The Warrior Is the War

On November 13, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial turns 25. According to the 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 are even many “anti-war” 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 editorial 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. Over all, 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. is the creator of a podcast called Post-Woke. You can subscribe here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on New York City streets. Spread the word. Read other articles by Mickey.

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  1. rosemarie jackowski said on November 7th, 2007 at 7:29am #

    Good article here, Mickey. This is an important topic that seems to be taboo. The warrior IS the war. Without warriors we would have a perpetual state of peace. Every bomb that is dropped, every weapon that is fired endangers those back at home. It’s Blowback. Anyone who endangers the general population of their own country is a traitor.

  2. hp said on November 8th, 2007 at 4:01pm #

    As was stated at the time by no less a personality than the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, the Nuremberg trials were “a high grade lynching party.” They do, however, make a great platform from which to launch propaganda which still echoes around the world today. As in 365 days a year, every year for 60 years. You know, Hitler, Hitler, Hitler. Everyone who needs killed is a Hitler. Saddam was a Hitler, Milosevich was a Hitler, Iran is a Hitler.
    Anyone see a pattern here?