Support Our Diplomats bumper stickers & celebrations

It’s a classic American tradition to honor the valor of U.S. military service-members who risk their lives on the battlefield. When we memorialize members of the military who paid the ultimate sacrifice, we also do so in part to remind ourselves of the horrific costs of war — and thus the responsibility of elected leaders to never deploy our troops without a mission worth fighting and dying for.

Diplomats are foundational to our country’s efforts to prevent these horrific wars in the first place. Often quietly and with little public credit, they also engage in sophisticated and painstaking work to end existing conflicts through political resolution. The historic Iran Deal, which headed off nuclear proliferation and war in the region, is a prime recent example. Their work just isn’t as lauded or elevated as the U.S. military though, partly because the prowess of many displays of the latter are self-evident and unmistakable.

It’s time to change that. As one foreign policy expert commented:

Frankly, if there were any justice, we would be seeing an outbreak of “Support Our Diplomats” bumper stickers. Americans rightly honor those who defend our security with military strength, and it’s time to accord the same to those who do it through effective and painstaking diplomacy.

Going further, why not designate special days of remembrance for war resisters? Vox explains the proposal here:

…But insofar as the organized antiwar movement did contribute to public opinion in those cases, it saved lives and demands recognition. And those cases where war opponents failed deserve remembrance as a reminder that the mayhem of a pointless war isn’t inevitable, that at least some present at the time were fighting to stop it.

Other countries have started to recognize this and honor their war resisters accordingly. A memorial in Glasgow, Scotland — a hotbed of British antiwar sentiment during World War I — commemorates “those who opposed World War One in order to challenge the purpose of the war and the waste of lives.” Monuments in Ypres, Belgium, and Alrewas, England, honor those World War I soldiers who, due both to disillusionment and sheer terror, deserted rather than continue killing in an unjust war. An official monument to Austrian deserters of World War II was unveiled in Vienna last year. The sculptor Mehmet Aksoy’s Monument to the Unknown Deserters of Both World Wars, debuted in West Germany in 1989, honors “the man who refused to kill his fellow man.”

For more information, see “It’s time we have a holiday to honor those who try to stop wars, too,” Vox (2016); “The Iran Deal Is a Victory for Obama Diplomacy Over Bush Warmongering,” The New Republic (2015).