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Virgins talkin' about sex
February 5, 2005 7:07 AM   Subscribe

Virgins talk about sex. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, marines gotta kill the enemy. I think 'Flippant' is an accurate term from the Vice Adm. But most of the flak this monk is catching is from folks who say how killing the enemy "should" be. He's been called a psychopath, but it seems to me his emotional investment belies that. So do we then want robots? The civilian issue of why or where or when to fight aside - do we have the right to derogate how a soldier feels about doing his duty?
posted by Smedleyman (101 comments total)

 
There have always been people who enjoyed battle. Of course now in the 'new military' we try to curtain them, so that everyone can think its a professional, precise military. After all, its alot easier to stomach when presented in charts, graphs, and satellite photos of destruction, no? Either way, nice post.
posted by ba3r at 7:15 AM on February 5, 2005


My first thought was that I'm glad that this guy is a Marine and not a US Postal Service employee. Not having served in the military myself, I wasn't quite sure what to think about this, but this morning as I was perusing the Letters section of the Times, I happened upon this letter to the editor, that I thought summed it up fairly eloquently:

To the Editor:

A senior Marine general who commanded forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has been admonished by the commandant of the Marine Corps for saying publicly, "It's fun to shoot some people" (news article, Feb. 4).

To this retired career military officer, this is a frightening example of the state of mind of the United States military today. Trickle-down at its worst - from the White House through our new attorney general through the Pentagon - down to the lowly M.P. at Abu Ghraib. The general is scolded; the M.P. is tried by court-martial and imprisoned.

Concepts of command accountability proudly respected by me and others during our service appear to be no more.

James E. Brown Jr.
Crystal Beach, Tex., Feb. 4, 2005

posted by psmealey at 7:16 AM on February 5, 2005


It's the military's job to kill people, that's why we give them guns and bombs. Why be upset that hired killers might like their work? If you don't want "our troops" to enjoy killing people don't pay them to do it.

As for all the kind and helpful things the military does, do Boy Scouts need M16s to help old ladies across the street? For example, an Interior Department Corps of Engineers could build bridges just as well.
posted by davy at 7:39 AM on February 5, 2005


It's a little unseemly coming from a guy whose only previous combat experience seems to have come as a battalion commander, i.e., pretty far from the bullets.

In the field you hear this kind of pump-'em-up pep talk often, but it's surprising he would say it in front of a largely civilian audience. Maybe he's airing out his credentials, maybe it's indicative of an overall coarsening of the public discourse that we'll see more of as the war wears on.
For myself, I can't get enough of the candor of accounts from the troops at street level, so maybe this is what comes along with that.
posted by atchafalaya at 7:45 AM on February 5, 2005


I think that the fuss raised over this issue is ridiculous, and I wonder just who is raising it. This man is a commander of the Marines. He shouldn't be expected to be delicate. This era in which military commanders are held to the same standards of etiquette as politicians cannot be good.
posted by Tullius at 7:48 AM on February 5, 2005


He shouldn't be expected to be delicate.

He should be expected to do a serious job with some dignity. It's supposed to be a professional military, not a bunch of yahoos.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:58 AM on February 5, 2005


Psychopath, hell no. Nobody can tell a soldier how he should feel about killing an enemy. Speaking about it as a highly decorated commanding general is another thing entirely. By calling it a 'hoot' in a public speech, he opened himself up to criticism that was 100% predictable. And he should have predicted.
posted by nj_subgenius at 8:01 AM on February 5, 2005


This is a book written by former Army Lt. Col Grossman. The book covers why Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome has doubled since the Vietnam war, how military basic training has changed since WW2, and how there are just a few people who can innately bring themselves to kill. The rest have to be trained.

On preview:
Brass (military officers) are always held to political office standards. It's the nature of the Officer Game, where politics can determine rank in a future date. In the upper enlisted (warrent officers, at the peak) it's a bit less.

Our commentor didn't just "appear" as a high ranking officer, he had to earn his rank in one way or another. He was a field officer at least 20 years ago (that puts him in Grenada, I believe) and means he probably HAS combat experience, predating 1991's Desert Storm. Based on his comment, I suspect he enjoyed it.
posted by vevaphon at 8:02 AM on February 5, 2005


Wrote Armitage Shanks: "He should be expected to do a serious job with some dignity. It's supposed to be a professional military, not a bunch of yahoos."

Man, what planet are you on?
posted by davy at 8:12 AM on February 5, 2005


psmealey - I hope my post doesn't read like: 'unless you've served in the military you don't have a right to say anything.'
*re -reading*
hmm, little bit. Sorry. Not what I meant. I suppose I'm trying to get across that "robot' point mostly. Sociopath.

Anyway - I agree that the thousand yard stare is scary in a civilian (is a postal employee a civilian? hmmm), but I have to take a slight detour there with James Brown's letter.
I don't know that Abu Ghraib and Mattis' attitude have much to do with each other. Or rather - they shouldn't.
(Agreed - top-level heads should have rolled - they shouldn't have waited for the prosecution, they should have taken responsibility for what happened on their watch)

I would agree then with his thoughts on command accountability, but say that excellence and professionalism in killing the enemy does not mean you abuse them.

In fact it typically means the opposite.

Soldiers fight because of pride, preparation, and conviction. Abuse of prisoners destroys at least two of those and certainly cripples preparation.
As a former rifle company commander Mattis would know what war is (ultimately no one wins) and would want to avoid it.
A general's concept of winning a battle is typically more political than military (as is an Admiral's). They want to win from the top.
In this instance I think Mattis was sharing that part of himself that was a front line officer and attempting to bolster the pride and conviction in his men because we are already committed.
His statement in essence: we fight because our enemy is the kind of creature that harms women.
This is not winning at the top, but this is winning in the trenches.
The more sucessful commanders maintain the goodwill of their troops. His comments would create that, and I think critcism of the man would bind his men to him even more effectively.

This is not to say it isn't a political nightmare, and I agree: 'flippant', but there is a difference between good PR and good leadership.
You can send men into a fight for any number of goofy reasons *coughiraqcough*, they will continue to fight, sucessfully, only if they have confidence in their leaders, training, equipment, and themselves.
I think Mattis scored big with his remarks. And troops that disagree can write it off to the egomania shared by every officer above 06....er...05...hmmm....04, really.

Political leadership is a whole other ball of wax (egomania-wise).
posted by Smedleyman at 8:13 AM on February 5, 2005


The American military trains people to kill people. Take away the flag-waving and the bullshit about protecting our freedom, and that's what it boils down to. Do most of the troops over there give a shit one way or another about foreign policy? Hell no. They have a mission and they go ahead and do it.

I think that this guy is at least more honest about what he's doing and why than the present administration is about what they're doing and why.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:13 AM on February 5, 2005


Not born or bred killing machines, but certainly trained effectively to be. While this comment is off the wall, after reading justanothersolider I can certainly understand how they are excited to actually do their duty, be of avail, and avenge some fallen..
posted by sled at 8:18 AM on February 5, 2005


"...[S]ay that excellence and professionalism in killing the enemy does not mean you abuse them.

In fact it typically means the opposite."


"Excuse me ma'am, will you please sit your children together on the sofa so our bomb can kill them all at once?"
posted by davy at 8:19 AM on February 5, 2005


"Boys, I’ve been where you are now and I know just how you feel. It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here. Suppress it! You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is hell!"

General Sherman, 1880

"Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up there with you. I like brawling."

General Mattis, 2005
posted by c13 at 8:27 AM on February 5, 2005


Are $5 specials 'allowed' to call bullshit? If not can I call bullshit on this thread? Pleeeeze?!

Let me start by saying you do realise that it's probably been a while since this chap killed anything?

At his rank he's so far back he sends his laundry forward.

Now I'm not saying it didn't happen - he may well have liked to get stuck in but that would be the exception. I mean, if this happened then surely their must be some grunt somewhere who remembers some older guy with a lot of rank who was suddenly attached to their unit and loved kicking in doors? No?

Anyway by this point in their career they should have got that shit out of their system - frankly it's dangerous if they haven't. (Witness a certain UK Brigadier General in Gulf War 1 hanging out the top of his tank and taking pot shots at cowering Iraqi's with his nine mm).

I guess what I'm saying is the premise of this whole line of argument probably doesn't hold up.

What does this mean? My guess is that it means that he's a braggart and likes to sound tough in front of people who will be appropriately admiring and won't ask him difficult questions....
posted by fingerbang at 8:32 AM on February 5, 2005


The American military trains people to kill people.

Because the rest of the world is training its soldiers to shoot Nerf weapons...?

Soldiers fight because of pride, preparation, and conviction.

You're mostly there, but for the people who sign up for the jobs they know are going to put them in life-threatening danger, there's also a healthy dose of "I'm going to do this so you don't have to." And, with all due respect to everyone here, until you've been with those guys minutes before they ship off, you just don't understand.
posted by Cyrano at 8:34 AM on February 5, 2005


Humanity has always glorified killing "the enemy." Such glorification constitutes the bulk of recorded human history. You may find this attitude appalling (I do), but you can't deny that it's a deeply ingrained component of human nature. And I'm not sure which appalls me worse, really: bloodthirsty barbarians gleefully slaughtering other people in my name or cold, emotionless computers calculating which button to push to cause the most strategic destruction.
posted by rushmc at 8:34 AM on February 5, 2005


A murderer is a murderer is a murderer.
posted by muckster at 8:35 AM on February 5, 2005


If it's shocking to say someone likes killing people...
And if the army trains people to kill people...
Then shouldn't we begin to question the role of the army?

But wait themadjuggler, we need to kill to defend our nation!

OK, maybe. But still, when was the last time we physically defended our nation? Pearl Harbor? The War of 1812? Don't get me wrong, the rise of fascism was a pretty important cause, but seems like a rather obvious exception.

Or rather, what rushmc and muckster said.
posted by themadjuggler at 8:40 AM on February 5, 2005


(pretty important = understatement)
posted by themadjuggler at 8:40 AM on February 5, 2005


Would it be any better if a policeman had said that he likes to kill people, that it's fun?
What if he just REALLY likes writing tickets, and think's it's a hoot..

Or a fireman who really loves fire, and it's mesmorizing flame licks..
Or a proctologist that gets overly excited at the prospect of your new hemorrhoid?

Or the nurse that can't wait for bedpan duty..
posted by Balisong at 8:47 AM on February 5, 2005


I think you can always expect the discourse to be a little more coarse at the margins of a civilized society, i.e., in the vicinity of the guns that encircle it. Towards the center the discourse gets milder, more nuanced, and part of the job of the military is to protect that center -- because that's where we live. We use this mild, nuanced discourse to live our mild, nuanced lives. You only run into trouble when somehow that coarse discourse from the margin suddenly pops up in the center, b/c this leads to the fear that it is not the mild discourse that is governing the coarse, but the other way around.

I think the fuss this event has caused is probably b/c the general's tone was, in a way, evocative of Bush's wild-west-speak, and so aroused anxieties that the 'yahoos' at the margins really are leading the way. And then the deeper anxiety that, after all, they probably should be.
posted by Hobbacocka at 8:50 AM on February 5, 2005


A murderer is a murderer is a murderer.

Has anyone in your family lineage fought in a war (or contributed to the fighting of on the homefront.) Do you really think the still-teens-in-1941 grandfathers of this nation think of themselves as murderers?

And if the army trains people to kill people...
Then shouldn't we begin to question the role of the army?


No, that would be fucking moronic. Armies kill. The society they come from determines whether they like it or not.
posted by Cyrano at 8:50 AM on February 5, 2005


And I'm not sure which appalls me worse, really: bloodthirsty barbarians gleefully slaughtering other people in my name or cold, emotionless computers calculating which button to push to cause the most strategic destruction.

I'm not crazy about either one, but the latter chills my blood more. I can understand the urge to violence in a moment of personal or even national anger or rage (not that I'm condoning anything neccessarily), but the idea of calm calculated violence seems more frightening and "evil" somehow.

And, yeah, I realize that on a lot of levels that dosen't make sense, but just venturing a theory.
posted by jonmc at 8:51 AM on February 5, 2005


he's right, though. it is fun to kill people. especially if it's for a good cause.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:03 AM on February 5, 2005


Fingerbang wrote: "Let me start by saying you do realise that it's probably been a while since this chap killed anything?

At his rank he's so far back he sends his laundry forward."


As you allow, he might have killed in his younger days, and anyway giving orders to kill makes one as culpable as carrying them out. How any people did John Gotti personally whack?


Then saith Cyrano: "Armies kill. The society they come from determines whether they like it or not."

How effective would an army be composed of tender and/or squeamish people who really don't want to hurt anybody? Would you want Gandhi running your military?

And on preview, johnmc has a point too, but a cold killing machine would still not be a very nice person. And ballsong, your reductio ad absurdum, while a good rhetorical comeback, doesn't disprove anything.
posted by davy at 9:06 AM on February 5, 2005


i wouldn't trust a cop who liked to kill people ... and i believe most cops would agree with that ... i think the same goes for soldiers

and for those who say civilians can't judge ... just who do you think is paying for it?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:12 AM on February 5, 2005


No, that would be fucking moronic. Armies kill. The society they come from determines whether they like it or not.

Well thanks, but by "role" I don't mean "function" or "public image." Do we want an army for self-defense or an army for spreading democracy® or do we want an army for eliminating threats? Or what?
posted by themadjuggler at 9:12 AM on February 5, 2005


Where the hell are my virgins talking about sex?!?
posted by graventy at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2005


The purpose of the Army is not "to kill people". It is to protect and defend people. Unfortunately a lot of the time, that involves killing those who would attack or harm those you are defending.

Actions are not inherently moral or immoral, right or wrong. It is the motivation behind them.

On preview, yes I would love an Army full of people who don't want to hurt people. Again the goal should be peace, a soldier should be glad for and seek out peace. The war is fought to stop those who have disrupted the peace.
posted by MrBobaFett at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2005


Is fighting for peace not contradictory (not a snark!)? What does "seeking out" peace entail?
posted by themadjuggler at 9:23 AM on February 5, 2005


I'm really conflicted about these remarks of Mattis'.

I have a lot of respect for people who've Been There and Done That, and I'm not clear on whether Mattis ever did kill anybody in combat or not. I have a lot more respect for troops that are good at killing but ultimately love human life, although in Mattis' defense I don't see that he doesn't ultimately love human life. If I were in combat, I'd want somebody who espouses Mattis' views alongside me or over me -- as long as his satisfaction with his job didn't cloud his judgment to the point where he endangered himself and me unnecessarily to experience the satisfaction of closing with and killing the enemy. (Bill Mauldin once pointed out wisely that when you're in infantry combat, a buddy who is faint of heart and chicken to do his job is going to get you in trouble, but a buddy who is all gung-ho to kill Germans is going to get you into worse trouble.)

If I were in a combat outfit and were having to shoot people, some of whom definitely had it coming, I'd want an officer over me who took some grim satisfaction in doing the job properly -- that's what the mission consists of, that's why all the training, preparation and motivation happens in the first place. Still, it makes me wince a little to hear that killing people in a certain context is, well, fun. Getting paid to kill the enemy is what they're there for, but there's something about joking about it in contexts other than the immediacy of a combat situation that seems distasteful, if not flat-out obscene. It'd be one thing to have a guy in a fighting hole next to me say, "Bastard could use some killing," but it's another thing to hear an officer say that in a press conference or an official meeting, in front of microphones, with a pitcher of ice water at the elbow.

My own father was a combat veteran who spoke with satisfaction, if not actual glee, about calling down fire on a bunch of Germans and making them disappear. But he was also the kind of guy who, when he got back from Austria in '47, all gung-ho to go deer hunting, got out in the woods with a rifle in his hands and heard gunshots, then headed home, racked up the unfired rifle and never went deer hunting again.
posted by alumshubby at 9:26 AM on February 5, 2005


The purpose of the Army is not "to kill people". It is to protect and defend people.

That's really not true. The Army doesn't set policy. Their purpose is to do what they're told. Protecting and defending people is sometimes a consequence of the Army's killing, but soldiers are not expected (or encouraged) to take a moral inventory of every (or any) situation they are sent into.
posted by bingo at 9:27 AM on February 5, 2005


Maybe Melville said it best through his character Starbuck the first mate: "I will have no man in my boat who is not afraid of a whale."
posted by alumshubby at 9:33 AM on February 5, 2005


Blues are clueless.
posted by HTuttle at 9:37 AM on February 5, 2005


For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!
posted by IndigoJones at 9:39 AM on February 5, 2005


Bingo I was not commenting on the U.S. Army internal policies. I was talking about the larger general social role of an army. The purpose in having and maintain an army is protection and defense.

As per the mad juggler - Is fighting for peace not contradictory (not a snark!)?

Yes it makes for a nice sound bite or a t-shirt. However no it is not absurd to fight for peace. It only sound absurd if one assumes there was peace before joining the fight. If 10 guy come into a town and start killing people, but no-one fights back.. There is no fight, yet there certainly is not peace.

Three possible paths to peace in that case are, they kill everybody then being satisfied, stop. They suddenly have a run in with a burning bush who tells them it is god and what they are doing is wrong, they repent and stop. Or someone fights back, and kills them, they stop. Violence can be a pre-existing condition to a fight.
posted by MrBobaFett at 9:41 AM on February 5, 2005


MrBobaFett - I don't argue with that scenario because it's definitely categorized with self-defense. I'm talking about drawing the line between self-defense and "imminent threats" such as Iraq or "containing communist governments" in Vietnam or other such "defensive" motivations... It seems to be abused as a rationale for violence (ie the Department of War changing its name to the Department of Defense)
posted by themadjuggler at 9:50 AM on February 5, 2005


Yes using war against "imminent threats" is wrong. preemptive war is very much not condoned by Just War Theory. preemptive actions are the job of politics. And Vietnam... was sooo not a just war.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:02 AM on February 5, 2005


Bingo I was not commenting on the U.S. Army internal policies. I was talking about the larger general social role of an army. The purpose in having and maintain an army is protection and defense.

That may be what you wish the purpose of having and maintaining an army was, but that is obviously not the purpose that most countries, including the US, have for having and maintaining an army.

'Protection and defense,' of course, are such broad categories that if one takes a grimly holistic view, it's possible to rationalize just about anything as falling under one or both of those categories anyway.
posted by bingo at 10:13 AM on February 5, 2005


From Gustav Hasford's Short Timers:
The drill instructors are proud to see that we are growing beyond their control. The Marine Corps does not want robots. The Marine Corps wants killers. The Marine Corps wants to build indestructible men, men without fear. Civilians may choose to submit or to fight back. The drill instructors leave recruits no choice. Marines fight back or they do not survive. There it is. No slack.
posted by shagoth at 10:13 AM on February 5, 2005


I'm surprised that noone else sees the comments as fundamentally racist. The underlying current is that they are not like us, so it's good to kill them. Interestingly the insurgents employ a similar logic to encourage and justify attacking Americans. I think the two groups need and deserve each other.
posted by milkwood at 10:19 AM on February 5, 2005


Disagree on that, milkwood, unless you can back that up with more than a notion.
posted by nj_subgenius at 10:25 AM on February 5, 2005


Vietnam may not have been any of our business, nor worth the lives of American soldiers, but as to the justness of taking on the North, well, consider what happened after the South lost. There was a reason thousands tried to leave in boats. Check out this for starters.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:27 AM on February 5, 2005


I'm happy for this post, but can someone explain this to me?
posted by mudpuppie at 10:29 AM on February 5, 2005


I seriously believe that for many of us to understand the indoctrinated USMC mind is a lost cause.
1) How many times have you done exercises until you or a member of your group passes out?
2) Pass many work-weeks by with only 40-50 hours of SLEEP?
3) Did Janist Monks raise the flag over Iwo Jima? Invade Normandy (oh no, invasion!) to free Europe?
4) Can a wuss lead an organization?
5) Find yourself wishing Carter had a second term? Still wishing it would happen?
6) Did Willie Horton just happen to have a bad weekend?

Somewhere back in the Clinton admin Sara Lister had to resign after calling the Marines "extremists".

I thought the General had good words. I am glad to have such individuals charged with the leadership of our troops and the defense of our country.
posted by buzzman at 10:34 AM on February 5, 2005


Mudpuppie - you were too polite - you need to come right out and say: "double post"
posted by mlis at 10:37 AM on February 5, 2005


We seem to have overlooked the possibility that he is good and effective and at what he does, and that his only problem is to have been too honest with people who are profoundly ignorant of the hard truths of military existence.
posted by Ken McE at 10:40 AM on February 5, 2005


Okay.

Double post!

(And mine was labeled "Meh. Day-old news filter." *Sniff.*)
posted by mudpuppie at 10:47 AM on February 5, 2005


"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for 5 years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis continued. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."

So why not start in your own back yard?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:53 AM on February 5, 2005


When the warrior high priest speaks, you must listen. Then you must keep your mouth shut, for he is doing hard work. Thanklessly sitting there with your iPod and your Superbowl. Don't you know how dead you would be if we didn't have men like James Mattis? Oh shut up.
posted by lazymonster at 11:00 AM on February 5, 2005


Weapons Grade-

We have laws against these things. Taliban run Afghanistan did not.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:10 AM on February 5, 2005


So you export your "justice" arbitrarily.
But when your justice is "inconvenient", you ship people to Syria or Gitmo so the law will not apply.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:40 AM on February 5, 2005


We have laws against these things.

As in, our laws in our country. I hear the Chinese don't like the way we do things, maybe they should pay us a visit? Or do they need to percieve us as terrorists, or a nation supporting terrorists first?
posted by lazymonster at 11:49 AM on February 5, 2005


come on, is anyone really shocked at all, or are you just trying to lair your superhuman disdain for bloodlust? every play violent video games or watch war movies (or any type of action genre for that matter) with any enjoyment?

of course one can enjoy killing at some point. it's not difficult to dehumanize an enemy. many argue that it's natural. the hard part is NOT wanting to kill your enemy. that's goddamned difficult when you add millions of years of darwinistic genetic programming to thousands of years of competetive socialization.

so yeah, i'm sure there's pleanty of people out there who could come to enjoy killing with just a few mental or physical skips. prorbably many of them are on this thread. i know i could. and i'm a bleeding-heart-liberal-pacifist-jesus-loving-secular-humanist...

Would you want Gandhi running your military?

YES!
posted by es_de_bah at 11:49 AM on February 5, 2005


oh. and kudos, mudpuppie. consider yourself vindicated and backed by popular demand.
posted by es_de_bah at 11:52 AM on February 5, 2005


es_de_bah
Rob I think it's a big logical leap from putting a bullet through someone's chest to playing Goldeneye with friends. At least for most people. But amen on General Gandhi!
posted by themadjuggler at 11:56 AM on February 5, 2005


w-gp: Yes IndigoJones exports "his" justice. So clever. Oh, btw, did you check "his" profile? He may be from Canada just like you.
posted by mlis at 11:57 AM on February 5, 2005


Indigo Jones - great reference, and very appropriate. I'm not usually a huge Kipling fan, but he is smack dab on the money about the current kerfluffle. You want guys to be prepared to go off and kill whoever we tell 'em to? Guess what, they aren't gonna be sipping tea and acting like grandmotherly schoolteachers in their downtime.

Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy how's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints.
posted by Justinian at 12:07 PM on February 5, 2005


i'm not saying there isn't a world of difference, i just think common enjoyment of such simulations is evident of how easy it is to enjoy competitive violence. make me a proud conservative american who chose the military for my long-term career, and i'd imagine i could think of gunning down the enemy as a hoot. how many years was this guy in the service? in that mind-set?

someone mentioned that it would be similarly disturbing if a police officer made comments about enjoying his work. how many times have i heard officers testify that if they were either going to be in jail or putting people in jail...

when violence is officialized, some officers will be violent.
posted by es_de_bah at 12:20 PM on February 5, 2005


*slaps forehead* last post aimed at in response to themadjuggler
posted by es_de_bah at 12:22 PM on February 5, 2005


Would you want Gandhi running your military?

Emphatically, wholeheartedly, joyously: Yes!

"Non-violence and cowardice go ill together. I can imagine a fully armed man to be at heart a coward. Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not cowardice. But true non-violence is an impossibility without the possession of unadulterated fearlessness."

"An opponent is entitled to the same regard for his principles as we would expect others to have for ours. Non-violence demands that we should seek every opportunity to win over opponents."

"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."

"A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave."

"A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes."

"A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people."

"An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind."

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."


- Mohandas Gandhi


You want to find bravery? Find the human being that will walk unarmed into an armed conflict zone with love in their heart for the "enemy" and the ability to see them as fellow human beings.

It is far too easy to give reign to the primal, animal insticts of killing, violence, and conflict against "the other" - "the other" that is really ourselves - instead of actually attempting to acknowledge, undestand and solve that conflict.
posted by loquacious at 12:29 PM on February 5, 2005


Hey, just because there are problems at home doesn't mean the military doesn't work abroad. Indeed, the Army can't be used on the home front. (Coast Guard and National guard. . . kinda) They have a sphere of influence.

If I can quote the missions of the United States Army:
- Preserve the peace and security and provide for the defense of the United States, the Territories, Commonwealths, and Possessions, and any areas occupied by the United States.
-Support national policies.
-Implement national objectives.
-Overcome any nations responsible for aggressive acts that imperil the peace and security of the United States.

So, yeah, the Army goes into Iraq because the government tells them too. . . . I don't think you want an army that just kinda goes on their own program. If you have a problem with the national objectives they're implementing, take it up with your elected leaders. Not saying "shut up" so much as steering you to where your words will actually have effect.

I mean, I have a big problem with what the Gen said, because: 1) he should have known better when press are in the room and 2) he should know that people take things out of context, even his own people. He came and talked to us just a couple months ago, because well, a lot of Marine officers graduate this place. This is what they are trained for. Its powerful rhetoric, but sometimes, for the people it's directed towards, that's what they need to hear.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:34 PM on February 5, 2005


So you export your "justice" arbitrarily.
But when your justice is "inconvenient", you ship people to Syria or Gitmo so the law will not apply.


Mr P, you're reading more into what I wrote that was intended. Your original post seemed to find some kind to equivalence between Taliban Afghanistan and America, as far as treatment of women goes. I merely suggested that our laws enjoin against battery, Afghanistan's at the time did not.

We didn't go into Afghanistan with the purpose of eliminating that tradition, but as you raise the question, and as other comments seem to suggest that all cultures are equally valid and the US is being heavy handed, let me recall the story of a Victorian British officer in India who was told that suttee was part of “Indian tradition".

The officer replied that it was a British tradition to hang people who did such things.

Spreading a few human rights around is one of the few nice side effects of the current unpleasantness. The marine general is in that tradition.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:56 PM on February 5, 2005


Um...these are the kind of people that make a career out of the military. Until human nature changes and there are no more bad people, there will be a need for people on our side who have this mind set.

By the way, the last time I checked, human nature had not changed since the evolution of Homo Sapiens and nothing indicating change is showing up on the immediate horizon.
posted by mygoditsbob at 2:10 PM on February 5, 2005


Smedleyman, I gotta wonder about the "virgins talk about sex" snark. Do you know for a fact that Mattis never killed anybody in combat? He commanded troops at the platoon and company level.
posted by alumshubby at 2:14 PM on February 5, 2005


I thought that the 'virgins talk about sex' snark was aimed at the people criticizing the officer.
posted by bingo at 2:19 PM on February 5, 2005


If everybody who doesn't have a problem with the general's remarks, would be equally unimpressed and rationalizing had one of Hussein's (say) generals made the exact same statements, or even a Russian general in Chechnya, or a Rwandan general in Congo, or (going back) a Japanese general in the Pacific - I would have no problem with their having no problem.

BTW someone should alert the general that many of the wife-beaters in Afghanistan are on his side.
posted by talos at 2:29 PM on February 5, 2005


You want to find bravery? Find the human being that will walk unarmed into an armed conflict zone with love in their heart for the "enemy" and the ability to see them as fellow human beings.

And then find the grease spot that's all thats left of him fifteen seconds later. Or try; it's gonna be hard to find.
posted by kindall at 2:33 PM on February 5, 2005


If everybody who doesn't have a problem with the general's remarks, would be equally unimpressed and rationalizing had one of Hussein's (say) generals made the exact same statements, or even a Russian general in Chechnya, or a Rwandan general in Congo, or (going back) a Japanese general in the Pacific - I would have no problem with their having no problem.

I don't know, as long as they are directed at a legitimate armed group like an army, I wouldn't call it awful. Generals lead men and women to fight and die to kill other people. You hope it's for a good reason in the end, but I don't think Karl Dönitz was a bad man, even if his leadership got quite a few American's killed. Now, for a military leader who calls out to intentionally kill civilian populations. . . that's a different matter.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:50 PM on February 5, 2005


. . . and I have no idea why I apostroped Americans. Sorry 'bout that.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:52 PM on February 5, 2005


Do you really think the still-teens-in-1941 grandfathers of this nation think of themselves as murderers?

What does how someone thinks of themselves have to do with the reality of what they are? (I'm not making the soldiers=murderers case here, just pointing out the fallacy of your reasoning.)
posted by rushmc at 3:11 PM on February 5, 2005


The purpose of the Army is not "to kill people". It is to protect and defend people. Unfortunately a lot of the time, that involves killing those who would attack or harm those you are defending.

I fail to see how Iraqis fall under your definition here.
posted by rushmc at 3:13 PM on February 5, 2005


"When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite."
- Sir Winston Churchill

IMO, comments about how killing other people is a "hoot" is pretty much the equivilant of the thumbs-up of Abu Ghraib soldiers over piles of naked prisoners (or dead ones). It's disgusting. In fact, it's even more disgusting. Killing, even when viewed as necessary, should never be called a "hoot".
posted by Orb at 3:28 PM on February 5, 2005


but I don't think Karl Dönitz was a bad man, even if his leadership got quite a few American's killed
Obviously, but we're not talking leadership here, we're talking about rhetoric: the question is if you'd feel the same if he was on record stating that he derives great joy from killing American soldiers.
posted by talos at 4:38 PM on February 5, 2005


Well, for every one like this there's an insurgent leader reassuring new recruits that Americans are soft, pink, spoiled little pigs who are just as fun to kill.

Let them have at each other.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:03 PM on February 5, 2005


oh, dear, buzzman, i can't resist your quiz

1) How many times have you done exercises until you or a member of your group passes out?

does lifting beer cans to your lips count as exercise?

2) Pass many work-weeks by with only 40-50 hours of SLEEP?

i've done that quite a few times ... night shift sucks

3) Did Janist Monks raise the flag over Iwo Jima? Invade Normandy (oh no, invasion!) to free Europe?

just remember one thing ... no one expects the spanish inquistion!!

4) Can a wuss lead an organization?

george w bush, president of the u s ... bill gates, microsoft ... next question ...

5) Find yourself wishing Carter had a second term? Still wishing it would happen?

he'd be a vast improvement over what we have now

6) Did Willie Horton just happen to have a bad weekend?

i'm sure he had more than one bad weekend but that didn't stop him from getting a .273 lifetime batting average or a world series ring

on a more serious note, one of the most laid back guys i ever worked for was an ex-marine
posted by pyramid termite at 5:30 PM on February 5, 2005


Orb's quoting of Churchill has it right. When we, either as a people or as individuals, fail to perceive killing in any context with the gravity it demands, we're that much further from being able to consider ourselves as role models for *anyone*, in this country or elsewhere.
posted by wolftrouble at 5:32 PM on February 5, 2005


do we have the right to derogate how a soldier feels about doing his duty?

I have no interest in being pedantic, but This guy's not a soldier, he's a marine.

If you want to pose a hypothetical question about him specifically, you should refer to him as a marine.

If you want to pose a hypothetical question about military personnel in general, do not use "soldiers". You can use "troops" or "military personnel" which includes both soldiers and marines (and airmen, and sailors, etc.) But to use the word soldier generically for non-soldiers (like marines) is problematic at best and offensive at worst.

(No offense is intended by my pedantry. This is just a definition gotcha that lots of people fall into. The only reason I bring it up is because it's a mistake that offends some people, unlike other common errors that I ordinarily would not bother to point out.)
posted by bugmuncher at 5:44 PM on February 5, 2005


Those of you who are defending this guy should ask think of a person who you would be willing to kill, and not a hypothetical one: Try to remember someone in your personal history whose life you feel you actually could have taken. Now imagine, seriously and without social bravado, how that would have made you feel, both immediately afterwards and in the long run. Imagine what the look on his face would be like. Imagine the look on his mother's face when she finds out.

I've never killed anyone, but it's my suspicion that anyone who claims to enjoy it -- no matter how heinous or evil the victim -- is blowing smoke up my ass so I think they're a big man.

That said, I'd defend the gallows humor that soldiers have to adopt to stay sane in and after battle. If the people we're sending into battle -- for reasons real or imagined -- have to be total assholes to survive the situations we're putting them in, then so be it. It sucks, but as a decision made by an individual, it makes sense.

I'd really agree with Cyrano's "we're going to do this so you don't have to" comment as well, but I think it's a double-edged sword. One one hand, civilians shouldn't complain about the attitudes of the guys who fight if they're unwilling to do so themselves or to take a more active role in deciding for themselves what is and isn't worth killing for. But on the other hand, if there are soldiers who think that going into battle is just a lot of fun, then they won't mind if we cut their pay and use the money for someone who needs it more.
posted by hifiparasol at 6:59 PM on February 5, 2005


"You want to find bravery? Find the human being that will walk unarmed into an armed conflict zone with love in their heart for the "enemy" and the ability to see them as fellow human beings."

No, that's stupidity. Someone for whom a quick death is, in those circumstances, a favor, considering the likely alternatives.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a very peaceful person when I can get away with it: I almost never get violent with people, I feel that "smack not that ye be not smacked" is a perfectly reasonable proposition, and when I see a "battle" I go the other way. The first is "nonviolence", the second is "morality", the third is "common sense".

But what you're describing is a deluded idiot doing "Darwin-in-action".

Note that while I don't start shit, I really enjoy hurting people who insist on fucking with me. Sadism is wasted on masochists.
posted by davy at 7:42 PM on February 5, 2005


As far as an army being run by Gandhi goes... I don't think it would last long at all against an army run by a certain German ex-corporal who's name shall not be mentioned to avoid the invocation of Godwin's law.

Gandhi was able to accomplish what he did because he ran up against a military and bureacratic structure that had certain (if rather odd at times) ideals of civility, fair play and sportsmanship.

Without those fundamental ideals in the force he found himself in opposition to, he (and his movement) would have been dead pretty quick.

No, I don't want a military run by Gandhi-like folk. That sort of pacifism, while admirable, is impractical against an enemy who really, truly and sincerely wants you dead. What I want instead is a military strong enough to make ANY military conflict as short as possible, and a controlling government which doesn't shrink from using it when it's become apparent that other means of avoiding conflict will not work, and will not use it, for example, to annex the Sudetenland.

One perhaps like this one... which is fictional (of course) but thought-provoking none the less. I'll just put in the last line of the story - hopefully some will read and enjoy the whole thing.
"You see," said the examiner, "we've already done that. We had to try something a little tougher."
... On preview, what Davy said. A sincere pacifist going up against someone who really wants him dead is removing his notions of pacifism from the ideological gene pool. There are times and situations where pacifism is decidedly contra-survival, both for single individuals and cultures as a whole.

And I unfortunately think we're entering into a time where that's going to be readily apparent, against a cultural meme that views non-adhering pacifists as willing targets. Far easier to slaughter the animal if it can be talked into willingly and eagerly putting it's head on the chopping block.

This General, I do believe, would not only want to kill those who would gladly kill such pacifists - but would rather die himself in the attempt rather than fail to protect them.

JB
posted by JB71 at 8:03 PM on February 5, 2005


This guy's not a soldier, he's a marine.

Bugmuncher, what's the difference? Honest question. Because the standard definition of a marine is a member of the U.S. Marine Corps., and a soldier is someone enlisted in the armed forces. There is no particular branch distinction. Therefor, soldier would seem to encompass marine.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:27 PM on February 5, 2005


For those unclear on a rather simple and basic point, I'll spell it out. Comments like those made by this yo-yo betray and reveal that we, the American people, have come to accept that some people are subhuman, and may be killed for fun. Observe his reasoning for enjoying the killing of Arab Islamic men: the enemy constructs his masculinity differently than I do, ergo he is not a man and, as a man, it is my prerogative, perhaps my duty, and certainly a pleasure to eliminate him.

The reason that there is "such a fuss" over this is because America would like to pretend that it doesn't collectively believe this. Certainly the man should be condemned, but that's like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500. He's just giving voice to the spirit of what America has become. It's ugly, but it's us.
posted by squirrel at 8:29 PM on February 5, 2005


Civil_Disobedient -

Soldiers are what the Army refers to themselves as. Marines are what members of the Marine Corps refer to themselves as. Airmen is a generic term for members of the Air Force, and Sailors is a generic term for members of the Navy.

Call someone in the Navy a soldier, and s/he would either look at you funny or politely correct you, because soldiers are Army, and are an inferior species who spend a lot of time in the mud.

Call someone in the Air Force a soldier, and s/he would either look at you funny or politely correct you, because soldiers are Army, and are an inferior species who jump out of planes when the plane is still running perfectly well.

Call someone in the Marine Corps a soldier, and they'd deck you, because they are NOT an inferior species.

Call someone in the Army a soldier, and they'd shrug. That's what they are, and they're damn good at it!

YOU may think there's no particular branch distinction, but I can assure you that's not the way THEY think.

JB.
posted by JB71 at 8:54 PM on February 5, 2005


Gotcha. So the distinction is self-imposed.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:41 PM on February 5, 2005


Depends on your point of view. From a civilian POV, pretty much, but the distinctions are important within the military itself. Kind of like the generic term 'doctor' being used for everything from ENT specialists to surgeons, orthopedists, podiatrists and obstetricians. Think of it as a class with clearly defined subsets, if that'll help.

JB
posted by JB71 at 9:55 PM on February 5, 2005


I fail to see how Iraqis fall under your definition here

What Iraquis in my definition. I defined the purpose of an army. The US invasion of Iraq, was just that, an invasion. An abuse of the army.

As per the unarmed man walking into battle being stupid or brave. Why is he stupid, even if he ends up dead. He's only stupid if he did that and was afraid to die. If he was not afraid to die, then he is brave.

Until human nature changes and there are no more bad people, there will be a need for people on our side who have this mind set.

Not true at all. We do not need people who enjoy killing. We need people who are capable of doing what is needed when it is needed. There is a difference between being happy to provide food to your family as a farmer, and enjoying killing animals. (read, beef cow slaughter)
posted by MrBobaFett at 12:58 AM on February 6, 2005


I thought the General had good words. I am glad to have such individuals charged with the leadership of our troops and the defense of our country.

"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for 5 years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis continued. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."

People who enjoy killing ain't got no manhood left anyway.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:18 AM on February 6, 2005


Observe his reasoning for enjoying the killing of Arab Islamic men: the enemy constructs his masculinity differently than I do, ergo he is not a man and, as a man, it is my prerogative, perhaps my duty, and certainly a pleasure to eliminate him.

It's his duty to kill because he has been ordered to do so. It's the fact that the killee in question beats up women that makes it a pleasure.

By the way, "constructs his masculinity differently" makes it sound like you're okay with the women whupping thing.

Don't try courting my daughter is all I can say. She'll tear your head off.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:56 AM on February 6, 2005


By the way, "constructs his masculinity differently" makes it sound like you're okay with the women whupping thing.

Oh, so he has a good excuse, well, that's OK then.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:10 AM on February 6, 2005


Here's a bit of ancient Chinese wisdom on the subject of war:

Weapons generate fear; all creatures hate them.

Therefore, the Tao–Master tries not to use them . . . .

He uses them only when there is no alternative,

and then without joy, in a calm and restrained way.

Enjoy weapons, enjoy killing.

Enjoy killing, lose yourself . . . .

The killing of many people should create sorrow and grief.

A great victory is a funeral ceremony.

- Lao Tzu
posted by VP_Admin at 4:40 PM on February 6, 2005


It's his duty to kill because he has been ordered to do so. It's the fact that the killee in question beats up women that makes it a pleasure.
...
posted by IndigoJones


You're making the case that all Muslim men beat there wives, therefore it is a pleasure to kill them.

They don't all beat their wives.

Death is not the penalty for domestic abuse in the US.

Why should it be be in Iraq?

Perhaps Arab lives are worth less to you?

Perhaps foreign lives are worth less than American lives to you?

Perhaps you have some insight into how the Nazis felt as they spread propaganda caricatures of the Jews and took pleasure in their killing.

How different were the Nazis from those of us who do the things that they did?
posted by VP_Admin at 4:47 PM on February 6, 2005


And I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL." And I started jumpin up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL." And the sargent came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, "You're our boy."
posted by kcds at 6:02 PM on February 6, 2005


After thinking longer, in all fairness I must concede that I can see a difference between gung-ho "KILL KILL KILL" military maniacs and most of the young people who got suckered into eventually conquering Iraq with promises like vocational training and money for college. Once in the military they'll sort themselves out: the gung-hos will re-up or pray to be stop-lossed, while the rest we should welcome home with whatever sevices they'll need.
posted by davy at 6:43 PM on February 6, 2005


Bugmuncher, what's the difference? Honest question. Because the standard definition of a marine is a member of the U.S. Marine Corps., and a soldier is someone enlisted in the armed forces.

JB71 already answered your question, but... the primary definition at dictionary.com for soldier says "One who serves in an Army."

Also, be very careful about the word "enlisted," because it means anyone below a commissioned officer or warrant officer. (Sergeant, Corporal, Private, and whatnot). "Enlisted" is much more restrictive even than "marine" or "soldier" because it excludes all of the officers.

As for whether the definition is self-imposed - this is a debate dictionary-writers have been having for forever. Precise words are useful only if people know how to use them. Some people think that a word changing to a less precise (or opposite) definition is really devolution of a language. But that's a discussion for a whole different thread.

(Sorry again. I should probably add to my bio that I work at a newspaper, and get smacked down repeatedly by editors for being imprecise... so I am only trying to help.)
posted by bugmuncher at 8:48 PM on February 6, 2005


If you can't see that violence is inherent in all living creatures you are either stupid or blind.
posted by ttrendel at 11:03 PM on February 6, 2005


I should probably add to my bio that I work at a newspaper, and get smacked down repeatedly by editors for being imprecise

No apologies necessary. I appreciate a good learnin' every now and again.

And, for the record(ha!), I had the word alleged and party drilled into my head along with a smattering of gender-neutral words during a stint at a daily. Words matter. Oh, and my choice of enlisted was purposeful (father was a s/sgt. and always laughed when n00bs called him "sir").
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:47 AM on February 7, 2005


1) You're making the case that all Muslim men beat there wives, therefore it is a pleasure to kill them.
They don't all beat their wives.
2) Death is not the penalty for domestic abuse in the US.
Why should it be be in Iraq?
3) Perhaps Arab lives are worth less to you?
4) Perhaps foreign lives are worth less than American lives to you?
5) Perhaps you have some insight into how the Nazis felt as they spread propaganda caricatures of the Jews and took pleasure in their killing.
How different were the Nazis from those of us who do the things that they did?


That's quite a j'accuse you got there, VP_admin.

I think you missed my point, which was merely to try to clarify what the general did and did not say. Obviously with you I failed. I'm sorry if you missed the irony, or found me insufficiently high minded, but it's a bit much to assume that I was endorsing the guy's pleasures, or the war, or really much of anything else. As to your points, questions, rants, I'll be happy to address them.

1)- Do they not? There's a relief. But again, I didn't make that case, nor strictly speaking did the general.
2) Never said it should be, nor indeed did the general. The why of this killing you'll have to take up with our Lords and Masters, whom, by the way, I did not vote for. The general merely offered a reason why his job was made slightly easier. If nothing else, it demonstrates that he disapproves of mistreating women, an attitude which soldiers have not historically always held.
3) All life is precious to me. I release spiders from my house (admittedly, I hope they will kill bugs....)
4) See previous answer.
5) The implications of your last point/question I don't quite understand and as your anger is affecting your syntax, I think I'll let it alone.

Life is grey, VP_admin. And self righteous abuse is never attractive.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:21 PM on February 7, 2005


And, for the record(ha!), I had the word alleged and party drilled into my head along with a smattering of gender-neutral words during a stint at a daily.

I asked an editor of mine whether she preferred "first-year student" to "freshman." She thought I was asking if we should refer to all people by the number of the year they were in school because so few graduate after 4 these days.

So I had to fill her in on the gender-neutral academic initiatives at some schools to replace the word "freshman." She got so ticked off by it that she recounted a story about a copy editor that changed "manhole cover" to "personhole cover."

She was smacked down, too... :)
posted by bugmuncher at 9:13 PM on February 7, 2005


Sorry - hadda take a short trip, back now.
-----

mudpuppie - I did search for this before I posted - guess I missed it. Consider me censured. Looks like it's suicide again for me. (Of course the other post focused more on Iraq - I wanted to discuss this issue specifically)

c13 war can be hell and can be fun at the same time. Tough to explain, but it can be. That is part of the horror.

"I'm going to do this so you don't have to."
Cyrano - that would be conviction.

Balisong - I think a better analogy would be a cop who was really into Justice or a fireman that gets off on saving lives.
...I'd like to meet that nurse though....

bugmuncher - fair enough, just using the common civilian term. Your right - troops, etc. probably better.
YOU may think there's no particular branch distinction, but I can assure you that's not the way THEY think.

Opens a can of worms - a SEAL is a sailor....care to call him one?


the hard part is NOT wanting to kill your enemy
- I'd disagree. The hard part is recognizing you have no enemies. Until that point there will be a need to kill other men.

We do not need people who enjoy killing.
Yes! Let's eliminate them all!...oh,waitaminute....


So you export your "justice" arbitrarily.
I'd argue that there are superior ethos in the world. Pretty much why you don't see cannibalism much anymore.


Do you know for a fact that Mattis never killed anybody in combat?
Nope. I wasn't there with him. I'm assuming a low grade infantry officer serving in hot zones has probably been involved though. But - to agree with Bingo - at the very least he's been in harms way where those criticizing him have not been.

Observe his reasoning for enjoying the killing of Arab Islamic men

His reasoning for enjoying killing Arab men is because his country told him to kill Arab men.
Or what IndigoJones said.

How different were the Nazis from those of us who do the things that they did?
Yes. Disband the military!
....you first.
Perhaps it would be better if the Nazi soldier felt really really bad while he gassed thousands of Jews? Better if he did it mechanically?

"Shrink, I want to kill."
kcds - a shrink asked me once what I would feel if I was ordered to kill the next person who came over a hill and it turned out the next person was my mother.
I said: "Recoil."


If everybody who doesn't have a problem with the general's remarks, would be equally unimpressed and rationalizing had one of Hussein's (say) generals made the exact same statements
Again - superior ethos. There was a difference between being a soldier of Sparta and a soldier of Persia. There is a difference serving a democracy and serving a despot.
Enjoying oppression is not what he is saying. He is saying he enjoys handing out a righteous beating to those who deserve it.
Were this comment made about Iraq, I would have a different opinion.
But again - the POINT I WAS TRYING TO MAKE which so many so cleverly and carefully (and politically) misunderstood - is that there is a difference between a person who fights in combat and a person who doesn't, the person who doesn't typically directs the where and when - etc. - and molds the person in combat. Given the Generals comments - the criticism seems to imply that enjoying killing is somehow wrong. I see this as - at heart - a defense mechanism for the more civilized side - he rationalizes that the people being killed are the enemy - are evil - and deserve it.
Conviction.
Yet that conviction - which is the essence of combat power - is snarked at by folks who probably have never had to deal with that.
So, if you can't take that emotional hit by allowing your primitive mind to absorb it - you must shut it out. Become a machine.

Or perhaps you could just say - what? Oh well? Just a job? Again - your a robot.
The choice here is either hot or cold.
Even Sherman saying war is hell is a snipe at those who aren't there.
Because it is ALWAYS those at the REAR who tell men to fight.
And, like any sluggard, they want their cake and eat it too. You can't maintain your moral high ground while stuck in that situation, so you sit back from it and criticize those in the mud doing the work - this all in addition to armchair quarterbacking.


gallows humor
hifiparasol - badda bing!
posted by Smedleyman at 5:44 PM on February 10, 2005


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