Why I don’t “support the troops”

This article originally appeared as an op-ed in the March 2010 issue of The Four Marks.  For more information on The Four Marks, please click here.

Some weeks back one of the speakers at a conference I was attending told me over a meal that his son was heading into the Marines via ROTC, and he wanted to know what I, as a former Marine and as someone who had attended Officer Candidates’ School, thought about his son's military aspirations.  I did not have encouraging words for him.

I had a conversation about this subject with one of my former students some months ago. I have taught hundreds of young men and women, but only a few students become friends and keep in touch with me for years after we have stopped having a tutoring relationship. This young man, who had taken advantage of every opportunity to grow and learn about himself, and already a mature gentleman when I first met him at 17, wanted to enter the military, specifically the Marine Corps.

He was attracted to the Marines for the same reasons that I was, when I first enlisted in 1999. The Marine Corps is the most elite branch of the military. Sure, there are the Rangers, and the SEALs, etc., but those are special forces of various branches, whereas “normal” Marines guard our Embassies and the President, apart from having the longest, most demanding boot camp of any of the armed forces, and are always looked to as “first in” in major conflicts. If he was going to be in the military, he reasoned, he wanted to be in the best branch. I couldn’t disagree with that.

We started speaking about the military as a profession and came to the discussion of how empty the notion of "supporting the troops" is.  I’ve always been troubled by the red-meat phraseology of “support the troops” because it is a disingenuous, provocative, and loaded phrase. Supporting the troops precisely means caring about the troops.  It doesn't mean rah-rah jingoistic victory cheers in the worst tradition of "my country, right or wrong," but rather it means you are willing to support them, make sacrifices for them, encourage and ask them to make their own personal sacrifices, all on behalf of our nation if our cause is morally just and legally true.  Such "support" cannot be given in this period of our nation's history.

Indeed, it has become impossible to “support the troops” given our current unprecedented militaristic overreach. We have over 700 known bases in more than 120 countries around the world. The mission of the United States military is to maintain a constant forward presence which helps enable sales of our most important export: weapons. The government, since the War of 1812 (which as the 200th anniversary approaches we should be ever mindful of), has entangled the American people in unnecessary wars through prevarication, provocation, and propagandistic misinformation. As Chalmers Johnson once said in the essential-to-watch documentary, Why We Fight, "the defense budget last year was $750,000,000,000 and profits went up 25%...when war becomes that profitable, you are going to see more of it.”

If you join the military today, you are not signing up for honorable military service as millions of young men have, willingly or no, throughout millennia; rather, you are signing up for, among other things:

* Occupying countries like Afghanistan and Iraq
* Unnecessarily basing troops in countries that have not been warlike in two generations, like Japan and Germany
* Torturing people in secret locations in a sitzkrieg called the “Global War on Terror”
* Continual provocation of China by our schizophrenic stance towards Taiwan
* An outdated warlike footing of NATO based on irrational Russophobia
* An Israel-first policy that is not only harmful to American interests and Americans, but accepts as a priori the legitimacy of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Israel in 1948 as well as the ongoing treatment of Palestinians as second-class citizens in occupied territories.

There are skills that the military teaches that used to be the demesne of local militias: sustained outdoor living, weapons marksmanship, close order combat. These are skills that, without the military, might be lost among my mostly militia-less generation. Yet I must advocate that these skills, needful to men in general, and more than ever as our country heads off the cliff of a major economic collapse, must be learned, however we can manage it, because I told my former student the same thing that I told that professor some weeks ago: that I couldn’t encourage any young man of worth to enter the military today. It is impossible, both practically and legally, for one man to stand up against the behemoth that is the military/industrial complex. One cannot, in good conscience, join the US military of today, engaged as it is, in numerous unjust missions worldwide.

The moral implications of potential deployments to assignments of unjust purport and purpose aside, the military is no place for a stable family to be raised. Children are uprooted every few years, and spouses are subject to sometimes long and painful separations.  Entering the military is not only an acceptance of our warlike sham “defense of democracy and freedom,” it is an acceptance of a nomadic lifestyle that is not only inimical to the raising of a stable family, but to the peaceful rootedness of even a single man.

We already have on our shoulders the massive social sins of keeping a government in power that murders civilians in other countries, babies in our own, all while stealing our future through devaluing our currency. We should not encourage our fellow citizens to take up arms to “support and defend” those projects.

Stephen Heiner

Stephen lives in Moret-sur-Loing, France. He founded True Restoration in 2006.

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39 Responses

  1. Augustine says:

    Is that list of the military's sins yours or Obama's?

    I have unsubscribed from your blog feed.

  2. Augustine

    The "listed sins" predate Obama.

    Since we are allegedly a "republic" we share the praise AND the blame for the misdeeds of our government, as we constitute it.

    I'm sorry that you have unsubscribed, but if one article causes you to stop reading a blog without any kind of discussion beyond one sentence, you either have very strong principles or a very closed mind.

    I hope, for your sake, that it's the former, but my suspicion is that it's the latter.

  3. john says:

    Very praiseworthy article Mr Heiner!.

  4. I disagree.

    I'll be the first to admit that the USA isn't perfect, but I would be last in line to condemn her for not being perfect.

    First, it is our duty as Christians to support lawful authority, and to heed our civic responsibilities. This entails more than just agreeing with everything members of our government say or do, but at the same time we can not second guess God who put each of us in history, in a specific place and time that we might do His will in a specific place and time. That means being a good citizen of heaven demands being a good citizen here below.

    Second, there are principles on which our society and government are founded that are good and worth preserving. Principles such as freedom of conscience, industry, private property, etc, are all good in and of themselves. These principles are at the heart of western democracy (which has its historical roots in the Church's moral teachings). Respect for the dignity of persons is seminal in our system of natural rights. It is when society philosophically departs from this respect for the dignity of persons that the society moves away from an understanding of rights/duties and wallows in the "sins" that you catalog.

    There is no way that Catholics can work to transform our society, flawed as it is, by this rhetoric that belittles healthy patriotism. Man can not be the slave to the State, even a representative Constitutional republic such as we have. However, man can not remove himself from civic responsibility just because his government or society opposes in various ways a man's religious convictions.

    Man has a responsibility, not to remove himself from public life (including his obligations) just because there is injustice. If this were the case, then all men of all times would be excused from civic obligations because ever since Eve handed Adam that forbidden fruit, there has never been an earthly society or government completely free of injustice.

    Pledging allegiance to the flag and that for which it stands is not an endorsement of the evil that may take place in the name of the flag or that for which it stands. It is a pledge to uphold all that is good under that flag, and a pledge to God to change all that is unjust or evil that transpires in the name of the flag and that for which it stands.

    I will support the troops because I would rather live as a Catholic in the USA, than take my chances in a place like Saudi Arabia or an even less Christian country like, say, France.

  5. Mr Werling

    #1 I am not condemning the USA for "being imperfect." I am singling out a specific part of our government that I think is engaged in wrongful activities and I am cautioning others who also see these activities as wrong.

    #2 My being a loyal citizen has what to do with supporting every single mission of the military all the time? Reductio ad absurdum of your argument would be that when some Seal Team tomorrow assasinates some head of state of some African republic because we don't like him, it would be "disloyal" and "unpatriotic" to not "support" that act.

    I'm not going to address your second point because it's based on your faulty first premise, that being a good citizen means that I have to support every action of the military…a bridge (in the parlance of the military) too far, my friend.

    I also then cannot address your third point, in which you conflate "civic responsibility" with "supporting" *every* action of the military.

    Similarly I don't need to deal with your pledge argument because you are setting me up for the false dilemma that you conclude with: you either have to live as a Catholic in the USA, or move to France.

    What? What?

    Let me make sure I have this correct. I make a case that the US military, in its current form and in the overwhelming majority of its missions and mandates, is engaged in unjust activity.

    Recognizing the military for the monolith it is (here I could do the cheap shot of asking if you've served and if you truly know how monolithic it is, but I don't need to do that to make my point), I am suggesting the best remedy is, at the least, to not encourage young men to choose it for a career (apparently "dissent" is not a "value" of "Western civilization" worth "defending"), and at the most, to discard the tired, meaningless phrase of "support the troops," which sounded just as meaningless at the end of your response, as it does every time it comes out of the mouth of President Obama. Or President Bush. Or President Clinton. Or President Reagan.

    We can "hate the sin, not the sinner" but when it comes to the military, we only have one (unthinking) size fits all: "support the troops." But if I don't drink your kool-aid, I'm suggesting relocation to Saudi Arabia or France? Wow.

  6. So you didn't condemn every mission or action of the US military?

    I must have misread your article when you wrote: "If you join the military today, you are not signing up for honorable military service…"

    Am I wrong in summarizing that your article indicates that no one should serve in the military? Isn't maintaining a military (and police force) a necessary function of government?

    Mr. Heiner, your article is a call for this society to deny a necessary function of its government. How then can your position be reconciled with the civic responsibility of supporting one's government in its necessary responsibilities? You are taking the easy path of condemnation, when patriotism demands we take the much more difficult path of reform.

    Also, in your rush to respond you completely misinterpreted my "France" comment. It was meant to be humorous. A sense of humor isn't a bad thing for a traditional Catholic to have, you know? At any rate, at the heart of my comment was that I think it is irresponsible to demand the benefits of military and police protection, and then on the other hand to dismiss out of hand the sacrifice required to maintain these functions of government. There are many benefits to having the privileged of living in the USA. There's no point in being ungracious.

    An interesting response to this position and mentality can be found here:


    I think your reactionary response reflects the same shrill response that so many traditional Catholics have adopted on this topic, a shrill response that puts them in the company with tie-died T-shirt wearing, over age-60, former hippies and Planned Parenthood clinic volunteers. Careful of the intellectual company you keep.

    In all things Charity. Best regards.

  7. Tomasz says:

    Mr. Heiner, if somebody wants to know why the Church has always condemned private judgement, he should read your post. You're unable to pass any reliable judgement on your country's policy because you don't have enough information, you're looking at the world with definitely non-Catholic naivity, ignoring the consequences of the original sin. You don't have any idea about how the political forces work. You really don't know why Iraq and Afghanistan are occupied and you're unable inform yourself, as no sane government will allow important facts to leak to the public. And that's the way it should be if a state wants to exist.

    You're prone to manipulation. Remember all those useful idiots protesting against war in Vietnam?

    As to whether "russophobia" is irrational or not, you should look at Mr Putin's PhD thesis that he submitted to the Petersburg Economical Academy. You probably never heard about it, and yet you're making judgements. This is precisely the kind of behavior that is expected from useful idiots and other fellow travelers. You're helping to defeat your country by your PRIDE which makes you think that you can decide which policy is right without having any foggish idea what the real situation is. And you're creating a very bad influence, because probably thousands people read your blog.

    Immoral self-loathing in the country of the enemy is the dream of everybody who wants to win the war. KGB used to pay for such activities, maybe you could earn something from the FSB if you contact them.

    You are obliged to support your family and your fatherland.

  8. Tomasz

    You condemn me for making a "private judgment" and then go on to make all sorts of private judgments about what I do or don't know.

    You also don't provide an email address so I can engage you on Putin's thesis.

    If you'd be interested in an exchange about what I do or don't know about foreign policy, you have my email address. It's in my profile.

  9. Mr Werling

    I read Mr. Hargrave's piece. I think I understand a bit better where you are coming from now.

    I'll think about it more before posting a response, and I'll make sure I'm not wearing my tye-dye shirt when I'm typing 🙂

  10. When did the Church condemn "private judgment" on political matters? I must have missed the memo.

  11. dolorosa says:

    I don't understand why Catholics and especially more catholic men don't speak up for what is just or unjust catholic war principles? The military is a catch 22 situation where people need jobs and money to live but we must also be careful as catholics too in not supporting wars that are unjust. We have terrorists here in our own country yet our military is being spread thin because of the lies of our own government over 911, so-called weapons of mass destruction, etc.

  12. Sean says:

    Russia has a well-developed and readily recognized predilection for subjecting its small near-neighbors to the vicissitudes of expansionist aggression. The means have been varied, in a macabre sort of way: there’s been creative violence (e.g. Ivan the Terrible, 16th century), modernizing imperialism (e.g. Peter the Great, 17th–18th centuries), enlightened despotism (e.g. Catherine the Great, 18th century), and Bolshevizing atheism (e.g. Vladimir I. Lenin, 20th century). The folks to ask about this are the victimized people of Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, East Germany, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Hungary, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Tajikstan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, among others. Putin's nationalism is more evidence that the Russian bear has just been hibernating.

    When are you moving back to Canada?

  13. Dear Mr. Romer

    Look, it takes all I have to be able to live with the weather in Kansas City – I can't move further north to Canada! We can't all live in Atlanta, you know!

    When someone refers to Russophobia, it is not a question of whether Russia is a bully. We get that. The question is, do you surround a bully, especially one led by a masterful and consummate politician like Vladimir Putin, who enjoys absurdly high political ratings because he encourages Russian nationalism and has been wise enough to resurrect the Orthodox religion from its ashes, with a missile system and a never-re-purposed military alliance whose raison d'etre was to oppose you?

    You seem to think that's a good idea, but one-size-fits-all thinking regarding foreign policy is rather common among Americans, even if they live in the South, a region, of all places, that demands a subtlety and complexity to understand its own political history contra history books who make the war all about Lincoln's sainthood and the South's evil slavery.

    I think the burden is on you to explain to us what AMERICAN (not Canadian) National Security Interest is threatened by Russia being boorish and worse with its neighbors.

    Take your time with that one. It's going to take some juggling.

    PS Keep in mind that not all of us buy into "big brother" foreign policy, or at least are disgusted by the idea that those who pretend to be noble trumpet our military's presence in places like Haiti or Somalia, but are noticeably silent at its absence in places like Sudan and Rwanda. And even if you did buy into such an incoherent policy, you'd have difficulty defending it precisely because of its absurdity.

  14. Mr. Heiner's post is a moderate, thoughtful breath of fresh air that helps to disabuse conservative and traditional Catholics of their support for the military-industrial complex of the U.S., which is responsible for the deaths of many thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, including pregnant women and mothers with young children, and about which the Catholic Right-to-Life movement has had very little to say, to its great discredit.

    Moreover, Russophobia is virulent at the New York Times and other neocon Zionist outlets because of Russian resistance to certain cherished campaigns of the New World Order, such as war on Iran and the transformation of Russia into a liberal Zionist "democracy" as was envisioned under Yeltsin when he permitted the looting of Russia's industry and resources (particularly in the oil sector) by Judaic-Russian oligarchs, who then began to buy up Russia's newspapers and television networks in Rupert Murdoch fashion, and establish political campaigns based on massive bribery. This modern American model for making the world safe for Pepsi and the Talmud was obstructed in Russia, to much howling and handwringing in Britain and America.

    I would add that America's alleged freedom compared with Russia is in part chimerical. Alexander Solzhenitsyn's book on the role of Judaics in the Communist Revolution, "Two Hundred Years Together" has not, in seven years, found a publisher in the West. The Nobel laureate's book is a key to understanding the authentic nature of Soviet Communism. It was freely published in Russia.

    America's military policy since at least the time of Lyndon Johnson has been war for partisan Israeli objectives, to the detriment of the interests of the people of the United States. Service in the armed forces of the U.S., constitutes support for the Israeli government, not America.

    This fact will become more transparent in the future, when the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan are, (like the Federal government's "war on drugs"), revealed as a complete waste of personnel and American taxpayer treasure, an aspect of "big government" that does not trouble Sarah Palin or the majority of the "Tea Party" enthusiasts.

  15. john says:

    I am a Traditional Catholic living in the Third World. The general view in this section of the world of America's military apparatus is that it is nothing more than a Murder Machine.

  16. Sean says:

    Stephen, you misunderstood the comment, then ran away with the spoon.

    You wrote, "You seem to think that's a good idea…" Evidendce please? (That's a trick question: there's none — for the sufficient reason that I didn't say what my views of the matter were.)

    The point you overlooked is this: if Russia wants to seize on U.S. aid rendered to people Moscow has repeatedly brutalized for centuries as justification for expanding its sphere of military action, the justification includes a healthy dose of pretense.

    The subtle part is this: America's actions are more or less irrelevant to Russia's aggressions. Russia will attempt to dominate its near neighbors no matter what anyone does.

    They'll also condescendingly smile at naive critics who denigrate its rivals.

    If you ever make it to Atlanta, tovarisch, I'll be glad to help introduce you to southern subtleties.

    My best to your sister.

  17. Sean says:

    After reading Hoffman's post I feel like I need a bath.

    You know, I've known a good many Jewish folks over the years. I can honestly say, that when it came to wanting to rule the world, without exception, all of them had more sense. I figure blaming world Jewry is a cover for one's inadequacies; it's a blue-collar failing of pseudo-intellectuals.

    I'd like to say that we've digressed from the original post, but I'm not sure that's true. Stephen, do you buy into this anti-Jewish screed stuff too?

  18. Mr Romer

    As I said in my interview with the BBC last year, when the whole "Bishop Williamson affair" exploded, "I think that any murder of Jews, not just in Europe, not just in the 1930s-1940s, but the murder of any Jew, anywhere, anytime, for the 'crime' of being a Jew is not only morally reprehensible, but is also enormously repugnant to the believers of a religion that believes that God took human form as a Jew."

    Further, I need to agree with you that I've met any number of wonderful Jewish people throughout the years. I don't think you need to, or should, conflate our personal experiences with what Mr. Hoffman is saying vis-a-vis the Talmud. The Talmud is something that exists whether or not Jews want it to, and it has problematic texts in it, as some of my Jewish students have told me as we've talked about it in the past as I've sought to understand not just Judaism, but my students, better.

    It is not "anti-Jewish-screed-stuff" to discuss research on the Talmud, something I know Mr. Hoffman has done a lot of and that I have done nothing of. Therefore, I can't (and won't) assert that he's right or wrong. I'll leave it to those Jews and Gentiles that are far more educated about the Talmud than myself. Unlike other blogs that are coincidentally run in Overland Park, we don't mind publishing comments we disagree with. The purpose of the comments box is to allow for discussion, and sometimes needs to be moderated when people become uncivil or ridiculous. But, for better or for worse, we live in a "free country" ("free healthcare" these days too!) and we are served well when people from both sides can be heard so that rational people can reason, research, read, pray, and decide.

  19. Rafael says:

    Great article except I must strongly disagree with this statement:

    "An outdated warlike footing of NATO based on irrational Russophobia"

    There is nothing irrational about the danger of Russia which you label "Russophobia". The whole Islamic campaign of Terror is just a distraction for the West, masking the real threat of Russia and China.

    As Catholics we have the messages of Fatima which warn us that Russia would spread her errors. Since the Church failed to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart, we can only expect God to get his promise of a divine chastisement with Russia as his instrument sometime

  20. "Support our troops" is a well-worn admonition, seen and heard everywhere. Sure, in a perfect world, as loyal American patriots, we "support our troops" However, the phrase is a Catch 22, and deliberately so, I think. In the light of U.S. military operations abroad within recent decades, a vocal declaration of support for our troops is a two-edged sword. For, as Americans, if we openly declare support for our troops, then we are forced, at the same time, tacitly or silently, at least, to support the military adventurism in which these troops are engaged. That's a tough one.

  21. Bryce says:

    Illegally occupying countries like Afghanistan and Iraq

    What a freaking joke. What does Illegally occupying really mean? Turkey is illegally occupying constantinople. Get them the hell out…Heiner: I know you and your friend think the USA attacked itself on 9-11 but we did not. Since Mullah Omar and his friend osama did, our attack on afghanistan is anything but illegal. Further, our current stay in both countries is approved of by the democraticly elected host governments.

    * Unnecessarily basing troops in countries that have not been warlike in two generations, like Japan and Germany

    Are you aware both host goverments REQUEST the precense of these troops? are you insane?

    * Torturing people in a sitzkrieg called the “War on Terror”
    Torture is Catholic. Look it up. I think Bishop Williamson is with me on this one.

    * Continual provocation of China by our schizophrenic stance towards Taiwan
    Good god so us protecting people who want to be free is wrong??!! Do you really teach children for a living?

  22. Bryce

    Your hysterical (not hysterical-funny, hysterical in the normal sense of the world, as in screeching) post hours before the Easter Vigil provides me not only the opportunity to charitably correct someone, but to try to do so with civility and calm, two things that your post notably lacks.

    1. Illegally occupying a country. Given that both Afghanistan and Iraq are governed by pseudo-legitimate puppets propped up only by our guns, their "request" for us to be there is the actual joke. Are you aware of the circumstances under which we forced a SOFA on these people? Do you know how fast those "democratic" governments would fall if we left?

    1a. As to Mullah Omar and Osama…the 9/11 Official Conspiracy Theory…there has still, to this present day, been no substantive evidence brought forward that either of these men masterminded so devastating an attack.

    2. Insanity. Hmm. Germany wants us there because we prop up Rammstein's economy and because we save Europe and Germany from having to spend money on the military. It is clear what their benefit is. The military gets to continue its outreach and sell weapons. It is clear what their benefit is. Where exactly do the American people benefit? Have you served in our military? Do you know one person who has served in Germany or Okinawa? Being a Marine I know more then ten guys who have done a couple pumps out there, and the Okinawans HATE us because of how much we have disrespected them, murdered them, raped them, and given their laws total disregard over the years. We are there because of constitutional provisions in Japanese law (that we mandated) about armaments, we are there as a threat to North Korea, and we are there to continue our militarism. Yes, insanity. Hmmm.

    3. This point of yours is simultaneously funny to me and yet embarrassing, as you hold yourself forth as Catholic. Torture is not Catholic. As for Bishop Williamson's opinion, since he read my article and gave it the thumbs up before publication, I hardly think he's "with you" on anything regarding this article.

    4. This point was probably the most revealing, as it showed in fine detail the sort of bumbling remarks you made earlier. Do you read any foreign policy journals? Like Foreign Affairs? Or the World Policy Journal put out by MIT? Do you listen to world news (um, that would be other than Fox) like the BBC or Russia Today? Do you have ANY IDEA why we are in Taiwan? I mean, they are heavy buyers of our military equipment (hmm, there's a pattern developing here, for people who think) but we reversed policy on Taiwan long ago, and if you think it is in America's self interest to go to war in Asia (remember the last time that happened?) over an internal matter in a country that has very little to do with America other than affecting our arms sales, and further, that such a war would be to "defend people who want to be free" then I think you are deep in the throes of a kool-aid high.

    But, we are hours away from witnessing the Resurrection of Our Lord. I, too, can hope that rather than repeating nostrums from talk radio, Fox news, or the Drudge report, you might do things like:

    1. Read a book or two about Foreign Policy. I mean, read even one.
    2. Take out a subscription to some journals about Foreign Policy. Or, go to your library. They are free there.
    3. Think about the fact that a country normally operates its military on strategic self-interest, not on fuzzy notions of "freedom."
    4. Ask yourself why we aren't in Darfur helping people be "free." When you ask yourself "cui bono" you can start to get more insight into why we are really in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  23. Oh, and yes, I really do teach children. For a very good living, too. I think what I love is being able to discuss things like this with them and watching the wonder of a young, open mind actually grapple with some opposing opinions rather than the close-minded loving of Big Brother in the best tradition of 1984.

  24. James says:

    I am an ex-Marine Rifle Platoon Commander who did a tour in Vietnam. I was about as politically ignorant as they come having dropped out of college after a wasted half year to go do my John Wayne thing with the Mean Green Killing Machine. The Corps needed lieutenant cannon fodder so bad that with just that half a year of "higher" education they gladly lowered the bar to allow me to proceed through OCS after my enlisted boot camp at Paris Island and advanced infantry training at Camp LeJeune. The photo here is foolish me with most of my foolish, although rather good natured, and by today's standards innocent wide-eyed gang taking a breather in front of an abandoned French colonial Catholic Church in the rocket belt outside of DaNang. What glorious "blessed" ignoramus days those were! http://www.rumormillnews.com/cgi-bin/archive.cgi?read=112748

    Fortunately for me, and only by the grace of God, I can say I never degenerated into the seemingly cold blooded sanitized killers on this clip at http://revisionistreview.blogspot.com/2010/04/graphic-video-footage-of-us-helicopter.html. I am not one for blindly extolling nor condemning our American troops — I don't want to sweep with too broad a brush — so much as I am for absolutely excorciating the powers to be war mongers who have always led our country down the paths of institutionalized madness.

    To switch gears a little bit, I will just add this. We've all heard how sex, drugs, and rock and roll go together. If you want to get an even greater insight into the insidious and far from innocent nature of rock "music" you need go no further than youtube. Just type in something like "rock music soldiers iraq." In short order you can see how rock is used and used in a very powerful way to build up a false sense of manhood and machismo while at the same time it is used to glorify war and death. Oh, yes America is reaping what it has sown!

    James B. Phillips

  25. Fernando says:

    Very good article, I'll copy and spread it.

    What you say is not only reasonable, it even looks obvious to me, and I think that it is for most Catholics worldwide (except those so much in love with neocons and political liberalism). But it seems that for some reason that I can't see yet, it is not for US Catholics.

    I remember when I was receiving the New Oxford Review magazine, every month they had a letter from a very angry Catholic that was unsubscribing because the magazine didn't have an unconditional support to every single war that Bush's administration started. The arguments were exactly the same Augustine used here: That is, none. Just a huge empty patriotism and the weird idea that they have to support the government no matter what. And whoever differs, is unpatriotic and socialist!

    Why do US Catholics have such a strong feeling of identification with US government and US aggressive external policy?
    The US is not and has never been a Catholic country. No one US government has ever been pro-Catholic or Catholic in nature. No single war in which the US has participated was to defend Catholicism, but to spread and mantain liberalism and capitalism.

    I can't find any argument for me, as a Catholic, to support the US or the historical role of the US. Then, why US Catholics do?

    Maybe you can help me to understand them a little more.

    En Cristo,

  26. James says:

    A little addition to my above post. Major General Smedley Butler, a two time Medal of Honor recipient, was at the time of his death in 1940 the most decorated Marine in the history of the Corps which actually goes back all the way to 1775. As Marines we were all taught about Smedley Butler, but never once were we ever informed about the greatest work he ever wrote. That book which came out in 1935 is titled "War is a Racket." It can be viewed at http://www.scuttlebuttsmallchow.com/racket.html. One quick look at it will tell you why, even to this day, the work has been greatly suppressed. It is quite prophetic. It also shines much light on the continual war propaganda which very effectively uses the "support of the troops" slogan for support of our continual wars.

    James B. Phillips at http://www.rumormillnews.com/cgi-bin/archive.cgi/read/112873

  27. Crusader says:

    "can't find any argument for me, as a Catholic, to support the US or the historical role of the US. Then, why US Catholics do?"

    Because, as H.W Crocker has pointed out, the USA is the last thing to a Catholic empire we have left…do I wish Ferdinhand and Isabella were alive? Yes, the Holy Roman Empire? Yes…But this is all we have left. ANd as Mr Neiner well knows: over half the US officer corps is CATHOLIC.

    The argument from a Catholic perspective for American empire is covered by H. W. Crocker's article “The Case for an American Empire,” ….I am sure Heiner would have hated Columbus too.

  28. Crusader says:


    It may surprise you to know that you know me and I know you. We met because I absolutely loved your posts and your point of view.

    But I correctly judged that your ridiculous, noncatholic, irrational point of view on 9-11 hurt your overall message. You disagreed with me, gave me a call, and we meet and spent a pleasant evening…

    Still, I think you are a good guy, (although as you age you get even more hysterical, irrational, mean and aggressive)I shall take this opportunity to destroy your nasty little critique of my analysis…


    "As to Mullah Omar and Osama…the 9/11 Official Conspiracy Theory…there has still, to this present day, been no substantive evidence brought forward that either of these men masterminded so devastating an attack"



    you say " Torture is not Catholic"

    and call me ridiculous… well maybe I am…but you are not very well read, and clearly not aware of the debate in the Catholic blososphere has been alive on this since 2007 and Catholic priest after catholic priest has come out for torture under the right circumstances.

    To oppose torture is to oppose almost every Pope up until this century.

    I am convinced you utterly not serious on these matters. You have an almost child like view of foreign affairs, a crazy man's view of conspiracy, and unfortunately a hero worship of a flawed man…I pray for you

  29. Dear Crusader/Aaron

    I am sorry that you are so hysterically devoted to your omniscient knowledge of EVERYTHING that you are unwilling to engage in civil debate.

    I think Columbus was a saint.

    Please do pray for me, as I am always grateful for prayer.

    Good night, and good luck.

  30. Jason says:

    Interesting comments, Mr Heiner. And exactly right. Its
    interesting to read the blogosphere and find traditionalist Catholics exhibiting bizarre notions of nationalism. I commend specifically here your expressed views. In my view, the US military has become a cult. It serves its own ends off taxpayer monies, and is grievously possessed by a messianic evangelical protestant force. It grieves me to witness warmongering as a Catholic virtue. And such ignorance! I appreciate your blog.

  31. James says:

    No doubt, the U.S.A. — U.S.A. — U.S.A. — right or wrong folks will just love to sing along to this video as they support the troops. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99EMXX_6d4c

    James B. Phillips

  32. Crusader says:

    "I am sorry that you are so hysterically devoted to your omniscient knowledge of EVERYTHING that you are unwilling to engage in civil debate."

    I also apologize to you, and I think I can indulge in civic debate…When I go crazy… haha which I acknowledge I have a temper…is when you make statements which are vitriolic that I know are above your intellectual worth and lecture me on some sort of lack of education…

    I get fired up and passionate about these issues as I know you do also (you have more self control than I) but also I get upset because I am dispointed in you…

    you are so dead on and so like anyone else on your views of the church, modern day society etc…but get so sidetracked on false isssues like the 9-11 myth, anti-usa hysteria and hero worship for a certain Bishop.

    In any case I apologize for polemics….

  33. Phillip says:

    From the perspective of someone who is currently serving in our country's military, I must say that until a person has served they can never understand the culture of the Military.

    All that a true Christian must do is read the Gospels and afterward think about the teachings of Jesus. For a military that staffs mostly Christian personnel, I must say we do not carry out missions in a manner concurrent with the teachings of Christianity.

    Modern military teaches Pride, Zealousy, Policing your friends, Turning your back on collegues for a promotion, and supporting the killing of innocent people. All in the name of material profit.

    The only logical arguements (in defense of the War in Iraq as an example), are not far off from the same logical arguements used to exterminate Jews in the Holocaust.

    What happens if another 9/11 happens but the terrorist are domestic? Do we start another Civil War? At this point I don't think it's outside the realm of possibilities.

  34. Craigy says:

    1,000,000 dead Iraqis.

    Jesus is love…

  35. great article !

  36. hciampa says:

    Thank you. Reading this was a breath of fresh air. I will recommend this blog to others when articulating why I do not “support the troops”. I cannot count the times I have squirmed when visiting my parent’s church due to the heady “Support the Troops” and “God LOVES America” hype. My husband and I often turn to each other in the midst and ask each other “Are they saying God loves America MOST?” America gets to be the exception because… uh, why again?
    It felt really good to read your blog. Again, thank you.

  37. blueconcept says:

    * Unnecessarily basing troops in countries that have not been warlike in two generations, like Japan and Germany
    * Torturing people in a sitzkrieg called the “War on Terror”
    * Continual provocation of China by our schizophrenic stance towards Taiwan
    * An outdated warlike footing of NATO based on irrational Russophobia
    * An Israel-first policy that is not only harmful to American interests and Americans, but accepts as a priori the legitimacy of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Israel in 1948 as well as the ongoing treatment of Palestinians in the tradition of the Nazis' treatment of Jews in the 1930s and 1940s.

    Sounds like a bunch of claims with not warrants to me.

  38. Sounds like you haven't bothered to deal with any of my points. I don't exactly know what you mean by "with not warrants."

  39. Dr. Avery says:

    It's good to see a well reasoned and carefully considered post that questions — gently in comparison to some — the prevailing and mindless support of our military policy.

    The vitriolic reaction to even your carefully measured and thoughtful approach only serves to illustrate just how deep nationalistic indoctrination runs in our culture.

    We've managed to divide and diffuse responsibility to such a degree that absolutely no one is held accountable for our military actions. The soldier who pulls the trigger is just following orders. The commanding officer is so far removed from the field that he can't be held accountable for the results of his commands. The president can escape responsibility by claiming faulty intelligence or plain old ignorance — and he's just a figurehead at any rate, since Congress has to weigh in as well. The CIA avoids scrutiny for obvious reasons, though they might parade about some analyst as a scapegoat to appease the masses.

    The problem with this diffusion of responsibility, is that it is predicated on the assumption that each of these people is acting according to the expectations of their station.

    However, we are not ants. There is a tendency to assume that the 'stupid masses' are guttural primates incapable of real thought, but in reality we are, all of us, capable of reason. So, if a person is opposed for moral reasons, to illegal wars of aggression, and they enlist in an organization engaged in such activities, that is an act of immorality. Even in the case of ignorance. It is incumbent on each of us to fully understand the reach of our actions, and especially our oaths. Furthermore, it is our highest responsibility to share such insights with those who look up to us. Not to browbeat, or coerce, but to offer freely the wisdom that can only come from age and personal experience.

    We will be held accountable for every decision we make. Even when — especially when — multiple obligations conflict. If one's intellectual laziness inadvertently puts them in a situation that compromises their morals, they have no less failed to uphold their morals.

    This might seem like an abstraction of academics, but what do you do when you see a member of your fire team wounded and pinned down by some scared to death 10-year-old with a Kalashnikov who's protecting his family's land against an invading force. Certainly, you are going to want to act quickly to protect your brother-in-arms — to say nothing of self-preservation — but I don't care who you are, shooting a 10-year-old doesn't come naturally or easily to anyone. Assuming you overcome the natural aversion to shooting a child, Do you shoot to wound, and risk giving the young assailant more time to finish off your teammate? Do you shoot to kill, knowing you might have been able to spare the child's life? What if you hesitate, and your fellow marine is killed as a result?

    A young man entering the military needs to know the answer to this and many other questions. They need to understand the gravity of the oath that they will be taking, and the realities of war that CNN just doesn't cover.

    Look, I'm not trying to endorse a 'right' or a 'wrong' to any viewpoint here, but this stuff isn't so simple that we can afford to stifle dissenting opinions. It's complicated, and it merits a great deal of serious discussion and debate.

    These things are too important not to discuss. We might not agree on everything, but no subject should be taken out of the spheres of reason and discussion – least of all the important (and often controversial) ones.