October 27th, 2005

The 2,000th US military death in Iraq

Back during Vietnam, one of the features of that war was the body count. The US military issued a running estimate of the number of enemy combat deaths, which was considered by some to be bloodthirsty, exaggerated, and a misplaced measurement of the progress of the war. Criticism was so intense that in recent years the military has stopped the practice, although others have taken it up for their own (and often suspect) reasons.

The body count of American dead in the Iraq war goes on, however. It is based on statistics supplied by the US military–apparently it’s still okay to count our dead. The recent publicity given to the 2,000 American death can seem to give off an aura of ghoulish celebration clothed in solemn mourning, just in time for Halloween.

I’m not saying the MSM’s emphasis on this body count doesn’t contain an element of sincere sympathy for the sorrows of the families of the fallen, at least in some instances. But I believe that, all too often, observations such as the following one highlighted approvingly by Dymphna–from a commenter on her blog writing on the death of #2000–are quite correct:

I’ve been thinking about the cries that he is being victimized by the left–and how ignoble a title “Victim” to bestow upon a warrior. Instead, he is, with his family, a warrior whose service goes beyond merely his life, and includes bearing the weight of fools.

In honor of the 2000th death and all the other US military deaths–and lives–in Iraq and elsewhere, I thought I’d recycle a portion of a post I wrote around Memorial Day on the subject of the liberal attitude towards the military. Here is the excerpt:

It’s not my impression that liberals/leftists necessarily even focus on the courage of the military. It’s my impression, from talking to liberals/leftists and reading what they write, that many primarily see the military (as I wrote previously) as either bloodthirsty–or, much more commonly and condescendingly, as unintelligent lower- or working-class pawns of a cowardly and exploitative ruling class (thus, the “chickenhawk” accusation against that ruling class, especially towards those who didn’t serve, or whose service is deemed inadequate)…

In my experience, liberals don’t necessarily even think very often in terms of concepts such as physical courage–it’s an old-fashioned word for an old-fashioned value. They think in terms of the values of kindness and/or tolerance and/or intelligence, which they feel that they themselves demonstrate. Or, if they do think of courage and admire it, it is more often the courage to speak out, or to stand up for a cause (to “speak truth to power,” for example).

Remember the old slogan, “Better Red than dead?” The people who said it meant it. And they weren’t all Communists, not by any means. They were people who believed that almost nothing–no abstraction, anyway, including freedom–was worth fighting for in the physical sense, and especially not worth dying for. Therefore anyone who does believe in fighting for something so abstract must be deluded in some way, or oppressed in some way, or both…

I also think that the template for the liberal/leftist view of the military was set during Vietnam, when the draft was one of the main ways to enter the service…People whose attitudes towards military service were based on that era are sometimes unable to understand the changes that have been wrought by the all-volunteer military. They continue to see those in the service as victims, although now they are not seen as victims of the draft, but as victims of coercion and class via economic incentives for joining the military, and/or as victims of the self-serving lies of politicians. It stands to reason that the class interpretation would be especially common on the left, since it fits in quite nicely with a socialist or Marxist viewpoint. And, if the enlistee is viewed as a pawn of economic circumstances, and his/her motivation is seen as economic, then it’s easier to circumvent the whole topic of personal courage.

This idea of the dead soldier as victim, rather than courageous hero, is often cited by the left for propaganda purposes against the administration and those “ruling classes.” Here’s a recent and very typical example of this type of thinking (found here in comment #80–supposedly it’s taken from Michael Moore’s website, but I looked and couldn’t find it there, so I can’t swear it’s a proper attribution):

Bush and the Crime Cabal in power sent 26 more soldiers to their graves this week and 26 more families to lives of living hell. 26 more lives and families devastated and destroyed for absolutely nothing. We will see the hypocritical mobsters of the state at their events today and tomorrow spewing filth from their mouths, such as: “Freedom isn’t Free,” and “We must stay the course in Iraq to honor the sacrifices of the fallen…Then the morons who killed our children will happily go back to their homes and have a nice Memorial Day dinner secure in the fact that their children will never die in a war and their children will have nice, wealthy, long lives because of the incredible riches this misadventure in Iraq has brought their fathers and mothers.

Then there is the idea of those who serve in the military as the “other.” Here’s an interesting article from the LA Times that discusses the change of heart a father experienced when his son, a Marine, went to Iraq. The father had never served in the military himself, and seemed to have never even considered what might motivate someone to serve. He writes:

Before my son unexpectedly volunteered for the Marines, I was busy writing my novels and raising my family, and giving little thought to the men and women who guard us…

But later, when his son returns from combat, the father writes:

I found myself praying and crying for all the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, husbands and wives of those who were not coming home. For the first time in my life, I was weeping for strangers…. Before my son went to war I never would have shed tears for them. My son humbled me. My son connected me to my country. He taught me that our men and women in uniform are not the “other.”

Prior to his son going to war, this man was almost dissociative in his ability to tune out the military. They simply did not exist for him as people–or, if they did, they were the “other.” What he means by that I’m not sure–were they the “other” in his eyes because of perceived class differences, personality differences, or merely a failure of imagination on his part? One might say he seems to lack the ability to put himself in someone else’s shoes–and yet it turns out he is an author, and a novelist! Very perplexing indeed.

I can only conclude that people like the author, Frank Schaeffer, are operating with blinders on. The motivations of people in the military are not understood by them, and they are not curious about those motivations. Schaeffer’s change of heart occurred for one simple reason: a military man finally became “real” to him, because that man was his son. He could no longer regard this particular Marine as the “other,” because he knew him and loved him, and that ended up humanizing all military personnel in his eyes.

32 Responses to “The 2,000th US military death in Iraq”

  1. jenbrea Says:

    “But to count makes us bloodthirsty death dealers.”

    We don’t count because the deaths of Iraqi civilians (whether by US or insurgent hands) is many times higher than the counts of U.S. and insurgent deaths combined.

    I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this site, but: http://www.iraqbodycount.net/

    And with all of this high-minded talk about democracy building, doesn’t anyone remember that that was a tertiary justification for the war, one that did not really come out in full force until the war was underway and which became the pro-war argument of choice once the intial reasons (i.e., WMD & Al Qaeda) had blown away like the fairy dust it was?

  2. Ymarsakar Says:

    As honest advice, here’s the thing. Some people write at the 12th grade level, and some people write 10 levels beyond that. I’m above level 12, people who can’t read above level 12, will have problems. I’m sorry they do, but it isn’t permanent, and none of my concern.

    I’ll rephrase what I said in the beginning, because it doesn’t convey my meaning correctly. It isn’t that you have to learn how to read, since it is obvious you can. Rather, you have to first learn how to read different people’s styles and understand them, and that entails first understanding my post, enough to grasp 10% of it at least.

    Anyone that has not grasped at least 10% of something, is just wasting people’s time in talking about how it doesn’t make sense. That’s obvious. Now find the solution. Nobody wastes anybody’s time when they are finding a solution to a problem.

    It’s a pretty rude response, but since you don’t want to be brushed off, and I’ve formed a more solid conception of your methods and thoughts, I am willing to give it now. As I have done.

    Not that it helps, if you didn’t understand nor wanted to understand what I wrote about how reading comprehension is necessary as a pre-requisite to rational discussion, then it is unlikely if not impossible for you to grasp it now, at such a late stage.

    People who love to read, have no problems with reading comprehension, as much as a Special Forces operator has no problems killing a terroist because he loves killing terroists.

  3. Ymarsakar Says:

    OMG, I just dropped a nuke on Baghdad.

    Oh… wait a second. They were French nukes, my bad, Baghdad is safe.

    Everyone knows that movie, or at least remembers something about it. When Uday and Qusay are kings in Baghdad (One’s a dead king, the other is a live one, very Egyptian, no?) started “acting up” and we launched a bunch of nukes them and they on us, except their nukes were fakes that theybought from France.

    That is hilarious, the greatest satire of all time in relation to Iraq.

    Why am I bringing this up?

    Because it’s pointless and funny, that’s why.

  4. Jp Says:

    “You can also repeat yourself, verbatim, as I noted after checking this thread after I had posted.”

    I never accused you of repeating yourself so why are you acting like I did? I did post 2 identical comments, deliberately, of course. Why? Because it was funny. There are two people posting comments, one a very brief one, and one, (yours), a very long one. Neither were clear. Surely, you can see the humor in that. Bob throws out 2 names mentioned in the media. What does he mean by that? Is he being sarcastic or does he think the MSM is biased on some way? Then there’s your 15 paragraph diatribe that requires reading a book to unlock the key to your understanding of the situation. I don’t get it and you refer to that as a “tactic.”
    As I pointed out before, you refered to me as one who doesn’t read, but loves to talk. Just because I didn’t understand your point doesn’t mean I can’t read and if I loved to talk, I would have left a long post. I didn’t do that.
    I didn’t “demand” an explanation nor did I try to “confuse” you.
    You have a misspelling and at least 2 sentence fragments in your prior posts.
    Who’s “they” in your comment regarding “better stuff?”

  5. Ymarsakar Says:

    You can also repeat yourself, verbatim, as I noted after checking this thread after I had posted.

    The pure unfairness of the whole matter lies directly proportional to the expectation that anyone has the time or the energy to teach someone for no money nor return on the internet.
    To Bob: so what’s your point?
    To Ymarsakar: so what’s your point?

    Ladies and gentleman, I logged onto the internet today, but it wasn’t my first time.

    I’ve seen that tactic before, demanding “explanation” and “clarification” when you neither agree nor understand anything the author wrote in the first place. Not a specific quote, no that would be too much work. Not a word in reference or a complete sentence, naw, that takes analysis and thought and Socratic mendacity.

    I’m far past the point where I may be fooled by such seemingly innocent attempts to confuse people.

    When will they come up with better stuff?

    When, next century?

  6. Jp Says:

    Damn, if only I were as smart as Ymarsakar, I would have thought of this before my last post. You should continue to avoid my question and insult me again with something like “I would hardly consider succinct a big word” or maybe really cut me to the quick by not responding at all. It’s beneath you anyway.

  7. Jp Says:

    Gee, long-winded and condescending, that’s a real one-two punch. I can read, though, I just have a short attention span. As for the “love to talk” part, I thought I was quite succinct. (See? I can use big words, too.) You’ve got good television debating skills, though. I questioned your point, and you fired back with an insult instead of any clarification.

  8. Ymarsakar Says:

    When you learn how to read, then you will know my point.

    I would have thought self-sufficiency was something to be aspired to, for those who use the internet. What with google and all.

    Thanks for providing another example of those who don’t like to read, but who love to talk.

    Heck, it’s not even talking anymore for the new/old generation, it’s just incomplete sentences galore. Socrates could have asked better questions, while dead.

  9. Jp Says:

    To Ymarsakar: so what’s your point?

  10. Ymarsakar Says:

    The warrior philosophy has much to offer in these times.

    You don’t need to be in the military to practice it, plenty of people aren’t. They are either retired or doing something else.

    The warrior culture isn’t limited to the military. It is spread throughout America. Makes it very hard to stamp out. ANd given America’s size, its sheer gargantualism, where someone in one state may never even have visited another state, being spread out just makes cultural differences more pronounced.

    Just as there is a cultural difference between Chinese subcultures, Black, and Hispanic, there are those between the military and the civilian. As Neo pointed out.

    troutsky, if you want to learn where I’m coming from, take some time and read the archives, particularly the “A mind is a difficult thing to change” series. That’s what it’s all about.

    I do believe reading is too hard. Writing and expressing is much easier, then acquiring knowledge of one’s enemies and friends.

    An avid reader like Neo Neo, would share in my interest for knowledge. But of course, I have long ago discarded the foolish and naive notion that others share such interests, simply based upon first encounters alone.

    Therefore I recommend Gates of Fire, to anyone that wants to understand the warrior’s perspective on loss and grief, on victory and defeat, terror and courage.

    It is written by Steven Pressfield, who I heard from a former Marine acquantaince, is also a former Marine amazingly enough. I had thought he was a scholar, to have put it so well to my comprehension.

    As for the medical metaphores, it’s a simplistic and utopian view that we can just cut out the “bad” parts and all will be swell. The past centuries mountain of corpses should dispell this notion.

    There is too much religious fanaticism in the world. It used to be that these reactionaries would rationalize their actions with, “Because this has always been the way”. Now they rationalize it with “Because America can’t do any good”.

    The End of History has not yet come, ladies and gentleman. Amazingly, and horrendously magnificent, we are still human.

    2,000 is the casualties in the theater, btw, including people who died in accidents. If I included all the deaths in Atlanta and New York, it’d be pretty “gruesome” too you know.

    But the media doesn’t know that, or rather let us say they “choose” not to know that. Because of course, they get their information from our friendly and allied military bureacracy, who quote numbers without responsibility, assuming the media will take upon themselves to understand the news before reporting it as information.

    Of course, they don’t, and of course, the military sells the weapon that the media now stabs us with, civilian and military alike. As they have done since the beginning of the war.

    The top military echelon in charge of enemy propaganda, and friendly “information” is not non-existent. Oh no, if it was non-existent we wouldn’t be bleeding from a thousand wounds a month as the media reports the casualty figures they get from the Army with no questions asked nor answered. Rather, because the Army echelon of information specialists seek not to give the American people propaganda, they have succeded quite well in facilitating the MSM in giving the American people propaganda.

    This lunatic human exchange of stupidities has to end. But it will not, because the ultimate authority in charge of the military, the President, will not end it.

    And that is a shame. To both the honor of the military, and the well being of American public opinion.

    So, ladies and gentleman, look foward to more of these “death counts” as we await the new generation of leaders.

    It will certainly be no worse than Xenophon’s march to the sea.

    At least Xenophon made it. I am unsure whether we will. The Iraqis and Afghanistanis will make it, with their teeth if they have to, we have given them at least that, the spine and discipline to fight for liberty.

    Like a mother, we might have exerted too much effort, and now will die.

    Enough with that gloominess, it would be a very bad thing for America to die from a thousand wounds. The chaos would be unimaginable, so would the fury for that matter.

    I wonder if the MSM, the Western decadents, and teh enemy understand just who they are fooling with… Perhaps not.

    Read the Gates of Fire, perhaps then you might understand what humanity might be capable of.

  11. Jp Says:

    To Bob: so what’s your point?

  12. bob Says:

    e.m.h,

    I do remember some names from this current war, although they aren’t among the dead: Jessica Lynch, Lyndie English.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    My friend Captain Pat Brown was killed in action on September 11, 2001. He was a Vietnam Veteran who volunteered to serve. He was also a member of the NYFD, who was one of the first responders to SACRIFICE HIS LIFE go up the first WTC to SAVE PEOPLE.

    When I hear anti-war Leftists claim moral-superority when dealing with Americans who CHOOSE TO SERVE America, I think of Captain Brown’s courage, strength, determination and dedication to securing the lives of so many innocent civilians.

    Captain Pat Brown did not HAVE to go up that tower, he WANTED to go for the purpose of serving something higher than himself.

    What I find Orwellian is that in 1998 Clinton drafted the 1998 Iraqi Liberation Act which was passed by Congress. Living in NYC I am also amazed at how NYer’s have FORGOTTEN all the NY Times editorials wrote between 1998-2000 demanding that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the free world and must be removed.

    Today, the anti-war Left claims Bush lied? The lie they have fallen for is the one manufactured by Joe Wilson and the editors the NY TImes who had a vengence towards a sitting President.

    What does the NY Times, or Joe Wilson or the anti-war Left care about the unprovoked death of Captain Pat Brown who was one of the first casualities in this war against Islamic-fascist terrorism.

    The only concern is to get that Bush. The anti-war Left is simply USING the deaths of our volunteer soldiers as a means to get Bush, not because they care about thoese who CHOOSE TO SERVE their country. They don’t care because their concern is so blinded by Bushhate their hearts are darkened to feel anything else.

    And should another attack come to our soil, we can all count on the anti-war Left to DEMAND, make that SCREAM, that those who serve risk their own lives to save the sorry lives of anti-war leftists. YET IN THE BEAUTY FOUND IN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, THOSE LIKE CAPTAIN PAT BROWN, THEY WILL STEP UP AND SAVE THOSE SORRY LEFTISTS(including Cindy Sheehan) because that’s what people like Captain Pat Brown choose to do.

  14. Paul Says:

    Body counts always struck me as morbid and the juvenile preserve of the Generals in rear ares who wanted more honors for themselves that some young person died for. Every death that we suffer in Iraq is irreplaceable in some family. I can only hope that we never forget the sacrifices that were made !

  15. Goesh Says:

    I keep wondering when one of the human shields from the pre-invasion of Iraq is going to show up here. Instead, all I get is a pseudo marxist (troutsky) who lives in the comfort of capitalist America spewing socialist jargon without an audience. Troutsky, no wonder you go fishing alot – you’ve got nothing else to do. There are some very sharp intellects here, sharper than mine, who regard you as more of a buffoon than someone to seriously engage with. Me? I pretty much regard you as sheep-dip. The city folks here can google that if they have nothing else to do, but you know what I’m talking about. Your rhetoric tells me you couldn’t take your beliefs, ever, to the street. At best you can flaunt a Che t-shirt and nothing more. Huff and puff all you want, you don’t fool me one damn bit. You don’t have any scars to back up your words and you never will. I’ll wager heavily that you have never even been arrested for your beliefs. Welcome to the street, troutsky, where the ideology you mouth has always been settled with violence. All you got left is Cuba and North Korea. you lost,sheep-dip. In 15 years Cuba will be so different you may have to consider suicide, and somebody is finally going to wake up and pull the trigger on North Korea. I just hope you are around to see it happen.
    -best regards from a US veteran, goesh

  16. suds46@carsoncomm.com Says:

    “He taught me that our men and women in uniform are not the ‘other.’” Check out this article by Thomas Sowell. http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/thomassowell/2005/10/25/172897.html

  17. E.M.H. Says:

    I do want to respond to the line:

    “Establishing the conditions for peace takes far more courage than fighting in war”

    I’m bothered that Troutsky doesn’t draw a distinction between nihilistic fighting (think the Somalian clan wars, or the Rwawandan massacres) and fighting to establish peace (WWII, and in my humble opinion, the current conflict in Iraq), but in my mind, to be really courageous demands that you acknowledge and accept the world as it is, not as some abstraction imposed from one’s point of view, and realize that there are times to refrain from belligerence and times to pick up your weapon and defend what’s right.

    Are there times when standing against fighting is the greater courage? Sure. Definitely. How many Rwandans Tutsi’s wish there were some Hutu’s who stood up and said “NO!”? How many Somalians wish there were some brave clan leaders who’d stood up and refused to fight the other clans? Those are clear, definite cases. But does that mean that every conflict and every participant thereof must refrain? It’s all well and good to wish that some Rwandan’s refrained from the slaughter, but how many would’ve celebrated the Americans and Europeans jumping in? Fighting there by the US and Europeans, in my mind, would’ve been the lesser of two evils because it wouldn’t have been a nihilistic fight-just-for-the-sake-of-fighting type of conflict. It would’ve been a fight to establish peace.

    Peace, in my mind, has never been defined by the mere absence of war. Peace is the absence of fear and the establishment of justice. That brings us to Iraq: Are we working towards real peace i.e. real abolition of fear and establishment of justice? Or are we simply spinning our wheels? I’d like to think that we’re trying our best for the former, even if we keep stumbling over our flaws in the process. In my mind, establishing the conditions for peace must sometimes accept the possibility of fighting a war. The soldier, who’s accepted the short term necessity of fighting in order to establish the longer term elimination of threat and injustice is every bit as courageous as the man who refuses to fight in nihilistic circumstances. Peace — true long term peace — encompasses war, believe it or not; it is not it’s opposite. It sometimes requires it in the short term.

  18. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    Thanks for the research, Brad. And well put, bookworm.

    For myself I find the intellectual heft of troutsky’s arguments so troubling that I am considering suicide. Cutting out the bad parts…doesn’t work because…people are dead. So our other choice would be…leave the bad parts in…and find a body that doesn’t have… any bad parts. Wow. The rest of you weren’t convinced by that?

  19. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Maybe troutsky should go back to the pacifist threads.

    The body count issue cuts both ways, in the sense that it allows the left to complain.

    On the other hand, to avoid talking about progress in terms of dead terrorists allows the growth of the feeling that this is dead US soldiers for nothing.

    But to count makes us bloodthirsty death dealers.

    It also provides room for reporters to screw the pooch. In Afghanistan, there were several bombing raids in which the military said they expected that so and so many bad guys were killed, many in collapsed tunnels or caves–and, thus, not visible.
    Reporters then complained that they couldn’t see that many bodies. Hard to believe they didn’t know what they were doing, the bastards.

    I suppose you could google up “Slapton Sands”, which wasn’t chump change in the WW II. Just for fun.
    There was a carrier in the Pacific which was hit and burning. A cruiser pulled alongside to take off wounded and pass firehoses. A magazine on the carrier blew up and killed three hundred sailors on the cruiser. Barely a footnote.
    Do the math. A third of a million guys in three and three-quarters years, more or less, from a population of about 180,000,000. Adjusted for our population, how many deaths a day would that be? Thirty-five to forty?
    Troutsky also seems to think he has an exclusive franchise on grief and understanding. Soldiers, being too thickheaded, don’t.
    Seen that before.

  20. Brad Says:

    Troutsky wrote:

    “Establishing the conditions for peace takes far more courage than fighting in war…”

    That is even more pathetic than his usual BS; what he means is “Making the world the way I think it should be takes courage.” Which of course it doesn’t, since his world is strictly an abstraction. Also, what would it take to establish the conditions for peace with the president of Iran? The destruction of a nation!!

    And:

    “The past centuries [sic] mountain of corpses should dispell this notion.”

    No mention of the role of his namesake in making those mountains. Which brings up another point: He writes in his personal description “I have been studying Marxism for many years and love the discourse…” However, I doubt that his “self-educated brain” even realizes that the stuff he writes at his website and posts here is more Gramsci than Trotsky.

    Speaking of his website, here is a sample:

    “I occasionally succumb to the urge for snarkiness ( such as here) and interject a comment or two over at neo-neocons group masturbation seminars.”
    And:
    “Kill Your Children. Head over to neo-neocon.blogspot to see conservative warriors lash out at the concept of pacifism, Spartans standing atop the mountain of corpses and feeling all tingly inside. Im a bit jealous of the crowd she can draw but frightened as well, it’s like standing inside the Roman Coliseum.

    No comment on that stupidity (BTW his comment threads consist of a back-and-forth with one other person [it’s clear where the masterbation thing came from]), but I will close with a couple other observations: Fishbrain also mentions his solidarity with the Cuban people and his desire to go there and bond; I don’t know if he has been there, but I have. News: they want Castro out, but they don’t want Norte Americanos of any political stripe (not Miami, not Troutsky) coming down there to tell them what to do. Also, he mentions that he went “to see a slide show with narration on the effects of US policy in Nicaragua, not a pretty picture as you might imagine.” As a former director of a campus group that put on these sort of shows (in my grad days), I am aware of the content. Troutsky, I lived in the mountains of Latin America for more than two years (as a peace corps volunteer), and I never met an illiterate campasino (peasant) with a more simplistic worldview than you demonstrate.

  21. E.M.H. Says:

    “The recent publicity given to the 2,000 American death can seem to give off an aura of ghoulish celebration clothed in solemn mourning, just in time for Halloween.”

    You noticed that too. Yes, it sort of bothers me that the 2,000th death is less treated as a tragedy in itself and more used as a rather macabre mile-marker for those opposed to the war to hang another event on. You’re right; some do mourn the figure as a tragedy because it’s a death, whether the 2nd or 2,000th, but others do choose a considerably less… well, dignified attitude towards the milestone. Thankfully that isn’t true of every anti-war citizen, but the schadenfreude displayed by the small number that it is true for is, frankly, distrubing.

    Just out of curiosity, for anyone either pro or con on the Iraq war, who can actually name the 2,000th soldier killed? Without looking it up, that is? And besides Casey Sheehan, who can name any of the other deaths? I was disturbed to discover that I couldn’t, even after reading 5 books and watching several documentaries on the subject. Oddly enough, I can name some out of the Battle of Mogadishu (a.k.a. the battle of “Blackhawk Down”; Randy Shugart, Gary (I think) Gordon, Cliff Wolcott (pilot of the first downed Blackhawk)), and come close to others (there was a Ranger who’s Polish last name was so long, they called him “Alphabet”), and, because of the book “Band of Brothers” I can also name a few from the 101st Airborne’s campaign in WWII (“Skip” Muck (can’t remember his real first name), Alex Penkala, “Major” Horton (Battalion XO). But it’s odd that I have trouble coming up with names from this current conflict. Ms. Neo, I don’t know if that says anything really good about me or anyone else who can’t come up with names, but I must admit, many of us, whether for or against this current war, do have those blinders on ourselves. I haven’t really thought about it before.

  22. neo-neocon Says:

    troutsky, if you want to learn where I’m coming from, take some time and read the archives, particularly the “A mind is a difficult thing to change” series. That’s what it’s all about.

    And you really ought to stop setting up those straw man arguments. I believe that you’re intelligent enough to realize that no one said that if you just cut out the “bad” parts all will be swell. If you can’t respond to the substantive points that are being made, please don’t make up ones that are not being made and try to counter them.

  23. SonnyJim Says:

    Its a common misperception that a large portion of our Vietnam era servicemembers were draftees. In fact only a small percentage of the military was from the draft – the Air Force never accepted draftees. Its also a pervasivie lie of the left that all or most (or even many) of the draftees of the Vietnam era went to Vietnam. In fact, the vast majority of Americans who served in Vietnam were not drafted into the service. A very large proportion of military members serving in Vietnam were actually on subsquent tours in Vietnam (Like my uncle with three combat tours).

    My father and my uncles and their friends weren’t from wealthy families (except for the one I know who ended up on the Wall), but they weren’t serving in order to become wealthy, to protect the wealthy or even so that their children could become wealthy. Most of my heroes were raising four, five, and six children on enlisted men’s pay – and going off to fight a war in another country so that their children wouldn’t have to say “better dead than Red”

  24. David Says:

    “Or, if they do think of courage and admire it, it is more often the courage to speak out”…a local paper just reported on some protestor who say, in substance “it takes as much courage to stand with a protest sign as to stand with a gun.” (In the same issue, there was an article about a local boy who had been badly wounded in Iraq)

    There are places and times where opposing a war would take more courage than fighting in it (cf Germany or Japan, 1943) because it would get you killed nastily with a high probability level. This isn’t one of them, and its hard to see how anyone can argue that it is. Indeed, today in many venues (universities, Hollywood) opposing the war will get you pats on the back and help you get promoted. Even outside those venues, it’s not likely to carry the kind of hazard that was involved opposing WWI in the US in 1918.

  25. troutsky Says:

    Since you have made the great conversion, neo,I would expect you to be less likely to employ the broad generalization,knowing the vast shadings of opinion on both sides.I have not read your archived writings but wonder if you have saved any from your past,before going over to the dark side (joke).I recall bumper stickers from the seventies saying :better dead than red, what is the origin of your variation?They were next to the sticker saying My Country Right or Wrong and Love it or Leave it.

    As for the medical metaphores, it’s a simplistic and utopian view that we can just cut out the “bad” parts and all will be swell. The past centuries mountain of corpses should dispell this notion.

  26. Holmes Says:

    One of my professors is very torn up that his college-aged son is wanting to join the Army and do Special-Ops. He only thinks the Army recruiter brainwashed him (so his college-educated son must not be very bright). There couldn’t possibly be another reason like he wants to do something actively valuable like protect Democracy.

  27. meander Says:

    I find reading some of the military blogs to be humbling and inspiring. These soldiers seem to be so in touch with who they are and the ones who are writing blogs (regardless of rank) are certainly not dumb grunts. They are men of courage and I feel blessed that our country has as many of them as it does.

  28. Bookworm Says:

    It’s funny, but when you mentioned the Vietnam body counts, I had a complete flashback to sitting in the kitchen every single night and hearing Walter Cronkite announce the daily tally of dead and wounded. It was only in about 1975 that I suddenly realized, along after the fact, that those numbers were missing from the daily news.

    I appreciate your point about dead soldiers not being victims, although I guess it depends on your view of the reason they died. It seems to me that a victim results when death is pointless and the dead person was helpless. If you buy that the Iraq War is a Halliburton-driven travesty, and our soldiers brainwashed drones, well, yes, they’re victims.

    However, if you believe, as I do, that the War was a worthwhile step in killing the cancer in the Middle East, and that our soldiers knowingly stepped up to their responsibilities to help protect American interests, they’re nobody’s victims, and the cause for which they died was important, and their sacrifice valuable to society. No victims there.

  29. strcpy Says:

    Yes, I see now – the real courage is that displayed not by the people who are out there fighting this war, putting thier lifes on the line for thier beliefes, but those who are condemning and complaining about them.

    Why, pray tell, does it take more courage to say “I don’t like war and want it to end” – it takes as much to say “Fluffy bunnies are cute and cuddly” – everyone of us that supports the war want it to end and have set conditions for peace. So I guess we are doubly courageous?

    Many, if not most of us, have friends or realtives fighting. We have seen the same vietnam that you did, the same desert storm, the same world that you do. I can see the line of walls, we have them from the spanish-american war to the present in most counties around where I live. Each one with a statue of a particular soldier (one that was decorated) made from a painting or picture. We have our cemetaries where the little crosses and stars go on for acres, though mostly from WWI and WWII.

    And, you know what? I don’t have to imagine the greif, I can simply go there on memorial or veterans day and see it. And, this is something you wil probably never understand or maybe even believe, the vast vast majority of those families support operations like Iraq and hate what you do in thier name. I also have a great sense of pride towards those who gave thier lifes for such a cause when I see them.

    So far history has judged the people who fought for what they believed in as not being the fools, in fact when people didn’t oppose people like Hitler and Pol-Pot they have been called fools for having the “courage” to be pacifist. In cases such as the cold war those who opposed Reagan now try and take most of the credit for supporting what ahppened – much as the left will in a decade or so over this. At least this time all of this will be archived where average people can look up what was said.

  30. bob Says:

    Dead soldier are often neither heroes nor victims. They are simply dead.

    I get upset when they are sent to their deaths for bogus reasons or because of the stupidity or incompetence of polical and military leaders.

  31. neo-neocon Says:

    troutsky, you sometimes astound me. Considering you come here a lot, I assume you’ve read quite a bit of what I’ve written about Vietnam. If you have, I wonder if you have actually paid attention to it.

    Let me make it perfectly clear: I have no trouble putting myself in the shoes of the “other,” because for about thirty years or so I was one of them myself. Well, technically speaking, I wasn’t an antiwar leftist, but I was an antiwar liberal, which is not too very different in respect to the question you ask. All of what I’ve written on the subject is through the eyes of a person–myself–who understands the point of view because I once ascribed to, if not the entire view, then many parts of it.

    I lived through that Vietnam experience, both as a spectator and as a person who had a loved one in heavy combat there. If you’ve read much of what I’ve written in the past on the subject, you ought to be familiar with those facts.

  32. troutsky Says:

    Can you embrace your own recipe for understanding and put yourself in the shoes of the “other”, which in your case would be anti-war leftists? Can we be “humanized” in your eyes? During the VietNam war we saw the caskets unloaded from cargo planes and live footage of wounded and dead soldiers on the evening news,so that citizens had some visual experience of the horror which is war.( perhaps an “elevating ” horror for the warrior).Go to the Wall in DC and see what you feel, and try to be honest about the grief, then imagine the next Wall.And the next.Establishing the conditions for peace takes far more courage than fighting in war but accepting that undermines the mythological basis of your ideology. We can let history judge who the fools were.

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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