Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rather Be Hawkish Than Hypocritcial

Two things are on the agenda today. Allow us to proceed immediately!!


During my class today with the “Liberal Professor” - whom by the way, I am beginning to increasingly admire with each class, his bias not withstanding – we watched a Frontline documentary on the genocide that occurred in Rwanda during the 1990’s. The documentary was very informative and certainly candid. Most accounts were firsthand from those that were there, on the ground, and held the responsibility for the decisions made.

Most of the Western World managed to walk away from the conflict looking very bad for failing to directly participate in some sort of action to prevent the Hutus from massacring the Tutsis. An individual particularly negligent was President Bill Clinton, whom not only failed to send troops to attempt to end the violence, but refused to even deem the event a “genocide,” despite the confirmed deaths of over 800,000 Tutsis at the hands of their ethnic opposition (whom constituted both the majority of the Rwandan population and the make-up of the government).

While I found the documentary eye-opening and informative, it was the phenomenon taking place inside the class that I found most interesting. Typically, international studies classes here at the University of South Florida consist of students that are pretty actively liberal and all-the-more-happy to forsake the current administration for all of its so-called “misdoings”. Of course, for all the would-be revolutionaries in these classes, there also remains a handful of us military-types who typically keep our peace, not desiring to have our outlooks trampled upon by the masses should we speak up.

What was intriguing today, however, was how loudly President Clinton was audibly slighted by my peers in class whenever he was shown during the conclusion of the documentary. Obviously, the graphic, but riveting, nature of the film left students with a negative perception of President Clinton.

But here’s what gets me: These students, provoked to anger over President Clinton’s lack of intervention on behalf of the Tutsis in Rwanda, are likely the same ones that would trash President Bush for being all-too-ready to intervene in places like Iraq. These are the same students that would challenge the current administration for having the military “in every one else’s business”.

What gives?

I may very well be hawkish when it comes to the implementation of our military. But, at the very least, I am consistent. As I advocated for the liberation of the Iraqi people, I would have done the same on behalf of those in Rwanda. Currently, I am for assisting in failed states like Somalia (again) and Sudan, if – in fact – our military can even do so.

From everyone else, I simply hear hypocrisy and inconsistent value systems. Nonintervention is jeered when hindsight depicts children being hacked to death by machetes. Yet, unilateral intervention on the behalf of others receives the same negative response when the results aren’t as clean and quickly successful as some would hope.

I may be occasionally wrong, but at least I am hardly hypocritical.


As I continue to debate internally the dilemma that was the subject of yesterday’s Educated Soldier, a new development presents itself. Should I opt out of my pursuit of becoming Special Forces-qualified, USF graduation is closer than it first appeared.

Originally, I had believed that I would tentatively graduate at the conclusion of the Fall, 2009 semester. After taking a heavy course-load this summer, I bumped that graduation date up to the conclusion of the Summer, 2009 semester. Now, after altering the classes that I have scheduled for the upcoming Fall semester, it has become evident that I am on pace to graduate at the conclusion of the Spring semester. I only have two semesters left!

With that in mind, I would like to share with you my tentative Fall schedule along with some commentary. I hope you enjoy this endeavor.

Hebrew I: Of all the few requirements that I have left to successfully complete school, my need to finish two semesters of a foreign language is by far the most daunting. I had previously taken Arabic I and performed miserably, receiving my only non-A grade during my time in college. Being that I am not a fan of the current professor of Arabic here at USF, I have chosen a different language to study. During my studies of religion, I have taken a genuine interest in Judaism. During my international studies, I have taken an interest in the Israel / Palestinian conflict. For these reasons, Hebrew becomes an enticing and obvious language to pursue. Moreover, I consulted RateMyProfessor.com (where students assess their professors) and unanimous opinions stated that the current Hebrew professor is top-notch.

Roman Catholicism: I need one final upper-level religion elective to exhaust that requirement. Roman Catholicism is a class that has been taken by nearly every one of my friends. And while Roman Catholicism (the denomination, not the class) is probably the least of my religious interests, my peers’ positive assessment of the class made it too difficult to pass up. Moreover, it fits into my schedule seamlessly.

Seminar in Religion: This is the capstone class to my Religious Studies major. The idea of the class is to take everything gleaned during the religious studies experience and incorporate into a project completed by a small number of students in an intimate class setting.

Seminar in International Studies: The explanation for the Seminar in Religion applies to this class; only replace “Religious Studies” with “International Studies”. Coincidentally (ironically?), this seminar is led by my current “Liberal Professor.”

Honors Thesis: The capstone project for USF Honors students is a two semester research project which culminates in the student producing and defending a thesis. I have no firm idea of what I will conduct research. Some concepts that are spinning include: a study of the dynamic of war (since my experience in Iraq, I have become fascinated with the fact that very few deployed to combat zones genuinely engage in violence. I would like to research and see what the exact figures pan out to be on this phenomenon and then compare these statistics from modern conflicts with past ones), the on-going Israel / Palestinian conflict (focusing mostly on its history; who are the Palestinians, what caused the 1967 Arab / Israel war, etc), and the gradual transition of the Republican Party from its grounds in ultra-conservative (small government) values to a party that now runs solely on the grounds of national defense (and has even been pro-big government insomuch that the added bureaucracy aids in this defense).

And that’s my Fall semester in a nutshell, should I not pursue Special Forces-qualification. Of course, something has come up in that regard causing the whole situation to become increasingly more interesting. That development, however, is for another edition of Educated Soldier.

I hope you enjoyed. I look forward to your comments. Thanks for reading.


bob said...


Regarding the reactions of your classmates:

I can see why you can see that their reactions might inconsistant.

But, I can also see where they are coming from.
It comes down to evaluating the reasons behind intervention in the first place.

In Rwanda intervention to prevent a humanitarian crisis was clearly warranted,
and the slow reaction of the international community cost lives.

Iraq is a different story.
Despite suffering a brutal religeous extremist dicatorship, there was no immediate crisis. The evidence is quiet clear that the attack was clearly pbased on a flimsy pretext, and it ultimately became the cause of a humanitarian crisis. What was once the middle easts finest public health system has been destroyed, and the Iraq is now subject to a everyday violence that did not exist even under Saddams dictatorship.

There are other factors as well that would make reasonable people differ on the moral grounds or need for intervention on both cases.

Good luck for your studies.

Bag Blog said...

I wonder if we had gone ahead and taken Saddam out during the Gulf War how people would have reacted then. Maybe the timing was not right. I too, am amazed that the liberal crowd cries for human rights, but does not really want to do the battle for those rights.

There is an economics book called "Fooled by Randomness" where the author puts out an idea that although we study history in order to not make the same mistakes, in truth we cannot know that we are making mistakes until after we have made them. Did that make sense? I find it very interesting that we use the past to shape our decisions for the future, but each situation is so different. We won't know if our decision was right or wrong until it is history.

Isn't it great to see the light at the end of the tunnel in your academic pursuits?

Brian H said...

Back on topic here, your plans all sound right on, very workable and productive.

As to the languages, you might like to pick up Esperanto on your own; as an artificial language, its rules and grammar are dead simple. A few weekends would give you enough to work with. It has several things going for it: learning it helps tremendously with learning other languages (cuts the time in half, or even less), as it provides a kind of mental grid against which the tangled patterns of other languages can be measured and comprehended. Second, you can get names of contacts and "guides" who speak it from the international associations for just about any country in the world, which opens up lots of possibilities.
I even have a Bible translated into Esperanto; very interesting!

Brian H said...

And now back off-topic, I suddenly wonder where "Whiskeyboarder" comes from. Is that like water-boarding, but with whiskey? Sounds drastic!

Steve B. (WHISKEYBOARDER) said...

Bob, Bag Blog:

You know, one advantage that is growing from having a class with my so-called "Liberal Professor" is the reading of the book, "No End in Sight". I approached the book with skepticism because of an expected Leftist bias. It doesn't disappoint in that regard. However, it is eye-opening to read through the decisions made in regard to the Iraqi occupation and who made them. I am starting to wish that people now in opposition to this war WOULD read this book. In a nutshell, nearly everyone was for the war and , in fact, everything was going well initially. According to the book (and I would have to cross-check, so to speak, to confirm), fault really lands on the shoulders of L. Paul Bremer and some really boneheaded mistakes that he made.

Brian: Concerning "WhiskeyBoarder": throughout the 90's, this was the title of a line of snowboarding videos. As I enjoy whiskey and did enjoy snowboarding when I was in an area to partake in the activity, I felt it made sense to steal the title for my own use. So I did.

However, if someone is suggesting torture via whiskey consumption, I volunteer to be the first victim!