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November 11, 2012

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Somewhere between one in four and one in three homeless people are veterans.

I think this is a reflection of a couple of things:

1) our ability to treat physical injuries has improved so much (which is a good thing),

2) having severe physical injury, even if you are successfully treated, frequently leaves mental problems in its wake,

3) our ability to treat mental health problems is comparatively primitive even today,

4) even that crude treatment frequently isn't available to those who need it.

For the best of reasons, in many cases, we dismantled the institutional care option for the mentally ill several decades ago. So, if you are a veteran with mental health problems, you end up homeless simply because the facilities that, in another generation, would have housed and cared for you are gone. And, like other mentally ill people, you end up homeless.

Today I remember my friend Lewis, who despite doing noncombat tours in Vietnam got to watch someone's head get exploded by a sniper at very close range, early in his first tour. It turned out that the no smoking on guard duty rule had some really good reasons behind it. That and other things he saw and otherwise experienced changed him forever. I don't think he considers himself to be damaged, but he has both outstanding coping mechanisms and occasional bouts of fury even now, decades later.

I would love to have a biographer reconstruct his life, but things get lost in translation. Things lose their vividness when they're communicated in a casual way.

I think that with or without the military service, Lewis would be one of the finest people I know.

I'm having lunch with him tomorrow or Tuesday, so I can still tell him in person.

For the best of reasons, in many cases, we dismantled the institutional care option for the mentally ill several decades ago.

My impression was that a number of drugs options were developed, and it seemed like we could de-institutionalize people. However, this came right at the time that Reagan was president, so as they were turning people out, they were closing down the centers. Then they made the amazing discovery that it's a lot different getting fed your meds by a staff member and actually having to go get them and feed them to yourself when you are in the middle of life. Unfortunately, when this realization was reached, the institutional infrastructure had disappeared. I'm guessing that 'the best reasons' would have been medical, but to me, the 'real' reasons were that you could move to that libertarian paradise that Republicans are always touting. This isn't to try and catch anyone out, but I see this as a sort of canary in a coal mine case.

Here's a NYT article noting that suicide deaths were outpacing combat ones.

"... libertarian paradise that Republicans are always touting."
There is no such thing as a libertarian paradise. And Republicans don't tout much that's libertarian. Especially so in recent decades.

Thank you so much for this post, russell.

Today, I did something that wasn't a Veteran's Day project. I went to a local food festival and drank some wine, and ate some food that was made around here. While we were in line, we met a couple - one of whom was an Iraq war veteran, currently out of work - and we sat next to them to eat, drink, talk.

You know, really, we (some of us, I) don't necessarily meet people who have been in our current wars. But we should. We care about them. I assume we all do. They shouldn't be worrying about work. Jobs bill anyone?

I find it eerie to spot ever more similarities between the current situation and that of the period between the end of the 30 Years War and the French Revolution which is also known as the Era of the Cabinet Wars. For the 'enlightened despots' of that era it was the ideal 'that the prince may conduct war without the people being aware of it' and the means were to keep highly professional but small standing armies* separated from the population (by replacing quartering with barracks) and keeping all political and military discussions limited to the inner cirlce of the ruling monarchs. With few exceptions there was also a high disregard for the 'used up' personnel (aka veterans).
From what I see the US military actively seeks to recruit non-citizens for the ranks (with the vague promise of eventual citizenship as a bait) and I suspect the isolation motive (see footnote) plays at least a partial role in that. The use of robots (=drones) also allows the executive branch to further the concentration process making the war 'invisible' to the domestic audience.

*often hired abroad in order not to cut into the local workforce. Some states even preferred foreigners for the very reason that they did not speak the local language, thus keeping contacts with the population low.

You are closer to that than me but I cannot say for sure that this is a binding agreement. If a noncitizen faithfully fulfills his or her side of the contract can the state then be forced by legal means to fulfill its side (i.e. the promise of naturalisation) or is only the process of application for naturalisation the legally binding part. I.e. could the state renege on its promise with the argument "We only guaranteed that you can apply and that we will process the application but not that we will decide positively."? Given how e.g. Iraqi collaborators were treated (and that was not even about citizenship but entry visas), I am quite cynical about such things.

Actually, per the terms, the state fulfills it's end of the bargain up front, no waiting period, and you serve the term of your enlistment as a citizen already. Subject to your citizenship being revoked if you quit before your term is up.

It's perfectly reasonable to be cynical about the government, but assuming the government is always lying is as stupid as assuming it's always telling the truth. If they were routinely cheating people who enlist under this program, it would get around. And even unethical governments don't want their own soldiers pissed off at them.

"Actually, per the terms, the state fulfills it's end of the bargain up front, no waiting period, and you serve the term of your enlistment as a citizen already. "

Please quote the language you see in your link that expresses this idea.

Here's what I see:

"The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) Program allows certain non-citizens who are legally present in the United States to join the U.S. military and apply immediately for U.S. citizenship without first obtaining lawful permanent residence."

Apply immediately without first obtaining lawful permanent residence. Apply, not acquire.

"To apply for naturalization through military service in a time of war, you must serve in active-duty status and honorably complete your term of service. If you do not honorably complete your term of service, you will lose your citizenship."

Notice that serving and honorably completing service is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition. And so on.

I really don't see any guarantee of citizenship anywhere on that page. Merely the promise of expedited application.

"If you do not honorably complete your term of service, you will lose your citizenship."

Seems that you will lose something you already have?

"Immigrants who enlist during a time of war can apply for naturalization after only one day of service and have the citizenship application fee waived."

What, getting to apply the very next day isn't immediate enough for you?

And Republicans don't tout much that's libertarian. Especially so in recent decades.

'making government small enough to drown in a bathtub' seems pretty libertarian to me. And Reagan was famous that line "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'", which seems to be springing from the same place.

Aside from Ron Paul, only recently has there been any Republican politicians on the national level serious about slowing the growth of government. Much less, reducing its size. The Republican establishment just disagrees with Democrats about which parts of government should get even bigger and who should benefit.

I like the way Australia and New Zealand have Anzac Day as their main military commemorative holiday. Anzac Day isn't the anniversary of a victory, or a truce, a successful rescue like Dunkirk, or even a dramatic last stand like Masada. It's the anniversary of a bog-standard WWI battle, an ill-conceived, poorly executed mass assault on a well-defended position, with predictable lack of success. The day is significant only because it was the first engagement of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

A setting like Anzac Day makes it easier to remember and attempt to repay the service of the veteran without needing to pretend that the war was a success or even a necessary evil.

only recently has there been any Republican politicians on the national level serious about slowing the growth of government.

It's not that they are serious, it is that they have to make the motions to cut goverment. It was only a year ago that Rick Perry's candidacy floundered because he couldn't remember which departments he wanted to cut, but it wasn't cause he wanted to cut those departments. If he'd delivered that line with more panache, he certainly wouldn't have sunk his candidacy.

It's not so much that your typical Republican candidate is serious about shrinking the government, as that your typical Democratic candidate IS serious about growing it. Makes the Republicans a little better on a relative basis.

Hartmut:

"If a noncitizen faithfully fulfills his or her side of the contract can the state then be forced by legal means to fulfill its side (i.e. the promise of naturalisation) or is only the process of application for naturalisation the legally binding part. I.e. could the state renege on its promise with the argument "We only guaranteed that you can apply and that we will process the application but not that we will decide positively."? Given how e.g. Iraqi collaborators were treated (and that was not even about citizenship but entry visas), I am quite cynical about such things."

You:

"Actually, per the terms, the state fulfills it's end of the bargain up front, no waiting period, and you serve the term of your enlistment as a citizen already. Subject to your citizenship being revoked if you quit before your term is up."

You:

"What, getting to apply the very next day isn't immediate enough for you?"

Hartmut wrote that he is concerned that all the government promises is a chance to apply. You responded "correcting him" (which I inferred from your use of the word "actually," and the fact that you think that the government "fulfills its end of the bargain up front." So your response is "don't worry, they follow through on the chance to apply?"

Hartmut's entire point is that the thing the government has agreed to do is itself not a guarantee of your success, even if you follow through on your commitment.

A setting like Anzac Day makes it easier to remember and attempt to repay the service of the veteran without needing to pretend that the war was a success or even a necessary evil.

Indeed. Let me point out two other things from this perspective:

It's common to refer to folks who are serving or have served in Afghanistan and Iraq as 'heroes'. I have no issue with that on its face, there is certainly a heroic aspect to putting yourself in harm's way in service to your country.

I have an issue with it - I agree that there's a heroic aspect in putting yourself in harm's way FOR your country, but when you do it "in service to" your country and your country expends your bravery on unnecessary, useless wars, then you are not a hero - you're a chump. The people who started the Iraq war and expanded Afghanistan into a war of occupation turned your soldiers into chumps; they fight, are maimed, and die as rubes.

We learned that when a generation of ANZACS wound up bleeding for dear old Mother England's right to carve up bits of teh Ottoman Empire.

From what I see the US military actively seeks to recruit non-citizens for the ranks (with the vague promise of eventual citizenship as a bait) and I suspect the isolation motive (see footnote) plays at least a partial role in that.

Do you remember when people started talkign about "foreign fighters" entering Iraq in support of jihad, painting these interlopers as the worst terrorists ever?

Remind me again why it is legitimate to fight and kill for the reward of citizenship and illegitimate to do so as a perceived religious duty.

Whole lot of backspacing going on. I urge you, for your personal safety's sake, to refrain from giving voice to those thoughts to veterans of Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq.

This was going to be my veteran's day thread, but Russell beat me to it.

It was just going to be a recommendation of two things I've just gotten. The first is the ipad app for Age of Bronze. I've mentioned Eric Shanower's graphic novels before, they are stunning and well worth a read, but an enhanced iPad app has the strips colored by John Dallaire and a hyperlinked reader's guide by Thomas Beasley. The app is 99 cents and then you buy the individual issues. The first 4 issues are out, and they are a joy.

The second thing I got was Alice Oswald's Memorial, a translation of all the deaths in the Iliad. Why write just the deaths? she says this in the Guardian's piece on it:

"I've always felt, with The Iliad, a real frustration that it's read wrong," Oswald says. "That it's turned into this public school poem, which I don't think it is. That glamorising of war, and white-limbed, flowing-haired Greek heroes – it's become a cliched, British empire part of our culture. Every translation you pick up is so romantically involved with the main story that the ordinariness of Homer, which I love so much – the poem's amazing background of peculiar, real people, just being themselves – is almost invisible." In her version, the absence of the monolithic main characters leaves the histories of the footsoldiers who died in their shadows exposed and gleaming, like rocks at low tide.

But if that doesn't convince you, take a listen to these two excerpts.

To tie this in to this blog, when I read Memorial, I was struck by the fact that I or anyone else, could have done this poem/translation anytime (assuming, of course, we had the poetic ability of Alice Oswald, which I am not dismissing. But imagining that was there). Yet it is only with the current state of the world, the anonymous deaths in war, and our wondering what form rememberance takes that the poem comes to life. One can't help but think of Romney's speech at the RNC leaving out mentioning the troops and his defense that an acceptance speech is not a laundry list. While a lot of people, like James Webb, express pretty profound anger, my take is that this isn't a singular conceit of Romney and that there must be a lot of people who thought that Romney was correct, which leaves one to wonder what and who needs to be memorialized. We've had a big turnover in both posters and commenters, so many new to the site might want to take a look on the upper right section to read about Andrew Olmsted.

but when you do it "in service to" your country and your country expends your bravery on unnecessary, useless wars, then you are not a hero - you're a chump. The people who started the Iraq war and expanded Afghanistan into a war of occupation turned your soldiers into chumps; they fight, are maimed, and die as rubes.

Well, as long as we have an awesome arbiter of what is legitimately 'in service to' one's country, I guess everything is ok. So, thanks for dropping in and clearing up the fact that our volunteers are idiots in service to , er, what? Hold on . . . wasn't Afghanistan truly bipartisan? Didn't significant numbers of Democrats vote for the Iraq thing, including the current VP? Funded by congress? Isn't the US 'a country'?

Good men and women serve this country in harm's way every day, here and overseas. Americans debate their roles and missions everyday. Some small number disdain the military, but the vast majority of Americans respect, some to the point of revering, the personal service these people render which is separate from approving the mission their elected, civilian leaders send them. So, PIATOR, screw you. Respectfully.

Well, as long as we have an awesome arbiter of what is legitimately 'in service to' one's country, I guess everything is ok.

You're welcome - all part of the service.

So, thanks for dropping in and clearing up the fact that our volunteers are idiots in service to , er, what?

No, I said they were chumps and rubes, not idiots.

The difference is that to be a chump or a rube, someone has to take your trust or willingness to serve and exploit it for their own benefit.

In this case, someone has taken the bravery and willingness to sacrifice of soldiers in the cause of the defense of their nation, and turned them into an instrument of shitty little imperial wars of aggression. All their suffering, all the lives lost, and all the damage is meaningless - if America had never invaded Iraq or if it had only gone into Afghanistan to hunt down and punish Al Qaeda, it would be no worse off and no less secure than it is now - and probably more so.

Pointing out that your soldiers have been turned into chumps is not spitting on them - it's merely acknowledging the facts. Those who spat on them are laughing it up in positions of respect and power today.

So, PIATOR, screw you. Respectfully.

Go tell that to Smedley Butler.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Is_a_Racket

If you want an analogy, consider a profession that is more dangerous than that of a soldier - a firefighter.

A firefighter is heroic for risking their life to save those of others. Running into a burning building day after day is an act requiring great courage, in the service of their community.

If they spent their time and died running into burning buildings set by a reality TV show so the producers could profit, then they wouldn't be heroes - they'd be chumps.

Just like those of your soldiers who have suffered and spent their lives NOT in defense of your country, but in attacking other countries and murdering their inhabitants.

The Alice Oswald book, Memorial, is beautiful, lj. Thanks for mentioning it.

I can't entirely disagree with PIATOR. I do think there are plenty of people who go to war in service to their country (perhaps to humanity) even if the war doesn't truly serve the interests of their country (or humanity). They know the war isn't justified, or even beneficial to their county in the most cynical and a purely self-serving way, but they go to do as much right as they can on a daily basis, to limit the damage within the context of a total screw-job. But there are others who truly believe they are fighting for the freedom and well-being of their friends, families, neighbors and fellow citizens. Some people who went to Iraq did so on that basis, wrongly so (regardless of who in either party voted for it).

I also think the unquestioning reverence we have for our service members is used as a propaganda tool to sway public opinion. Remember the "you can't be against the war but for the troops" crap we heard when Iraq was turning to sh1t, or the made-up stories of heroism like those of Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman? (I'm not finding fault with Jessica Lynch or Pat Tillman. Jessica Lynch disavowed the story told about her, and Pat Tillman gave up an NFL career to go to Afghanistan when it was still a justifiable effort.)

I wouldn't use the words PIATOR did, but that might simply be due to a lack of courage to be brutally honest on my part.

the unquestioning reverence we have for our service members

Who is "we"? I know quite a few people, including myself, that are not like that.

that might simply be due to a lack of courage to be brutally honest on my part

Don't sell yourself short, or others overly long.

This notion that of anonymous-coward bravery in comments is a bit overdone, I think. It's easy to be speak bravely when you're hiding behind a pseud. Courtesy: it's a good thing to possess, but not always easy to keep using.

Or we could rain verbal death on complete strangers. That's a brave thing to do, some people may think.

/meta

May I commend to your attention an absolutely stunning one-man show written by Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare called An Iliad? I saw it earlier this year at Playmakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill, NC, with Ray Dooley acting, and it was one of the great experiences of my more than half-century of theatre attendance.

I'm not going to try to describe it, but if it ever comes your way in anything that looks like a good production (takes a hell of an actor to pull it off), go see it.

I'm beseeching you. You can thank me later.

Slartibartfast: Whole lot of backspacing going on. I urge you, for your personal safety's sake, to refrain from giving voice to those thoughts to veterans of Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq.

Followed by

Slartibartfast: Or we could rain verbal death on complete strangers. That's a brave thing to do, some people may think.

Uh-huh.

I haven't threatened anyone, implicitly or explicitly. I've only stated my views clearly.

If you believe violence and attempts at intimidation by drumming up mass disapproval are appropriate responses, then i suggest you examine yourself rather than me.

Uh-huh.

Stunning rejoinder. You should use that all the time.

I haven't threatened anyone, implicitly or explicitly. I've only stated my views clearly.

I didn't say you threatened anyone. You're making that up.

If you believe violence and attempts at intimidation by drumming up mass disapproval are appropriate responses, then i suggest you examine yourself rather than me.

I didn't do that. You're making that part up, too. I suggest you examine your reasons for making things up about me.

While we're prescribing self-analysis, I mean.

If they spent their time and died running into burning buildings set by a reality TV show so the producers could profit, then they wouldn't be heroes - they'd be chumps.

To illustrate a point of apparent divergence, I'd extend this analogy to include the possibility of people being trapped inside the burning buildings and the firefighters going in to save them despite the fire being set by reality-TV producers. The producers would still be scum, but the firefighters would be heroes rather than chumps.

Or we could rain verbal death on complete strangers.

I wouldn't mind raining vocal death on complete strangers, if I could find the right band to do it with.

when you do it "in service to" your country and your country expends your bravery on unnecessary, useless wars, then you are not a hero - you're a chump.

It seems to me that many people have served, in combat, during wartime, while simultaneously questioning or even disagreeing with the rationales for the wars they were fighting.

In other words, they did their service with eyes open and minds fully engaged. And did so, perhaps, in spite of their disagreement with whatever political context they were serving in.

It was their choice to do so, and I'm sure each of them made their choice for their own reasons.

I'm not sure anyone here is in a position to make any kind of judgement about that. I know I'm not, regardless of my personal opinion about whatever war we are talking about.

IMO the folks we are talking about deserve greater respect, for their own personal agency and integrity, than you afford them in your comments here.

Just my opinion.

I wouldn't mind raining vocal death on complete strangers, if I could find the right band to do it with.

Napalm Death, obvs.

It was their choice to do so, and I'm sure each of them made their choice for their own reasons.

Ok, so: I wasn't going to bring this up, but I did in fact have lunch with my friend Lewis, and we talked about that "thank you for serving" thing, which always made me kind of uncomfortable for reasons I couldn't put my finger on. No one's fault but mine, that, but after some further thought, I realized that it's important to appreciate (in the sense of recognize the full worth of) said service on an individual basis.

Or, as usual: a lot like what russell just said.

I can't say that I fully appreciate Lewis' service, because I am not 100% sure that he himself does. But I think I appreciate it more now. But gratitude? I think that would be insulting. It puts a cute little bow on things that are best left unbowed, so to speak.

Lewis himself looks at it as a formative part of his life. Cutting that part out of his life would be akin to cutting off a limb or two.

Lewis' advice to people who thank him for his service is: don't thank me. If you truly do appreciate what I and others have done, write to your congressman. Write to your senator. Write to Erik Shinseki. Tell them.

Lewis would, I think, view PIATOR's dismissal of him as of a species with our government's treatment of he and people like him, and of the people who came back much less intact and alive than he did.

But that doesn't work, because no one who hasn't had to deal with the VA has any idea what it's like to have to do that.

Then we talked a lot about the evil that people do, and how much of that springs from good intentions without the accompanying apprehension of that there may be some unanticipated, unwanted results.

IMO the folks we are talking about deserve greater respect, for their own personal agency and integrity, than you afford them in your comments here.

Thanks. This is my view as well.

One of the reasons some people do fight in wars, even if they disagree with the policy is this: they believe it's their duty to serve in the military, since we live in a democracy and our policies are theoretically subject to the will of the people. Some people don't want to leave it to others to do this service. I believe that it's very legitimate (and patriotic in a communitarian sense).

I didn't choose to serve, and believe that there are other ways to serve the country, especially for people who do disagree with the wars that are happening when they have the opportunity to serve). I have less automatic respect for those who have eschewed service in wars they have supported (especially when their peers were being drafted).

I didn't do that. You're making that part up, too.

"I urge you, for your personal safety's sake, to refrain from giving voice to those thoughts to veterans of Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq."

If you say so...

To illustrate a point of apparent divergence, I'd extend this analogy to include the possibility of people being trapped inside the burning buildings and the firefighters going in to save them despite the fire being set by reality-TV producers. The producers would still be scum, but the firefighters would be heroes rather than chumps.

Probably - but that analogy would only be relevant if the people who started unnecessary wars were hounded, prosecuted and persecuted as the war criminals they are when it became clear they lied to get the country to go along.

IMO the folks we are talking about deserve greater respect, for their own personal agency and integrity, than you afford them in your comments here.

That's your opinion. In my opinion, Joshua Key is one of the few examples of an American soldier exercising ethical agency over Iraq.

That's your opinion.

Yes, it is. Just as yours is yours.

And that is all that any of us are bringing to the table here.

Not me, I've already written my rep, Marcia Fudge (named head of the Congressional Black Caucus today btw, congrats to her) and asked her to introduce the LOL-CHUMPS bill next session. It will require each of us, when meeting an Iraq or Afghanistan vet, to point at him or her, laugh, and say, "Ha! You got played, chump!"

(Can someone backronym that for me?)

Mostly, Phoenicina, you can just say "thanks" and then shut the f' up. Or, better yet, just shut the f' up. period.

You have no idea what you're talking about.

My son, an Army officer, is in A-stan. Two weeks ago we got a call that he was no longer in some rat hole on the Pak border, but in the hospital in Bagram. Got caught outside his bunker by a rocket. This was the second time. He lives a blessed life. No shrapnel wounds. Blast concussion.

He thinks the war is a stupid sick joke. he thinks the Afghan people are a bunch of cavemen beyond hope or help. However, after a few days of tests and an offer to be returned to the states, he requested that he be returned to the combat zone so he can finish his tour with his men. As he told me, "That's what a leader does". I respect that. i would have done the same thing.

A Soldier/Sailor/ Marine/Airman doesn't get to make the comfortable choice. They may privately question, but then they saddle up when ordered. That's why they're heros. The time they refuse or even hesitate might be the time it's not just some political blunder/lie and the nation's security - your security - is truly on the line.

You get to bitch about our politician's stupidity and then go back to whatever silliness it is that gets you through the day. The service member - combat arms - (and their families) truly suffers for it. It's something you cannot understand.

Napalm Death, obvs.

Sometime in the late 90's, my wife belonged to a mail-order CD club. She ordered an Ella Fitzgerald CD and they accidentally sent Napalm Death's Fear, Emptiness, Despair. I was happy to have gotten it in such random fashion and I still have it. I imagine mine was one of few households were such a mistake would have been pleasing.

That aside, they won't return my calls.

A Soldier/Sailor/ Marine/Airman doesn't get to make the comfortable choice. They may privately question, but then they saddle up when ordered. That's why they're heros.

So you're saying the German troops who operated the extermination camps are heroes, because they saddled up and obeyed orders despite any personal doubts they might have had?

What you just described was someone surrendering agency. Not heroism. Someone who serves valiantly and faithfully on behalf of a bad cause is still serving a bad cause.

Consider - the nineteen men who hijacked the jets and flew them on Sept. 11th showed great courage - more so than most soldiers, for they went to certain death in pursuit of their cause.

In your opinion, were they heroes? Were the German camp guards who just obeyed orders heroes? What about the American interrogators who wound up with their prisoners dying - if they were just obeying orders, are they heroes?

"He thinks the war is a stupid sick joke. he thinks the Afghan people are a bunch of cavemen beyond hope or help."


Thus illustrating the point that we need to be sure we dehumanize and demonize the right set of people. Those irredeemable Afghan cave dwellers for example.

A bit more seriously, Blackhawk, I think you've just given us direct evidence of what is wrong with our noble attempts to help the benighted heathen with our superior weaponry, if that's what your presumably intelligent and educated Army officer son thinks about the people he is ostensibly over there to "help". Presumably you agree with that, in your own way.

Donald, he has given me actual examples to support his perspective. They make sense to me. I don't think he is dehumanizing the Afghans for psychological defensive reasons. He is a cool guy that does well with the women, enjoys a good time and has sees humor in life. He is no ideologue. I think he is simply stating obvious facts. His job is to train these people. He has to go on missions with them; shoot'em up combat missions on the afghan/pakistan border.

There are a couple of individuals that he thinks are "good dudes". Otherwise they are complete f' ups. They have their hands out constantly. Whatever we give them is never enough. Give them a weapon and they mistreat it, wreck it or looose it and then demand another. Train them to walk patrol and they do it all wrong and go out and get killed within a k of the base and the survivors come running back complaining it's too dangerous to patrol. Basically it's every complaint you ever heard about the ARVN (that's from the Vietnam War) all over again.

This is not a feel good hippy dippy liberal arts academic exercise about proving how we are all the same under the skin. This is real stuff, ok. We are different. They have an f'ed up culture and they are products of it. They've been that way a long long time and us being there a few years handing them sh!t isn't going to turn their heads around.

He thinks it's terrible about how they treat their women and children, but he can't even talk to them about it. They stink. They won't bathe. Many of them are outlandish homos. They rape young boys and the boys have to take it (LJ might find this to be paradise in this regard). Rivals over just about anything are routinely murdered. It's a pig pen within a nightmare and that's they way they live. You wanna to go preach otherwise to them. Go ahead. let me take a life insurance policy out you before you go.

Something Americans need to understand is that our way is not apparently good and adaptable to other cultures. In fact, our way looks like a fool's way to some cultures; the Afghan culture being one of those.

I don't believe in demonizing people and neither does my son (as far as I understand him). Demonizing is the first step on the slide to defeat (e.g. evil cannot defeat good...blah blah blah). I think we both like to call it as we see it and take action accordingly. Philosophizing is best left to those who are not in harm's way.

And yes, my son is an oficer and he is a college grad. I don't like to speak for him. What I glean from my conversations with him (he has been deployed and/or preparing for deployement for the past three 1/2 years - He did a tour in Iraq as well) is that he thinks these cultures are screwed and we have no business being there unless there are terrorists to kill; terrorists that directly threaten the US. His idea of nation building success is that it is non-existant at best and , at worst, probably represents a negative return. Based on my own experiences in other parts of the world, I understand and agree.

"So you're saying the German troops who operated the extermination camps are heroes, because they saddled up and obeyed orders despite any personal doubts they might have had?"

funicia, our troops are not nazis. They are not participating in genocide. You need to be able to make a distinction. Yes, some small minority have committed war crimes, as always happens in war, and they should be prosecuted for doing so, as some have. Otherwise you are comparing pineapples to hand grenades.

"Consider - the nineteen men who hijacked the jets and flew them on Sept. 11th showed great courage - more so than most soldiers"

I wouldn't necessarily say more so than *all* US troops. Any how, yes they were heroes to their cause. No doubt about it. However, they are not heros to my cause. So, given the chance, I would kill them - or at least others seeking to follow in their footsteps. Since I am officially told I am too old to engage in that kind of activity any more, I hope that someone else wearing the uniform kills them.

What's your point around that? I don't get it. If this is some moral relevancy lecture, then I'm yawning. I'm glad you are suffinciently safe and comfortable that you can engage in such lofty mental masturbation.

funicia, our troops are not nazis.

I didn't say they were. I was commenting on your logic.

Your criteria for being a "hero" was as follows:

"A Soldier/Sailor/ Marine/Airman doesn't get to make the comfortable choice. They may privately question, but then they saddle up when ordered. That's why they're heros."

I am pointing out that that applies just as easily to such people as extermination camp guards - many of whom did indeed have qualms about their orders.

You are changing the goalposts when you start talking about Americans not committing genocide - that wasn't part of your criteria.

I wouldn't necessarily say more so than *all* US troops. Any how, yes they were heroes to their cause. No doubt about it. However, they are not heros to my cause.

Oh, so "hero" has no objective definition? This is interesting - given that you just tried to provide an objective definition.

You are reacting with anger instead of actually dealing with my points or defending your own position clearly. I would suggest that this is a sign of cognitive dissonance, and I would also suggest you consider why you are experiencing this. That's a critical difference between progressives and wingnuts.

Awesome. PIATOR and Blackhawk, locked in argument.

My work here is finished.

I urge you, for your personal safety's sake, to refrain from giving voice to those thoughts to veterans of Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq.

Our soldiers go to war to keep us safe and protect our freedoms.

Also, don't say anything to them they might disagree with or they will violate your personal safety.

Who will protect us and our freedoms from our soldiers?

Funny thing, Blackhawk, is that I gather our very own military has a rape problem and isn't doing a good job handling it. link Women within that culture feel constrained about reporting rape. As for irredeemable cultures, our own culture has changed drastically within my own lifetime. All sorts of hatreds which used to be acceptable are now considered unacceptable, though admittedly there are people who are fighting to hold onto them. I'm not sure where you got from my post that I want to go to Afghanistan and preach to them. Certainly not at gunpoint-I think this is what started the revolt against the communist regime in Afghanistan back in the late 70's from which everything since then has followed. I'm not a fan of reactionary religious fundamentalism wherever it can be found, but the notion of people being irredeemable cave dwellers is another kind of fanaticism, dressed up as observation. You can make the observations without going that extra step--you can also question whether some group closer to home (like the US military) might harbor some rather similar attitudes and behaviors and work to change that.

And that crack at LJ--what's the point of that?

that "thank you for serving" thing, which always made me kind of uncomfortable for reasons I couldn't put my finger on.

it makes me uncomfortable also. i've been thinking about why, and the best i can up with is this:

if the service person were to respond candidly, i would imagine they would say something like "if you really want to thank me, get off your @ss and do something".

whatever that "something" might be.

talk is cheap, sentimental talk even cheaper.

that's just my experience of it.

And that crack at LJ--what's the point of that?

just making friends the blackhawk way.

Also, don't say anything to them they might disagree with or they will violate your personal safety.

My point was more like this: as a general guideline, it's substantially less brave to insult and disrespect individuals as an anonymous commenter on the internet than it is to do so in person, to complete strangers.

My caution was more for the sake of the person on the other side of that insult than it was for PIATOR. I'm not so concerned with the personal safety of PIATOR. You do that kind of thing at your own risk, much the same as free climbing.

But thanks for propagating the completely made-up conclusion that I was somehow threatening PIATOR, even if second-hand.

Who will protect us and our freedoms from our soldiers?

Q: Who will protect us from gravity? A: Our own good judgement, provided we have some.

Guys, take the "caveman" crap with a grain of salt, considering that it's coming from the very same person who tried, on this very website, to impute to cleek and others insufficiently critical of US drone policy in Pakistan a belief that "they're all just wogs anyway, right?" He's trying to play both sides at the same time.(And failing miserably, as always.)

Many of them are outlandish homos.

Maybe you should send your asshole daughter over to give them a towel party.

(This is also all coming from a dude who's admitted he's afraid to stop and ask for directions in neighborhoods with too many blah people, btw. At least if he isn't carrying a gun.)

""thank you for serving" thing, which always made me kind of uncomfortable for reasons I couldn't put my finger on."

To me it has always sounded like some sort of overcompensation for bad behavior (real or alleged or both) by the antiwar movement in the 60's.

OTOH, I'd support higher taxes to help wounded veterans. That just seems like a basic obligation.

"I am pointing out that that applies just as easily to such people as extermination camp guards - many of whom did indeed have qualms about their orders."

Well PIATOR, there are firemen that do bad things, policemen (lot's of them) that are crooked, physicians that do harm, priests that molest.......by your reasoning there is nothing and no one noble or heroic in life.

Use some common sense son. A few bad apples don't spoil the whole basket.

"And that crack at LJ--what's the point of that?"

I have no interest in being "friends" with LJ; nor she with I. She snipes at me at all the time. I'll shoot back. As far as I can see she has little to say about much of anything other gay rights and womens issues. But the bottom line is that it was late and after a marathon 14 hour work day on top of the same the previous day, I was getting edgy and typed something I shouldn't have. I was in the wrong and I apologize.

"I gather our very own military has a rape problem and isn't doing a good job handling it"

This is true. It's males raping females. It's a horrible disusting problem that is far more widespread than many realize or care to admit.

Still, I don't see where this has any bearing on whether or not the Afghan people are cavemen.

I know this is a liberal blog and liberals really want to believe that all people are the same and that they will all adopt American (or at least European) attitudes and lifestyles given a chance. I disagree and I think that is a dangerous outlook that keeps getting us into messes like VN, Iraq, Afghanistan, Arab Spring situations that turn on us.

"This is also all coming from a dude who's admitted he's afraid to stop and ask for directions in neighborhoods with too many blah people, btw. At least if he isn't carrying a gun."

I have never said such a thing.

"Maybe you should send your asshole daughter over to give them a towel party."

Maybe we should send some obviously fearless Ohio resident over there so he can show us how it's done. Plus he won't mind being passed around the camp fire. A true emb -ass-ador for the US.

I have no interest in being "friends" with LJ; nor she with I. She snipes at me at all the time. I'll shoot back. As far as I can see she has little to say about much of anything other gay rights and womens issues.

Every time I think you can't get dumber, you rise to the challenge.

"This is also all coming from a dude who's admitted he's afraid to stop and ask for directions in neighborhoods with too many blah people, btw. At least if he isn't carrying a gun."

I have never said such a thing.

ORLY?

"I thought you were concerned about passing through. I've worked in Camden full time for almost 12 years, and I've never come close to having anything happen to me. Nor any of my coworkers that I know of. So the particular argument that you need a gun simply because you might decide to drive through a bad neighborhood isn't compelling to me....."

Yes. But you live there. You know which areas to avoid, where not to get out of your car. This improves your odds. merely driving through and perhaps taking a wrong turn, getting lost, stopping for gas, etc, i would not have that knowledge advantage.

Don't feed Blackhawk, especially when he feel he has to reference masturbation, it's a dead giveaway that he's trying to make someone take a swing.

And Phil is precisely right when he notes that Blackhawk is trying to play both sides and doing it poorly. After all, a US ambassador who dies in the line of duty is, according to him, 'an Embassy prick', so his defense of the American in uniform is all bullshit, all the time.

However, I'm not sure if Blackhawk is the one who talked about his daughter in the Army and the towel party. But even if it was, while they say that apples don't fall far from the tree, taking it out on any of Blackhawk's kids isn't really fair, it is not like they get to choose their father is. And even if they did fall close to the tree, I wouldn't be surprised if they figured a way to grow legs and get the hell out of there.

And Blackhawk, I'm flattered you think I'm female, but I'm actually male. So maybe you might want to work on your reading comprehension before you get all blustery about whatever it is you are up in arms about. It's not like you are wasting any time making friends and influencing people.

Sorry, LJ, when I see an angry monkey in a cage, I can't resist poking with a sharp stick. It's incredibly amusing that he's worked himself into such an incoherent rage that he's probably confusing you and Doc Science.

He's got a great tell, though - the more shots he takes at someone, and the more personal/sexual they get, the more threatened he is by them.

Look, I had a very negative experience (working relation) with some embassy staff once upon a time. It left me feeling sour. My comment about "embassy pricks" arose from some buried old sentiment. It was not an appropriate comment and I wish I hadn't made it.

That said, embassy staff are NOT uniformed service members. Often they are spooks, but NOT US military personnel (excepting, of course, USMC detatchments that provide security).

So this statement makes no sense, "so his defense of the American in uniform is all bullshit, all the time."

How can I be BS'ing my defense of the American in uniform when the last five generations of males in my line have worn that uniform? I submit that you know no more about me than you do about wearing the uniform.

"Don't feed Blackhawk, especially when he feel he has to reference masturbation"

Where on this thread have I mentioned masturbation? Where I have mentioned at any time?

"Phil is precisely right when he notes that Blackhawk is trying to play both sides ...."

Phil is a clueless, humorless moralizing fool. Maybe you, LJ, are too. I am not playing anything. I have absolute respect for our sons and daughters in uniform and the job they have to do. I have never made any statement to the contrary. I am critical when they are put in harm's way for little or no good reason, when their lives are wasted. when policies (like drone attacks) cause them to be subjected to increased risk, when they are asked to train and fight and die with people that are so ungrateful that they shoot the trainers in the back.

"taking it out on any of Blackhawk's kids isn't really fair, it is not like they get to choose their father is. And even if they did fall close to the tree, I wouldn't be surprised if they figured a way to grow legs and get the hell out of there."

Gratuitous bitchy nastiness.

"I'm flattered you think I'm female, but I'm actually male"

Why would a male be flattered that he has been mistaken for a female? Gender confusion issues? I find that sort of problem to be indicative of real mental illness. It certainly would not fly in an infantry company. I guess we are destined to not see eye to eye on a lot of things, nor to be friends.

However, that does not mean we can't be civil. I'll my part. I hope you're man enough to do yours.

every thread that blackhawk appears on is sooner or later going to be all about blackhawk.

just saying.

if you wanna play, that's all good, but you're playing his game.

Well PIATOR, there are firemen that do bad things, policemen (lot's of them) that are crooked, physicians that do harm, priests that molest.......by your reasoning there is nothing and no one noble or heroic in life.

Once again you fail to grasp the obvious point. I think you must be doing it deliberately.

By the criteria YOU YOURSELF have set forth, these extermination camp guards would be heroes because of their service.

Now, do you get the point, or do you need a diagram?

I'm done talking about myself, Russel - as long as people here can refrain from being personally insulting and especially insulting to my family. I didn't start the personal crap on this thread. Nor did I become personal on the yottabyte thread or any of the several other discussions here in which I have participated over the past couple of months. If I have, please point it out to me.

"By the criteria YOU YOURSELF have set forth, these extermination camp guards would be heroes because of their service."

No. I don't consider the US Marines who photographed themselves urinating on enemy dead in A-stan heros just as I don't consider concentration camp guards to be heros.

Since you asked, I do consider those who wore the uniform and served *honorably* to be heros. I have more respect for a German soldier who served honorably in WW2 than I do for the war profiteers in this or any other country as well as those who sat it out because they couldn't be discomforted or were afraid.

"What you just described was someone surrendering agency. Not heroism. Someone who serves valiantly and faithfully on behalf of a bad cause is still serving a bad cause."

Everyone surrenders agency to at least some badness. You included. I am not interested in debating your ideals because they mean nothing in the real world. I am interested in people who demonstrate character, honor, courage and committment in the face of great danger and hardship.

I didn't start the personal crap on this thread.

Actually, you did, by taking an unprompted and unwarranted swipe at LJ, thinking he was Doc Science.

No. I don't consider the US Marines who photographed themselves urinating on enemy dead in A-stan heros just as I don't consider concentration camp guards to be heros.

Jesus Christ, are you really this dense?

HERE IS THE CRITERIA YOU STATED ON "HEROES"

""A Soldier/Sailor/ Marine/Airman doesn't get to make the comfortable choice. They may privately question, but then they saddle up when ordered. That's why they're heros.""

I don't know you, but I am seeing precisely why people are so irritated with you.

BY THE VERY DEFINITION YOU HAVE GIVEN TO DEFEND US SOLDIERS AS "HEROES", THE CONCENTRATION CAMP GUARDS WOULD BE "HEROES".

Turning around and bleating "I don't consider them heroes" doesn't cut it - I am pointing a problem WITH THE DEFINITION YOU YOURSELF GAVE EARLIER.

Inconsistent, incoherent, and substituting emotion for reasoning - are you a Republican?

Everyone surrenders agency to at least some badness. You included. I am not interested in debating your ideals because they mean nothing in the real world.

You are wrong, and I have already presented a counter-example - Joshua Key.

PIATOR, it's not that I don't understand you, it's that I profoundly disagree with your myopic and misguided position.

I do not respect Keys. Keys is not a hero in my book.

First, Keys joined the armed forces. He took an oath. A soldier has the obligation to refuse an illegal order. If Keys' felt he was being ordered to do illegal actions in Iraq then he should have - instead of deserting - stood up to his command and said "No. I will not carry out an illegal order" and then taken whatever resulted like a man. Then I might be more inclined to view him in an heroic light.

Second, some men, having Keys' outlook on a war, return to their units even when given an out (like a wound, death of a relative) because they feel an obligation to their buddies, to their men (depending on rank) and they know that if they get out, someone else has to go in their place. So there's other ways to look at this, different levels to the equation.

PIATOR, it's not that I don't understand you, it's that I profoundly disagree with your myopic and misguided position.

Reaaaaaaaaaaally?

Because, you know, I've been pointing out to you FOR SEVERAL POSTS now that I am quoting YOUR OWN definition back to you. With bold and CAPITALS in important places.

And you don't seem to have picked up on that yet...

I do not respect Keys. Keys is not a hero in my book.

Uh-huh.

When Soviet soldiers invaded Afghanistan in the eighties, I can understand why they obeyed orders, but I didn't consider them heroes for doing so, nor did I consider it anything but just that the Afghans would try to kill them.

When Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait in the nineties, I can understand why they obeyed orders, but I didn't consider them heroes for doing so, nor did I consider it anything but fair that the rest of the world would throw them out.

And now when American troops invade and occupy Iraq (you still have 5,000 troops there) and Afghanistan, I can understand why they obey orders, but I don't consider them heroes for doing so, nor did I consider it anything but fair that the insurgents - the people who actually live there - might be doing their level best to kill them. They have more right to shoot at invaders than American soldiers do to actually be there.

Indeed, given the disparities in capability and casualties between the two sides, I'd suggest that - objectively - the Afghan shooting at an American is more of a hero than the American firing back.

My caution was more for the sake of the person on the other side of that insult than it was for PIATOR

You urged someone to refrain from speaking their beliefs to veterans for their "personal safety's sake".

You made an obnoxious comment warning someone of violence if they said what they thought.

The veterans I have known are way calmer than that.

I think that if anyone should be considered a hero simply for showing up and doing their job, it should be middle school teachers.

You urged someone to refrain from speaking their beliefs to veterans for their "personal safety's sake".

Yes, I did.

You made an obnoxious comment warning someone of violence if they said what they thought.

I said that in response to a rather obnoxious comment to the effect that veterans of wars such as Afghanistan are chumps.

Now, you may not have thought PIATOR's comment was obnoxious, just as I didn't think mine was. That's the nature of subjectivity.

The veterans I have known are way calmer than that.

You'd think they'd be less calm, once they discover what chumps they are. But maybe you just have some really, really sedate friends.

"Yes, I did."

And it is sound advice.

"You made an obnoxious comment warning someone of violence if they said what they thought."

I don't think Slart's comment was obnoxious; again, just good advice. Catch a combat vet at the right (or wrong, as were ) moment and call him a chump for having served and you might get hurt, badly. That's reality whether you like it or not.

Now, you may not have thought PIATOR's comment was obnoxious, just as I didn't think mine was.

He can say pretty much whatever he wants without the fear that he will be violently attacked for it. You can too. Anybody who doesn't like that can be locked up in a cage like an animal.

That's all there is to say about that.

You'd think they'd be less calm, once they discover what chumps they are.

They never depended on random peoples' opinion for their sense of self-worth. Someone wants to call them chumps? Who gives a sh*t?

He can say pretty much whatever he wants without the fear that he will be violently attacked for it.

I'm sure that somewhere, perhaps even on this planet, there is a place where you are 100% correct about that, and where no one is ever provoked to violence by what other people say.

Nothing he said comes remotely close to being a provocation to violence. Anyone who reacted violently to him saying what he said would be locked up in a cage like an animal.

This is America.

Anyone who reacted violently to him saying what he said would be locked up in a cage like an animal.

No, here in America we don't lock people up in cages like an animal. We do lock them up in cages, though.

Which happens all the time. Sometimes even for violence resulting from a difference of opinion.


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