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How An American Soldier Is Made
November 3, 2009 2:29 PM   Subscribe

This is how an American soldier is made. A fascinating photo essay that details 27 months in the life of new US Army recruit Ian Fisher. It chronicles his recruitment, induction, training, deployment and finally, his return from combat.
posted by Effigy2000 (65 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
One of the most disconcerting things is that, even when he's coming back from the 'Raq, he looks like he's about twelve. Well, except for the tattoos.

Next on MeFi: One tattooed-up twelve-year-old.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:35 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Amazing stuff. Thanks.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:37 PM on November 3, 2009


An Iraqi boy makes a gun out of his fingers as Ian’s squad passes. Platoon sergeant Sergeant 1st Class Nathaniel McClain says the local kids often pretend to shoot at soldiers with toy guns. “They don’t have to watch it on TV; it’s right outside their front door,” he says.

.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:38 PM on November 3, 2009


He looks like a kid, talks like a kid, acts like a kid. Which should be just fine - he's maybe 20 years old. He makes machine-gun noises when he plays with the toys they gave him.

Oh, wait.

Fascinating, but really disturbing.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:44 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fascinating, but really disturbing.

Almost exactly the words I was going to put. They used to call them baby-killers, but what we have here is a killer baby.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:49 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


There was a lot of that that was really interesting, but all I'm left doing is wondering why he is so quick and desperate to get married. I know it isn't unique to him, but, Jesus Christ, get to know somebody for a while before you slap a ring on them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:51 PM on November 3, 2009


This was great, but I'm totally confused about the romantic arc. It's like a freaking episode of As the World Turns. So he gets engaged to the first girl, buys her a fancy ring. Then he's with Kirsten. They break-up and he rips up photo. He returns home and immediately marries Devin. Whoa.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:52 PM on November 3, 2009 [10 favorites]


What's not shown: the 19 years of sociocultural and economic conditioning that went into his development before he ever stepped into an Army recruiting center. That's probably just as important in making a soldier as the actual military training he received.
posted by darkstar at 2:53 PM on November 3, 2009 [20 favorites]


June 24, 2007. 8:27 a.m. Day Three of basic training: The new soldiers are issued their M-16s. Ian held his awkwardly at first until receiving instructions. Then he became playful – after the drill sergeant passed – quietly making machine-gun noises as he pretended to fire.

Please oh please oh please let this have a happy ending, complete with a squared-away, well-adjusted person. I'm not asking for much.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:54 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks - I enjoyed that photo set. When I read where his dad lived and looked him up, he ended up being from my neighborhood.
posted by JibberJabber at 2:58 PM on November 3, 2009


There was a lot of that that was really interesting, but all I'm left doing is wondering why he is so quick and desperate to get married.

By the look on his face in the picture where he's swearing before the county clerk, I would guess "no sex before marriage."
posted by stavrogin at 3:00 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Very interesting. A little confusing that they never told us where most of these new women came from.
posted by grouse at 3:03 PM on November 3, 2009


This is how a socioeconomic disadvantaged youth finds purpose in America.
posted by four panels at 3:05 PM on November 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


By the way, I recommend reading the accompanying story if you've got time. It's a horrifically annoying interface and some not-great writing, but it at least fills in some of the details.
posted by peachfuzz at 3:10 PM on November 3, 2009


...I'm left doing is wondering why he is so quick and desperate to get married.

He's desperately unhappy and needs a woman to make his life worth living. Ya see it all the time, and it almost never works out.
posted by LordSludge at 3:11 PM on November 3, 2009


I would like to also know what happened to Buddha and Shayne. You know, just for contrast. I don't like the current wars, and it's hard to support soldiers who join knowing what is already happening, but maybe this lad took probably the best option available to him?
posted by Sova at 3:18 PM on November 3, 2009


...How an American Soldier is Made...

Snips and snails and puppy-dog tails?
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:28 PM on November 3, 2009


There's a non-Flash version of the story here.
posted by enn at 3:31 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great post. This photo essay reminds me of all the weeks watching the list of the names of the dead released that week by the Pentagon roll by on This Week in Washington's In Memoriam segment -- and seeing how many of them were 18, 19, 20, 21. These are still unformed young people, getting their sense of themselves from their peer group, markers like Ian's tokens and tattoos, and their playing at adult roles. This story about Ian makes that immaturity and youthfulness clear. The loss of these young people before we or they even know who they are is a huge, huge price for our adventure in Iraq.
posted by bearwife at 3:35 PM on November 3, 2009


Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.

~Adolph Hitler
posted by blue_beetle at 3:35 PM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I cannot tell you how awful I found this article - how utterly fake (I mean, in each of these personal moments there's a damned news photographer there!), how morally bankrupt (as always in these articles, there's never the slightest discussion as to whether going off and killing people in a foreign country who've never offered you or your country the slightest threat is actually a good thing to do or not).

The US has been at war, somewhere, continuously, since long before I was born. Millions of innocents have been killed for nothing (why did two million Vietnamese die? The same reason some unknown number of Iraqis had to die - to show how strong the United States is). We have yet another strong militarist President in the United States - as we have for the last 30 years or so.

I used to say that Americans wouldn't learn until there were bodies littering the streets. Well, I was wrong, because bodies littered the streets twice in the last decade and people learned nothing at all.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:48 PM on November 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Children killing children while old men debate over the spoils. It's the way of war since the beginning.

He's desperately unhappy and needs a woman to make his life worth living.

I'd say that's a pretty big value judgement right there. You don't have any concrete evidence that his level of happiness is any greater or less than yours.

He's young and not college educated. He's got few options. Pretty average American lifestyle choice, really. It's what most people of his socioeconomic and age group do. Find a somebody roughly adequate and get married without knowing them very well.

The only difference with this kid is he has seen death. That tends to take the training wheels off of life.

Maybe the marriage won't work. Half of all marriages in this country fail. What else is new.
posted by tkchrist at 4:00 PM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


who've never offered you or your country the slightest threat

Um, excuse me?! Maybe you should learn a thing or two about recent history and ROE before you start spreading lies.
posted by jock@law at 4:02 PM on November 3, 2009


These are babies.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:06 PM on November 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


Maybe, Jock, you can explain the threat that Afghanistan and Iraq have posed to the US. Others have tried gamely for years. You might even win a prize if you can succeed.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 4:07 PM on November 3, 2009


Maybe you should learn a thing or two about recent history and ROE before you start spreading lies.

It's true. Many of you missed when Iraq massed their tanks on their border with the USA and then rolled in with tight air cover like some sort of thunderstorm. That was no little walk in the countryside.
posted by GuyZero at 4:07 PM on November 3, 2009 [11 favorites]


Also, one tour and he's out? What? All I hear about is soldiers getting dragged back again and again against their wills. This kids just does his tour and then goes back to normal life? Seems... well, it's not the story one hears told.
posted by GuyZero at 4:08 PM on November 3, 2009


"Also, one tour and he's out?"
posted by GuyZero at 10:08 AM on November 4

I recall reading that he had two tours... one went for a year, the second for six months. But you're right, it seemed weird he was out so soon. I don't know if that's normal, or if we were reading too much into the end (maybe he's still in but has a home and a wife), but I felt similarly to you, GuyZero.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:11 PM on November 3, 2009


I cannot tell you how awful I found this article - how utterly fake (I mean, in each of these personal moments there's a damned news photographer there!), how morally bankrupt (as always in these articles, there's never the slightest discussion as to whether going off and killing people in a foreign country who've never offered you or your country the slightest threat is actually a good thing to do or not).

If the only depiction of war and soldiers you find acceptable is that which advocates pacifism, I think you will be disappointed in much covergae of war.
posted by Diablevert at 4:15 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


In the US military, if a junior soldier isn't married, he is usually required to live in the barracks: not much privacy, lots of rules, and periodic room inspections.

But married soldiers are provided with their own house or apartment. Or, if no suitable military housing is available, they get a monthly housing allowance sufficient to rent a modest apartment in town.

Not saying this housing benefit was his only reason, but it sure helps tip the scales.
posted by Wufpak at 4:19 PM on November 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, one tour and he's out? What?

I don't think so. The end of the story says that Afghanistan "looms likely" and talks about his wife getting on his health insurance and quitting her job at dairy queen to be an army wife. Really interesting post.
posted by jamesonandwater at 4:43 PM on November 3, 2009


Interesting.

They likely picked a babyface precisely to get a few of the reactions achieved up-comments aways.
posted by HTuttle at 4:47 PM on November 3, 2009


They likely picked a babyface precisely to get a few of the reactions achieved up-comments aways.

An 18 year old kid with his head shaved in baggy clothes 99% of them look like babies.

Hell. 18 years old? The socks I'm wearing are older than that. Most new recruits are children.

I found the photos interesting, not profound, but interesting. Interesting and familiar since I grew up in a military family in a time of war and saw some images that sparked old memories for me.

As far as photo essays I've seen much, much, better out there.
posted by tkchrist at 5:09 PM on November 3, 2009


As far as photo essays I've seen much, much, better out there.

I thought this was really good, and if there is anything better out there I would definitely like to see it.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 5:32 PM on November 3, 2009


18 years old? The socks I'm wearing are older than that.

Good god, that's a startling realisation. I won't say I have socks that old, but I do have light jackets and boots that are that old. I feel so very, very old all of a sudden.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:33 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The kind of photographic access necessary for this series presumably means that it's been thoroughly vetted by the military, and so in a sense, has an element of propaganda to it. In that light, some of the seemingly odd things make a kind of sense. I found it very compelling regardless.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:28 PM on November 3, 2009


They used to call them baby-killers, but what we have here is a killer baby.

False dichotomy.
posted by pompomtom at 6:29 PM on November 3, 2009


Um, excuse me?! Maybe you should learn a thing or two about recent history and ROE before you start spreading lies.

Oh, please, do tell us all about the Iraqi threat to the U.S. Maybe you could start your thesis here.
posted by odinsdream at 6:32 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


It all started on 9/11 when Iraq invaded Oklahoma through Mexico and Texas. And if you fuckers think I'm going to forget the Battle of Lubbock, ya'll quite mistaken!
posted by Avenger at 6:38 PM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've never been in the military, but I've worked with soldiers and marines fairly extensively and been with them to Iraq. I believe I know enough about that environment to give cogent advice to my children in the unlikely event they decide to join the Army and deploy to Portugal or wherever the hell we'll be invading in 15 years' time.

This....

“Basically I said two things to him,” Eric Fisher says. “No. 1‚ I said, ‘I want you to be careful all the time and trust your instincts.’

...is good advice. The best way to stay both physically and mentally healthy* is to keep your shit together, be mindful of your environment, and trust yourself to do the right thing when it's necessary. As a father who (I assume) has loved, nurtured, defended, and taught his child as best he knew for nearly 18 years, the least he can do when his son goes out on his own to face one of the harshest ordeals the world has to offer at such a tender age is to give him that anodyne but heartfelt and truthful piece of wisdom.

However, um, this...

No. 2, I said‚ ‘If you’re going down, give ’em hell. Fire till your last breath.’

WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK DAD.

* Of course IMO about %99 of all casualties in a combat zone are just completely fucking random and can happen to anyone at anytime anywhere and you have no control over that, but that makes for a crappy pep talk.
posted by xthlc at 6:53 PM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


“This was great, but I'm totally confused about the romantic arc. It's like a freaking episode of As the World Turns. So he gets engaged to the first girl, buys her a fancy ring. Then he's with Kirsten. They break-up and he rips up photo. He returns home and immediately marries Devin.”

This is a pretty familiar story. In fact the whole thing is familiar. He could be an officer or in another branch. Same guys in the same rooms with the same furniture with the same photos up. Only the faces and some details vary. But it’s the same with any shared mass experience really.

“I don't like the current wars, and it's hard to support soldiers who join knowing what is already happening, but maybe this lad took probably the best option available to him?”

Well the social strata that profits most from war rarely takes the brunt of any blame. They seem to have good PR from both the folks on the ‘left’ (who hate the troops) and the ‘right’ (who hate the doves) on that score (and typically the political slant of the politicians don’t much matter either). Rarely are the profit makers even pointed out.
Been that way since before Plutarch ("The poor go to war, to fight and die for the delights, riches, and superfluities of others.")

And I think one has to recognize that not everyone has the same information level, cultural advantages, etc. – hell, how many college educated people you know that can just think critically as it is?
Not recognizing the disparity, casting it as some inherent flaw or some such, ignores the fact that people can learn and change their views with experience, exposure, etc.

Of course, some folks refuse to change or to adopt their world views to new accurate data. But again – critical thinking? Not a lot of people do nuance. Pretty much just “Ugh! This bad! This other good!”
Get into the relationship between man and the state, go into the whole Thoreau thing and the history of armed conflict, Pericles (during the Peloponnesian wars argued that "contending for a higher prize than those who enjoy none of these privileges" - that is, being a just society fighting a despotic one justified the war), Machiavelli (right or wrong, wars are always going to be fought. Learn only how to win), Thomas More (you can't do anything about the ends, but try to make the means more moral), Erasmus (once war has been declared, then all the affairs of the State are at the mercy of the appetites of a few), the modern geopolitical picture, not to mention the reality of any given experience – you’re just asking for trouble. Even if you’re augmenting someone’s point, use different words and you just gotta be wrong for not finding the same exact path even though it’s the same exact conclusion.

I read a bit ago on a Chicago blog about the bank protests downtown. One guy wrote "Sure, I suffered some hits on my portfolio like everyone else, but I'm making that up by spending the day at WORK."
Often it's a problem of context. A guy eating out of a food pantry is going to look at things a bit differently than a guy who lost money from his portfolio.
Sure, $50K, $100K is a lot of money to lose. More than the food pantry guy is going to see in a year. But it's probably better to get the food pantry guy a job.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:57 PM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


anodyne

Favourited for use of exotic language. Apparently this word was last used on Mefi by holgate at 1:26 PM on May 15, 2001.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:07 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


last used on Mefi by holgate

*sigh*
posted by rxrfrx at 8:19 PM on November 3, 2009


I write: "(as always in these articles, there's never the slightest discussion as to whether going off and killing people in a foreign country who've never offered you or your country the slightest threat is actually a good thing to do or not)."

And someone unable to read clearly see this as:

If the only depiction of war and soldiers you find acceptable is that which advocates pacifism, I think you will be disappointed in much covergae of war.

Or if that's too hard for you:

I'm complaining because no alternative to war is ever mentioned - not because some depictions do not advocate pacifism.

Or if that's too hard for you:

I'm complaining because the percentage of time devoted to pacifism is 0%. You are restarting this as my complaining that the percentage isn't 100%.


The US has been at war continuously for 70 years. Literally millions have been killed by American soldiers for nothing at all. These facts are never mentioned, referred to, hint at or taken into account at all in the mainstream media.

To take that perfectly legitimate complaint of mine and recast at as "you only accept coverage that advocates pacifism" is a intellectually dishonest restatement of what I said.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:55 PM on November 3, 2009


jock@law wrote:

"who've never offered you or your country the slightest threat"

Um, excuse me?! Maybe you should learn a thing or two about recent history and ROE before you start spreading lies.


I really - really - don't really appreciate being called a liar.

Please explain what threat Iraq offered to the United States. Or even better, explain what threat Vietnam offered to the United States. Or, you can simply apologize for your gratuitous rudeness.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:03 PM on November 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


For those speculating about the rushed romance- this is entirely typical for folks in the military because it makes economic sense. Here is an Op-Ed that covers Wufpak's point in a bit more detail. Married folks get paid more, and a number of other perks, including more control over their own lives, which is a much bigger issue than you might initially guess, and also key is housing vouchers or subsidized housing. If both folks getting hitched are in the military they will get greater consideration (not a guarantee) about where they are stationed and if you are just dating no such accommodation is made.

Also, military culture plays a strong role in these rushed affairs. I know of several "secrit" military marriages, and most of the folks I know in the US services rushed their marriage.
posted by zenon at 10:04 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


It was interesting to watch what this kid went through. He sure is a baby face. Technically, I'm old enough to be his mom. That makes me cringe for a lot of reasons.

A kid I work with is in the National Guard or the Reserves; I can't remember which exactly. He worked with us after his initial training and has already been overseas a couple times (once for some disaster relief and bridge building thing and another time in a combat zone). He's going to Afghanistan after the end of the semester. He's not quite as young looking as the guy in the photos, but still an energetic, smart, and generally upbeat guy. He really enjoyed the relief work and brought back a lot of pictures, but doesn't talk much about the other. I also work with his dad,and when the kid was last out, I saw the dad's worry lines and felt my own. He's such a GOOD kid. I don't usually pray, but I sincerely hope that he's not broken by the experience. I'd hate to see him have the thousand-yard stare.

I was an Army wife once, for about 9 months. Eloped with my high school sweetheart when we were 19 and he was home on leave. We'd been broken up (again... I think we tried 3 separate times all told; ah, the ignorance of youth) when he spontaneously proposed. I think we were both reaching for familiarity and comfort. He did well in the Army. I did not do well as an Army wife. Neither family approved, and we divorced amicably for our own reasons. The benefits of being married while in the military are very real. He was tired of having to live in the barracks. We figured out pretty early that it was a rash mistake, but put off the divorce to give him time to have his own place, etc., after I'd moved away. Haven't spoken to the guy in a couple of decades, but wish him well from afar when I think of him. I've gotten updates about him through the grapevine, and he's doing well. After his military service, he went back to college, got a Master's, been married to the same lady for about 15 or so years, has a couple of kids, and is a well-respected programmer. Plus, he knows how to fly helicopters, and that's pretty effing cool.
posted by lilywing13 at 11:45 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


What modern war does to soldiers. Part 1. Part 2. From a newspaper in a military town. Warned.
posted by vapidave at 11:47 PM on November 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Glad he came back with all his parts. Lucky he came back with all his parts.
Not quite what I expected (I'd link here to Annie Proux's story "Tits up in a Ditch" but it's behind a subscription wall and etc.). As is, it was pretty banal.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:23 AM on November 4, 2009


Those are children.
posted by srboisvert at 2:29 AM on November 4, 2009


I liked the photos with his dad though. They seem very close.
posted by Harry at 3:38 AM on November 4, 2009


I'm complaining because the percentage of time devoted to pacifism is 0%. You are restarting this as my complaining that the percentage isn't 100%.

You called the article "awful," "utterly fake" and "morally bankrupt" because it did not discuss whether "going off and killing people in a foreign country who've never offered you or your country the slightest threat is actually a good thing to do or not."

I am making a slight presumption, here, but I would venture to suggest that you do not think it is a good thing to go off and kill people in a foreign country who've never offered you or your country the slightest threat. If that is in fact your position, and you consider morally bankrupt any article which does not include a discussion of that position --- up to and including "day in the life" photo essays deliberately attempting to depict the everyday banality of an average Pfc's tour of duty --- then I am left with the impression that any article about war or soldiers which does not advocate pacifism is one you would find unacceptable. Because, in my view, making sure to include a few lines about how the war consists of "killing people in a foreign country who've never offered you or your country the slightest threat" is advocating pacifism.

Perhaps that's a bit too much to say. Possibly you may believe that the Nazis were sufficiently evil to be worth the fighting, and would not count yourself a pure pacifist. Nevertheless you do seem to take the strong position that most of the major conflicts the US has been involved in the past 60 years or so have consisted of killing people who have not offered your country the slightest threat. If that is so, you must consider anyone who has voluntarily participated in such an endeavor despicable, as you describe what they're doing as tantamount to murder.
posted by Diablevert at 5:32 AM on November 4, 2009


Effigy2000: "It chronicles his recruitment, induction, training, deployment and finally, his return from combat. "

I think I've become so acclimatized to the war and casualties that I was surprised* when his return home wasn't in a medical transport or coffin.

I don't know exactly what that says about me, the media, or this country, but I do think it says something.

* pleasantly
posted by subbes at 5:51 AM on November 4, 2009


Eric Fisher expresses concern about the drugs, but Ian dismisses it: “At least it’s not coke, Ecstasy, weed. … I’ve got like six‚ seven different medications now. They give it to you for a reason. I’m not going to just let them sit there.

wow.
posted by Sailormom at 6:48 AM on November 4, 2009


Here is the accompanying narrative in a less-horrible (but still not great) non-Flash interface.
posted by grouse at 7:12 AM on November 4, 2009


This was really powerful. Pictures definitely tell 1,000+ words.

As for the romantic arc: I totally understand that if you're in an intense situation where violence is the norm, when you get home, you want to be as domestic as possible. I definitely get that. I don't know whether or not it's healthy, but his impulse to marry and settle down ASAP seems natural to me.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:43 AM on November 4, 2009


A completely trivial question: can they bring their own blankets and sheets, or is this military-issue?
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:53 AM on November 4, 2009


then I am left with the impression that any article about war or soldiers which does not advocate pacifism is one you would find unacceptable.

No. This is the same false argument you advanced before. My same rebuttal applies. I do not want 100%. I want some fraction greater than 0%.

Perhaps you think "advocate" has a different meaning than the dictionary does, "to speak, plead, or argue in favor of" - I would neither expect nor want a news story to advocate pacifism.

I would hope that both sides of the issue would be mentioned: but in fact this article advocates only war.

Let's suppose that this were an article discussing abortion that only represented the pro-choice position - did not even discuss that anyone was opposed to abortion. I would find that article unacceptable for exactly the same reason that I find this one unacceptable.

The "liberal" media is almost completely rah-rah for war at all times. Articles like this are common: how many breathless pictorials of "a soldier's life" have we seen here in the blue? This might as well be a paid recruitment ad: "Join the Army, make your family proud, find purpose in life, have a lot of girls and get your picture in the paper."

An awful lot of people in the United States, and a majority of people around the world, are of the opinion that these soldiers are wasting their time, dying for nothing, causing more harm than good. I certainly do not expect articles about the war to advocate this position in any way - but what I would expect is that this would at least be mentioned.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:55 AM on November 4, 2009


Diablevert - I took your comment as indicative of the unquestioning stance shown by most U.S. media coverage while separating this particular piece as a narrow view of one individual's experience and so somewhat apart from more general topic war coverage.
(But then, what do I know? I'm a warmongering babykiller who advocates sniping civilians and should probably have killed myself by now. Even though, y'know, my handle is for a man who resisted American fascism and said "War is a Racket.")

darkstar has it. Being socially conditioned is more important than any standardized program conditioning. I'd like to see some equalizer such that sons of politicians, rich folks, etc. go off to war, since the congressional checks on war making seem to have gone to shit.
As it is, all the costs are, and are made, invisible. The dead, even the U.S. dead were hidden by the last administration. And come to think of it I don't see much ado being made about it in this administration.
This piece did not show any combat or anything grisly though, as far as I could tell.
But we should see more of the effects of war if he saw them.
All that's there is the girl in the mud with the sheep, a blowed up building, etc. Nothing nasty though that he probably saw. Maybe him looking 12 years old with his PIP is enough to tell the story, contrast that with his homelife.
Dunno, I'm not a photojournalist.
Seems like just a kid growing up, losing a girl, coming home. Meanwhile there are these large forces arrayed all around him.
Perhaps it's that allusion that makes it work? (There are other war photos on the site).

Could be the subject matter is too familiar to me to have much of an emotional impact.
On all levels. Men have gotten pictures of their wives naked in bed with someone else. People have had bill collectors call them on satellite phones in war zones, blood and body parts around them. Countless stories that bleed together... Folks say War is Hell, but I don't think Hell is that surreal.

The corpse in the library - yeah, you can bring your own stuff. Not out in the field though (well, you can if you like carrying extra weight).
posted by Smedleyman at 9:26 AM on November 4, 2009


lupus, et al.: The last time I checked, the U.S. and Iraq are not people. Nor do they have countries; they are countries. The article in question is told from the perspective of an individual, and lupus's unsubstantiated attack regarding "killing people in a foreign country who've never offered you or your country the slightest threat" (emphasis added) is clearly targeted at individuals regarding individuals. My response to him, citing rules of engagement, is clearly in rebuttal to an attack on individuals regarding individuals. Whether the invasion of Iraq was justified or not is utterly irrelevant to the question of whether Ian Fisher is "killing people ... who've never offered [him] the slightest threat."

For those of you who would like to spin off in to an unrelated tangent about the propriety of invading (not "killing") countries (not "people") who've never offered your national security (not "you or your country") the slightest threat, feel free to do so. Do not pretend that such a thing is in response to my post, which is about ROE.

Lupus accused U.S. servicemembers at large of killing innocent civilians. I take exception to that - find it despicable in fact - and ask that he keep his rhetoric in check.
posted by jock@law at 11:12 AM on November 4, 2009


Got some nice anti-war rhetoric going on here. If people want, they can take it to the next step by tracking down the deplaning areas and confront returning soldiers by spitting on them and calling them babykillers. Or at the least, they can gather around the White House in big crowds screaming "Hey Hey Oh-Bah-May! How many kids did you kill today?"

No? Not quite feeling the fire in the belly to match the convictions? Content to grumble about things on blogs or metafilter? Well maybe because there's no direct threat to you and yours from a draft. Sure, spare some pity and contempt for the guys going off to fight, and then hey, what about this health care thing? Let's deal with something that might affect my income!
posted by happyroach at 1:05 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lupus accused U.S. servicemembers at large of killing innocent civilians. I take exception to that - find it despicable in fact - and ask that he keep his rhetoric in check.

I take exception to U.S. servicemembers at large killing innocent civilians as well. I too find it despicable, in fact. But for some reason I don't feel like telling lupus_yonderboy to stop talking about it will make it any better.
posted by Hello, Revelers! I am Captain Lavender! at 3:47 PM on November 4, 2009


I also find it despicable that the US military is killing large number of civi's, and I guess that is a pretty popular opinion, seeing as the fellow running the country is "winding" down one of W's follies. Now, calling service folk volunteer babykillers is rude, and more importantly rather pointless, in part because I am sympathetic to the too young and too often poor folk who find the military a good option, yet I can also simultaneously be against glorifying the military (which I don't know if this article really did: it really didn't look glorious did it- really rather mundane, which IS how we like our killing and wars done: mundane), and I understand that military operations are a political decision.

So that's why I call republicans "voters for killing babies" to their face. Imagine, that party was once the party of Lincoln. At one point this party used to at war with the KKK.
posted by zenon at 7:35 AM on November 5, 2009


"I take exception to U.S. servicemembers at large killing innocent civilians as well. I too find it despicable, in fact. But for some reason I don't feel like telling lupus_yonderboy to stop talking about it will make it any better."

Accuracy in representation of reality does pretty much make any discussion much better. There is a vast difference between 'killing civilians' and deliberately targeting civilians.
What's appalling is that lupus_yonderboy seems to support deliberate targeting of American civilians in order to make a point about American foreign policy, but conflates, deliberately since the reality has been explicated many times here, deliberate war crimes on the part of an individual with - well, anyone who serves the country in any capacity in a time of war (Joe SAR in the Coast Guard, Joe Firefighter in the Navy) as culpable in the commission of war crimes such as deliberately targeting civilians.

Civilians have been killed in huge swaths since the dawn of war. Granted, more in recent history, but that's more a function of technology and sophistication (civilization has gotten more urban-centered) than anything else.

Servicemembers who do kill innocent civilians deliberately should be arrested and judged and if the facts bear out the crime, found guilty and at best sentenced to life.

Furthermore - to hold an individual responsible for the war policy of their country when one thinks the war is wrong is to grant them an undue degree of power and influence when one thinks the war is 'right.'
The military should not have any say in the matter either way. And they don't.
Unfortunately many folks do glorify (or denegrate) the troops (although that kind of objectification is typical) and that's the most dangerous possible perspective, socially, to hold.
Because then hell, why don't they just take power and kick out the people they don't like?

I remember hearing people ask that if the military is so just, why did they 'support' Bush and the Iraq war and why didn't they throw Bush out.
Then when Obama got elected and some idiots on the right said the same kind of thing, suddenly that's fascist talk.
But it's the same thing.

Only thing you can hold people responsible for is their own actions. Given the same altruistic intent, some guy marching for peace is working towards the same objective as someone who fights people who breech it - albeit by different means.
And while I respect Gandhi (et.al)'s position on method and cede to the moral high ground there, not everyone is capable of making that level of commitment all the time. You have had societies pull it together on occasion (the danes resisting the third reich say, in support of the jews - even though they all didn't put on a yellow star as the popular story goes) but sustaining a society at a mobilization level is not at all ideal. Algeria, for example, pulled off a successful resistance operation against a long standing colonizer (the French) but was very unstable for a while. As late as '97 you had sustained violence (offhand - the Sidi Daoud massacre). So any level of social mobilization, even righteous, can lead to violence. Hell, look at Gandhi's legacy in India/Pakistan.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:05 AM on November 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Kids.
posted by jabberjaw at 7:35 AM on November 8, 2009


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