January 19, 2008

Citizen's War Duty

The Left complains that we don't sacrifice for this war. In a sense, that's a fair complaint, but only in a sense. As citizens and residents, what are civilians actually supposed to do?

The answer isn't just to sign up for the infantry. If the government wanted more trigger pullers, it could get them simply by raising the limits or innovating inside the current limits to improve the "tooth to tail" ratio. Yet the duty remains. People are dying for us every day. We need to keep faith with them but, in general, we don't know how. So what are we supposed to do about it?

The first answer is to simply not lose your head. Panic among civilians, especially voters, is the absolute worst thing to do. It is the one reasonable pathway to success for our enemies that doesn't have "and then there is a miracle" somewhere along the critical path. Panic is not reasoned. It is never productive. It is the worst sort of betrayal because it is an internal, and unforced, error. Citizen panic comes in both right and left forms so let's not imagine one political camp alone has a problem. Panicking into "make the rubble bounce" when it's uncalled for is as bad for the next generation as "cut and run" when we could have won.

Panic is very often a product of ignorance. We live in an information age yet we tolerate massive ignorance of our enemies, their weaknesses, how we can exploit them both professionally in our military and diplomatic action as well as using mass citizen action. If your news sources haven't told you about how mickey mouse Iran's economy and government are, or how much trouble even a mickey mouse government can cause, you're making yourself susceptible to panic. That's not keeping faith with those making direct sacrifices for this war of which Iraq is a mere campaign.

The ultimate expression of not panicking is to cast a good, well informed vote in every election so that those making direct sacrifices have decent backup in the elected political class. That doesn't just mean DC, but everywhere down to local town councilmen supporting returning veterans.

I don't think that not panicking, while necessary, is sufficient. But it's a good start, and for many, we're not even doing that.

Posted by TMLutas at January 19, 2008 12:34 PM