Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What I Want This Veterans Day

Note: This article comes from fellow CM contributor Chris Nelson, aka Right Field.

I have made a list, similar to a Christmas list,of things that I would like this Veterans Day. I do not expect to get these, but a man can dream.

1) First, I would like for politicians to stop making military decisions in Congress. One politician is prescribed by the Constitution to make decisions for the US military, and that is the Commander in Chief. When we end the war, how many troops are deployed, what equipment they have, and how we fight is at the discretion of the President and his generals exclusively. We live in a republic as far as legislation is concerned, but no war was ever won by committee.

2) The same as above goes for editorialists and authors, who are journalists not veterans. When the country goes to war, the time for debate over its mission is over. If you oppose a war, contact your representative or make your editorial statement before war is declared.

3) When you say something like "I support the troops, but I do not support the war" or "Support the troops, bring them home" drop the last part. Or if you must, make it two separate statements. With no other profession would someone, in a single statement, express an admiration for the professional and then disparage his mission. "I support lawyers, but I hate lawsuits." "I support our police, but I don't support enforcing the law." The statements may not be entirely illogical, but it is at least disingenuous.

4) Reform voting processes so that military turnout is encouraged, and their votes are counted. I have never been out of the United States and I have been unable to vote at least twice because of confusion over my status as a voter (Absentee vs. In person), or a misdirected absentee ballot. I cannot imagine how our soldiers vote in war zones. Well, I don’t have to imagine, I know that the Federal Election Commission has stated that deployed soldiers don't vote. The completed received ballots from the 2006 election totaled 5.5% of the overseas military electorate. Congress has not made any serious effort to address this problem.

5) I want everyone who has ever bought a meal for me or my brethren in uniform to know what a deeply moving gift they have given. It is the epitome of human kindness to give such a gift to military member. I would like to thank all of YOU for this service to our country.

6) I would like to see the men and women who have been mentally or physically scarred in the service to our country to be taken care of by the selfsame nation. The veterans hospital system is entirely inadequate and I would like to see the public and private healthcare system band together to ensure that the best possible care, both mental and physical, is given to wounded soldiers.

7) I want everyone who is considering military service to be able to do so. I do not enjoy how politicized certain issues have become in regards to recruitment. Public universities should not be able to refuse military recruiters nor should they allow the harassment of recruiters. I know much of the anger directed at the military by certain groups is over the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. But the decision on this policy is entirely the domain president and congress. Direct the anger there.

Tangentially, if a member of your family decides to join the military please support them in their decision.

I may not get everything on my list this Veterans day, but making you aware is really my only goal today.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Can We Learn From The Fort Hood Massacre?

All the warning signs were there, clear as day. It was obvious that Nidal Malik Hasan was dangerous. This man openly stated his support for murder in the name of Islam. He referred to himself as a "soldier of Allah." He even attempted to contact Al-Qaeda. It's not as if he were some evil mastermind hatching his plot in the shadows. It was all out there in the open. People knew about it. And did nothing.
The obvious question is, "why?" Was it the fear of being labeled a hatemonger? Was it fear of being accused of profiling? Fear of an ACLU lawsuit? Whatever the Army and the FBI's reasons for inaction, it seems to me to have been based in fear.
One of the things we pride ourselves on in this country is our openness. We want to believe the American dream is open to everybody, regardless of their religion or ancestry. We want to believe the best about our fellow Americans. It is one of the strengths of our country. However, it is exploited by terrorists as a weakness. They will use our assumptions of human decency against us. In Hasan's case, there wasn't much more he could have done to make us aware of his intentions. But no action was taken.
So what are we to do, then? Should our basic trust in humanity give way to paranoia or suspicion? No. But neither should we allow ourselves to be naive. We fear to be thought of as prejudiced, biased, and judgmental, and rightly so, because ideally we are none of these things. But when we are confronted with an unpleasant truth, we must act upon that truth rather than pretending it isn't real. To paraphrase Fulton Sheen, let's not be so open minded that we let our brains fall out.