Gratitude Attitude?

aftermath of Dresden bombing

Here’s my letter (needless to say, not published) to Dear Abby from a few weeks ago.

Dear Abby:

I couldn’t disagree more with “Proud Mom in Overland Park,” and with your reply to her.

The idea that we owe “gratitude” to members of the armed forces is baffling. The U.S. military travels all over the world, acting in our name, shooting and bombing innocent people who have never posed any threat to us.

How is this of any benefit to the American people? If anything, it makes us less safe, by fueling violent resentment around the world.

No, I don’t think members of the armed forces should be “cursed and reviled” either. They’re mostly victims, who’ve been tragically deceived by government propaganda.

I used to be a strong supporter of U.S. troops and U.S. military action myself. Then I gradually started to learn more and more about what the military actually does and how little it adheres to its supposed mission of defending American liberty.

I urge you to educate yourself and your readers on the actual causes and effects of U.S. foreign policy; two good places to start are Jonathan Kwitny’s Endless Enemies and Chalmers Johnson’s Blowback.


Roderick T. Long


7 Responses to Gratitude Attitude?

  1. Brandon April 26, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    They’re mostly victims, who’ve been tragically deceived by government propaganda.

    That argument would not work in court — ‘Your honour, I did invade their house and kill them all, but I was tragically deceived by government propaganda’. It’s still deliberate, premeditated murder. Worse still, by an invading army with no rights at all, so self-defense would not work as a justification — ‘Your honour, I did kill them all after invading their property, but in my defense, they did try to resist me.’

    • Roderick April 26, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

      I didn’t say they shouldn’t be held responsible. One can be victimised into being a perpetrator without losing responsibility.

  2. philip palmer April 27, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    Hello Roderick,

    That is an excellent letter. I hope it gets Dear Abby thinking. I also read your brief bio, and I’d like to suggest that you look up freedomain radio, if you haven’t already, and listen to some of Stephan’s musings on war, tax farms, and other subjects.



  3. MBH April 27, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    I see that the picture is from the firebombing at Dresden. There’s a great scene in the film adaptation of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five of an American general with a red, white, and blue uniform displaying the swastika — trying to convince the Americans that the communists are the real enemy and they only need to unite against the commies.

    I hope someone can find a picture of the general. Keith Preston is a nice representation of him.

  4. Mike April 27, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    I read today “If you don’t stand behind our troops, please feel free to stand in front of them.” I would say no, I don’t care to stand in front of them, because most of them are in places we shouldn’t be. This statement could make some sense if they were actually here defending us, but our foreign policy is so bellicose I’m not how anyone can even make sense of this kind of statement. It’s just some crazy blind nationalism I guess, that nothing really even has to make sense when you are defending “the troops” as long as it makes you sound like you’re patriotic and the other guy isn’t.

    • JOR April 27, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

      Jingoists can never make up their mind whether “US enforcers are good because they’re doing good things” (what they have to spend most of their time claiming in order to avoid seeming like utter moral cretins, to themselves as much as anyone else) or “the things US enforcers do are good because US enforcers are doing them” (the real meaning of demands to “support the troops even if you disagree with the war”). It’s sort of like Divine Command Theory, except with a bunch of glorified gangbangers at the heart of the meta-ethics (such as it is) instead of an omnipotent genocidal lunatic.

  5. MBH April 27, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    “Mr. Y” of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has released A National Strategic Narrative that calls for a new way of thinking about America’s role in the world.

    (1) From control in a closed system to credible influence in an open system.

    (2) From containment to sustainment.

    (3) From deterrence and defense to civilian engagement and competition.

    (4) From zero sum to positive sum global politics/economics.

    (5) From national security to national prosperity and security.

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