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January 06, 2008

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It would probably be a good idea to remind everyone (well not everyone but you know what I mean) to read the posting rules before commenting. There seem to be a lot of new people here and they probably don't know that some types of language and posture aren't appreciated.

This is true. O New People: here are our posting rules. Some of the highlights:

Be reasonably civil.

Don't insult or vilify other commenters.

No profanity (some people read this at work, where there are filters.)

No calling for people's assassination.

It's not exactly a rule, but we find that blanket statements about "the Left" or "the Right" or "Democrats" or Republicans" tend to lead to trouble, except in very rare circumstances. (E.g., "All Republicans are members of the Republican Party.") They are almost all false, and you'll generally do better making your point more accurately.

Thanks.

Well, gee, how about talking about how stupid it is to accuse Hilzoy of censorship in the recent Major Andrew Olmsted threads?

Or is that insufficiently precious and gemlike? 'Cause, God knows, there are a few stridulators out there who are convinced that Hilzoy is some kind of tool, or worse, for not letting them pee on the carpet at the Major's wake -- when they could go over the Kos's, for instance, and dump at will (as many have).

As far as I can tell, such people have defects in their social IQs and in their capacity to model the world. Also, poor impulse control.

"Solipsistic" is the kindest adjective I can come up with, though that's not dead-on. "Narcissistic" is probably more on the mark, though less charitable.

The idea, in particular, that persisting in posting diatribes on those specific threads is some sort of fight for human freedom, and emblematic of the free expression of all points of view in the marketplace of ideas... ...that there's pretty damned overblown.

For it simultaneously puffs up the poster's importance, and the importance of Hilzoy's decisions in support of the Major's wishes in one small corner of the blogosphere.

To all who follow in that path, on those threads, let me encourage you to get over your damned selves.

Thanks, hilzoy, for the chance to practice my non-invective response to arrant, arrogant impoliteness.

Everybody: Here's one meditation I use sometimes, when I remember to:

Between stimulus and response, there is always a moment. Are you using it, or is it using you?

I hesitate to ask since it may open a flood gate but I find it puzzling... just what is in the mind of our frequently deleted poster on the less appropriate thread?

[Now addressing that person] I mean, probably you (whoever you are) would find people here who agree with you about Iraq, about the incompetence, malevolence and mendacity of the Bush administration, about who knows what else. But is a battle with hilzoy really going to do any good for anyone, yourself included? This is a forum where people with widely differing opinions manage to speak with each other in a reasonably civil tone, and much credit for that goes to hilzoy and her fellow front-pagers. Why did you come here, anyway?

Nortius: You mean I don't get to be a dictator? *pouts*

You should have seen one of the commenters over at the RMN blog. They have finally deleted his comments, but it took them something like 36 hours. And s/he was the most offensive commenter I have ever encountered, which is saying a lot.

I like your last bit. It's very good.

Well, gee, how about talking about how stupid it is to accuse Hilzoy of censorship in the recent Major Andrew Olmsted threads?

I, for one, would welcome the rule of her undoubtedly benign and decorous dictatorship. We could certainly do worse.

Except, of course, that she would, were such a position offered, decline.

Thanks -

I hesitate to ask since it may open a flood gate but I find it puzzling... just what is in the mind of our frequently deleted poster on the less appropriate thread?

Starting the flood...it's obviously all about him--pathologically obsessive to wrench attention to himself.

Nortius: You mean I don't get to be a dictator? *pouts*

We would if we could....

(Though it'd just be a flare-lit invitation for neocons to invade...)

russell--

if you'll allow a slight rephrasing, I prefer "I, for one, welcome our new Hilzoian overlord."

ral - I think your question can only be answered with the wise words of John Linnell:

I should be allowed to glue my poster
I should be allowed to think
I should be allowed to think
I should be allowed to think
And I should be allowed to blurt the merest idea
If, by random whim, one occurs to me
If necessary, leave paper stains
on the gray utility pole

Hilzoian overlord - don't forget, power corrupts,... Of course, there could be an exception in your case. It'd be historically unique, I think.

And NorMax, perhaps "self indulgent"?

I'd be curious if anyone has any ideas why, judging from the comments, so many tears were shed. There's obviously the loss of a good man and maybe that's enough. But most of us didn't know him that well personally. Maybe part of it was the cost of a stupid war being brought home. I'm still thinking about it.

Hil:You mean I don't get to be a dictator? *pouts*

Hmm, well, it would make things a heck of a lot easier.

Or so I've heard...

cw, I can't honestly say I shed tears, but I was shocked and numbed by it, and it has stayed on my mind a lot since then. I can only say I think it's because we had a personal connection with G'Kar (since that's how I knew him), even if it was only an electronic one, and that makes the death hit closer to home. It's something Renato Rosaldo talks about a lot in Grief and a Headhunter's Rage--your proximity to the deceased often results in a stronger reaction to that death, and the internet offers a pretty strong way to connect with people. So even though I didn't know G'Kar, I still felt like I'd been punched when I read those words, and I feel the after-effects every time I come to this site, even though this is my first comment since my comment on that thread, which was pretty early on.

"If there's anything around here more important than my ego, I want it caught and shot now!" - Zaphod Beeblebrox

G'Kar's death is a loss for the entire online community. There are plenty of other places around the Internet to be a shallow, self-centered jerk like Zaphod's character in Hitchhiker's Guide - or one can always get a job for Faux News. I for one thank Hilzoy for keeping these two threads free of the types of comments G'Kar asked us not to make.

Your benevolent dictator (not!) has been off eating dinner.

cw: I really don't know. I mean, part of it was his sheer eloquence and humanity, and part of it had to be the thought: behind each and every one of the numbers in the roll of statistics there is a story like this. Who saves a life, saves the world entire; the opposite is also true, and Andy illuminated his world for us.

But I think another part of it is just that he was trying very hard not to make us cry. -- When I first read an earlier draft of the post (it went through several drafts), I just cried and cried. I told Andy this, eventually, and he replied:

"I'm sorry the post made you cry. That certainly wasn't my intent. I was hoping to get a few smiles out of it, actually...I guess I have to work on it some more. I figure me being dead is sad enough without writing some mawkish post that makes it feel even worse. :) But rest assured I'll be doing everything in my power to make the post unnecessary in any case."

I think that if he had been trying to make us cry, or even not doing everything in his power to prevent it, short of pretending to be a repulsive person not worth shedding tears over, he would not have succeeded nearly so well. (I think I said something like this to him at the time, but going back and finding one email is about all I can handle just now.)

It was a kind of instinctive kindness -- wanting to make it as bearable for the people who loved him as it could possibly be -- but that just makes it harder to keep from crying.

I have a post, but I want to check that I haven't violated posting rules. I hope to have it here tomorrow night.

"They were pursuing some insurgents," Casey's brother, Jeffrey, said. "Major Olmsted got out of his vehicle and was pleading with these three individuals to stop and surrender so that the team would not have to fire upon them and kill them."

"Unfortunately, there were snipers in the area, and apparently that's when Major Olmsted was hit," Jeffrey Casey added. "He didn't want to kill these individuals. He was trying to save their lives."

After the gunfire erupted, Thomas Casey went to help Olmsted, thinking that the three suspected insurgents were responsible for the shooting, his brother said.

"That's when he took his bullet," Jeffrey Casey said. "The fact that a sniper round caught him in the neck . . . that's just one of those fluke one-in-a-million shots."

Knowing this now, I know that this is absolutely the way Andy would have wanted to go.

Aside from the whole "going" part, which he would have objected to.

I only want to know more about Thomas Casey now. I'm grateful for his life and service, and I'm sorry that I know so little about him, but I know that he was the man he was by what he did.

I apologize to Captain Casey's family that we know so little about him compared to Andrew. We value his sacrifice no less.

"Major Olmsted got out of his vehicle and was pleading with these three individuals to stop and surrender"

Thanks, Gary. I think. I'm at work, and I'm tearing up all over again.

We're talking about this story, that is. Sorry for not including the link before. See other new stories linked to in this thread.

Video here.

Short story about Captain Thomas Casey here.

hilzoy: I don't see why you can't be dictator of your little (but rapidly growing) kingdom here! :D After all... Bushmoron and Darth Cheney are trying to be inept dictators of something that isn't even theirs! LOL

PS. I think you would make a far better dictator for the USA. ;) IMHO, of course.


(Ya know... that felt pretty good! I am soooo glad you started this thread! I was about to explode in the others.) LOL

You've shown a great deal of respect, courage and honor yourself lady. I think Maj. Olmsted would have been justly proud.

Thank you.

PS. I posted a 2nd comment on the original thread, near the end. I didn't realize you started another because that one was getting overwhelming for the blog to handle. Apologies. Can you perhaps close commenting there and leave a message to go to the new thread? :)

Although it's perhaps less nuanced than Andy would want, I think, since was a BSG fan, and a fan of several tv sf shows, as well as sf in general, and gaming, that he'd like this a bit, too.

He'd doubtless also have some snarky remarks about its flaws, too.

The guy Andy identified with.

Also, really this. I know Andrew was thinking of some of this.

It's the whole thing, really.

"Major Olmsted got out of his vehicle and was pleading with these three individuals to stop and surrender so that the team would not have to fire upon them and kill them."

I didn’t want to make too much of this before it was confirmed…

But wow. “Leading from the front” is not a simple cliché. The very best officers I ever knew were the ones who would never ask those they commanded to do something they were not willing to do themselves.

I have some small sense of Andrew the man through his writings. The nature of his death tells me all I need to know about Andrew the officer.

From Gary's first link in his 7:16am:

Casey said he and his father were golfing in Albuquerque on Thursday when his father let out an anguished howl after listening to a voice-mail message on his cell phone informing him that three Arny officers were at his door.

I can't even imagine...

NYTimes story here.

More typing to avoid typepad's spam filter. And I'm guessing this already got linked on one of the other threads but not going check.

The continuing thread is here, Ugh.

We're having the communal discussion in this thread, but the other place is still the main source for links and general talk.

This thread is where those of us not new to the blog are grieving, which is why you are as welcome as all the rest of us who knew from Andy/G'Kar.

I was another one that was surprised that G'kar and Andy were the same. (A couple of posters mentioned their surprise in the previous thread, but that one is getting unwieldy, so I'll post here.) The funny thing is that I remember Gary's question to G'Kar about whether he'd posted under another name, but somehow in my memory I had thought the issue was settled and they were different people. So finding out that they were the same and that Andrew had died felt to me as though two people had been killed. I really liked G'Kar. (I also really liked Andrew, but I said that earlier.)

So those of you who knew him better – what would Andrew think about making the NYT?

It’s a pretty good article, although they never fail to make it clear that they don’t fully understand blogs: “comments from more than 1,000 readers”. They don’t get that Gary alone was responsible for a third of the comments. ;) (Gentle ribbing Gary, offered with a smile, one of my first in days.)

I've opened up a TiO thread for your "G'kar equals Andrew!?" stories, if only to take a little strain off the server (Please let us know if you need help covering bandwidth costs Hil)

I'd be curious if anyone has any ideas why, judging from the comments, so many tears were shed.

I don't know, but I cried partly because of the obvious pain that the loss caused people who did know him. In particular, Gary Farber's pain simply radiated out of the screen. Particularly the pain of lost opportunities...never being able to mail him the CDs, etc. Andrew Olmsted's pain is over, but the pain of Amanda Olmsted, Gary, hilzoy, etc will continue for years.

And knowing, even indirectly and just through the internet, someone who died maybe makes it more real than just the numbers. People are attracted to the idea of war (what gets more attention in American history class: the Civil War or the period between 1890 and 1900, for example?) But no one really likes the reality. Not even Sherman. Loss and destruction are the essence of war and they are not fun to live with. I hope this comment isn't too political: I don't mean it to be a comment on this war, but on war and the losses that a war, no matter how justified, inevitably causes.

OCSteve: I can't really wrap my mind around the idea of him reacting to the NYT. For starters, he'd have to know about the outpouring of grief his last post produced, and that's hard enough -- though in that case, I think his response would have been embarrassment, flat amazement, and real happiness deep down. The idea that he would make the NYT -- not just the paper of record, etc., but a paper Andy thought of as pretty much the most liberal paper that had any pretensions to objectivity -- I really can't imagine.

And Hilzoy has now been outed in the Times, putting a complete end to the worst-kept secret in Blogistan.

Based on comments in the original thread, it appears that Fox is now covering this.

In case it hasn't been mentioned already, Andrew was mentioned in a piece on Fox news, ~8:55 am PST.

Andrew's death was also reported on WBUR, one of the local NPR stations here in Boston.

No mention of the blog posts, just a brief obit. WBUR's pretty good about reporting on Iraq casualties involving folks with local (to the Boston area) ties.

Thanks -

Mike Schilling:

Since everyone is being outed, here's a little story from a lunch I had with Andrew early this year.

We were talking about the characters at Obsidian Wings and we mused about having a grand get-together of the entire crew at a bar somewhere and we thought it would be funny to come masquerading as another and tempermentally and/or politically different commenter, just to see what would happen.

Slart could do Don Quixote, Jes could be Phil, OCSteve could be Anarch, Andrew could be Francis, etc.

I wanna do DaveC. He could be me. If he could simulate the hump, the sequined monocle, and the leotard.

I don't think I could have done Andrew. That would be a stretch for me in the "great human being" department, plus I couldn't face the number of push-ups I would need to do to simulate Andrew's upper-body strength.

At last, a more appropriate Thullen comment.

I suppose I could come as Gary.

Hilzoy has now been outed in the Times

Yeah, I was going to say something along the lines of the Times disclosing yet another national secret…


John: OCSteve could be Anarch

Hmm. It was my understanding there would be no math…

OCSteve, you just have to fake it. I can't really read enough to *be* Gary, I'd be faking it too.

I'd be curious if anyone has any ideas why, judging from the comments, so many tears were shed.

I think the whole 'letter from beyond the grave' was quite striking. I've never read one before and it seems kinda spooky but also made his death more intimate and personal, compared with a list of names and photos without more.

Gary -- Your and Andrew's blatant enthusiasm for B5 has inspired me to give the show another look. I was a ST:TNG (also: Red Dwarf) fan back in the day, and found something jarring in the B5 production values that put me off further viewing.

So ... should I start with Season 1 or 2? (I recall from the Epic Thread that you had some suggestions in this vein, but haven't the heart now to go back and search for it.)

Thanks.

I should also take this opportunity to say that your fabulous tetchiness about being specific raises the quality of discussion around here. Your insistence that we not deal in generalities or vague references to half-remembered factoids contributes to better-honed arguments. ObWi's comment section is the only one in the blogosphere that I read religiously, because of the atmosphere and expectations created by the regulars.

FNC story here.

Notable mostly for the correction at the bottom - they misspelled his name as well.

Gandhi. Gandhi. Gandhi.

[This is my Gary impression.]

I could do Thullen if I were about 25% funnier.

OK, 100%.

I could never do Thullen. Bob m, maybe.

Farmgirl, agreed. I often decide not to send a post because I realize I just don't know enough facts. This has carried over to other parts of my life as well. I was always fussy about getting the facts right (a mixed blessing in my profession) but hanging out here has elevated it nearly to a compulsion. Kudos to all here, and I will be sending you my therapy bill.

I was going to bring up the politics here, but in spite of this being the More Appropriate Thread there's still too much to talk about wrt Andrew himself. How dare he be so interesting and touch so many people's lives! And have so many people like and respect him!

I guess I'll have to wait for the Even More Appropriate Thread.

BTW, disemvowelling was a stroke of genius, hilzoy.

I'd be curious if anyone has any ideas why, judging from the comments, so many tears were shed.

I think it was in the difference between the restraint and humor of Andrew's post, and the generosity (or maybe even love) implicit in that restraint and humor, and the grief of the commenters. I didn't cry when I read the post, but I cried over and over as I read the comments and thought of the post in light of them.

"BTW, disemvowelling was a stroke of genius, hilzoy."

Not uncommon, actually.

"So ... should I start with Season 1 or 2? (I recall from the Epic Thread that you had some suggestions in this vein, but haven't the heart now to go back and search for it.)"

2, probably.

Reading stuff around the web, I have to thank the thoughtful folks at LGF who figured, hey, the guy is dead, let's chat about the Democratic debate.

Because what it's all about is Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

What fucking assholes.

I personally think I do a mean Bill. I don't think anyone could do Thullen undetectably.

I think the whole 'letter from beyond the grave' was quite striking.

I think that's a factor, as well as the humor, intelligence and compassion that screams from every line of the post. If this weren't a "self-obituary", it would still be an extremely powerful post; the fact that it does come "from beyond the grave" [cue zombie music] adds that much more to it.

Carrying on the B5 meme (and I am a huge fan also. I have the entire series and all 7 of the movies, also the 1st season of Crusade before it was killed off)...

Before I made my first post after learning of Maj. Olmsted's death, I read his blogs and his posts here for a day. I think what hit me was a comparison I couldn't shake of Maj. Andrew Olmsted and Pres. John Sheridan in Ep 22, Season 5 (Sleeping in Light), where John and Delenn realize that Johns final days are upon them, and John tells Delenn that he is going for a drive. That moment for me captured the character of Sheridan and I could draw some parallels to Maj Olmsted.

I suppose it was the feeling in me that were similar, is what I am getting at. :) After all, John Sheridan was an actor playing a role and I didn't know the man at all, and I didn't know Maj. Olmsted at all either, except through his writings. But I had a sense of the men, of what they represented.

It's strange really. I can see why Maj. Olmsted chose G'Kar as one of his blogger nic's, but in the end, he reminded more of the B5 character Sheridan.

Actually Gary, if you scan the thread, a large number of people intervene to try to stop the Democratic debate discussion saying that it is inappropriate in a discussion of the Andy letter. It was pretty much the same as here--most people doing fine with a few determined idiots.

Gary: to their credit, most of them did try to get it back on track.

Some of the FReepers, by contrast, seem to have decided that "He was a FReeper who died serving the USA."

Um: no.

Gary, I’m no LGF fan, but that’s not entirely fair. It looks to me like that thread stayed 90% on topic with many respectful remarks. When a couple of people veered onto the debate others told them to take it to another thread. If the thread here hadn’t been heavily policed it would look even worse to someone reviewing it now. Just saying…

While I certainly understand your feelings, seeing all those blogs representing such diverse viewpoints come together to honor Andrew was awe inspiring to me. I know that if I look too far under the surface of that it’s likely to fall apart – so I’m just not going to look. I’d rather be left with the awe.

Sorry. I wasn’t going for the pile-on there. I was just reading the thread and typing as Seb and hilzoy replied.

OCSteve, I think it's very impressive regardless of the occasional subsurface rot. This obviously touched and moved a *lot* of people.

OCSteve: that's basically what happened with my comment and Seb's: it wasn't there when I started typing, I swear...

"Gary, I’m no LGF fan, but that’s not entirely fair."

I'm not going to turn this to LGF bashing, but as way of pointing out the lack of necessity of suggesting that I was condemning all LGF readers or commenters, I simply repeat what I wrote: "Reading stuff around the web, I have to thank the thoughtful folks at LGF who figured...."

I was specific, as usual. If I'd wanted to condemn everyone at LGF, I'd have written something saying that, instead.

And knowing, even indirectly and just through the internet, someone who died maybe makes it more real than just the numbers. People are attracted to the idea of war

I think those of us who have been more in-touch with the consequences of this war have understood from the beginning that projecting American resolve and killing the enemy is more important than scoring political points.

I often wonder how many lives could have been saved if, once we put boots on the ground everyone agreed to support the troops in the fight. Before everyone gets offended by this what I mean is something like this:

"We disagree with going to Iraq and we think George Bush is evil, but now that we are in Iraq we are going to kill anyone who attempts to harm US troops or opposes the newly elected Iraqi government!"

Without wanting to start an argument about the war, I have to say that I don't believe Andy thought he was in Iraq "to kill anyone who attempts to harm US troops or opposes the newly elected Iraqi government!"

You know, staring at DDR's comment: I'm just not in the freaking mood to take it apart.

If suppose the moratorium on not politicizing Andrew's death is still in force, shut your bloody trap, DDR. If it's not, someone else take it apart.

I often wonder how many lives could have been saved if, once we put boots on the ground everyone agreed to support the troops in the fight.

That's an interesting observation. I'm sure if you check back in a few days folks here will be happy to discuss it with you.

Thanks -

"You know, staring at DDR's comment: I'm just not in the freaking mood to take it apart."

Jes, I think you have the sense of humor to appreciate the idea that it's my belief that if Andy heard that he'd managed to make you speechless on politics for a moment, he'd find that hilarious, and would make a joke about how that somehow made it all worthwhile, or something.

He had that kind of sense of humor, and I think well enough of you to be pretty sure you wouldn't take it the wrong way at all to hear this, but in fact would like to hear it.

And, OCSteve, Andy would have been secretly far more pleased at being written about in the NY Times than he'd have ever admitted, while simultaneously having something snarky -- I can't say quite what -- about how it took him getting touched in the head by lead for the Grey Lady to finally notice him, when they could have paid attention to his blogging all along, if they thought his life were so worthwhile.

I think.

"We disagree with going to Iraq and we think George Bush is evil, but now that we are in Iraq we are going to kill anyone who attempts to harm US troops or opposes the newly elected Iraqi government!"

I support this -- starting with Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and GW Bush. By sending in far too few troops (and doing so knowingly), they harmed the troops that were there, as well as opposing any possible government. You should want Bush strung up, both for "Mission Accomplished" and "Bring it on!".

There is NO-ONE who harmed our troops more than those three cowards and bullies.

As for LGF, they have Delete and Ban keys, don't they? The owners could, if they wish, do what hilzoy and Seb have done, and clean out any post with politics in it. This way they can sit there going "Tsk tsk tsk" while the "Dirty Dems" post still stand.

And they talk about OUR morals??!!!

Dear DDR, I'm sorry, but I just don't think it is that simple.

I hope you reread Andy's last post. Also follow the link Gary put up to the post wherein Andrew explained why he decided to go to Iraq.

Best wishes to you.

Regardless, I can't help but beleive that one of the most effective ways to win a war is to kill the enemy. Maybe the word "attempts" is a bit broad. but the point remains the same.

Jes,

I've been following your writings on the Internet for quite some time. I find most of your postings revolting. I only hope that in real life you are different.

I have often wished you could just spend one year under Sharia law to help your perspective on life.

Only just noticed this.

Godspeed Andrew. Richard Biggs, who played Stephen Franklin, is my cousin. I am sure he has welcomed you with open arms. No doubt with Adreas Katsulas, aka G'Kar, by his side and now by yours.

Posted by: Maria | January 05, 2008 at 08:59 AM

The Major would have liked.

DDR, I've thought of several replies, but my belief is that Andy would have liked you to do your best to ask about, and understand, Jes's opinions.

DDR, perhaps you'd have been happier in a country with less open dissent, like the one you're named after.

DDR, Iraq didn't have sharia law before we invaded. Now, at least in large areas, it does. BTW, before we invaded Iraq had a very large Christian community. Now amillion Christians are refugees in Syria and the onne remaining congregation of thirty or so people has to meet in secret. We have not help to create a society which the average American woman would experience as free.

1. Enemy Iraqis couldn't shoot at American soldiers if they weren't there.

2. Counterinsurgency, which is the required method of engagement in Iraq, is a delicate way of fighting, a way of fighting that requires a high risk precisely because soldiers cannot simply kill annyone they think might be intending harm. Andrew, for exampled, died while trying to negotiate a surrennder. He wasn't thereto just kill anyone who looked to be about to do harm.

3. You are over simplifying the situation when you characterisze the fighting as being between those who support and those who opposethe government.

And don't be mean.

BTW I don't think this discussin falls into the catagory of politicizing Anndrew's death because DDr didn't annd I havenn't claimed Andrew for a particular side.

It would be nice, DDR, if you would make an effort to conduct thie discussion in the manner which Andrew modelled so well by being polite.

I'm trying hard to keep my natural snappishness under control!

And a British woman woldn't be free there, either.

There's a bunch more appropriate stuff in comments at Andy's Rocky Moutain News blog:

Hello, sorry to meet all of you in this type of forum; however, my name is CPT Neil Oscarson and I am the assigned Casualty Assistance Officer in Reno, NV for CPT Thomas Casey's family. I would be more than happy to pass along your contact info to the family and they can make contact with you. For security reasons I cannot pass this info, but am sure that they would love to know that they have support from all over the world.

I am sorry that I never was able to personally meet Tom, but am fairly certain that our paths did cross at one time or another (which makes this job all the more emotionally challenging). He was a fine officer, a Great father and Husband, a model son and friend to all.

To MAJ Olmsteads wife Amanda, my deepest gratitude to a fine and dedicated officer with an outstanding writing ability. I am absorbed by his posts and am determined to read each one.

May both families find solace in the fact that their loved ones passed doing soemthing they truly believed in and that the Army is here as a family to assist in the process and help ease the pain. We all feel the loss.

CPT Neil Oscarson
neil.oscarson@us.army.mil

And so on. A lot of Andy's relatives are understandably more aware of that site than this, and have also commented there.

Regardless, I can't help but beleive that one of the most effective ways to win a war is to kill the enemy.

That seems sort of sensible on its face, but I guess it really depends on what the broader goal is.

I just re-read hilzoy's original post here, and if I understand it correctly it does seem that the floor is open in this thread for political discussion. Someone will, I trust, correct me if I'm wrong.

But I think you'd find a more constructive conversation if you were to wait a couple of days before pressing your point further.

I don't speak for Obsidian Wings, or for anyone here other than myself, in any capacity whatsoever. It's just an observation.

Thanks -

Regardless, I can't help but beleive that one of the most effective ways to win a war is to kill the enemy.

This assumes you know who the enemy is. And, more importantly, who they aren't.

Regardless, I can't help but beleive that one of the most effective ways to win a war is to kill the enemy.

Oh geez! Spare me...

1. Define "Enemy". (Can you accurately and completely identify every single enemy?)

What makes a person an Enemy? Because they don't look like you? Or because they are simply in Iraq? What about all the ones who have left Iraq? Etc, etc, etc... ad nausea!

2. History has shown that killing all the *enemy* is impossible for many reasons. Identifying exactly who the enemy is is one. Hitler had damned good stab at it when he labeled "Jews" as the enemy. However, many still managed to escape.

3. History also shows that winning a *war* is only half the battle. You have to win the peace also! Unless you want to keep fighting the same fight every couple decades or generation or so.

The fact is, the *enemy* is rarely a person, group, or race. It's usually an ideology (or a difference in ideology really). And the more you try to kill it, the stronger it gets. Just look at US history with the success (NOT!) of Prohibition during the early 1900's. That had the completely opposite effect of the stated intension. To the American warmongers, many of the people here at this blog are *The Enemy*! because we don't agree with them. How many times have they used the stale old black/white argument of "If you are not with us, you must be against us!", or "If you don't support the troops, you support the enemy!" (what they really mean of course has NOTHING to do with supporting the Troops as any sane person knows! That's a falsehood they use to mean supporting them.)

History also proves the lie that wars ARE in fact fought for idealogical reasons. At least the ancient Roman Empire was honest enough to admit that the wars they fought were for Political reasons. Most wars are fought because of economics, food, or land really. Sometimes they are fought for perceived reasons of security, but even that is usually a political reason.

Ehhh... many books and hundreds of thousands of words have been written about this! Go to a Library and do some reading. The warmongers fear the masses gaining the forbidden fruit of knowledge! Because it would expose them as the frauds they are! Sadly, many people refuse to gain that knowledge because they fear that it might expose those they worship for the frauds and criminals they are.

Pathetic really.

gwangung: Sorry! I didn't see your comment before I posted my comment. :)

DDR: I find most of your postings revolting. I only hope that in real life you are different.

No, you'd find me revolting in real life as well.

Gary: Jes, I think you have the sense of humor to appreciate the idea that it's my belief that if Andy heard that he'd managed to make you speechless on politics for a moment, he'd find that hilarious, and would make a joke about how that somehow made it all worthwhile, or something.

Heh. Yeah, he would.

Jes: No, you'd find me revolting in real life as well.

One of your best replies eveh! Another smile.

"DDR" wrote:
I often wonder how many lives could have been saved if, once we put boots on the ground everyone agreed to support the troops in the fight.

OK, since this thread permits political comments, I'll answer.

The answer to your question depends on what you mean. If you mean to ask if it would have saved lives if the government did not put "boots on the ground" until everyone agreed to support the war, then it might well have saved lives, because "operation Iraqi freedom" would never have happened; the Iraq invasion raised too many serious and legitimate concerns to attract anything like unanimous support.

But if you mean to ask if it would have saved lives if, once the troops had gone in, all debate had ceased and the whole nation had united behind the "mission", I can give you the answer to that: no, it would not have saved lives. And we know that, because most countries have tried it before. In both the great wars of the past century, governments on all sides tried to erase all doubts, harden all hearts, suppress all scruples. Minds clanged shut, newspapers and movies turned out a flood of hate propaganda, and both wars turned into total wars with no compromise possible short of the utter destruction of the enemy.

And so, since the end of the Second World War, governments have left room for debate, for doubt, for an end to wars other than total victory, if only because they don't want another nuclear war.

I notice that DDR ignores the fact that the individuals whon have harmed American troops the most are Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush. I think what he means is that hese three are sacrosanct, and that anyone who said otherwise was a "traitor". If so, DDr isn't out to make American troops safer, just to be a LGF / Freeper parrot.

DDR: Why are the ones who put SAmericans in Iraq with support, without armored HumVees, without body armor -- how are they not at the top of your list?

What Jeff said - I was about to write exactly the same thing. I would happily support an honest investigation into how and why my country's leaders went to war on bogus grounds, have consistently opposed measures to hold troops to good standards of equipment and readiness, have attempted to hide and deny the costs of the war and opposed every effort to handle the costs in fiscally responsible ways, have conducted an occupation in flagrant violation of established principles of effective counter-insurgency, have even more flagrantly violated norms of humane and just behavior, and lied about it, and tried to cover it up...but I'll bet that none of that's what DDR is thinking of.

In a better run nation, there'd already be that sort of reckoning well underway, and not so many occasions for grief like ours here, or the literally hundreds of such occasions in Iraq for every one that hits Americans.

I notice than when DDR talks about saved lifes he is quite willing to kill the opposition in Iraq.

Gary -- Thanks. Season 2, Disc 1 of B5 will ship to me today from Netflix. I'll watch it in Andrew's honor.

But if you mean to ask if it would have saved lives if, once the troops had gone in, all debate had ceased and the whole nation had united behind the "mission", I can give you the answer to that: no, it would not have saved lives.

I think uniting in "supporting the troops" means much, much less than formulating a workable strategy and implementing it with intelligent strategy and backing it up with sufficient logistics. Competent strategy/tactics/logistics accomplishes far more and can be done without "full support." "Full support" without adequate strategy/tactics/logistics does very little.

I can't help but beleive that one of the most effective ways to win a war is to kill the enemy.

Other people have already said it, but I'll jump on too.

To quote or at least paraphrase LM Bujold: A weapon is an instrument for changing the enemy's mind. Maybe the best or only available way to do that is killing him or her, but it is a crude and often ineffective way. Kill one "enemy" and you make her/his friends, relatives, neighbors, etc angry at you. Fail to kill an enemy and you've confirmed his/her world view and made it that much harder for him/her to surrender and become a subject, ally, or non-violent objector. And made his/her relations, etc mad at you. Convince him/her that s/he is wrong and you are part of the way toward convincing the friends, etc as well. Some killing, i.e. bombing civilians, clearly just stiffen a country's resistance. Others might or might not help. But why use that as the first or only option? Andrew Olmsted didn't think that his best option was to kill the insurgents but tried instead to convince them that they should surrender and try to learn to live with the occupiers. You could say, "Yeah, and look where it got him" and this is true--this time. But how many times had he done the same thing before and had it work? How many people in Iraq think that not all Americans are bloodthirsty morons because of Andrew Olmsted and people like him? I don't know, but I believe that the answer is many. If you are at war in a land you intend to occupy rather than destroy, killing the enemy is not the most important part of winning. Convincing the enemy--and more importantly the "silent majority" bystanders-- that s/he is wrong is.

Farmgirl, one thing that may help with the early episodes of B5 season 2: if Sheridan strikes you as implausibly chipper, just know that he too has his secrets. It's not all an act, but neither is it the whole truth about him. (If, on the other hand, he doesn't bug you, then don't worry about it. :)

Bruce -- Thanks. What I remember about the episodes I tried to watch back in college is that everyone seemed swaggeringly, absurdly, "American", even those that were supposedly from another Earth nation or alien planet. I wondered why they didn't give them gun-belts and six-shooters and have done with it. (ST:TNG managed this nuance better, probably by having Brits in key roles.)

To clarify, I should probably say that I'm Canadian, living in the US since middle school. So I had been in the country for a while, but less than 10 years, when B5 came out.

That's a fairly fair criticism, Farmgirl. It took them a while to get a better spread of attitudes - there was a lot of learning as they went, both what the folks involved liked for themselves and what they could sell to financiers and producers as worthwhile.

Just a quick note to those of you who run this site and are in the band of bloggers that Andrew befriended...you have done him a great honor in your behavior, in your action and perhaps mostly in your restraint. Restraint is a critical (and oft forgotten) requirement in a free society and it is in woefully short supply on the Internet. You have elevated Andrew’s life and his memory and in so doing have elevated yourselves.

To those who served with Andrew…please know that there are many of Americans who are deeply grateful to you, who respect that you choose to serve for your own reasons, and are trying each day to live lives that are worthy of such a sacrifice as Andrew's. I acknowledge that I can never live such a life, but I will not dishonor you (or Andrew) by not trying.

Lastly, to Major Olmstead…my son is two years old. I will teach him about you and Captain Casey. I don’t know how to honor you more than that.

Charles Wicht

Gary; More of Andy's relatives are reading both sites than you can know. We just haven't written much. We are very appreciative of the conduct of all. We relatives in Maine will be celebrating his life this Sunday here. I hope those of you who can go to his service in Colorado will know we are with you and wish we could be there in person. Once again thank-you to everyone.
Lisa

have conducted an occupation in flagrant violation of established principles of effective counter-insurgency - Bruce Baugh

The funny thing about your statement Bruce is that insurgency rarely occurs without some sort of occupation. This occupation can be by ones own government and military or by a foreign force. One of the principles of COIN as put forth by David Galula (whose writings greatly influenced FM 3-24) is isolating the insurgent from their cause and support – i.e. the mass base, also known as the people. If you can explain to me how one would go about isolating the insurgency without the use of some sort of occupation (foreign or domestic) by all means please let me know, I will gladly pass your idea up the chain.
Some of the issues we have encountered in this war, or a lot of issues, were brought about by two major influences. 1) Our complete lack of understanding of the Arab culture and our not taking the time to educate the American Soldier on the aspects of that culture that would negatively affect his mission. 2) The American Army is great at its wartime mission, we train constantly to defeat our enemies on any battlefield, and one thing we have not trained on until recently is the sustainability operations portion of our mission statement. It is difficult to go from combat operations one day actively fighting a people to policing them the next, the American Solider was not sure of his role or how to conduct himself once the march to Baghdad was complete.

Competent strategy/tactics/logistics accomplishes far more and can be done without "full support." "Full support" without adequate strategy/tactics/logistics does very little. – gwangung

Absolutely!!! Another major failing on our part was our “strategy” of dismissing the majority of the Iraqi military, police, border patrol, etc. all because we feared we would get Ba’athist in the mix. “Civilized” people the world over break down in the absence of authority. We Americans are no exception; two examples would be the aftermath of Katrina or the LA riots.

I can't help but believe that one of the most effective ways to win a war is to kill the enemy.

In a COIN environment especially in the Arab world this is extremely ineffective. You must understand that the Arab people are like the Borg in many aspects, but take the Borg and add back in human emotion. Arabs often judge themselves and others but their sphere of influence, ones ability to call upon their sphere of influence is what makes them great. If some outside force was to come and eliminate a part of you sphere, what better way to show your influence then to shake up the rest of your sphere, who in turn moves their sphere and so on… then multiple this by the next five generations of spheres who are obligated to try “fix” the dishonor and shame brought on their ancestors. You just now scratching the extremely complex surface of the Arab culture.

I didn't get the chance to hear the NPR story of Andrew. Did anyone hear it? Could you summarize for me? I have the impression that Hilzoy was interviewed.

The links are all in the links thread.

Here again are the first and second NPR stories.

I briefly wrote about the first one here.

You can download today's Day to Day podcast on iTunes (link here -- for some reason today's doesn't show up in the list at the moment, but it did get downloaded by subscription, so you might try subscribing, which is free). The story and interview with Hilzoy starts eight and a half minutes in (8:35 to be exact).

It is hard to understand sometime why things happen the way they do... Why death, why war, why misunderstanding, why pain and on and on... I was touched by Andy Olmstead story, for his willingness to open up to the world. For the courage he demonstrated in the face of such terrible circumstances as war.... For the courage to make his feelings public. It is such difficult thing to decide if those things that are most precious to you, will be used in a offensive or inappropriate way like that of the coward "Burger Lord", but that is a risk that one takes in this world filled with so many "shades of gray..."
Thank to the parents that so unselfishly raised this young man to become a servant to his country and also to the world. Thanks to the wife that provided the continual love and support that gave him the joy of living... Thank you to those that in one way or another touch this man's life and made it worth living. Thank you Andy for caring… For the people of Iraq… For carrying on with your responsibilities; as a model soldier and son of America.
Life does not end with death, just like love, it never ends.

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