Saturday, December 11, 2010

Soldiers without Honor



Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn. -- MacArthur at West Point
... The motto of the United States Military Academy and the watchwords of the United States Army. We understand what duty and country mean, but what is honor? Is honor any different than pride? When honorable behavior is scarce in our civilian pursuits, why should the military adhere to a different code?

Today, the US Armed Forces are posed with the question of whether or not to allow homosexuals and bisexuals to display their sexuality openly. The arguments for this innovation are along the lines that sexuality is an intrinsic property of the person, not a choice, and that service in the armed forces is a right, not a privilege.

MacArthur continues:
Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government; whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing, indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as they should be. These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution. Your guidepost stands out like a ten-fold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.

As true today as in 1962. There is something eternal about the nature of war and of truth. Within the life and death struggle, there is a primal human invariant that either bends towards the bad or for the good. However, our civilian pursuits are much more vicarious. As technology marches along and urbanization increasingly becomes a global phenomenon, we are prone to think that man has changed as well regardless of the repeated lessons of recent conflicts.

MacArthur did not need to define the motto to the cadets. He knew that they each had a good understanding of its meaning. Duty is the obligation to the country that the soldier accepts for himself, honor is his integrity to keep that commitment, and country is the land, the people, and the ideals that are safeguarded and given life by the sacrifice of the soldier. But today, honor is considered by many to be a relic of the past--easily confused with baser things. In large, our society does not understand the meaning of the word.

Perhaps, before we take up the enigma of honor in earnest, it would be wise to revisit the questions of how women and minorities have been integrated into the US Armed Forces. A survey of the Army would find that minorities are disproportionately represented in the combat service support units as opposed to the combat arms.

Are the promotion guidelines blind to race and gender?

Why? What is wrong with our model of imposed egalitarianism? Is there something that we forgot?

If we cannot answer these questions satisfactory, then are we putting the conclusion ahead of the premise in regard to the question of sexuality?

Is human nature an anachronism? Has our ignorance of the meaning of honor obscured its importance? Most importantly, can our democracy rely on soldiers without honor?


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UPDATE: 18 Dec



Letter of Resignation to the Branch Chief of ARPERCEN (Military Intelligence)


Please process my resignation.

The reason why I served was out of a sense of duty to a country that is quite exceptional among countries. Indeed, that is still true. However, there must also be a strong component of honor in the service. The strength of that bond has been weakened by the recent Congressional decision to change the nature of the service.

We are a country that has decided that there is no pressing need at this time for that dimension of service that brings the ordinary into the heroic and through which we have won our greatest victories as history has shown. Alternatively, poor character and lack of integrity has lead to the recent phenomenal security lapses, the slaughter of our troops at Ft. Hood by a known traitor, and battlefield losses that we have been too remiss to attribute honestly. I have seen the results myself in Iraq of putting politics above mission. It has always been for the worse.

At times in the course of events it is necessary for the leader to take a moral stand and by his actions demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice for that which he asks his subordinates to follow. We lead by moral persuasion--not by dictate. No punishment will force a unit to hold a line against withering fire--only the stronger bonds that are forged by example. This environment in which we can build those bonds is by this recent action being swept away. I doubt strongly that a leader can stand with much credibility as he simultaneously guards the myriad of moral inconsistencies within his command that always follow when we replace the rule of insisting on conduct for the good of the whole with special privileges and prerogatives based on race, gender, and now sexual proclivity. He might administer, but he cannot lead. Our mission demands leadership as we have seen time and again in the recent wars.

We call the faithful service of duty, honor. Duty is not defined by the whim of the superior as we ourselves reminded the defeated Nazis. Duty serves a higher cause as it must for our country to be safeguarded against depravities such as My Lai and Abu Ghraib. The leader swears an oath to the Constitution because he brings to the relationship his own free will. Our entire government is based upon this principle.

In such a time and in such a condition, it is immoral for the leader to sit idly by. A decision has been forced. The Congress has made a horrible mistake. Let them know from my example that they are jeopardizing much more than what is wise and for no good purpose than to appease those that place their own peccadilloes above service. It is a blunder that will cost lives and jeopardize the mission. Silence condones malfeasance.

Process my resignation.


Paul Deignan