Yesterday I was watching a documentary about World War 2. They were referring to a man who enlisted in the United States Navy in late 1944. "He was only 15 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour," they told. "He tried to enlist but was turned away for being too young. On his 18th birthday, he returned and joined up."
Quite an admirable ideal, but it really struck home.
My grandfather was either 16 or 17 when Britain declared war on Nazi Germany. Like the American would 2 years later, he rushed down to the Enlistment Office. The difference? My grandfather was told "you're too young. Walk around the block and come back when you're 18." He left, walked around the block, and when asked upon his return he said he was eighteen.
The point? America was thousands of miles away from the threat. England was within rocket distance. England didn't have the comfort zone to be picky about who they chose.
I think we should keep that in mind, with all the conflicts going on half a world away. We're looking at Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention the widespread revolutions going on) from the eyes, values, and security of an incredible distance. Assigning our morals isn't working.
I'm not trying to say what (or that) we should change, just that we should keep in mind that we're still somewhat outsiders in these situations...