Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Chiroux redux

Sometimes I get interesting email. Instead of the offers for rolex watches, cialis, viagra, levitra, penis enlargement and belly reduction, how to make women swoon, ways to let my products sell themselves (which, apparently, is not a way to get the kids involved in prostitution, despite how it sounds), offers to help the thousands of people in Africa who have millions tied up in trust that they are willing to share with me (if I'll just provide them my bank account information) -- really, if we could just free up the millions held in trust, we could make Africa into a major superpower, and finally the forty or so lotteries I win every day in Europe, after wading through all that, I get a gem like this:

I came across your blog (http://tcoverride.blogspot.com/2008/05/matthis-chiroux.html) in the course of a Google search on Matthis. I have not met him, but I am a friend of the family. I do not agree with much of what he is doing right now, but did have to say this.

He is a military photojournalist and a good one. Google results for other than the present situation will lead you to examples of his work. He did, in fact, serve in Afghanistan. I do not know what he saw there.

Like you, I feel that his reasoning for taking this stand is specious. Constitutionality of the war in Iraq and elsewhere has been established. Talk of "war crimes" is entirely too reminiscent of the cowardly John Kerry's testimony before Congress. I have yet to hear Matthis or other members of IVAW ennumerate specifics. I fear that Matthis is being manipulated by the cynical Left and that, despite his intelligence, he is serving as a "useful idiot".

Every point you raise in your blog is valid except the conclusion about Matthis' character. Whatever his reasoning, he cannot be accused of cowardice. He is doing what he is doing knowing that he is liable to encounter the full force and might of the U.S. government. He is willing to face loss of benefits, standing, and even imprisonment.

Unfortunately, whatever happens will only serve to reinforce his beliefs.


Oh, you know I can't let that one go.

Here's my reply:

He is doing what he is doing knowing that he will face neither the force of the government nor anything but the scorn of those he once called brother.

Let me let you in on a dirty little secret: The US military has neither the time, nor the manpower to hunt down and prosecute people who choose not to answer the letter sent to them recalling them to active service. We don't "bring them to justice" as it were. The IVAW is well aware of that, and uses these "I refuse to deploy because of this illegal, immoral, BushCheneyHalliburtonCompany blah blah blah" grandstanding speeches for publicity alone.

He starts by saying how much of a dumb country bumpkin he is. But he's studying law at Brooklyn college, isn't he? So I would assume, even if he's in his first year of pre-law, that he understands things like hearsay, perjury, and prima facie evidence. He took pictures as a photojournalist. Hoo-ray for him. Don't confuse Army photojournalists with Army Combat Camera. They are two COMPLETELY different things. One is most likely to send pictures of the new chow hall opening and the other are the guys carrying cameras into combat, to capture the truth-in-fact on the ground. If Abu Gharib taught the civilian world nothing else, it's that when the military has evidence of 'war crimes' or any other illegal activity, we investigate it fully and actually punish those responsible. It doesn't serve our purpose in the contemporary operational environment fighting a counter-insurgency to cover up or ignore allegations of atrocity, it only causes us to lose credibility in the eyes of the civilian population, and helps the insurgents recruit more people to blow us up.

He is willing to face loss of benefits, standing, and even imprisonment, and he should lose them. He is in breach of the contract he signed. He is refusing to deploy. He has zero proof of any wrongdoing, and yet he refuses to go. He has made broad accusations against an Army and a country that he has sworn to protect. He has no honor, he has no integrity. Courage of convictions, regardless of whether or not your convictions are right, doesn't make your actions right. The people of the south fought to maintain slavery. They were convinced it was right and just. Was it?

The Spanish conquistadors sought to find and convert native peoples to Catholicism, making them turn away from their heritage, customs, and religion, often at the point of a sword. They knew in their hearts that they were saving these native savages from themselves, and certain damnation. Did that make them right for doing so?

Even the Nazis who ran concentration camps were certain that Jews were less than human and that what they were doing was right, and even proper.

The point I am making is that his refusal to go makes him a coward. If he really believes that atrocities have been committed, wouldn't the courageous thing be to go to Iraq and do what he could to limit or expose atrocities? Wouldn't the courage of convictions he has that tells him of the wrongness of the war be the driving force in him to go and change what he could, where he could? As a sergeant, maybe he would be able to tell one soldier not to shoot when the situation didn't warrant it. Since he has chosen to "bravely run away" from his obligations, that young soldier won't have him there to tell him if his target is confirmed or not. A soldier may go without the benefit of a sergeant who has been in a combat zone before, and can help to keep him alive in the crucial first 100 days.

The only people I do feel sorry for are his family. A father who has to look at his son as an embarrassment every time he sees a soldier in uniform (or god forbid if his father is a veteran), a mother who knows her little boy will never be recognized for anything other than quitting the most important calling of his generation.

I stand by my opinion. He is a coward of the most repulsive sort, a sunshine patriot, and a pussy.

I've laid in my own blood and pus in a hospital ward, and the first question I consciously remember asking, even after I knew the severity of my own wounds, is "When can I go back?" I personally know scores of men--some missing multiple limbs, asked their doctors that same question. Men don't do that so they can rush back overseas and commit war crimes. We aren't monsters. We want to go back because we see that what we are doing in Iraq is a just, righteous, and humanitarian cause.

I stand by my opinion.

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