Today, our men and women in uniform are far away fighting the toughest of battles: against an urban enemy who lurks in the dark corners and . . . sends IEDs at our men and women . . .This is a recipe for permanent war. The notion that what we "owe" to our fellow Americans who are daily being maimed and killed is to shut up and ignore the fact that their lives, health and (sometimes) sanity are being sacrificed in a cause likely detrimental to the national interest is insane. And we can't even publicly disagree with the war's "management", so a disasterous manager like Don "the Army you have" Rumsfeld would get a free pass from public criticism. The great American Patriot, Smedley Butler, whom I've often had reason to invoke; knew from experience and observation what happened to men in war, and he choose not to remain silent:
The least we can do is to keep our traps shut and our opinions to ourselves. We owe that to the young men and women who are in Iraq fighting, whether or not you agree with what is going on . . .
I dearly believe that, although we have the inalienable right to disagree with our government, our local state and national leaders, a powerful right under provisions of our U.S. Constitution, to do so when our troops are struggling daily for their lives in extreme environments, is a disservice to our service men and women.
I can't help it. We are at war. Time for debate has passed . . . Can you disagree with the war and its management? Of course. Do it privately . . .
I have visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans. In them are a total of about 50,000 destroyed men--men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago. The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital at Milwaukee . . . told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed home. Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed . . . Then suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another "about face"! This time they had to do their own readjusting, sans mass psychology, sans officers' aid and advice, sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn't need them any more . . . Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final "about face."