I wrote a letter to the Editor that was published in the New York Times on August 28th. My letter was a response to the piece "An Empty Regard" by William Deresiewicz. In it, he points out that professed reverence for the military shuts down any discussion about its actions and objectives. Interestingly, he also examines the tendency to refer to soldiers as "heroes" and how, in addition to cheapening the contributions of real heroes, allows most people to shift engagement and responsibility onto the backs of military personnel.
Here's what I said:
William Deresiewicz is right when he says we don’t need heroes; we need citizens. No meaningful change will come about without the hard work and attention of the American people.
But I think he misses something very important. He asks if servicemen and women fulfill every mission that we ask of them. Here’s our bigger problem: There is no clear mission, and no definable goal. This is why eventually we will have to accept that we’ve lost, because we aren’t sure what winning means.
Better to accept this loss gracefully now than to continue bleeding lives and treasure and causing ever-greater resentment around the globe.
A great deal of what's going on in the revolts and revolutions around the world has at its core the question of who a citizen is and what citizenship means. Sometimes it is easy to fall into the error of thinking citizenship is a static concept and not an ongoing engagement, but recent upheavals in long-established states, like the UK, show that the question is relevant to almost everyone