Many of those in the blog and MSM spheres feasting on the remains of William Arkin’s Jan 30th Early Warning column, “The Troops Also Need to Support the American People,” have unfortunately missed the crucial point of his argument.
Arkin’s thesis – clearly and unambiguously presented at the opening of his post – was this:
I hope that military commanders took the soldiers [who spoke to NBC] aside after the story and explained to them why it wasn’t for them [in uniform, on camera] to disapprove of the American people.
I saw the NBC newsclip Arkin reacted to. As an active duty military officer currently into a 23rd year of military service, Arkin’s main thesis was spot on. Slap him for his style. Bash him for much of what followed his opening lines. It seems emotion may have blurred his professional peperspective. Moreover, he should be held accountable for the words he published. All that said, PLEASE, in the food fight, let’s not lose sight of Arkin’s clear and unequivocal concern. It is a vitally important one.
American soldiers in uniform, have no business wading into public, democratic discourse, particularly when it regards our use. Whenever we do, no matter what our position on an issue might be, we erode to some degree the sacred and fragile trust between the nation’s soldiers and the body whole of its citizenry. When we take a side, or even hint at taking a side, we put at risk the trust of those (not in uniform) who might see things differently. Worse, when others who do agree pile on – as in this case, what the Malkins, Hindrakers, Morriseys, and now O’Reilly’s out there are now doing – that overall trust risks still more erosion yet. Michele, Jon, Ed, Bill, thank you for your support. I mean that, humbly and sincerely. Please respect, however, indeed demand from us, that whenever we are in uniform, we soldiers take extra care to remain apolitical. The strength of our military, and ultimately its ability to support and defend the Constitution, rests on this requirement. That was Arkin’s original and primary point, which unfortunately, has gotten completely lost in the melee.