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Commentary Last Updated: Nov 7th, 2007 - 01:22:41

The Warrior is the War
By Mickey Z.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Nov 7, 2007, 01:20

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On November 13, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial turns 25. According Memorial Fund President Jan Scruggs, the black wall has �helped people separate the warrior from the war, and it has helped a nation to heal.�

How �healed� this nation might be is certainly open to debate. What should be patently evident is that separating �the warrior from the war� results in No Gun Ri, My Lai, Haditha, etc. Such disconnection also makes it taboo to criticize or question �our heroes.� (There even are many �antiwar� folks who vigorously defend the troops.) Even when faced with documented evidence of criminality, Americans will not equate the warrior with the war. The excuse making typically touches on these two concepts: 1) They were just following orders and 2) Those who enlist do so for economic reasons.

The first line of defense ignores Principle I of the Nuremberg Tribunal, which states: �Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.� Principle IV adds: �The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.�

As for excuse #2, a November 2006 New York Times op-ed put that myth to rest. Authors Tim Kane and Mackenzie Eaglen �analyzed demographic data on every single enlistee (in 2005) . . . and found that in terms of education . . . recruits were just as qualified as those of any recent year, and maybe the best ever. Overall, wartime recruits since 1999 are in many respects comparable to the youth population on the whole, except that they are on average a bit wealthier, much more likely to have graduated from high school and more rural than their civilian peers.� They also found that youths �from wealthy American ZIP codes are volunteering in ever higher numbers� while �enlistees from the poorest fifth of American neighborhoods fell nearly a full percentage point over the last two years, to 13.7 percent. In 1999, that number was exactly 18 percent.�

Are some of the American soldiers in Iraq there primarily for economic reasons? Sure. Did others sign up for a chance to shoot towel heads? Probably. After factoring out these two relatively small groups and rejecting the immoral �only following orders� defense, the reality remains: The Warrior is the War.

Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at

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