Time's Person(s) of the Year

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As you've doubtless heard, Time picked "The American Soldier" as POY this go-round:

They swept across Iraq and conquered it in 21 days. They stand guard on streets pot-holed with skepticism and rancor. They caught Saddam Hussein. They are the face of America, its might and good will, in a region unused to democracy. The U.S. G.I. is TIME's Person of the Year.

This isn't the first the U.S. G.I. (or equivalent) has been chosen: The "American Fighting Man" was selected in 1950. Go here for a decade by decade listing, starting with the '20s.

Perhaps the oddest element of this all is that Time is using the story as a way of driving subscriptions via its Web site.

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  1. I hate to say this, but I think a stronger case could be made for Saddam Hussien as the Person of the Year (perhaps as a chance for TIME to redeem itself after that Hitler nonsense)-

    Hear me out- in the course of a single year, Saddam went from being the epitome of Murderous Asshole Tyrant to Prisoner #31579. He served as THE raison d’etre of America’s new pre-emtive doctrine, and touched on most if not all of the tensions that form realpolitick today (USA v. the world, USA v. “Old Europe”, USA v. UN, UN v. those living under tyrants, The Arab Street v. people living under tyrants, Israel v. Palestine, First World v. Third World, etc..).

    In retrospect, most of the events of this past year haven’t actually been ABOUT Saddam, so much as expressed through him. Nonetheless, Saddam will still be THE name of 2003.

    Disclaimer: no disrespect intended toward Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, or Marines. God bless ’em.

  2. “They swept across Iraq and conquered it in 21 days. They stand guard on streets pot-holed with skepticism and rancor. They caught Saddam Hussein. They are the face of America, its might and good will, in a region unused to democracy. The U.S. G.I. is TIME’s Person of the Year.”

    At the risk of sounding pro-war (I still have mixed feelings about the whole thing), I have to ask: Huh? Wasn’t’ this the same Time magazine that ran a cover story claiming that U.S. troops were stuck in a horrible quagmire and that the Iraq mission was a horrible failure? NOW they glorify the American fighting man and enshrine the achievements that a short time ago Time claimed were non-existent?

    I guess they REALLY have to sell some magazines.

  3. “…and the beat goes on….”

    Hey SteveInClearwater, don’t you really mean

    –rimshot–?

    Seriously though, in the spirit of the season I hope you get a fresh, clean “No Blood for Oil” t-shirt under the tree or in the stocking this year.

  4. Douglas Fletcher,

    Thankyou; we Marines do not like to be called “soldiers.” 🙂

  5. At 12:17 on December 22, 2003 “thoreau” wrote:

    “They signed up to serve with the best patriotic intentions, and they are putting themselves in harm’s way at the request of our leaders, as they are sworn to do… In all but the most extreme cases I believe that moral accountability for a war should rest with the leaders, not the soldiers…”

    I’m sorry, “thoreau,” but I’m not willing to grant such a moral pass to a subset of fellow human, and thus rational, beings.

    I’ve been taught that the ultimate responsibility for my actions resides with me – not the President, not some colonel, not the cool kid from the eighth grade who “told me to do it.” At best, the oath to obey all orders of the President and superior officers according to the UCMJ amounts to what the Catholics used to (and still?) call an “occasion of sin” – the willing and knowing shirking of one’s responsibility of personal rational moral judgment. (This is especially so when considering the preponderance of moral deviates and intellectual pinheads who, as of late, have occupied the Oval Office. I mean, pledging to follow _their_ orders? What could you possibly be thinking?!?)

    I have no doubt that many members of the US armed forces have had (and have) “good intentions.” (Then again, a great many of my friends and colleagues who have joined the military have done so for more pressing economic reasons, as opposed to those of “patriotism.”) Nonetheless… need I remind anyone of the paving material of the road to Hades?

    JMJ

  6. JMJ: If the oath taken by a U.S. serviceman/woman is in any way similar to the one I took to the Queen, said soldier pledges to obey “lawful” orders given to him/her by their superiors. Their is NO abdication of personal responsibility. Far from it. A soldier has a duty to refuse unlawful orders and to report same. Thoreau is correct and no ‘pass’ is required.

  7. I’m gonna sign Tom Connolly up for a web subscription.

  8. It would be more honest to label U.S. soldiers as “Dupes of the Year” on accounta they believe they’re fighting for America’s freedom, when in fact they are little more than paid mercenaries for Halliburton and Bechtel.

    …and the beat goes on….

  9. Steve-

    I was staunchly opposed to invading Iraq, but I would never call US soldiers “dupes.” They signed up to serve with the best patriotic intentions, and they are putting themselves in harm’s way at the request of our leaders, as they are sworn to do. I’ll bash our leaders all day long over this, but I won’t bash the soldiers.

    Now, somebody will undoubtedly point out that there are circumstances where following orders is immoral. Fine. But this is not one of those cases. In all but the most extreme cases I believe that moral accountability for a war should rest with the leaders, not the soldiers, and this is not one of the most extreme cases.

  10. What kind of website is this? You people are the biggest assholes known to man.

    Vote for me you puke!

    Pat

  11. As you hand that Marine the unwrapped present for Toys for Tots, make sure you give him a hearty “Congratulations, soldier!”

  12. Whenever I read Time magazine I feel like I’m reading some kind of bad science fiction about alternative universes. You might say I don’t trust them.

  13. Joe, don’t call a Marine ‘soldier.’ He’s a Marine. The Army has soldiers.

  14. Thank you, Doug. Will someone please invent an emoticon for sarcasm?

  15. OK, then, say “Congratulations, sailor!” That’ll get you on their good side.

  16. At 20:35 on December 22, 2003, “not Weishaupt” wrote:

    “A soldier has a duty to refuse unlawful orders and to report same. Thoreau is correct and no ‘pass’ is required.”

    An order can be perfectly “lawful” and simultaneously immoral, or at least extremely unwise and/or likely to have a negative impact on the country one purports to be defending.

    Were you, for instance, a US serviceman, who strongly believes, as I do, that the net result of this recent misadventure in Iraq will be an _increase_ in exposure of US citizens to the risk of terrorism, would you have, under your oath, the ability to say, “um, no, I think I’ll sit this one out” and stay home?

    JMJ

  17. Without some sort of presumption of obedience to presidential authority it is difficult to see how we can maintain civilian control of the military at all. Generals Patton and MacArthur disagreed with their Presidents, and the French army didn’t want to abandon Algeria. Thank God soldiers don’t call their own shots.

    Man of the Year is most apposite. A good tip: ultimately the American publics assessment of this war will be shaped by those who fought (or at least served). Ordinary Americans will normally defer to the judgment of those who did the fighting– Lincoln won the Soldier Vote in 1864…and most of the rest as well.

    Which way do you guess the Soldier vote will be going, and how wise do you think it will be, politically, to be positioned on the wrong side of it?

  18. At 8:01 on December 23, 2003, “Andrew” wrote:

    “Without some sort of presumption of obedience to presidential authority it is difficult to see how we can maintain civilian control of the military at all.”

    I was, of course, speaking primarily of the case of taking up (or refusing to) of arms when so ordered by the chain of command. Regarding the converse case (the laying down, or refusal to do so, of arms when so ordered by CoC), I suppose that’s why the US founders were so wary of standing armies, and saw a well-armed populace as a Good Thing. The latter case would fall under the classification of mutiny or insurrection, and would be _very_ difficult for even a sizeable group to pull off successfully, let alone a single individual. Successful or not, from the perspective of the individual, it would entail a positive action, carrying with it whatever consequences (practical or moral) occur.

    OTOH, in the former case (“I’ll sit this one out, thank you”), at the very least the individual in question avoids the “moral taint” associated with participation. From a mass perspective, it would likely become very difficult to engage in aggressive warfare if the actors involved could “just say no.” (FWIW, anecdotal though it may be, contrary to the sound bites and pithy Pentagon press office commentary, of the friends/colleagues I have who are servicemen serving in Iraq, as well as their families here, I know few if any who, at bottom, are especially supportive of the operation; most think they’re getting a major screwing over by the elected pinhead du jour.)

    But, regardless of “net effects” or “Soldier vote” or whatever, at the end of the day _I’m_ the one who has to face the man in the mirror (as we all must). Therefore, as an individual, it’s my morality/imorality that counts, since, really, _I’m_ the only one whose actions I can control. If I knowingly take an oath to surrender that judgment to someone else, and that “someone else” makes ill judgment, then I can either break the oath or act on that ill judgment. Choose the former, I’m a liar; choose the latter, I’m a pawn.

    JMJ

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