The problems just mentioned are partly the result of painting a too romantic and idealized picture of the military vocation.
In some cases, this has been the work of the pacifists themselves who always go too far and say too much in their protests. One example of this heartless pacifism was the treatment of soldiers returning from Vietnam. To welcome a soldier home by spitting in his face is not exactly in line with justice and says nothing to him that would dispose him to hear your concerns. Nor is it even reasonable considering the fact that soldiers do not decide when and where they fight, and so to blame them for an unjust war is to completely misunderstand the order of things. All the important decisions were already made before the soldiers arrived at boot camp, and those decisions were not made by the soldiers themselves. But that is another subject, which will be addressed if time permits.
For now, we only wish to say that those who are more sympathetic to the situation of the soldier, and who also sense the duty of those with power to resist evil, naturally respond to the cruelty of the pacifists by running to the opposite extreme and elevating all veterans to a kind of special social class entitled to unqualified adoration.
This idealization, which is a confused response to a noble intuition, is made more confusing when we see that the supporters, much like the protestors, do not understand the difference between those who fight the wars and those who determine which wars ought to be fought. Not only do they demand respect for soldiers who fight (this much would be reasonable) but, without knowing they have changed subjects, they also demand respect for the government officials who decide what wars can justly be fought.
Through the conservative slogans about ‘supporting our military’, they loop all those bureaucrats into the fold with the actual soldiers and demand that neither of them be criticized or questioned in any way. In this way, a respect for soldiers is perverted into bootlicking servility to government authority, which amounts to an inability to question the government as a political organization. It is impossible for these military-worshippers to understand that a person might respect soldiers and at the same time question whether or not the politicians who control them have their best interests in mind, and that on this basis it is entirely possible to object to military intervention on behalf of the soldiers themselves and out of respect for their dignity. But no, we find that the ‘pro-military’ crowd indirectly becomes the ‘pro-government’ crowd, and a deceitful politician gains protection under this umbrella of patriotic zeal.