Having a tad bit more experience with the military than Mark (20 years
worth), let me say that I disagree with Mark's generality. Most volunteer
soldiers today (very different than the ones drafted for Vietnam) DO care
about whether a war is just or not. Most did not want to go into Somalia,
Haiti, or Yugoslavia, and it had little to do with being away from their
families. It was a matter of whether it strengthened the USA and
supported its interests. Most soldiers would prefer we back out of some
overseas areas, including much of the Middle East. Except for those
soldiers who love living in Germany, most really don't see a need for us
to be in Europe anymore, and would prefer we pull more out of there.
The volunteer military is very conservative, compared with the rest of
the nation. I would guess that 85% voted for Bush, rather than Gore.
Compare that with the rest of the country, which was split down the
middle. Given a choice, most would rather watch Fox News channel than CNN
or MSNBC. Most desire to defend freedom, which is why we are eager to be
in Afghanistan, and why many want to go into Iraq. They see the potential
dangers of Hussein, and realize that it will only become more dangerous
down the road. Many soldiers prefer being called "peacekeepers",
realizing that we won the Cold War with few shots fired (with exceptions
for Vietnam and Korean conflicts). But they love freedom more than peace,
and are willing to jump into the fray to defend it.
Exceptions? of course there are. But I want you to know that I'm proud to
have been part of the world's best military over the past two decades.
I'm proud we haven't been war hawks, yet have gone to battle when our
nation's leaders have ordered it-whether we agreed or not.
And I'm mostly proud of how we have defended freedom and reminded the
rest of the world of the importance of freedom and democracy. We were
condemned for invading Afghanistan. Yet, there is not a single woman in
Afghanistan who is not happy to have us there today. And there are many
other peoples just yearning to be freed from their dictatorial leaders.
We don't have the right to step in and overthrow just any nation. But we
do have a right to defend our own nation from real threats, and let the
ensuing freedom be an example for the rest of the world. Kind of like
what happened to socialism under the Reagan administration. It lost to
freedom, proudly waved.

Now, is a war with Iraq just? I guess it depends on who you ask. Bush and
others may have hidden agendas, but I can assure you that the average
soldier doesn't. Why would he? What is in it for him to go to battle,
risk death, so he can collect $150 month danger pay? I don't think so.
Our soldiers see the danger of that area of the world. They have been
serving there on and off for over twenty years. We were in Iraq with
Carter, Lebanon during Reagan's years, Kuwait with Bush Sr, Somalia with
Clinton, and Afghanistan with GWBush. 
Has American policy affected some of the actions? Of course. But soldiers
aren't involved much in political issues. Once ordered, they obey. Many
soldiers would disagree with the tinkering our nation does in many other
nations. However, they also see the good we've done, delivering millions
of pounds of food and goods to them. Do you leave them alone, or step in
and keep the people from starving? To step in, means you'll step on
dictator toes, which is exactly what we've done in many instances. 
Many of our soldiers didn't want to be in Vietnam, most questioned
whether it was a just war or not. Clearly, the answer was not cut and
dried one way or the other. Even clearer was the political actions of LBJ
and others in getting us into the war, then just allowing the war to
drift for years. Today it is different. We are always looking at the
Vietnam syndrome, when considering a war: do we have actual goals, is it
in our nation's interests, etc.  Yes, sometimes we still stray, and
soldiers still obey. Yet, I've seen many in retirement become major
critics of the decision makers. And so they should. That's what will help
keep our nation free.

K'aya K'ama,
Gerald/gary  Smith    gszion1 @juno.com    http://www
"No one is as hopelessly enslaved as the person who thinks he's free."  -
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Mark Gregson:
As a side note, my extremely limited experience shows that most soldiers
don't think about whether a war is just or not.  They oppose war because
it takes them away from loved ones, is generally an unpleasant experience
and they know they could be maimed or killed.  No theory, just

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