another, showing a widely publicized bombing victim of the Iraq War said:
"If this is what must [be] done to 'protect my freedoms,' I greatly prefer that my freedoms be left for me to protect."I want to make two observations about the deluge of these sorts of things that I see.
First, I think it's really demonstrative of the very low quality of thinking on these issues by the people that post this sort of thing that they can't simply say "The Iraq War and some other stuff was a really shitty decision that should never have been made". It's not that hard to stick to that. I've been saying that since 2003 and I've had no trouble being clear about what I think without trying to wrap up the entire enterprise of American military force into one tragic picture of a badly wounded Iraqi. It shows intellectual laziness on your part that you can't make a coherent argument against the American military writ large and instead have to rely on an emotional reference to a single war that is widely disapproved of in your attempt to make the broader argument. It also bothers me that they use this boy as a prop for a political agenda that goes well beyond their view of the Iraq war. That's pretty sick.
My second observation is that most of this is cheap talk. I'm not going to make a "well if you don't like it than you can leave" case, but I am going to observe that people who dismiss the American military in toto as I've seen many people do today are just serving up "cheap talk". It's very easy for residents of a planetary superpower to be pacifists. What the hell do they have to lose. They don't even need to worry about the ramifications of being even modestly convincing because they know they'll never be convincing enough to ever have to bear the costs of actual pacifism. This is a problem with anarchism in general (Gene Callahan often makes related arguments in the case of anarchism) - it's very easy to sing the praises of anarchism when you live comfortably in a liberal society governed by a reasonably well functioning state. Anarchists don't spend a lot of time considering the problems that would come up in actual anarchy because they're never faced with it, and they're never faced with it because over the millennia humans have come to realize it's a really shitty idea. The ones that do try to explain these hard issues tend to be unconvincing. And when I say they are "unconvincing" I'm not just stating my opinion. That's an objective assessment of the arguments presented, Exhibit A being the embarrassingly low number of people that have been convinced. I can't think of a better definition of "unconvincing" than "an argument that fails to convince". Anarchists on the Fourth of July, like pacifists on Memorial Day, engage in lots and lots of cheap talk.
If you want to tell me that American military power has been badly misused over the years, I'm right there with you brother. If you want to say we should never have gone into Iraq I agree completely. If you want to criticize the use of force in the war on terrorism we can have a very civil discussion about that and I might even agree with certain elements of your case. But if you are going to make a broad-brush statement about how you'd rather not have the American military around to guarantee your freedom then I'm telling you right now that I think you sound like an idiot. And if you plaster a picture of a suffering kid on your wall to distract people from your weak arguments, I think you're either impressionable (maybe you're sharing it) or you're an opportunistic asshole.