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Heart-warming
December 22, 2004 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Mosul attack - heart-warming? I never figured I'd hear heart-warming in relation to the aftermath of a missile attack, but I heard the quote on the radio yesterday, and it just seems wrong. "It was a heart-warming experience to see the wounded soldiers caring for those who were more severely wounded." said Brig.-Gen. Ham.
posted by jim-of-oz (42 comments total)

 
Oh come on.
posted by xmutex at 9:07 AM on December 22, 2004


Best 'o the web!
posted by 2sheets at 9:10 AM on December 22, 2004


It's purely a soldier's romantic sentiment in reference to an attack that took the lives of many soldiers serving under his command. Hokey? Maybe. But I for one will grant him the leeway to be as sentimental as he wants.

Further, this type of romanticism is not always limited to soldiers on the battlefield "quick-thinking soldiers turned their lunch tables upside down, placed the wounded on them and gently carried them into the parking lot," stated embedded journalist Jeremy Redmon.
posted by Juicylicious at 9:14 AM on December 22, 2004


I think what was implied here is more important than how it was phrased. Usually, such sentiment is expressed when a unifying external event resolves internal conflict - to me, this implies that the various combined units (U.S. and Iraqi) weren't getting along as well as one might have guessed from media reports.
The Mosul attack served as a unifying external event, allowing the mixed units to put that inner conflict aside and deal with more immediate issues. From a leader's standpoint, that would indeed be "heart-warming," because both morale and resolve typically improve during such an event. Morbid, but I've seen stranger things unite a team.
posted by FormlessOne at 9:25 AM on December 22, 2004


The previous quote by the same person in the article says as much:

"In the chaos that followed that attack, there was no differentiation by nationality, whether one wore a uniform or civilian clothes. They were all brothers in arms, taking care of one another," said Brig.-Gen. Ham.

The quote mentioned in the post, immediately after this one, was taken out of context. Feh.
posted by FormlessOne at 9:28 AM on December 22, 2004


You mean they normally kick the more seriously wounded instead of trying to help them?

That just seems kind of mean.
posted by fenriq at 9:32 AM on December 22, 2004


Yeah...it's incredible editorializing to state, in the FPP, that because the general said it was heart-warming to see soldiers caring for one another what he really meant was "The Mosul Attack was heart-warming."

[this is weak]
posted by tpl1212 at 9:32 AM on December 22, 2004


I smell a book-movie deal...
posted by Balisong at 9:32 AM on December 22, 2004


Flame on, flamer!
posted by naxosaxur at 9:33 AM on December 22, 2004


This is a fark-level link.
posted by Arch Stanton at 9:40 AM on December 22, 2004


a fark-level link

You think it's that high on the evolutionary scale, Arch?
posted by kamylyon at 9:47 AM on December 22, 2004


troll-baiting: heartwarming.
posted by moonbird at 9:50 AM on December 22, 2004


I heard the quote on the radio, and it struck me as very odd at the time. Sometimes, the sentiment and the sentence do not play well together, and I bet the brigadier-General would take that statement back if he could. I say no foul, even though it did raise my eyebrows.
posted by kahboom at 9:52 AM on December 22, 2004


The link itself was okay [saw the story earlier] but the wording chosen for the post may have been less than excellent.

On review, what tpl1212 said.
posted by kamylyon at 9:53 AM on December 22, 2004


Bababooey! Bababooey! Howard Stern's Penis! Bababooey! Bababooey!
posted by puke & cry at 10:13 AM on December 22, 2004


It's not just generals who can spin dead American soldiers into A Good Thing:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04357/430599.stm


Responding to the deadliest attack on U.S. soldiers since the war in Iraq began 22 months ago, President Bush yesterday said the tragedy does not overshadow "the idea of a democracy taking hold in what was a place of tyranny and hatred and destruction -- it's such a hopeful moment."
posted by scaryduck at 10:17 AM on December 22, 2004


What a distortion of life.

While I of course have great sympathy for all these poor guys over there getting shot up (and would much rather they weren't there at all) - and understand that finding moments of humanity in the middle of hell is a good thing...

... the situation is still a twisted mess of human existence, and being forced to find that moment of humanity in that twisted mess in order to keep some sanity is pretty much appalling to me. Understandable, but appalling.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:56 AM on December 22, 2004


zoogleplex: Well said. I completely agree.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 11:02 AM on December 22, 2004


It may have been out of context of the text article, but that was the whole sound-bite as voiced in the PRI radio broadcast last night.


This wasn't meant to be troll-baiting; the sound bite just pissed me off. I can see heart-wrenching or heart-rending, but not heart-warming. After 22 years in the military, I get tired of seeing the brass trying to put a good spin on just about everything. And even saying, "They were all brothers in arms, taking care of one another..." It still strikes me as being wrong.
posted by jim-of-oz at 11:22 AM on December 22, 2004


Zoogle: well now that's an interesting question. It's kind of the "Life is Beautiful" question, right?

The problem is one of degree: most of human existence is some variety of the "twisted mess" you mention, or has aspects thereof. So if it's appalling and wrong to find moments of humanity in "twisted messes", we're pretty much out of luck when it comes to *any* nice moments, right?

Which is interesting because I started out agreeing with you, and on some level still do - maybe the right answer is that the real fallacy is demanding "moments of humanity" and "moments of inhumanity" at all - perhaps there are only moments.
posted by freebird at 11:26 AM on December 22, 2004


Yup - on further reflection I think the only issue here is one of image management, frankly. I completely understand the reaction against finding anything "heart warming" in a tragedy: but you have to.

Are you really saying there's something wrong with finding it inspiring when victims of a hurricane pull together and help each other out, or victims of oppression resist together? These are awful situations, but if we can't find some hope in human response to them where exactly are we supposed to find it?

So other than issues of tact, I'm not sure what you can object to. Again, unless you want to get all no-mind about it.

BTW I still don't think it's a great post, but I said that in a thread yesterday and I still feel bad about it, so I'm just focusing on what I think is interesting.
posted by freebird at 11:44 AM on December 22, 2004


This wasn't meant to be troll-baiting; the sound bite just pissed me off.
posted by jim-of-oz at 1:22 PM CST on December 22


So since it pissed you off to hear something on the radio, you felt it complied with the standard that a post should be something cool, new and unique on the web that others would want to see?

FYI - it is considered bad form to editorialize in your post. Both of your offerings so far have done this.
posted by Seth at 11:45 AM on December 22, 2004


Heartwarming???? Definitely the wrong choice of words. It was devastating and sickening to me to see the pictures on tv. My sympathies are with the soldiers' families....
posted by cass at 11:59 AM on December 22, 2004


Even more bothersome is that he posted the same exact link on his blog today.
posted by naxosaxur at 12:00 PM on December 22, 2004


I gotta go with Seth on this one. You found one word in an article about the war in Iraq irksome. And that's the post. WTF?
posted by soyjoy at 12:01 PM on December 22, 2004


freebird: "So if it's appalling and wrong to find moments of humanity in "twisted messes", we're pretty much out of luck when it comes to *any* nice moments, right?"

I can't argue with you on that point. Yeah most of human existence (for the 5 billion or so non-Westerners) is pretty crappy, so it's a matter of degree and where you grew up, I guess. The thing is, I think there's something called "a decent life" where people can live in relative comfort and safety - the material definition of that life changes from place to place and time to time, but the basics (comfortable shelter, proper food, water and sanitation, functioning community, good people to hang with, absence of violence and knavery) are pretty eternal.

War is pretty much the antithesis in all respects of that concept, a twisting and distortion of humans thrust into an immediate universe of violence, terror and pain, which causes different reactions from different people. Some cower, some detach, some become corrupt... all are affected and damaged.

"Are you really saying there's something wrong with finding it inspiring when victims of a hurricane pull together and help each other out, or victims of oppression resist together?"

Yes these things are inspiring, but I think the hurricane example is a poor one, since at this point hurricanes not something humans have any control over; they're a force of nature and we can only react to them.

War - and oppression - are always choices made by humans, and are thus under human control. The distortion, therefore, can be avoided, if only we make the choice to do so.
posted by zoogleplex at 12:06 PM on December 22, 2004


I can't believe there's a guy called Brigadier-General Ham.
posted by terpsichoria at 12:07 PM on December 22, 2004


War is pretty much the antithesis in all respects of that concept

Granted - but it's not like "normal life" and "middle of a war" are the only two options. Finding human warmth in the middle of a war is clearly a little disconcerting, while finding it at a candy rave is not (well...anyhow). My point is that the real world is more complex, and there's a lot of gradations between these extremes. If it's "appalling" to find humanity in the middle of a war - what about before or after the war? What about during quiet times during the war? It seems to me it becomes problematic once you decide it's OK to find humanity in some contexts but not others.

I think the hurricane example is a poor one, since at this point hurricanes not something humans have any control over

Tell me what control the soldiers having their lunch had over the disaster that befell them? I think it's a great example.

Again, I completely understand the jarring wrongness of hearing 'heartwarming' in the context of a tragedy. But I think it's a question of unfortunate phrasing and tactlessness, not with the fundamental notion of finding "moments of humanity" in the midst of tragedy. I think you either have to accept that these moments occur exactly when they're most incongruous, and under the most unpleasant of circumstances, or abandon the notion of "humanity" and "tragedy" altogether.
posted by freebird at 12:26 PM on December 22, 2004


I can't believe there's a guy called Brigadier-General Ham.
Easier to swallow than Rear Admiral Stufflebeam.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:28 PM on December 22, 2004


WTF? I think that seeing people who had been attacked care for each other would be a "heart-warming" experience to anyone. For Baal's sake, I tear up when I see my husband shoveling our neighbor's walk.

This post sucks, jim-of-oz.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:32 PM on December 22, 2004


more heart warmingness Wounded Soldier Gets Early Christmas Present

check out the url in the link

$spindb????

Also, I didn't know we had so many war-propaganda cheerleaders on mefi.
posted by telstar at 12:43 PM on December 22, 2004


Sorry, got to agree with the "extremely weak post" group.

Oh, and BTW , it now looks as if it was not a rocket attack as originally reported, but a suicide (or homicide if you watch Fox News) bomber. The fact that security is so weak at a military base - even one in a hostile environment - is alarming.

Contrack International just bailed on a 325 million dollar contract to rebuild infrastructure citing the work as too dangerous.
posted by fixedgear at 12:44 PM on December 22, 2004


I can't believe there's a guy called Brigadier-General Ham.

Yup. Harrison Ford's going to play him.
posted by 327.ca at 12:48 PM on December 22, 2004


I didn't know we had so many war-propaganda cheerleaders on mefi

What the godda- never mind. Not feeding second-rate trolling in a second-rate post.
posted by freebird at 12:52 PM on December 22, 2004


Yes, because those of us who hate war only want to hear stories about wounded soldiers trampling over each other to get to the medics. Now that's a Christmas miracle for the headlines!
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:57 PM on December 22, 2004


The mess tent is probably one of the biggest structures on the base, guaranteed to be full of troops three times a day, and they couldn't harden it? After a year-and-a-half? Come on. Suicide bombing bushwa.
posted by atchafalaya at 2:01 PM on December 22, 2004


/dons tinfoil hat/

PRI's quote of General Bacon makes a lot more sense than it does in print. That doesn't excuse the quality of the post here, but I'd recommend people try to track it down, because the general just sounds completely like a hallmark card gone wrong.

Now that we know it was a suicide bomber, I get the impression that this guy was trying to de-rail any discussion of the fact that now our military bases are not just subject to random mortars and rockets, but to Iraqi hirees who take out the garbage, mop the floors, serve the slop, and yes, strap on the explosive belts. The whole "unity" of the tragedy is an attempt to calm fears of the future base-bombings that are going to come, sooner rather than later.
posted by bardic at 6:29 PM on December 22, 2004


freebird: "Tell me what control the soldiers having their lunch had over the disaster that befell them? I think it's a great example."

None whatsoever. They are in that mess tent because of a whole series of choices that other people have made. Remember that US soldiers voluntarily give up their freedom of choice when they become soldiers; they are in many respects turned into "human weaponry," instruments of policy. So in this instance and to those soldiers, the hurricane analogy does indeed apply well, as they have no control over their current situation or over people who choose to attack them in the mess tent.

To me it was the series of choices on the part of the people of America and our leadership over the past decade or so, and in a very broad-view look at it, a large chunk of the Western world over the last 150 years or so that has put these soldiers and those giving them logistical support into their situation. And I feel that many of those choices were poor ones, especially the most recent ones, and have created the present appalling situation.

We're actually mostly in agreement, I think.

The very human moment of people caring for each other in a time of extreme trauma should not be downplayed - in such moments we can see some of the best that people have to offer of themselves.

What I object to is the much larger "strategic" situation that has put them in the place where they had to be traumatized, and the "feel-good" spin that those not actually in the trauma zone are putting on the event, in denial of their own poor choices and - since it was a suicide bomber and thus a security breach - failed vigilance and perhaps even incompetence at some level.
posted by zoogleplex at 7:45 PM on December 22, 2004


I never figured I'd hear heart-warming in relation to the aftermath of a missile attack

Reading comprehension is your friend.
posted by azazello at 9:06 PM on December 22, 2004


Or listening comprehension. Though I'll give you the benefit of a doubt - maybe that speaker just phrased it very poorly.
posted by azazello at 9:10 PM on December 22, 2004


Here is a report on the Mosul attack from a chaplain that was on the scene.

Apparently, the attack appears to be either a planted bomb or a suicide bomber, and not a rocket as initially thought.

A day after the attack, a message posted on a website by Ansar al-Sunna provided details of the strike. According to the message, the suicide bomber was a 24-year-old man from Mosul who worked at the base for two months, and who has provided the group detailed information about the base. One soldier I know thinks that the bomber is likely to be an Iraqi policeman, although it could be a member of the Iraqi national guard. Only the Iraqi police and national guard troops are allowed in the mess tents with US soldiers, apparently.

Expect similar attacks followed by a backlash of some sort, as the DoD trips over themselves to address the latest crisis in Iraq. The level of anger and paranoia kicked up during the process of securing U.S. bases against "Iraqi allies" could become dangerous, as it could threaten to burn important bridges between U.S. forces and the Iraqi police and national guard troops. Let's hope that calmness and professionalism prevails.

This wasn't just a bomb. It was a wedge.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:55 AM on December 23, 2004


Umm, yes it was a bomb. A very lethal one. And one that can be chalked up to Rumsfeld's "new military," i.e., outsourcing everything to others (including banalities such as cleaning uniforms and serving food, and, a la Abu Ghraib, gathering intelligence and, a la the mercenaries hung from a bridge in Fallujah, the actual fighting itself).

There's a certain logic to this--"let's keep our soldiers on the field and not doing logistical work," and one that I can kind of see during an age of a leaner/meaner military. But among the many insurmountable gaps of logic for the neo-cons, this whole idea works perfectly for the sort of "new war" we were supposed to be fighting after the fall of the USSR, e.g., small scale, limited interventions such as Somalia and Kosovo. Not a bad idea, but this is fucking occupation, plain and simple--and we're going to be over here not for months, not for years, but for decades. And I'm both afraid and angered that this is only the tip of the ice-berg. Water supply? Food supply? They can only ship so much over in C-130's.

Just imagine--how will any of those soldiers in Mosul, or elsewhere in Iraq, ever get a good night's sleep wondering if one of the local Iraqi's paid to keep the base running and clean has flipped over? Maybe a cousin of his was blown apart by an airstrike the night before. Maybe he's just in a bad mood. I'm sure most of them want to get their country onto the path to democracy, but dammit, racism/nationalism is a powerful thing, and I'm hardly convinved that the Green Zone is Baghdad is any safer.

And WTF? The chow hall was a fucking _tent_?

And insomnia you say some good things, but the blog you offer is chilling: "After all, 'to die is gain." Umm, how the hell did this guy ever get into the military? Chaplain or not, he's kind of missing prime-directive one of warfare. Onward Xtian soldiers indeed.

Deep down, I think it spells draft. Eventually. We should do it now, but we (speaking as an American) will wait until more shit like this happens, and while the war was lost a long time ago, America will still manage to spend 5-10 years asking its young people to die for a mistake.

Like him or not, John Kerry at least valued empiricism and logic over faith-based strategery.
posted by bardic at 2:23 AM on December 23, 2004


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