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the killing fields
March 15, 2005 1:21 PM   Subscribe

Ramadi Madness. Unfiltered video of the Bush war in Iraq, shot by a soldier with a digital minicam.
posted by four panels (128 comments total)

 
Government Documents on Torture obtained by Freedom of Information Act.
posted by four panels at 1:30 PM on March 15, 2005


"Warning: This footage contains graphic themes and images. Audio has been edited to remove obscenities."

imagine that! war without obscenity!

*goddam head fucking assplodes*
posted by quonsar at 1:42 PM on March 15, 2005


Huh. They edit out the obscenities but not the racial slurs.
posted by item at 1:51 PM on March 15, 2005


This has been pretty high profile on the interwebs for about two weeks.
posted by snsranch at 1:57 PM on March 15, 2005


heh, you americans are so funny !
posted by Substrata at 2:00 PM on March 15, 2005


This footage is largely consistent with the other Iraq "War" footage I've seen. Our soldiers can rightly be called many things, but class, professionalism, and intelligence seem to escape them altogether. Rather, these kids are foul, obscene, and shameless--the type of people we generally avoid in our everyday lives. Its discomforting to realize that they are our emissaries in the Muslim world.
posted by Georgie Orgy at 2:01 PM on March 15, 2005


I was going to write something snarky asking why soldiers hate this or that large North American country, but the situation seemed really pathetic. Basically, what GeorgieOrgy said.
posted by AlexReynolds at 2:09 PM on March 15, 2005


Our soldiers can rightly be called many things, but class, professionalism, and intelligence seem to escape them altogether. Rather, these kids are foul, obscene, and shameless--the type of people we generally avoid in our everyday lives.

I'm only going by what I read from the transcripts in that first link (I haven't seen the video myself). But (imo) I don't see the reason to label them "foul, obscene, and shameless". Put anybody in a similar situation, and I can understand there being some dark or "gallow's humor" (not that I'm including kicking wounded prisoners under "joking around")
posted by stifford at 2:23 PM on March 15, 2005


Yeah, on the one hand it's completely understandable that they would act like that. That's why it's a bad idea to have demoralized occupation armies acting as your ambassador to another culture. War unleashes the dogs, that's why you use it as a last resort.
posted by inksyndicate at 2:34 PM on March 15, 2005


Georgie Orgy
Have not seen all the videos, yet the ones I watched it seemed their humor kept them going. They’re not at a night lounge, duh!
How would you act? Its has been over a year since my Lil Brother's return from a nine month mission there. He can know barely talk about it or even view the blog I dedicated to him while he was there.
Get over yourself, you have AS You have no idea what they are experiencing.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:34 PM on March 15, 2005


Get over yourself, AS You have no idea what they are experiencing.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:34 PM on March 15, 2005


It's really too bad that some kids mired in a hellish situation, in the middle of war, facing some grimy death and hourly atrocity every day can't act as proper and dignified and classy as a bunch of websurfing keyboard jockeys safely in their little homes and offices.

Keep up the criticisms, guys. Maybe even throw together an Etiquette for Troops Abroad to send to the guys and girls over there. You have all the right and moral standing in the world to do it.
posted by xmutex at 2:35 PM on March 15, 2005


I just noticed there were actual video clips with the transcript (and watched them). After watching them, my opinion is still the same. And I wouldnt even limit it to soldiers, I would think in any profession that involves dealing with death on a regular basis (doctors, EMT, police, firefighters, etc..), there's going to be a certain percentage of people that have a darker sense of humor.

Then again, my sense of humor is probably closer to the Fark norm that the Metafilter norm.
posted by stifford at 2:36 PM on March 15, 2005


This footage is largely consistent with the other Iraq "War" footage I've seen.

And out of all the time we've been over there how much war footage have seen? What does it represent? .0000000001 percent of the time? If that? But enough you feel the need/ability to label the entire military.

Remember, if it were not for the problems with this footage you wouldn't be seeing it. If someone takes footage of normal, positive, noneventful footage of our troops will it end up on metafilter? No. So of course this looks like all the 'other' footage you've seen.

Our soldiers can rightly be called many things, but class, professionalism, and intelligence seem to escape them altogether. Rather, these kids are foul, obscene, and shameless--the type of people we generally avoid in our everyday lives.

So easy to say sitting safely behind your computer. Not giving excuses to bad behavior, but somehow I doubt you're undergoing the stress of war as you post to metafilter.

As for the "no class" comment, what's classier than signing up today just so you could call the entire military " foul, obscene, and shameless"?

Pure class ;)
posted by justgary at 2:36 PM on March 15, 2005


Georgie Orgy, Welcome, hope it was not your first comment, because your arrogance is our first view of you.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:40 PM on March 15, 2005


If you clicked the comments link for this thread, there's a movie out called Gunner Palace that you should see.
posted by eatitlive at 2:44 PM on March 15, 2005


Bah... You better believe that I know the harsh realities of war... Just the other night, my entire 8 man squad was overrun in a rock formation in the middle of Coagulation. Luckily MastaCheef676 was able to grab the rocket launcher and take out that pesky Banshee... But you didn't see any of my clan teabaggin that poor pilot.
posted by Debaser626 at 2:44 PM on March 15, 2005


Yea, thomcatspike, it's tough maintaining "military bearing" in some situations. But it's been my experience in the last ten years working with the army and navy that they just don't seem to issue bearings anymore. Sans snark, I truly believe that many of these guys and girls are just not mentally prepared for these missions.

These days military service is alot like holding down a 9 to 5er. To have to go from that relatively relaxed environment to straight-up combat is just wrong and unfair to the troops.
posted by snsranch at 2:45 PM on March 15, 2005


What? Criticism of soldiers for being foul and a bit crude? That's never happened before! Ever!

"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;  
   While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
    But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
    There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
    O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind."

-Rudyard Kipling, 1892
posted by Justinian at 2:49 PM on March 15, 2005


Not giving excuses to bad behavior, but somehow I doubt you're undergoing the stress of war as you post to metafilter.

Ya' know, just a classy fuckin' thought, but if it's the stress that makes them behave like assholes, why not aleviate the stress and bring them the hell home?

Yes, acting like an ass is one response to stress, but I would posit that its also a response to a lack of any accountability. And since we're all too sympathetic to hold the soldiers in any blame, how 'bout we focus on the one's who offered them this opportunity for behavior that in any other circumstance would be on everyone's list as reprehensable? Just a thought.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:53 PM on March 15, 2005


Well, at least they didn't kick the fucking kitten to death. But then, it'd be REALLY funny if we went to war with a bunch of stray cats.
posted by DenOfSizer at 2:56 PM on March 15, 2005


why not aleviate the stress and bring them the hell home?

David Corn:
"Is it wise--and right--for liberal Democrats to be calling for the withdrawal of troops from the Iraq? In the current issue of The Nation, I described the efforts of liberal Democrats to start a debate on removing troops. But I did not have the space to evaluate their efforts. It seems to me that advocating a US withdrawal right before or after the historic elections was--at the least--not good politics. (I'll get to the policy dimension in a moment.) How could Representative Lynn Woolsey, whom I quote below, say that withdrawal was necessary because "Iraq is no closer to becoming a stable democracy than it was two years ago"? The election, for all its problems, was a step in the right direction. There still is a long way to go."
posted by jenleigh at 2:59 PM on March 15, 2005


Disclaimer: I manage this site.
Soldiers' photos (from the mundane to the beautiful to the horrific).
posted by glider at 3:02 PM on March 15, 2005


Whenever I watch videos of soldiers acting like this, I look at my high school students and think "much of this behavior is similar."

This is likely because many of our soldiers are pretty close in age to high school students. I also see them behaving like college students much of the time - which is even less unusual since they really are the same age as college students.

What we need are soldiers the same age as graduate students. Soldiers whose souls have been killed by jumping through endless hoops and who shuffle through the day, blindly obedient to their grad advisors and willing to do any demeaning thing conceivable in order to just get the damn piece of paper. Joyless drones, in other words.

Hmm. I guess I still am a little bitter about not finishing the old PhD.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:04 PM on March 15, 2005


GODDAMIT SOLDIER, YOU DON'T QUESTION YOUR COMMANDER AND CHIEF DURING A FUCKING WAR!!! THERE'S NO TIME TO BE "CULTURALLY SENSITIVE". THOSE RAGHEADS ARE OUT THERE KILLING YOU BROTHERS AND THEY'LL KILL YOU TOO UNLESS YOU KILL THEM FIRST!! DAMMIT!! NOW MAKE ME PROUD, YOU DIRTBAGS!!!

Sarge walks away, daydreaming of napalm in the morning.
posted by snsranch at 3:05 PM on March 15, 2005


jenleigh, I've read that, and my hardy response is : So fucking what? If these people want a democracy let them build it. Why, dear god, why should our young men and women pay the price for those who are too fucked up, lazy or scared to do for themselves? Seriously, what do we owe Iraq? Bush owed Saddam payback. Fine, you and I payed the price for his vengeance. I'm not happy about it, but that's kinda how it works. But I've been around Veterans most of my life, and the last thing they need, support wise, is be exposed to assinine situations where they can and will do things that they will regret until they die. My values favor the young soldiers, not the stupid ideology that we must fondle the nutsack of DEMOCRACY the wide world over.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:11 PM on March 15, 2005


What we need are soldiers the same age as graduate students.

Hah, what we need are Senators who are required to serve active duty in any war they declare.
posted by eatitlive at 3:16 PM on March 15, 2005


The spirit of war is the spirit of survival. The only right thing to do is to win and come home again. How you do it is mostly your business, unless, of course, you take fucking pictures.

on preview, what eatitalive said.
posted by snsranch at 3:23 PM on March 15, 2005


Sans snark, I truly believe that many of these guys and girls are just not mentally prepared for these missions.



Agree as all my siblings are in the military and many friends that have forewarned of the military's future failings many years ago.

I'd like to repeat my comment from this thread which I saw as the some of the problems' bases;

Blaming one's beliefs or your perception of brain level is wrong.

One’s ethics is a blame. One only needs ethics knowing how to treat your fellow being. A school education or religious belief is not needed accomplishing life’s class.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:23 PM on March 15, 2005


The main reason I didn't support war in Iraq was because the American military is incompetent. Incompetent and heavily armed.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:30 PM on March 15, 2005


To correct a common misconception repeated in this thread: The average age of soldiers in Iraq is not remotely college-level much less near high school. The average age is around 27 years old. Yes, 27. That's probably even older than the average age of graduates students.

I do not understand why so many people think our soldiers are 18-19 year old kids. While those troops exist, they are a small part of our military. This isn't 1969 anymore people and we do not have a conscription military.
posted by Justinian at 3:30 PM on March 15, 2005


A school education or religious belief is not needed accomplishing life’s class.

Yeah, and shoes are not needed for walking, but they certainly make it a lot easier.
posted by xmutex at 3:31 PM on March 15, 2005


I'd like to see the video, but I don't have QuickTime at work. Is it available in another format?
posted by Juicylicious at 3:37 PM on March 15, 2005


Glider, there are some fucked up pictures in there. I suspect if more Americans saw those pictures, they'd be less inclined to support the war.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:38 PM on March 15, 2005


One of my best friends went off to Navy boot camp. When i saw him six months later, he was telling jokes about raping 12 year old girls that he picked up in Great Lakes. He was telling these jokes at a party I threw full of university students... and they were freaked the hell out. Dead baby jokes are one things, but rape quite another...

There's a perverse mentality within the military that's never really checked and seems be encouraged to an extent. How else do you deal with the horrors of war without joking about it? That being said, I agree with the commanders that a lot of this shows poor judgement and character, but not too much more than that.
posted by trinarian at 3:44 PM on March 15, 2005


thomcatspike, I agree. But I didn't mean that anyone is mentally deficient, or dumb or not capable. Just that these kids could use some serious training before hitting the combat zone.

I've seen big strong tough-ass shit-talking soldiers turn into blubbering pussies when they got their first incoming. That is to illustrate that whatever you bring with you might fly right out the window when the stuff hits the fan. Beliefs, ethics, whatever. Constant relentless training alleviates that problem. The only ones I know of getting that training these days are Seals and SF.
posted by snsranch at 3:46 PM on March 15, 2005


I'm afraid that American institutions of authority are not good places in which to seek poise, humility, or compassion.

Watch five minutes of 'COPS' and you'll see what I mean.

I'd love to live in a country where the highway patrol is as robotic, professional, and effective as my dental hygenist.
posted by plexiwatt at 3:47 PM on March 15, 2005


A school education or religious belief is not needed accomplishing life’s class.

Yeah, and shoes are not needed for walking, but they certainly make it a lot easier.


Unless you are walking shoeless in your own home which most people do -- see where you learn your ethics.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:48 PM on March 15, 2005


plexiwatt; HA!!!!! "Oh, I'm sorry, did you feel a pinch?"
posted by snsranch at 3:49 PM on March 15, 2005


quonsar's right -- how polite to remove profanity. like, you know, war's cool but the occasional cuss word is really really bad. bah. these kids belong to the Jackass generation -- the footage is scary, shocking, but eerily funny. thanks for the link.

I suspect if more Americans saw those pictures, they'd be less inclined to support the war.

yeah, we all know how well that worked with the Abu Ghraib torture pics, monju.
posted by matteo at 3:51 PM on March 15, 2005


thomcat -- at home I walk barefoot, too
posted by matteo at 3:52 PM on March 15, 2005


Ah, but when walking shoeless at home, if you look out the window and see a crime being commited, doesn't the pane of glass between you and it really play the most important part of this wonderful metaphor?

More to the point - did you take your shoes off when you entered the house? I think it's clear that, in this metaphorical world, the Problem with America is that we've wiped our shoes on the welcome mat, but left the laces dripping mud in the hall.
posted by freebird at 4:04 PM on March 15, 2005


re: I suspect if more Americans saw those pictures, they'd be less inclined to support the war.

It seems that so many Americans are still so hung up on "9/11!!! NEVER FORGET!!!!!", that they actually want to see those pictures and want to know that someone somewhere is paying for those crimes. (Doesn't matter that those currently paying are mostly innocents.)
posted by snsranch at 4:06 PM on March 15, 2005


freebird, that metaphor is suitable for shipment to Iraq. Please send it immediately, it's better than nukes.

Ok, war over.
posted by snsranch at 4:15 PM on March 15, 2005


I heard an interesting interview on the radio recently, but my search on the internets can't turn up the guy's name. Basically, he talked about the history of war photography, and how WWII was the first time when your average grunt (or kraut) could take photos (as opposed to official press). The point was made that the German and Japanese armies actively encouraged the taking of "trophy photos" (pictures of enemy corpses, pictures of partisans about to be hanged, etc) while the Allied forces made it a punishable offense.

Anyone know what official Army policy is for the U.S. today? The Abu Ghraib torturers certainly didn't look like they were afraid of being caught.

On preview: looking back at Glider's photo link, I think I'm most struck by the captions-- "they put hole in my face, mistah." Jeez, we sure won a whole bunch of hearts and minds with that one. Incredibly indifferent to human life, and racist as well.
posted by bardic at 4:16 PM on March 15, 2005


Seriously, what do we owe Iraq?

Gee, lets see:
Saddam was put in power with the help of the CIA;
We gave him massive amounts of military aid (in the eighties) that allowed him to tighten his grip on power;
We made repeated promises to the Kurds and other groups that we would help them achieve independence and then abandoned them;
During the first Gulf War we killed 100,00 Iraqi civilians with our bombs and destroyed the infrastructure of the country.

I'd say we owe Iraq a lot. This stupid war wasn't the right way to pay off that debt, but never doubt that we do owe it.
posted by berek at 4:21 PM on March 15, 2005


the Problem with America is that we've wiped our shoes on the welcome mat, but left the laces dripping mud in the hall.
ha ha...you backed my statement, no ethics which includes while abroad in this world.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:23 PM on March 15, 2005


The U.S. Army: a sense of humor probably closer to the Fark norm that the Metafilter norm
posted by Zurishaddai at 4:24 PM on March 15, 2005


It's just some GIs screwing off while trying not to worry about being shot and blown up.
You get the same kind of humor a in frat house or a football locker room.
(only no one's shooting)
posted by The Infamous Jay at 4:27 PM on March 15, 2005


berek, this is where you're wrong. I don't owe Iraq anything. The soldiers fighting there don't owe Iraq anything. King George HW the First owes Iraq a great deal, as does King George W the second. But we're paying their debt, as are the troops on the ground. Now who should I blame for improper behavior: The troops, or the fuckers who sent them there in an attempt to have others pay their debt?
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:28 PM on March 15, 2005


As expected, my criticism of America’s mercenary soldiers has raised the uber-nationalist ire of my fellow countrymen. Americans are uncomfortable with being exposed to truth, thus speaking it almost invariably yields hostile reactions. And when it comes to excusing our soldiers' vile and vulgar behavior, Americans will stop at nothing. No defense is too asinine, no exception is too arbitrary, and no cliche is too worn, tired, or abused. The reasons for this are quite obvious. America fuels its foreign policy with adolescent youths freshly culled from the lowest socio-economic strata in our society. Kids who are just intelligent enough to realize their future prospects are nothing short of dire. Their pedigree is that of shit, actively working against them. They are quite literally the worst products of our subhuman economic order. Accordingly, it is no surprise that they shamelessly display their youthful ineptitude during the course of their "service" to the privileged members of society whose will they dutifully carry out. The best alternative to such a situation is to recruit those of a mature age, and varying social status. This is, unfortunately, not politically or socially feasible in America because it would require actual incentive to join the military, among other obvious reasons. Thus it is currently required that the “patriots” among us perennially excuse the perpetually wretched behavior of the Porky's Brigade, while the few of us who are actually nutty enough to point out their shameless actions are continuously derided as “anti-American.”

Some system.
posted by Georgie Orgy at 4:30 PM on March 15, 2005


I've read commentary from Gulf War 1 veterans and they all say the current behavior of troops in Iraq is totally different from their experiences. Something has changed for the worse and generally that would mean the attitudes of the leadership since the variance seems pervasive.

There's also some great material on the psychological "training" of new recruits towards the "enemy" so as to improve the kill ratio. Up until after WW2 only about 15% of troops were killers but with the changes in dehumanizing the "enemy" during training the ratio is now over 90%. Puts a little perspective on what "psychological warfare" is and upon whom it is being administered.

The troops are behaving exactly in accordance with their training and leadership.
posted by nofundy at 4:30 PM on March 15, 2005


One of those silly meaningless side questions: Why are American troops killing others with "friendly fire" incidents, but you just don't hear a whole lot about British troops firing on American positions, or Italians whacking a bunch of Polish soldiers? Possibly unrelated, but just wondering ...
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:37 PM on March 15, 2005


It's just some GIs screwing off while trying not to worry about being shot and blown up.
You get the same kind of humor a in frat house or a football locker room.
(only no one's shooting)


Which is the entire fucking problem.

One of those silly meaningless side questions: Why are American troops killing others with "friendly fire" incidents, but you just don't hear a whole lot about British troops firing on American positions, or Italians whacking a bunch of Polish soldiers? Possibly unrelated, but just wondering ...

Either it's statistically insignificant, so the incidents aren't nearly as bad, or our forces are just more incompetent.
posted by odinsdream at 4:49 PM on March 15, 2005


One of those silly meaningless side questions: Why are American troops killing others with "friendly fire" incidents, but you just don't hear a whole lot about British troops firing on American positions, or Italians whacking a bunch of Polish soldiers? Possibly unrelated, but just wondering ...

Basic Probability since Coalition means around 140,000 US troops and about maybe 5000 others.
posted by srboisvert at 4:54 PM on March 15, 2005


As expected, my criticism of America’s mercenary soldiers has raised the uber-nationalist ire of my fellow countrymen.

Aren't you special?
posted by underer at 5:06 PM on March 15, 2005


GeorgieOrgy, I don't like the war any better than you do, but could be a little more condescending, please, because it really helps the situation and dosen't inflame resentments and widen divides one tiny bit? And it makes you feel all high and mighty which is of course what civil discourse is all about.

As expected, my criticism of America’s mercenary soldiers has raised the uber-nationalist ire of my fellow countrymen. Americans are uncomfortable with being exposed to truth, thus speaking it almost invariably yields hostile reactions.

Yes, the only reason people might disagree or even offended by you is because your so "truthful." Tell me, did those tablets hurt your back when you were carrying them down the mountain?

It's just some GIs screwing off while trying not to worry about being shot and blown up.
You get the same kind of humor a in frat house or a football locker room.
(only no one's shooting)

Which is the entire fucking problem.


Sure. In the middle of a clusterfuck of massive proportions, the important thing to worry about is crude humor.

The divides (and there's more than one, they are legion) in this country are just getting wider and wider, and I'm beginning to include that it's because people want it that way. People would much rather cling to prejudices and hatreds and suppositions of all kinds rather than make any meaningful attempt at dialogue. And I just refuse to countenace the Balkanization of my country any longer.
posted by jonmc at 5:08 PM on March 15, 2005


It seems that so many Americans are still so hung up on "9/11!!! NEVER FORGET!!!!!", that they actually want to see those pictures and want to know that someone somewhere is paying for those crimes. (Doesn't matter that those currently paying are mostly innocents.)

Except that some of those shown in the pictures of the brutally injured and killed are American soldiers.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 5:10 PM on March 15, 2005


Their pedigree is that of shit, actively working against them. They are quite literally the worst products of our subhuman economic order.

Most fighting armies are made of the poor and unwashed. The days of the true citizen soldier won't come back until the economy tumbles like in pre-WWII America.

And even then I wouldn't count on the MTV generation to join.

The best alternative to such a situation is to recruit those of a mature age, and varying social status. This is, unfortunately, not politically or socially feasible in America because it would require actual incentive to join the military, among other obvious reasons.

See what I mean? So what's stopping YOU from joining? Or, as in the words of Dick Cheney, "you have better things to do"?

If snobs like most of you guys actually SERVED, instead of bitched, maybe things would improve. It's pretty easy to criticize while your ass is planted in an easy chair.

Not everybody in uniform is a moron. And if any of you served you would be slightly more sympathetic.

And don't you DARE accuse me of jingoism. I am as liberal as most of you. But I have actually served. As did MY father. Goddamn, I can't believe what some of you are saying.

Blame the guys who are responsible for starting this insane war. Stop blaming the goddamned victims.

I mean SHIT I hear you guys say the same thing I am right now about some random minority kid doing a 10 year prison stint for homicide. "Walk a mile in this ghetto kids shoes before you judge", you say. But somebody in the military it's ok to label them "subhuman"?Jeebus. Fuck you. Sincerely. Fuck you.

You have no idea how fucking hard combat is - and yeah most of these kids are from low income homes and are under-educated. So let's deride and debase them for that?

Wulfgar - we have 200 X the troop saturation and WAAAAY more active frontline combat troops than the other allies have... of course we have more friendly fire incidents.
posted by tkchrist at 5:15 PM on March 15, 2005


I'd like to join in with jonmc. Though I may be wrong, I assume that calling American soldiers "the worst products of our subhuman economic order" isn't going to solve any problems, unless you just want to open every eye to your "truth."
posted by underer at 5:16 PM on March 15, 2005


Thus it is currently required that the “patriots” among us perennially excuse the perpetually wretched behavior of the Porky's Brigade, while the few of us who are actually nutty enough to point out their shameless actions are continuously derided as “anti-American.”

The ignorance displayed in this comment is so bottomless as to be unfathomable. Like you said, these are largely barely post-adolescent men from the lower strata of American society, in a massive clusterfuck of a war where violent death can come at just about any moment in a myriad of ways, and you have the unmitigated fucking gall to crticize their comportment of all goddam things from the comfort of your easy chair. Next time we'll send over Martha Stewart and Leo Buscaglia if it'll make you feel better.

Not to mention, you bitch that anti-war people (of which I am one) are cordoned of as "nutty Anti-Americans," while your own comment cordons off those who would crticise you as drooling bloodthirsty uberpatriots. Irony is good for the blood.

I'm sorry if I'm being abrasive but your comments have me literally shaking with rage.
posted by jonmc at 5:20 PM on March 15, 2005


Bring them home now--enough already. (actually we went past the "enough already" stage at Abu Ghraib)
posted by amberglow at 5:23 PM on March 15, 2005


I'll also echo tkchrist in saying that as the son and grandson of war veterans (not to mention other relatives and numerous close freinds), I take those comments very personally.

So our soldiers are not neccessarily the most refined people in the world. The debate club and the National Honor Society can usually find ways of avoiding military service, just like our fearless leader, who's cluelessness about class divides GeorgieOrgy seems to be echoing.

On preview: agreed, amber, but I cannot let the crap being spewed pass unnoticed.
posted by jonmc at 5:24 PM on March 15, 2005


Look, when is it okay to criticize a soldier then?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 5:30 PM on March 15, 2005


Criticism is fine, Yelling At Nothing, but what GeorgieOrgy was proffering was not criticism, merely bile, and smug self-satisfied bile at that.
posted by jonmc at 5:32 PM on March 15, 2005


Thus it is currently required that the “patriots” among us perennially excuse the perpetually wretched behavior of the Porky's Brigade, while the few of us who are actually nutty enough to point out their shameless actions are continuously derided as “anti-American.”


Witness first hand, an anti-american sissy!!!!
/snark

jonmc; me too.


We can fix this right now. Mandatory Military Service for every U.S. Citizen at age 18. Then tell me about someone else's conduct in combat.
posted by snsranch at 5:35 PM on March 15, 2005


Holy Crap Georgie Orgy, I can't even maintain my faux pomo shit-talking in the face of such madness. For the record, most people would put me firmly in the raging lefty camp, and I'm offended by your silliness.

First, your facts seem off: you seem to have missed the fact about the average age of GIs.

Second: your obsession with the Special Evils of American Forces betrays a complete lack of historical knowledge. IN fact, you fall prey to the same myth of American Exceptionalism as the right wingers you probably think you disagree with.

...in fact, upon rereading your comment, I wonder why I'm even bothering. Never mind.

Look, when is it okay to criticize a soldier then?

Lots of times, come on. The point is that criticism is only lessened by crap like this:

They are quite literally the worst products of our subhuman economic order.

Those of us who think such criticism is neccesary and important should be more offended by such crap-spouting than those who don't.
posted by freebird at 5:35 PM on March 15, 2005


We can fix this right now. Mandatory Military Service for every U.S. Citizen at age 18. Then tell me about someone else's conduct in combat.

Believe it or not, I'd support you on that with one modification: options other than military (police, EMT, Peace Corps, VISTA, Park Rangers, etc) available too. No exemptions, including disability, just adjustments.
posted by jonmc at 5:38 PM on March 15, 2005


Bring them home now--enough already.

See. Ok. THAT I can get behind.

My dad, a combat veteran. My brother a veteran. My brother-in-law a former fighter pilot. And myself. ALL against this war.

I guess to some we are merely "Porky's Brigade", though.

That's too bad. There are guys coming home everyday from Iraq who want their soldier brothers home. They can't bitch and march about it yet.

If it goes on much longer they will.

Especially if the LEFT reaches out to them. Not the absolute SHIT I'm reading in this (and other knee-jerk anti-soldier threads) thread.

It will be the veterans of this war that can end it, dethrone the current crop of cowards in the Whitehouse, and bring justice to the fallen and revolt against this new Gilded Age.
posted by tkchrist at 5:38 PM on March 15, 2005


your lips to God's ears, tk.

And veterans (and their families) have been speaking out, but so far no one's listening--except the left. I'd like to see McCain and other vets in the Senate and other positions of power get on that.

(tk, do you read DemVet? he's good.)
posted by amberglow at 5:43 PM on March 15, 2005


and props to my main man amberglow for keeping a cool head. We need more people like him on the anti-war side. I shudder at the resentment that'd be brewing in any serviceman who reading what Georgie wrote. Let's not make a bad situation worse.
posted by jonmc at 5:46 PM on March 15, 2005


Look, when is it okay to criticize a soldier then?

Always. That is what they fight for.

Debase, deride and insult OTOH?

Son, if one of us in ear shot you better be able to back it up your shit with some self sacrifice of your own. Or you better put up your fucking hands and be ready to throw.

You gotta earn it one way or the other.
posted by tkchrist at 5:47 PM on March 15, 2005


As a veteran of the Last "Mother of all Wars" in 91, I can say My unit was FAR more professional and Civil than this bunch of Yahoos. The enemy was JUST that the Enemy, not "towelhead heathen, F**kers, Terrorists (how can you be a terroroist in your own occupied country?) Eeevildoerrs!" or whatever they call the opposing sides now. We understood their job WAS to fight us, nothing personal just the job, orus was to kill or capture then or at least destroy their ability to do the same as us. But I've covered this ground before....

As for Tchrtist IVE F**KING FOUGHT FOR THEIR RIGHT TO SPEAK SO LET THEM! DAMMIT! you got a problem with THAT thenb you have Major issues with this country...
!
posted by Elim at 5:50 PM on March 15, 2005


jonmc, you're stepping up to the plate with the voice of reason. Where do we start with that? Sign me on.

tkchrist, yes!
posted by snsranch at 5:50 PM on March 15, 2005


Ouch that read wrong should have said as for Tkchrists point I ADD!! Sorry Tkchrist
posted by Elim at 5:53 PM on March 15, 2005


As a veteran of the Last "Mother of all Wars" in 91, I can say My unit was FAR more professional and Civil than this bunch of Yahoos.

And I'd venture tha a lot of that has to do with the fact that they're dragging in Guardsmen and Reservists with minimal training (no disrespect to either) and extending tours indefinitely and fighting the war without any kind of clear direction or objective (the morality of this particular war aside).
posted by jonmc at 5:54 PM on March 15, 2005


http://www.usndemvet.com/blog/

Thanks Amberglow. My old man has quite a collection of these sites now. Since he retired and got my old iMac and ISDN he is Duhbya's worst nightmare. A kooky ex-green beret with a grudge and all the time in the world.

Now all the guys still kicking from his Special Forces Unit have organized a reunion. While most are conservative - he was unsurprised to find that to a man they despise this war and none to fond of the Commander-In-Chief.
posted by tkchrist at 5:57 PM on March 15, 2005


Ouch that read wrong should have said as for Tkchrists point I ADD!! Sorry Tkchrist

Heh. No worries, bro. I liked the first one too.
posted by tkchrist at 6:01 PM on March 15, 2005


true enough but THAT is a training issue as well. and a respect issue. I was infantry too " admittedly not the 'sensitive' of MOS's" The SGTS Non com and Officer Corps are mostly to blame for allowing this activity... Wee are obligated as Soldier to treat those around us with respect, if the obligation is not enough ORDER at least the appearance of it... andany less is an affront ...
posted by Elim at 6:09 PM on March 15, 2005


Elim, ok, so you were there last time, so was I. But this is a completely different war. And from your comment, I might imagine that you could be the guy to crack and do stupid shit only to regret it later. Take it easy on the combat noobs. A couple more wars and they'll get it down. (No more fucking pix, alright kids?)
posted by snsranch at 6:11 PM on March 15, 2005


Has training changed since 91? Or is it that the mission is being policemen/women as well as hunting "terrorists" or whatever, which they weren't trained for?
posted by amberglow at 6:12 PM on March 15, 2005


Gads my speeeelin sux.
posted by Elim at 6:12 PM on March 15, 2005


Amberglow, I think part of it is the current "we hate non-US-iens and we know better " attitude that seems to be comming from the Top of the DoD, the We can do no wrong attitude coming from the right and the "Gee War is hard enough with out expecting us to act like humans" from the middle ground. you have written rules enforced by real consequences. No confusion, no amibiguity, no "Abu Graihb's" no tolerance for shooting prisoners wounded or civilians no arbitrary rules of engagement, nop Freaking Free fire zones (Like the all the main roads of Bagdad it seems). Basically the non-brainers, that seem to missed today, even from those I KNOW KNWO better....
posted by Elim at 6:22 PM on March 15, 2005


JonMc nailed it. They are really stretching the reserve units. When your not sure when your going home - or if you going to have to go back - anybody with a tan and an accent is gonna bear the brunt of that frustration.

I see this War going on for at most another 16 months max... I just don't see where we have people. We will keep those bases in the north, but we gotta be getting close to beating feet.
posted by tkchrist at 6:23 PM on March 15, 2005


tkchrist that is the one main factor missing from the last war and a fair critique of my comment as well.
posted by Elim at 6:26 PM on March 15, 2005


Elim and Amber - I think also with Gulf War One the presence of the NATO forces in large numbers helped reinforce the ROE. Not only was the burden shared, and many of the battalion level commanders combat experienced, but they had international counterparts all looking over each others shoulders.
posted by tkchrist at 6:27 PM on March 15, 2005


ahh...thanks.

now, how many more of us and them will die in the meantime?
posted by amberglow at 6:28 PM on March 15, 2005


Okay, my time to chip in . . .

As someone who has actually signed up (Army Reserve JAG Corps) since the beginning of the war, in fact last December and who has volunteered for deployment I will say that Georgey Orgy's comment wasn't very surprising. Insulting? Not really, this is Metafilter afterall.

I do want to point out that the enlisted ranks are not comprised of "uneducated" people from the "bottom" of the barrel. I was seven years enlisted and neither myself, nor the men and women that I served with were stupid monkeys. Most of the reserve and Guard forces that have been called up are people that have jobs and many have post-high school educations. Please stop perpetuating those stereotypes.
posted by Juicylicious at 6:30 PM on March 15, 2005


I should add, that I still haven't seen the frig'n video link yet. But, I did read the descriptions. Some may have been in poor taste, but jeez these are combat troops. Gallows humor.
posted by Juicylicious at 6:34 PM on March 15, 2005


that leads back to the Arrogance and the WE-know-better attitude that started the war.. that set a precident that we have yet to buck...
posted by Elim at 6:34 PM on March 15, 2005


amberglow: you asked the million dollar question!!! YOU WIN!! Yes, I'm an old man now but I still work with the troops. Daily military life is much more relaxed now AND as you said the mission is much more specialized. I don't think we would be seeing disturbing footage had these guys and gals, reserve and regular, had the proper training.

Elim; the reserves were there last time too.
posted by snsranch at 6:34 PM on March 15, 2005


James Ross, senior legal advisor for Human Rights Watch, called it "disturbing that soldiers are making videos like that." But he added, "It doesn't mean that it's necessarily a violation of the Geneva Convention."

The Geneva Convention instructs that remains of deceased shall be respected and not "exposed to public curiosity," Ross said. "It's not putting heads on spikes and things like that. To argue you can't photograph [a body] would be a bit of a stretch."
Extreme Cinema Verite

As Human Rights Watch does not see these videos as a violation of the Geneva Convention per se, I see little point in demonizing the soldiers involved. This has happened in every war--only the technology has changed.

crasspastor wrote a comment in a thread long ago about seeing some photographs brought to grade school by a classmate which were taken by his brother during the Gulf War--the troops had posed corpses of Iraqi soldiers with cigarettes in their mouths and such. Those were the days before digital movie cameras...

Basic training in basic terms is all about training teenagers to automatically kill strangers on command. Killing is not a natural human activity--let alone killing strangers, let alone killing on command--and there are psychological consequences when one does kill. I did a post about it once.

There was a bus driver yesterday riding the number 2 to train the guy driving the bus. He was taking about his army days. He was saying something like, 'If you're smart or educated, you can climb the ranks and stay out of the field. But, man, you go in the field and it's ugly out there. There's shit you see and do that stays with you forever. You want to forget it but it keeps coming back...'

1 in 6 Iraq Veterans Is Found to Suffer Stress-Related Disorder
posted by y2karl at 6:38 PM on March 15, 2005


Snsranch I know we had many Civil Affairs Reserves with us As well as a couple of units from Gaurd too, ther performed admirably and professionally, my question is WTF happened in the meantime?!?!?!?!
posted by Elim at 6:43 PM on March 15, 2005


1 in 6 Iraq Veterans Is Found to Suffer Stress-Related Disorder

y2karl, that's something to think about.

I wonder sometimes, reading threads here, about the war, has anyone seen apocalypse Now? Even ELIM, what did you bring home with you, from your experience there?

Not to wish it on anyone, but how can anyone speak without having seen it first hand? It's numbing to see and hear that so many can say so much with so little experience.

Elim; I agree.

Maybe those guys in the vids are wrong or appear to suck, and maybe some of you could do better. But you don't want to be in their shoes.

.
posted by snsranch at 6:56 PM on March 15, 2005


Juicylicious:

The "video" link with the descriptions also has the video clips to the left. I don't know if that's what you meant by your comment but it did actually take me a second look to figure out where the video was so, there you have it.
posted by puke & cry at 6:59 PM on March 15, 2005


we have 200 X the troop saturation and WAAAAY more active frontline combat troops than the other allies have... of course we have more friendly fire incidents.

this is known as the microsoft windows defense.
posted by quonsar at 7:20 PM on March 15, 2005


> To correct a common misconception repeated in this thread: The average age of soldiers in Iraq is not remotely college-level much less near high school. The average age is around 27 years old.... I do not understand why so many people think our soldiers are 18-19 year old kids.

Well, there was that earworm song, for some of us. But partly it's due to this ubiquitous glurge about the "average" soldier, which has hit e-mail addresses near me with alarming frequency:

The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country.

In fact, if you do a check on the casualty statistics, 58% of combat casualties are from the 21-30 age group. 19-year-olds make up just 6% of casualties. Whether that is outsized for their representation in the soldier population is harder to determine (the Pentagon has some overall figures, but we're talking about the numbers in army and marine units on the ground). It's absolutely true that the Iraq war has seen a tremendous increase in the use of reservists and guardsmen, many of whom are aged 30 and up, and whose armor is the same thickness as the younger guys.
posted by dhartung at 7:27 PM on March 15, 2005


When pictures of captured U.S. soldiers were being shown on Iraqi television, Donald Rumseld said, "the Geneva Convention indicates that it's not permitted to photograph and embarrass or humiliate prisoners of war." I guess if they're dead they can't be humiliated or embarassed.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:29 PM on March 15, 2005


but how can anyone speak without having seen it first hand? It's numbing to see and hear that so many can say so much with so little experience.

It's being done in all our names, under our flag, and with our money. Of course we can speak.
posted by amberglow at 7:30 PM on March 15, 2005


(riding amberglow's coattails)

These guys don't drop out of nowhere. There's a massive industrial/economic complex behind them. It's supported by the taxes I pay. I'm not convinced if my money is being spent wisely, if not murderously.

No, I haven't served, and I do admit that the "you can't judge them if you haven't seen it first-hand" argument carries weight. But I refuse to be silenced by an appeal to visceral, "war is hell" rhetoric so shut up you stinking leftie. War is, indeed, all hell. But this is (ahem) nation building the US is involved in, the very thing W disavowed while running in 1999. And you don't build nations by pissing off the majority of the population, i.e., making really horrible jokes about dead Iraqis who may or may have not been part of the insurgency.
posted by bardic at 7:42 PM on March 15, 2005


But I refuse to be silenced by an appeal to visceral, "war is hell" rhetoric so shut up you stinking leftie.

bardic, that's not what those of us who reacted to GeorgieOrgy's comments were saying. In fact, I'd point to your comment as an example of someone making the same points without being offensive and belligerent.
posted by jonmc at 7:51 PM on March 15, 2005


(tips hat to jonmc)
posted by bardic at 7:56 PM on March 15, 2005


Re: age of troops in Iraq: The bulk of active-duty forces are in the 18-22 age range. Always have been, always will be. However, there are also a whack of reserves and National Guardsmen deployed, and *their* average age is more like 31-32. It is not correct to take these groups together and say that on average, the people deployed to Iraq are mature folks in their late 20's (an 80-year-old and an infant don't average out to two 40-year-old's).

The active duty folks have a strong frat boy sort of mentality. They were in high school, they graduated (mostly), and now they're in the big green suck.

The reserve folks are older, more mature, but also seriously pissed off because they didn't sign up for this and they're not used to it.

In other words, both sets are... callous... for slightly different reasons. You would be too if you were in a desert full of people trying to blow you up. They can cuddle a kitten, blow away a family of 6 five minutes later, and cuddle the kitten again five minutes after that. There is no contradiction in the previous sentence. Some of their minds will be damaged by the cognitive dissonance. We currently call that damage post-traumatic stress.

If kittens were perceived to be a threat to their lives, they would kill kittens in the same way they'd killed the family of 6.

This is not wrong. Or, it's not any more wrong in this war than in any other war. It is what soldiers are, and what wars are. You may not like it. If so, it's not because these particular soldiers are any worse than others. It's because you don't like war. Blame should be allocated to the people responsible for this war - hint, it's not the PFC's and corporals.
posted by jellicle at 8:05 PM on March 15, 2005


not the stupid ideology that we must fondle the nutsack of DEMOCRACY the wide world over.

Au contraire. Not only must we fondle the nutsack of DEMOCRACY, we must also peel back the foreskin of TYRANNY, and cleanse the smegma of FANATICISM away with the abrasive cleanser of RAMPANT UNFETTERED LAISSEZ-FAIRE CAPITALISM.
posted by swell at 8:11 PM on March 15, 2005


Bollocks!
posted by Balisong at 8:14 PM on March 15, 2005


Yes, I'm sure our troups joking around is really going to piss off the Iraqis. In ways that having their families blow'ed up could never match.

Seriously, these people are shooting people taking fire, etc, etc. And the Iraqi's have much more things to be upset about then (explitive)s.

The troups should be neither sanctified or vilified. They are regular people, same as you and me put into very extreem situations.

Au contraire. Not only must we fondle the nutsack of DEMOCRACY, we must also peel back the foreskin of TYRANNY, and cleanse the smegma of FANATICISM away with the abrasive cleanser of RAMPANT UNFETTERED LAISSEZ-FAIRE CAPITALISM.

The Santorum, on the other hand, must stay.
posted by delmoi at 8:19 PM on March 15, 2005


We're probably leaving the Santorum for the Iraqis as a lovely parting gift.
posted by amberglow at 8:20 PM on March 15, 2005


Some of their minds will be damaged by the cognitive dissonance. We currently call that damage post-traumatic stress.

Cognitive dissonance does not cause post-traumatic stress [disorder]. Traumatic stress does. That's why it's called post-traumatic stress disorder. Otherwise it would be called post dissonance disorder or something.
posted by delmoi at 8:21 PM on March 15, 2005


As for I brought Back, a sense of pointless destruction, Massgve Live fire exiercise with living targets, and get this (ThAT WAS THE GOOD IRAQ WAR) My worse memory, Two one flying over the Road to Basra with the #rd ID Dread, who headeds up the 3rd IDs two soon to be battalions Material unit, SMelling the bodies from 2000 feet and landing 500 feet away and seeing right away small bodies, I mean kids burned by Fuel air munitions, that and looking in an old t72 (i think it was) tank and seeing halk a face lying on the floor, no body just half a face. I cried for that man. I though of his family, kids, mom, type of car, favorite meal things like that. what I would tell his mom about how he died if it was a brave death, if he believed in this war ttoo what he thaough about us in that last minute. we all talked about him like that in the bradley jsut wondering.. if he spoke english or saw europe...

, I saw a Ratt tape a freaking Ratt Cassette in the same tank, I HATE RATT!.. but I did before the war too ....

Thats what its like folks...... I hope if I died the poor slob on the other side who found me would think about me too.... at least once....
posted by Elim at 8:29 PM on March 15, 2005


awful, Elim. i don't know why we can't use diplomacy and other things, instead of sending people to kill other people. (unless it's Hitler)
posted by amberglow at 8:42 PM on March 15, 2005


Elim- That's heavy. I always liked Ratt, but I'll hate them now- as tribute to you.
posted by underer at 8:42 PM on March 15, 2005


heh heh, Make Hitler listen to RATT thats punishment enough for anyone, but for real thanks. War freaking sux, dead people Suck, making dead people is always wrong..... it is that simple....
posted by Elim at 8:46 PM on March 15, 2005


America's waking up tho. : Seven in 10 in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll call the level of U.S. casualties in Iraq unacceptable, and 53 percent, on balance, say the war was not worth fighting.

Sampling, data collection and tabulation for this poll were done by TNS.

This poll finds a huge comedown from public opinion before, during and just after the main fighting two years ago. President Bush's wartime job approval rating reached 77 percent; it's 50 percent now. His approval specifically on Iraq was 75 percent as the main fighting ended; it's 39 percent now, a career low.

The number of people who say the war was worth fighting has fallen from 70 percent during the war to 45 percent now. And the number who say it's put the United States in a stronger position in the world has fallen from 52 percent to 28 percent. (It was a vastly higher 84 percent after the 1991 Gulf War.) Indeed more now say the war left the United States weaker (41 percent) than stronger.

posted by amberglow at 9:05 PM on March 15, 2005


Elim, yea man. I didn't mean to call you out. It really sucks. My life after that (ThAT WAS THE GOOD IRAQ WAR) isn't easy. So many years ago, and it still sucks. I was in the 659th Combat Support out of Ft. Bragg.
posted by snsranch at 9:31 PM on March 15, 2005


now they're part of 1st Corp in Afganistan correct?
posted by Elim at 9:53 PM on March 15, 2005


Not being an American (Canadian actually), I've always been interested in the difference between British and American soldiers in Iraq. British soldiers actually take off their heavy artillery to mingle with Iraqis, and have even been known to play soccer with them. Americans, by order, have a much more distant relationship with the Iraqis.

One source correctly says it is the result of Britain's experience in colonial countries such as Malaya, Northern Ireland, India etc.

Perhaps best summed up by the following quote (a few links follow):

Privately, however, large numbers of British soldiers of all ranks seem to share the opinion of my ex-SAS man from Hereford. "Whenever we get trouble with the locals, it’s because the Americans have been here," one British sergeant told me last year near Basra. "It gets to the point where we’d rather not have them coming into our sector at all."


Why would the Brits have an advantage over some 20 year old who obviously understands human rights and diplomacy?

QUOTE
Thirty years in Northern Ireland have taught the average British soldier to shoot only in the most trying of circumstances, or face a court martial or even civilian murder charge. And while the rules of engagement are in practice perhaps a little looser in Iraq, the general sense of reticence to open fire still seems to apply, irrespective of the provocation.

On numerous occasions in Basra in the last 12 months, they have faced down groups of heavily-armed rioters, often being pelted with home-made explosives and petrol bombs in the process - yet the retaliation has often been limited to shooting a couple of ring-leaders.

Some links:

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=3474
http://www.rense.com/general36/heay.htm
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2003/04/02/do0201.xml&sSheet=/portal/2003/04/02/ixportal.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2004%2F04%2F11%2Fwtact11.xml
posted by F4B2 at 10:36 PM on March 15, 2005


Thanks, Elim. And, in more than one sense, I think if I had been in these soldiers' positions I could very well imagine recording video segments such as these. Even pulling up the dead truck guy's head and "making him talk".

I'm glad I'm not.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:23 AM on March 16, 2005


And Elim, take care of yourself, buddy.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:26 AM on March 16, 2005


The scenes depicted in Ramadi Madness are tame compared to the stories I've heard from WWII vets. I know that they are suppose to be "the greatest generation," but the average GI was a lot more cavalier about the "japs" and the "huns" than these dopes are about "haji." My wife's grandfather told me a story about killing two sleeping Japanese soldiers he happened upon when he and a buddy were looking around after the war was over -- and he laughed uproariously.

"On the Allied side, some forms of battlefield degeneracy were fairly well publicized while the war was going on. This was especially true of the practice of collecting grisly battlefield trophies from the Japanese dead or near dead, in the form of gold teeth, ears, bones, scalps, and skulls." -- War Without Mercy by John Dower

Soldiers are just as dumb and course as the rest of the populace. We've made progress, but still have far to go.
posted by Cassford at 6:36 AM on March 16, 2005


You have to have that thick skin. That's part of the sacrifice. You lose part of your humanity in this kind of conflict. If your lucky, when you come home you have a family to help you piece it back together.

snsranch - If you've seen enough big strong tough-ass shit-talking soldiers turn into blubbering pussies you'd know enough that Seals are fat little pudge balls that get clubbed to death for their fur.
It's SEAL. Always.

Georgie Orgy has taken enough hits to perhaps slap him into rational thought. But I will address Yelling At Nothing's comment: " Look, when is it okay to criticize a soldier then?"
- It's ok to criticize them when you take full responsibility for them. I have not seen the American people doing that. We spit on 'babykillers' when they came home from Vietnam.
Same shit, different war.
I haven't seen the administration taking any responsibility either, and people generally follow the lead of...well, their leaders - strangely - even if they totally disagree with them.


"My unit was FAR more professional and Civil than this bunch of Yahoos."
Elim , I was there, I didn't see you. (To quote Mel Brooks).

'91 was mostly a push button war. But I garundamntee you there were plenty of salty bastards singing "Rape, Pillage and Burn, young soldier" who were in Hondo, or Panama or a dozen other fun-filled locales on the non-stop US goodwill foreign policy tours, and every one of them was in the best unit that ever blah blah blah.

This isn't about what our men do in the field, but about leadership.
While I disagree with castigating them I whole heartedly support planting a toe in the ass of the leadership on this.

The only difference between a mob and a military outfit is leadership. Seems to me the plan from civilian leadership here is to go there and 'mill around' without a lot of support or even clear direction of what we're doing, mission parameters, or what the terms are for victory.

Great idea for you non-vets, go into work tomorrow and gather everyone to sit in a meeting room until "the job is done".
You'll get interesting questions like "what job?" and "when can we leave".
Just keep asserting that they have to stay there and if they try to leave they're fired, because they have to complete the task.
You will likely see a degradation in their 'professional' bearing. They might tell jokes, take off their jackets, sit around.
Now make them stay there for months.

Gee, it seems we're all 'subhuman' don't it?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:20 PM on March 16, 2005


As someone who has actually signed up (Army Reserve JAG Corps) since the beginning of the war. . .

Thank you for your service to our country.

*Salutes Juicy*
posted by mlis at 9:28 PM on March 16, 2005


We spit on 'babykillers' when they came home from Vietnam.

No We did not--that's a myth, an urban legend.

There is no record of any soldier being spat upon during the Vietnam War and no anecdote recorded for years afterward, not until the 1980s. There is no documentation of any returning soldier being spat upon. It can't be proved that it never happened but there wer no reports at the time. And, boy, if you had been alive then, you would have seen local TV news that would put the Fox network to shame for jingoistic flag waving. If it had happened, it would ahve been on the TV news 14/7. The only news stoies of veterans being spat upon involve veterans of Vietnam and previous wars protesting the war being spat upon by war supporters.

Once more:

These stories have to be taken very seriously, but as historical evidence they are problematic. In the first place, stories of this type didn't surface until about ten years after the end of the war. If the incidents occurred when the storytellers say they did, in the closing years of the war, why is there no evidence for that? Moreover, many of the stories have elements of such exaggeration that one has to question the veracity of the entire account. One that Greene published read,
My flight came in at San Francisco airport and I was spat upon three times: by hippies, by a man in a leisure suit, and by a sweet little old lady who informed me I was an "Army Asshole."
Besides the fact that no returning soldiers landed at San Francisco Airport, I find it hard to believe that the same veteran was spat on three times in one pass through the airport...

I cannot, of course, prove to anyone's satisfaction that spitting incidents like these did not happen. Indeed, it seems likely to me that it probably did happen to some veteran, sometime, some place. But while I cannot prove the negative, I can prove the positive: I can show what did happen during those years and that that historical record makes it highly unlikely that the alleged acts of spitting occurred in the number and manner that is now widely believed...

The spitting image is a myth, however, not because the alleged acts of spitting did not happen, but because of the way the image functions in the society. The spitting image, I contend, helps to tell a story that is not true, namely, that the United States lost the war in Vietnam because of betrayal on the home front. In other words, the spitting image helps construct an alibi for why the war was lost. The alibi runs that we were not beaten by a small, underdeveloped, nation of Asians but rather by liberals in congress who "tied one hand behind our backs" and by radicals in the streets whose actions demoralized our troops and gave aid and comfort to the enemy. It is an alibi that helps preserve key elements of American national and racial superiority: we were not defeated by Asian "others" but by our own kind. In effect, the alibi allows those who wish to believe that we were defeated by the only power on earth capable of beating the United States: the United States itself.


The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam

See also

Jerry Lembcke, an associate professor of sociology at Holy Cross College, did an exhaustive search in the process of writing his 1998 book, The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Vietnam. He found not a single case of a returning Vietnam veteran spat upon by antiwar activists. The relation between Vietnam veterans and the peace movement was generally good, since the antiwar people saw the mostly working class vets as just as much victims of the war machine as the Vietnamese peasants. We should remember that in that war, as many as 550,000 GIs went AWOL or deserted. A Harris Poll in 1971 showed that only 1% of the veterans encountered hostile reactions when they came home, and they did not think the antiwar movement was hostile to them.

There are practically no reports of spitting during the war itself (1965-75). The first reported instance occurs during an International Day of Protest featuring "Veterans for Peace in Vietnam." Here it is the war supporters who are spitting on the pro-peace veterans. In 1965, World War II veterans who were taking part in an antiwar demonstration were reviled as "cowards" and "traitors."

Lembcke was not able to find a single photograph, news story, or FBI report of veterans being spat upon (remember, the FBI did obsessive surveillance of the peace movements)...


The Myth of the Spat-Upon Veteran

We mistreated the Vietnam Vets, yes--by ignoring them, by neglecting them, by looking the other way but the spitting and babykiller shit is from the mass accumulation of the Vietnam fantasies of the movies and rightwing agitprop. History is not Rambo movies and it's not urban legends.
posted by y2karl at 10:12 PM on March 16, 2005


If it had happened, it would ahve been on the TV news 14/7...

have and 24/7, of course...
posted by y2karl at 10:13 PM on March 16, 2005


A lot of people seem to suggest that "if you were there, you would behave the same way". I can't say what percentage of the population that is true for, but it sure as hell isn't true for everyone.

It's about standards. Aren't we supposed to have some?

What kind of sicko has to degrade a dead body in order to let off steam?

Yes, war is unpleasant. Psychological stress has to be assuaged somehow. But it doesn't have to be done *this* way.
posted by beth at 7:41 AM on March 17, 2005


they really should send them for r & r or something...aren't there tons of soldiers who have been there well over a year already without a break?
posted by amberglow at 7:57 AM on March 17, 2005


I am uniquely qualified to post here as I have a psychology degree from Cornell University, and I also served for 4 years in the USAF from '93-'97 as a flightline electrician. Two experiences that are rarely done by one person.

Speaking as a sometime ivy-league-educated elitist snob, I am sick and tired of this military-bashing rhetoric from you other elitist snobs. ;) I don't know if you realize that the U.S. military has a much stricter law than civilian law- it's called the UCMJ and is taken very seriously. Simple example- you can be thrown in jail for adultery. Serious punishments abound for things that would get you a slap on the wrist "on the outside". Perhaps the rules change in wartime, but honor and integrity and taking your job seriously are held to an extremely high standard, at least in the military I saw. And I learned a lot about the value in that (usually by getting into trouble). The folks I met during my enlisted time were not brain surgeons, but they certainly exhibited some fine human qualities that I sometimes did not measure up to... and from whom I therefore learned from.

I was lucky to not see any front lines (I assisted refuelers during Desert Strike, however), but I can barely imagine what those guys are going through. They're basically kids from mixed upbringings that are tossed into a dire situation that they have to make the best of. Enlist before you start criticizing, you frickin' keyboard monkeys...
posted by Lectrick at 11:31 AM on March 17, 2005


Lectrick, if there is a UCMJ and honor and integrity in general, then why have only like 6 people been punished for Abu Ghraib?, and all the other assorted un-Geneva Convention and very wrong things we see in video and pics, etc.
Is it all disregarded during wartime? Like how there's no more "don't ask, don't tell" for people in the field? What we see and what you're saying don't match. And we don't hate the soldiers, nor do we look down on them, for the most part--we don't want them to be there in the first place. I personally want them all home and going to college for free instead of killing and being killed in Iraq for lies.
posted by amberglow at 11:41 AM on March 17, 2005


y2karl - pardon my hyperbole - your absolutely right.
I should have made it much more clear I was speaking in metaphor.

"A lot of people seem to suggest that "if you were there, you would behave the same way". I can't say what percentage of the population that is true for, but it sure as hell isn't true for everyone."

As evidenced by the fact that not every service member does that.

"What kind of sicko has to degrade a dead body in order to let off steam?"

Pick up a weapon and stand a post if you don't like how the job is being done or you think you can bear under the pressure any better without cracking. I'm not being derisive. If you in fact can do it, the military would love to have you.

"Yes, war is unpleasant. Psychological stress has to be assuaged somehow. But it doesn't have to be done *this* way."

Nope. And it shouldn't be. Kinda tells you something doesn't it? Like if your car is running rough and your gauges are telling you there is no oil in the car. You'd think though people would not blame their mechanic who keeps telling them to put oil in there.

"If there is a UCMJ and honor and integrity in general, then why have only like 6 people been punished for Abu Ghraib?"

Aha! Let's follow the logic here...If the UCMJ is being disregarded...but only low level enlisted folks (like those we see in the video) have been prosecuted.... and upper echelon officers typically make sure field grade officers do the job of prosecuting ... and those upper echelon officers are controlled by the civilian government .... hmmmm....

If a dog bites you you blame the owner not the dog. When you are serving the relationship is the same. You are their dog. Your brain is...well, off.
You shout things like "Geedunk!" when someone is eating a candy bar - why? You have nothing rational to say because 'rational' decisions are made at higher levels.
I don't know how much I can stress that for the average service member the chain of command , the standard operating procedure, the order of the day, are what takes the place of your decision making. And you are constantly under scrutiny for how well you internalize that process to the point that you are inspected for how much earwax you have. For combat units it's about a thousand times worse and even more irrational. My combat readiness evals were perfect (4.0) I was one of the best of my team in terms of things that might count in combat, but I never made my bunk well, my dress uniform wasn't spotless, so I was not considered an exemplary serviceman.

Think that might drive you a little crazy? You bet it does. So you do everything you can to please the higher ups. They're valuing ferocity today? Look at was a vicious bastard I am! Next day it's how well you polish brass? Look at how shiny my brass is. Sharp creases? Whatever.
The medium doesn't matter - whether it's a perfectly symmetrical gig line or callousness towards the enemy - everything is reflected in the troops from the top (with minor individual variation of course).

So somewhere troops are getting the message that the right thing to do is desecrate the dead and lack 'professionalism.'

Is this the ideal, is it what they 'should' do? Of course not. But blame the hand not the tool.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:49 PM on March 17, 2005


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