by KEVIN KNODELL
Has the dialogue surrounding the recent killings in Afghanistan been overly sympathetic to the alleged killer, Sgt. Robert Bales? I’m in total agreement with David: the argument that an Afghan life is less valuable than any other life … is wrong.
But as someone living in the South Sound, five minutes away from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, I’ve observed a parallel trend that I find equally troubling. There is increasing resentment on the part of some civilians toward the soldiers who live here. This has been getting worse for some time, as Americans frustrated with foreign policy and the cost of war turn their resentment on those in uniform. Service members are the easiest symbol of American foreign policy.
Even those without an overtly hostile attitude towards the troops can be unhelpful.
A vanishing proportion of Americans serve in the military. Fewer and fewer have family ties to the military. Fewer feel any sort of connection with those in uniform. The military community is shrinking and becoming more isolated than ever.
I don’t know what the solution is. On the one hand, I’m glad fewer Americans have to endure war or the loss of loved ones in combat. The downside is that Americans get overly comfortable with the fact that it won’t be their son, daughter, mom, dad, husband, brother, sister or friend going off to war.
Too many Americans feel comfortable passing judgement on soldiers, without looking in the mirror at the people who elected the officials who sent these men and women to war in the first place. Many Americans view it as the military’s war and the military’s problem. I hate to break it to you, America, but this is our war and our problem. Calling soldiers imperialists and murderers doesn’t make you better then them.
There’s been a lot of talk about Vietnam and how this war compares. Unless our society does some soul-searching before the coming demobilization, the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan could have a homecoming worse than what Vietnam vets experienced. I hope it doesn’t come to that.