Respect Soldiers! - But Why?

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First off, I'll apologize in advanced: I'm not typically very good at putting across the points that sounded so good when I thought them up. Oh well, let's hope for the best!

Okay, so we are always shown in the media that these soldiers are the heroes of the country and people we should all aspire to be like... but... well... I don't think that at all.

The way I see it, these people join the army and knowingly give away their free will to kill people for some reason they probably do not understand, and are punished for asking for those reasons or otherwise questioning why they are doing what they are doing.

The huge wars of the last century, WW1 and WW2, were fought largely by conscripts. True, there were also plenty of volunteers, but I think it is fair to say that from the point of view of the UK at least, both wars posed a serious risk to the country's existence. Now though, it is different. Soldiers in WW2 especially did not want to be involved but they had little choice. By comparison, professional soldiers today are like a bizarre kind of tourist. They sign up, get kitted up with things which hurt people and off they go.

But you still hear all this "defending our country" stuff, but when you talk to a soldier, it often comes across like they were enjoying themselves, one ex-army guy I know said to me he was sad that he retired "too early" and missed the 2001 invasion of Iraq.

So yea, I don't respect soldiers, and I ain't afraid to say so!

Thoughts?

For starters, I think your post is a gross oversimplification of things.

Yes, some people join the military to hurt people. Most do not. They join out of love of country; they join out of the fact that they really can't do anything else; they join for a multitude of reasons. To claim that every soldier joins the military out of an innate desire to kill people is stunningly, breathtakingly wrong.

That said, I've often found that the prevailing attitude here in the States is that soldiers are more deserving of respect than others, simply by virtue of being soldiers. To which I say, ahem, bullshit. You (the royal you) are not better than me simply because you chose a different career path than I did.

Sorry dude, I didn't mean that they join BECAUSE they want to kill people, it was more like it's shocking to me how these people join KNOWING that they will be required to kill people, and then be given a fuck-ton of bonuses the average citizen would not receive and a load of respect from everyone else.

Yea. I suck at this.

I don't see why anyone shouldn't respect soldiers.

Irreducible Sohn:
I don't see why anyone shouldn't respect anyone who hasn't acted in a manner indicating that they deserve disrespect.

I fixed your misprint there.

Some soldiers don't deserve respect by virtue of the way they behave. Many do. Many teachers, firefighters, police, and sewage technicians deserve respect. Respect isn't a function of the uniform.

"...for some reason they probably do not understand..." <-- not sure I quite agree with this, I'm sure that most soldiers definitely would have thought about what they're doing more so than your average Joe.

Though I will say that the whole respect things is probably more so a legacy from when wars were unavoidable.

Read some war diaries (One Bullet Away is really good) and maybe it'll give you a bit more perspective on why people join up.

I respect them because it's a mentally and physically demanding job, even if you're just sitting in the desert waiting for orders for 3 days. The same way I will respect someone who has spent several years of their life training to become a doctor, or becoming physically fit enough to complete something like Iron Man.

It's a hard feat that I can't do, and that shows they have strength. They might turn out to be an asshole and then I will lose my general respect for them, but they've still managed something I can't.

Katatori-kun:

Irreducible Sohn:
I don't see why anyone shouldn't respect anyone who hasn't acted in a manner indicating that they deserve disrespect.

I fixed your misprint there.

Some soldiers don't deserve respect by virtue of the way they behave. Many do. Many teachers, firefighters, police, and sewage technicians deserve respect. Respect isn't a function of the uniform.

Precisely this. I know plenty of non-uniform wearing people who are very worthy of respect; I know plenty of people in the military (and yes, I know a shitload of military types) who are complete pieces of shit.

It's not the soldier's fault if the war is bogus.

Yea, I know. This is a massive generalization. Hell, my Dad's in the RAF, doing a desk job, and he's a very respectable person, but nothing to do with his work.

I don't really know how to say it, as you can very much tell, but I just don't like the attitude that if someone is in the military I should automatically look up to them.

I respect them because they do something I cannot do, and they risk their lives. That doesn't, despite what people sometimes say, mean I blindly support any and all wars.

DJjaffacake:
I respect them because they do something I cannot do, and they risk their lives.

Oh, I don't know about that. I used to hang at the same bar as a bunch of soldiers who did nothing but stack boxes of ammunition in a warehouse all day. In a country where there was little chance of invasion, civil strife, violence, or any other reason these soldiers might be called to combat duty. In a country infamous as a destination where western men can get hooked up with attractive women who were never raised with Christian hang-ups about sex no matter how schlubby the man is.

And most of these guys were alright. But there were a few guys on the cusp of middle age that you could just tell were stewing for a fight. Between their receding hair line, their advancing waist line, and the ever-growing realization that they were in a dead-end job, they were pissed and a lot of time when they got a few cups into them they really looked like they wanted to take it out on someone else.

Of course, to hear them talk they were Navy Seals. Also they were the single line of defense keeping Kim Jong Il from invading.

A nation must have soldiers. These soldiers face hazards and hardships that no other profession has to face. This includes dangerous professions like police and firefighters.

Someone has to do this dangerous job so be thankful they are doing it so you can live in peace and freedom.

I respect all my nation's soldiers that serve honorably. I have scorn for those who don't respect them.

Katatori-kun:
=
But there were a few guys on the cusp of middle age that you could just tell were stewing for a fight. Between their receding hair line, their advancing waist line, and the ever-growing realization that they were in a dead-end job, they were pissed and a lot of time when they got a few cups into them they really looked like they wanted to take it out on someone else.

Of course, to hear them talk they were Navy Seals. Also they were the single line of defense keeping Kim Jong Il from invading.

lol, the part of Japan that you live in seems very interesting.

I respect them because they are willing to lay their life on the line in order to protect my entire nations ass. Anyone who is willing to do that has my respect unless they're just in it for the murder, which I would bet is a very small fraction of the US military.

Out of interest, which country are you from. In the UK there is a lot more disrespect for soldiers than in the UK, although this is gradually changing with the introduction of a rah-rah military mindset.

The UK has a history of its armed forces inflicting harm on civilians which gave people a healthy distrust of the military, while we also don't have the history of war which then generates a jingoistic support of the military that the US has. This lead to a situation where members of the military were often looked down upon and thought of as thugs by a fair chunk of the population. Iraq and Afghanistan seem to have changed this to a large extent, which I feel a bit saddening.

Katatori-kun:

DJjaffacake:
I respect them because they do something I cannot do, and they risk their lives.

Oh, I don't know about that. I used to hang at the same bar as a bunch of soldiers who did nothing but stack boxes of ammunition in a warehouse all day. In a country where there was little chance of invasion, civil strife, violence, or any other reason these soldiers might be called to combat duty. In a country infamous as a destination where western men can get hooked up with attractive women who were never raised with Christian hang-ups about sex no matter how schlubby the man is.

And most of these guys were alright. But there were a few guys on the cusp of middle age that you could just tell were stewing for a fight. Between their receding hair line, their advancing waist line, and the ever-growing realization that they were in a dead-end job, they were pissed and a lot of time when they got a few cups into them they really looked like they wanted to take it out on someone else.

Of course, to hear them talk they were Navy Seals. Also they were the single line of defense keeping Kim Jong Il from invading.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I couldn't do any of the things they do. It's just that I know how hard the training is, at least in the UK, and I know I wouldn't be able to do it. And I guess the life risking thing depends on which soldiers we're talking about, but since I rarely see Japanese(?) soldiers, I'm just speaking from personal experience.

I personally joined out of love of country. Furthermore, not all of us are all about killing...in fact, the fact that I have not personally had to aim my rifle at anyone is a point of pride. In my particular job, words are my weapons. My job is all about figuring out how to outmaneuver the enemy and how to prevent them learning stuff we don't want them to know.

As for defending our country, you're right, this is a questionable stand-point when it comes to foreign wars. When one's job is trying to ferret out those who would try to attack our Army and our country from within, through either espionage or terrorism, it is absolutely about protecting the country. I personally get to save the country one conversation and one report at a time.

Respect us or not, that is of course your decision. Quite frankly, though, the fact that you have the right to make that decision is a direct reflection of those you choose not to respect. Perhaps something to think about. We're not all gun-toting morons who want to kill. Some of us are, but it is unfair to lump all of us together. Some of us truly want to protect oru nations without killing, in fact actively preventing the loss of lives.

Charles_Martel:
A nation must have soldiers. These soldiers face hazards and hardships that no other profession has to face. This includes dangerous professions like police and firefighters.

Someone has to do this dangerous job so be thankful they are doing it so you can live in peace and freedom.

I respect all my nation's soldiers that serve honorably. I have scorn for those who don't respect them.

That's a nice notion. Too bad it's not true. How often are armies actually called upon to defend their country? To my knowledge, the US army hasn't done that so much as once during the last century. I take it your reverence for soldiers makes an exception for them, hmm?

My own personal perspective: I always feel embarrassed when some old couple comes up to me and thanks me for protecting the country. I've yet to do anything that really protects the country or them. And I don't think my mere presence with a uniform on protects them either. I also question if they even need my protection. In truth, I'm not doing it for them and I feel uneasy when they thank me for it. I'm doing it for the people that I actually protected and that actually needed my protection.

w9496:
I respect them because they are willing to lay their life on the line in order to protect my entire nations ass. Anyone who is willing to do that has my respect unless they're just in it for the murder, which I would bet is a very small fraction of the US military.

So you don't respect them at all, then? Because, you know, since the second world war not a single western nation has ever had to actually have its army defend it from attack. They have exclusively been used to assault other sovereign nations.

Elcarsh:

w9496:
I respect them because they are willing to lay their life on the line in order to protect my entire nations ass. Anyone who is willing to do that has my respect unless they're just in it for the murder, which I would bet is a very small fraction of the US military.

So you don't respect them at all, then? Because, you know, since the second world war not a single western nation has ever had to actually have its army defend it from attack. They have exclusively been used to assault other sovereign nations.

I never said they didn't invade places or anything like that. When it comes to that, I support the troops, not the war.

But if there were a time when we had to defend our nation, they'd be there to protect it, and they are willing to do that, and that's why I respect them.

DJjaffacake:
And I guess the life risking thing depends on which soldiers we're talking about, but since I rarely see Japanese(?) soldiers, I'm just speaking from personal experience.

The one's I was talking about were US soldiers stationed in Japan. The actual Japanese soldiers I've met have been alright.

drudail:
Quite frankly, though, the fact that you have the right to make that decision is a direct reflection of those you choose not to respect.

Yeah... see, when I hear comments like this is one of the rare times I start disrespecting US soldiers as a whole. Because that line gets trotted out every time someone criticizes anyone in the armed services, and it's 100% bullshit. Not a single person serving in the US military today is responsible for protecting my right to express an opinion about the armed services. There hasn't been a conflict where my right to freedom could seriously have been in jeopardy in over half a century. So no, it's not a reflection on anyone serving in the armed forces now.

w9496:
I never said they didn't invade places or anything like that. When it comes to that, I support the troops, not the war.

But if there were a time when we had to defend our nation, they'd be there to protect it, and they are willing to do that, and that's why I respect them.

So you don't really mind that those same soldiers are perfectly willing to without a second thought attack another sovereign nation, murder their citizens and generally fuck things up royally? That doesn't actually cause you to disrespect them?

Because that's what american soldiers do. That's what they're known for doing in both Afghanistan and Iraq; they fuck things up by acting like pricks and showing a complete and utter respect for the population of the country to a degree unmatched by other nations.

Do you still respect them?

Elcarsh:

w9496:
I never said they didn't invade places or anything like that. When it comes to that, I support the troops, not the war.

But if there were a time when we had to defend our nation, they'd be there to protect it, and they are willing to do that, and that's why I respect them.

Because that's what american soldiers do. That's what they're known for doing in both Afghanistan and Iraq; they fuck things up by acting like pricks and showing a complete and utter respect for the population of the country to a degree unmatched by other nations.

Do you still respect them?

That is a HUGE ass generalization. I know soldiers that want to help the citizens of those nations. People I know who are overseas do some humanitarian work with giving out food and water. That is not what I would call "acting like pricks".

Elcarsh:

Charles_Martel:
A nation must have soldiers. These soldiers face hazards and hardships that no other profession has to face. This includes dangerous professions like police and firefighters.

Someone has to do this dangerous job so be thankful they are doing it so you can live in peace and freedom.

I respect all my nation's soldiers that serve honorably. I have scorn for those who don't respect them.

That's a nice notion. Too bad it's not true. How often are armies actually called upon to defend their country? To my knowledge, the US army hasn't done that so much as once during the last century. I take it your reverence for soldiers makes an exception for them, hmm?

Has it occurred to you that the reason the US has not been attacked is because of the many brave men and women willing to risk their lives in defending the nation.

If Israel were to abolish their military how long would it continue to exist?

Years ago a poster from Honduras was complaining that his country was invaded by a neighboring country. (Border dispute) He said his country had no military only a small police force. I replied I sympathized with his plight but was not surprised. A country without a military is playing with fire.

Katatori-kun:

drudail:
Quite frankly, though, the fact that you have the right to make that decision is a direct reflection of those you choose not to respect.

Yeah... see, when I hear comments like this is one of the rare times I start disrespecting US soldiers as a whole. Because that line gets trotted out every time someone criticizes anyone in the armed services, and it's 100% bullshit. Not a single person serving in the US military today is responsible for protecting my right to express an opinion about the armed services. There hasn't been a conflict where my right to freedom could seriously have been in jeopardy in over half a century. So no, it's not a reflection on anyone serving in the armed forces now.

You're right, and I never said that I am directly responsible. In fact, no one currently serving has had a direct reflection, but we are the current generation of a long line of people upholding those rights. What we do now may have that effect on future generations. When it comes right down to it, though, people willing to fight wars are the reason we enjoy freedoms. Whatever you may think of the current wars, eventually our freedoms will be threatened again. Having a standing Army allows those freedoms to remain. Having respect for the armed forces allows the continuity of the standing Army. Without respect for military members, the freedoms we enjoy could be stripped away at some point. I'm not a hero, I've never directly saved a life, never taken a life, but I am part of a larger whole which has many heros. While I may not directly be deserving of the respect I generally get, it is a reflection of the respect people have for the organization of a whole. When people stop me in the airport to thank me for my service, it used to embarass me because I didn't feel deserving. Then I realized that I was merely an outlet for them to express their appreciation for those who have made greater sacrifices.

Charles_Martel:

Has it occurred to you that the reason the US has not been attacked is because of the many brave men and women willing to risk their lives in defending the nation.

If Israel were to abolish their military how long would it continue to exist?

Who's going to invade the USA if they reduce its standing army? Canada? Unlike Israel, you're not exactly surrounded by nations you pissed off. The ones you pissed off are all comfortably on the other side of oceans.

Years ago a poster from Honduras was complaining that his country was invaded by a neighboring country. (Border dispute) He said his country had no military only a small police force. I replied I sympathized with his plight but was not surprised. A country without a military is playing with fire.

Not saying the entire military needs to be abolished, but you don't need the standing forces you have to just defend.

As for the thread, well, no, I don't respect people just because they wear a uniform. I only respect people who merit my respect. Respect is something that has to be earned.

Charles_Martel:
Has it occurred to you that the reason the US has not been attacked is because of the many brave men and women willing to risk their lives in defending the nation.

No, it's pretty much up to globalization and nukes, really. Your precious soldiers don't enter into it. I realize that you want them to, but they don't matter.

Charles_Martel:
If Israel were to abolish their military how long would it continue to exist?

Strange, for a moment there, I thought Israel was, in fact, NOT part of the US. Well, I guess I was wrong.

Charles_Martel:
Years ago a poster from Honduras was complaining thGat his country was invaded by a neighboring country. (Border dispute) He said country had no military only a small police force. I replied I sympathized with his .plight but was not surprised. A country without a military is playing with fire.

I don't suppose I need to point out that no such invasion actually happened, and that Honduras does, in fact, have a military.

Some countries do just fine without a military.

Take Iceland for example. They don't need a military because they don't get involved with countries they wouldn't like, so that country has no reason to attack them.

Not fucking with the wrong people seems to work better than invading them, if I do say so myself.

TsTacenda:
The way I see it, these people join the army and knowingly give away their free will to kill people for some reason they probably do not understand, and are punished for asking for those reasons or otherwise questioning why they are doing what they are doing.

Uhm, assuming you're talking an army that regularly wages war. That's not the case for many countries. For mine for instance, the last open war we had was the Second World War, the rest was peacekeeping. People saw some hairy action fighting in Korea as well, but that's pretty much it.

As for me, I joined because of money, and the change of pace after studying for 3 years and education as a whole for a total of 17 years (age 4-21). It was adventure, something entirely different, a job that's more then a job.
I had skills that were rare, and even more rare in the army. They basically had one person who had taken an extra course in it, and he was about to retire. I was the only graduate they were able to find, so I negotiated out ridiculously good terms, cutting the contract down to one full year excluding training instead of the normal four, and for a salary that's almost twice what people with a master's degree of the same field get. All they wanted was to get a guy who knew digital mapping databases to Afghanistan, no matter the cost.

Danger and fighting... I knew it could happen, but didn't expect any of it. How many bullets will you see being a supporting officer behind the lines eh? Quite a few as it turned out, but I didn't know that. Basically I thought the chance of something happening to me was so remote, the moneybags were worth it. Tough it out for nine months, then laugh happily all the way to the bank.

As it turned out, being in combat is not a lot of fun, and killing is neither. But at the same time I did pretty good under fire, got everybody out in one piece, even got a commendation. If no better jobs were available to me it's likely I'd sign up for more of that.

For one thing danger makes you feel alive more than anything else can. Why do you think people engage in fighting sports? Also leadership is nice. I had small bodyguard unit of seven soldiers to command whenever I went out, and as much as I dreaded being responsible for getting any of them hurt, telling people what to do is a lot of fun. I've always been a leader type, it's what I do best.

TsTacenda:
Take Iceland for example. They don't need a military because they don't get involved with countries they wouldn't like, so that country has no reason to attack them.

Uh, they pay the US to play army for them, and Iceland can only have such an arrangement because of their remote position with no agressive neighbours.

To suggest such a model would work for other countries would be naive. Also, Iceland is the ultimate place of selfish isolationism because of that. Don't expect the Icelanders to give a shit or come make your country safe if a civil war breaks out or something.

Blablahb:
Don't expect the Icelanders to give a shit or come make your country safe if a civil war breaks out or something.

...or indeed invade and fuck up your country if it turns out you have plenty of oil, like the US does?

Personally, I think the tradeoff is worth it.

drudail:
but we are the current generation of a long line of people upholding those rights.

No, you are not. You are the current generation of a long line of soldiers. Whether or not you are upholding my rights is not something you can claim simply by virtue of being in the military, you have to present to me a credible enemy who wishes to take away my rights by force and who has the capability to do so. I know of no such enemy.

What we do now may have that effect on future generations.

Which is no different from what anyone in any other career can say.

When it comes right down to it, though, people willing to fight wars are the reason we enjoy freedoms.

Bullshit. Judges, lawyers, teachers, politicians, police, social workers, fire fighters, philosophers, are every bit as much the reason we enjoy freedoms as soldiers are.

eventually our freedoms will be threatened again.

This is a bit like saying eventually a meteor will strike the earth, so we owe astronomers today a debt of gratitude for protecting us.

Without respect for military members, the freedoms we enjoy could be stripped away at some point.

Nonsense. No dictator is going to take over just because a member of the public thinks that soldiers aren't the greatest. There are numerous countries around the world with all the freedoms Americans have who don't spend nearly the absurd amounts of money we do on are military and who don't demand their publics worship soldiers as the sole defenders of peace and freedom.

I've got no problem with respecting someone who has sacrificed to serve. Unfortunately, this meme of "You owe us for your freedoms because we're soldiers" is just a self-serving meme to turn service into self aggrandizement.

Elcarsh:
...or indeed invade and fuck up your country if it turns out you have plenty of oil, like the US does?

First prove that the US wages war for oil interests before you make that remark. Afghanistan (no oil), Iraq (acces to oil only got worse) and Libya (already had full acces) don't count as examples.

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