"He who does not think himself worth saving from poverty and ignorance by his own efforts, will hardly be thought worth the efforts of anybody else." -- Frederick Douglass, Self-Made Men (1872)
Celticlord, wonderful post, you framed some of my thoughts, but much better than I could have written them.
When I was in the navy, I had a late night phone watch, and there was 4 or 5 of the officers, including our squadron skipper, sitting around in the room I was in and having a debate on wartime ethics. I wish I could remember the exact words our skipper spoke, he was a well spoken guy, but his argument went something like this: since we are the ones at the point of our nations spear, it is in fact especially important that we try and do what is right. We represent our service and our nation in every action we do, and when we engage in any misconduct with other countries, we shame not just ourselves, but our service and our nation. We have to strive to not just do what is best militarily, but morally, to the best of our ability.
I thought enough of his statements that I can still remember them in general 18 years later. I think that is how things should be, but I suspect that Colonel Jessep's attitude is far too prevalent.
I can kind of understand the point though of the "walk the post" thing.
Should we not be able to criticize? Not at all. HOWEVER, I think we need to all take a step back and understand that we criticize from an IGNORANT position...IE, we do not have the first hand knowledge of the situation that they are in and the ramifications of such.
For example, an analogy.
Lets say a doctor in the midst of a perhaps questionable surgery gone bad makes the call to take an extreme measure in trying to save the patients life rather than the conventional method, and the person ends up dieing.
We, the layman with no medical experience, can criticize. That is our right. We can say that the surgery wasn't 100% "needed" so he shouldn't have done it. Or we could say he should not be taking such extreme measures. We could say he should not have risked the patients life on a whim, that it was unethical. We can criticize to our hearts content.
But are we doing it from a truly educated point of view.
However, we do not have the full knowledge of the situations nor the specific expertise to be an expert in it. Perhaps the surgery, while not needed, was likely the best chance for a full recovery instead of a life of constant hospital visits and that is why the patient elected to listen to the doctor. Perhaps the conventional method still would've had a good chance to fail, and even if succeeded caused further risks while the more "extreme" way gave a higher chance of failure but could potentially fix him completely if it was done. Perhaps the patient or their family had expressed the desire for the doctor to do all they could to cure him, not just to keep him alive, etc.
We can criticize our military and law enforcement for the things they do. This is our rights as Americans. But it is also our DUTY as Americans to try and take a step back and accept our ignorance on some of these issues, recognize politicians attempts ON BOTH SIDES to turn things into a partisan issue rather than focus on the actual legitiamte facts, and to recognize that we do not know all the situations that go on in a world that is frankly alien to us. Its the same thing when Citizens criticize cops for how they use their weapons based on what "they would do" when they honestly don't know WHAT they'd do in reality because they never have, and likely never will, be in anywhere near a similar situation.
I think its for these reasons its tantamount that we have good men and women in the top portions of our military, law enforcement, and portions of the legislature that oversee such things. There are often things in this world that are dark, cruel, and difficult and yet are needed or advantageous that, if left to the masses, would never happen. Is torture one of these things? That is debatable, but I think it definitly falls in the realm enough to be debated.
Ultimately, for me, I think much of what our law enforcement and military does should be oversaw, but due to the nature of it I believe its best oversaw in a classified type of way where this information is for one, not out to the enemy, and two, not something that can be used by politicians to drive answers through emotion rather than logic and facts.
You down with TPP?
However, if we go beyond mere criticism and venture into formulating policy, not only justice and fairness but simple prudence demands that we ask of ourselves whether or not we could discharge that obligation ourselves, if the Colonel Jesseps were removed from their positions, or, alternatively, could we sustain the society we hold dear in the absence of that obligation being discharged. For all that one may plausibly find fault regarding the "Jessep" position, to what extent does it sustain and preserve our society?
It is, if you will, an alternate take on Juvenal's famous question "Quis custōdiet ipsōs custōdēs?" Not so much "who watches the watchmen?" but "who is qualified to watch the watchmen?"