What “supporting our troops” actually means

Although the phrase itself has in recent years been horribly politicised and tarnished through shameless misuse, Nilk has a genuinely good suggestion for “supporting our troops” serving overseas:

Did you know that if you are in Australia, you can send a care package to a soldier in Afghanistan for free?

She and two others have set up a blog with ideas and suggestions for how best to do it.

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69 responses to “What “supporting our troops” actually means

  1. These guys already get loads of pay and tax-breaks, for undertakings they voluntarily embrace. There’s already a degree of ‘moral hazard’ with respect to the military, as they need something to justify all this expenditure. This in a geopolitical climate where nobody has been a threat to Australia for over 60 years.

    If anything, military adventures should be fundd by a strictly optional taxpayer subsidy. The right agree with user-pays for everything, so they’d be hypocrites to complain on this.

  2. Thanks for the link, Jeremy.

    THR, whatever your thoughts on the politics or the pay situation or anything else to do with soldiers being deployed, the bottom line is that some diggers don’t get mail from home.

    Some don’t have family, some have broken families, or some have family that just communicate via email and phone only, so snail mail’s forgotten.

    Out of sight, out of mind.

    I don’t give a toss about the politics – the US, as a prime example, have marshalled a lot of support for their troops, and it’s about time we did something for ours.

    I can personally testify to several people that have benefitted from receiving a care package from out of the blue, so I know it’s appreciated.

    As for military adventures being taxed as an option you can tick off, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard for a while. :)

  3. Some don’t have family, some have broken families, or some have family that just communicate via email and phone only, so snail mail’s forgotten.

    Boohoo. There are loads of people in similar situations, and they’re doing more useful things than terrorising Afghans.

    I don’t give a toss about the politics – the US, as a prime example, have marshalled a lot of support for their troops, and it’s about time we did something for ours.

    Bullshit. To say the above is to take a political position, as if glorification for the military is a good thing in itself, as if such glorification can occur independently of what it is said military is doing.

    As for military adventures being taxed as an option you can tick off, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard for a while.

    Of course. Almost nobody in Australia wants to go to war, or wants to fund a bloated defence department, but that’s okay, right? And I bet you’re the first to bitch and moan about public health and education.

  4. The point is that to do anything positive in lawless, violent and anarchic regions, we do actually need military personnel who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way. They don’t do it for the money – or they’d be in Blackwater or something equally sinister – they do it because defending people’s rights against people with guns does sometimes require other people with guns.

    It’s not just an ordinary “job” – it’s one they can’t leave, and in which people are going to be trying to kill them.

    Those who are putting their lives on the line to protect others do indeed deserve support.

    And that “terrorising Afghans” crack seems unfair, unless you know something we don’t.

  5. The point is that to do anything positive in lawless, violent and anarchic regions, we do actually need military personnel who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way.

    Right from the start, you’ve gone this one badly wrong. What ‘positive’ things do you think are happeneing in Afghanistan? To the extent that the country is governable at all, it’s run under Sharia law. The rest of it is ruled by thugs, warlords and psychopaths denoted by the media as Taliban.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a standing army, or that they should be paid appropriately. I’m saying that we already have a crony capitalist system that incentivises military stupdity and interminable conflict.

    You and nilk seem to be following the standard, jingoistic, nationalist line, that we ‘gotta support the troops’, as if this were an apolitical decision, beyond ethics and the like. You need to remember that if our government pretended NZ was a threat, and sent in troops to rape and murder the civilians, the right-wing fruitcakes would still be ‘supporting the troops’, and they’d still be denouncing dissenters as treasonous. It’s like a football game to these people. Don’t be suckered into their reasoning.

    they do it because defending people’s rights against people with guns does sometimes require other people with guns.
    This is another colossal piece of ideology. Which Australians are being defended in Afghanistan? As I said earlier, it’s been over 60 years since Australians were in military danger. Since that time, the defence department budget has been ballooning to obesity. It even got bigger under the last Rudd budget, despite there being no appreciable increase in security risks, as far as we’re all aware.

    And that “terrorising Afghans” crack seems unfair, unless you know something we don’t.

    Based on all the evidence, it’s pretty accurate. We know that the main modus operandi for Coalition troops (though not necessarily Australian troops) are missile strikes from the air. We know that far more civilians are getting killed than alleged Taliban forces, and we know that the Coalition are themselves doing more of the killing than the Taliban. We know that even the puppet government installed in the country has tried to denounce the coalition’s treatment of civilians. And you want us to send out rewards for this?

    Look, at the end of the day, private citizens can do as they wish with their time and money, but let’s not be sucked into US-style imbecilic jingoism vis-a-vis the military. Irrespective of whether it’s a lefty position, it’s not even a legitimate ethical position.

  6. Wow, THR.

    Just. Wow.

  7. If you support that we should have a standing army, and you aren’t advocating any extreme resistance to military authority on the part of the soldiers, then surely you concede that the ADF personnel in Afghanistan really have no say in whether or not the war is just?

    I mean to say I disagree with what I think is a core premise of yours – that sending out care packages is necessarily an endorsement of military activity. Your NZ example is rather different I think – we would rightly expect the diggers to refuse to comply with orders that involved flagrant breaches of UN conventions. Perhaps the war in Afghanistan is foolish or unjust, but if a digger were to refuse to serve, I think (and I’m no military lawyer) they’d end up in Holsworthy.

  8. “Right from the start, you’ve gone this one badly wrong. What ‘positive’ things do you think are happeneing in Afghanistan? To the extent that the country is governable at all, it’s run under Sharia law. The rest of it is ruled by thugs, warlords and psychopaths denoted by the media as Taliban.”

    Getting rid of the Taliban was a plus. The fact that our political leaders weren’t interested in spending the time and money fixing up the place afterwards and bungled the whole thing so that the nutters have returned is not the fault of individual troops.

    “You and nilk seem to be following the standard, jingoistic, nationalist line, that we ‘gotta support the troops’, as if this were an apolitical decision, beyond ethics and the like.”

    “Supporting the troops” doesn’t equal “supporting the idiots who sent them there without a plan for the peace”. And the bit about rape and murder is just offensive – unless you’ve any evidence of Australian troops doing that, which I doubt.

    I wouldn’t want a care package going to the personnel at, say, Guantanamo Bay, though…

    “This is another colossal piece of ideology. Which Australians are being defended in Afghanistan?”

    I didn’t say Australians were being defended, but I don’t think that our responsibility to protect people from thugs and tyrants is limited to our own nationality.

  9. The army isn’t made of conscripts, guys. Don’t any of you see potential for abuse when you incentivise increase war and ‘defence’?

    John, there are different ways of looking at your question. I agree that troops in the heat of battle can’t really question orders. At some point, however, surely the Nuremberg defense no longer applies.

    Now we may need a standing army as a kind of deterrant, but can anybody here give a single good reason as to why we should all be made to fund military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan? I’m not saying we stop private individuals from doing so. But does anybody think these wars would make it through a referendum, let alone a voluntary tax?

    I think we should go back to the famous line by Clausewitz, namely, ‘war is politics by other means’. This business of supporting troops no matter what is basically a rightist jedi mind trick, designed to stifle dissent. Why should we support troops in Afghanistan? We didn’t ask them to be there. We don’t want them there now. They’re being paid handsomely for being there, and they’re going of their own accord. Why don’t you send a care package to some volunteer who’s actually doing some good for the world?

    And the bit about rape and murder is just offensive – unless you’ve any evidence of Australian troops doing that, which I doubt.
    My point here was to take the most extreme example (i.e. killing civilians in a place like NZ). The nilks of the world will still, quite literally, accuse anybody who dissents of being treasonous. This is why we should expand the debate beyond these idiotic parameters.

    I didn’t say Australians were being defended, but I don’t think that our responsibility to protect people from thugs and tyrants is limited to our own nationality.

    This is a fair point, but begs quite a number of difficult questions.

  10. I see your point, THR.

    “The army isn’t made of conscripts, guys.”

    I take it you’re arguing that we can link/judge the actions of soldiers based on what the military does, on the grounds that they willingly involve themselves. But the reality of service is that soldiers have no actual say over decision making. Surely this would be a strong disincentive for recruitment.

  11. I guess I’m biased because my family history has a lot of military in it, but choosing to serve your country is not necessarily an evil thing, THR.

    We need a standing army, and we can pray for peace or demonstrate and any other number of happy activities, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t mean that every other country feels the same way.

    Should we not have intervened in East Timor?

    As for what is going on in the ME, my perceptions are coloured by the fact that I have friends over there.

    The people I know are just people, who joined the forces for a variety of reasons, and chose to remain for a variety of reasons.

    With the amount of information available these days, nobody could possibly be unaware that they may be deployed when they sign up, so that also would have to factor into their decision to join.

    Not sure if that makes them all killers and horrible people, though.

    And as for sending a care package for someone doing good?

    What I do with my time and money is none of your business, and Jeremy has generously provided a link about the care packages to get the information out there.

    Nobody is forcing you to send anything – that’s not what it’s about.

    It’s just putting the word out.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    Cheers :)

  12. THR,

    *mealy mouthed disclaimer* I’m a serving ADF member (Navy), and therefore horribly biased to a err, certain point of view…

    I suspect that you’ll violently disagree with the sentiment – however a ‘fair’ number of serving ADF members believe that what we do is a public service; on a par with cops, nurses, and firefighters. All (stand fast CFA) get paid, and occasionally quite comfortably paid (stand fast nurses), and are occasionally in dangerous or morally ambiguous situations. And all eventually face situations they’d rather not be in – for a greater good, however nebulous. The standard ADF line is “we agree to put our personal feelings aside and obey the will of the democratically elected parliment of the day. Even if that means getting us killed. Even if we don’t understand the reasons. Even if we’re not consulted on the policy. Even if we don’t agree with the policy. We keep our mouths shut, and act as the strong right arm of ‘the people’”. I agree that it’s deal with the devil – and if you can’t get past that fact, there’s no meeting of the minds we can possibly come to.
    Should we be in the middle east? That’s essentially irrelevant – I’ve been there twice, hate the place with a passion and would be happy never to go back – BUT when I joined up, I agree to put personal feelings aside and follow my governments wishes (and uhh, err HRH Liz’s, too. Just sayin’…)
    If you have a problem with the mid-east policy – “we don’t care”. Take it up with your local MP. When enough of you bitch long and hard enough to change the government’s mind, we’ll get out. And gladly. Because ultimately, we’re doing what YOU want. You, the teeming, steaming, unwashed masses. We’re YOUR muscle. But don’t complain because we’re doing what the majority (?) of you want…

    And for the record – never got a care package from someone I didn’t know. Suspect I’d find it quite creepy if I did. Nuthin’ personal-!

  13. VodkaBlogger

    Mords: Thanks for your service.

  14. THR,

    You have a very negative view of Australian soldiers – some of the most moral in the world. Do you know how many times strikes have been postponed because of the proximity of civilians? Even at the expense of the Taliban getting away. But that is never reported – only the situations where there has been casualties as a result of the Taliban conducting operations from within a civilian population. Don’t confuse the shoot first and ask questions later approach of a large proportion of U.S. forces (not all mind you) with how we conduct business.

    Also, Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen are duty bound to not follow orders they consider illegal. But this doens’t seem to be a problem much as the senior officers vet their orders with legal officers to ensure that they do not inadvertedly issue an illegal order, so your harping on about your hypothitical NZ situation where troops were ‘raping and murdering’ NZ citizens is absolute crap and exhibits your ideological bias about what makes up a modern soldier. Do you know how much rules of engagement training lessons Aussie troops get before they go overseas….it never ends and reinforces the difficult situations troops are faced with whilst being shit scared in a far away place fulfilling the governments policies. Oh, and if a soldier did murder or rape, he would be arrested and prosecuted….just like they always have been, and just like they always will be. If his mates did not kill him first.

    I am glad our soldiers are volunteers. Compulsory conscription (such as in Israel and other places) would lead to people like you poisoning the morale of dedicated people who want to serve their country.

    And regarding your moral hazard theory and threat evaluation (which no doubt has been made with much research and access to intelligence), threat = capability + intent. We maintain a Defence force because all responsible federal governments realise that intent can change rapidly and it takes years and years to develop capability (war is now not bi-planes and .303 SMLE’s). If you let your capability degrade, you actually increase the probability of a nation/group/bunch of gunned up wackjobs threatening you because they see a reduced deterent.

    Bag the politicians, not the soldiers. You, after all, are outsourcing the sustainment of your freedom to these troops, as I take it you have never, nor will ever served.

  15. “We know that far more civilians are getting killed than alleged Taliban forces, and we know that the Coalition are themselves doing more of the killing than the Taliban.”

    No, thats whats being reported. Defence does not often release stats on how many Taliban are killed. A sniper mate of mine was averaging 6 per week during his last tour. That’s just one man over seven months. All armed, all confirmed Taliban. Oh, and he also had the privalege of finding the headless bodies of Taliban victims in village streets in the morning more times than he could count. Real lovely fellows those Taliban – that’s why his job never bothered him.

  16. Pingback: Femmostroppo Reader - June 1, 2009 — Hoyden About Town

  17. I’m with THR on this. Why on earth would you support these grotesque professional killers? Even worse these miserable mongrels are in the service of the hegemonic ambitions of Western ‘democracies’! Whatever you do, do NOT support these redneck trailer-trash troglodytes.

    Much better to support those fighting for liberation from the imperial ambitions of the West. Any terrorist group will do – Shining Path, Hamas, Taliban, Al Qaeda, Farc. These are true revolutionaries, and desperately need our help. They are poorly equipped under-funded soldiers fighting for a better world.

    If only these heroes had more support they could dispatch many more infidels and bourgeois stooges, and bring an end to the false-consciousness of ‘enlightenment’ values.

  18. From the time I’ve spent talking to people on various issues, all ADF personal i have spoken to are pro Afghanistan occupation purely for the financial reasons.
    Just on Saturday i talked to a guy in the navy who wanted to go over just for the money, he said not a jot about protecting anyone from anything, just the money.

    And to say that the people of Afghanistan require outside ‘help’ is just small l liberal paternal racism. Why dont you ask RAWA what they think about the occupation? http://www.rawa.org.

    I mean, to talk about the ADF doing what the majority of australians want them to do, because our elected government wants them to be there (lets just put aside the issue that we dont even have an anti-war party to choose from) without even thinking about what the people in the country they are occupying actually wants is pretty amusing. I guess their opinions dont really matter…

    And to think that’s why the so called “coalition of the willing” is there to help, and not for their own interests is just plain ignorance.

  19. SB, I have a suspicion you many not be entirely serious :O

    EvShow: The Greens

  20. There’s a lot of wilful misreading here. No surprise that so many of the right-wingers can’t muster an honest argument.

    First up, I never said we should abolish the defence forces, or that Australian troops were ‘evil’. In fact, I haven’t said anything negative about them. Nobody here has been able to articulate why we should pay for troops to be in Afghanistan, other than by variants of the Nuremberg defense. Does anybody seriously believe that Taliban were about to ride their jeeps down Bourke St? I think it’s worth asking again about the moral hazard we create by creating market incentives for conflict. Similar hazards exist in other spheres also, such as health, but then doctors and nurses don’t normally shoot people. In the 60s, this problem was called the ‘military-industrial complex’.

    I take Mord’s point that soldiers are, like all public servants, vulnerable to the policies of the government of the day. We can see the depth of our crisis of representation in our liberal democracy, when politicians are making decisions that benefit almost no Australians.

    Cemil made the point that so many make, namely, that dissent is ‘poisoning morale’, akin to treason, etc. There are still fools who believe that we ‘lost’ in Vietnam because of anti-war dissent. I’d be curious to know how many dead Vietnamese would have constituted a victory. In any case, Cemil highlights the risks of slipping into nationalist militarist stupidity, whereby individuals are vilified merely for asking a few pertinent questions.

    Also Cemil, you’ve completely misunderstood the notion of ‘moral hazard’. It’s an economic idea. It’s about creating financial incentives for people to do dubious things, basically. You mention Isreal – I agree that things there are ‘poisonous’, but I’m not so sure it’s a consequence of the dissenters there.

    Oh, and if a soldier did murder or rape, he would be arrested and prosecuted….just like they always have been, and just like they always will be.

    Absolute bollocks. There are numerous historical examples to the contrary. If you actually believe that, I’ve got a nice bridge with harbour views you may wish to buy.

  21. John E, I thought it was an appropriate response to THR’s asinine comments. People who put their lives on the line deserve respect, not denigration.

    Decent people who disagree with with particular wars should not denigrate soldiers or do things which undermine the war effort.

  22. Marek Bage

    …or do things which undermine the war effort.

    FUCK!!!
    Did you actually say that?

    If I don’t agree with the effort put into prosecuting a war, then it is my democratic right and duty to do everything possible to undermine said “war effort”.
    Are you suggesting that I should censor myself so that the blessed “war effort” not be undermined?

    Is your blog not called “Freespeech-SB”?
    Are you a hypocrite or do you mean that only SB has a right to free speech?

    For the record, I think that there are some soldiers who salivate over the chance to knock off a few tinted people, there are some who are motivated by nothing less than a desire for public service and then there are some who are truly bemused that their foolproof plan for a free engineering degree has landed them in an unexpected situation!

    It would be nice to cherry pick those soldiers who we deem deserving of our support for an ‘appreciation package’, but that’s probably not possible.
    Having just said that, it occurs to me that one could write to the local camp commander and ask if there is a particular soldier who is doing it tough and would appreciate some gifts from home.
    We could then send him a package with Carob bars, Chamomille Tea, a John Butler CD and Scott Ritters latest book!

    Cheers.

  23. Marek Bage

    BTW, Jeremy.
    Great post and great conversation following.
    It’s nice to see somebody being able to have a go at the host without having their comments SNIPPED.

  24. “If I don’t agree with the effort put into prosecuting a war, then it is my democratic right and duty to do everything possible to undermine said “war effort”.
    Are you suggesting that I should censor myself so that the blessed “war effort” not be undermined?”

    I agree in principle but also think that, say, verbally abusing returning soldiers is a very ineffective way of expressing dissatisfaction. I know that there are plenty of unsavory characters in the military, but for the most part I think there is – and should be – a disconnect between the military high command/government and soldiers. THR has a point about incentivizing conflict, but I think we should refrain from the post-Vietnam style nastiness.

  25. Marek Bage

    verbally abusing returning soldiers is a very ineffective way of expressing dissatisfaction.

    I agree JohnE.
    I would never condone that approach and it gladdens me that the vast majority of Australians seem to agree with me.

    I wonder about the validity of ‘disconnecting’ command from your average soldier.
    It might be true that in the USA their failed socio-economic model forces many young men into the military as a ‘way out’, but in this country it seems to be a choice that few make (witness falling recruitment numbers) and those that do decide to sign up would most usually share an ideology of war which permeates throught the entire service.

    In short, our soldiers are not escaping prison or caravan parks for a better life.
    They are signing up because, in addition to perceived personal benefits, they agree with the ideology and the military ideology is homogenous and intolerant of dissent.

    Cheers.

  26. Brilliant Marek! You do a nice line in dishonest claptrap.

    What I Said was:

    Decent people who disagree with with particular wars should not denigrate soldiers or do things which undermine the war effort.

    I’m not trying to shut anyone up. One consequence of freedom of speech is that people are free to judge you on how you choose to exercise that freedom.

    In the Toben case, that Toben’s remarks were offensive but he should have been allowed to make them.

    If you want to make a more complete twat of yourself, as you have done here, you should be free to do so, and others should be free to form an opinion as to your words and actions. In this case they are utterly stupid.

  27. Marek Bage

    Sorry, I chopped my last sentence which should read…

    And, as such, there would be a strong commonality of ideology between the “Brass” and the “Grunts”.

  28. The contrast with the US model is an interesting one. Certainly the US military target the poor for recruitment, and have success due to the fucked US social fabric. This is not true to the same extent here, but I think alot of the Aus infantry is made up of people who say the Army as a reset button/provider of direction.

  29. Marek Bage

    Decent people who disagree with with particular wars should not denigrate soldiers

    Agreed.

    or do things which undermine the war effort.

    Fascist prick who wants to shut people up.

    Brilliant SB, you do a nice line in trying to rehabilitate your assinine and anti-democratic utterances.

    To prove my point, short of shutting up, as you would wish, how does one not undermine your precious “war effort”?

    Cheers

  30. THR,

    1) The Taliban were the ruling power of a country which actively supported Al Qaeda through their allowing of traning camps and facilities within their country. State sponsored terrorism. Terrorism which was exported beyond Afghanistans borders all the way to NYC. State sponsored international terrorism. Against a country we have an alliance with. They refused to give up the Al Qaeda leadership – they paid the price. They have demonstrated that they are unfit to govern a country. If they gain power again, why should they act differently?

    By the way, I did not object to your beliefs or feelings, nor am I in any way suggesting your dissent should be repressed (see the violence inherant in the system), just that you should keep your gripes at the policy makers. “Akin to treason” – your words sunshine. I never said nor implied that.

    “Absolute bollocks. There are numerous historical examples to the contrary. If you actually believe that, I’ve got a nice bridge with harbour views you may wish to buy.” Your concrete evidence of Australian soldiers conducting these type of atrocities please? You know, the type that would stand up in a court of law or a court martial?

  31. Marek Bage

    JohnE, regarding the reset button, I never actually thought of it in that sense.
    You may be right.
    My limited experience of service personnel doesn’t support that but, perhaps I should enlarge my experience!

    Cheers

  32. Cemil, that’s the most tenuous and flimsy justification for a war that I’ve ever heard. Also, if you look back at the history, the Taliban actually did agree to hand over bin Laden to Pakistan. The US refused, and invaded instead.

  33. Anyone who thinks troops crave combat has been watching too many Hollywood movies. They do their jobs under the watchful gaze of their mates. The only true hollywood meme is that ‘when the shooting starts, the only fellow soldiers that count are the one to the left and right of you’.

    Also, anyone who thinks Aussie soldiers don’t speak their mind to the brass doesn’t know Aussie soldiers!

    Oh, and good to see the thought process of ‘I wonder what sorts of people want to join the military’ come up. It never failed to impress me that anyone who has nothing to do with the military thought we spent our entire workday shooting, training to kill, more shooting and learning to kill people silently with our bare hands. That and talking to our rifles….yes…we are all yearning for that first, sweet kill……

    More like paperwork, the actual trade someone was employed to do (medic, mechanic, electrical technician, tank driver, supply store clerk, infantryman etc), stocktakes, maintenance of equipment etc. These activities all contribute to the outcome, but if you took off the uniforms, you would not recognise a lot of Defence force workplaces from their civian counterparts.

  34. Cemil, the problem isn’t the mindset of Australian troops. I don’t see any use in speculating about this.

    Have a god look at some blogs and websites from the far-right. Almost to a man, they revel in continual deification of the military, and war porn. This isn’t directly the fault of defence forces, but it is a good reason why we should discourage military fanaticism. I’m not saying we should pull down war memorials or anything, but these guys who practice military worship really do beat off on the thought of first kills.

  35. That of course has nothing to do with sending a care package to a serving soldier, though.

  36. Marek:

    To prove my point, short of shutting up, as you would wish, how does one not undermine your precious “war effort”?

    We can see the positions quite clearly in Australia at the outbreak of WWII. At the start there was a treaty between the socialist powers, National and Soviet. Naturally, the leftists in australia did all they could to impede the war effort in suport of the Soviets and their Nazi allies.

    The Australian left provided a graphic example of what else, other than speech, could be used to undermine the war effort – strikes, demonstrations, rallies, civli disobedience.

    No one stopped them voicing their concerns. But everyone was free to judge the treasonous actions of those leftists.

    Please grow a brain and condemn for what I say, not what you invent.

  37. At the start there was a treaty between the socialist powers, National and Soviet. Naturally, the leftists in australia did all they could to impede the war effort in suport of the Soviets and their Nazi allies.

    Hmm, just because they signed a non-aggresion pact doesn’t mean Hitler and Stalin were really allies. Hitler saw Stalin as ideologically against everything the Nazis stood for and made it his number 1 priority to defeat Russia above all else. Hence the biggest surprise attack in history…

  38. Appropos of nothing *!*

    FWIW, there have been sexual assualt, outright rape, and murder*!* cases involving ADF personnel in such far flung locales as Norfolk Island, San Diego, and (in the last week or so) on various international airlines. Widely reported, and believe-you-me no one gets a free pass. The opposite, really, because ‘the great and the good’ believe bringing disrepute on the ADF is the highest sin (bad for recruiting, don’tcha know)

    @EvShow; the danger money $$ ain’t what it used to be. But the Legend of tax free pay in a warzone lingers…

    @Marek; “If I don’t agree with the effort put into prosecuting a war, then it is my democratic right and duty to do everything possible to undermine said “war effort”.”
    Incorrect. If you don’t agree with the road rules, it is not your obligation to cause as much carnage as you can manage. Democracy means having to choke on your own objections when ‘the majority’ holds a different opinion to your own. It’s thye difference between compromise and subversion. Or to put it another way, if you and I were in a canoe, but disagreed on the direction to paddle; the moral decision is to discuss the matter and convince each other of the rightness of our cause. Only a madman throws the oars over the side and puts a hole in the boat.
    “everything possible”, indeed-!

    @Marek2; get real; most recruits to the military are basically kids, and don’t HAVE a prevailing ideology. They only think about these things after they been in for a while. The military recruits kids because they’re young, malleable, and don’t need to be motivated – the real trick is getting them to slow down and THINK in the face of 90+ years of war films…

    @THR; actually agree completely on the ‘war porn’ issue. Don’t these f#@kwit understand it’s my *life* they’re playing toy soldiers with?

  39. “Hmm, just because they signed a non-aggresion pact doesn’t mean Hitler and Stalin were really allies. “

    It was enough to motivate the far left into sabotaging the Australian war effort against Hitler.

  40. It was enough to motivate the far left into sabotaging the Australian war effort against Hitler.

    I guess you’re more informed that I am on that one – personally I’d of thought far right activists in Aus would have been motivated to sabotage the war effort.

    The far-left would have been quite happy with the war effort after Stalin was attacked, surely?

  41. Yes, amazingly their opposition to the war changed to patriotic support immediately Stalin was attacked by Hitler.

  42. Why should I support an illegal invasion that has killed over a million people? Because I was born in the same tribe as the invaders?

  43. This post isn’t actually asking anyone to support the war, it’s asking people to support our personnel over there by sending a care package — 2 very different concepts.

  44. If we’re prepared to admit the invasion was both illegal and immoral, wouldn’t supporting the soldiers be aiding and abetting? Or are the troops just “following orders”?

  45. I don’t see it as a case of “aiding and abetting”, I see it as supporting our personnel who have been sent there and who are facing death every day.

    And yes, the troops are following orders, that’s what soldiers are expected to do — provided those orders are within the bounds of the Geneva conventions — are you suggesting that our entire defence force should mutiny because they are being ordered to do something they may not want to do ?

  46. Karl:

    If we’re prepared to admit the invasion was both illegal and immoral,

    This is ridiculous. The invasion may have been mistaken. However, concepts of illegality in international law are substantially meaningless, as is the concept of international law itself. Law is only real insofar as there is a state willing and able to enforce it. Using the term as you do may be emotive, but it is as ridiculous as saying that apostasy from Islam is illegal.

    I don’t understand the immoral part of your comment. Using that term is merely an attempt at polishing the turd of your particular political value judgment on this issue to give lustre to your stinking leftism.

  47. The invasion may have been mistaken.

    SB, I didn’t think there was a *may* about it. There were no WMD, which was the justification for the war.

    Hence it *was* a mistake. Especially as taking out a problem in Saddam that was well contained has only stengthened Iran’s hand in the region while creating a brand new problem in Iraq of our own making – and one thats still not resolved satisfactorily…

  48. PKD, I used “may” because this is an issue that reasonable people disagree on.

    I think the invasion should not have been undertaken without UN approval.

    As you say, the jury is still out on the overall benefit.

    It seems the Iraqi people who turned out to vote saw some benefit. On the other hand, if Iraq ends up in the hands of extremists then it will have been a failure.

  49. Hello PKD,

    Re your post on the Left’s behaviour after the Nazis invaded Russia, this article makes for some interesting reading on Union activity at the time :

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb6559/is_57/ai_n29018643/

  50. Marek Bage

    SB, it’s obvious that you’re flailing about in a vain attempt to reconcile your much vaunted, but apparently insipid, respect for free speech with your obvious infatuation with soldiers.

    I find it amusing that Mr. Free Speech whishes to proscribe any manner of protest, including strikes (gasp!), demonstrations (OMG!) and rallies (OMFG!) that the common citizen might use to show their displeasure with government decisions.

    Since you’re obfuscating like a pro, I’ll repeat and expand upon my question of above.

    If I, as someone who disagrees with a war, wish to make my feelings known to the government of the day, then how do I do that without undermining the war effort?
    How can I take full advantage of my democratic right to dissent and not be labelled treasonous by your ilk?

  51. Marek Bage

    Mordwa.
    When I said “do everything possible”, I wasn’t suggesting anything illegal or disrepectful of returning soldiers.
    Nor did I mean ‘civil disobedience’, as far as I’m concerned, that’s still breaking the law.

    As for this…
    most recruits to the military are basically kids, and don’t HAVE a prevailing ideology.
    Sorry mate, I’m not buying that.
    How many Greenies, Social Activists and Vegans have you got serving with you?
    How many tree-hugging peace-lovers at Duntroon?
    What is the ADF policy on dreadlocks?

    Cheers

  52. Marek:

    How can I take full advantage of my democratic right to dissent and not be labelled treasonous by your ilk?

    Do you think it is some part of the right to free speech that you should also be immune from criticism? Idiot!

  53. Thanks Gavin – interesting article.

    I have to admit since I moved to Australia I’ve found even now the Unions have way more power and militancy than the ones in the UK after being neutered by Thatcher.

    I found Dan Carlin’s recent History podcast on the Russian – German treaty and war very interesting aswell. If anyone is interested…

    http://dancarlinhh.libsyn.com/media/dancarlinhh/dchha27_Ghosts_of_the_Ostfront_I.mp3

  54. Gavin, that link was excellent.

    PKD I will give Carlin a listen.

  55. “How many Greenies, Social Activists and Vegans have you got serving with you?
    How many tree-hugging peace-lovers at Duntroon?
    What is the ADF policy on dreadlocks?”

    Unfortunantly the ADF requires you to turn up to work at least 5 days a week (when not on operations or field exercises). This unfortunantly rules out a lot of the members of the crowd you speak of.

    Couldn’t resist! :)p

  56. Hello PKD,

    Thank you for your Carlin link. I’ll give it a listen when I get home from work — can’t do it here :P

    Have you been watching the SBS show over the last couple of Friday nights at 8.30 about the Nazi – Soviet pact ? — really fascinating stuff.

    Hi Marek,

    I don’t have a problem with people voicing their political objections to participation in a war, provided they stop short of villifying our service personnel who are serving there or actively undertaking activities that could place them in even more danger, after all they have no say in where they are sent.

    I think this is getting away from the topic of the thread though, which is about care packages for our people serving overseas and which I think are a very good idea.

  57. Hey GavinM,

    I agree completely.
    I was mainly reacting to the faux free speech activist when he declaimed that decent people… should not…do things which undermine the war effort.

    I note that SB has created all manner of smoke screens in a vain attempt to obfuscate the true and apparent meaning of what he said.
    One can only reach the conclusion that when it comes to criticising military adventurism, SB believes that freedom of speech, assembly and public protest should be denied for fear of undermining ‘the war effort’.

    SB hasn’t the courage to either correct or confirm the intent of his statement from above.

    I think his primary problem is that, historically, it is “The Left” that has used freedom of speech and protest to take a an anti-war stand.
    He is therefore caught between his professed love of free speech and his rabid hatred of “The Left” resulting in his ugly display of evasion when asked to clarify.

    Just to be sure, I’ll ask a third time.

    Putting aside the irrelavence of whether my actions attract criticism from those who disagree with me, do I have the right to protest against a war even though it might be seen to undermine efforts to prosecute that war? Yes or No?

  58. Obviously yes. I have never denied it.

    Take Toben. His anti-semitic comments are indecent. Nevertheless I repeatedly opposed his prosecution and stood up for his right to say them.

    Clearly you pretend not to get this point to further your stupid argument. Just admit you misconstrued what I said.

    Same with war critics. Some are reasonable, but others are contemptible, and possibly even treasonous. I’m not advocating shutting them up, but rather calling them out for what they are.

    John Kerry’s clandestine meetings with the North Vietnamese foreign minister Mme Binh while his country was still at war, and his later actions which dovetailed with enemy strategy are in the latter category, as were the actions of the Australian far left during WWII.

  59. Marek Bage

    Obviously yes. I have never denied it.

    No, but you contradicted it with this comment;

    Decent people who disagree with with (sic) particular wars should not denigrate soldiers or do things which undermine the war effort.
    SB // 1 June, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    And when pressed on the issue of how someone could undermine the war effort you said this;

    The Australian left provided a graphic example of what else, other than speech, could be used to undermine the war effort – strikes, demonstrations, rallies, civli (sic) disobedience.
    SB // 1 June, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    I miscontrued nothing and I’m not trying to further any “stupid argument”.
    I’m simply trying to hold you to account for your hyprocrisy as well as challenging the stupid notion that speaking out against a war can be deemed as ‘undermining the war effort’, ‘putting the troops in harm’s way’, ‘giving comfort to the enemy’ or any other silly shit that fascists on all sides of the fence trot out to silence dissent.

    Cheers.

  60. Marek, how is this:

    Decent people who disagree with particular wars should not denigrate soldiers or do things which undermine the war effort.

    which is no more than an expression of my opinion about what decent people should or should not do amount to an attempt to deprive anyone of the right to free speech?

    I could see your point if I had said they should be thrown in jail or convicted of a crime for their statements. But I didn’t do that, did I?

    As to this statement of mine:

    The Australian left provided a graphic example of what else, other than speech, could be used to undermine the war effort – strikes, demonstrations, rallies, civil disobedience.

    the link posted by Gavin above does give a graphic account of the behaviour clearly directed to undermining the war effort by the left during WWII. Those who organised this action should be condemned for what they did.

    You seem to think that having the right to free speech carries some form of immunity from criticism. This is clearly nonsense.

    One benefit of allowing free speech is that you can better understand what people think, and draw conclusions from that. Limiting free speech doesn’t change peoples’ opinions, but it may drive them underground. Better to have the discussion out in the open. Part of that discussion is robust criticism of wrong or indecent speech.

    Obviously you do not get this point, or you would not say things like this: :

    How can I take full advantage of my democratic right to dissent and not be labelled treasonous by your ilk?

    That statement is crap. In fact you should have the right to say what you like, and I should have the right to label your speech and actions according to my own opinion of them. You are trying to twist the right to free speech into a right not to be criticised or labelled.

  61. SB, by labeling some actions or war critics as “treasonous” you are implying they deserve punishment surpassing more than merely criticism, but they actually be punished for the crime of treason which does involve being locked up, or according the dickheads over at Bolts blog, being put to the firing squad.

  62. EvShow:

    SB, by labelling some actions or war critics as “treasonous” you are implying they deserve punishment surpassing more than merely criticism,

    If we were having a legal discussion there might be some force in that criticism but, in the context of a free for all discussion such as regularly occurs in these pages, it is unwarranted. Labelling particular actions as treasonous is, in my case, a way of expressing disgust.

    The fact that you commit treason against reason with every comment you make does not mean that you should be locked up.

  63. Marek Bage

    But I didn’t do that, did I?

    No, I accept that you didn’t.

    Nor did you simply opine how you wished people would behave.
    Also, if you simply wanted to tell us that denigrators of soldiers and underminers of war efforts were dickheads then I would have agreed to the former and disagreed to the latter.

    However, your original statement was proscriptive and not unlike the kind put forward by “Patriots” in an effort to silence their critics.
    You’ve clarified that it was meant to be viewed as such and I accept your word on that.

    BTW, I never claimed immunity from criticism and I wonder where you got that from.

    Cheers.

  64. Marek Bage

    You’ve clarified that it was not meant to be viewed…

    Sorry.

  65. Cheers Marek.

  66. Have you been watching the SBS show over the last couple of Friday nights at 8.30 about the Nazi – Soviet pact ? — really fascinating stuff.

    No, I didn’t know it was on – I’ll have to check it out – cheers!

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