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11/25/2009
THE ABSOLUTE MORAL AUTHORITY TO ACT LIKE AN ASS

I like Uncle Jimbo over at Blackfive. He usually has something interesting to say about hot military issues and is passionate about defending our people in uniform.

He is a retired Special Operations Master Sergeant so his bona fides to comment on this Allahpundit post are not in question.

It is his over the top, un-called for response to Allah’s observations about the Special Forces men who captured a wanted terrorist and now face assault charges, that is the issue. And Jimbo does not come out of the scrum looking very good. In fact, he raises some issues that need addressing not so much because Allah needs defending (if he wishes, Allah can do that himself), but because in a democracy with an all-volunteer military, there are lines in debate that must not be crossed by either side.

Here’s what Allah wrote about the event:

I like Goldfarb’s take: “A fat lip? That’s enough to get you rough military justice from the Obama administration, but blow up the World Trade Center and you get all the due process rights of the civilian criminal justice system.” Even so, the fact that this turd got the Iraqi authorities involved may have left Central Command with little choice here. The last thing the military needs right now is another detainee-abuse headache, especially with some Iraqi pols already leaning on them about withdrawal. Giving the SEALs a zero-tolerance wrist slap reminds other troops not to do anything more seriously stupid that might be exploited politically. And it will be a wrist slap, I’m sure: The last thing The One needs after shipping KSM off to NYC for his close-up is the image of SEALs being hauled off to prison for busting some jihadi in the face. In fact, according to Fox, the SEALs requested a court-martial rather than nonjudicial punishment, presumably because they know full well how awful this looks for the military. Prediction: Wrist slap.

Jimbo thinks Allah too dismissive:

Aww c’mon now. I do my best to avoid red on red fire, but sometimes it is absolutely called for. Noted beta male and “many moons ago” entertaining blogger Allahpundit at Hot Air throws three Navy SEALs under the bus just to appease people who are only safe to be appeased, himself included, because of these rough men. No link from me.

Yes, yes, lets all whip it out and compare. No doubt Jimbo’s is bigger than Allah’s. But beyond the testosterone challenge to the “beta male,” there is a an unsettling reference and echo of the “chickenhawk” argument used by the left against supporters of the war who criticized soldiers that came out against the conflict; only those who enjoy the absolute moral authority of having served or who are serving, can criticize the military.

Jimbo returns to this despicable lefty meme at the end of his tirade:

I realize you get paid to say controversial shite all day long. Every once in a while you ought to take a gander at who gives you the freedom to flap your freakin’ gums and think twice before you decide that zero-tolerance demands that your betters suffer for some bullshit like this. Don’t offer the PC losers cover, ever. They will use it against my friends.

Who, in fact, gives Allah the “freedom to flap [his] freakin’ gums” about anything? That would be the Constitution, of course, and the men and women who make its precepts come alive.

Some of them are in the military, our intelligence services, our Coast Guard. I would argue that it’s also the cop on the beat, the sheriff on our interstates, and the state police who also stand watch over our freedoms as well. No law and order - precious little freedom.

And behind them, a veritable army that keeps our military supplied with equipment and the tools necessary to do their job. Our hero warriors are not alone on a hill, standing a silent sentinel to protect us. He is not naked, armed with a spear to fight off the wolves and brigands who would attack us. In addition to possessing the courage and dedication to duty, he is the best armed, best equipped, most technologically advanced, most deadly tool of war civilization has ever seen. And he didn’t get that way all by himself.

The rest of us who were not called to service - and there is little doubt in this day and age that military service is a calling - are as much a part of the defense of this nation as Jimbo. We are grateful for his service, grateful for his comrades who are still serving. But to posit the notion that they alone have the ability, the right to criticize or comment on their efforts to defend us is arrogant posturing.

Allah’s rather mild observations about the politics of the situation may have been off putting to some. Clearly, he was unaware that a “wrist slap” would have serious repercussions for the careers of the Special Forces soldiers who captured the terrorist, as Jimbo heatedly points out.

But to use the chickenhawk argument as Jimbo is doing to lambaste the writer is sickening - and ironic given Jimbo’s remonstrance that Allah was criticizing the soldiers “just to appease people who are only safe to be appeased… because of these rough men.” It is ironic because he is using a lefty meme to criticize Allah for believing as they do - strange rhetorical bedfellows indeed.

The military is not infallible, as Jimbo has pointed out frequently. But neither should those who serve in it be elevated to a separate, higher moral plane in our culture. Being a member of the warrior fraternity in America is a voluntary undertaking. While this bestows a responsibility which the rest of us are not encumbered, no special rights are granted as a result of their volunteerism that would endow their speech with extra impetus, or give their thoughts a patina of moral infallibility - most especially when the argument is advanced that not having served in the military makes one less concerned, less morally responsible for our national security, and hence, their criticism less valid.

All of us contribute to our national defense what we can, where we can. It is a sophist’s argument that serving or not serving matters one whit to the power and cogency of one’s arguments. Some of Jimbo’s criticism of Allah’s analysis rings true. But he was dead wrong to bring up the chickenhawk meme to try and discredit it.

By: Rick Moran at 10:42 am
21 Responses to “THE ABSOLUTE MORAL AUTHORITY TO ACT LIKE AN ASS”
  1. 1
    Richard bottoms Said:
    12:22 pm 

    A fat lip?

    It’s either the policy of the United States Army to follow the Laws of Land Warfare as spelled out in FM-27-10 and the UCMJ, or it’s not.

    Every raw recruit is taught in Basic Training that adhrence to these rules is what separates the good guys from the bad guys.

    Our outrage, fear, hurt, and even basic right to avenge the wrong of 9/11 doesn’t erase a soldiers duty, DUTY, to follow the UCMJ and treat prisoners and non-combatants humanely.

    They were the rules when I was a soldier. They are the rules now.

    Period. End of frakking story.

  2. 2
    michael reynolds Said:
    12:38 pm 

    I have no end of admiration for the soldiers who do manage to obey the rules. The level of discipline and training is incredible. We can barely get the LAPD to behave with restraint after chasing down some car thief. Or for that matter pulling over a mouthy speeder.

    It must take enormous self-discipline to control yourself — especially when the guy you’ve grabbed may be the guy who just shot your buddy. I’m pretty sure that under similar stress I’d just pull out my pistol and shoot the guy in the head.

    But then I’m a civilian — and the world is the better for it.

    The rules are set by the chain of command. Soldiers follow orders. Even difficult orders. Especially difficult orders. This isn’t about a fat lip, it’s about a breach of discipline. Discipline and training are what keep those guys alive.

  3. 3
    Postagoras Said:
    12:59 pm 

    I agree with your general point, that Allah’s comment was not worthy of Jimbo’s criticism.

    I’m not sure about the “despicable lefty meme” of calling someone a chickenhawk. Wikipedia says:

    “Chickenhawk” is a political epithet used in the United States to criticize a politician, bureaucrat, or commentator who strongly supports a war or other military action, yet who actively avoided military service when of age.

    Is it despicable to point this out? The key is the actively avoided military service part. I think that this is a legitimate point to make.

    That is the “meme” that I remember. Perhaps in your memory, the term was used to describe any critic who did not serve in the military. Since it is a tenet of our country that the military is under civilian control, this is foolish on its face.

  4. 4
    Richard bottoms Said:
    1:11 pm 

    Since it is a tenet of our country that the military is under civilian control, this is foolish on its face.

    I reserve Chickenhawk for the tough talking, I’d go kick Osama a** types who can’t find the recruiting office.

    We used to have a face off over Iraq every week at a park in my town near a VFW Hall. The antiwar protesters on one side of the street, the war supporters on the other.

    Invariably the toughest, most gung-ho types were guys in the their 20’s who had no intention whatsoever of going to fight the war or to ever put themselves in harms way.

    Remember, we went in to Afghanistan with damn near universal support, even the lefties were for stomping Osama’s rear. That was EIGHT years ago and certainly the distraction and debacle of Iraq has changed things.

    No, what really frosts me and brings out the biggest Chickenhawk accusations from me is hearing these tough guys not only cheer on the war, but have them disparage Democrats using the idea that only Republicans serve and die for this country.

    The hell with that.

  5. 5
    funny man Said:
    1:55 pm 

    I think Richard has it basically right about the Chickenhawk types. I like any other German male had to serve, guess who got a doctor’s excuse, our tough talking, swimming champ (because of his bad back!!!) and now judge. Anyway, I didn’t like service much, that was the Cold War and you pretty much sat around doing nothing but luckily I worked in a hospital.

  6. 6
    Richard bottoms Said:
    2:07 pm 

    Anyway, I didn’t like service much, that was the Cold War and you pretty much sat around doing nothing but luckily I worked in a hospital.

    Coolest place we ever deployed in Germany was Vogelsang. I got to setup my satellite terminal right by the big stone slab with the heroic German youth on it. His genitalia were shot off long ago by Allied Troops.

  7. 7
    funny man Said:
    2:13 pm 

    I know many GIs enjoyed their service in Germany, all the good food, beer and women in a safe, clean environment (smile). When I moved from Germany to Detroit I heard many nice remarks of veterans about their time in Germany. Thanks for remembering

  8. 8
    Richard bottoms Said:
    2:30 pm 

    I know many GIs enjoyed their service in Germany, all the good food, beer and women in a safe, clean environment (smile).

    Reasonably safe. We had the Bader-Meinhof gang kidnapping soldiers and blowing up cars for quite a while. I am still am quite leery of unattended packages in public places.

  9. 9
    still liberal Said:
    3:02 pm 

    I can appreciate Uncle Jimbo’s gung-ho military attitude and ready defense of the men and women in the military. However, I don’t think a Master Sgt. would focus too much on the political implications of roughing up prisoners. After Abu Graib and other military and hired civilians’ mistreatment of prisoners, it is in the funding interest of the military to avoid acts that put them in a bad light with our civilian population.

    And astute military people must always remember that our system has overall civilian control of the military and how and what activities they will be charged to do.

    As an old buddy from the Army said, the Army’s job is to “bust things and kill people.” But this has very limited application to dealing with insurgencies and this must be calculated into our current Afganistan equation as well.

  10. 10
    busboy33 Said:
    3:27 pm 

    @Mike Reynolds:

    “It must take enormous self-discipline to control yourself — especially when the guy you’ve grabbed may be the guy who just shot your buddy. I’m pretty sure that under similar stress I’d just pull out my pistol and shoot the guy in the head.

    But then I’m a civilian — and the world is the better for it.”

    Amen.

    I can’t excuse police brutality, or a combat massacre . . . but I certainly understand it. I (twice) sought out a career in law enforcement after leaving my criminal defense practice. Both times I backed out when I had to admit to myself that it would probably only take a month (or less) before quite a few of my mouthy suspects would accidentally bang their heads getting in the back of my cruiser. Some of them a few times. Criminals can be a clumsy lot.

    Its a tremendously slippery slope, and I don’t have the discipline to resist that “No, fu@k YOU” behavior. My hat’s off to anybody that can.

  11. 11
    Richard bottoms Said:
    3:47 pm 

    Its a tremendously slippery slope, and I don’t have the discipline to resist that “No, fu@k YOU” behavior. My hat’s off to anybody that can.

    I see no contradiction between enjoying Dirty Harry, Jack Bauer, or even Vic Mackey taking a phone book to a molester’s head in the interrogation room of his fictional station-house. The operative word being fictional.

    Mai Lai, the Bhagram death of Dilawar, Abu Gharib, all come from the same place. Each poisons the soul of the fighting men and women involved and tarnishes that which so many have died for, the ideals of honor and freedom.

    We should neither want, nor do we need such behavior, our honor and the reputation of the American Fighting Man are mighty weapons against the extremists.

  12. 12
    DrKrbyLuv Said:
    7:48 pm 

    The morality of the nation is evaporating just as is the morality of our military. It’s not their fault, they almost all serve for the right reasons but their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan are criminal.

    We killed over 1,300,000 Iraqis over bogus WMDs without any remorse or outrage. Our nation is going bankrupt but we can always borrow more to support the corporate war machine.

    Our enemies are not in the deserts of Iraq of the mountains of Afghanistan - they are in Washington D.C. and Wall Street.

  13. 13
    Cecil Said:
    8:36 pm 

    Not sure which way to go on this issue. Things will eventually work themselves out hopefully without the influence of our Commander-in-Chief.

    I am concerned with the following:

    “And behind them, a veritable army that keeps our military supplied with equipment and the tools necessary to do their job. Our hero warriors are not alone on a hill, standing a silent sentinel to protect us. He is not naked, armed with a spear to fight off the wolves and brigands who would attack us. In addition to possessing the courage and dedication to duty, he is the best armed, best equipped, most technologically advanced, most deadly tool of war civilization has ever seen. And he didn’t get that way all by himself.”

    This is rationalizing pure and simple. Rationalizing so that a none military, none “in harms way” type thinks he has equal rights to criticize or judge decisions made “in harms way.”

    So Rick believes that decisions on the spur of the moment under duress and “in harms way” are made with the help of those around the person making the decision. Not even close. Those in support of and next to will not have to pay the piper if a piper is to be paid. All these decisions are made by an individual, alone with no help from anyone else. The training is done hopefully so that the nanosecond decision will be the right one. The hell with politics and rationalizing whimps who think they have the “ability” to judge one who makes such a decision. Been there, done that. Walk a mile in my shoes before you express your Constitutional “right” to criticize me. You have the right but you have no moral authority to do it unless you have experienced the same situation. A right expressed is not always right.

    You have your opinions and you have the “right” to express them but that does not mean they are right. Jimbo is more right than your right given to you by our Constitution. Criticize at your own discretion but do not be surprised when those of us who have served and had to make the difficult decisions dismiss you as rationalizing your inability to understand our positions. No Brag Just Fact.

    You don’t know what I “believe” about this incident because I have not commented on it - something you would discover if you bothered to read what I wrote. I neither praised nor criticized anyone involved in the incident. Might I suggest a remedial reading course? That may help with your reading comprehension.

    It is a fantastical notion that an argument or criticism is granted additional weight or power based on anything other than the logic and reason of its tenets. These things stand alone and are not dependent on extraneous nonsense like whether one has served or not. To argue otherwise is to engage in sophistry.

    ed.

  14. 14
    Richard bottoms Said:
    8:46 pm 

    Our enemies are not in the deserts of Iraq of the mountains of Afghanistan -

    No, they are in the mountains of Afghanistan, but it may be two or three years before politically Obama can orient the United States into living with them.

    Containment isn’t possible until he gives the Republicans their “surge”. They blew Afghanistan and will fight to the death no to have to admit it.

    There is the tin sliver of a possibility that things might get better, but by giving the military exactly what they say they want right now he will be in a position to make other arrangements down the road.

  15. 15
    funny man Said:
    8:58 pm 

    They are also in the mountains of Pakistan. Look, there are no really good solution but we have to make life difficult for the Islamists otherwise they regroup even quicker. At this point it is moot to concentrate on who blew it. I was against the Iraq war but now is now and Afghanistan is different because it was from here we were attacked. I’m under no illusion that this country is going anywhere but again no reason to give it back to the Taliban.

  16. 16
    Doug King Said:
    9:28 pm 

    Unlike others here, I cannot claim the honor of having served in the military. (I was seriously interested in ROTC when I enrolled in college in 1974 but I let my roommate talk me out of it.) So on this Thanksgiving eve, I wish thank patriotic veterans (especially Richard with whom I often disagree) for having defended our country. (I am also very proud of my son currently serving in the USMC.)

    But I would like to add that I find the argument that only veterans should have a say about strategic military decisions just as fallacious as the argument that only those who actually pay income tax should have a say about how tax dollars are spent.

  17. 17
    Cecil Said:
    11:11 pm 

    To Doug:

    I certainly did not entertain the concept that “only veterans should have a say about strategic military decisions.” Veterans, by and large, will no doubt make the better strategic military decisions. History has long established this little law of decision making where experience count more than smarts(Vietnam decision makers come to mind here).

    My comments were directed at those who try to speak with authority on the morality or immorality of decisions made by those “in harms way.” Here we see Rick and his apologists seemingly crying about the “rushing to judgement” of the terrorist shooting at Ft. Hood and then apparently turning around and “rushing to judgement” about the possible abuse of an Al Qaeda terrorist by his captures. Those who make life and death decisions make them alone and they alone face the ultimate consequences of these decisions. Saying anything else other than this fact means one is rationalizing.

    We all have the right to express our opinions. But, IMHO, some opinions are actually facts in opinion clothing. It it up to the listener to determine what is opinion and what is fact. Moral authority does exist out there someplace, but where?

    Here we see Rick and his apologists seemingly crying about the “rushing to judgement” of the terrorist shooting at Ft. Hood and then apparently turning around and “rushing to judgement” about the possible abuse of an Al Qaeda terrorist by his captures.

    Perhaps you want to point out where I make any comment at all about the “abuse” of the prisoner? If you had bothered to read what I wrote before making an ass of yourself, you might note the only mention I made of the incident was in reference to Allah’s post on the subject - I passed no judgment, moral or otherwise on what happened.

    And yes, 24 hours after the attack at Fort Hood, nitwits like you WERE rushing to judgment with no facts, nothing except your bigotry and ignorance. I was right - as was any sane, rational person - to wait for the facts. You were wrong.

    ed.

  18. 18
    Richard bottoms Said:
    12:45 am 

    I wish thank patriotic veterans (especially Richard with whom I often disagree) for having defended our country. (I am also very proud of my son currently serving in the USMC.)

    I’m honored and like most vets all we want is for this still in the service to be treated well. Better pay, sufficient support for their families and medical care their doesn’t worry about the bottom line for the maimed & injured.

    And of course that we leaders making decisions with care and deliberation o that every battle is one that absolutely had to happen.

    There is no military solution in Afghanistan.

    The only least worst outcome is buying time to get Karzai to lessen the corruption, move the agricultural base away from opium a little bit and set the stage for Special Forces to carry on the main fighting as we prepare to draw down the force.

    That means an increase now. It is politically and militarily unavoidable.

  19. 19
    Cecil Said:
    6:14 am 

    Dearest Editor,

    Funny how name calling rapidly rises to the top when pseudo-Constitution loving free speechers like yourself find themselves under “seemingly” attack.

    I will repeat your question that you posed to me - where exactly did you find out that I somehow jumped to some conclusion about the Ft. Hood shooting? Did I comment on it here in your comments section? Seems to me that you have yourself “rushed to judgement” concerning what I may or may not have believed concerning the shooting without any factual data to back it up.

    Notice the careful use of the words “seemingly crying about” in reference to your blog. Why bring it up and make it an issue with comments not exactly positive toward those who obviously disagree with your position? Why call me names when I was very careful not to directly point fingers by the use of the term “seemingly.” I obvious had doubts about where you stood but by writing the article the way you did, it “appeared” that you had made a moral judgement. Maybe I am just “appear” to be an ass in you mind but really am not. Maybe you just seemed to be making a moral judgement but really did not.

    But back to the issue of name calling - tell me the difference between a conservative calling someone with whom he or she disagrees a nasty little name and that of a liberal who does the same. And tell me how I made an “ass” of myself by reading an article with a title such as THE ABSOLUTE MORAL AUTHORITY TO ACT LIKE AN ASS which “seemingly” denigrates a military person who “appears” to be a moral authority on said abuse issue?

    Did I read your article? Absolutely. Did you make an ass of yourself by calling me a name, pretending to know what I thought 24 hours after the said shooting and them claiming to know that I did not read your article. The answer is a resounding - ABSOLUTELY!

  20. 20
    Andy Said:
    8:58 am 

    I am a veteran, am currently serving in the guard and have 16 years of total military service on active duty and in the reserve/guard forces.

    People like me, Jimbo and others who have served or are serving do have a different perspective, but our opinions on these issues are no more or less valuable than those of anyone else. Sometimes our unique experience and expertise informs an opinion, other times it prevents us from seeing the forest for the trees because issues of war, peace and strategy can carry serious consequences for us. Ultimately, our job is to carry out the collective will of the American people and it’s the American people who are the “deciders.”

    There is a disturbing trend I’ve seen in the last couple of years and certain groups of people seek to do two things: Put the military and military personnel on a pedestal, and, outsource national strategy to the military. The GoP has recently made support of the latter one the 10 things GoP politicians must support to receive funding. That is wrong, wrong, wrong. In our republic civilians control and decide strategy and the military informs and advises that process. I’m not sure if Jimbo realizes it or not, but insistence that we venerate our military and his insistence that we simply let things slide when military members make a mistake is a road that ultimately endangers our republic. Jimbo can’t seem to handle anyone criticizing the military, particularly special operators. Well, Jimbo, as well trained and intelligent as they are (and I’ve supported a lot of them), they make mistakes. They are human with passions and flaws. They have difficult jobs but they are volunteers and must be held accountable when they make screw up.

  21. 21
    jarjar Said:
    7:28 pm 

    Jimbo’s first problem is that he thinks civilians are subservient to the military.

    He’s wrong — the military and the government work for us, not the other way around. They must do what we say.

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