"Totally coup, yo."

Crooks, Liars & Cowards




Or why I can’t afford a cell phone

Maybe you noticed that I was writing for Crooks & Liars for a minute there. Well, that’s done. They found out that I once wrote an article called “Fuck the Troops” — apparently, they couldn’t be bothered to Google my name before bringing me aboard. They wanted a mea culpa. I wrote one. I wrote something, anyway. That was three weeks ago. Instead of having the ovaries to just fire me, they ignored me, likely wishing I’d just drop dead from fatness.

I finally got a hold of them tonight, and I still don’t know what they thought about the article. Rather than a decision about my fate at C&L, or thoughts on making my “mea culpa” what they wanted, all I got was an earful about what an asshole I am. Their unprofessional behavior over the past weeks seemed a transparently passive-aggressive firing. Ignore, then berate, and hope I’d quit. And I did. I quit.

Before getting into…whatever the hell I’m going to say, here’s the full “mea culpa” I submitted:

Make Love to the Troops

“Why is an assholes like Ian Murphy…writing for this site?”
- C&L commenter djytg

“I don’t really see a way forward without a mea culpa.”
- C&L head honcho, and former Duran Duran saxophonist, John Amato

“Maybe we can just make a video where you dress up like Uncle Sam and beat the shit out of me.”
-Ian Murphy, 1st Amendment Terrorist

Let’s pretend that some make-believe organization, I dunno, gunned down 15 defenseless men, women, and children in cold blood. Let’s say that same organization also burned scores of women and children alive with incendiary chemicals. And, hell, let’s say this organization also slaughtered 100,000 innocents in one country alone, and tortured thousands of people in shadowy prisons around the world, hypothetically, of course.

It would seem wholly uncontroversial to – hypothetically – say, fuck those people. Right?

Well, as you know, we don’t have to pretend such an organization exists, and that they did those things. They do; they’re called “the troops.” But as it turns out, saying, “Fuck the Troops” is generally frowned upon. The socially acceptable thing to do, I am told, is to “support the troops.” I find this incomprehensible.


Did I mention that 5 of “the troops” raped a 14 year-old girl then executed her, her parents and younger sister, and then burned down their house? Or how about the time “the troops” handcuffed about a dozen people in Ishaqi, Iraq– including a 70 year-old woman, a handful of toddlers, and a 5 month-old infant – and shot them in the back of their heads? Or how they sometimes rape female troops? Or what about how they use goddamn flying robots to murder civilians?!

Sorry. The purpose of this article isn’t to document the US military’s many crimes against humanity. The purpose of this article is for me to apologize, for saying “Fuck the Troops,” so that I can keep writing for Crooks & Liars. That’s what they want. And that’s what I want.

Before I get to grovelling, I think this whole thing deserves a little background:

I’d been submitting some version of that piece to my then-editor at The BEAST, Al Uthman (his dad once served as Saddam Hussein’s dentist, but that doesn’t matter right now), since 2006. I’m told I did this because I hate America. But I don’t always believe what I’m told. I was mostly just frustrated, as I explained in the article, by members of the ‘liberal media’ being against the actions of the troops, and then thanking them, for their service. I did, and still do, see this as a logical disconnect.

Anyway, after attending a Ralph Nader campaign stop in Buffalo (more evidence that I hate America?), I returned to the BEAST office. “You’re the most hated man in America!” screamed an intern. “Congratulations!” He and Uthman were poring over the death threats, and dreams of homoerotic beat-downs, on Free Republic, Little Green Footballs, and some other sites. Someone even posted the Google satellite image of The BEAST office, like they were calling in an airstrike or something.

We received hundreds of emails from people who wanted me dead. And I still get a few every time I do something newsworthy. After the Scott Walker prank call, Fox News (via Daily Caller) “broke” the news…that was on my Wikipedia page. When I ran for Congress, a day didn’t go by that I didn’t have to talk to someone about that article. So it should come as no surprise that when I recently started blogging for Crooks & Liars, it came up again.

The C&L brass were unaware of my very serious crime before bringing me on board. And having been absolutely immersed in it, seeing my ugly mug on Fox, etc., I failed to inform them of the thousands of people I tortured and killed article I wrote, presuming they already knew. And now Amato wants a mea culpa, or I’m out. Seems strange to me to draw attention to this, but the idea, I think, is to give me an opportunity to self-flagellate, so when the article invariably comes up again (Attention, Andrew Breitbart!) he can point to this post and say, “Gee whiz, he’s super-duper-sorry.”

And I am sorry about that article. I feel terrible for writing that. I do. I felt terrible before writing it. I did. And I’ll feel terrible if I apologize. I will. But as it turns out, I’ve totally changed my mind about stuff like this. I now love it when people representing my country torture, kill and rape stupid brown people from dumb parts of the world. I mean, that 5 month-old had it coming. It probably would have just grown up to be a terrorist, anyway. You know?

I’ve also completely changed my mind about the Nuremberg Defense. I mean, shit, if the Nazis used it, it must be OK! Just following orders, you say? Well, that’s good enough, for me, Lynndie England! I now, apparently, and totally sincerely, support the shit out of you and your wonderful human pyramids of shame.

And, I mean, “the troops” may be professional murderers, but in this economy it’s a living….

Now that I’ve gotten my requisite snarkasm™ out of the way, I do have some genuine regrets.

I regret the article wasn’t funnier, and the points more fully fleshed out – both the satirical and serious. I regret that I didn’t use more swear words. I regret that I didn’t use more detailed descriptions of war wounds, or dead Iraqi toddlers, or the story of some vet with PTSD swallowing a bullet in a rat-infested VA hospital. I regret referencing a poorly caricatured left/right paradigm. But mostly, I regret that I have to keep talking about this.

Look, I’m not a total monster; I know the burden of responsibility, for our ill-advised occupation of Iraq, falls squarely on the lying administration that lied us into war, and a media that was incapable of reporting the facts. I’m a real liberal; I’ve shed real tears, on more than one occasion, for not just the senseless slaughter of Iraqis, but also the senseless death of American soldiers. It’s a monumental tragedy. And I feel bad, for every kid that got sucked into participating in the illegal war, and all the families that lost someone. I do.

And the language of the piece was unfortunate. I guess I should have titled it “I do not support the troops.” And perhaps the first paragraph, which is all that right-wingers quote, shouldn’t have been so over-the-top. Or more over-the-top – to show that it should be taken with a teaspoon of satire. But, the foul language seemed appropriate to me at the time. Saying “fuck the troops” seemed just as meaningless as saying “support the troops.” But, and maybe this is my worst crime, a well-reasoned, measured article called “Don’t Support the Troops” would have been read by no one, and I wanted people to read it.

(And I’ll never tire of the irony of some people being more offended by the word “fuck’”than they are that Bush et al murdered thousands of Americans. But that’s another topic entirely.)

Another point I made in the original piece was that the phrase “the troops” was invented for the Gulf War. The PR magic behind the phrase is that only a maniac wouldn’t support them. They’re Americans! And even if you hate the war, you support them. SUPPORT THEM! Whatever that actually means. If it means having sympathy, then I do support them. But when I wrote that article, I ignored those feelings, for the purpose of making a point.

This mea culpa isn’t turning out so well. At this point, if you’re even reading it at C&L, it’s probably more of a resignation letter. I guess it’s up to Amato to decide my fate. But I frankly don’t regret writing that article. It could have been better, sure, but every time I have to talk about it, I also get to reiterate the main point of the piece: individual responsibility matters. Free will. And all the ethical implications. You’d think libertarian America would be OK with that idea. And if you think of the poor kids who were fooled into this as victims, unable to choose a different path, then you cannot also thank them for their service. It’s a pretty straightforward logical position. No?

I support some troops. Stephen Funk and the few, brave soldiers like him who refused to fight in Iraq. Those people are heroes to me. The military is not necessarily evil, and that organization has the capacity to do good things, like aid hurricane victims in Vermont, etc. But when the orders are obviously immoral, I can only “support the troops” with the balls to say, no, I won’t do that.

I haven’t received a death threat in a while, and years have passed without one violent email coming my way – about that article. But one of the common rebuttals to my article is that “the troops” protect my 1st Amendment rights, so I should, therefore, not use it. Another was that free speech should have its limits. I disagree with those ideas. First, I simply do not understand how the military protects my rights. We’re still being spied on by the NSA, a clear violation of the 4th Amendment. And now we have DHS involved with crushing the 1stAmendment rights of the righteous dissenters occupying Wall Street. Where are the troops? Why aren’t they protecting our rights? Oh, that’s right, because that’s a jingoist fantasy. The only way to protect our constitutional rights is to use them.

But I still get emails from people who want to thank me, for having the balls to say what no one else would. Admittedly, I’ve gotten fewer of these than death threats, but as the years go by, they are catching up.

Well, it looks like Obama’s going to make good on Bush’s promise to bring the troops home by 2012. And that’s pretty great. If I genuinely hated them, I reckon that I’d want them to stay there and die, for no reason. Maybe I don’t hate America after all. Of course, we’ll still have a bunch of private contractors there – including armed mercenaries. Am I supposed to support them, too? I don’t know how this works.

So there you have it. I’m sorry. I’m sorry people can’t handle what I wrote. I’m sorry I have “Headline Tourette’s.” I’m sorry we live in a country where condemning people who’ve done terrible things is out of bounds. I’m sorry I’m not a better writer. I’m sorry that I’m not sorry. I feel awful about it, but I can’t, in good conscience, thank an Iraq War vet for their service. I’m sorry. Were I to rewrite that article, would I still call it “Fuck the Troops”? No. Although with the repeal of DADT, it seems a less taboo position.

I don’t know if you C&L fans will read this article or not. I don’t know if I explained myself sufficiently to continue blogging here or not. I don’t know how much dissent is allowed around these parts. I just don’t know. But, for the record, I think this whole thing could’ve been more easily resolved by Amato dressing like Uncle Sam and beating the shit out of me.



Since I wrote that, some relevant troop-related stuff has gone down: that bad-ass marine yelled at the NYPD, troops have been leading Occupation marches, and Iraq War vet Scott Olsen got shot in the head with a teargas canister at Occupy Oakland. I support the shit out of those troops. They have the right idea: this country’s elite have used them as cannon fodder, and when they come home there are few economic opportunities. To oppose this is a moral action.

At the same time, and this is just me being the interminable dick that I am, it shouldn’t matter one fucking bit whether it was a civi or a vet that got shot in the head. That particular display of brutality would’ve gotten press, regardless, but there’s a deference paid to vets that gives Olsen’s story such a cookie-cutter narrative: Man fights for country, country shows thanks by cracking his skull.

I hope more vets get involved in the 99% movement. And I hope that kid heals up nice. But Olsen didn’t fight for his country in Iraq. He fought for the same big business bastards who’ll turn a profit any way they can — imperialism, liar loans, credit default swaps, ridiculous fantasies of a flat tax. He willfully participated in Halliburton’s illegal, immoral conquest of an oil-rich nation, which posed absolutely no threat to America. That still seems fucked up to me. Standing up to the Thugs in Blue in Oakland, however, really is fighting for the country.

I know a troop or three, and they’re some of the smartest, coolest people I know. I admire them greatly, but not for having been in the military. That’s all. The one troop I know actually contacted me to thank me for writing that article. The second troop I know thought I was nuts for writing it, but agreed with my points. The third troop I know said he wanted to punch me in the head when he read the first paragraph, but he kept reading, and stopped wanting to punch me in the head.

I don’t know how many different ways to rephrase this one simple idea: there’s nothing brave, admirable, or praiseworthy about murdering foreigners because of corporate propaganda. And I’m talking about the “good apples,” not the “bad apples” who, I dunno, collect the fingers of Afghans they’ve killed, which is a real thing. Sorry to repeat myself, but the brave and admirable thing would’ve been to disobey those orders.

Iraq won’t be the last war the 1% concocts for profit. I hope it’s the last time the 99% fights it for them. But if they do, I hope there’s some careless freak out there, with nothing to lose, who’s willing to say fuck those people. And that person must truly have nothing to lose because succeeding in America requires a craven ability to self-censor. No matter how much sense it makes to condemn people, for doing repugnant things at the behest of obscenely moneyed interests, you just can’t speak that kind of truth to a nation of crooks, liars, and cowards.

  • http://wnymedia.net Chris Smith

    …and THAT, kids is how you “keep it real”.

    Ian, I’m a veteran and fellow liberal. I wasn’t offended when you wrote it, defended you on WNYMedia for writing it and support you now. It took a lot of courage to hit publish on that article and I commend you for it.

    I served my country in several tours overseas, but came to the realization while planning no-fly zone defense missions over Iraq that we weren’t “defending” shit. We were the muscle for the American plutocracy and that pissed me off.

    I was a young man when I signed up, out of options in a down economy and looking for a way to pay off my mountain of student loan debt. I found it in the military. A pretty common story.

    During my time, I learned a lot about myself, the nature of military service, and how the construct of reality I was fed as a teenager was completely askew. In some ways, it made me a better person and opened my eyes to who we are as a country.

    I know you understood that writing the article in the manner you wrote it would have consequences. However, of all the things you’ve written, it provokes the most discussion and forces people to think a little differently.

    I think it’s your finest moment. Fuck Crook and Liars if they don’t see that.

  • Chris Globus

    Well done.

  • Anthony

    That is fucking sad. They issued an ultimatum to apologize for a piece that was written over three years ago. Aren’t they supposed to be a “liberal” blog!?

  • Brian

    Yeah, I’m fine with what you wrote. The notion that “the troops” are “defending our freedom” over in Afghanistan or Iraq is so mind-numbingly stupid that nobody could possibly believe it if they thought it through for 2 seconds. Which it seems not many people do. But then, “defense” hasn’t been the name of the game for a long time now.

    Oh, I’m Canadian though – so OUR troops aren’t “defending my freedom” in Iraq, just in Afghanistan (snort). Unfortunately, we were too polite (along with a lot of countries, admittedly) to point out after 9/11 that militarily occupying a Middle Eastern country that has historically sent every military occupier packing wasn’t going to do much to get back at the 19 dead guys with box cutters whose stated goal was to goad the West into an economically disastrous, unwinnable war in the Middle East, but it was pretty hard to do that at the time without being savaged as being some French surrender-monkey I guess. So we just went along, and 10 years later, here we are – in a completely predictable disaster. Whee!

    At least we didn’t join the fun in Iraq, although if our current government had been in power at the time, we’d be sharing in the joys of Operation Fucking Disaster too.

    And stop sending your damn Buffalo Bills to play here 1 game a year, seriously, it’s just fucking sad…

  • LorenzoStDuBios

    This article and the one about the Dems being dive artists are why I keep reading you. Really awesome.

    And I’m sure C&L cuts a decent check relative to a lot of other blogs, but I just checked it out and this is the top story:

    “November 03, 2011 07:00 AM
    Michele Bachmann Owes President Obama An Apology”

    I think you can do much better sir. You just need to find a very brave editor.

  • Kristin

    I loved the hell out of “Fuck the Troops” when it first came out, and after just re-reading it I’ve decided that it’s even better than I originally thought. Fuck Amato if he’s going to be such a pathetic PC asshat. I used to read C&L occasionally, but I got fed up with how it’s non-stop mushy-mouthed pandering to all the lameass concern trolls (much like Daily Kos & HuffPo, all anathema to me), only to then turn around & whine about the need for Liberals/Progressives with “guts”. Fuck that shit, if I need a daily political blog I’ll stick with Wonkette, and for awesome, no-holding-back commentary & brilliant, satirical practical jokes I’ll keep coming here once a week (though I wish you’d bring back the Beast-o-Scopes; pay that fucker in Halloween candy or something, I’ll mail you some Dots & Reese’s)
    But I digress, FUCK THE TROOPS, for all the reasons you said, and many more, and fuck C&L for not understanding what journalism is all about. There’s no such thing as fucking OutrageLITETM (now with less “not-niceness”!) And besides, even the most decorated Marine of the 30’s was on your side:
    “….I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.” – Major General Smedley Butler

  • Cernunnos

    Kristen, it sounds like you need to start reading The Exiled and Naked Capitalism.

  • Lynne

    Their loss. High five, Ian.

  • Diablo

    I did six years in the military. You meet some of the best people in the world. I know at least a dozen numbers I could call if I was ever in trouble…and help would be there in 48 hours. When I got out, I got in my car and drove across the US, hitting at least 20 states, spending about five months just chilling on couches with friends who had gotten out.

    I also met the fucking scum of the earth. Dudes that would rip you off right in front of you and then lie straight to your face. Served with a dude that raped a fucking 13 year old. He had a fun night in berthing when word got out (for some retarded reason they let him out of the ship’s brig overnight before they sent him to the base brig). Security ended up having to cut him loose after we duct taped him to a pipe and play “smack the pedo” with broom sticks.

    I was enlisted. I assume I got in for the same reason as most enlisted…had zero employment or education opportunities. Most of the time, I fucking detested it. But if I am all honest, I would go back again because it is what made me the person I am today.

    I remember chilling in a bar after getting back from a deployment. I had to get my arm basically rebuilt because it got chewed up in a pump. So there I am, drinking, with my arm fucked up. On the TV, CNN was covering some anti-war protest. The only other dude in the bar starts rambling on and on about the fucking commies and shit. So I ask him when he served (since he was my dad’s age). Well Mr. Gung ho didn’t because of his asthma. Fucking hilarious…since I got in with a metal hip and three vertebra fused from spina bifida.

    I can’t tell you the number of times people tell me I should be proud or that I am lucky to have my experiences. It still pisses when I hear it now.

  • matt

    “Fucking hilarious…since I got in with a metal hip and three vertebra fused from spina bifida. ”

    how the fuck did you do that? i got rejected for a medical waiver for past ritalin use and a busted ankle in middle school.

    I’m serious here, how do you get around that. i was basically told it was “pretty much dead in the water” if medical waiver gets rejected since that’s your only appeal.

  • http://www.dgspeaks.com Mercedes Diane Griffin Forbes

    Well done Ian! It is their loss. I’m glad that you stuck to your guns (pardon the pun). Your voice is powerful because you write from your heart. I’m proud that you did not recant or apologize for writing the ugly truth about what really happens in war. From the testimonies about the Mai Lai massacre through to what WikiLeaks exposed, American people have always wanted to put on blinders when it comes to the actions of many of our troops. Troops can commit all sorts of atrocities once their minds are warped by their military experience and we need to stop pretending that they are without reproach.

  • Diablo

    Matt- I originally tried to get into the army (combat engineer) and then the air force. I ended up in the navy despite not ever being able to barely swim. I think the only reason I got in was I pulled out a 98 on the ASVAP and agreed to go into nuclear power program. If not for that, then they would have denied the waivers I needed. Heck, I served with a nuke that did two years in jail for 2nd degree murder and he got a waiver for that (on retrial he was released but it was gang related, on record he spent two years in federal custody, and he had to get a shit load of gang tattoos removed from his face, neck, and arms). Now that I think about it, most of the nukes I served with probably couldn’t get into another program or branch due to drug usage, medical, or legal issues.

    I don’t want to make it sound like I am down on people that couldn’t get in. But every single gungho motherfucker I have ever had to deal with, who will happily advocate sending kids to far off lands to get killed, always seem to have some reason why they can’t be the ones sent into the grinder.

  • matt

    “I don’t want to make it sound like I am down on people that couldn’t get in. But every single gungho motherfucker I have ever had to deal with, who will happily advocate sending kids to far off lands to get killed, always seem to have some reason why they can’t be the ones sent into the grinder.”

    Fair enough, my issue was more that I individually have already been rejected, and I’ve heard that it’s damn near impossible to appeal the medical waiver. I’m guessing I should have made sure asvap was the first thing I did. i got like a 93 on initial test.

  • http://marcomaninthevan.blogspot.com oggy bleacher

    If P.J. O’Rourke can call for the execution of bicycle messengers and djembe players then I think you can collectively and metaphorically fuck the troops. Crook&Liars can add “Lap Dogs” to their title. If they take you seriously then they’re the only ones in America who do. Like all armies, there will come a day when our troops must decide which enemy is more dangerous: Foreign or Domestic. It happened in Star Wars and it will happen here.

  • Jefka

    “Fuck the Troops” is great and is the kind of article that separates the Buffalo Beast from all that Huffington Post flotsam.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/JoeDixon?feature=mhum Joe Dixon

    Fuck Crooks and Liars. Fuck John Amato. And, Ian, I thank you for your service to our country.

  • Mike C.

    I can’t stand liberals that pull their punches. If you think about it, Murphy, this shit was inevitable. You’d keep it real, and they’d be blubbering pussies. It was only a matter of time before those facts intersected.

    You spoke the truth nobody wanted to acknowledge. Sure, you did it in the most strident and disturbing way possible, but that’s the nature of The Beast. If they want to be middling Daily Show Democrats, they get to go down with that ship.

  • http://billhicksisdead.blogspot.com Bill Hicks

    “it shouldn’t matter one fucking bit whether it was a civi or a vet that got shot in the head.”

    Amen. At the risk of hyping my own work, I made the same point in an essay I wrote for Dissident Voice and posted on my blog. You may go fight in the imperial wars of the 1%, or even wield a baton against the Occupy protesters but that doesn’t mean they won’t foreclose on you if you miss your mortgage payments.

    A Marine Learns an Important Truth about the Empire


  • http://vectorpress.glogspot.com Trevor

    I had a friend who was in the infantry – “bottom of the barrel,” his words – who used to tell a story about one day they were patrolling in Iraq and this old guy carrying a bucket of water walks by with his grandson. Squad leader starts losing his shit, screaming at the old guy to get down on the ground. Old guy doesn’t speak a word of English so that doesn’t work. Squad leader smacks the old guy with the butt of his rifle, knocking him down. Old guy is freaked out, little kid is jumping around crying, my friend shouts at his squad leader “Leave him alone! He’s just an old dude in a dress!”

    My friend got in trouble for that. Chain of command and all…



  • bobbyb826

    theres MILLIONS of Americans who agree w/ the logic of your F the Troops article. but we Americans are SO cowardly only few would admit to agreeing.
    the only thing the whole war on terror proved is what fuckin pussies americans are. btw, i saved the print issue of that article. i forgot if it was when The Beast was a dollar or free. or was it 2 bucks???? cant remember.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.b.wiener Aaron B Wiener

    Not much thought was put into this, or your “Fuck The Troops” article. You’re judging the actions of thousands of people on the actions of a few. And for the record, the individuals that have committed war crimes have largely been prosecuted under the UCMJ. You’re very simple, sweeping statements on this subject are the intellectual equivalent to saying “fuck the civilians” for the thousands of deaths that have occurred in the United States, due to things like murder and driving under the influence. As far as this war goes, that is an issue for you to take up with the leadership, but do you honestly believe that the United States shouldn’t have a military? Let’s get real here. I challenge anyone here to provide good reason for the United States to be military-less. To me, it’s an absurd proposal. You may disagree with the war, but you clearly have no idea what war is like. People volunteered to become part of the military because, the US needs a military, and this is where they got sent. They are just trying to do their job. Among our highest priorities is minimizing civilian casualties. The best would be if the shitheads we are fighting would quit, so that we could all go home and nobody else would die. Anyway, I think your articles are very silly, take a very simplistic look at a very complex situation (something the conservatives and liberals you claim to condemn are also guilty of), and that you should be a little bit more reasonable. Seems like your main goal is just to get a rise out of people. You can go ahead and join Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Maher, and all of the other obnoxious shitheads that pass sweeping, poorly thought out judgement so they can rile people up and get attention.

    • betabeastadmin

      Not much thought was put into reading these articles on your parts. While I do discuss some egregious things done by an admittedly small percentage of our military members, I also make it quite clear that I’m not exclusively talking about, or basing my judgment on, the “bad apples.” The point I was trying to make is a very basic one: killing people for no good reason is wrong. I don’t know what it says about our society that this is a controversial statement, but it can’t be good. Sorry for being simplistic about it, but it is a pretty straightforward concept.

      And, yeah, yeah, yeah, they were just doing their jobs. I know. It’s not a good defense of immoral actions. Sorry. Our military is incredibly bloated to the detriment of democracy and our economic well-being. I don’t live in some ridiculous liberal la-la land, where we don’t need a military. But I would like to live in a world where when soldiers are ordered to do something that’s morally indefensible they have the balls to say no.

      Getting a rise out of people was inevitable, but the basic idea of the thing was to say we shouldn’t blindly worship, thank, and praise members of the military for killing and displacing millions of people at the behest of oligarchs.

      • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.b.wiener Aaron B Wiener

        You can’t possibly wish for a military where the members pick and choose what conflicts they take part in. The military can only function as a blunt instrument where the members do what they are told. As a citizen, it’s your duty to do the best you can to elect public officials who will make decisions that reflect your values, but I think the prospect that the members of the US Armed forces should have not shown up when called upon to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan is absurd. What if they decided not to show up to Europe during World War 2? We may be speaking German. You simply can’t blame a group of people who’s job is literally to follow orders, for the orders that they are given.

        I’m going to go out on a limb and anticipate that the response you are forming in your mind involves the Nazis, and how they were only following orders. The Geneva convention, rules of engagement, laws of armed conflict AND the UCMJ all outline the morally repugnant things that troops would be justified in not doing, even if it violated a direct order. These recent conflicts are very complex, and the troops jump through hoops, and put themselves in harms way, sometimes absurdly so, for the express purpose of mitigating collateral damage. There are situations on a regular basis where men have died because the rules of engagement prevented them from being able to defend themselves due to collateral damage risks.

        By all means, blame the leaders. Blame Congress, blame the president, blame the media… but don’t blame the guys who are doing what they are supposed to do. Don’t blame the knife, blame the hand that holds the knife. These guys (myself included) joined up because we wanted to defend the country. We wanted to keep people safe. And most of us are not political geniuses. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors in Washington. Our job is to trust that our leadership is making the best use of us and our skills. They could make a good decision, and our job would be to carry it out… or they could make a shitty decision, and our job would be to carry it out. Believe it or not, you want a military that does what they are told. We all know that if we were ordered to commit genocide, it would violate all of the above mentioned laws. We get trained on those laws in boot camp. But the lines in this war (Afghanistan) are very blurry, and whether you will admit it or not, we have a humanitarian mission here, to stabilize this nation, eliminate a very vicious and brutal (more brutal than we could ever hope to be) insurgency, and get the eff out!

        You seem pretty set in your views, so I don’t have much hope here… but I’d like you to recant your “fuck the troops” statements. There’s really no shame in changing your mind after looking at something from another angle. In fact, quite the opposite. I would certainly acquire a nearly immeasurable amount of respect for you if you were to apologize for making such insensitive remarks about a group of people that are just like you… guys that have wives, children, parents and friends… who signed their whole entire life away so that they could go to a crappy part of the world and defend a random society while bringing them freedom and democracy, simply because it is their duty to do what the US decides is in its best interests. You don’t have to thank us. We are just one of many groups of people that are important to the US. Teachers, firemen, journalists, entertainers, garbage men… all of them are essential contributors to the United States. Even the IRS serves a fundamental purpose, and nobody likes dealing with them. So come on man, lay off the troops.

        • Hjk

          Wow… Funny thing I agree with both of you. I know that’s impossible… Or is it?

          On Murphy’s end I absolutely understand his passive resistance stance I get it and in a better, not perfect but better world this would be right.

          And I wish things were better.

          However on weiner’s side there is a lot of reality especially when we are talking about troops, not the leaders brass or politicians but the troops…. I find it hard to realistically lay much blame on them as a whole.

          That being said I don’t think democracy will take hold in either place any time soon. I don’t think it’s the job o the us military to intervene everywhere and if you as a troop do, as an individual agree that our job is in Iraq then well you do hold a tiny fraction of the responsibility along with everyone else that was banging the war drums, including civilians.

          So I’m inclined to Bree with Murphy on more points in this article, but I do see weiner’s point regarding the fuck the troops article which never totally sat right with me if only for some heavy handed ness and not for the “balls” it took to write it.

          Finally some true debate.

          • HjkH

            Agree not Bree

          • betabeastadmin

            Welcome to adulthood, Chief. It’s a mentality rarely attained in America, where one can hold two seemingly opposed views at once. Congratulations.

          • Hjk

            Thanks. Hope you get here soon.

        • betabeastadmin

          First of all, I have no idea why comments are still open on this post…

          Of course, I blame Congress, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. I blame the press, for their absolute failure to report the facts in the run up to the Iraq War, more than any grunt with a gun. And I do have sympathy for members of the military. I’m just not comfortable thinking they’re heroes — perpetuating the idea that they are unthinking automatons, or “knives” in your metaphor. As I mentioned in the original post, to dehumanize the military in this fashion leaves them blameless but also undeserving of praise. And this whole thing was a (crude) way of starting a conversation about that, and free will generally — before we all have “Support the Drones” bumper stickers.

          I agree with some of what you’re saying. I even think we need a military — one that’s far smaller, really — that follows orders…but to a point. I’d be much more patriotic about the whole thing if I knew that when our troops are given bullshit orders, like Iraq, they refuse to execute those orders. This is an extreme hypothetical (I learned it from watching you!), but do you remember when Cheney tried talking Bush into send the army to patrol the street of Lackawanna, NY? Yes, that happened. Would you still “support” the troops if the former VP had his way? I mean, they’d just be following orders, right? Sorry, but I’d prefer the “troops” to be moral agents, capable of disobedience when the situation calls for it.

          Look, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and while many of us are only willing to point the finger at higher-ups & a subservient press (which is absolutely deserved), we still want to praise “the troops” for their service. This is exactly why the phrase “Support the Troops” was crafted. So that even people against the war would tacitly support the war. It’s a PR trap, and the entire fucking country fell for it. We’re still falling for it. Argue all you want, but I can’t condone pointless murder, and I’m never going to apologize for that.

          And, frankly, you sound a but insane when you say the troops’ job it to “…defend a random society while bringing them freedom and democracy…” It must be nice to think that, but it’s just so much jingoist nonsense. In Iraq, the troops’ job was to secure oil wealth for Halliburton. In Afghanistan, the troops’ job is to…who fucking knows? All that should’ve happened there was a Seal Team 6 operation — many years ago. The idea that we’re going to force “freedom & democracy” on people at the barrel of a gun is ludicrous to the point where I’m starting to think you’re just one of them “trolls” all the kids talk about.

          It’s a somewhat nuanced issue, ethically, but when I boil it down I come up with the same thing every time: I personally can’t applaud mass murder, no matter how you dress it up or defend it. That said, I’m not going to comment on this further.

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