August 08, 2002
Not with My Daughter

As Ellen and I get more nestled into this "blogger community", I have discovered the concept of "warblogging". Because we have a lot of readers who don't come from the wider political blog community, I will explain: warblogs are given the title (by themselves or others) because their authors openly advocate starting up wars, right now with Iraq. Some are professional newsies who should know better.

My dad gave me what I consider the ultimate litmus test of whether or not a war is supportable. You'd have to set the "way back" machine to 1986, when I had dutifully signed up for selective service (i.e. the draft, which they never used... do they still make people do that?) We were talking and he said something like "You know, whenever I see a story on the TV about the US going to war over something I ask myself, would I be willing to send my kids to die for that?"

And that's something I'm noticing an awful lot about the warbloggers I've found. They seem (in my travels) to be young, childless, and civilian. If they have children, they seem to be very young, younger than 13 so far. To me, not to put too fine a point on it, this positively reeks of armchair quarterbacking. It's easy to place wagers when you have nothing to lose.

Because war is an ugly, ugly thing. It's ugly because no matter how shiny and sexy and sophisticated the machines are, it's all about killing people and breaking stuff. And the problem with killing people and breaking stuff is these people, not surprisingly, take exception to your killing them and breaking their things. They do their level best to kill you back, and most of the time they'll succeed, if nothing else from dumb luck.

Death for a soldier is never a pretty thing. It's actually kind of unusual for someone to just be blown to bits, or have the top of their head taken off. Far more frequent are the "mortal injuries", things that do eventually kill you but take their own sweet time about it. An arm gets blown off, a belly gets ripped open, an artery gets cut, all are things that, in a combat situation, will pretty much doom the victim. But not immediately. Sometimes it takes minutes, but many times it takes hours. In any case it is an eternity, and it is a horrible, willful waste.

And it's not just the person who's dying who becomes a victim. The people around them, their buddies, the medics, the rescue squads, are all subject to unspeakable trauma because they're the ones left behind. They're the ones who have to deal with what's left. They're the ones who carry the memories of someone holding their intestines in with their hand while they walk, of someone pleading with them to save their life when their legs have been blown off, of someone slowly, gently, calling for their mothers while the last of their blood seeps into the ground.

So to me, the questions are not "does Saddam need to go" or "will it be safer when he's gone" or "should we do something about it?" Those are the all-too-easy questions of these so-called warbloggers. My questions are would I be willing to subject my own child to the infliction of violent death on the deductions of a group of politicians? Would I be willing to subject my own child to witnessing violent death on the assumptions of a group of rear-echelon intelligence officers? Would I be willing to offer my own child up to a violent death when there are no plans for an aftermath that would make that death meaningful?

I don't see any of you even asking these questions, let alone answering them. Many of you have nothing to risk, and so seem not to feel the need.

I don't have children right now, but I will one day.

My answer's in my title.

Posted by scott at August 08, 2002 03:58 PM

eMail this entry!

For once I am speechless!

Posted by: Pat on August 8, 2002 06:01 PM

I have had many positive comments about this essay from friends and other folks who have seen it. I really think this is the best thing you have written. No editing needed. LOL

Posted by: Pat on August 9, 2002 12:49 PM

I am very impressed with this article and would like to share it with my family and church if that would be ok with you. Great Job!!!

Posted by: mary mills on August 9, 2002 09:40 PM

Well my Dad and my husbands Dad asked the same questions you asked! But yes there was a draft and there still is one if the US government wants to call it! Both Dads were called upon to save us and fight in www! You would NOT have the freedom that you have today if it was not up to our fathers! Count your blessings as I do mine! Unfortunately a decision to go to war does NOT go to public vote! Neither you nor I have a say so about it! Yes neither of us wants this for our kids but America has been built on the blood of kids! I lost my cousin in Vietnam at age 17! Rest assured although that less blood will be split going forward as the technology we have today surpasses what we had in the past!

Posted by: Elizabeth Hoerske on August 10, 2002 12:00 AM

Please feel free to use the article, but also if possible please include a note that includes our site's URL (

Posted by: scott on August 11, 2002 07:29 AM

Liz: Thanks for the comment! However, I don't think improvements in technology really mean much to the family whose kid comes home in a box. To them, at least, meaning must be found in the aftermath of events. At this point, I don't think our government has their sh*t together enough to make such a sacrifice worthwhile.

Posted by: scott on August 11, 2002 03:17 PM

Well you might be right about the government! And I might add you do write so beautifully! I guess what I wanted to say is that I have seen less bloodshed over the last wars than I have ever seen in the past wars! We never had the power in Nam to point cameras on ground like we do today as inside caves! Improvements in technology will never mean anything to a family who kid comes home in a box! But to those kids who do come home technology will be appreciated.

Posted by: Elizabeth on August 12, 2002 02:20 AM

Well, I was referred here by Eric Olsen; read the post, and have two questions: a) is there anything worth risking one's child for? b) if not, how do you raise them in a dangerous world?

I talked tangentially about this on my blog:

Personally, I lean toward doing something, and doing it now. It will destabilize the Middle East, but the reality is that the Middle East is going to get destabilized soon by demographics, resources, poverty, and most of all by a virulent and murderous culture that is growing there unchecked.

I have three reasons for wanting to get it over with; they are eighteen, fifteen, and five years old. I want to buy some time for them, and some space to try and come to any humanly sustainable resolution, and we simply can’t do it in the face of an increasingly belligerent (the proof is just inland from Battery Park) culture that will only be richer, better trained, and better armed tomorrow.

I’m still looking for an alternative path. But I don’t see one.

Posted by: Armed Liberal on August 12, 2002 09:47 PM


a) Yes. Defending the nation against direct attack is always worth the risk. Ensuring a stable world order is always worth the risk. Ensuring the security of our national interests is sometimes worth the risk, but "national interest" is a vague term that has been abused before.

b) Raise them as best you can, and make sure the politicans you put in charge are good and are very, very closely watched.

On your excerpt:

Especially for the 18 and 15 year old, you're out of time. I still think sitting back and pondering one of them coming home in a box is one helluva good way to separate national interests from national pride.

Thanks for your comments and welcome to the site!

Posted by: scott on August 13, 2002 08:48 AM

Scott, it's a worthy question. And it was asked by millions of Americans in the 1930s, and answered in the negative.

There was a HUGE anti-war feeling in this country, fed by homegrown Nazis like Charles Lindbhergh of the trans-Atlantic flight fame.

It can't be the only question that rules whether or not a war is worth fighting. Because you have to consider whether you need to fight now to prevent the ultimate conflagration involving your country later.

Dead is dead, whether your children are killed in battle in a foreign land, or killed by terrorists here in America.

I lived twelve miles west of the WTC. I smelled the smoke and the stench every time the wind blew from the east.

That was reason enough for me.

Posted by: Meryl Yourish on August 13, 2002 11:02 AM

Which is why I fully supported going into Afghanistan, and still do. But, probably having more to do with dumb luck on his part, Hussein didn't have anything to do with that.

Hey, if someone comes up with better reasoning behind taking Saddam out, other than "he's a bad guy and needs to go", I'm all for it. I just want people to think about exactly what might happen. To put a human face on what could otherwise be considered a simple, clean decision.

Sometimes the horror is worth it. But sometimes it's not. I don't envy the people who have to make those decisions. I can only hope they're better informed than I am.

Posted by: scott on August 13, 2002 11:11 AM

In my opinion we don't have just cause to go into Iraq right now. I'm with Scott it's just not enough to say "he is a bad guy" so we are going to take him out. We are not the judge and jury of the world and we shouldn't be. Often times we complain that people expect us to be the police of the world and that we shouldn't be playing that role. But now lots of Americans want us to except that it's kind of like something out of Minority Report, ie "We have a pretty strong idea that he is going to do something really bad in the future so let's just kill him first." I just don't think you can do that.

Oh and unlike in the 1930s when we turned a blind eye to what was going on in Europe we are acutely aware of everything the Iraqi government is doing and they haven't currently invaded another country or started mass executing a selected group of people.

Posted by: Michelle on August 13, 2002 12:38 PM

Michelle, the Iraqis have already mass executed their own people: The Kurds. There was a New Yorker article whose URL I should find and pass on to you. It's horrendous.

Saddam Hussein is paying suicide bombers' families $25,000. He works with Hezbullah (responsible for the death of Americans), Hamas (responsible for the death of Americans), the Palestinians (responsible for the death of Americans). He tried to assassinate George Bush when he visited Kuwait after the Gulf War was over. These are all documented.

He is trying to obtain (or already has) weapons of mass destruction--biological, chemical, possibly radiological. Iraqi defectors have documented this.

He is insane, he hates America, and he has billions of oil dollars devoted toward trying to find ways to destroy us. He is far more than just "a bad guy". He needs to be eliminated. Before he can eliminate thousands of us.

Posted by: Meryl Yourish on August 13, 2002 09:10 PM

Well said Scott, The fact that you received such a large response to your text, speaks to it's integrity. How few of us know, Freedom is not Free, the cost is blood. JC

Posted by: Joe Connolly on August 13, 2002 10:43 PM

I am just a Puppy chained up in my backyard which is six foot fenced in! Someone shot me twice in the hip and once in the eye with a pellet gun! I was just quietly eating my puppy food! This could have been a little child! Many things need to resolved stateside before we go to the sand dunes!

Posted by: Casey Hoerske on August 20, 2002 04:41 AM

Casey is only chained when left outside alone for more than a few minutes. This was considered necessary after she fell into the swimming pool. In no way is this a puppy left chained in the heat without constant care and love.

Just wanted to be sure everybody knows she is the 3rd child of Liz and Wayne.

Posted by: Pat on August 20, 2002 11:29 AM


Posted by: pat on August 24, 2002 03:37 AM

Please sent me Mary's email addy. Also I wanted you to read one of my son's serious essays. I know, I know I am a proud mama but he really does write some interesting things. Stay safe.


Posted by: Pat Johnson on October 20, 2002 05:08 PM

oops, I obviously didn't intend to post this. Thought I was sending a copy to a friend. At least I said nice things(feeling rather ridiculous)

Posted by: Pat on October 20, 2002 06:29 PM

I just linked to this, but had to say... i'm sure a dozen people told you, but yes, SS registration remains the law. Turn 18, you sign up. (Girls too, I wonder? What's the deal, in the new millennium?) I know this only because in the dark of night, on talk radio, the PSAs still run for Selective Service registration. My son turns 17 in January...

Posted by: nightblind on November 15, 2002 09:33 PM

My two cents.
Let them all kill each other and then take out the ones that are left from the sea with our Navy and Air Force.
I work for the DoD, I have seen and heard things, I want them gone NOW. But they are probably thinking the same things of us (though it was previuosly unprovoked).
More food for thought. Why did so many of Hussain's soliders surrender so quickly during the Gulf War?

Posted by: Cindy on November 16, 2002 12:04 AM

Nightblind: Need to include your URL so we can read your blog! Thanks for the note! :)

Cindy: Go read "Where is Raed", linked on our "BLOGS OF NOTE". You'll see a post looks darned familiar.

Posted by: scott on November 16, 2002 08:05 PM

WAnted a bump for this one also. I still don't hear or read what we are going to do in the aftermath, not just if but when we go in. Could Bush be trying to divert attention from the the current budget deficiets that seem to be expanding by the minutes. "It is still the economy, stupid" as the Democrats said in '92!

Posted by: Pat Johnson on January 13, 2003 07:00 PM

By the way what ever happened to Bin Ladin and his merry band. They seem to have disappeared as public enemy #1

Posted by: Pat on January 13, 2003 07:02 PM

I just stumbled across this inane site while searching for something else. First of all, Scott, the odds of your daughter actually dying at the hands of an enemy combatant are miniscule...with the exception of a handful of fighter pilots, women are not assigned to combat roles in the U.S. armed forces. The most trauma the vast majority of female will suffer is a paper cut or getting knocked up by one their immediate supervisors.

Second, what makes your fictitous daughter so much more important than anyone else's kid? As was stated in an earlier post, had not so many Americans had a very different outlook throughout our history, we'd likely be speaking another language right now (how good is your German?).

I'm no big fan of the federal government, but sometimes you've gotta give them the benefit of the doubt. This is one of those cases. Ever heard the old adage, "The best defense is a good offense"? Jesus might have turned the other cheek, but he ended up crucified!

Unfortunately, I seem too be hearing more and more people in our society with your type of self-serving, neo-sensitve, panty-waste type of attitude. For some time now I've thought of ours as a nation in decline. Words such as yours further reinforce that belief.

Posted by: Chris Todd on February 28, 2003 04:02 PM

First of all Chris, you are a sexist pig.

How dare you say women are not placed in combative rolls in the US military. They are placed in them or else they would NEVER go through basic training with a gun, learn how to kill, and basically hurt their body in the SAME way a man does in the military. A solider is a soldier. They have NO sex! They are SEXLESS. Personally I HAVE military friends that work with some women in high combative rolls.

If they weren't they would not be missliers, or fighter pilots or other high rank positions. They got there because they EARNED it! A woman is just as capable of killing with a tool just like a man is. There are some that are even better. So stop thinking with your dick in that aspect.

Get your facts straight before they fly out of your mouth. You HAVE offended many or rather MOST military women by that remark coming out of your egotistic, sexist pie hole (Am I turning you on by stirring the fire a bit?-obvioulsy your balls were burning while writing your comment)

You obviously are the type of person who is single minded and can't seem to accept the opinions of another person other than the ones in your head. There is help for this you know. Its called medication and therapy. (Oh I'm sorry... to be politically correct... you have a chemical imbalance.)

No one is a true FAN of the government. If they were, we would have a perfect society. The best defense is a good offense? (Isn't that one of the most tired clichés in the world?) Are we talking military strategy or football?

NO one else's child is more important than the rest. If you cant get past the title of the story as 'shock value' then you have no right to think aloud.

Posted by: Ellen on February 28, 2003 09:37 PM

Ellen I am so sorry you are shy about voicing an opinion. Maybe we should attend some assertive training together. lol

Posted by: Pat on February 28, 2003 11:58 PM

Hey Ellen, I won't stoop to ad-hominem, and I most assuredly have no need to defend my manhood to YOU. Let's just say that, much unlike yourself, my views are based on DIRECT experience which support my views as opposed to hearsay from "friends." And since you seem to enjoy pointing out cliches, how about "I have friends who..." Hmmm. Smacks suspiciously of "Some of my best friends are ____." Fill in your favorite black, Jewish, gay, homeless or the percieved downtrodden flavor o' the month.

Dig deeply for statistical data and you will find that the pregnancy rate for servicewomen skyrocketed several hundred percent right before Desert Storm (Guess what? Preggos get to go home, or at LEAST to the rear echelons. Ain't that convenient?). And before YOU begin throwing around phrases like "[Women] would never go through basic training with a gun, learn how to kill, and basically hurt their body in the same way a man does," get YOUR facts straight. Here are a few FACTS for you:

A female recruit in NO U.S. service is required to have her head shaven as a recruit, nor is she required to maintain the same strict guidlines for either weight or grooming as a man during her enlistment.

Basic training for several branches of the service is significantly shorter for women than for men.

Phyical fitness standards are dramatically lower for servicewomen than for servicemen.

Women are NOT required to register with selective service upon turning 18.

Contrary to what your "friends" say, women, with very few exceptions, are NOT billeted in forward combat roles ("GI Jane" was bullshit).

Now here are a few anecdotal observations for which I haven't bothered to seek confirmation, but have personally witnessed often enough to believe to be widespread in practice:

Low-ranked servicewomen routinely given military housing preference over much higher-ranked servicemen (No satisfactory rationale ever given).

Female personnel ROUTINELY awarded promotion over better-qualified males, in spite of all of the aforementioned. Inside scoop from board-sitting staff NCOs was that either a: The female was somewhat attractive and/or involved in an illegal fraternizing relationship wit a superior, or b: One or more of the board members had been involved with, threatened with, or had observed a sexual harrassment complaint and therefore chose to sacrifice his integrity for political and career preservation.

Openly-gay servicewomen overlooked, while gay men were aggressively persecuted.

These are just a few things off of the top of my head...sure I could come up with more. Still think servicewomen are "sexless"? My guess is "Most likely." See Ellen, I too recognize single-mindedness, particularly that of PC-indoctrinated genre. Your statement, " have no right to think out loud," pretty much summed it up (Well-put, Comrade!). My only "chemical imbalance" is a healthy level of testosterone, which you probably find threatening at this point. You might, however, find my hormone level a whole lot more palatable if our military is ever again called upon to perform the job for which it was INTENDED (kill enemies, blow things up, protect the rights of brainwashed pacifists, militant feminists and the otherwise delusional), as opposed to its current role as a petri dish for social experimentation.

Speaking of which, the bombs started raining upon Iraq last night. My best to my buddies in the field. Kick ass, Boys!

Posted by: Chris on March 20, 2003 11:28 AM

Chris, no matter what I think of George the Younger as soon as the bombs started falling we should all back our troops to the fullest. My prayers and best to all the young people who are fighting this war and for all the families who have a loved one in harm's way. I am truly grateful for the sacrifices they make.

BTW Ellen and Scott will have a daughter the end of June, if the ultrsound is correct!

Posted by: Pat on March 20, 2003 01:36 PM

Wow, it really won't matter what anyone says, because apparently everyone is wrong in Chris-land, except himself. Gee, that's something to be proud of!! How sweet.

Posted by: Battie on March 20, 2003 02:14 PM

And by the way, it took you almost a whole month to research a couple facts??? That's impressive!!

Posted by: Battie on March 20, 2003 02:17 PM

yep..almost a whole month. Sad really. Especially since you had to point out by the inch on how small your dick really is.

Posted by: Ellen on March 20, 2003 06:45 PM

Great and inspiring site! Most of you have proven that intelligent life still exists on this planet.

Others provide the contrast sometimes needed to appreciate it. Thank you for the forum for such thought provoking banter.

Regarding that contrast (which God allowed to be born - much as Judas was allowed to be born), I think that Chris Todd has had therapy (a.k.a., lobotomy), but he should consider suing his doctor for malpractice because it was only partial/incomplete. And then to say Christ was stupid!?! (I guess that is because he doesn't think like Chris. Or could it be, Chris is God? Or so Chris thinks!) Doesn't that sound just like an armchair quarterback?! I pity his fellow soldiers. But then again, Chris is SAFE at home (or at least was 3/20/03).

Chris, are you trying to be the reincarnation of Archie Bunker? Either you missed the series, "All in the Family", or you missed the point that Carol O'Connor (otherwise effectively) made in satirizing that kind of idiot. By the way, board members that sacrifice their "integrity", have none! Ever wonder WHY they had been involved with or threatened with a sexual harassment complaint?

Scott and Ellen - Congratulations on your new soon-to-arrive daughter. May God watch over her and keep her safe (especially from the likes of those who would be God).

Posted by: David on May 16, 2003 04:52 PM

Scott and Ellen Congrats! on the new arrival soon :) I have known you Scott for many years and now through your mother ( a very happy grandmother) I hear about you life.. I just wanted to say this is one of the best written articles I have ever read.

Posted by: Kay on May 17, 2003 06:08 PM

Back from Iraq! Aren't you lucky? 200+ American service personnel dead, including ONE woman soldier (that's .05%, for those of you with odd numbers of fingers and toes). Case closed.

BTW, nice try with the "it took you a month to research a few facts" angle. Unlike the rest of you, I don't have time to wait in breathless anticipation for the next insipid response on a silly web site. Keep up the good work with the personal attacks, though. Your frequent meanderings from the subject at hand only serve to strengthen my points. Are you all graduates of the Jerry Springer School of Logical Debate?

Posted by: Chris Todd on August 1, 2003 11:17 AM

Sorry, that's .5%--need to preview my posts I guess.

Posted by: Chris Todd on August 1, 2003 12:10 PM

I hadn't really read anything Chris said (Not sure why)

Just a few points (From an Army Veteran)

Women's basic Training is the same length as mens

I didn't notice any large difference in the way men and women were promoted. I wasn't an officer and never sat on a promotion review board. I did however know several folks who had been on various promotion boards (Both Male and Female) and hadn't really heard anything to do with Sex determining the outcome.

Never noticed anything different about Military Housing Preferences. Low ranking Single Women lived in the Barracks, married women usually lived off post or in on post housing. (Same for Men) NCO's who wanted to live off post could get a housing allowance (The higher ranked you were the more likely you would receive the allowance regardless of sex)

Women do have to maintain strict guidelines on appearance and weight. They are different than a Mans but still strict. They do have to take the PT Test their requirements are different (They don't have to do the same number of Pushups or run quite as fast) they are still strict.

The only branch of the service that keeps women out is the Combat Arms Branch (IE Infantry) All other branches of the military have women in them.

As an Aside I served in the Army from 1989 to 1995. Served one tour in Korea. Have worked as a Civilian for DOD for several years and now work for the EPA (My Boss there is an Air Force NCO who was called up for the war)so I'm not repeating what a friend told me.

Posted by: Jeff on August 1, 2003 03:02 PM

You go Jeff!

Posted by: Pat on August 1, 2003 06:30 PM
Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember info?