Saturday, December 03, 2005

Honoring Soldiers is a Gospel Value

Anthony Esolen notes this curious and little noticed fact here, and explicates it with his customary intelligence and freedom from conventional cant. (Good stuff in the comment box too.)

To which I'd add that "Lord of Hosts" appears to mean "Lord of Armies." If that's the case why don't contemporary Bible translations ever translate it that way?

And that leads me to the famous Representative Murtha's comments about the US Army being "broken" by the war in Iraq. A major in the National Guard gives his reply here (Nod to the Corner).

What emerges from his account above all is that an army lives by honor. Not by calculations, not by goods or ammo (although they help), not by ease or convenience, and most certainly not by high odds of never seeing combat or facing death. What was the nadir of the US Army? 1975-1983, not during Vietnam, but after Vietnam. Fighting a tough war was bad, but losing was much worse. And what brought the Army out of its funk? The feeling that "we were told we mattered, we were the shield of liberty against Soviet totalitarianism."

Just as importantly: The honor of an army is nourished by victory and destroyed by defeat -- and especially by defeat that the soldiers believe is undeserved.

The US military feels honor now -- but a retreat in the face, not of overwhelming odds, or terrible casualties, but simply a public back home tired of not getting immediate progress will destroy that honor.

The US military has not lost a significant engagement in Iraq or Afghanistan. Not a single one. Like the guys in "Black Hawk Down" they go into every encounter knowing that one of them is worth twenty -- no, make that fifty -- of the enemy, in training, shooting, endurance, courage, and decency. If we are run out of these countries by death squadders with IED's, don't expect America's warriors to say "Thank God my life was saved by Cindy Sheehan." Expect them to be filled with shame that they lost to unlawful combatants inferior to them in every soldierly virtue. Expect rage against the people who made them undergo the ultimate humiliation of losing. Expect the mother of all funks, and a military bitterness against civilian leadership that will corrode American political life for decades.