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Not to be read by Americans!!!!

by Martin Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 06:01:52 PM EST

This is something I had already longer in mind, but the fact, that the only not completely insane speaches at the republican convention were about McCain's status as POW and the recent discussion initiated by Maryscott OConnor,  trigger the decision to write this:

I do not at all think military service per se something which is honourable.


One of my great-grandfathers (father of the mother of my mother) was on the eastern fron in WW II.
From what he has told, I can only assess, he was a coward. He got lost from his battle group, luckily, because it saved his live. Later he hided between dead bodies, for not being shot. When he was prisoner of war, he cooperated with the Russians, as good as he could. He failed his 'duty' to shoot as many Russians as possible pretty completely and cared mostly for his own live.

Would it have been more honourable if he would have functioned the way he should have functioned? Would it have been more honourable to die for an insane idea of world domination?

-------------------------
In the village where one of my grandfathers lived as child, there was a man, who emigrated to the USA, when the NAZIs took power. When WW II started, this man volunteered in the US army, and was in the group of soldiers, which reached first the village, where he once lived.
He helped the villagers, and convinced his co-soldiers that most of the people in the village were no NAZIs.

This man has fought, but against his own country. Wouldn't it have been its 'honourable' duty to fight for 'his' country, even when it was wrong on all counts?
--------------------------

During WW II the German army had a huge number of deserters. More than 20,000 were charged as treasenors. Thousands of them were put to death for that.

Who is the 'war hero'? Those who fought until their last drop of blood, or those who risked their death for not fighting an unjustice war of annihilation?

--------------------------

I don't want to equalise WW II and the Vietnam war. But isn't it, that today in hindsight most people say, this war was wrong? And wasn't it, that already during the  war, many Americans understood that this was a wrong war?

I don't condemn Vietnam war veterans, but can they count as heros as having done an honourable service to their country, when they were stubborn and willing to sacrifice for the wrong cause?

I say NO.

Display:


Were conscripted.

They didn't want to be there.

If I can't rant, I don't want to be part of your revolution

by Maryscott OConnor (myleftwing@gmail.com) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 06:25:36 PM EST
Yes, as German soldiers in WW II. Still for me those who died by the hands of a hangman for deserting are the heros, not those who died for victory.

And nowadays, Democrats in the US vote for retroactive immunity for the telecom industry, but not for amnesty for those soldiers, who were not willing to fight in Iraq an unjust aggressive war.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 06:43:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Ignorance of the law is no excuse."

Generally it's applied, if you can believe this, to TRAFFIC LAW.

I believe it is also applicable to moral law.

It's difficult for me to go this far out on this ledge, but...

If you're in the military and you're fighting this "war," just how culpable ARE you, morally speaking? I mean, I know the general population of humankind isn't all that full-up on intellect, but...

This war is WRONG. It is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

SO just how culpable ARE all these TROOPS we all say we "support?"

I feel bad for them, I do. They're fucked. But a lot of them are fucking GUNG HO, MOTHERFUCKER. They're GLAD TO BE SERVING THEIR COUNTRY.

Well, is it not incumbent upon them as moral human beings to ask of themselves, "Just what am I DOING here? Just what does this SERVICE to my country ENTAIL, and isn't the 'My country, RIght or WROng' motto a morally flawed one?"

Because, goddamn, man, we as a species have been here long enough to be held accountable for not having LEARNED these lessons by now.

If I can't rant, I don't want to be part of your revolution

by Maryscott OConnor (myleftwing@gmail.com) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 08:01:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem with these arguments is that they ignore the very personal moral issue/dilemma of when, under what conditions and how one should support his/her country's democratically mandated responsibility to provide for the common defense or carry out foreign policy. I'm not arguing about specific instances mentioned (Russia, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, etc).  The fact is that each occurrence requires a moral decision on the part of the potential soldier. The easiest decision to make is one to obey - even at the risk of death or participation in an event one considers immoral.  

As pointed out, one may frequently make personal decisions about traffic laws (to obey or not obey) without major consequence, but a decision to ignore a lawful order during military duty (or even to fail to report for military duty as when conscripted) cannot be taken so lightly. One may argue that the lawfulness of such orders is determined by whether or not the order is legal and proper under the law, and this is true, but the burden to prove that the order was illegal can be heavy one. Usually, acts of war are only questioned when a country initiating them is defeated and held accountable by a victorious foe.  Merely disagreeing with the decisions (or as pointed out above claiming ignorance) imposed by court or democratically elected authority is obviously not a defense. Conscientious objection has sometimes been used successfully in the US to avoid participation in military action, but this must also be justified.

The other side of the question is the morality of ignoring a peacekeeping role during immoral wars.  For example, when should one take personal action to stop a conflict involving genocide.  Is it immoral to talk and negotiate endlessly while whole populations are being wiped out? If one found himself a soldier under UN orders in Bosnia, powerless to stop the ethnic cleansing, when would it be morally permissible to refuse to serve under the UN mandate? When was it morally acceptable to serve under NATO orders in Bosnia? Was it OK for NATO to bomb Serbian/Rep Serpska positions, etc.?

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 01:31:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
excellent points, gringo.

on that note

M of A - Pakistan Under Zardari

Even if amerika has the resources which I doubt considering what else is on the plate. eg the dems will be determined to take on Chavez and Morales in Latin America and those won't be easy wins. The sort of 'wet work' on a massive scale required to achieve victory in Afghanistan is not suited to a multi-national task force.

It is one thing to get a wide national grouping of different military forces together to defend their homelands against a common enemy, but quite another to keep a range of different national cultures with differing motivations for being at war to engage in the sort of massive slaughter required to 'win' Afghanistan. Remember amerika dragged out the marine mass murderers and the'airborne' for Fallujah. Two armies from the same nation with similar mindsets created for murder on a mass scale.

I don't understand the details exactly of how one brainwashes hundreds of thousands of immature humans into massacring other humans on a huge scale but I suspect it is a tricky business, something that is generational, that is you can get one generation of soldiers to do it once but after that getting them to repeat the act is problematic. Sure some of them become psychopaths but that is not necessarily a good thing. They need to kill as directed not wantonly, and for every psychopath there are likely to be a number of other troops who grew up very quickly and will do anything to not have to repeat their murder spree.

Ending Iraq seems pretty good no doubt but amerika's forces are still recovering from Iraq they aren't ready for a new one. However much Obama may think he can sell the idea of peace through pulling outta Iraq and starting a whole new massacre in Afghanistan, I doubt amerikan voters have thought it through.


The reality of fresh mass murders so soon after the last horrors will make 'winning' Afghanistan very difficult.

I wonder if amerikans really have the stomach for another Iraq, a Fallujah where they will have to butcher another half million humans at least, while the world looks on aghast?

Time will tell but blocking the supply line should be regarded by humans inside and outside Afghanistan, inside and outside amerika as a good thing something there should be much more of, regardless of whether or not the motivation is selfish.

Posted by: Debs is dead



'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Sep 8th, 2008 at 06:16:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent discussion Melo, and I found myself agreeing with the argument up to this point:

Ending Iraq seems pretty good no doubt but amerika's forces are still recovering from Iraq they aren't ready for a new one. However much Obama may think he can sell the idea of peace through pulling outta Iraq and starting a whole new massacre in Afghanistan, I doubt amerikan voters have thought it through.

The author seems to forget the trauma to the American psyche that was caused by the intentional mass murders that took place on 9/11 (the numbers could easily have been much worse - up to 50,000).  

In my mind there is a distinct difference between a group setting out to deliberately murder as many innocent persons as possible to achieve a political purpose and a war conducted by a nation and fought under the international rules of war.  BTW, I'm not referring to Iraq, which is a travesty regardless of the outcome, that had nothing whatsoever to do with the events of 9/11; and I am not defending that war or the criminal actions of those in the American Government related to it or the "war on terror." My point is that terrorist actions are rightly seen as equally criminal in nature and the perpetrators should be pursued and treated as criminals.

With those thoughts in mind it is fallacious to equate war and terrorist actions except when those participating in war commit violations (crimes) of the rules of war.

While I vigorously opposed the administration's entry into Iraq as totally unjustified, I just as strongly believed that something had to be done about Afghanistan's Taliban run government and its support for the Al Qaeda criminals. Now that Al Qaeda appears to have been rejected by the Iraqi people, the organization has again turned to the Taliban and Afghanistan.  Does this foreshadow a wholesale massacre of Afghan citizens by US/NATO troops. I certainly hope not and I do not believe it to be a necessary result.

However, one cannot expect the American and European peoples to stand idly by while Al Qaeda plots and carries out another series of attacks on civilian targets, and it is unlikely that they will. I reject the argument that left alone Al Qaeda will just go away and kill no more or that 9/11 was a one-time event never to be repeated.  Should alternatives to military action be considered, absolutely. Is it possible to reconcile the Taliban or Al Qaeda's positions with those of the "West", maybe.  All avenues should be explored, but we cannot afford to just do nothing.


I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Sep 8th, 2008 at 01:10:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gringo:
In my mind there is a distinct difference between a group setting out to deliberately murder as many innocent persons as possible to achieve a political purpose and a war conducted by a nation and fought under the international rules of war.  BTW, I'm not referring to Iraq, which is a travesty regardless of the outcome, that had nothing whatsoever to do with the events of 9/11; and I am not defending that war or the criminal actions of those in the American Government related to it or the "war on terror." My point is that terrorist actions are rightly seen as equally criminal in nature and the perpetrators should be pursued and treated as criminals.

point taken. i'm sure you speak for millions in the usa, and anyone who has been hit knows how you feel.

al quaida's perceived injustices were punished by 9/11, creating more of the same. they had declared war effectively through their corruption of the concept of jihad, and knew that there was no UN that would listen to them. they took a horrible option, just as 'we' are now in return, and so on and on, until the UN loses its israel/usa bias, and we stop treating the middle east like it's our armed personal warehouse for our energy needs. bin laden is certainly a lunatic killer, but surely it's only a fool would think he did it without some reason more than simple pathological paranoia and racial/religious hatred?

just to be clear, he was unutterably wrong to do what he did, but have our actions vis-a-vis the muslim and arab world not been maddening for centuries?

no wonder he's barking, we would be too... in fact i think we are, and no surge in afghanistan will convince me differently, unless it's a surge in genuine aid, not bombs.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Sep 8th, 2008 at 04:45:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Melo, I certainly agree with everything you have said.  The US is not at all guiltless in the current state of affairs and in the run up to 9/11.  It is very likely true that those drawn to Al Qaeda feel powerless in the face of the international march towards globalization and thus felt compelled to take whatever drastic actions they have taken right or wrong. I actually feel sorry for them in the sense that we all have been victims of "progress" or injustices, some greater than others. Nevertheless, as with the man who robs banks because he really needs the money, illegal acts can't be condoned and one would be rather foolish to ignore a loaded gun aimed at one's head.

I think the real tragedy is that neither Americans nor members of Al Qaeda understand each other very well.  For their part the typical American does not have a good understanding of what the US Govt. has done, in their name, to provoke so much hatred abroad, particularly in the Middle East and the Islamic world in general.  Americans do not understand the consequence of the lack of even handedness by the US Govt in dealing with Israel over the Palestinian issue nor do they understand clearly the consequence of their government's support for despotic regimes in the name of business and trade.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Sep 8th, 2008 at 06:27:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But it is not only a problem of moral, but as well of pratical issues.

  • The London terror attack was done by people born in the UK and living all their lives in the UK.
  • There are lots of countries which would provide enough lack of rule of law to be used by terrorists as base. The 'we will hunt the terrorists where they are wherever they hide' is impossible. Even if the resources would be there to attack every country. For a pseudomoralic justification you need as well nationbuilding. There may be resources for one or two big countries nation building, but not for a dozen.
  • The precision of war is lousy, you kill a lot more people than the few, who would likely engage in terror attacks. This killings may increase the propensity to do terror attacks by the remaining people - and gives them justification
  • There is zero possibility to control success. Nobody knows, if the war in Afghanistan has increased or reduced the likelyhood of further terror attacks. It is impossible to find out.
  • the war in Afghanistan reduces available resources. Al Kaida has attacked the US, because the US is in the middle east. Nobody who has openly looked to the motives of Al Kaida is denying that. The most important reason to be there is the stability of the major oil suppliers. With less expenditures for war, the US could have been much more energy efficient and independent by now.
  • what is the cost in whatsoever of another terror attack in the US compared with wars, in $, human live, international respect, future opportunities...

Yes, you don't want a bankrobber to get away, but even in the US the police will not kill a whole village to get one bankrobber, when they e.g. have proofs, that one of the people in the village must be the bankrobber, but they don't know who.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Sep 8th, 2008 at 06:44:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, so how do you propose to deal with the problem of persons plotting and training for mass murder? Or would you just let it happen?

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Sep 8th, 2008 at 07:03:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, so how do you propose to deal with the problem of persons plotting and training for mass murder? Or would you just let it happen?
Well, I would deal with the problem. The war in Afghanistan is not dealing with the problem, so what you suggest is not dealing with the problem.
People in terror camps anyhow are bad mass murderers. Therefore you need more sophisticated skills, which e.g. the 9/11 terrorists learned, uhmm, in the United States of America. And plotting I can do here in my home.

How to deal with the problem?
Lots of things, most of which are actually done.

  • securing critical vulnerabilities with sky marshalls, airplane courses, extra security personal in nuclear power plants, give the political responsibility for things like NORAD to people who are competent...
  • police work, secret service work: This has controlable success. So while you look to Afghanistan, our police locks terrorists, with enough proofs to go to ordinary court and send the terrorists to prison, no Guantanamo, no military tribunals needed
  • try to cut their financing
  • try diplomatic pressure on countries which are known to harbour terrorists
  • give carrots to countries, which are cooperating.
  • try to cut their popular support, by stopping to behave like an asshole

Of course a lot of these are already done (except of the last, it seems Bush wants more terrorists, not less), but the war in Afghanistan is not helpful.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Sep 8th, 2008 at 07:43:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Martin, sounds to me like you're saying we should do basically what we were doing before 9/11, except of course not acting like assholes, only this time we should catch the terrorists before they strike.

I'll agree that this approach does work much of the time as it did before 9/11 and has since.  But what if, (as long as we are playing with people's lives) despite our best efforts, something else like 9/11 or worse happens?  What if we pull out of Afghanistan and the Taliban regains control, allows Al Qaeda to set up its training camps again and continues to plot.  Maybe this time they'll learn to fly somewhere else and maybe they will just fly a few planes into Nuclear power plants, say in France. Can't happen? Tell me why it can't and I'll figure out a way to make it happen, and I'm just a mediocre, semi-paranoid, retired security person with no desire to commit suicide.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Sep 8th, 2008 at 10:18:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Martin, sounds to me like you're saying we should do basically what we were doing before 9/11, except of course not acting like assholes, only this time we should catch the terrorists before they strike.

Competent person in charge? No. 9/11 is mainly the fault of the Bush administration's incompetence. That by the way is the reason, why they have tried to prevent proper analysis of what went wrong.
As well there are quite a number of security issues, which were improved, since. Security is expensive and when for a long time nothing happens, it is attractive to let the level of vigilance dropping. 9/11 has reversed that. Survaillance, sky marshalls, and as well the crackdown of the financial streams is much sharper than before.

What if we pull out of Afghanistan and the Taliban regains control, allows Al Qaeda to set up its training camps again and continues to plot.
Well, this can happen. But what happens, when they plot in the tribal areas of Pakistan, or in Somalia, or in France or in the USA?

The terrorists don't need a major training camp to pursue attacks in the developed world. Plotting they can do everywhere in the world. But even when they needed them, they have plenty of options. The US can't invade all countries who harbour a couple of terrorists. For the terrorists moving from Afghanistan to another country is a burden, but doesn't finish them off. For the west to make a meaningful nationbuilding, which guarantees, that the terrorists can't come back, once the western troops pull out, is quite effortful.
I think even just invading the tribal areas of Pakistan will be very dangerous, and getting the Pakistani army to do it themselves is difficult and associated with risks, too.

Furthermore the costs of an attack like 9/11 as well in human live and pain, are not infinite higher than the cost of a war. If you can reduce the risk of an attack like 9/11 by 5% (which I very much doubt) by 'winning' in Afghanitan, but you have to sacrifice 5,000 soldiers and 50,000 seriously injured ones, it is not worth it.This doesn't include a single victim of 'the other side', which will go to the 100,000, until Afghanitan is won. You have to accept, that their live has some value, too, even when most of them are 'regular' targets, but of course there are a lot of purely civilian victims, too.
In terms of money, it is of course even more so. The war in Iraq (which could indicate how much effort is needed to secure Afganistan; just because there were really terrorists in Afghanistan doesn't mean it is easier to win in Afghanistan than in Iraq) costs probably each year more than 9/11.

except of course not acting like assholes
But that is a quite important point. And the west is losing the propaganda war in middle east. Not only the war in Iraq, but as well the war in Afghanistan are seen by a number of relevant people as occupation of a muslim country by unbelievers. This can increase the risk of a terror attack. The most idiotic thing is of course the security support of the Saudi monarchy. That probably is the single most important point. Second would be the Israel/Palestinian conflict. Both sides are strongly supported financially by the west. We could say, either you both make bold moves to peace, or we pull out our support. Or not, it is really only the second most important issue.

And finally, war is creating chaos. Chaos creates unpredictable outcomes. So far in the argumentation it is assumed, that Afghanistan is won, if the US gov is just determined enough and providing sufficient resources. That may be a flawed assumption. There can happen unpredictable things, which could prevent the US from winning in Afghanistan, even when fully determined.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Sep 8th, 2008 at 10:57:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Was the Bush administration at fault for 9/11?  Let me rephrase: did the administration contribute to the non-detection of the terrorists?  From what I have read, it is very likely that the administration was sleeping on the job, but I don't believe it can be directly blamed. There is no way to be certain that the terrorists would have been detected/halted if the democrats were in charge. Obviously, things have improved, but I don't have a warm and fuzzy feeling about our capability to prevent a new, innovative attack. We need to keep the terrorists on the run and off-balance.

The terrorists don't need a major training camp to pursue attacks in the developed world. Plotting they can do everywhere in the world. But even when they needed them, they have plenty of options. The US can't invade all countries who harbour a couple of terrorists.

You are mistaken, the terrorists do need safe havens to train, recruit and plot. The US doesn't need to invade every country where terrorists establish cells if the local government is cooperative and vigilant in repressing them and keeping them on the run. It just makes their activities difficult and provides opportunities to disrupt their plans and activities. The problem with Afghanistan was that it had become a safe haven and the local government/regime not only tolerated but supported al-Qaeda.  Yes, the tribal areas of Pakistan are a problem, and that is why the US Govt spends so much time in Pakistan working with the Govt.on this issue. Somalia and other lawless areas are also a problem but no to the extent Taliban led Afghanistan had become.

Not acting like assholes.  I couldn't agree with you more.

War and chaos.  Again, I agree. War is a horrible solution should be the last resort.  I just don't know what else can be done about Afghanistan.  We need to maximize peaceful solution there so the people choose an alternative to repressive, terrorist supporting regimes.  The problem is that these "regimes" don't have our same values about war and peace.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Sep 9th, 2008 at 11:52:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Comment responses
We need to maximize peaceful solution there so the people choose an alternative to repressive, terrorist supporting regimes.  The problem is that these "regimes" don't have our same values about war and peace.

oh, please... some scare quotes would be nice!

they have warlord values and we don't, they're for sale to the highest bidder and we aren't?

they have shitty hardware and kill indiscriminately, we have the best hardware and a lot of it is full of sand and broken, and we do a lot of 'collateral damage'.

afghanis have some strong ideas about honour, and so do the marines and special forces, just very different.

they live in one of the poorest countries on earth, and are defending it from outsiders. even if they want to have terror camps, which i deplore, we have to go upriver and apologise for our meddling, and really go for the hearts and minds that way, balance out the past, while winning their gratitude...NOT their subservience...i have been in afghanistan, and they are the proudest people on earth, they will never give up.

meanwhile trying to bomb them into the stone age (where they know a thing or two about survival we've long forgotten), just hardens their resolve, sharpens  their wile, and compounds their already low opinion of us.

they took cia money to fight the russians back, i'm sure they were not naive about the quid pro quo, but they will not lay down and roll over till the last one is dead, and we cannot afford on any level to keep looking like rich, murderous bullies without creating two terrorists for every clusterbomb, raised from birth to think about bringing down the western Great Satan as prime raison d'etre.

but i forgot, terrorists are the new commies, makes everything so much simpler, look how b-a-a-ad they are, that must mean we must be wearing the white hats.

with all due respect gringo, 'our' values about war and peace are sadly very similar, however seen through the rest of the world's eyes, and yes they are looking very hard, they (the taliban, al quaida) seem like the underdogs, taking money from bin laden and using it to protect islamic lands from heathen infidels, just as we try to stop islamofascists from crashing planes into skyscrapers.

i wish there were more differences...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Sep 10th, 2008 at 08:02:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, you are correct.  I wrote that last statement (about values) in haste without thinking about the effect/meaning.  My intent was to address the Taliban and its support for al Qaeda, and to critize al Qaeda's tactics as being contrary to the laws of war.  The US has come under a lot of criticism for violations of the laws of war, and rightfully so. However, the Taliban and al Qaeda don't get much credit for their on-going violations of the same.

I don't agree that we should apologize for meddling with thier terrorist camps.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Wed Sep 10th, 2008 at 01:11:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But what if, (as long as we are playing with people's lives) despite our best efforts, something else like 9/11 or worse happens?

You mean like

  • Europe becoming a suitable habitat for the malaria mosquito?

  • A major coastal city being wiped out by natural disasters in a nominally first world country?

  • A million or so people incarcerated in nominally first world countries for trivial non-violent crimes?

Terrorism Is Not An Issue.

And the funny thing is that I conclude this based on largely the same line of argument that you use to justify making it an issue: It is so ridiculously easy to make a major kaboom somewhere in a Western(TM) society where it will hurt badly. If there were slavering hordes of terrorists out there whose highest ambition in life were to make the lives of Western(TM) citizens and/or countries difficult, stuff would blow up every other month. It doesn't, so there aren't.

The Danish resistance during the War (which wasn't particularly impressive) managed to blow up more stuff in Denmark over two years than Al Qaeda's goons have managed throughout Europe since the founding of the organisation.

Can we please stop being scared now?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 10th, 2008 at 02:05:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good points.  BTW, I not scared; otherwise I wouldn't be living Mexico's latest kidnapping and murder kingdom. However, that doesn't mean I take kidnapping, global warming, repressive governments, exploitation of the poor or any other man made scourge lightly. As far as I'm concerned they are all issues that have to be dealt with.  Terrorists are an issue, but not the most pressing one at the moment.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Wed Sep 10th, 2008 at 04:35:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"They" can do a 9/11 every month and they still wouldn't kill more people than the failure to provide adequate influenza vaccination to the at-risk parts of the American population. And let's not even start on all the people in third-world countries who are killed by a lack of readily available influenza vaccine programs - a lack that is in no small part a result of IMF (read: US State Department) and WTO (read: Bruxelles and State Department) policy and general European colonial mismanagement.

European and American governments wanting to get back at people who kill European and American citizens is all well and good, but it rings decidedly hollow when those same governments are unwilling to spend a small fraction of the effort to solve eminently solvable problems that kill far more people, but don't allow one to flood the airwaves with pictures of tanks, cruise missiles and fighter jets (or phosphor bomb a city or two in the service of Halliburton...).

As an aside, it is not the case that the Iraqi people has "turned away Al Qaeda," because Al Qaeda was never there in the first place and never established an operational command structure there, as far as anybody has been able to tell. "Al Qaeda in Iraq" is a local militia who wanted a name that sounds big and scary. We've undoubtedly got gangs in Copenhagen that call themselves "Al Qaeda in Denmark" - heck, they may even think of themselves as Fedayeen. But I can pretty much guarantee you that there are no genuine (active) Al Qaeda operatives in Copenhagen.

(The city is so full of utterly unprotected sabotage targets that any reasonably determined terrorist with a multiple-digit IQ could blow some shit up in a pretty spectacular way with less than a month of preparation. If there were active professional terrorists in Copenhagen, something would be a smoking crater right now...)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 10th, 2008 at 01:27:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... war, as documented in "Sir! No Sir!" (Wikipedia)

Mind you, just saying cause there are no Americans around.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 06:53:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think that's actually correct. About 1/3 of them were drafted.
by asdf on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 09:34:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]


 I guess it just FEELS like most of them were drafted.

More's the shame, then.

Then again, propaganda works wonders.

If I can't rant, I don't want to be part of your revolution

by Maryscott OConnor (myleftwing@gmail.com) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 09:44:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A fair amount of those two/thirds that enlisted did so knowing that they would be drafted soon enough and by enlisting had some options that draftees didn't have.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 01:33:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was about to make that point. For many, like myself, my brother, and everyone else I knew for that matter, there really was no choice.  Either enlist, try for officer status or get drafted. The joke in college was "A, B, C, D, Nam." I graduated, then went to Nam.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Sep 8th, 2008 at 01:17:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm so accustomed to writing short comments, that one just slipped out.

So.

In answer to your question: No, having served in VIetnam does not confer automatic "hero" status on An American, in my opinion. NOr does having DIED in VIetnam, for that matter.

My father is considered by many historians a hero for the actions that led to his death. (PDF) He was awarded, posthumously, a Bronze Star and the usual Purple Heart.

As it happens, he enlisted -- Marines are not drafted. As it also happens, his letters home to my mother prove that several weeks prior to his death he came to believe the war a great folly and evil, and determined to leave the Marines on finishing his tour of duty. The greatest plans of mice and men...

I neither condemn nor laud the men who fought in Vietnam for their actions in that war -- excepting, of course, those who committed war crimes. I do applaud those who, on returning home, recognised the war's evil and renounced it -- and I condemn those who insisted -- and continue to insist -- it was a "noble" war. Only a blind man or a fool could do that; or worse, a liar.

I do not claim to see into the hearts and minds of men like John McCain; I do not know if he actually believes the bullshit he spews. I only know that it IS bullshit.

As for whether his actions were heroic in Vietnam? Well, he got through a hellish experience, and it takes some sort of heroic resilience to do that, so I applaud that strength. Bravo, John McCain of yesteryear.

But it is the man he is now with whom we are concerned.

And I know he is not a hero now.

If I can't rant, I don't want to be part of your revolution

by Maryscott OConnor (myleftwing@gmail.com) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 06:38:24 PM EST
The title of the diary was for a reason. I didn't want to insult you or your father or make you feel pain, but I have trouble to accept the American framing, that being a soldier is such a great service to your country. Especially with the history of MY country, obeying orders in a war isn't what I can call at all heroic.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 07:36:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by an honest discussion of the Vietnam war.

I thought perhaps the title was to try to avoid the "ugly Americans" -- but wouldn't they be more likely to be of the sort we saw at the Republican convention?

At any rate -- this topic is always welcome.

Frankly, I consider the deserters, the draft dodgers and the protesters the true heroes of the Vietnam era.

If I can't rant, I don't want to be part of your revolution

by Maryscott OConnor (myleftwing@gmail.com) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 07:52:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a veteran of the service during Viet-Nam era (pretty pale stuff for me since I was essentially a chow-hall inspector for the air force in N. California) I am fully prepared to say there is very little heroic in most military service.  I had no intention of being a hero-or I would have stood up and gone to Canada or prison like some of my favorite people did, to their detriment, I chose a branch of the service and a job in that branch that reduced the odds as far as possible.

The most anti-war guys I knew were the guys that came back to our little midwest town and said, "DO NOT GO!"

I think Americans need to have this discussion.  I've got a nephew over in Iraq that I worry about-I hope to high heaven that he isn't considered a hero.

I would say that the guys on the helicopter that stopped the My Lai massacre were heroes, to me they qualify.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson

by NearlyNormal on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 08:03:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To go one step further, I applaud those who wouldn't even finish their tour of duty, and who showed in one way or another that they don't value the life of locals lower than that of their comrades in the Band of Brothers.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 10:57:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I couldn't agree more. All the piety about honourable service and the automatic hero status conferred on American "troops" is pretty rich coming from a nation that has not fought a defensive war since 1812 (if even then; many Canadians might dispute it.)
by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 07:19:59 PM EST
Anti-American self parody watch
by MarekNYC on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 07:39:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think WWII qualifies as a defensive war.  Warmongering Europeans started it and if the Red Army hadn't been so intractable we would have had a hell of a fight on our hands at some point.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 08:06:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]


 I'll question the whole "defending the Homeland thing," though.

Pearl Harbor? Yeah, they bombed it. We lost a lot of people. California was threatened, I guess. Maybe. I don't think the US was threatened, though, as a nation.

Maybe. Mostly, though, it was the idea that the entire WORLD was threatened -- the US was threatened -- for the last time, really -- as a member of the community of the world.

I miss that -- being a part of the community of the world.

If I can't rant, I don't want to be part of your revolution

by Maryscott OConnor (myleftwing@gmail.com) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 08:12:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it was a question of time-If Europe/Asia/Africa go into the hands of the Axis we are pretty screwed in many ways that would threaten us as a nation.  Nevermind the likelihood that the Germans would have figured out the Atom bomb and that would about have done it.

My biggest problem with WWII is that it is such a unique example that too many wrong-headed lessons are taken from it.  A Hitler comes along rarely, and almost never in conjunction with the opportunity to lead a state like Germany in the throes of dire poverty and its own cultural war.  What was Germany-50 years old as a unified state then?  My biggest problem with WWII and our stance in it is that we could have done more to prevent it, but it really was out of our hands mostly.

I too miss the community of the world.  I felt like we were just getting it back after Vietnam and the evil buffoon knowingly kicked it away to the cheers of an astoundingly high proportion of Americans.  To me that is really shameful.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson

by NearlyNormal on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 08:23:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
WWII was a combination of a European war and a Far Eastern war, neither of which had anything to do with the U.S. We were perfectly willing to let France and China be invaded, and to let Britain be bankrupted, and to let Russia be massacred because it reduced the international competition.
by asdf on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 09:45:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FDR was desperately trying to find a way into the European and Pacific wars well before Pearl Harbour. By then, for example, he'd taken over the protection of Atlantic convoys for half of their journey to Britain. He'd also introduced peacetime conscription for the first time in US history, and started a huge military build up - again a first in peacetime, since until then the US had generally maintained rather anemic land forces except during war. The Republicans were hardline isolationists, and with a minority of the Dems made a declaration of war politically impossible.

I'm also not sure how the chaotic mess that was China in the thirties posed any sort of competition. Russia for its part was an ally of Germany's until it got attacked.

by MarekNYC on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 11:41:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And, bluntly, what could we have done about it anyway?  Particularly in Europe the heads of the governments really didn't pay a lot of attention to what we had to say, and we didn't have many more divisions than the pope.  France was still reeling from the loss of a generation, Germany surging with national pride wanted a place in the sun (colonies), Italy with its meglomaniac and the English still looking down their noses at the wogs.  None of them in power were likely to listen to us, they had doom to meet.

I've always thought that the absolute horror and folly of that war is what strengthened the European populations to get control of their governments to make sure that this didn't happen again and knocked the virulent forms of nationalism out of their political structures for 2 generations as a respectable public expression.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson

by NearlyNormal on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 01:29:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe joining the Society Of Nations would have been a start...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 07:01:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would have been helpful if we were in the League, but we were nowhere near as important a power then, and there is little reason to think that the league would have actually done anything had we been there.  But yes, we should have been in the League and trying.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 09:09:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd also call the War of Southern Aggression a war of self defense.
by MarekNYC on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 11:47:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If by that, you mean the Civil War, I suppose you are correct...except for that not inconsiderable portion of your countrymen who still sport the losing flag. On balance (and I know how heavy are both sides) I think the world would have been a better place if you had let them go.

Meanwhile, I don't see how a Pacific War, which led to the nuclear destruction of two cities of an all-but-abjectly-defeated enemy, and occupation of Japan and the Philippines that lasted for decades, and the seizure of the Pacific Islands that persists to this day (and I fine show of freedom they demonstrate)....well can this be called a war of of defense?

The situation and outcome in the European Theatre was more complicated and I want my morning coffee. So for now, I will stipulate that it had a significant defensive component. I just don't think that events and outcome reflects so much to the glory of the American soldier as the myth would have it.  

And it is the relentless myth of glory, of Spotless Christian Hero-dum; the requirement that all the world---absolutely including your own politicians---genuflect to the awesomeness that is any American in uniform, that gives the wiggins about the USA. Yes, I am (in many ways) anti-American, and I think there are some pretty good reasons for it.

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 08:56:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The American people and government have supported one of my research programs under the auspices of a treaty signed by Mexico, Canada and the USA having to do with biodiversity conservation. That generous support of research activities in foreign countries is perhaps one of those "only in America" kind of things (well, I think the EU does it, too, but I have not been on receiving end of their largess...they just eat up all our fish!)

Cartoonish Anti-Yanqui though I am, I recognise that the USA polity, internal and external, is multifaceted in the extreme. The fact is, the US gummint gave me and some colleagues a significant amount of money, and they may do so again (sure hope so!). And I am very grateful for it.

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 10:15:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan was not all but defeated at the time. It still had the capability to mount a serious, if doomed, defense of its home islands. Whether that justifies Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a different question. Nor do I see how the subsequent occupation changes whether it was a war of self defense, nor whether it was justified.

In Europe, if you're referring to the fact that the primary burden of defeating the Nazis rested on the Soviets - I'm perfectly aware of that. And believe it or not, in spite of being Polish, I think that they were fighting a war of self-defense. Neither the long term occupations of foe and ally alike, nor what happened to the German civilian population  change that.

On the Civil War - well I'll assume you don't care about the fate of Americans, so just think of that of Mexico, the islands, etc.

by MarekNYC on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 10:37:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The ability of Japan to defend itself against an invasion of the home islands is only an issue if we accept that the legitimate war aim of the Americans and allies in the Pacific was unconditional surrender. Such an objective, it seems to me, turns a war of defense into a war of vengeance. It's understandable, and certainly not without precedent, but the two are not the same.

The subsequent occupation and establishment of imperial domains does not prove that a given war was not, at least initially, defensive. It does cast some doubt on what were the true political aims of the war, however.

And I think you may have the advantage of me. I am nore sure to what you refer as "the southern war." I thought you referred to the Civil War, but perhaps I was wrong.

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 12:27:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Such an objective, it seems to me, turns a war of defense into a war of vengeance

No, it simply means you're aiming at a full victory rather than risking fighting the damn thing again in a decade or two.

It does cast some doubt on what were the true political aims of the war, however.

The 'true' political aims were defeating what was seen as a grave threat to the US. That America sought to maximize its gains from victory is normal. Again, do you really think that the primary objective of the USSR wasn't simply to defeat Germany?

I am nore sure to what you refer as "the southern war." I thought you referred to the Civil War, but perhaps I was wrong.

Not sure about your confusion, I was referring to the Civil War. My term of 'War of Southern Aggression' was just a play on the traditional southern name for the war.

by MarekNYC on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 12:36:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan would have in no position to remount the war in 20yr had a conditional surrender been accepted. By then, it was clear they had been in position to start it in the first place. With the southeast aisian old fields in allied hands, they could never have started again. So I don't think your attribution of a need for finality realy holds water.

I think the problem is with your notion of "total victory". If I may quote The Master: "Anciently, those skilled in war sought to take all under heaven intact."

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 12:49:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Such an objective, it seems to me, turns a war of defense into a war of vengeance

No, it simply means you're aiming at a full victory rather than risking fighting the damn thing again in a decade or two.

That may have been the reasoning, but it didn't work out that way for France in 1919. Or for Germany in 1871.

Of course, it's entirely possible that each country has to learn that lesson on its own...

As an aside, by 1945 there was nothing that could possibly have prevented the US from stripping Japan of her colonies and preventing her from posing a serious threat again in the foreseeable future. And if unconditional surrender were desired anyway, blockading Japan until they complied would have been relatively straightforward, given that Japan didn't have a navy or air force at this point in the war and was dependent on imports for much of its civilian industry. Whether it would have been more humane is, however, something I'm not competent to judge.

It is striking, though, that the most obvious geostrategic difference under a continued war scenario is that it would have involved a Russian occupation of Manchuria and Korea. Given that already in 1944 the American strategic establishment had a pretty clear read on the likely fracture lines of the post-war world order, it is not unlikely that a Soviet presence in Manchuria and Korea was judged to be undesirable.

But fundamentally, I think the discussion of The Bombs is a red herring as long as one does not consider the underlying doctrine of strategic bombing. Now there is a thorny subject... that I think we should leave, however, for another diary.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 10th, 2008 at 03:33:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And if unconditional surrender were desired anyway, blockading Japan until they complied would have been relatively straightforward, given that Japan didn't have a navy or air force at this point in the war and was dependent on imports for much of its civilian industry.

True of Germany as well, circa the end of 1944. The last five months of the war killed a hell of a lot more Germans than Japanese died from the bombs. And Germany ended up getting treated much worse than Japan in the postwar settlement.

by MarekNYC on Wed Sep 10th, 2008 at 03:59:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep. But I don't view Operation Overlord as (solely) an operation aimed against Germany either.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Sep 11th, 2008 at 03:16:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How about the North Vietnamese - could you imagine calling a soldier in their army a hero? I can make just as good an argument that one can't as I can for those on the American side.

How about Germans who fought in WWI, or 1870? How about those who fought in the Red Army in WWII?

NB - if you don't want your diary read by Americans, find a site which they don't frequent.

by MarekNYC on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 07:45:33 PM EST


I do consider the North Vietnamese soldiers as much heroes as any American draftees.

Look, conscripted soldiers do what they HAVE to do. IF they can't get the fuck OUT, they do what they have to do -- they survive.

If I can't rant, I don't want to be part of your revolution

by Maryscott OConnor (myleftwing@gmail.com) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 07:53:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What the fuck is a HERO, anyway?

A hero is someone who saves a life, right? Well... saving your own ass counts.

As long as you don't commit a fucking crime against goddamned humanity, man -- you do what you HAVE to do to survive, you  get the fuck out of there, you make amends for whatever sins you feel you've committed in your time on earth, you live as good a life as you can... you get the fuck through it.

Jesus, isn't that what we all end up doing?

If I can't rant, I don't want to be part of your revolution

by Maryscott OConnor (myleftwing@gmail.com) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 07:55:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How about the North Vietnamese - could you imagine calling a soldier in their army a hero? I can make just as good an argument that one can't as I can for those on the American side.

I'm not aware of the details of the Vietnam war. If you imply that I would have implied Nort Vietnamese soldiers were heros, then you are wrong.

No I do not think the Germans in WW I were heros and I don't think the ones fighting in 1870 were heros, even when I consider that war not as criminal.

The soldiers of the Red Army in WW II may have earned such a title, but so far I have never used it. I have however used it already to describe African American soldiers in WW II, who fought not only like every other American in WW II, for the freedom of foreign countries, but as well for their own country, where they had not full citizen rights, and for the economic wellbeing of their country, of which they hadn't the chance to fully participate.

NB - it is fine when Americans read this. I don't complain. But when they are insulted by the incredible denial of respect for military service I portray, it is their own problem.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 08:47:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't have a problem with that. What I minded was the idea that fighting for the US in 1968 was the equivalent of fighting for Germany in 1943. I personally do consider military service heroic, however, I also feel that too much is made of it, and I really dislike the way the commander in chief aspect of the presidency is valorized over all the other things the president does. And I can see the argument for not treating military service as heroic.

As said elsewhere in the thread, Nazi Germany was a unique combination of truly horrible combined with extreme aggressiveness in a major world power.

by MarekNYC on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 11:29:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
was the equivalent of fighting for Germany in 1943
I didn't say it is equivalent. I took German WW II examples, because
  • I had the more personal examples at hand
  • it is the most extreme case. To use extreme cases is in science not unusual to demonstrate, that at some point a principle must break down. At which point would be an issue for discussion.
  • I thought there would be more support for the 'support the troops' tokenism, than there now seems to be. So I started caucious.


Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 06:56:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The class of homo sapiens responsible for the term "untermenchen" has indeed not learned the true meaning of the word from the historical nature.  It has literally skipped a generation.  While I must profusely thank the entire German population for the opportunity of waking me up from my Murikan propaganda nightmare that very same race is responsible for my unemployment after a stellar career of 22 years.   Compassion, freedom and everything the Berliner Luftbrucke and the fall of the Berlin Wall be damned it is now a financial decision and endorsement of profit for the few and exploitation of the new gold mine China.   Good luck with that assholes, hope Russia tears you a new asshole in shutting off the pipelines.  Gruss Got from your Murikan friends.  Yup, I am that pissed at my European friends.
by Lasthorseman on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 08:20:29 PM EST
Can you explain in more detail? Why are you "pissed" at your European friends?

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 08:52:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was a bit too harsh in that one wasn't I.  It stems from my most recent unemployment and the ways in which the parent German company did it.  There are far to many incidents which lead me to see it more as a purposeful deconstruction of a barely functioning American enterprise to protect jobs in the home country.
by Lasthorseman on Mon Sep 22nd, 2008 at 09:44:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, becoming unemployed after one has worked for so long in a company for sure makes one feeling miserable. I hope you find a new job soon, if you haven't found one yet.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Sep 22nd, 2008 at 10:38:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not at all think military service per se something which is honourable.

No, of course it isn't. But it's a tribal phenomenon - war provides an opportunity for cowards and wannabes to sit at home and feel brave and fearless.

Also - it's an easy way to make profits.

Military honour is a fine principle and a non-existent reality. Military schools everywhere make a big deal of overt honour codes, but it's not unusual to find schools with a wretched record of cheating, bullying, sexual harrassment and rape.

The reality is that men - and it's usually men - who are conscripted and sent off to war are disposable drones. They're useful for PR and a narcisstic image boost for those who start wars, but the people who start wars have no genuine respect for that beyond that.

It wasn't the DFHs who spat at returning troops after Vietnam - then as now, it's the Republicans who wrap themselves in the flag, salute, and treat the people they've sent off to die like shit when they return.

War is just organised thuggery for profit, for happy-clappy and vapid prestige, or a search for the votes of fat, complacent and stupid people who want to feel like heroes but wouldn't dream of putting themselves in harm's way.

The social corrosion created by militarism is far more dangerous and destructive than that created by drugs or alcohol.

Real heroic service abroad would be peace-keeping, sanitation, water management, teaching, and the rooting out of political corruption.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 08:21:54 PM EST
Amen to that.  That would truly be heroic.  You know, difficult, requiring steadfastness, intrepitude, and life-sustaining.  Yep, that equals heroic in my book.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 08:35:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks TBG! I fully agree with you.

I can not find anything honorable nor heroic in militaries or serving them. Creating militaries, will great wars and killing and suffering. There are no just wars in my opinion only criminal acts. I believe killing and war destroys any man's or woman's soul and integrity. Hero's to me are people like Gandhi or Mandela who had an inner strength to withstand their inner anger and grew beyond their inner need for revenge, and were able to motivate others to do the same. For me war is about revenge, greed, and powergames. I just can not see ANY honorable reason for war.

by Fran on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 01:58:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Answer this: who fights in he American army?

Who are they?

Why are they there?

What would they be doing otherwise?

by Upstate NY on Fri Sep 5th, 2008 at 11:01:13 PM EST
I asked questions first.

who fights in he American army?
All sorts of people. From South Americans, who want an American citizenship over ghetto people, who think an army service will give them opportunities, to people like the sons of John McCain and Sarah Palin, who do it out of conviction, that fighting for their country is a great thing.

Why are they there?
For different reasons, as already pointed out. Oppotunities and nationalism both play a role.

What would they be doing otherwise?
I don't know. But it is irrelevant for the question if they do a great honourable question for their country. If they are slaves, it would be the most important thing to liberate them, not to laudate them for what they are doing.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 08:07:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All sorts of people. From South Americans, who want an American citizenship over ghetto people, who think an army service will give them opportunities, to people like the sons of John McCain and Sarah Palin, who do it out of conviction, that fighting for their country is a great thing.

Urban blacks are actually very underrepresented in the military. The biggest overrepresentation is among small town and rural whites.

by MarekNYC on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 10:43:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can I see where you're getting that stat from?

I just read a report that says exactly the opposite. The military has far more blacks and hispanics than are in the general population by percentage. Whites are underrepresented.

by Upstate NY on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 10:52:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Blacks are currently roughly the same percentage they are in the general population, ditto for whites. But among blacks urban ones are underrepresented, non-urban ones (i.e. mainly rural, southern) are overrepresented. This sort of urban/non urban pattern is typical of whites as well. In general the last few years have seen a collapse in black enlistment in the Marines and Army.
by MarekNYC on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 11:11:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oops, I'm wrong. I looked up the figures and at first didn't notice that they concerned new members rather than all existing members. Going to the DOD website, yup, blacks are still overrepresented as of two years ago, though that's declining courtesy of the shift in enlistment. Whites are basically at their population levels as far as I can make out (The stats are problematic since they don't break out non-Hispanic whites. Whites total is underrepresented, but so are hispanics)
by MarekNYC on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 11:39:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Get this. The DOD website measures how many high school graduates of each race join the Army.

But you don't have to be a high school grad to enlist.

In many American cities, only 50% of African-American students graduate High School.

I'm HIGHLY suspicious of that DOD website.

by Upstate NY on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 03:22:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They also have an annual report on the make up of the armed forces, which simply counts by race and compares to the 18-40 age group in the civilian population.
by MarekNYC on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 03:28:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder though, given their other fooling, if there is some omission there.
by Upstate NY on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 07:28:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that poor kids, minority kids, and kids without higher education are by far overrepresented in the US military tells me that enlisting because it's honorable is the last thing on these kid's minds.

For them, this is an avenue out of poverty. Look at the stats. When we're not in war, enlistment rises very high. In the last 6 years, enlistment has cratered. Why? one would assume that honorable service to country in a  time "of need" would draw more enlisters. Instead, the opposite is true. When the military is there to provide training, however, and not require combat from enlisters, then enlistments skyrocket.

What do we deduce from this?

by Upstate NY on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 10:52:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The diary isn't about the causes, why peope join the army, but about the narrative of military service. You don't say anthing about if you agree with painting soldiers as doing an honourable service to the country or not. Just that they may be desparate. Are the prostitutes, which are brought to Germany by eastern European sex traffickers, doing an honourable service to my country? Is being a prostitute a good cause to elect a person president? Is it, that whenever you want to critisise a former prostitute, that you have first to mention her great sacrifice, and how much you appreciate it? Well, unless you were either the guy pimping her or the guy using her service, I don't think so.

I do believe, that this narrative serves as distraction from the justification of wars, that it is potentially dangerous for the liberty of America, and that it helps to keep an overly large military in place, which not only sucks up resources, which could be better used elsewhere and which animates other countries to join at least partially into an arms race, but makes it as well more attractive and normal to actually use it.

Hey, the arms race maybe nice, European industry makes a lot of money with selling arms, but I would prefer, they would sell something useful.

Maybe it is typical German, but I do not 'support the German troops' in Afghanistan. And the minister of defense is pissed about that. They can be there, if they want, but if they die, I care as much as I would care for a victim of a traffic accident; and if they were tortured (not happened so far, seems only 'friends' do that) I would care as much as I care for people who suffer from cancer, or another painful illness. They are (and in case of Germany they really are) voluntarily there, while 80% of the German population doesn't want them there. Since 5 years troops are in Afghanistan, and since then never a convincing explaination was given why.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 11:32:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jung's argumentation is just insane.

Bei den Bürgern herrsche oft nicht das Bewusstsein, dass der Einsatz der deutschen Soldaten ihrer eigenen Sicherheit in Deutschland diene

Hell yeah.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 12:02:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Someone said the other day that google translation is better for the major languages. I figured this would be a perfect sentence to test that ;)

The citizens often do not conquer the awareness that the use of German soldiers of their own security in Germany serves

Real translation: Many citizens fail to understand that the deployment of the German soldiers is in the interests of their own security.

by MarekNYC on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 12:29:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Instead of "fail to understand", I'd put "aren't aware".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 02:52:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you serious? What's the connection to the diary?

The connection is that the so-called narrative doesn't fool many other than the kids that come from military families. It's not a powerful narrative. You're seeing it now because McCain is a POW, but in general, no one buys it. Kids go to the military because they are poor. They don't go to become heroes.

As for the country at large, people honor the service of soldiers. In America, war heroes are not those who fight in combat. It's reserved for those who are wounded and/or save other soldiers during combat. The difference is important because, one, simply serving is honored especially since affluent youngsters tend to look down on military service (and in fact this form of hypocrisy has been used against the right because those who support the war refuse to enlist). It's acknowledged that the poor are doing a service for the rich. That's the so-called "honor" right there. The heroic is reserved for people who almost die and/or saved others. Killing a good amount of Iraqis may be heroic inside the military, but I've never heard a soldier brag about kills, or be considered a hero for that.

In other words: McCain's POW status makes him a hero to many Americans.

Again, if the narrative were actually powerful, then in a time of war, people from all social strata would enlist. They don't. The exact opposite happens. the rich stay home and the poor opt out.

Unlike many other countries, however, the US has a volunteer army that requires a long term commitment. If you signed up before 9/11, you're probably still on the hook.

by Upstate NY on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 03:20:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What you say is not in contradiction to the diary.

What I take from this comment is that you think people honor the service of soldiers. And justify it with [i]t's acknowledged that the poor are doing a service for the rich.
Prostitutes, I brought up before, are as well servicing the rich, or do you think people who just make it, go to prostitutes? I don't honour them.

If people pity soldiers, say should express their compassion, not thank for an honourable service. The soldiers believe for sure, that when you say honour, you mean honour. In Germany no veteran (majority of men) would ever use his uniform to come to a public event. Because we don't honour veterans. As well not those of the possibly justifiable missions in former Yugoslavia, or Afghanistan (and there it is just the peacekeeping mission, not the original attack).

I think it is ridiculous to assume that saying honour is to acknowledge, that the soldiers are doing their service for the rich. It doesn't fit - a majority of Americans thinks this and still reasonable voices can be painted as anti-Americans, or un-Patriotic people, when they don't drum the war drums. Or do average (and as well the average progressive) Americans think, that America = the rich?

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 05:00:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll try to clarify again what I'm saying.

Honor is gov't propaganda.

No one believes it.

If they did, they would enlist when the country goes to war. The evidence shows that they don't.

Instead, they honor veterans out of their own guilt for not really believing the bogus propaganda.

by Upstate NY on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 07:26:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
political elite propaganda. Most Democratic, Republican politicians and TV pundits buy into it.

And if they wouldn't believe, that much of the electorate believes it, they probably would answer much harsher, when this propaganda is abused, e.g. when Bush sends general Petrayus into the political arena, to profit from the military nimbus. But they do fear backlash. Or in the run up of the war in Iraq, or the damage the Democrats feared, what would be the reaction in the population, when they would vote only for enough money to withdraw the troops, leaving the heavy material behind, but not for an ongoing war, or....

Of course that's just indirect evidence, maybe the typical American thinks completely different, and the political elite just believes they are doing effective propaganda (in a strangely bipartisan agreement). But what evidence have you for that?
While I know of course only a little part of the US media, I can't believe you would get such an impression by watching CNN, MSNBC, FOX, read the NYT, Washington Post, or follow any debate of presidential candidates during primary season.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 08:22:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suggest you visit one of the homecoming celebrations of American troops returning from Iraq. The military community totally believes that they are saving the country and the world, and that they are heros for doing so. "Honor" may be just propaganda, but there are plenty of people who believe it.

I think it's largely because of the sterile depiction of war in American media. No casualties are shown--some soldiers are alive and some are dead and gone, but the tens of thousands of wounded are invisible.

by asdf on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 08:53:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would I need to visit it?

I see it everyday. 2 minutes from my house.

I gave you the stats.

If people believed the propaganda, they'd live it.

But they don't. How else can you explain the extreme contradiction between support for the war and refusal to enlist? The fact is, if we had a draft, then and only then would you see Americans come to grips with what it REALLY means to go to war. As it is now, the burden is carried by the poor and uneducated. That's why the propaganda still dominates. The propaganda is not meant as a recruiting tool for young soldiers. It's there to be used as a political cudgel to question people's patriotism.

You want proof? If we really honored military heroism, then John Murtha and John Kerry would not be cast as cowards.

The homecoming parades are attended by 100s of friends, not thousands of citizens. Big difference.

by Upstate NY on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 10:05:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If they did, they would enlist when the country goes to war. The evidence shows that they don't.

And you can die when you go to war or becoming seriously wounded. People my be afraid, but admire the brave of other, more 'cool' people.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 09:19:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it's just fear, then why do white educated affluent people stay home?

Are you saying that fear is a trait of certain races, social classes, etc.?

by Upstate NY on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 10:06:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mostly agree with you, but a couple minor caveats. First of all this is a relatively new thing, basically starting with Vietnam. Secondly, the children of elites are strongly expected to go to college immediately after high school. The military is generally  set up either for non-college grad enlistees, or college grad officers. In the old big expansions of WWI and WWII college grad draftees and volunteers were in fact generally made officers. There's two ways to become an officer - the service academies or ROTC. They army has cut down on ROTC programs in Blue areas and in top private universities and colleges, while expanding them in the big public universities  of the Red states. That means that you often need to make significantly more effort to be in the ROTC if you go to the sort of place where the children of the elite disproportionately end up. Thus in NYC there are no ROTC programs in Manhattan or Brooklyn, nor are there any at any of the CUNY campuses. The only ones are one up in the Bronx (Fordham) and one in Eastern Queens (St. Johns). If you're an NYU or Columbia student, enjoy the over one hour each way commute to every ROTC class. Similar problems for three of the four top CUNY campuses (Brooklyn College plus Hunter and CCNY in Manhattan, Queens College isn't that far from St. Johns)

But like I said, I think you are mostly right on this.

by MarekNYC on Sun Sep 7th, 2008 at 12:16:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I completely agree with you on the officer class.

I taught at a university with a ROTC program (U. of Rochester) and had long talks with my officer candidates. That is a slightly different story, as you say.

by Upstate NY on Sun Sep 7th, 2008 at 03:35:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course other factors than fear play a role. But what you say is, that it is impossible to think honestly military service is honourable, when you don't enlist. Do you really believe that?

You say those who don't enlist and say it is honourable are hypocrits and liers. I say they are consistently wrong. And I think this is much more dangerous. Liers (and we don't speak here about a few super rich, but about most of the middle class) may know when stop, stupid people don't.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 7th, 2008 at 10:01:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I am saying that if they truly believed the country needed to be defended with military means, then they would enlist.

You're leaving out the political aspect of this. The GOP has been long affiliated with the military, and they use military propaganda as a political cudgel. This is incentive enough for someone to be a hypocrite, rather than merely "wrong."

They are so proven wrong on Iraq (80% of AMERICANs are now against it) but these elites will stick to being WRONG because of the political value of the propaganda. That tells me that they don't care whether they are right or wrong. They'll stick to the "honorable" line.

If military service were truly "honored" then wouldn't those who favor militarism take care of the soldiers who come home wounded?

Are you aware that our health care for veterans is a disaster? You're better off being poor and uninsured than you a soldier.

by Upstate NY on Sun Sep 7th, 2008 at 03:40:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The GOP has been long affiliated with the military, and they use military propaganda as a political cudgel. This is incentive enough for someone to be a hypocrite, rather than merely "wrong."
For the polit clowns it is a reason to be a hypocrit but only if their are people believing it, for the general population not. Somebody has to believe it, so that the propaganda works. And AFAIK McCain has a son, who fought in Iraq and Palin has a son, who is soon to go to Iraq. That's untypical, I know, but a little bit of believe must be in them.

They are so proven wrong on Iraq
Yes, and telling, that one is against this war, or was against it from the beginning isn't something considered 'unpatriotic' anymore, or? Sure, the Republicans play the "Obama is for losing in Iraq" game, this may help to consolidate their most extremist base, but will hardly work to gather independents.
It did work in the run up of the war in 2002. Many say, the then recent memory of 9/11 has boosted that. For sure many Americans after 9/11 did think, the country needed a strong answer (~90% approval to Bush in the beginning of the Afghanistan war); was there a mass enlistment of middle class people with good job chances after 9/11?

If military service were truly "honored" then wouldn't those who favor militarism take care of the soldiers who come home wounded?
The polit clowns use it as propaganda, and they tell they would care well for the veterans. Low information voters might think McCain as a veteran himself will care more for the veterans than Obama.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 7th, 2008 at 04:12:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
American culture is politicized. People take sides and talk politics. The only people I encounter who talk about heroism and the military are inevitably white educated Republicans who have never enlisted.

McCain comes from a military family in the officer class, so it's an expected thing that his son would join. McCain's Dad and grandad were also officers. Officer class is indeed, educated, more affluent, more white. I'm talking about the grunts, not the officers.

A huge number of the soldiers over in Iraq right now are part of the National Guard. These are so-called weekend warriors who earn an extra paycheck. I knew lots of NG people growing up and I would not say they joined for militaristic reasons.

Lastly, after 9/11, enlistment dropped among ALL classes.

by Upstate NY on Sun Sep 7th, 2008 at 08:14:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you talked to veterans or families of serving soldiers recently? Judging by my canvassing, plenty of them speak that way as well. My last sting was right next to a huge military base (Fort Belvoir) and not so far from the Pentagon.  Mainly not affluent - in fact that seems to be rather rare.

 While I agree with you on who joins up, I think they are a somewhat self-selected group from the poor and middle income population. Most wouldn't have joined if they didn't see it as a way out of a dead end life, but the patriotism stuff tends to be a secondary reason, indeed it's what distinguishes them from their peers who don't enlist.

by MarekNYC on Sun Sep 7th, 2008 at 08:25:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A large part of my experience growing up was a family business that catered (literally, served food) to a local National Guard. Now, I know that's not the army, but I have also spoken with soldiers who are currently serving, at least those who take advantage of the GI Bill.

I think that once they're in and have been through boot camp, then yes, I agree, they have bought in to the lore.  By the way, I'm not saying that all of them have disowned that macho bullshit. It definitely plays into some enlistments.

The recruiters talk an excellent game: opportunity, training, free school, etc. Money.

by Upstate NY on Sun Sep 7th, 2008 at 11:54:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd also say it's not about who asked the questions first, but which questions should be asked first.
by Upstate NY on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 10:54:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the folks over at Crooked Timber linked to this Guthrie clip:

by MarekNYC on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 01:06:26 AM EST
I think this discussion should't just focus on any particular war, like Vietnam. It is the mindset behind wars that is the problem and creates wars, again and again. As long as people do not learn to overcome that mindset, there will be ever new wars. And honoring and supporting the military to me is part of that mind set. Supporting the military makes people accept or ignore atrocious acts, ignore torture and all the other demaning act, in the name of supporting and honoring the military or soldiers. It is part a vicious cycle!
by Fran on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 02:09:07 AM EST
It is praiseworthy to be willing to die for a country, and this young man is perhaps the most pure and fair nation-state patriot that can be imagined:

"I'm Prepared To Give My Life For This Or Any Country"
As a true patriot, I would gladly die in battle defending my homeland. I love my country more than my own life. But...
(Allium warning)

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 02:44:57 AM EST
Hugh. The world would be so much better without people willing to die - and kill - for them. As long as people think of the nation state as more important than their own lives, there'll be people manipulating them in wars of profit and glory.

I'd bet one of the more important reasons for peace within western Europe in the last fifty years is that it is getting pretty hard to find people willing to die for their country. I'm thankful for that.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 07:44:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I entirely agree, and I would go further.  It is not a secret that people don't want to die for their country, they want to make the country do what it needs to so no one need die for its failures.

The corollary is not to kill someone else for their country.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson

by NearlyNormal on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 09:12:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Without nationalism, our deaths in the countless wars we constantly wage to defend our own nations against others defending their own nations against us would seem arbitrary, almost meaningless. But as long as we have a higher purpose--the love of whatever country we happen to be fighting for--we will always know we did not lose our lives in vain

My first thought is "What a sucker !!" Seriously, as TBG points out, wars are invariably fought for some sort of prestige or monetary gain by those who do not put their lives at risk.

I know I've quoted this often but Herman Goerring's cynicism remains instructive (is Cheney related ?)

Naturally the common people don't want war. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  This is easy.  All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger.  It works the same in every country."

You can see such propaganda in every country as it prepares for war. False flag attacks, hyping up trivial incidents. But finally it is done for the aggrandisment of senior figures. People lower down may profit as well, or get a morale boost that is much the same thing.

But the soldiers, the professional leadership take pride in what they do, in sending men into the meat grinder; although Patton, no shrinking violet when the guns roared at least did say that;-

War is not about dying for your country. That's stupid. War is about making some other poor bugger die for theirs. Never forget that.

I remember feeling very uncomfortable when I read the memoirs of Hans von Gluck, a conscientious and  professional Panzer commander during WWII as I failed to understand why he continued to fight in the last months of the war for a cause he had never believed in and which was obviously and terribly losing. He had plenty of opportunities to surrender to the Americans who he knew whould treat him and his men honourably, but he didn't "because we are Prussians and this is our honour"

I am reminded of a (presumably) fictitious conversation
in the film "The Battle of the Bulge"

Col. Martin Hessler: Our column has made the farthest advance! We have outrun the other Panzers! The eyes of Germany are on us! The Fuhrer himself will decorate me. We have done it Conrad! We have done it!
Cpl. Conrad: Then I was wrong. We have won the war.
Col. Martin Hessler: No.
Cpl. Conrad: You mean we have lost?
Col. Martin Hessler: No.
Cpl. Conrad: I don't understand. If we have not won, and we have not lost, than what is happening?
Col. Martin Hessler: The best thing possible is happening - the war will go on.
Cpl. Conrad: For how long?
Col. Martin Hessler: Indefinitely. On, and on, and on!
Cpl. Conrad: But it must come to an end.
Col. Martin Hessler: You're a fool Conrad. Those of us who understood knew in 1941 that we could never win.
Cpl. Conrad: You mean Colonel for three years we have been fighting without any hope of victory?
Col. Martin Hessler: There are many kinds of victory. For the German Army to survive, for us to remain in uniform - that is our victory. Conrad, the world is not going to get rid of us after all.
Cpl. Conrad: But, when do we go home?
Col. Martin Hessler: This is our home.
Cpl. Conrad: And my sons? When do I see them? What will become of them?
Col. Martin Hessler: They will become German soldiers, and you will be proud of them.

It is the people who think like this who believe soldiers are heroic. It is one thing we maybe should admire in our medieval forebears, those who started the war were invariably in the front ranks fighting it. England lost many promising princes before fighting your own wars became unfahsionable with the creation of professional armies in the 16th century. Indeed the very succession of Henry VII depends (I think) on which person died first at some battle or other.

Wars are rarely fought for honourable reasons, although they are dressed up as such. War itself and the fighting is considered a noble enterprise, worthy in and of itself as some sort of test of manhood. Of course, we all think it would be nice if we had other cultural measures of men other than their willingness to commit mayhem, but in every population there is a large sub-culture that venerates the violent male. And sadly a large number of women willing to breed with them, thus perpetuating that species of psychopathic behaviour.

That wars are now rarely set-piece battles between reasonably matched bruisers, but is instead undertaken only as a mismatch by the heavily weaponed on the effectively defenceless and the civlians who are often nearby, is rarely mentioned in the songs and glorifications of war. It's done far way and from 40,000 feet, recorded only by orbital cameras with propaganda editors seeking the most sanitized images to sell their war. That's why the recent photos in Paris Match were so shocking, they broke the taboo that war is clean and can be made into fun. those few who die have clean deaths and nobody dies screaming in pain, fear and anguish calling for their mothers as their life bleeds away. and those who are injured will be well-cared for by the state, but we'd rather you didn't do any follow-up as too much truth affects morale.

We have become careless about war. The appeasement years in the run-up to WWII came about because a public realised that war was hell. It's wasn't honourable. Yes, they still honoured the soldiers, but I think they came to realise it was futile. WWII was a disaster in that it made war respectable again, it could be done for the "right" reasons. Or at least sold as such. Vietnam was definitely such and it saved several US companies bacon. War was good, war worked. Patriotism was profitable. Now the American economy is a warfare state, it has to make war because peace is not good for business. It is the same in the UK, France, Sweden, Germany and Belgium. All have substantial armnaments industries entirely unjustified by their supposedly peaceful status.

But the money's good and if they didn't do it somebody else would, so they might as well. Of course the pusher's excuse doesn't work well in a Court of Law when trafficking heroin but, really if you wanna be a hypocrite you need to be elected first.

Sing after me;-
"You know that we don't want to fight,
but by jingo if we do,
we've got the guns, we've got the men,
we've got the money too"

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 08:14:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Although the UK succession wars seem to have been more deadly, most of the nobles fighting in medieval times did not kill nor were killed by other nobles - the point was to take the enemy noble prisoner and ask for a ransom. Only footsoldiers  and land labourers risked their lives.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 08:24:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I seem to remember a large number of French nobles died in the arrow storm at Agincourt. But the french had got their retailation in first at Poitiers where many high ranking English nobles, includng the heir to the throne, ended up in bits.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 08:37:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Hundred Years war is slightly post-medieval - hired forces were becoming more important than chivalry fighting, at that time ; nationalism was entering into play.

Also, deaths always happened - war was still more dangerous than hunting.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 08:50:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is a satirical magazine. You shouldn't take it too serious what they write.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 08:41:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that the Onion has been completely surpassed by reality.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 08:51:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just to mention one article as an example.
by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 03:43:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks' reading that with hindsight is just scary.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 03:52:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And it's so much more insightful and accurate than anything to appear in the trad media in the eight years since.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 03:57:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That article is the ultimate achievement in the field of prophetic satire.

Among other classics that the Repubs seem to have been studying intently is this one

by MarekNYC on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 03:53:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jeez, a coupla hundred years ago they'd have burnt that guy as a witch for being that good.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 05:34:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And I quite strongly agree with this diary.

And the world will live as one
by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 03:35:45 AM EST
Be it about an individual or a group, heroism can only apply to a specific behaviour going beyond what is normally expected from her/him/them, which includes taking great risks (usually his/her/their own lives), and is valued by the community. So, simply being a military cannot equal being a hero.

Furthermore, we must look at what is valued. The young Nazi (or the young communist) who denounced his parents as enemies was looked at as a hero by his community, whereas we see him as a monster. On the other hand, should we see a German soldier risking his life to save his friends a hero?

So heroism as nothing to do with the military. It applies as well to the civilians whose behaviour fits these criteria, such as these villagers who saved thousands of Jews during WWII and to anybody who takes great risks to do the right thing.

My father was drafted as an officer in 1939, fought the battle of France and was a prisoner in Germany from 1940 to 1943. I don't think anybody saw him (and he never saw himself) as a hero for that. However, after being liberated by the Germans (under the scheme named La Relève), he joined the French Résistance in the Alps. My uncle entered the Résistance and became secretary of the National Council of the Résistance, was arrested, tortured, and deported to Dachau. For me, they could be seen as heroes, even if I (and they) never used this word.

BTW, here is a a quote from one of the economists founding fathers (from Lyon!):

« Partout les armées ont attiré d'autant plus la guerre et les maux qui l'accompagnent, qu'elles ont été plus redoutables : il n'en est aucune qui ait préservé son pays d'une invasion. Le vieux proverbe, si vis pacem, para bellum, était bon chez les anciens, où la force décidait tout ; il n'est plus chez les modernes l'expression de la vérité : de grands préparatifs de guerre mènent toujours à la guerre. » Jean-Baptiste Say  " Everywhere armies have attracted even more war and the ills that accompany it, as they were more formidable: none has preserved his country from an invasion. The old proverb, "si vis pacem, para bellum", was good among the ancients, where the force decided for everything, while it is no longer among the moderns the expression of the truth: great preparations for war always lead to war. " Jean-Baptiste Say


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 06:00:15 AM EST
Well said.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 09:25:19 AM EST
Since you and yours recently escaped moved out ...

If you get a chance, and feel up to it, a diary contrasting the social/cultural aspects -- feed-ins? -- to/of US militarism versus the EU based on your experience would be interesting and help to increase international understanding.

Somehow the peoples of the EU have GOT to realize how completely the US is dominated by the military-industrial complex.  (Read: predatory capitalists and their hirelings, prostitutes, and toadies in and out of politics.)  I can't do it due to my lack of social and cultural knowledge.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 04:14:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, I watched the NBA playoffs on (slightly illegal) internet broadcasts.

Jamaican TV was very fun. Banks advertising with a local accent : "Hey mon ! We got the coolest mortgage rate aroond !"

But on US channels, the amount of military advertising was sobering, with such concepts as "the Marines teamwork play of the day !" cited a dozen times a game - and the way it was much more integrated in the broadcast, with the commentators integrating the sponsors in their commentary..

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 06:47:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, they need soldiers if they're to continue.

The integration of it with the commentary just reflects how good the commentators were.  I know what you mean.  "And now it's time for the Mountain Dew Brett Favre fuck-up of the week, and for that we'll turn it over to Sarah Palin on the sidelines."

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 07:43:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those things simply don't happen, or very rarely so, in France... Any advertisement has to be preceded by a specific jingle, among other things. And Although the military does advertise, it is quite rare.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 09:28:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've had a lot jingling 'round in my head, and I'll set it down here pretty soon as I will (unfortunately) likely hae a little time on my hands, being in LA this week for work.

You are absolutely right - it's the elephant in the room, that no one sees.

In the US, because it is such an interwoven piece of society, and so casual, there was a term for the movement towards this, after Eisenhower's failed attempt to abort the movement...they called it friendly fascism, I forget who coined the term, but it is apt, and Americans are by and large a friendly lot, in between episodes of violence, either state-sponsored (as in Iraq) or state-sanctioned (as in gun violence on the streets of the US).

In the EU, because people just don't want to believe what the US has become.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sun Sep 7th, 2008 at 05:09:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I fully understand time crunch.  Round here we got so many alligators we're thinking of opening up a luggage factory.  :-)

Bertram Gross  published a book in 1980 with the title Friendly Facism: The New Face of Power in America.  [Warning!  A link to the book, so slow download.  Not Suitable for Dial-Up.]  As I remember, the book came out, got some talk, and then sank like a rock.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Sep 7th, 2008 at 12:47:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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