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I have an issue with the Haditha incident: Americans are too quick to condemn without any knowledge of those who put their lives on the line for them.

The New American Dream

Issues surround the reporting and investigations of the Haditha incident. I have an issue myself.

It's not the Iraqis' assessment of the November Haditha incident that I take issue with, although it's worth noting the time difference between Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli's (Commander of U.S.-led forces in Iraq) February order to investigate and Iraq's own investigative launch just days ago. Americans get antsy standing in line for more than 15 minutes but Iraqis quietly waited seven months for its own government to start looking into things, and even then, no cheers or jeers. You'd think someone would've said something about their own government taking so long — at least before saying the U.S. government was covering anything up. That must have been an interesting newscast for Iraqis: "This just in: Something happened in Haditha this fine November day. Film at June o'clock!"

It's not Arizona Republic cartoonist Steve Benson's June 7th cartoon I take issue with, although one must wonder where his pen and ink has been every time a terrorist let loose. Hell, not just any terrorist; let's start at the top. Touted as a martyr by the same country that now loathes Marines, the highly sought and now highly dead Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had at one time "massacred children clamoring for candy." That incident didn't seem to rate a dip into Steve's inkwell, but I can't find anything to back that up so we'll just call it a presumption. You know what a presumption is, don't you Steve? That's when you put your head up your ass and blow.

I believe in my heart of hearts that Steve did not "desecrate" the Marines' Eagle, Globe and Anchor. Up until now, I believed that while symbols could be desecrated, what they symbolized could not. Maybe what is symbolized can't be desecrated, but it can sure as hell be hung, beaten, and drug through the streets of America with America's blessing.

And that brings me to my issue.

My issue is with the general American civilian population — those who have never served with the military and/or are not the child, spouse, or parent of a servicemember. If you would throw yourself in as a supporter, go ahead, but don't expect anything for it. As a Marine spouse, I've been chided one too many times about the money we "saved" while my husband spent time in a tax-free combat zone — by civilians who then got into a vehicle displaying a yellow ribbon magnet. There are civilians working in tax-free zones, too, these being non-combat areas, but this doesn't seem to dissuade. The allegiance is dubious at best.

The same country that doesn't hold people personally responsible for their own weight gain and lung cancer has no business judging the decision-making skills of Marines on their third tour right after one of them has been killed by an enemy. So far, the general American civilian population's contribution to its military is to sit back and indict from afar. You'd think a population born of the world's most adventurous people would have more the attitude of doing rather than just saying, but clearly that's not the case.

The oft-used "you chose to join the military" argument, used to justify any and all attacks on the military servicemember by those who have no idea what they're talking about, is easily deflated with one very simple reality: you chose NOT to join the military. Now I know, American civilians don't care much for the idea that they're personally responsible for anything, but don't worry; it's the only choice you'll ever make that you can't get out of with a lawyer. You're still covered in the event that you eat your way to heart disease, smoke until you can barely breathe, spill something hot on yourself, jettison onto the pavement after not putting on your seatbelt, or find yourself in need of military protection. Someone else will always be there to hold your hand, even as you're biting it.

Military servicemembers have long been thought to have a very different lifestyle than that of civilians. It would appear the disparity between the two has grown despite the growing access civilians have to the military life. It is no longer the dynamic of two lifestyles, but rather like that of two countries — the United States of America and the United States of America Military. While the two exist under the same presidency, the two do not exist under the same government. The constitutional rights and responsibilities afforded one are not, in full, afforded the other.

Civilians pay taxes to provide for civilian defense whereas military servicemembers pay taxes to provide for everyone's defense and provide the defense itself. Military servicemembers assume responsibility and earns rights whereas civilians assume rights (specifically, those not guaranteed much less mentioned in the Bill of Rights) and delegate responsibility where it is not flat out dismissed. Where welfare and morale is a top priority in the military, the bottom line in the civilian world is profit. While civilians are held increasingly less responsible for their own choices, military servicemembers are held responsible for their choices and the choices of others.

A popular notion held by many a civilian and wholly unsupported by the constitution is that they pay for their defense and therefore have say over those who defend. Conversely, these same civilians do not think those who defend their freedoms have the right to tell them, much less make them shut the fuck up. An interesting imbalance, not unlike President Bush using the people's money to spy on said people even though said people can get nowhere near him.

While there are those civilians who take issue with Benson's cartoon because they perceive it as painfully unpatriotic, I see it as the very essence of the new American dream: Use your freedoms to shove your responsibilities up the asses of those who defend those freedoms and then complain about how they handled those responsibilities.

But it's okay America — Passive-aggressive personality is no longer considered a diagnostic category by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Just ask your lawyer.

About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.

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