Bennett's Blog

Warrior does not mean War-Monger

Bennett R. Coles | October 27, 2010

I find it interesting that some folks are surprised when members of the military speak out against war. Similarly, I find it annoying when folks assume that just because I wear/wore a uniform I automatically support every war around the world. So on behalf of all of us warriors, let me be so bold as to say: no, we don't think war is the first or best choice in this world.

First, military members are as educated, informed and free-willed as every other member of society. One difference between them and more pacifist citizens is that soldiers understand that war, however undesireable, is sometimes necessary for the greater good. It doesn't mean they look forward to it or encourage it - they simply recognize it as a reality. If there's another way to solve the issue where no-one gets hurt, soldiers are as supportive as anyone in pursuing that option.

Second, if we do ever go to war, who do you think winds up getting killed? Not the politicians, not the arms manufacturers, certainly not the right-wing armchair generals who blather on about national interests on their blogs and TV shows: it's the soldier who gets killed. Soldiers are very aware of this, so trust me, they don't seek out war for its own sake.

Soldiers are human beings like everyone else. Like most professions they've been glamourized and simplified by Hollywood and the national media, but as individuals they're as complex and diverse as any other group of citizens. I personally thought the American invasion of Iraq was a terrible idea - always did, always will. But that doesn't make me hate the soldiers who went - I just feel sorry for them.

I do think the NATO intervention in the former Yugoslavia was a good idea, and thousands of lives were saved by NATO wedging itself between the combatants and saying: "Stop shooting at each other, or we'll pound the crap out of you, and we're bigger." Sound war-mongerish? Maybe. But it was the only language those belligerents would listen to at the time, and it worked. Messy? Yes. Pretty? No. But it worked. Lives were saved and peace eventually brought to a divided land.

When it comes down to it, soldiers have a very nasty job to do. They don't look forward to it, but they believe that their role is necessary and they do it because it's right. Doing a nasty job is not the same as wishing for it. Warrior does not mean war-monger.

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