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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. phil says:

    On Veterans Day we gather (mentally, at least) to honor those among us who served in defense of our country. But in a larger sense, our thoughts and words provide faint honor; the brave men, living and dead, who fought on behalf of our country have honored themselves far beyond our poor power to add or detract.

    History shows that some wars are more noble than others. This fact is generally lost upon those fighting; their job is not to question the nobility of the cause but rather to do their duty. The fundamental nobility of the cause does nothing to add or detract from the nobility of the duty done and the sacrifices made by our soldiers. It is that duty and those sacrifices we honor today.

    Rather it is for the rest of us and for the historians to question the nobility of the cause for which we have sent our young people off to fight and die. After all, they are fighting for us, in our name, for our country. In that sense we, all of us, have sent them off to fight and die.
    The fact that our involvement in Viet Nam was immoral and in retrospect a colossal blunder both politically and militarily in no way devalues the service of those who fought and died there. Those soldiers were simply doing their job. The fundamental immorality of the cause however puts their deaths on the conscience of all of us (or at least those of us with a conscience).

    In like manner, history will show that our involvement in Iraq was based a preconceived plot hatched among the neocons in the White House, none of whom had actually served in the military themselves. It was a preconceived war looking for a cause, and though 9/11 had nothing to do with Iraq, it provided the people in the White House with the cause they needed. Through trumped up “intelligence” the Bush team justified going to war; who cares who else believed the incorrect justification for going into Iraq, the blood is on their hands too. The bottom line is that the plot was hatched inside the White House.

    Now 2065 of our young men and women have died over there, more die each week. Over 15,000 have been permanently disabled in the war. The result of the war thus far leads to the inevitable conclusion that the world is far less safe as a result of the operation.

    This is in no way to devalue the duty and sacrifice of our young people fighting in Iraq, we should honor them, and we must.

    But by simply mouthing empty words in praise of those fighting for us and waving our flags harder without understanding for whom they are fighting and why, we don’t honor them, we dishonor them. They fight for us, they fight in our name, and they fight for our country.

    The light of history will show that the war in Iraq was begun on false pretenses and was therefore fundamentally immoral. We will be forced to acknowledge that the blood of the dead is on the hands of those in the White House who hatched the plan and who sold it to their countrymen as a response to 9/11.

    By denying ourselves this fundamental truth we must acknowledge that we’re at fault too. Our freedoms extend…they MUST extend…to the right, duty and obligation of the citizens to hold accountable those who wage an immoral war in our names.

    These are our soldiers, living and dead. They fought for us. As our soldiers their blood is on our hands, their deaths and injuries on our conscience, all of us. Can you look yourself in the mirror and be certain that you have done right by them? Should they expect any less?