The entire right-side of the Blogosphere is howling for the blood of Washington Post National and Homeland Security columnist William M. Arkin, who recently vented his irritation at soldiers serving in Iraq who have the temerity to criticize the people Arkin regards as the real heroes and defenders of American freedom: the anti-war opposition operating at home in the United States.
Some highlights from Arkin.
The Troops Also Need to Support the American People…
I’m all for everyone expressing their opinion, even those who wear the uniform of the United States Army. But I also hope that military commanders took the soldiers aside after the story and explained to them why it wasn’t for them to disapprove of the American people…
These soldiers should be grateful that the American public, which by all polls overwhelmingly disapproves of the Iraq war and the President’s handling of it, do still offer their support to them, and their respect.
Through every Abu Ghraib and Haditha, through every rape and murder, the American public has indulged those in uniform, accepting that the incidents were the product of bad apples or even of some administration or command order.
Sure it is the junior enlisted men who go to jail, but even at anti-war protests, the focus is firmly on the White House and the policy. We just don’t see very man “baby killer” epithets being thrown around these days, no one in uniform is being spit upon.
So, we pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society?
I can imagine some post-9/11 moment, when the American people say enough already with the wars against terrorism and those in the national security establishment feel these same frustrations. In my little parable, those in leadership positions shake their heads that the people don’t get it, that they don’t understand that the threat from terrorism, while difficult to defeat, demands commitment and sacrifice and is very real because it is so shadowy, that the very survival of the United States is at stake. Those Hoover’s and Nixon’s will use these kids in uniform as their soldiers. If I weren’t the United States, I’d say the story end with a military coup where those in the know, and those with fire in their bellies, save the nation from the people.
But it is the United States and instead this NBC report is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary – oops sorry, volunteer – force that thinks it is doing the dirty work.
The notion of dirty work is that, like laundry, it is something that has to be done but no one else wants to do it. But Iraq is not dirty work: it is not some necessary endeavor; the people just don’t believe that anymore.
I’ll accept that the soldiers, in order to soldier on, have to believe that they are manning the parapet, and that’s where their frustrations come in. I’ll accept as well that they are young and naÃƒÂ¯ve and are frustrated with their own lack of progress and the never changing situation in Iraq. Cut off from society and constantly told that everyone supports them, no wonder the debate back home confuses them.
America needs to ponder what it is we really owe those in uniform. I don’t believe America needs a draft though I imagine we’d be having a different discussion if we had one.
Mr. Arkin, recognizably a radical leftist extremist, is mistaken in supposing that he and his fringe group, deviant, and perennially protesting ilk constitute the American people or have been authorized in any way shape or form to speak on their behalf.
Go walk into a public place frequented by normal American people, Mr. Arkin, like a bar, and repeat what you wrote for the Post, and you discover very quickly what the American people think of you and your kind. Be sure that your health and dental insurance are in order first would be my advice.
Who is Arkin?
Hugh Hewitt explains:
Arkin is a veteran of four years in the Army (he served from 1974 to 1978) and many of his bylines from the past two decades described him as a “military intelligence analyst” during his service (his rank and units are not readily apparent). He received his BS from the University of Maryland.
His employment since leaving the service is easier to trace. Arkin cut his teeth with the lefty Institute for Policy Studies, and went from there to positions with Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Human Rights Watch. He has been a regular columnist for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. In recent years he has taken more mainstream work as a senior fellow at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University (he appears to do most of his writing not from the SAIS campus, but from his home in Vermont).
He is also the regular military affairs columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
Having become, not altogether surprisingly, after advising US troops serving overseas that they should be grateful that no one is spitting on them, the object of a good deal of criticism, Mr. Arkin today responds with self righteous indignation.
Well, one thing’s abundantly clear about who will actually defend our rights to say what we believe: It isn’t the hundreds who have written me saying they are soldiers or veterans or war supporters or real Americans — who also advise me to move to another country, to get f@##d, or to die a painful, violent death.
Move to another country, get f@##d, and so on, Mr. Arkin.