The Best Defense

Help him out: He's invited to speak at his old high school on Veterans Day. What do Best Defense readers think he should say?

That's what a reader writes in to ask. Here are the details:


"I am a post-9/11 Millennial generation Iraq War veteran who served four years on active duty and two and counting as an active reservist, all as a company grade/junior officer, and I am presently attending graduate school on the G.I. Bill.  I have been asked to return to my hometown to speak at my high school to an audience of faculty, staff, ~1,200 students (some of whom have already or will soon enlist or go on to ROTC in college), a delegation of local National Guard personnel, and veterans from World War II through Afghanistan.  I think it's important to impart something more than the usual patriotic routine, but I would value the wisdom of your readers in helping to tailor that message -- and I suspect the discussion that would follow would be worthwhile on its merits."


If I were him, I would talk about the role the vet plays in protecting the American experiment, the sense that our nation is always changing, and about other ways to ensure that this noble experiment does not perish from the earth, such as showing toleration and even appreciation for those one disagrees with politically. I might end with a warning against being absolutely certain on any political issue, and ask my listeners to keep in mind Cromwell's admonition: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken."

But that's just me. If you were invited back to your old high school to speak on Veterans' Day, what would you say? (Besides, "Why didn't Debbie Do-right go out with me?")


The Best Defense

Best Defense commenters: Are you having problems with the FP paywall system?

"Victor LEsperance" commented today: "On a totally unrelated topic, it sounds like the IT folks at Foreign Policy are moonlighting at the Obamacare sight.  I know they still have their day jobs because I get paywalled on a regular basis despite coughing up for a subscription.   Now the general public has an idea of what it is like to be a Foreign Policy subscriber and sometime blog commenter."

I asked the powers that be. One responded, "Our website is undergoing a very extensive redesign, which among other things will bring improvements to our commenting system, including single sign on. That means the paywall glitches should come down -- way down - once the new site is up and running. It shouldn't be long, now."

In the meantime, if you are having problems, e-mail: 

Be polite, OK? We don't want to give Best Defense readers a bad rep at FP.

Speaking of Obamacare, don't compare it to the ideal, compare it to what exists now. As part of my move to the New America Foundation, I've spent a big part of the last six weeks trying to sort out health insurance for my family. It is nuts. You never get anyone on the phone the first time. They don't answer e-mails. They get back to you with additional questions-a week later. They keep pulling out rules they didn't tell me about when I needed to know them two years ago. And I have been paying a ton of money for the privilege of receiving this pattern of neglect and abuse.

So, for all its frustrations, I will take Obamacare. If I were younger, I'd consider setting up a company to guide people through it.