February 01, 2007

Changing Opinions

It seems that WaPo blogger William Arkin has created quite the firestorm with the most recent entry to his Early Warning blog, where he labeled those brave members of our military mercenaries, and suggested "it wasn't for them to disapprove of the American people" and their opposition to winning the war in Iraq. Arkin also said that our soldiers should be grateful that the American people still support and respect them, and send them "obscene amenities."

I can only assume Arkin means such "obscene amenities" as body armor, bullets and MREs. I can hear the new Marine recruiting slogan now:

"The Few. The Proud. The Pampered."

I guess that is why Parris Island is considered quite the four-star resort. Allow me to introduce you to your leisure-time directors.


Why, it's just like a Disney vacation.

And so while my friends in the blogosphere have a slight difference of opinion with Mr. Arkin, let me suggest that getting angry with him is not the way to get him to change his opinion. In fact, he's libel to get quite defensive, and become even more firmly ensconced in his beliefs, which I've heard rumor that he first acquired while a Greenpeace activist, when other GPers once sent him to spend the evening on a cold, isolated beach to protect nearby sea-going mammals from the particularly evil U.S. Navy sport of "whale-tipping," before leaving him to go to a party in town. That Arkin's disgust for the military has only hardened since that night, where he was traumatically assaulted by a male sea lion, is perfectly understandable.

I think that perhaps what Mr. Arkin needs now, more than anything, is a supportive environment, where he can face his phobias and apparent disgust for our military. He would probably be much more willing to change his opinion were he to spend more time with those he derides, to better understand them.

But where could he find such an environment?

If recent dispatches from elsewhere in the blogosphere may be a worthy guide, I'd suggest that he partake of the opportunity shared by bloggers such as Bill Ardalino, Bill Roggio, Michelle Malkin, Bryan Preston, and of course, Michael Yon. Perhaps what would go the furthest in changing his opinion of our soldier is a simple, short embed with our military in Iraq.

Towards that end, and wanting to help out, I sent to the following emails to people that I am quite sure would be very hospitable towards the idea of helping Mr. Arkin find common ground with our soldiers in the field.

To embedded blogger Michael Yon, with whom I correspond regularly, I sent the following:

William Arkin of the "Early Warning" WaPo blog just called our soldiers mercenaries, among other pleasantries.

Michelle, Allah, Blackfive, etc are trying to reem the guy for his opinion, but I'd suggest another route.

Michael, how would you feel about offering Mr. Arkin a guided tour of the Iraq battlespace, so that he would actually get to know our troops, and then perhaps change his opinion? Can I ask him if he'd like to embed with you? Would that be okay?

As Michael is probably cavorting at a local-themed spa, he hasn't yet responded. I'm sure he will as soon as he has completed his mud bath.

I also contacted my friends at MultiNational Corps-Iraq PAO and asked them if they've be willing to help:

I'm probably sure by now you've heard of the controversial remarks made by Washington Post blogger William Arkin about the "obscene amenities" that our soldiers have in the field in the Middle East, and I was wondering if you could tear yourselves away from the hot tub and polo grounds long enough to post an invitation to Mr. Arkin to come experience these extravagances for himself as an embed. Posting an embed offer might just provide the feeling of warmth and acceptance he needs to come over and experience the posh resort lifestyle that all of you joined the military to enjoy. Please consider extending Mr. Arkin such and invitation after your next tanning session.

Once Mr. Arkin has the opportunity to experience these posh amenities firsthand, I hope that this opinion he has harbored will be open to change.

Update: Arkin responds to his critics, in The Arrogant and Intolerant Speak Out:

These men and women are not fighting for money with little regard for the nation. The situation might be much worse than that: Evidently, far too many in uniform believe that they are the one true nation. They hide behind the constitution and the flag and then spew an anti-Democrat, anti-liberal, anti-journalism, anti-dissent, and anti-citizen message that reflects a certain contempt for the American people.

Update: The single most impressive response thus far to Arkin, by an injured active duty Army officer:

Mr. Arkin-

I am an officer in the United States Army. I have deployed to Iraq twice, and been wounded once. I have had my soldiers killed and wounded, I have killed and wounded other human beings. I have carried wounded soldiers and civilians in my arms; crying in pain. I myself am permanently physically damaged by my experience.

Through all those events, I never shed a tear. Yet I sit here today crying; reading your original article and your rebuttal to the overwhelming response.

I am proud of what I do, what my soldiers do, the freedoms we defend, and everything we stand for. I proudly defend your right to publish your article, and it actually warms my soul to see free debate and discourse about any topic, because this is the only nation in the world where such completely unbridled discussion and opinion rage on in an organized fashion. That is the United States I am proud of, the one that has given me so much.

I decry and am ashamed of my fellow warriors who have lost their thin veneer of civilization and chosen to engage in the atrocities committed in Iraq. May God have mercy on their souls.

I have chosen to shelve my right to have an opinion on the war in Iraq. I support our effort to help the Iraqi people, depose Saddam, and promote a free(er) Iraq. Are we (or can we) still doing that? I don't know anymore. I have an opinion, but it is too visceral to be truly rational anymore, so I keep it to myself.

Overall, it does not matter. My country, almost unanimously, asked me to refresh the tree with my blood in Iraq/Afghanistan 6 years ago. That was this country, by referendum. As my country comes to terms with what she has done, and possibly chooses a different path, I will soldier on. I will guide and inspire my Soldiers to do the same. But, it saddens me to see so many of my brothers and sisters killed and maimed, only to find out my country either didn't mean it or had no stomach for it.

None of these are the reasons I cry. I cry for the lack of purpose, the apparent lack of caring, the lack of compassion you displayed in your original article and in this subsequent failure to apologize to me, my fellow warriors, and all those who came before me. Here's why.

1. I am not a mercenary. You could make me work two jobs and this would still be one of them, because I am that passionate about defending you and your rights. Many in the National Guard and Reserves do just that. My country needs professional warriors to do her bidding, and he is me, and thousands like me.

2. I have the right to express my opinion within the bounds of the UCMJ, as do my Soldiers. How dare you imply that I do not, or that I should reprimand them? We already accept an abbreviated set of rights willingly. Do not attempt limit my liberties that I have already willingly limited while I defend without complaint the unabridged version you are so rightly entitled to.

3. As an officer, my needs are met. However, in the three months leading up to my first deployment and the entire 13 month adventure, my pay amounted to 173 cents an hour. My friends and I logged our hours as a joke, but $1.73 is the reality. That equates to 19-20 hour days, 7 days a week, for 16 months. That's with the relatively lavish bonuses and benefits we receive while deployed. And I am an officer. Think of our junior enlisted, and find someone else in our great country that is willing to work so hard, day and night, no weekends, under fire, threat of death over their head, for so little? Find me one and I will retract this comment graciously. Of course, even when not deployed, it takes my wife and me quite some time to get through the line at the grocery store. That's because we get in line behind one of my fellow warriors, who with shame in their eyes and faces flush with embarrassment fill out their WIC paperwork because they don't make enough to support their wife and two kids (an average sized family).

4. This response is taking an inordinate amount of time to type, because I have only one functioning hand after being wounded in Iraq. I am trying as quickly as possible to use the medical system your (and my) taxes paid for to recover, so I can go back to Iraq and continue to fight for what you don't believe in, because I believe in you and my Soldiers. Still, I count myself lucky, as I received my Purple Heart next to a 19-year old warrior with both his legs amputated above the knee. No matter how wrong the majority feels the decision was at this juncture, that Soldier gave (I use the word gave deliberately) his legs at his nation's calling. Not for money. Not because he was too stupid to get into college. Not for the great benefits. Just because you asked him to. Please don't imply that this fallen hero is not entitled to the basic medical care he receives.

5. Given the opportunity, I would fight the Germans in 1944. Oh, to have that definition of purpose, that sense of righteousness! But, that is not to be. This is the war that this country has chosen for me, my peers, and my Soldiers. With its vagueness, dirtiness, ambiguity, undefined enemy, amorphous center of gravity, and undefined purpose. The actions of our administration, the decisions higher-echelons of our military, the blunders of the CPA, (I could go on) etc. aside; it comes back to one thing. America chose this fight for me, and I will fight it with all my skill and might until she tells me to stop. The woes and throes of the majority, hawks, doves, liberals, neocons, etc. mean nothing to me or those Soldiers you quoted. What matters to us is that you told us to be there, 3000+ of our brothers and sisters have died there, and we are still there. Change that - in reality, not in the abstract - and we will gladly leave and prepare ourselves for the next challenge and opportunity to defend your freedoms.

I am a Warrior, a Soldier, a Scholar, and a Patriot. This country has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to train and educate me. I am well-versed in our government, our demographics, our history, and our Constitution. Perhaps I am an idealist. To the end of my life or capability I will defend your rights and this country. I am proud that I live in a country where a free-thinker such as you can write an article so critical of current policy. But I am deeply hurt by the insinuations and accusations listed above. I request an apology, on the behalf of all the Armed Forces, for your insensitive and boorish comments. I only wish I could communicate with your entire readership the bitter taste of betrayal that is in my mouth as easily as you communicate your speech and thoughts.

With Respect,

A United States Army Officer
"Army Strong"

Posted by Confederate Yankee at February 1, 2007 09:26 AM

I will donate to the cause if he chooses to accept. I however do not believe the coward and I say that with all due respect - not, will accept.

Posted by: Rightmom at February 1, 2007 11:22 AM


This is an affront to every citizen of the United States of America. Opinion – yes, free speech – yes, irresponsible, hurtful, unproductive - YES

The Washington Post can use free speech to say, print and blog what ever it wants.

WE THE PEOPLE can choose NOT to buy the Washington post OR purchase products from their advertisers.

The WOT (War on Terror) has many fronts.
Unfortunately, one major front happens to be here at HOME.
Un-American propaganda as issued by the Washington Post is a continuing attack on WE THE PEOPLE.

WE THE PEOPLE must use every means necessary to combat this attack. The Washington Post continues to provide comfort and aid to the enemy. YOU have as a freedom loving individual a responsibility to act.

Buy your last copy of the Washington Post and contact directly as many of the Washington Posts’ advertisers and let them know you will NOT purchase their products of services.
DO it today.
This you might say is very “colorful” CAUTION

Here’s a previous boycott that seemed to have some success.

Send an e-mail to Washington post ombudsman
Dear Deborah Howell.
Arkin’s rantings are an affront to me and EVERY American. I will do everything in my power to see that the Washington Post is run out of business. Free Speech is your right. I would never prevent you from speaking. All actions have consequences. I will be contacting your advertisers and using MY free speech to have them pull their advertising from your disgusting RAG you call a newspaper. You can stand on the street corner and talk all you want after the Washington Post is out of business.
This Washington Post can't even live up to it's own principles.
Eugene Meyer's Principles for The Washington Post
Eugene Meyer had a vision of what makes a newspaper truly great, and that vision included serving the public according to seven principles. He offered them in a speech on March 5, 1935 and published them on his newspaper's front page.
The first mission of a newspaper is to tell the truth as nearly as the truth can be ascertained.
The newspaper shall tell ALL the truth so far as it can learn it, concerning the important affairs of America and the world.
As a disseminator of news, the paper shall observe the decencies that are obligatory upon a private gentleman.

What it prints shall be fit reading for the young as well as the old.
The newspaper's duty is to its readers and to the public at large, and not to the private interests of its owners.

In the pursuit of truth, the newspaper shall be prepared to make sacrifices of its material fortunes, if such a course be necessary for the public good.
The newspaper shall not be the ally of any special interest, but shall be fair and free and wholesome in its outlook on public affairs and public men.

Posted by: Bruce Campbell at February 1, 2007 12:17 PM

"Ignorant and intolerant" is an apt description of a liberal view. It appears in lieu of logic, tolerance, and good old-fashioned readin', 'ritin',and 'rithmatic, our legions of "thinkers" have substituted a self-centered schoolboy view of the world. Ignorance and arrogance go in hand. Arrogant use of phraseology today which tomorrow is transparently spun or even vehemently denied has not gone unnoticed. Evidently, hundreds of well written, heartfelt and, yes, opposing thoughts about an article can be discounted by dropping a few examples of profane and threatening reactions on top, and defining the three layer cake that is the American majority by the sprinkles. Demand what you won't give, because you can always shout louder when you find you're the minority. Most find it hard to be tolerant in the face of such lunacy, yet somehow, the intolerant cretins you daily insult have yet to swat you off their cake.

Posted by: GettingLouder at February 1, 2007 12:20 PM

Generally, Bruce, I'd consider your post comment spam and I'd delete it, but considering how much I enjoyed Brisco County, Jr., I'll let it slide... this time.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at February 1, 2007 12:25 PM

I excerpted and linked at It's called "Cojones Envy." (Multiple updates). I guess when you don't have what it takes to be a real man all that's left is to try to drag down those who do. It's beginning to smell way too much like the '60s again.

Wouldn't I love to catch up with that little sh1thead for about two minutes? I could probably get away with it. Us old farts are allowed the occasional flashback: "Gee, I don't know how that happened. I just sorta went dinkydau for a little bit. Temporary insanity, right?"

Bill Faith, Proud Veteran-American

Posted by: Bill Faith at February 1, 2007 03:08 PM

I'll help pay for the dipstick to go to Iraq. Everybody's got the right to an opinion, but let's see the chickens**t back his up.

Posted by: Specter at February 1, 2007 07:15 PM

He would just be a liability to whatever unit was unlucky enough to be stuck with him. It would be best if he just stayed put. Actually it would be best if he wised up.

Posted by: brando at February 6, 2007 04:12 AM