Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorials vs. Mercenaries

So it's Memorial Day, and according to the little counter somewhere on this page, there are approximately 2,465 (and counting) fallen soldiers to remember thanks to Operation Iraqi Freedom (sic). There are also something like 18,000+ freshly wounded veterans who can now put on the old uniform each May and limp along to a parade somewhere, assuming they've got limbs to limp on.

Last week, Ted Koppel wrote an Op Ed for the NYT (behind the wall, but also posted here) wherein he said, roughly, that the U.S. should consider an all-mercenary army that would, presumably, take over the occupation of Iraq. It's possible he was attempting Colbert-esque satire. But he did say that, whatever else it would do, it "might relieve us of an array of current political pressures."

He may be on to something here. Frequently, the current debate about what to do in Iraq never gets off the ground because of the whole "we have to stay and finish the job to honor our brave fallen soldiers" argument. It's a crappy argument, but those who use it howl so loudly that they drown out any rational discussion. The other verse of this song is something about how dissension back home destroys the morale of our brave troops fighting overseas.

But what if they weren't "our" soldiers? What if they were just hired guns? Wouldn't that destroy the circular reasoning of the support the troops => support the war argument? Without the jingo, *maybe* there could actually be a rational discussion in this country about this misadventure. And when something like the recent apparent massacre in Haditha happens, there wouldn't be any knee-jerk defense of "our" soldiers together with a smear campaign against John Murtha and other people calling attention to it.

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