Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Reality of War

Jason Apuzzo of the rightwing Libertas website is already worked into a froth over Jarhead, the forthcoming film by British director, Sam Mendes (American Beauty). Part of what has Apuzzo so upset is a Los Angeles Times article questioning if Americans are ready for such a film. Appuzo's interpretation of the article is:

The real question, though, is whether moviegoers in Nebraska strip-malls are ready to have their shallow, Midwestern prejudices about the justness of America's cause be challenged. Probably we advanced thinkers in Hollywood are still too far ahead for them, so this film with its earnest, stage-trained European director will probably fall flat.

Actually, if Apuzzo would come to Knoxville, I could introduce him to many ordinary Americans who at least question the wisdom of our present Iraq adventure, as well as the previous campaign depicted in Jarhead (the book as well as film). At the close, Apuzzo complains about a scene described in the LA Times article depicting a Marine mutilating an Iraqi corpse. "What a marvelous, respectful depiction of our fighting men! Goodness, how could our boys over in Iraq ask for more than to be depicted as mutilators of corpses! This should really help morale on the ground, don't you think?

I wonder, what exactly does Apuzzo think happens in war? He should read (and Mendes should film) With The Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa, by the late Eugene B. Sledge. Sledge's account of his role in the War in the Pacific depicts the savagery of war as it existed on both sides (with the Japanese far worse than the Americans) in that war. Sometimes it is difficult to simply read and almost impossible to manage how anyone could survive with his sanity intact. Here is just one example:

While I was removing the bayonet and scabbard from a dead Japanese, I noticed a Marine near me. He wasn't in our mortar section but he happened by and wanted to get in on the spoils. He came up to me dragging what I assumed to be a corpse. But the Japanese wasn't dead. He had been wounded severely in the back and couldn't move his arms; otherwise he would have resisted to his last breath.

The Japanese's mouth glowed with huge gold crowned teeth, and his captor wanted them. He put the point of his kabar on the base of a tooth and hit the handle with the palm of his hand. Because the Japanese was kicking his feet and thrashing about, the knife point glanced off the tooth and sank deeply into the victim's mouth. The Marine cursed him and with a slach cut his cheeks open to each ear. He put his foot on the sufferer's lower jaw and tried again. Blood poured out of the soldier's mouth. He made a gurgling noise and thrashed wildly. I shouted, "Put the man out of his misery." All I got for an answer was a cussing out. Another Marine ran up, put a bullet in the enemy's soldier's brain, and ended his agony. The scavenger grumbled and continued extracting his prizes undisturbed.

Such was the incredible cruelty that decent men could commit when reduced to a brutish existence in their fight for survival amid the violent death, terror, tension, fatigue, and filth that was the infantryman's war.
UPDATE: A thouhtful comment by a reader who, of course, hasn't seen the unreleased movie:

These leftist losers have been making these types of films since 1969. Only a liberal can come up with logic such as this, "I support the troops but not the war . . ." yet they admire the US Marines, but always show them in a negative light. This generation of fighting men and women will be spit upon in the pop culture in the years to come, just as they did to the Vietnam Vets. Liberals can't help themselves, they HATE President Bush, they HATE conservatives, they HATE GOD and everything that AMERICA stands for.


Anonymous said...

I'm puzzled by the people over at Libertas who are in an uproar over a film that no one has seen yet.

I also think the comment you quoted is not worth quoting.

El Gordo said...

That quote from Sledge doesn´t make the scene from Jarhead accurate or truthful.

Clark said...

Of course the Sledge quote doesn't prove that the scene from Jarhead accurate. But since you and I weren't in Iraq with Anthony Swofford, we don't know that the scene from the film is inaccurate. What the quote Sledge shows is that ordinary men do ghastly things in war, so that the scene from the movie is plausible.

Anonymous said...

In case there is some confusion, the quote I was referring to is the one located in the Update section.

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