Friday, June 02, 2006


A.C. Kleinheider points to a comment by R. Neal discussing Glenn Reynolds' thoughts on Haditha. Neal says, "what little I know from talking to people who have been in the military, and in combat, suggests that a big part of the training is that it's not about God, Country, the Constitution, or Freedom and Liberty, or anything else. It's about your buddy in the foxhole next to you, who will watch your back if you watch his, who is willing to die for you as you are for him . . ."

That is essentially how it works, although I can't remember me or any of my "buddies" actually using that term. Maybe we would have in a war zone. I know nothing about war, but something about Marine training. It relied heavily on cultivating an us-versus-them mentality. With "them" being the other squads in your platoon, the other platoons in the series (a group of four platoons who trained and graduated together), the other training battalions at Parris Island, and the Army and the Navy. I remember my senior drill instructor referring to the "Army position of attention -- surrender." Marine General and anti-war activist, Smedley Butler explained what happened to young men sent to war in 1918, and it probably still applies:
Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed . . .

That might help explain what happened at Haditha, if the story turns out to be true. It ought, in my opinion, to mitigate slightly (though not excuse) the crime. The idea that, in a couple of years the young men who actually pulled the trigger may be sitting on death row or serving life in prison, while the architects of this war collect 100 grand at a time on the lecture circuit, makes me sick.

I don't think anyone has commented on the creepy email that Reynolds posted and appears to agree with:

. . .

Our press and the anti-American left both in this country and outside of it has been reporting "Hadithas" over and over again over the last three years.

. . .

The real danger is that we who support the war will reach the point that we say "we might as well be taken as wolves then as sheep". At that point the left can celebrate that they have made our military and those who support it the people they claim we are. Once that happens however any compunction about respecting them will be gone, and remember one side is armed and one is not.

That is a fate that I don't wish on any of us. (emphasis added)

Note the extent to which this guy confuses the role of the guys who sit in Borders, typing with a latte, and those who actually do the killing. Another way to read it is that war supporters are going to get their guns and kill everybody else. Or am I missing something?


Polarbear said...

Folks, we should not be surprised by this incident. We are involved in a war and specifically, a counterinsurgency war that, by its nature, is fought in and among the civilian population. Counter-insurgency battles tend to be decentralized with small units operating on their own, fighting against an enemy that seeks concealment within the population. The stress and challenges for small unit leaders is enormous. Squad leaders are called upon to make decisions that most Americans, comfortable on their TV couch or peering into internet computer screens, sipping lattes, can not comprehend and should not judge without all the facts. In combat, small unit leaders must make frequent risk filled; split second; friend or foe decisions. I am betting that the intent of the Marines involved in the Haditha incident was not to murder but to destroy a perceived foe. Mistakes in combat happen and bad mistakes are punished. Historically, counter-insurgencies last from ten to twelve years. Folks, we are three years into that process and over the next seven to nine years, this is going to happen again. As citizens of a country that has sent service men to fight this war, let us not make the same mistake as the Viet Nam War, where we used service men and women; our own sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and neighbors as political sacrificial pawns to gain momentum for an antiwar movement.
Former Commanding Officer (1981-1982): Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment

metulj said...

Polar Bear: Would you obey an unlawful order?

Smoky Bear said...

“Surprised.” Polarbear? how about outraged?

“Counterinsurgency war?” As I understood it, “W” ordered this war to destroy Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction that posed a threat to both our country and one of our allies, and to liberate the people of Iraq from a dictatorship: a war that our technically superior military would win in a matter of days with few casualties, a war that would quickly lead to a united, democratic Iraq.

“Perceived foe?” Unarmed women and children?

“Mistake?” Would you have confined the troops under your command to solitary confinement for making a mistake?

Admitted, it was wrong during the Vietnam Era and it’s wrong today to lump those who served professionally with those who act criminally. The criminal act in the current situation belongs to the person ordering the marines to fire or who failed to give an order to cease firing. Unfortunately, those who are conditioned to follow orders without question will bear the punishment for the act of that person.

If there is a bottom line to Vietnam, it should be the fact that you cannot win a war against an enemy that you cannot see. Fortunately, there are those, unlike yourself and those in Washington who stand to gain financially, who choose not to commit American fathers, sons, mothers, and daughters to another six or seven years of death and dismemberment

Anonymous said...

Smoky Bear: As I understood it, “W” ordered this war to destroy Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction that posed a threat to both our country and one of our allies, and to liberate the people of Iraq from a dictatorship: a war that our technically superior military would win in a matter of days with few casualties, a war that would quickly lead to a united, democratic Iraq.

You understand incorrectly. The invasion of Iraq is not about WMDs, is not even solely about deposing Saddam or liberating the people. It is part of a far larger strategy to contain an impending threat in the region.

Can you source this quote?

Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors. He will make war on his own people.

And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.

Because we're acting today, it is less likely that we will face these dangers in the future.

Hint: It was not Bush. Either one of them.

Smoky Bear said...

Anonymous, mission accomplished!

Not sure where you've been for the past three years, but I believe most everyone else has come to the conclusion that there were no WMD's and no facilities to develop WMD's.

Washington Post
May 1, 2003

President Bush plans to deliver an address to the nation tonight in which he will declare that "major combat operations" by U.S. military forces in Iraq have ended, the White House announced yesterday. Administration officials said the president, who will make the televised speech from an aircraft carrier returning to the California coast from the Persian Gulf, will not say that the conflict is entirely over. "This is not, from a legal point of view, the end of hostilities," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said. "Clearly, we continue to have forces that are shot at and return fire."

Instead, Fleischer said, the president will note "an important moment" in the conflict: The primary role of U.S. forces is shifting from combat to the reconstruction of Iraq, devastated under the leadership of Saddam Hussein and by the war that deposed him. "The Iraqi people have freedom. The threat to the United States has been removed," Fleischer said. Bush's remarks will carry substantial political and foreign-policy implications for a president who has made the dismantling of the Iraqi government part of a broader war on terrorism.

Glaivester said...

Can you source this quote?

Yes. Bill Clinton. Well, I used to think that Bush lied. But if Clinton said it, it must be true. We all know how honest Clinton was. He was known far and wide as "Honest Bill."

And of course, it's not like Clinton had to distract the public from a scandal or some thing by attacking Iraq.