Antiwar Sentiment Deepens Among Post 9/11 Vets

Christian Science Monitor
 reports on the trend.  According to Mike Hanie, executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, the cause of this trend is traceable to the civil-military divide:

The veterans’ “families, friends, neighbors, and colleagues do not understand, or seem to care about our all-volunteer military and the sacrifices they have made defending our freedom,” [Hanie said].

But the political challenge posed by the civil military divide is obscured Hanie’s reference to “defending our freedom.”  In the Post 9/11 Era, the civil military divide is not symptomatic of a nation of ingrates, as this weekend’s many parades will make clear.  What families, friends, neighbors, and colleagues do understand but are never allowed to mention is that the sacrifices that veterans have made have not been in defense of their freedom because their freedom is not at stake.  It’s obvious that counterinsurgencies fought on the other side of the world are not all that stands between Americans and some new, less free way of life.  The disinterest with Iraq and Afghanistan that some describe as American apathy is partly that, but it’s also a sense of perspective.  When veterans and servicemembers insist that Americans maintain a sacred assumption that sacrifices made in Iraq and Afghanistan are in defense of freedom, they are inhibiting an adult discussion about the wars.

I have a lot of personal acquaintances to remember on Memorial Day.  I don’t tell myself that they died defending freedom.  They died because other people made unwise and unethical decisions [and, not incidentally, seem to have avoided any real consequences for those decisions].

Memorial Day is meant to honor our nation’s war dead but the current approach leaves much to be desired.  I don’t see the honor in sending the next generation of servicemembers to Arlington by refusing to acknowledge the political context of past deaths.

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