How to destroy an American soldier.
May 18, 2005 12:45 AM   Subscribe

How to destroy an American soldier. Imagine you're a Marine, just two months back from your first tour of duty in Iraq. Imagine you've gone through a hellish experience that left you isolated, profoundly depressed, and struggling with addiction. The Marine Corps knows you have an untreated mental disorder, but you're still supposed to go back to Iraq next year for a second tour of duty. Now imagine that you have just discovered you may have to go back to Iraq again this year, too. "If I do get chosen that'll mean by 2007 (assuming I'm still alive ha ha) I'll have made 3 fucking trips to that country. Which in return will end up making me a bitter angry salty fucker. . . If I have to go I'm gonna fuck some shit up . . . your whole mentality just shifts cause of that fear. I wish you all who don't have to deal with a life like that could jump into my head for a second you'd wanna go fucking nuts too! ha ha ha ha LET'S GO EAT SOME BABIES AND SHOOT SOME ROO'S"
posted by insomnia_lj (120 comments total)

 
No. Sometimes you open a door, you look inside, you say 'oops' to yourself and you quietly close the door and go away. What is happening in there is no business of yours, calls for no comment from you and has no meaning for you. No.
posted by TimothyMason at 1:37 AM on May 18, 2005


Roo?
posted by Dunvegan at 1:48 AM on May 18, 2005


I wish you all who don't have to deal with a life like that could jump into my head for a second you'd wanna go fucking nuts too!

It was tough to not 'deal with a life like that'. I had to 'not' sign up with the military. Glad I thought of that.

Of course, instead I get to see yet another pet cause post by insomnia lj, so maybe I'm not so smart after all.
posted by justgary at 1:58 AM on May 18, 2005


Wow, all LiveJournal links.

What are the odds?

I would posit that you GYOBFW but you already do. Let's try to keep the two realms separate, shall we?
posted by Dagobert at 2:09 AM on May 18, 2005


"god it was entertaining how a 22 year kid could take a 28 year old guys 32 year old girlfriend and not even try I wasn't even talking to her then it just happened ha ha ha god alcohol is bad you wind up making out with a 32 year old who has two kids....screw that those people know I'm military and I get money for that shit..so I dipped out soon as I could've but boy was that guy pissed it was awesome"
Sounds like a winner.
posted by Bugbread at 2:12 AM on May 18, 2005


I am generally just a lurker, and I certainly don't want to get involved in any kind of flame war, but your attitude just kind of rubbed me the wrong way, justgary.

I apologize if I'm reading too much into your comment, but you seem to be saying that whatever crappy things happen to him don't matter because he made the choice to join in the first place. Just because someone makes the decision to join the armed forces doesn't mean they should expect that kind of constant tours of duty to a spot like Iraq; out of several people that I know who've been over so far none are getting screwed QUITE that bad. Just because someone signs on to defend our country doesn't mean that they shouldn't be afforded some consideration; people can only take so much, and you certainly don't want to push soldiers past the point of usefulness until they break.

Also, I realize that this is insomnia_lj's "pet cause", but that really seems to come off as derogatory there...everyone has subjects that interest or concern them, and you really can't expect them to stay silent on them, especially when it's something that (I imagine) distresses them so much.
posted by Stunt at 2:12 AM on May 18, 2005


"Since the Vietnam War, the Army has largely deployed its forces in overseas combat situations in six-month tours of duty. The major exception has been in South Korea, where soldiers serve for one year. The 12-month deployment was introduced last year after the end of major combat operations in Iraq, when a vigorous insurgency persuaded the military that it would need to maintain large numbers of troops in the country. The Army decided then that only 12-month tours would meet its needs."
posted by three blind mice at 2:13 AM on May 18, 2005


Just want to point out again that I'm really not trying to start a flame war...I realize that this might end up turning into a GYOB discussion, and I'm not really touching on that one way or another. It's just late, I'm cranky, and a tad miffed at the kind of attitude that I thought I saw up there...I have to deal with people on a regular basis who just rub me the wrong way with how little respect they seem to have for our armed services. Ok, I'll be quiet now.
posted by Stunt at 2:15 AM on May 18, 2005


Not everyone has the same options as you, justgary, and not everyone has the same advisors. A great many of our recruits before the war began chose the military because we'd lived under 8 years of relative peace under Clinton, and for many, it offered an opportunity to move up the economic ladder. It was, perhaps, shotsighted for anyone to think that peace would last.

Plus military recruiters are incredibly deceptive.
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:46 AM on May 18, 2005


Shoot some roo's? Is this guy an Australian solider?? Roo's = kangaroos over here (and yes, people do go roo shooting as they're a pest in some parts of Oz).
posted by Onanist at 2:50 AM on May 18, 2005


He's not a particularly sympathetic character.

And how many fucking times do we have to go through this: he signed away his life. The military is within the bounds of the agreement they both made, and he didn't have to agree to them.

Besides, Private Pyle there sounds so maladjusted that he should enjoy going to Iraq to burn women, children, houses and villages.

last paragraph is allusions to Full Metal Jacket and Alice's Restaurant. Don't get your panties in a bunch.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:39 AM on May 18, 2005


Not everyone has the same options as you, justgary, and not everyone has the same advisors.

I would rather work at Quiznos than agree to a scenario where there's even a possibility of killing people. This loser had the option to not sign, and his lack of foresight doesn't make anyone else more villanous.

"You're gonna reap just whaaat you sow..."
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:45 AM on May 18, 2005


Mellow, gang. People don't get flamed for their iPod posts and other "single issue" items of geek worship. Insomnia does have a posting history with a fair amount of war opinion, but it's something going on in our lives and it's a real thing. Here insomnia has found a very interesting read from a soldier... how thewy feel matters a great deal in the conversation, as they're the ones following orders from the suits in a very dangerous place, getting killed daily for an unjust cause. It's pretty real stuff.
posted by moonbird at 4:33 AM on May 18, 2005


So the military runs you down the the bare nubs and drives you nuts and doesn't give a care. BUT after all, its your fault for joining in the first place.

The fall of Rome is terribly close, doncha think?
posted by Goofyy at 4:37 AM on May 18, 2005


MetaFilter: For the war but against the troops.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:51 AM on May 18, 2005


The fall of Rome is terribly close, doncha think?

Pretty tenuous to the discussion, doncha think?
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:52 AM on May 18, 2005


Didn't I hear somewhere that George Bush is learning to play the violin?
And matches?
posted by Balisong at 4:55 AM on May 18, 2005


Believe it or not, but Canada is a country that has had to deal first hand with constant rotations. In the late 80s and 90s we were a peacekeeper happy country, dabbling in about 30 overseas missions. It was common for people to have the following rotation:

6 months training for overseas mission
6 month deployment for overseas mission
6 months at home training with unit
repeat.

So every year you could expect another overseas deployment, but the training before hand was just as intense and usually away from the base of origin so you could expect to be gone for up to four more months. This stressed out a lot of people. Oh, and it wasn't just peacekeeping missions, there were also the NATO missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Canada's solution? We put a freeze on overseas missions, so much so that some people have declared peacekeeping dead. We also initiated a plan to hire more troops, a number that is about double what we had deployed at any one time. There is talk of mounting a dedicated peacekeeping brigade to lighten the load on other units. We've also put in motion a plan to have a dedicated corp of instructors, so that more people can stay with their unit and free up more resources. We also have an ombudsman who is independent of the military, and a pretty good system for redressing grievances, so that in individual cases such the the marine in this post, there is a mechanism to avoid these blunders. Perhaps these are some lessons learned that the American forces could use.

Then again, we also chose our wars more wisely.
posted by furtive at 5:00 AM on May 18, 2005


That should have read "So every twelve months..."
posted by furtive at 5:01 AM on May 18, 2005


Way to support President Bush and the troops!
[bumper sticker need modifying?]

Yeah, war is hell and I blame the lyiny f*ckers in Washington, not this Marine.
maybe I'm not so smart after all.
posted by justgary at 4:58 AM EST


I'm not going to disagree.

And lay off insomnia_lj. This is a damn fine post.
posted by nofundy at 5:02 AM on May 18, 2005


Didn't I hear somewhere that George Bush is learning to play the violin?
And matches?


surely he'll never master matches? but gawd help us if he ever gets his mitts on poppy's bic.
posted by quonsar at 5:07 AM on May 18, 2005


Curley: on the money again! Is there a fan club or something?

How stupid does a person have to be to not understand that joining the military involves:

a) Signing away a good part of your capacity for moral choices (assuming you have one in the first place) to other people.

b) Very possibly having to kill or be killed; maim or be maimed.

c) Having to do these things for a long time with no easy way out.

I'd say a person has to be very stupid indeed not to fully understand those things. I mean, the kind of stupid that involves many happy hours trying to catch dust motes in sunbeams and giggling happily to oneself.

I suspect the vast majority of people who join the military are not, in fact, that stupid. And they can lie in the damned beds they made for themselves.

Also, how desperately poor does a person have to be for them to justifiably say they genuinely have no choice but to join up?

Well... considering I'd honestly rather beg on the streets than become a paid killer for whichever government happens to be in power at the time, I'm probably not the best person to answer that question. But hey, let's support the troops anyway. Even when they're the enabling force of an illegal and immoral war and one which is routinely pissing on the Geneva Convention. At least they're *our* suspended-personal-morality bastards, right? Support the troops!
posted by Decani at 5:21 AM on May 18, 2005


I'm sure no recruiters have ever assured their recruits that there is "no way" they'd ever ship out. Or that the war would be done and over with before they even finished basic training.
posted by trey at 5:23 AM on May 18, 2005


I know! Let's put Mayor Curley in charge of Army recruiting. They'd meet their goals in the blink of an eye.

Solider:Sir, I don't think it's fair that I have to serve three, year long tours of duty in Iraq

Hizzoner:You signed your life away, kid.

Soldier:But sir, historically the Army has only assigned six month tours of duty.

Hizzoner:You had the option not to sign up. Your lack of foresight isn't my problem, loser.

(awed by the good Mayor's sense of fairness, pragmatism, and heartful concern for the troops, the line at the New York Times recruiting station stretches for miles)

Or, alternately, maybe asshole attitudes like this from military brass and folks back home is part of the reason why the military can't get enough people to sign up right now.
posted by MjrMjr at 5:28 AM on May 18, 2005


Ugh. How callous some people are being.

I've had friends witness 9/11 on their honeymoon, and soon thereafter the wife spent most of her first year of marriage unable to sleep at night as her new husband served in Afghanistan. When he returned, he was soon shipped off to one of the most dangerous areas of Iraq.

One of my friends is having a baby girl in the next few weeks, and her husband is in the military. Their close friends, an enlisted couple, got caught up in the "baby fever" and decided they were going to begin trying to get pregnant. They planned a special evening of dinner and romance. On the morning the special event was to take place, the wife got deployment orders for Iraq.

Perhaps you don't think this LiveJournal poster is too brilliant, or too interesting, or too deserving of your concern. But at least recognize that he is not unique.

Five years ago, not one person I know who is connected with the military:

(a) expected 9/11
(b) expected an Afghani liberation mission
(c) expected a war-mongering president
(d) expected an invasion of Iraq and a prolonged insurgency very soon afterwards
(e) expected the military to shift from deployment precedents, extend service and employ stop-loss techniques

Even if they expected all of these things, their choice to enlist in the military does not make them supermen and superwomen, able to sustain any military situation with ease.
posted by VulcanMike at 5:32 AM on May 18, 2005


trey, I wonder if you're being scarcastic or if you're really that innocent of the kinds of things recruiters will say.
posted by alumshubby at 5:34 AM on May 18, 2005


Somehow I think trey was being sarcastic.
posted by MjrMjr at 5:35 AM on May 18, 2005


Sorry, I guess I forgot my closing /sarcasm tag.
posted by trey at 5:52 AM on May 18, 2005


But at least recognize that he is not unique.

Great, you've made your point, he isn't unique. There are plenty of other people willing to sign up to kill other individuals they've never met at the behest of some politician who doesn't give a tuppenny fuck about what happens to any of them.
posted by biffa at 5:56 AM on May 18, 2005


Could somebody please tell us what would happen if a voluntary soldier refuses to obey the order to go to Iraq ? What's the worst case punishment ? (other then being court martialed and shot in the head for the unspeakable crime of changing ones mind )
posted by elpapacito at 6:03 AM on May 18, 2005


The lack of respect in this thread is sickening.
posted by dead_ at 6:11 AM on May 18, 2005


My, my how snobby and snarky in here. I think many people in here seem to forget, many of these soldiers signed up to defend what they believe in and have had their beliefs shaken or changed by their experience. I'll bet nobody in here has signed up for something based on a belief and changed their mind? Lest we forget, some people sign up for the military because it is the only job option left. I tried talking a good friend out of going to OCS because it would pay more than his teaching job. Now stop and think about that for a second...Uncle Sam will pay you more to go kill people than he will to educate the future generations. I think there is something seriously fucked up about that.
posted by Numenorian at 6:15 AM on May 18, 2005


Respect is earned.
posted by Balisong at 6:15 AM on May 18, 2005


semper fi

I would be happy to live in the guy's head and be his friend.

Such opportunities don't tend to arise in my 'hood for whatever reason
posted by nervousfritz at 6:19 AM on May 18, 2005


Mayor Curley et al,

GFYs. Yes, they've signed their life away and promised to serve their country. Does that mean we no longer commiserate if they are getting fucked because the cowards in this administration are putting a large burden on them so the public doesn't realize the huge costs of this war? And it's not about them being crybabies because it's not fair they're being sent to to a tough place. It's that these troops are being worn down to the bone because this administration didn't want to upset the populace.

It's easy for you to sit there and be a prick while other people are sent to hell over and over again isn't it?
posted by slapshot57 at 6:21 AM on May 18, 2005


I love how people assume everything written on a blog is true.

"... but I read it on the Intarnett!
posted by mischief at 6:34 AM on May 18, 2005


What the hell is a roo?
posted by grouse at 6:45 AM on May 18, 2005


Well, I guess the whole point of threads is to argue with each other about something or other, but, regarding the original post, it reminds me of quite a few people my age who spent time in Vietnam. None of them came back better or happier.

I don't know a single person who went to Iraq, but I'm pretty sure that those who went are not coming back to America, Canada, Australia, Poland or Japan as bright shiny happy people. Going to war - especially wars like Iraq and Vietnam - fuck you up.

Stop it, America.
posted by kozad at 6:52 AM on May 18, 2005


kozad - Iraq is not Viet Nam, not least because not a single one of the servicemen and women deployed there right now were drafted. Nor is it in a jungle, nor is it attempting to hold an artificial border, nor is it fighting against a single ideologically homogenous enemy, nor does that enemy have strong central leadership, and so on.

A minor quibble: marines get all pissy if you call them soldiers. Soldiers are Army.

Yes, a number of people are entering their second and third deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan. It's also true that a number of them are not dealing well with the stress. It's also true that there are re-enlistment ceremonies in Iraq every single month. And some of them even get posted about on blogs. It's not that hard to find anecdotes, from enlisted to officer, that are positive and negative. So... what's your point?

Maybe I'm going too far in assuming there is a point external to the LJ links. Maybe they were linked with the intention that they be experienced in and of themselves. If this was the case, this was a poor post. None of these people are good writers. I don't know any of them, and I can get my fill and more of pathos elsewhere.

I am not unsympathetic to their plight, but I'll probably myself be spending 12 months of my next 30 in Iraq, so... I dunno. This just doesn't seem worth an FPP.
posted by kavasa at 7:07 AM on May 18, 2005


The theme of this discussion centers on a person's right to not choose to sign up for service. This is the easy topic; the safe topic.

The dangerous topic is that the vast majority of us live in societies that are free enough that we play a role in governing and therefore play a role in sending soldiers to be maimed or killed. They aren't sending soldiers into harm's way, we are. It is our responsibility to make sure that our soldiers are treated with fairness and respect. They aren't slaves, their patriots making a sacrifice.

Attacking this guy's character for being a human being is not only irrelevant, its cowardly. Face the fact that in some small way, you are doing this to him.
posted by elderling at 7:08 AM on May 18, 2005


I would rather work at Quiznos than agree to a scenario where there's even a possibility of killing people. This loser had the option to not sign, and his lack of foresight doesn't make anyone else more villanous.

You're missing the point that it may not be "lack of foresight" but rather a combination of lack of education, poverty, and deceptive marketing that got him signed up. We had eight years of relative peace before Bush became president, and so a great many of those who enlisted before 9/11 were enlisting in what they thought was a peacetime military- they were signing up to defend the country against invasion or to go on short peacekeeping missions or to be civil engineers, etc.
The current war was sold to the country as one to defend the country from attack, so many people signed up to do that: defend the country. You can argue that they're ignorant and need to pay closer attention to current affiars, but someone would have had to teach them how to do that- as an English teacher in a community college near an active military base, I can assure you that a lot of those kids didn't get very good high school educations even though they tend to be rather bright. How can one navigate the morass of misinformation that counts as the media in our culture to learn the truth about the war and its causes, or even if the recruiters are being honest when they make thier pitches if one has received no instruction on how to research, or how to be critical of the media, or how to fact-check, or, most importantly, that there is a need to fact-check at all?
Then, of course, you're making your judgement from your economically privileged position - you could go work at a fast-food joint, but I gather this means you haven't got any dependants and you come from a college-educated family and I'm guessing from your user profile and assoicated links that you're white. In short, you have a lot of opportunities as a middle-class, college-educated white person living in a "blue" state that many of our soldiers do not have. Some join out of economic desperation. Being able to choose to take a low-paying job means you're in a position to choose - a position not everyone is in.

The military is taking advantage of this lack of education and poverty and combining it with deceptive recruiting tactics, so while many soliders might not, if they'd possesed all the facts and had ben completely free moral agents, chosen to have signed up, given the contraints of their circumstances, it is callous, unfeeling, and rather fundamentalistic of you to judge them for taking what looked to them to be the only option.

And the choices of individual solders might not make the brass more villanous, but the choice to use the soldiers in our volunteer army as connon fodder does make the brass more villlanous.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:09 AM on May 18, 2005


One way in which Iraq is like Vietnam is that the people were pretty clearly against it.

insert retarded republican counter claims here

And that's actually important, especially when considering how people feel about serving their country.

insert retarded republican counter claims here

What the voters think is important concerning who we attack and kill.

insert more of the same

Yeah, voters opinions are important. There's a relic from another age. Just to keep everyone on the same page, from my perspective, a lot of stuff, institutions, people's sanity, it's all getting attacked (now speaking philosophically rather than in the real domain) and suffering major damage these days.............
posted by nervousfritz at 7:31 AM on May 18, 2005


Yes, what the military is doing to this guy is fucked up. I certainly wouldn't want to be in his position. I'd prefer that this sort of thing didn't happen to anyone.

But I have a hard time sympathizing with him. As Decani pointed out, this guy forfeited his morality the moment he joined the military. If you are willing to kill just because someone else tells you to, regardless of the justification (or lack thereof) for that killing, you're as morally culpable as the person who gave the orders.

If I told you to go out and shoot your neighbor, and you do it, are you then exempt from guilt because you were just following my orders? Of course not. How is the military any different?

I believe that there are situations where it is morally justifiable to kill. But it only takes a cursory examination of the US military's track record over the last few decades to realize that most of its activities do not fit that description. So, Numenorian, how naïve would this guy have to be to believe that he'd be serving noble and righteous purposes in the military? Didn't he investigate what the military is all about before he signed his life over to them?

I understand that our military helps protect our liberties by acting as a deterrent to invasion or insurrection, and I'm grateful for that. That doesn't change the fact that the military is also an agent of imperialism, mass murder, robbery, and other atrocities. Anyone who freely and knowingly agrees to be a pawn in that game deserves whatever they get.
posted by greenie2600 at 7:36 AM on May 18, 2005


Could somebody please tell us what would happen if a voluntary soldier refuses to obey the order to go to Iraq ? What's the worst case punishment ? (other then being court martialed and shot in the head for the unspeakable crime of changing ones mind )

elpapacito, it depends on the outcome of the ensuing court-martial -- and there would almost certainly be one -- and any additional extenuating circumstances. A prison term is a distinct possibility. Other possibilities include a Bad Conduct Discharge, Dishonorable Discharge, or an Other Than Honorable Discharge (which, I understand, can be converted to an Honorable discharge, but I'm not aware of the particulars). Or, as in the recent case of a US Navy sailor who refused to board ship for a deployment, confinement to station and "hard labor." We had a thread on this a couple days ago.
posted by alumshubby at 7:41 AM on May 18, 2005


forfeited his morality

Greenie2600, this to me is utter bullshit that rings patently false.

We are all human beings. Want to rob someone of their morality? Count me out!

Hey maybe stop to consider his insider viewpoint has value!

Fuckin there's a concept, you retard.
posted by nervousfritz at 7:44 AM on May 18, 2005


I don't understand this attitude of, "You joined up, deal with it." The military changed the rules after many of our service people enlisted, this is like your employer telling you that not only are going to work twice as many hours for the same pay but you are going to be doing it in the Tokyo office. And your leaving in forty-eight hours.

The only difference is, you have the option of quitting without risking time in prison or a dishonorable discharge that will haunt you for the remainder of your life.

I have no doubt that the bulk of the people in the military would be more than happy to defend their country -- 'defend' being the operative word here. To force them to fight a war under false pretenses is inexcusable, to change the terms of their enlistment after the fact is a travesty. To write off a soldiers anger at this in a condescending tone is both disengenious and the disrespectful.

We would be better served reserving our contempt for those who have created this situation rather than the victims.
posted by cedar at 7:54 AM on May 18, 2005


If I told you to go out and shoot your neighbor, and you do it, are you then exempt from guilt because you were just following my orders? Of course not. How is the military any different?

The military is allowed to give such orders and you're not, for starters.
posted by Cyrano at 7:54 AM on May 18, 2005


Anyone who freely and knowingly agrees to be a pawn in that game deserves whatever they get.

The emphasis here is on "freely and knowingly" - the whole point is that not everyone is as free or as knowledgable about current affairs as the buorgeious that frequent MeFi tend to be.


How is the military any different?

You actually answer your own question:

... the military is also an agent of imperialism, mass murder, robbery, and other atrocities.

Indeed. And if we're going to get into the hiary issues of moral agency, then we have to aks ourselves why the military is engaged on missions of imperialism and mass murder, and the answer is because normal middle class educated people like you and me prefer an economy built on waste and death. If we can blame the poor and undereducated for joining the military* then we can blame you and Curley and me and everyone in this thread, because we all benefit (a whole lot more than most enlisted troops) from that imperialism and death. The very presence of MeFi itself requires the consumptuion of mad amounts of fossil fuels (not just for energy, but to manufacture the materials - plastics - out of which much of the infrastructure is made)> And the free time to browse MeFi and keep up on current events so that we can adopt holier-than-thou attitudes toward our soliders requires a stratified society so that you don't have to grow your own food or dispose of your own garbage or fix your own car, and a stratified global economy so that you don't have to pay for computer equipment manufactured by workers who get fair wages.
In short, it is very reasonable to suggest that us MeFites are more culpable than this Marine because we constantly support imperialism with our economic choices. We sent him there, WIthout us, he'd be waiting for someone to lob a bomb at some location near his home.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:55 AM on May 18, 2005


Boy you guys are dicks.

Would I consider killing other people if I thought my family, country or way of life was under threat? Yes.

Would I be pissed off if it turned out the whole reason I was killing other people was bullshit? Yes.

Pretty simple, really.
posted by fungible at 8:01 AM on May 18, 2005


Cyrano, "The military is allowed to give such orders and you're not, for starters."

No, they are not. A soldier (or officer) is not only allowed, but sworn, not to follow illegal orders.
posted by cedar at 8:01 AM on May 18, 2005


Thank you, fungible. My nephew is preparing for his fourth deployment in Iraq, navigating a C130. It rips my heart out to think about it. I can only imagine what it does to his.
posted by wsg at 8:17 AM on May 18, 2005


I'm just glad I'm on the opposite side of the country from this poor guy. Rage and knowing your way around a gun are a bad combination.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:19 AM on May 18, 2005


A soldier (or officer) is not only allowed, but sworn, not to follow illegal orders.

True. I was referring to a legal order. I should have been clearer. My point was that under no circumstances could greenie2600 give a legal order to kill someone (I'm assuming he's a joe-schmo civilian here.)
posted by Cyrano at 8:21 AM on May 18, 2005


This is an American soldier and a human being we're talking about here, not some piece of trash. One day, if he survives two more tours of duty without getting killed, he will come back to America. My fear for him is that he will eventually wind up drunk, homeless, or worse.

If you need a bit of background on the risks involved for this soldier, I strongly recommend going to "The Soldier's Heart" website, which touches on just a small element of the longterm risks for soldiers like this one.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that on any given night 250,000 veterans are homeless nationwide, and that as many as half a million veterans experience homeless every year. Of that number, nearly half suffer from mental illness, and more than two-thirds suffer from substance abuse disorders.

In that sense, this war may be like Vietnam... or worse. Why? Because the military is pushing the soldiers harder than in Vietnam, to the point where they are taking soldiers they already know need serious help, but not making any effort to provide it. Instead, they're pushing this soldier -- and thousands of others like him -- over the edge.

It is ignorant to assume that somehow Vietnam was responsible for ruining the lives and minds of so many American soldiers, but that war itself was somehow not to blame.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:26 AM on May 18, 2005


insomnia_lj posted "I'll have made 3 fucking trips to that country. Which in return will end up making me a bitter angry salty fucker."

This is outrageous!! Unconscionable!!! What happened to values in this country?


Somebody posted the "f"-word to the front page!!

(And my three year old daughter was forced to be permanently scarred when, unsupervised, she read this on Mefi! Matt, can't you please clean up after your site and all its members, so that I don't have to take a role in my own children's upbringing?)
posted by orthogonality at 8:34 AM on May 18, 2005


nervousfritz said:

Greenie2600, this to me is utter bullshit that rings patently false.

Care to tell me why? Or would you rather just call me a "retard" again? Either way is fine with me.

cedar said:

"I don't understand this attitude of, 'You joined up, deal with it.'"

That's not the point. The point is, "you joined an organization that sponsors murder, robbery, imperialism, and all manner of other injustices, thereby degrading the flag of my country, and now you want my sympathy?"

Like I said, I'd rather the guy didn't have to go through this. But he signed up as a murderer for hire. It's hard to feel too sorry for him. I'd also prefer that Jeffrey Dahmer hadn't been beaten to death with a broom handle. But I'm not losing any sleep over it, either.

Cyrano said:

The military is allowed to give such orders and you're not, for starters.

Allowed by whom, and with what justification?

eustacescrubb said:

"In short, it is very reasonable to suggest that us MeFites are more culpable than this Marine because we constantly support imperialism with our economic choices."

So using a computer and working a white-collar job makes you more accountable for murder than actually pulling the trigger?

What if, like me, you protested vehemently against this war?
posted by greenie2600 at 8:36 AM on May 18, 2005


Mission accomplished indeed.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:42 AM on May 18, 2005


Didn't I hear somewhere that George Bush is learning to play the violin?
...And matches?
--surely he'll never master matches? but gawd help us if he ever gets his mitts on poppy's bic.


As a former violinist, I resent the implication that Dumbya *would* be capable of playing the fiddle.

Anyone who says they'd rather work at Quiznos or beg on the streets than join up has likely never been close to having to do any of the above, nor has any concept of what trying to live at minimum wage is like. Despite a college education and lots of experience, *I've* had some long periods of unemployment where low-paying/don't-cover-all-the-bills jobs were all *I* could get. And I don't care how much fatter the fat cats have gotten lately, the Dumbya Economy still sucks in parts of the U.S.

Then you add in an Administration propaganda machine that would have made Goebels envious - and which even many well-educated people have fallen for - and there you have the reasons many people signed up in recent years.

Uncle Sam will pay you more to go kill people than he will to educate the future generations. I think there is something seriously fucked up about that.

numenorian, that's on page four, paragraph two, of the 1,763-page list of Things That Are Seriously Fucked Up in America.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:43 AM on May 18, 2005


eustacescrubb, fungible, wsg: Agreed.

I find the abdicated responsibility in people's speech disappointing: "The military" does this, the "leaders" do that, "the republicans," did this other thing.

This is our doing. This is our responsibility. We allowed it. Denial is beneath us.
posted by elderling at 8:52 AM on May 18, 2005


I'd much rather work at Quizno's than sign my balls, my free will, and my identity over to a military hierarchy, and agree to unquestioningly follow orders to kill. I find it incredible that anyone fails to understand this.
posted by greenie2600 at 9:02 AM on May 18, 2005


So using a computer and working a white-collar job makes you more accountable for murder than actually pulling the trigger?

In a way, yes. There are degrees of moral agency, and you, having more choices and options available to you, are in a better position to affect the culture and economy than a lot of our enlisted people are. If the educated people with economic power continue to make choices that require war to defend imperialistic economics overseas, then they should be prepared that people are going to die to support their way of life.


What if, like me, you protested vehemently against this war?

Then perhaps your politics and your day-to-day life are in conflict. Most people's are, mine included. Your protests fell on largely deaf ears, so perhaps it's time to change the way you live, to, as Ghandi put it, be the change you want to see in the world.

If you're against imperialstic wars, then start figuring out how to do without the benefits of imperialism.

It is not easy, and once one starts down the road, one finds there is continually more that can be done. A part of me likes my iPod and my MeFi too much to do the logical thing and give up my computer, which consumes fossil fuels and plugs me into the energy companies that got us into this war (and a couple others). My wife and I are looking into solar and wind energy, which would help somewhat, but if I really had the courage of my convictions, I'd get rid of it all.
An example: Right now, we're trying to buy as much locally-grown food as possible, and to grow as much of our own food as we can, which means eating only food that's "in season" and eschewing luxuries like blueberries in February. But even that is problematic - my stepmother was proudly buying locally-grown blueberries until she realized the blueberries were grown in her home state, then shipped to Florida where they were packaged, then shipped back to her home state to be sold. That's a round trip from NC to FL in a big truck - a lot of fossil fuel that could be used somewhere else, and another contribution to the rapacity of our oil consumption that fuels (no pun intended) wars like the current one.

It is all very well and good to shout "no blood for oil" but quite another thing to realize that often somebody has to bleed, and then to choose to be that person yourself. The bleeding could be someone dying or it could be you (or me), working harder and doing with less.

I'd much rather work at Quizno's than sign my balls, my free will, and my identity over to a military hierarchy, and agree to unquestioningly follow orders to kill. I find it incredible that anyone fails to understand this.

That's not the point. The point is that you're speaking from a position of luxury- you have the freedom to choose that option, but many people do not have the agency you have - their choices are limited by economic/social/racial factors that don't limit you.

(apologies for all the typos - posting from the terminal in the classroom right before slass starts = not a good idea. Also, the * in my last post was meant to reference a note that I was not trying to suggest that all military personel are undereducated or poor, just that a great many often are one or the other.)
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:06 AM on May 18, 2005


Anyone who willingly joins the military (last I checked, there hasn't been a draft in the US for quite a while) and doesn't seriously consider the possibility that they will end up injured, seriously injured, or dead is deluding themselves.

I think the problem is that people are joining the military thinking "free room and board", "I get to shoot things", and "we don't have wars anymore, so I could never really get hurt". The reality is turning out to be quite different.

(on preview) That's not the point. The point is that you're speaking from a position of luxury- you have the freedom to choose that option, but many people do not have the agency you have - their choices are limited by economic/social/racial factors that don't limit you.

Perhaps more accurately, they *believe* their choices are limited by those things, and that there are no other options. I suspect that it's rarely the case in fact.
posted by Snowflake at 9:18 AM on May 18, 2005


Wow. This guy reminds me of my ex-bestfriend. Left for the marines a reasonable person, came back an empty shell of a person. Had no qualms about screwing anybody over for personal gain...crazy f-ing marines.

Anyone who says they'd rather work at Quiznos or beg on the streets than join up has likely never been close to having to do any of the above, nor has any concept of what trying to live at minimum wage is like. Despite a college education and lots of experience, *I've* had some long periods of unemployment where low-paying/don't-cover-all-the-bills jobs were all *I* could get.

I dropped out of college right after 9/11, and sort of just wandered off into the wilderness...worked odd jobs, hitchhiked around, hopped on trains, begged for change, ate out of dumpsters, etc. I protested the war and worked with Food not Bombs...
I have never in my life considered the military a choice...
Recently for the first time ever, I make more than minimum wage...
posted by schyler523 at 9:32 AM on May 18, 2005


"Like I said, I'd rather the guy didn't have to go through this. But he signed up as a murderer for hire. It's hard to feel too sorry for him. I'd also prefer that Jeffrey Dahmer hadn't been beaten to death with a broom handle. But I'm not losing any sleep over it, either."

Bingo! This is the same reasoning I use when I hear about a cop ,firefighter, taxi driver or 7-11 clerk getting killed on the job. I mean really you can't tell me that the guy working 3rd shift at the convenience store wasn't aware of the risk of being killed in a robbery when he took the job.
posted by MikeMc at 9:44 AM on May 18, 2005


eustacescrubb: Though I respect and really identify with your approach, I think that it is incomplete.

Depriving ourselves of luxuries, conveniences, etc. is akin to boycotting slave-made goods prior to the US Civil War. It might have been better than nothing, but it certainly wasn't enough. Implying that computers, iPods, etc. are to blame for the sad state of things is like blaming cotton for slavery. This line of reasoning ends with us living in caves wearing nothing.

The alternative? Actively rather than passively protesting the means by which our luxuries are produced. Boycotting relieves us of our personal responsibility, but not our social responsibility. Writing to representatives, participating in government, and educating people how to do the same is also necessary.
posted by elderling at 9:47 AM on May 18, 2005


Thanks, Snowflake. I seriously doubt that anyone who joins the military does so because it's the only job option available to them.

I don't care how many "economic/social/racial factors" are in your way; anyone who can get into the military can get a job flipping burgers. And while I wouldn't wish a burger-flipping job on anyone, the moral considerations here outweigh the financial considerations.

Living on a minimum-wage salary is undoubtedly tough, but if the alternative is to serve as a hired killer for imperialist powermongers and religious fanatics, you're morally bound to flip the damn burgers. I know, I know - it's easy for me to say that from my cushy bourgeois point of view, blah blah etcetera. I don't care. If the choice is between flipping burgers and killing people, flipping burgers is the only morally valid choice, even if it's tough.

I've probably been too harsh in my previous posts. I don't mean to demonize this soldier. I do feel sorry for him, and I do think he's being mistreated. But he's not an innocent victim, and "I was just following orders" isn't good enough.

If you're against imperialstic wars, then start figuring out how to do without the benefits of imperialism.

I do. Here's one way, just emailed to me by my dad:

http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0516-25.htm

I'm also a vegetarian, largely because a vegetarian diet consumes fewer resources and less energy. I'm planning on buying a hybrid car next time around. (Had one been available in my price range when I bought my current car, I would already have one.) Not revolutionary gestures, perhaps, but hey, I'm tryin'.
posted by greenie2600 at 10:02 AM on May 18, 2005


kozad - Canada does not have troops serving in Iraq, unless a UN sanctioned peacekeeping force is there without my hearing about it, though it is possible there are Canadian citizens serving in the militaries of other countries, such as the US. We also had no Canadian forces in Vietnam, though some citizens may have joined the U.S. Army.

Snowflake - It is not rare to have your occupation and education choices limited by your socioeconomic status. I've lived watching members of my family be extremely limted in their choices due to lack of money; I myself have been limited to a certain extent, though luck had meant not as severely. If you cannot afford to go to school because you cannot stop working to support a family, that is a limitation. You can go on about how you can get a student loan, but frankly, the poor are more debt adverse because they know they are screwed if they don't get a good job after. And the reality of the world - that social networks mean just as much as education - mean they are less likely to get a good job even if they do go to school.

Maybe you'd like to go over to the social mobility thread to learn more about poverty and opportunity in the U.S.
posted by jb at 10:05 AM on May 18, 2005


What the hell is a roo?

I speculate that it is a derogatory term for Iraqi. But I don't know what the original term is that it abbreviates.
posted by Araucaria at 10:11 AM on May 18, 2005


On Preview
[snips pile on]
what elderling et al have said.

While the philosophical ideal of a social contract is a fictional construct in some respects, the United States was indeed founded on just such a document. One can argue about the relative strength of the obligations entailed by living under this contract, I still find it incredibly narcissistic when citizens of the US condemn the choice others have made to defend this country. You don't have to agree with their choice but you damn sure ought to be grateful that they made it. And you certainly have the obligation to do everything in your personal power to ensure that we collectively uphold the good-faith promise made to them that they will only be put to the test to defend the country and its interests.
posted by Fezboy! at 10:11 AM on May 18, 2005


Interesting:

I'm so happy. I just found out that I have been accepted into Harvard. And Yale. I don't know which to choose... oh, why is life so hard sometimes?


Truth or sarcasm?
posted by availablelight at 10:26 AM on May 18, 2005


He's the one who gives his body
as a weapon to a war
and without him all this killing can't go on


I like elderling.

In short, it is very reasonable to suggest that us MeFites are more culpable than this Marine because we constantly support imperialism with our economic choices.

Who's this us, kemosabe? I believe that the luxuries I allow myself (computer, bike, clothes, books, stereo) can be supported without the culture of imperialism. Maybe you're right, but I don't think so.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:29 AM on May 18, 2005


Regardless I still joined and don't regret it. I just don't wanna go this extra time but well fuck if I gotta go I gotta go.

'Nuff said.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:30 AM on May 18, 2005


Anyone who willingly joins the military gets in a car ... and doesn't seriously consider the possibility that they will end up injured, seriously injured, or dead is deluding themselves

Given that the odds of dying in a car crash are enormously higher than the odds of getting killed while in the military, I have to ask - what the fuck is your point?

Life is a crapshoot - you estimate your odds, and you make a decision. And sometimes the unwanted, undeserved, unpleasant longshot comes in and you're the poor fucker who has to pay it off.
posted by bashos_frog at 10:32 AM on May 18, 2005


And, what Fezboy! said.
posted by bashos_frog at 10:34 AM on May 18, 2005


"Life is a crapshoot - you estimate your odds, and you make a decision. And sometimes the unwanted, undeserved, unpleasant longshot comes in and you're the poor fucker who has to pay it off."

Well, I think that about covers it.
posted by MikeMc at 10:43 AM on May 18, 2005


Anyone who willingly joins the military (last I checked, there hasn't been a draft in the US for quite a while) and doesn't seriously consider the possibility that they will end up injured, seriously injured, or dead is deluding themselves.

I think the problem is that people are joining the military thinking "free room and board", "I get to shoot things", and "we don't have wars anymore, so I could never really get hurt". The reality is turning out to be quite different.


This might be true for the Army or other services, but the Marines? People don't join the Marines for free room and board, they join because they perceive it as an elite fighting service. Ads for the Marines don't emphasize how you'll be able to pay for college, or learn valuable skills. They emphasize ... fighting.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:57 AM on May 18, 2005


Yeah, I feel for the guy, but he signed up. Bottom line. And technically, he still has a choice, albeit an unsavory one. He doesn't have to go, he can take the dishonorable discharge or jail time.

Not a position I'd like to be in, but then I'm with greenie 2600: I'd much rather work at Quizno's than sign my balls, my free will, and my identity over to a military hierarchy, and agree to unquestioningly follow orders to kill. I find it incredible that anyone fails to understand this. I'd rather rot away in a jail cell as a contentious objector than have anything to do with killing people.
posted by Specklet at 11:04 AM on May 18, 2005


appeal to authority: i've already earned my medals for operation enduring and iraqi freedom

now all of you in this thread who are spouting off about "he has no room to complain he signed up for it and I didn't" can kindly shut the fuck up and get out of my country.

thank you.
posted by reflection at 11:13 AM on May 18, 2005


I'd rather rot away in a jail cell as a contentious objector than have anything to do with killing people.

Your freudian slip is showing.

I think people like you ought to be grateful that there are people willing to take the risk and make the sacrifice to protect a way of life that includes such concepts as concientious objectors. I'm not going to say that recruiters are paragons of honesty - I've worked with a few and I know better. But, you know, there are some people who sign up and know the risks as well as the benefits, and they sign up because they believe that it is their duty to defend the country that has provided them with opportunity, or to defend the ground upon which their family lives.
I feel that they have a right to expect that their leaders will show some respect for the risks they are taking and the sacrifices they are making, and not abuse the very people who make it possible for them to maintain their power in the world. They have a right to expect that their sacrfices will in proportion to the benefits they are securing for their country, and not used to line pockets or win elections.
After all, the President's power may be conferred upon him by the electorate, but the power itself comes from money and arms, and in the end, the money is worth nothing with out the arms to defend it.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:15 AM on May 18, 2005


In my hippier days, I might have been able to say, "eh, he signed up to be a baby killer, he deserves what he gets." I would never be a soldier.
But, realistically, we need people who are willing to kill and die to defend the rest of us. This is the world we live in. I hope that someday it won't be necessary, but wishing and hoping does not make it so. In the meantime, I am grateful that someone is willing to do it. At the very least, the men and women who risk their lives for the rest of us should be assured that we will not forget them or let them languish in a poorly planned a conflict that they never should have been sent into in the first place.

On preview: and what bashos_frog said.
posted by apis mellifera at 11:27 AM on May 18, 2005


Allowed by whom, and with what justification?

Well, as far as democratic governments go, allowed by the people they serve and justified by the chain of command. Unless you'd like the military to make decisions on its own. Because the flipside of the "we don't want to fight this war" coin is "we think we need to attack these people and to hell with what the civilians in charge think."

And a second to what bashos_frog said.
posted by Cyrano at 11:31 AM on May 18, 2005


reflection: what authority is that you're appealing to? Why don't you appeal to logic next time? Certainly your post is no better for its absence.
posted by biffa at 11:46 AM on May 18, 2005


"I've always been amazed that the very people forced to live in the worst parts of town, go to the worst schools, and who have it the hardest, are always the first to step up, to defend that very system. They serve so that we don't have to. They offer to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is remarkable - their gift to us. And all they ask for in return, is that we never send them into harm's way unless it's absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?"
posted by dglynn at 11:47 AM on May 18, 2005


bashos_frog, you are exactly right.
posted by Specklet at 11:50 AM on May 18, 2005


Support the Troops! *

* Offer does not include actual support

posted by kirkaracha at 11:52 AM on May 18, 2005


elderling -

I agree; recall that I was responding to greenie2600, who already does participate in protests, and the like. I was trying to suggest something in addition to, not in place of, protests and normal channels of democracy.

greenie2600 -

Please don't think I was trying to single you out - I consider myself far below the mark in these areas, after all. And I am also not trying to suggest that people who join up are without any responsibility for their actions - I think they are - but to what degree is hard to tell, and largely, he who is without sin should cast the first stone, and none of us is without blame in this. And that is a run-on sentence if I ever saw one. I would so fail my class.

Snowflake - I'm not trying to suggest that there are no other alternatives. my point has been that moral agency is not a cut and dried matter - if one if not aware that there are other, better choices, it's the same as not having those choices. And if one is not educated in the particular ways one needs to be to understand the scope and weight of those choices, then one can't be said to be making those choices freely.

Who's this us, kemosabe? I believe that the luxuries I allow myself (computer, bike, clothes, books, stereo) can be supported without the culture of imperialism. Maybe you're right, but I don't think so.

I'm sure it's possible that a different economy might allow for cheap computers, iPods, etc, but we don't live in that one. I'm not trying to demonize technology, but to point out that the laptop I'm using to type this post is at the end of a string of cause and effect that go right to some poorly-paid Asian person and to some poor Saudi peasant who doesn't get any of the profit from the oil burned to power this. I would like to live in a different ecnomy, preferably one that allows for laptops and treats all humans and all life and the land with respect, and I hope for such an economy, and will do what I can to work for it, but I will also not pretend that the one I live in now doesn't exist and that my agency is limited (I cannot choose the best option because it isn't available) and as such, when I can chooose between a luxury (like my laptop - it is a very nice Powerbook) and doing without, if I choose the luxury, I have made myself culpable in the effects of that choice.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:07 PM on May 18, 2005


bleh. That should read "and that my agency isn't limited"... too many negatives in that sentence.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:09 PM on May 18, 2005


some poorly-paid Asian person and to some poor Saudi peasant

Ah, the equally condescending reversal of the Noble Savage rears its ugly, malformed head.

But, by all means, wallow in that manufactured privileged, white, first world guilt if it makes you happy.
posted by gsh at 12:24 PM on May 18, 2005


A question for those who know more about the armed forces than I do. What would happen if someone went to their higher ups and said "Look, I'm fucked in the head, going crazy and can't handle anymore?"

I'm assuming there is some sort of evaluation followed by discharge. Or are they simply told to suck it up and sent back out?
posted by LeeJay at 12:31 PM on May 18, 2005


gsh: the equally condescending reversal of the Noble Savage rears its ugly, malformed head

He didn't say they were noble, he said they were poor. Instead of trotting out some banalities you picked up from some Christopher Hitchens-a-like would you like to address what he said? Are you suggesting that there aren't a lot of poorer people down the economic foodchain from most of the people who are members here?
posted by biffa at 12:36 PM on May 18, 2005


I'd agree the administration b.s.ed about the war. I'd agree that the military as a whole generally uses deceit and has a history of screwing service members over. I'd agree that this guy maybe shouldn't have signed up to be a Marine (maybe air force?) but that he appears to be getting hosed. I'd agree we're only getting his side of it. I'd agree it's mostly poor folks who enlist. I'd agree that we all bear some responsibility in as much as we're all in this together. But I'd disagree this is only this guys problem.
Not everyone's response to trauma is the same. If this guy can't handle it I wouldn't want him covering my 6 (should just let him be a remf). Which to me appears to be the real failing here: the political push to put warm bodies on the field overriding other considerations. You're going to wind up killing men who can deal and would otherwise go home. But I was no general so I wouldn't know how to make the politicians listen from that end.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:44 PM on May 18, 2005


In my hippier days, I might have been able to say, "eh, he signed up to be a baby killer, he deserves what he gets." I would never be a soldier. But, realistically, we need people who are willing to kill and die to defend the rest of us. This is the world we live in.

Again with the "we." I don't need anyone to die for me. There must be a major philosophical difference between the propertied classes and the rest of us. I am not a hippie, btw, but sometimes I smell like one.

kindly shut the fuck up and get out of my country

Which country is that? Do you have freedom of speech there?
posted by mrgrimm at 1:45 PM on May 18, 2005


I don't need anyone to die for me... propertied classes.... etc.

So what do you do when a column of Chinese tanks is rolling down your street (or towards your yurt, or whatever)?

What would you do (as President, or as a citizen) if you knew there was a cargo ship approaching NY harbor with a nuclear weapon and 2 dozen armed terrorists on board?

You gonna sing "give peace a chance"? Or are you going to hope some group of dedicated warriors is able to kill 24 people to save 240,000, and is willing to risk their lives in the process?

I'm a big proponent of freedom of speech, and I've never said this to anyone before, but I too would be much happier if you shut the fuck up and left the country.

Leech.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:22 PM on May 18, 2005


Are either of those scenarios at all likely?

Such tolerance. A different opinion doesn't have to be threatening. I'm really tired of the "I like free speech but I don't like yours. Leave."

Methinks you really don't like free speech.
posted by agregoli at 2:29 PM on May 18, 2005


Like LeeJay, I am also interested in the medical process (if any) associated with being discharged from different military organizations.

gsh: Respectfully, I'm not convinced that eustacescrubb taking responsibility for his part in our current system is wallowing in guilt. Following the chain back to the exploited isn't pleasant, but it doesn't have to be all-consuming, either. There are more choices than "paralyzed and guilty" or "callous and pragmatic."
posted by elderling at 2:32 PM on May 18, 2005


I may have gone overboard, and sorry for that, but damn it pisses me off that people don't realize that no matter how much you would like it to be otherwise, you owe your continued existence to someone's willingness to kill and/or die, (be it on your own behalf or someone who does it for you.)
Do you really think that out of the 6 billion people on that planet, there isn't at least one who would kill you for money, or food, or fun, or no reason at all, if there wasn't someone, somewhere, with a weapon standing in the way of that?

Can you really imagine a world with no police, no armies, and no fundamental change in human nature? 'Every man for himself' seems to me to be a pretty unpleasant condition for anyone unable or unwilling to resort to violence.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:33 PM on May 18, 2005


Are either of those scenarios at all likely?

The ONLY reason they are not likely is the large amount of weapons (and men willing to use them) that are currently available to this country.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:35 PM on May 18, 2005


Snowflake: "I think the problem is that people are joining the military thinking"free room and board", "I get to shoot things", and "we don't have warsanymore, so I could never really get hurt". The reality is turning outto be quite different."

Or maybe they are thinking, "I get to have healthcare for my kids..."
posted by eckeric at 2:41 PM on May 18, 2005


Which country is that? Do you have freedom of speech there?

Obviously.
posted by reflection at 3:38 PM on May 18, 2005


You gonna sing "give peace a chance"? Or are you going to hope some group of dedicated warriors is able to kill 24 people to save 240,000, and is willing to risk their lives in the process?

Neither. I'd punch your fucking lights out.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:54 PM on May 18, 2005


Ah, the equally condescending reversal of the Noble Savage rears its ugly, malformed head.

I'm not entirely sure how mentioning that stuff like this is going on in Asia, or that my economic choices can (and sometimes do) encourage it is an example of the noble savage myth (or a reversal of it, which would be, I don't know what- an ignoble savage? A noble non-savage?).

In any case, it's a bit twsited to say that recognizing that one is a part of a system that exploits workers in other nations, and doing what one can to change it by making different economic choices and working the deomcratic system is now considered to be racism. Typically white guilt tends to express itself in tokenism or in platitudes or as trends in fashion/music/literary consumption; it does not usually express itself by trying to actually change things.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:09 PM on May 18, 2005


Neither. I'd punch your fucking lights out.

time out y'all. it's a pretty night outside. jeez.
posted by moonbird at 6:17 PM on May 18, 2005


Or are they simply told to suck it up and sent back out?

Leejay: It is a lot of things but the "suck it up" approach is basically it. Soldiers/Marines (as well as police officers and firefighters in civilian life) are part of a culture where you are supposed to suck it up, and the fact that someone has had to tell you (when you have sought out help, no less!) adds to the shame, denial, et cet. that you have a problem, that you are not "tough" enough, that you need to "act like a man". Military doctors (unlike civilian doctors in most circumstances) have a duty to the service branch they represent as well as the patient they are treating.

Thus, Army doctors, for example, will encourage a soldier to "work through" a psychiatric issue (see A War Of Nerves: Soldiers And Psychiatrists In The Twentieth Century).

Also consider a July 2004 report from the New England Journal of Medicine:

. . .of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq who fit the criteria for serious mental disorders, only 23 percent to 40 percent sought help. The research was based on a survey of 6,201 troops, including two Marine battalions with the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Expeditionary Force after six months in Iraq and several Army brigades that went to Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is safe to say Soldiers/Marines do not often seek help for psychiatric illness.

Attitudes like the ones on display here (you signed up for the job ergo fuck you and whatever happens to you) are a good example of why many soldiers, et al., do not talk about their "feelings". To be fair to the MeFi morons expressing such sentiments, I guess it is their way of keeping a "distance" from the horrible things that Soldiers et al. see and experience ("Don't tell me about that soldier who who saw toddlers with severed limbs bleeding to death, he signed up to be a paid corporate killer! I could have told him that! I would never join the military.")
posted by mlis at 7:22 PM on May 18, 2005


I cannot comprehend volunteering to train to kill people. Never mind the g-d burger joint: if I had the means and the necessity to apply deadly force I don't know if I could pull it off. I might still be trying to talk the situation away as the blood bubbles from my chest.

Now maybe most of you don't have a doubt like mine- you know when you would pull the trigger and when not.

What has that got to do with these soldier's situations?

Have none of you been on that life ride where you make a seemingly simple choice to better yourself/the world and it incrementally goes to shit? The more you learn, the more you realize you were mistaken? Things go workable-bad-nasty-horrific all from a single decision?

Support the Troops, bring them home, get them some therapy, and figure out what we can do to minimize the necessity of armies.

Stop the "I wouldn't be so dumb/naive/desperate" shit and have some compassion.
posted by pointilist at 8:35 PM on May 18, 2005


apologies for the spew.
posted by pointilist at 8:37 PM on May 18, 2005


"Red Dawn" will never happen in America.
It won't be the Soviets, and it won't be the Jihadists, and it Won't be the Chinese. It won't happen because we've already made the freakin' movie about what we'll do.
It'll be much more subversive...
posted by Balisong at 8:42 PM on May 18, 2005


For those who equate soldiers with mercs
posted by taosbat at 9:31 PM on May 18, 2005


Leejay: It is a lot of things but the "suck it up" approach is basically it. Soldiers/Marines (as well as police officers and firefighters in civilian life) are part of a culture where you are supposed to suck it up, and the fact that someone has had to tell you (when you have sought out help, no less!) adds to the shame, denial, et cet. that you have a problem, that you are not "tough" enough, that you need to "act like a man". Military doctors (unlike civilian doctors in most circumstances) have a duty to the service branch they represent as well as the patient they are treating.

Thanks MLIS. I figured as much. I can't see the typical solider or Marine going to his or her superiors and admitting they can't handle it. I wish they felt they could do so.
posted by LeeJay at 10:12 PM on May 18, 2005


BTW, I would like to point out that it is considered offensive to refer to a Marine as "soldier."

Also, if they have a security clearance at all, going to a doc for mental problems can mean that their clearance can be revoked.
posted by Dagobert at 11:45 PM on May 18, 2005


Neither. I'd punch your fucking lights out.

Well. I don't know whether to be more impressed with your logic, your self-consistency, or your rhetoric. I guess I'll just let your statement shine as a bright light on the fundamental idiocy of your own positions, and your absolute lack of any logical base from which to argue.

Free speech fan, indeed.
posted by bashos_frog at 5:53 AM on May 19, 2005


mrgrimm said:

I believe that the luxuries I allow myself (computer, bike, clothes, books, stereo) can be supported without the culture of imperialism. Maybe you're right, but I don't think so.

I agree.

Fezboy! said:

I still find it incredibly narcissistic when citizens of the US condemn the choice others have made to defend this country.

I'm not condemning a choice to defend this country. That is the ostensible purpose of the US military, but in practice, a large portion of its actual missions are missions of imperialism. I'm condemning a choice to participate in imperialism.

And you certainly have the obligation to do everything in your personal power to ensure that we collectively uphold the good-faith promise made to them that they will only be put to the test to defend the country and its interests.

That's why I kicked and screamed to protest this war. Fat lot of good it did, of course, but I did the best I knew how.

reflection said:

now all of you in this thread who are spouting off about "he has no room to complain he signed up for it and I didn't" can kindly shut the fuck up and get out of my country.

You're a big, tough man, and we're all duly scared.

bashos_frog said:

I think people like you ought to be grateful that there are people willing to take the risk and make the sacrifice to protect a way of life that includes such concepts as concientious objectors.

If that were the primary role of the military, I'd agree. But it's not.

agregoli said:

Are either of those scenarios at all likely?

Yes, they are - or, at least, they would be, if we had no military. Like it or not, a defensive military is essential. If we had no military to defend us, it would only be a matter of time before one country or another decided to grab what was for the taking.

However, ours is not a defensive military. That's the point I'm making here. When you join up for the armed forces, it's naïve to think that you'll be defending Freedom(tm) and apple pie and performing similarly noble and righteous tasks. Decades of history say otherwise.
posted by greenie2600 at 6:46 AM on May 19, 2005


However, ours is not a defensive military.

You make a good point, but I think the logic is flawed. The military, like any tool or weapon is neither intrinsically defensive or offensive in nature. It all depends on how it is deployed, according to the choices made by the executive branch, which was (ideally) put into place by the choices of the electorate.
A soldier who enlists has no more clairvoyance than anyone else. He or she cannot foresee whether there will be acts of agression against his country, or acts of aggression by it. He can only choose to accept the risks and benefits offered, and to trust his life to the decisions of those higher up the chain of command.
The only scenario I have seen where there might be a better balance of risks, benefits and trust is the one postulated by Heinlein in Starship Troopers (the book, not the movie.) If completed military service was a prerequisite for voting, as well as holding office, you would see a lot more care employed in the decison-making process of when to commit troops. There is a certain sensibility in the idea that only those who have demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice something for their country should be able to have a say in its leadership.

When you join up for the armed forces, it's naïve to think that you'll be defending Freedom(tm) and apple pie and performing similarly noble and righteous tasks

But it is equally incorrect to believe that when Freedom(tm) and apple pie need defending, that it will be anybody other than the military who does the job. History has shown this as well.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:32 AM on May 19, 2005


There has been a concerted effort to deliberately "push" US troops towards a behavior that violates personal sanity in order to increase the kill ratio.
There are extensive bodies of research of the subject and how it fuc*s up the psyche of individuals permanently.
Here is an introduction if you're not familiar with the training and tactics directed against our "modern military."

The troops who sign up for military service really do not know what they are getting themselves into so let's back off blaming the individuals, OK? It's the system and our leadership that's fuc*ed up
posted by nofundy at 8:03 AM on May 19, 2005


You make a good point, but I think the logic is flawed. The military, like any tool or weapon is neither intrinsically defensive or offensive in nature. It all depends on how it is deployed

Yes, it's true that it depends how its deployed, but I think the point is that historically the US military has been deployed offensively quite a lot. You don't have to be clairvoyant to see that.
posted by biffa at 8:18 AM on May 19, 2005


So, are you saying that because there is a substantial risk that troops might be deployed immorally, it is better that no one with the intention to defend their country should ever sign up for service?

I'm not trying to be an ass, or to put words in your mouth - I'm just pointing out that if every citizen individually made the (allegedly) 'morally correct' choice, then collectively the entire country would be at risk.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:01 AM on May 19, 2005


War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice,—is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

-- John Stuart Mill, 1862
posted by bashos_frog at 9:25 AM on May 19, 2005


A soldier who enlists has no more clairvoyance than anyone else. He or she cannot foresee whether there will be acts of agression against his country, or acts of aggression by it.

But, as biffa points out - and as I've already said several times - he can look at the military's record in the past, and make a pretty good guess.

So, are you saying that because there is a substantial risk that troops might be deployed immorally, it is better that no one with the intention to defend their country should ever sign up for service?

Their intentions don't matter. Which is not to say that those aren't noble intentions - they are - but that what you'd like to do as a member of the military, and what you'll be ordered to do, are two entirely separate things. You can have the best intentions in the world when you join the military, but you won't have the luxury of free will. By joining, you're agreeing to follow the intentions of the executive branch and the generals - not your own.

So, yes: I'm saying that one should not agree to be the unquestioning pawn of agencies that are known to be morally suspect.
posted by greenie2600 at 10:32 AM on May 19, 2005


Just because someone makes the decision to join the armed forces doesn't mean they should expect that kind of constant tours of duty to a spot like Iraq; out of several people that I know who've been over so far none are getting screwed . you or me

The guy should title his journal in the above bold.
Since most of his talk is about screwing which may be the intent with your mind here. As saying you have served 3 times in Iraq is screwy looking at his quote.

you're still supposed to go back to Iraq next year for a second tour of duty. Now imagine that you have just discovered you may have to go back to Iraq again this year, too. "If I do get chosen that'll mean by 2007 (assuming I'm still alive ha ha) I'll have made 3 fucking trips to that country.

As he has not been officially deployed a second time. How long is his enlistment too? Plus 2007 seem to far away when saying that is your future in the military which distributes you work by orders. Then he talks about his recent College acceptances that were at Yale & Harvard. My brother is a Marine whose deployment in Iraq was months before the war. He has yet to hear a sniff in returning there, though some in his unit have returned and most by a volunteering choice. Not saying it can't happen though his intelligence here matches the perception about him being a piece of meat in the military than a brain attending a prestigious college.
...Or the blog is to bag more screwing for him - pepsi screw.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:10 AM on May 19, 2005


When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people.

What an excellent description of the US invasion of Iraq and the comments of the troops there!
posted by nofundy at 11:18 AM on May 19, 2005


nofundy, agree, for those that like an antique war, cannon & bayonet.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:22 PM on May 20, 2005


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