December 15th, 2005

Jane Fonda and those “killing machines”

Michelle Malkin has a post entitled, “Baghdad Jane’s Bloviations,” excoriating our old friend Jane Fonda for these remarks (offered here in their entirety):

“Hanoi Jane” Fonda is claiming that ever since Vietnam, U.S. troops have been trained to commit atrocities against innocent civilians as a matter of military policy.

“Starting with the Vietnam War we began training soldiers differently,” the anti-American actress says in an email to the Washington Post.

Fonda claims she learned of the policy switch in “secret meetings” she had with military psychologists “who were really worried about what was happening to our combat personnel.”

One doctor, she insists, told her U.S. troops had been deliberately trained to be “killing machines.”

“This began,” Fonda maintained, “because the military discovered that in World War II and Korea, [U.S.] soldiers weren’t killing enough.”

“So they changed training procedures” to teach troops how to commit atrocities.

Still, the anti-war gadfly cautions, it’s important not to blame the soldiers themselves for carrying out war crimes.

Recalling the “Winter Soldier” hearings that she and John Kerry staged in 1971, Fonda lamented: “When you put young people into an atrocity-producing situation where enemy and civilian are commingled, where the ‘other side’ is dehumanized, we cannot be surprised.”

Anti-war vets now returning from Iraq, Fonda cautioned, should be listened to instead of being dismissed as “unpatriotic.”

“We have not learned the lessons of Vietnam,” she declared.

If you look at the trackbacks to Malkin’s post about Fonda, a lot of bloggers are pretty enraged at her Winter-Soldier-redux remarks. And rightly so; I count myself among them. But it’s no surprise that Fonda is singing the same old song, and trying to tie Iraq into Vietnam. I’ve already given my opinion on Fonda, here; so she’s not really the subject of this post. The subject of this post is the substance of her remarks.

Because, strange as it may seem, Fonda is actually correct–at least, about part of what she’s claiming. But a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, especially in the hands of Jane Fonda, and she draws the entirely wrong conclusions from that element of truth in her remarks.

What is she correct about? Well, she’s got this portion right: U.S. troops have been deliberately trained to be more automatic and focused about killing.

And, just as Fonda claims, “this began, because the military discovered that in World War II and Korea, [U.S.] soldiers weren’t killing enough.”

And indeed, they “changed training procedures” to correct that flaw.

But that’s where Jane parts company with the truth. She believes that this change is what led to atrocities in Vietnam. In fact, she’s got the thing quite backwards.

It’s certainly true that the phrase “killing machines” is a chilling one. But training members of the military to be more efficient and automatic at what they do is actually designed to make them more effective in a combat situation, to reduce psychological stress, and therefore to make atrocities less frequent, rather than more.

To understand this one must study the psychology of killing in war, a subject that until recently has been somewhat taboo (it’s certainly not anything I, as a psych major back in the 60s, heard anything about).

But, just as Fonda states, it was discovered during WWII that:

…according to the military historian S.L.A. Marshall, as many as 80 percent of the American infantrymen he interviewed failed to fire their weapons in combat. Marshall attributed the low ”fire ratio” to a mixture of poor training and a natural reluctance to kill. Even though his methodology has come under attack — critics say his numbers are exaggerated — his premise is generally accepted, and his book, ”Men Against Fire,” is read throughout the military establishment. After it was published in 1947, the military revamped its training to make G.I.’s more comfortable firing at humans; soldiers shot at targets shaped like people rather than at bull’s-eyes, for example. Today, Special Forces units make their training as realistic as possible, using pop-up targets with human faces, and setting off smoke bombs and small explosions to simulate the battlefield experience.

Dave Grossman, who spoke to me about ”the bulletproof mind,” has written about the hidden logic behind military training. In his controversial book ”On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society,” he writes: ”It is entirely possible that no one intentionally sat down to use operant conditioning or behavior modification techniques to train soldiers in this area. But from the standpoint of a psychologist who is also a historian and a career soldier, it has become increasingly obvious to me that this is exactly what has been achieved.” …

Indeed, Special Forces officers openly discuss the use of ”stress inoculation” — in which they are exposed to heartbeat-racing drills that raise their threshold for staying calm. It doesn’t mean Special Forces soldiers are immune to stress or the mistakes that stress causes, but it takes a lot more to rattle one of them than an old-time draftee….

Special Forces soldiers may develop cold-blooded reflexes, but they are also trained to know when not to kill. Targets that pop up during shooting drills include women and children who are not supposed to be shot. Being able to remain steady in combat doesn’t just mean you will be a quick draw; it also means that you will do a better job of deciding when to hold your fire. As Grossman writes of the calibration of aggression: ”This is a delicate and dangerous process. Too much, and you end up with a My Lai. . . . Too little, and your soldiers will be defeated and killed by someone who is more aggressively disposed.” Colonel King put it like this: ”Our guys have got to be confident in their ability to use lethal force. But they’ve got to be principled enough to know when not to use it. We’re not training pirates.”

Exactly how does one train soldiers to be effective and yet principled killers? Operant conditioning is part of it. The goal of this process of accustoming military members to killing in wartime is to reduce their psychological and physical stress/fear, in order to avoid panic. And why is this so important? Because it’s this stress/panic reaction (as well as a number of other factors, to be discussed in a moment) that can lead to the commission of atrocities in war.

The training, as described by the aforementioned Colonel Dave Grossman (an expert in the field), is as follows:

Many people think killing is a natural act, but Col. Grossman argues that it isn’t. He discusses how new and innovative pop up targets, video-based firearms training simulators, and Simunition®-based training are used to facilitate overcoming this innate resistance. These devices are then combined with high repetition to condition a correct response even in the face of fear….

Sometimes, a deadly force encounter explodes without warning, or a fight can be so fast and furious that there is no time to think about which technique to use and how best to employ it. To survive, you must do what needs to be done – now. In order to react reflexively, yet responsibly, and continue to fight no matter how impaired, you must have a set of conditioned responses ingrained into your mind.

Range training must be repetitive. When a pop up target of a bad guy appears (stimulus), you shoot (response). Stimulus-response, stimulus-response, and then a pop up target of a man holding a cell phone appears, you don’t shoot. The more realistic the target is, the better….

Realistic settings and situations, combined with live fire training using Simunition rounds will dramatically elevate your adrenaline to replicate how a real situation feels. The more you engage in this kind of training, the lower your heart rate gets as you become “inoculated” against combat, just as a vaccination will inoculate against a disease.

Stress is part of battle, and can never be eliminated. But too much stress leads to combat fatigue and ineffectiveness, and can also lead to atrocities. Therefore anything that reduces it is likely to reduce atrocities, not encourage them.

In this article there is a very lengthy discussion of the ways in which stress can lead to both casualties and to violations of the rules of war–that is, atrocities and war crimes. Here’s a very brief summary:

Examples of misconduct stress behaviors range from minor breaches of unit orders or regulations to serious violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and perhaps the Law of Land Warfare. As misconduct stress behaviors, they are most likely to occur in poorly trained, undisciplined soldiers. However, they can also be committed by good, even heroic, soldiers under extreme combat stress.

The most famous example of combat stress being a contributing factor in the commission of atrocities was, of course, My Lai in Vietnam. My Lai was an occurrence with many elements that came together on one terrible day to cause a true war crime (in the following, I’ve taken the information mostly from this article, which is part of a military training course. Also, by the way, nothing in the rest of this post should be construed as an excuse for atrocities in general nor of Mai Lai in particular; it’s offered as an explanation only).

Some of the non-stress factors leading to My Lai were part of the Vietnam War itself: the emphasis on body counts, for example; confusing, complex, and poorly understood rules of engagement; the one-year rotation making for lack of cohesive and experienced units.

Enemy tactics were another factor implicated in the mindset that led to My Lai (some of this may sound familiar to those who’ve followed the current “war on terror”):

The Viet Cong conducted a guerrilla war that can best be described as “clutching the people to their breast.” They disguised themselves as civilians, hid amongst civilians, often fortified villages (with noncombatants being the vast majority of the population), and even used civilians of all ages and both sexes (little children, women, and old men, included) for logistical support, intelligence, and to plant mines and booby traps. There was widespread belief among American soldiers that the Viet Cong would use the type of civilians mentioned above to throw grenades. An expert on the Vietnamese army remarked that “the Vietnamese communists erased entirely the line between military and civilian by ruling out the notion of noncombatant.

One could say that these strategies on the part of the Viet Cong seemed almost designed to call forth atrocities on the part of the Americans, if possible–and if one said that, one would probably be correct:

A member of the Viet Cong would later confirm that: “Children were trained to throw grenades, not only for the terror factor, but so the government or American soldiers would have to shoot them. Then the Americans feel very ashamed. And they blame themselves and call their soldiers war criminals.” It was not rare for small children to wave an American patrol into a booby trap or minefield. Additionally, the Viet Cong would use women and children as lethal ploys or ruses to lead Americans into deadly ambushes. Female Viet Congs were just as effective as their male counterparts, especially in sniper fire. In other words, the civilians were not exactly sitting out the war. American servicemen soon grew wary and suspicious of all Vietnamese.

Yet another huge factor was the terrible stress that C Company in particular, the unit involved in My Lai, had been under:

C Co. was fully deployed in Vietnam by the second week of December 1967. Task Force Barker was activated on 1 January 1968 to take over military operations in the Quang Ngai Province (a province that is overwhelmingly sympathetic to the Viet Cong). C Co.’s first casualty comes from a booby trap on 28 January 1968. The following month, on 25 February 1968, C Co. walked into a minefield. CPT Medina kept his head and, after three died and twelve suffered serious injuries, managed to lead his soldiers out. The soldiers of C Co. blamed the Vietnamese villagers nearby who failed to warn them of the minefield and booby traps.

1LT Calley, who had just returned from leave, saw the helicopters transporting the dead and wounded. 1LT Calley also noticed that, from that point on, the attitude of his soldiers toward Vietnamese children had changed — they no longer gave them candy, and kicked them away. According to one account, 1LT Calley could hardly restrain his satisfaction when he said “Well, I told you so.” Prior to the minefield incident, Task Force Barker had failed on two separate attempts to trap the 48th LF Bn in the Quang Ngai Province. During the second attempt, A Co. came under heavy automatic and mortar fire coming from My Lai 4., the second time in a month that Task Force Barker had encountered resistance from around the hamlet of My Lai. Its company commander is among the fifteen wounded, five other soldiers died.

After the minefield incident, C Co.’s esprit de cops and morale sagged and eventually vanished. They went down to 105 soldiers. To make matters even worse, on 14 March 1968, SGT George Cox, an NCO well liked and respected by the soldiers of C Co., an NCO with a reputation for looking after his soldiers, was killed by a booby trap while on patrol. Since arriving in Vietnam three months earlier, C Co. had suffered twenty-eight casualties, including five killed. All the casualties were caused by mines, booby traps, and snipers.

It takes little imagination to see that C Co. had been undergoing terrible psychological and physical stress–being blown up by mines and booby traps without ever getting a chance to fight back and engage the unseen and mysterious enemy, or to defend themselves. And, since in their minds they had reason to suspect the villagers were cooperative–or even instrumental–in the setting of those booby traps and mines, the stage was set for the massacre, which represented not a disciplined and cohesive force of trained fighting men, but an explosion of frustration and rage by a group that was highly stressed and poorly prepared for what they faced, as well as subject to weak and inadequate leadership.

The idea that training the military to be more automatic in its responses and less stressed in combat is hard to accept; it seems so cold and brutal. But, once understood, I think it’s clear that courses working towards that end, such as Grossman’s, actually lead away from more My Lais, not towards them.

55 Responses to “Jane Fonda and those “killing machines””

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    Don’t knock it just cause you got nothing to beat it with.

    Speechlessness and writer’s block is not a a trait of victory you know.

  2. erasmus Says:

    Ymarsakar:
    Too much blithering nonsense. But, to point out just why I say that about your…stuff, I’ll talk very briefly about two sentences you wrote in the Holocaust Denial post.

  3. Ymarsakar Says:

    Erasmus, you are a Jeffersonian, and the more you try to cloak yourself in terms of Right and Left and your apathy of those terms, the more you prove yourself incapable of understanding human nature. Yours and anyone else’s.

    But he and you want to nail anyone to the wall who disagrees on how he is going about that and at what cost in other areas (economy, social welfare…) to the country.

    3. You should be careful about those broad characterizations, one might think that those who said you had Bush Derangement Syndrome would be correct in their analysis. No one actually believes, including yourself, that your accusations are right while everyone else’s is de facto wrong.

    You’re not worried about the cost, you are just afraid of the cost. And such fears seem to make you forget what I’ve said previously, that are inconsistent with your colored view of the situation.

    Anyone that is afraid of the cost to anything, is absolutely worthless in terms of finding solutions to problems. Like I said, those who take counsel of their fears are worse than useless in a fight.

    I do consider the cost, so there is a very obvious reason why you think that I don’t. You just consider how afraid you are if the costs are too high. I fail to see how anyone could be part of the solution with that kind of attitude.

    I expressed the hope that segments of our military would not be sworn in to serve a Commander in Chief who, in my view, has so little regard for the public good and for life.

    4. Hope is a positive emotion, not a negative one.

    He gave his speech in front of a portrait of TR, who would have nailed the terrorists but who also nailed the Enrons of his day.

    4b. So you’ll only like Bush when he does everything you like for him to do… That. Is. Not. An example. Of tolerance.

    Liking Bush as a person does not require that everything he does is liked. That might be something you might want to restudy under the title “Human nature” if you are serious about fighting terrorism.

    5. You need to go back to that projection business that sort of blew up in your face, before talking about Dr. Phil.

    What you have to say is : Nail them to the wall.
    5b. That’s not what I said, that’s what you said Teddy Roosevelt would have done.

    The rest is one huge and silly frame around that.
    5c. Huge and silly as your disgusting, narcotic, and nauseaus rendition of your personal fears in what you think is the fate of the US? Don’t think I could have topped that so easily.

    That’s just plain ridiculous behavior on your part. And it’s not a behavior a real fighter of terrorism would feel comfortable having.

    6. If you had a sense of humor, we might be able to laugh at some things both of us said.

    6. You have to get out of the Nile to have a good laugh at being wet. Only when the solution has been applied and the problem solved can you laugh about it, I don’t really want someone laughing while they are drowning on my side doing anything.

    They tend to be dead weight, and soon at that.

    But all that said, have a happy time on this blog and smite all those Lefties endangering our republic.

    You’re not a Lefty no matter how many times you claim others think you are, and I smite enemies of the Constitution. Whether they are domestic or foreign. It really doesn’t matter what name you cloak them in. You might want to revisit your duties as a citizen of the United States of America, before you place your fake moral superiority on anyone else.

    We have room for only one loyalty in this country, and that is loyalty to the people of the United States and the Constitution. Not to Erasmu’s personal dislikes of Presidents.

    Have fun drowning in the Nile. We’ll be on the shores growing food to feed the hungry and making weapons to make war on the barbarians, while you have your little swim.

  4. erasmus Says:

    Ymarsakar:
    1. …people who hurt national security go down in (sic) flame.” Or, was that Plame?
    2. Naw, you last post comes from what we used to call a bullshit artist pretending to be on the college debate team. No substance, all points of order.
    3. You want Bush to nail terrorists to the wall. Most Americans would go along with that. But he and you want to nail anyone to the wall who disagrees on how he is going about that and at what cost in other areas (economy, social welfare…) to the country.
    4. You say I did not “justify” my statements about the military. Justify? I expressed the hope that segments of our military would not be sworn in to serve a Commander in Chief who, in my view, has so little regard for the public good and for life. He’s a CEO with a huge arsenal. It is also my view that neither he nor Clinton should have been president. They are hollow men, dedicated to advancing their careers and images. One will be remembered for a couple of blowjobs in the Oval Office. The other for lying and lawlessness. He gave his speech in front of a portrait of TR, who would have nailed the terrorists but who also nailed the Enrons of his day. Toughness and the public good. You’ll never get that.
    5. I don’t know where you came up with your “fear, fear, fear” and “looking deeply into your soul” stuff. Oprah? Dr. Phil?
    You toss around phrases, cliches, guru-like garbage and insist you’re constructing an argument.
    What you have to say is : Nail them to the wall. The rest is one huge and silly frame around that.
    6. If you had a sense of humor, we might be able to laugh at some things both of us said. I can always go back and realize I wish there were a couple of things I should have omitted or expressed differently.
    But all that said, have a happy time on this blog and smite all those Lefties endangering our republic.

  5. Ymarsakar Says:

    3.You write long posts, ranging over many subjects. But there’s so little specificity. For example: on the NYT post today, you say things about the FBI and CIA. What are your opinions based on? You may be right, but there’s terribly little evidence to support your views.

    If you want to know something, ask. Don’t be like the dozens who read my posts, and then stew in the shadows and then crop up with bitterness when they think I’m not expecting it.

    They think I don’t know, but that’s what happens in an intel vacuum.

    I don’t tend to triple redundancy check my posts with a bibliography because that would make it much longer and it is also not necessary.

    I’m not so much here to debate as to read people’s reasoning and logic, and to present my own reasoning and logic in return.

    I have nothing against debate, but I don’t come out and say “Believe me because I have these links”.

    If you want to know something specific, you need to specifically ask about which FBI and CIA comment you want more background on.

    I don’t really understand the problem. If your complaint is the lack of specificity, why do you specifically make your comments too vague for me to figure out which post of mine you were refering to?

    2. I’d suggest not practicing psych on the web.

    I have nothing against that recommendation, but I have to wonder why you didn’t practice what you preach when you first mentioned “projection”. Talking about fear is not psychology, it is human nature.

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt:

    I don’t tend to give people the benefit of the doubt that their reasoning is right and mine is wrong. So when you mentioned that I was projecting, I looked it up. And compared and contrast. And presented arguments as to why your reasoning was incorrect given the evidence. Purely debate style of course.

    5. Supporting an effective war against terrorists does not require liking the Bush/Cheney domestic agenda.

    No, it doesn’t. So why are you mentioning it? Is this some kind of straw man logical fallacy going on here or something?

    You think you can prove yourself “right” if you can prove that you can agree with foreign policy but not Bush’s domestic policy?

    Jeez, that’s not what the argument is about.

    Chomsky and Coburn only wish there really were that many.

    Stop changing the subject just because you can’t justify your previous sentences and declarations.

    It is not like I don’t notice.

    What, Dr. Spielvogel, do you think that says about the author?

    I think he is frustrated that Bush doesn’t enforce this country’s laws, and that if Bush was sincere about national security he would make sure that people who hurt national security go down in flame.

    What do you think that sentence says about the author Mr. NoEssayFormat?

    Do you actually think I would forget that you couldn’t justify your statements about the military, your fears, my fears, and everything else you’ve said in this thread?

  6. erasmus Says:

    Ymarsakar:
    1. No, nothing impolite or dangerous.
    2. I’d suggest not practicing psych on the web. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt: your knowledge of the field goes deeper than wiki. At least I hope so.
    3.You write long posts, ranging over many subjects. But there’s so little specificity. For example: on the NYT post today, you say things about the FBI and CIA. What are your opinions based on? You may be right, but there’s terribly little evidence to support your views.
    4. Maybe that’s what blogs are here for, as a kind of replacement for the bs sessions at the bar of the old neighborhood pub. OK by me.
    5. Supporting an effective war against terrorists does not require liking the Bush/Cheney domestic agenda. Nor is it a sign of BDS. That does exist, as does LDS (Left Derangement Syndrome). Count the number of times ” the left” or “lefty” occurs on LGF or here. Chomsky and Coburn only wish there really were that many.
    6. Now, since you like to analyze statements, what do you make of the one you penned today on the NYT post:
    “He (Bush) needs to go on his guts, cowboy style, and nail people to the wall.”
    What, Dr. Spielvogel, do you think that says about the author?
    All, in good humor.

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    Well, there is always the Nile you know.

    It is all part of the same piece.

    Look up projection, psychological in wikipedia. Here, i’ll help

    Psychological projection (or projection bias) can be defined as unconsciously assuming that others share the same or similar thoughts, beliefs, values, or positions on any given subject.

    What this means is that since I already recognize some of the same fears that were in me that are in you, it therefore cannot be said by you that I have “unconscious” fears that I do not recognize.

    An illustration would be an individual (Alice, for example) who feels dislike for another person (let’s say Bob), however her unconscious mind will not allow her to become aware of this negative emotion

    Which means, your unconscious mind will not allow you to become aware of the fears I speak of, that are in you.

    Instead of admitting to herself that she feels dislike for Bob, she projects her dislike onto Bob, so that her conscious thought is not “I don’t like Bob,” but “Bob doesn’t seem to like me.” In this way one can see that projection is related to denial, the only other defense mechanism that is more primitive than projection.

    Instead of admitting it is you whom fear the Waffen SS, you say that it is I who fear it instead projecting my fears unto you.

    Alice has denied a part of herself that is desperate to come to the surface. She can’t flatly deny that she doesn’t like Bob, so instead she will project the dislike, thinking Bob doesn’t like her. Another, and an ironic, example is if Alice were to say, “Bob seems to project his feelings onto me.”

    Erasmus, you can’t flatly deny that you fear the possibility of the US military becoming the Waffen SS under a bad government , so you project that fear unto me.

    Notice that little irony at the bottom, Alice is saying Bob is the one that is projecting his feelings unto her. Exactly as you did.

    There is a real reason why amateurs should not use psychology, without first understanding human nature and the art of psychology. I am an amateur in psychology, which is why I don’t use psychological terms in debates. I didn’t consciously know about projection, until you brought it up that is and I looked it up. And low and behold, my position is consistent with you having a projection bias about your fear. Not surprising given my studies in human nature. A defense mechanism designed to protect you from me, when I talk about why you shouldn’t listen to the fears that you don’t recognize to exist. People really shouldn’t use psychological terms when they are really amateurs in the art of psychology.

    On another note.

    I would think it rather a sign of problems if someone were confident and bold in the assertion that the United States military is on the slippery slope to the Waffen SS. If you don’t fear the military becoming the Waffen SS, then you may only be confident of that fact. That is not nice.

    It was never about my worries and fears, I don’t fear the military nor the government nor the Waffen SS. Because one of the ways of conquering your fear is to face it, is to recognize its existence, and to think about it. My solution is simple.

    You (“we”) are going to break the hold of WHAT government?

    I really wonder if you are refraining from using logic for a real reason or an imagined one. But anyways, obviously it is the governent that you fear are putting secretive uh what did you call it, ah yes the government that “secretly orders surveillance of citizens”. That is the government in question.

    I wrote about that government only because it was for your benefit, in case you misunderstood something about how my beliefs differed from yours.

    “You have nothing to fear but…” You know that one.

    Yes I do, but I doubt you do.

    If you never looked deep into your soul, you probably wouldn’t believe that you really were afraid of the military turning into the Waffen SS, but your consistent statements tell a different story.

    I must point out to you that the reason why you said “calm down” is because you are facing an emotional upsurge from a source, and you think that source is me. But it really isn’t. “Calm down” might have been appropriate for TmjUtah, but you should obviously learn how to differentiate whether someone is calm or not. And because you can’t and didn’t in this case, I have to worry about just what made you write that.

    Did you feel threatened by something? Upset by something I spoke about, something you took to be dangerous, impolite, a threat, some sign of insanity?

    And if so, just who should be worried about projection if not you after reading the wiki article?

  8. erasmus Says:

    Ymarsakar

    “…when the time comes to break the hold of the government we will do so, and nothing will stop us from fulfilling our oath to the Constitution, to protect it against foreign and domestic enemies.”
    This, I presume, will become known as the Meals on Wheels or Assisted Living Putsch.
    You (“we”) are going to break the hold of WHAT government?
    You keep talking about fear, fear, fear. Hasn’t anyone ever told you about projecting? Calm down. Have a cup of tea. “You have nothing to fear but…” You know that one.

  9. Ymarsakar Says:

    TmjUtah, to…

    One of the reasons I dug up for why the terroists have made no major attacks on us is a particularly erudite one. It explains much, and is very consistent with human nature.

    Aside from the sleeper cells unearthed by FBI, CIA, NSA, Delta Force, and foreign intel information, there is another primary reason for the lack of attacks on the US.

    And that reason ties directly in with Iraq.

    You and anyone else, must surely understand that Iran and Syria are aiding the overthrow of democratic rule in Iraq. To form either a puppet regime, a Baathist one, or a JIhadist one. The alliance between dictators, Baathists, mullahs, and Al-Qaeda won’t last if they defeat us. But that is what they are counting on, they need it to last so long as America stands firm and tall. But that is the point, because they need the alliance the last, the dictators with the money have told Al-Qaeda to STOP attacking the United States. No attacks at all. This makes their sleeper cells obvious targets.

    The reason for the dictatorship telling Al-Qaeda this as the price for alliance, I derived from Ali’s blog. When he said that the dictators were scared of Iraq and the US, it clicked. It just made sense. So if they are scared, and plenty of evidence says they really are, then they would want to prevent as much BACKLASH from a terroist attack in America on them as much as possible.

    They saw what happened on 9/11, and two countries went kaput because of it. Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria has got to be thinking “If Al-Qaeda blows up a city with a nuke… I wonder who the AMericans will make an example of then”.

    Invading Iraq has not only helped stop attacks on American soil, but it has prevented Iran and Syria from providing Al-Qaeda with WMDs and making sure that Al-Qaeda ever gets them.

    This also means that Syria may already have WMDs(from saddam) but are keeping them for their own protection from the US, ditto for Iran.

    They are fighting a war for their survival, and time is against them. All because of Iraq.

    The masterstroke strategy is obvious to anyone that looks on a map. And not a mercator one, those don’t scale right.

    Anyone who has ever seen a fight using a sword in one hand and a dagger in another, understands that you can parry with the sword and stab someone in the kidneys with the dagger at the same time. Iraq is the dagger, we are the sword. If they block Iraq the dagger, they leave America the sword free to cut. If they go for America the sword, then Iraq the dagger will have a greater chance to strike.

    And no one remembers Afghanistan the boot strapped throwing knife either ; )

    America, our dirty tricks to defeat our enemies are “Legion”.

  10. Ymarsakar Says:

    The statement that men innately do not want to kill is utter rubbish. Killing is a skill, and the desire to kill reflects cultural conditioning. The fact that in WWII many soldiers may have not wanted to kill most likely reflects the civilized background and the lack of training.

    Actually there is a fundamental truth to that statement. There is a very rational reason why humans have been genetically programmed not to kill. And it is the same reason as why we have taboos against cannibalism, murder, and so on.

    Humans are social animals, pack heirarchies. We work together, in a heirarchy, with a leader and people with duties. A person that acts out of this heirarchy, for example steals more food than allotted to him by the leader, is making it so that others will go hungry. Perhaps even women and children. Thus, societally, this managed to evolve guilt into humans for doing what is against the social good for selfish reasons.

    This is what happens when rich people move around poor neighborhoods, they feel guilt because their instincts tell them that their wealth was stolen from others. To get rid of that guilt, Hollywood blames America. A nice way to get rid of the guilt and still keep the money.

    Killing and cannibalism taboos are the same thing. In a successful society, you can’t just have the strongest kill off anyone he wishes. That’s not a society at all, that is caveman days. Cannibalism is the same thing, it forces people to WORK together for food, not to hunt other humans.

    All of this was for human survival, to make us work together so that our collective intelligence as well as individual intelligence would triumph over our competitors and the environment.

    The basic instinctual response to killing varies in people of course. Some have a conscience, others don’t, some are cruel others aren’t. Shrugs. But the only way human nature would encourage you to kill another human is if you feel threatened, in danger, personal anger, hate, etc. Those are natural human inclinations to kill. What Grossman refers to is something else entirely, killing in cold-blood really. People who don’t mean you any personal harm nor your family, but jsut following orders like you are. And that, is very unnatural and against human nature.

    Some are killers, others aren’t. And much of that has to do with the environment. But a lot doesn’t. The Roman Legions had a very strict society in which gravitas, Roman virtues, were prized above all else. It was these virtues that indoctrinated the members of the Roman Legions in killing without feeling guilt. And later, when the Roman Legions were made mostly of non-Latins and Barbarians, it integrated the bloodthirstyness of barbarians to replace Roman gravitas.

    In American society, looting, raping, and subjugating conquered populations is not “glorified” at all. Thus it produces guilt in anyone that goes up against this societal standard.

    For a city born person brought up in a city, obeying the laws against murder, killing is definitely going to fight against his societal conditioning. In the military, you could get him to kill easily, all you had to do was to make him hate his enemy. But that is not so effective in the long run.

    Which is why reconditioning is so necessary through military training. If you condition out of the human the natural human disinclination to kill people in cold blood, then you don’t need to encourage them to kill using natural human emotions.

    And even after training, even the most hardened combat veterans will burn out after too much combat. After enough killing a person becomes tired. His will and his soul drains after each kill, to the point where he almost no longer wishes to be alive. He certainly won’t fire his gun.

    In WWII, it may not have been the background or lack of training at all. Although that probably helped. They may have just burned out, and gotten too much combat without redeployment.

    Most of the Roman Legions didn’t face year after years of conquest. Most of the Roman Legions were garrison troops.

    Few were as good or as hardened as Caesar’s 10th Legion.

    Most of human history is about working together, killing would naturally be against the human nature of survival in a team. At its base, killing is really neutral in terms of human nature. It can go either way.

    None of that changes the fact that Americans find it hard to kill, which is the only thing that matters to Grossman’s chosen field of work.

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    TmjUtah

    I’m glad some of what I said have helped you .

    To Erasmus.

    The image of America as an economically successful pluralist democracy, open to all races and basically peaceful and nonaggressive..

    For those that want a clearer understanding of Erasmus’s position, please read Neo’s post about Professor Bloom. Notably, the link of the article concerning Russel Meade. Erasmus is a Jeffersonian with Hamiltonian leanings.

    Thus his position is slightly different in this context, than people like Kos.

    Jeffersonians are most interested in protection of American democracy on the home front, and almost as misunderstood as Jacksonians. They believe that foreign entanglements are a sure method of damaging American democractic systems, and are highly skeptical of Hamiltonian/Wilsonian projects to involve the US abroad.

    This is where the “Iraq war was dishonest” comes from, an inherent suspicion of overseas project, this time initiated by a Jacksonian President.

    The Kos Kidz and the ACLU are a very nasty hybrid of Jeffersonialism and WIlsonianism. The specific reasons for their policies are multitudinous (and sometimes inconsistent), but the policies are consistent.

    Hamiltonians and Wilsonians have a realistic streak, that the United States is fundamentally a state among states, if better managed. Jeffersonians, in contrast, believe that the United States is something better and different. You often find Jeffersonians protesting against­ international agreements, rather than for them.

    Compare and contrast this with Erasmus’s position and you will see some similarities.

    1. Nothing at all against lethality of our armed forces. That’s what they’re there for.

    I don’t think you took my advice to heart. You really should have looked into your soul and found your fears, so you could confront them. Because if you don’t, you will never realize just how opposed you truly are to making our forces more lethal.

    And we want to trade in the flaws and virtues of this defender (WWII) of the American way for “efficient and yet principled killers?”

    That is your fear, your fear clouding your reason and spreading to try and cloud ours.

    Against all the evidence that the efficient and principled killer is BETTER than WWII defenders, you still spread this miasma of doubt, of fear, of lack of will.

    You have nothing against making Americans more lethal? Oh, but I think you do, and I think you don’t recognize that to make our military more lethal is something you fear.

    If you took my advice to heart, you would have known this ahead of time.

    A leader in the future, who may view some humans as expendable?

    Fear.

    Holy Ike! But tell me, where will those “principles” come from?

    Over arching fear.

    The kind of leader who secretly orders surveillance of citizens?

    Such a sheet of fear as it takes a wall of aggression to overcome, and a lifetime of habits to extinguish.

    I’ve started early in my life to overcome this fear, through discipline, through aggression, and through habit (Aristotelian habits).

    They no longer plague me as they plague you.

    It is not so much that people like me aren’t worried about the same things that you, Erasmus, worry about. It is simply that when the time comes to break the hold of the government, we will do so, and nothing will stop us from fullfilling our oath to the Constitution, to protect it against foreign and domestic enemies.

    So why should people like me worry about it? Why should I or anyone else worry about a bridge that we haven’t even come near?

    We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, ever hear a military person say that?

    It’s true. I will, if not anyone else.

    Our very own Waffen SS in waiting.
    No thanks.

    The kind of people I admire, would eat the Waffen SS and shit them out in 5 hours.

    Am I worried? Maybe. Do I have nightmares at night because of those worries? Probably not.

    3. The kind of training this post is about is a mighty slippery slope. What principles are you instilling in the soul of this “killing machine?” I’d sure want this opened up to public debate before proceeding.

    The kind of training in this post is about making the military more lethal, something you said you had NOTHING against. Do you want to take something back?

    You keep asking for principles… did you ever realize that you can’t instill principles in people and have it stick? You just can’t, principles come from the free will of that person. You can only try and convince that person something is worthy fighting for.

    People who of their own free will choose to fight for something, they are called “true believers”.

    And nothing, is more loyal or more destructive than a true believer.

    The Taliban have already witnessed this. Just as we witnessed it on 9/11

    In a War on Terror, it is more accurate to term it a “War of our True believers against Theirs”.

    You may also be a true believer Erasmus, but if so, what you and I believe in, are fundamentally different things.

    2.The WOT: is it not possible to believe it should be waged, yes–lethally–and STILL think Bush’s invasion of Iraq was both dishonest and, possibly, counter-effective?

    It is possible, since you obviously do, but I would think that it would be rather uncomfortable to hold such contradictory beliefs in one’s head. Why do you make so much effort to succede at double think?

    Think about it, if Bush was this dishonest and if this war is counter-productive, then why are we winning it?

    Having a dishonest, counter-productive President in charge of war policy produces things like Vietnam’s rules of engagement. But if you understand the reality as it exists, you will see that Bush’s problem is his integrity, not his dishonesty. So Bush has no choice but to make a virtue out of a weakness. He can’t change his integrity, that would be against his integrity, do you understand?

    It’s not about wanting to be a partisan for or against Bush, it is just how it is. The Germany military was effective, even with Hitler at the head and psychopaths in charge. That was a fact, and nobody should be stupid enough to ignore it just because they don’t like Germans. And it should also not blind us to the fact that we were MORE effective. But all that requires Logic, History, and Knowledge about the Art of War. So it is a side issue.

    4. Odd thing, I really object far more to Bush/Cheney for their domestic agenda and stance on the environment than their foreign policy.

    That wouldn’t be odd if you were a Jeffersonian. With some Hamiltonian leanings.

    Americans must make sure that it continues to be true.

    The same British that wanted to split our Expeditionary Forces to reinforce their beaten and defeated regiments in WWI. The same British that sneered at American recruits coming to join the fight in WWII.

    Riiight. Trying to convince me or any other Jacksonian to trust the British, is very futile.

  12. Richard Aubrey Says:

    What domestic surveillance?

    The recent foofaraw in the NYT tells us little.

    The law allows for spying on the conversations of non-US persons. The conversations in question were from those overseas to others overseas or to others in the US, many of whom did not qualify as “US persons”.

    I know the appellation “secret” is lefty for slathering on an extra layer of ominousity.

    So it was a secret program to spy on the conversations on non-US persons as is perfectly legal. For the possibility that a US person might be on the end of a conversation coming from a phone number taken from a captured cell phone, the law also makes provisions.

    Hard to see what, other than supporting the lefties against the Patriot Act and covering up the election, the NYT actually meant to accomplish. Besides fooling the terminally gullible and providing ammo for those who know better and hunt the terminally gullible.

    TGs are not found hereabouts.

  13. maryatexitzero Says:

    erasmus – Are you asking me to define “Left”? Your definition, of a Left that sees America as the only dangerous entity out there..

    On the left the right-wingers, MSM and corporations already have made America into a pre-fascist and decaying empire..

    ..defines the group I’m talking about . Howard “I hate Republicans” Dean, and everyone who agrees with him would also fit. I’m talking about the Left that bases their policies on their belief that their fellow Americans are the only enemy worth fighting.

    I don’t think these Leftists are my enemy. Their cluelessness is annoying and I don’t know why anyone listens to them, but I don’t know why anyone listens to Pat Robertson either.

    Leftists like Jane Fonda are still living in their 1972 universe, where [insert president's name here] is the most vile, homicidal beast in the world. Howard Dean is still living in a 9/10/2001 universe, where America is an unrivaled superpower that can sleep soundly at night, because our economy and our soft diplomacy will keep us safe.

    9/11 proved that the Leftists and the “end of history optimists” were wrong. Instead of admitting that they were wrong, they hate and blame the majority of Americans for facing reality. There are some beasts out there who are nastier than Bush – even nastier than Nixon. Even if we do get rid of the terrorists, there will still be other, nastier groups out there. You can’t guarantee that you won’t be in a knife fight someday. We can’t go back to sleep.

    The image of America as an economically successful pluralist democracy, open to all races and basically peaceful and nonaggressive..

    As neo-neocon said, pacifism is a faith. Belief that ‘world peace’ is possible, belief that foreign policy should be non-aggressive is equivalent to belief in intelligent design, or belief in the virgin birth. The Brits believe that gun control brings crime rates down, despite the fact that it hasn’t. The Brits believe that if they tolerate terrorism they will be immune to it, despite the fact that they’re not. Their opinions, as well-meaning as they may be, are as useful as Jerry Falwell’s, or Pat Robertson’s. These pacifists are expressing faith, not reason.

  14. erasmus Says:

    mtjutah et al
    1. Nothing at all against lethality of our armed forces. That’s what they’re there for.
    2.The WOT: is it not possible to believe it should be waged, yes–lethally–and STILL think Bush’s invasion of Iraq was both dishonest and, possibly, counter-effective? Now, I wouldn’t do a thing to undermine it, but express that opinion over a coffee or on a blog. Color me a traitor for that?
    3. Yes, the secret prisons, the CIA abductions, the secret domestic surveillance bother me. Without using the “f” word, they’re still troublesome. Can’t wage a lethal war on terror without them, is that what you’re saying? We are defending the splendor of being a nation of laws by subverting them?
    4. Odd thing, I really object far more to Bush/Cheney for their domestic agenda and stance on the environment than their foreign policy.
    5. Which brings me to the constant raising of BDS by the “Left.”
    Example: maryatexitzeru writes, Dec. 17, 12:16 pm:
    “The Left never changes or learns?” Really? just who on the Left?
    Here’s Michael Walzer, writing in “Dissent” in an article called “Can There Be a Decent Left?”
    “…the American left has an honorable history, and we have certainly gotten some things right, above all our opposition to domestic and global inequalities. But what the aftermath of September 11 suggests is that we have not advanced very far — and not always in the right direction. The left needs to begin again.”
    Never learns? Who? Chomsky–no. Walzer–yes. Both of the left.
    But neither left nor right want to be specific most of the time–who said what and what makes the idea “left” or “right?” Who else on that side accepts or believes it?
    Yes, BDS exists. But so does LDS–Left Derangement Syndrome.
    6. Here’s a Brit historian on the USA:
    “The image of America as an economically successful pluralist democracy, open to all races and basically peaceful and nonaggressive, has been so powerful in the past because it has largely been true. Americans must make sure that it continues to be true.”
    (Note: key word is “basically.” Not weak or helpless in face of attack.)
    But this is futile.
    Good night, and good luck.

  15. Henry Bowman Says:

    The statement that men innately do not want to kill is utter rubbish. Killing is a skill, and the desire to kill reflects cultural conditioning. The fact that in WWII many soldiers may have not wanted to kill most likely reflects the civilized background and the lack of training.

    Examine how effective Alexander the Great’s armies (or, later, the Roman legions) were at killing, and you get an idea of how good some soldiers were at killing.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Fonda is full of it, a traitor, and not worthy of trust.

  17. Richard Aubrey Says:

    TMJ

    Yeah, he/they can see that.

    But it’s more important to talk like the Kewl Kids talk.

    So forget what you know and do as you’re told, or the Kewl Kids will not let you talk to them at their next party.

    Too bad to be so bereft of self-sufficiency as to need to be manipulated by a smile from the Kewl Kids for saying stuff you know is bogus.

    But, after a while, the feeling of being dirty and used becomes unsupportable and you have to really believe that stuff. It’s the only cure.

  18. TmjUtah Says:

    erasmus -

    Apologies for being late to reply to your reply. Christmas shopping, chores, and housecleaning before we leave for New Hampshire next week… I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned I have to be medicated for extended stays east of Denver, have I?

    Looks like ymarsakar covered almost all the points I was going to make, and a lot better than I ever could.

    We are arguing from two very different perspectives. At least, it seems that way to me.

    As a nation, we’ve been in a knifefight for decades. I’ve been personally slicing and dicing since 1983. You, on the other hand, seem committed to argue from a self-defined point in time where this is an academic debate, a qualitiy that must be the root of what set me off earlier.

    Our people have been under attack for decades. Our government finally got around to doing something about it – and voted a strategy into policy. Now, at that time the Left had their own ideas: war is bad, we had it coming, can’t act without permission from the EU, etc. But as they were already a minority in 2001 they read the polls and decided that principled (as they saw it) opposition to the war at that time would move them from “minority” to “third party” pretty quick.

    So they voted dishonestly for the war, then set out to sabotage it for personal political gain.

    That’s been the political reality since shortly after the 2002 midterms. And it’s gotten to the point where I don’t question the patriotism of the Democrat party, or the leading lights of the Left in general, but indict them for aiding the enemy because that is exactly what they are doing, and in a manner only slightly less blatant than Ms. Fonda’s and Mr. Hayden’s visit to North Vietnam.

    We have a strategy, an evolving suite of tactics, and an objective. All of which, so far, appear to have been formulated via the constitutional processes. We have three years, over two thousand combat deaths, hundreds of billions of dollars, and the concrete potential of blunting, if not outright transforming, the cultural/political seed beds of Islamic terrorism.

    A favorable outcome in Iraq – shucks, no large scale attacks here at home, a strong economy, and low unemployment – are all disadvantages to the “loyal” opposition. Since they have NO VALID ALTERNATIVES or CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM to offer, they instead invest in defeat. They ignore the reasons for tactics such as Guantanomo or warrantless domestic surveillence, ignore the timeline of precedent, proposal, debate, action, and oversight because they can – damning press coverage is for Bush or our military, not for them.

    And some people see our troop’s lethality having some sort of evolutionary potential leading to the next SS.

    Remind me now – just which side of this fight routinely targets civilians? Which side of this fight is invested in beheadings, dismemberments, and random slaughter as operational SOP?

    You have NO idea what effect your careless hypothetical had here. Trust me on this.

    Your fifth point – “to whom or what should they be loyal?” is pretty sad, too. You can see that, can’t you?

  19. Martin L Shoemaker Says:

    I found your discussion of learning to make life-or-death and kill-or-be-killed battlefield decisions with less stress to have almost perfect timing. As I was reading it, CNN was trumpeting their latest ginned-up “bad news”: it seems that soldiers returning from Iraq aren’t utilizing post-traumatic stress counseling as much as some expert thinks they should, and so CNN foresees trouble for them down the road. News flash for CNN: maybe they’re getting less counseling because they’re less stressed!

  20. erasmus Says:

    ymarsakar:
    Thanks for you advice. In my next knife fight, I will heed it.

  21. Ymarsakar Says:

    I want our guys to kill lots of terrorists. I want them to kill insurgents by the boatload. I want our troops – the ones tossing candy to kids and building schools, hospitals, and powerplants – to be so feared that somebody standing up in the middle of a tribal council in Buttmunch, Pakistan calling for jihad will be shot by his colleagues and save us the trouble of making a trip.

    John Ringo and I would probably agree with that. Ya, sit down and shut up or we’ll cap your arse. That sounds about right.

    In response to Erasmus commenting about right and left blogs being the same, I do really want to point out that my position isn’t about right or wrong. It is about Erasmus lacking will, and being weak. I don’t state that as a justification for why he is wrong, therefore it isn’t an ad hominem and it should not be taken as a personal attack.

    The third person also distances the parties in a discussion.

    I’m sure every American wants to live in whatever lifestyles they want to live, and if they get that via dead terroists, I don’t think they would truly care how. But… still everyone is human. Everyone has fears, vulnerabilities, and pet peeves. Personal locations that they must address. So, having said that, it is not surprising to me that Erasmus wants to kill terroists.

    2. Yes, I also want our forces to kill as many terrorists as possible. That is what I hoped the WOT would be about. Some of it is.

    I want to point out something important. In war, you should never take counsel of your fears. Meaning, everyone has fears and doubts, but you should not factor them in when making decisions. If you do, you will make the wrong decisions. Basically, you panic by considering your emotions first and the facts last.

    It’s one thing to say, “I want to kill Japs”. It is another thing to say, “On my authorization, drop two nukes on Japan”.

    It is the degree of separation between intellectually considering death and killing, and actually doing it. Most civilians cannot make the transition. They get lost in the translation. Heck, most military people, considering how 7/10 in the Army is logistics, have trouble making the transition even WITH training. A powerful will, devoted to a clause, being a true believer, that helps a lot. But it also tends to promote fanaticism unless you reign it in.

    I rather think Erasmus is taking too much counsel from his fears, and is not willing to do what is necessary to kill terroists precisely BECAUSE the means frighten him (slippery slope).

    It’s really not about a debate about the rightness or wrongness of the policies. It’s not a debate you want, Erasmus. It is rather you act to protect yourself or your nation from your percieved fears.

    We all want to protect what we cherish from what we fear. It is human instinct. But there are two instinctual responses to threats. And that is fight or flight. I tend to increase my internal aggression, on the philosophy that the best defense is a good offense. Others choose flight, on the philosophy that they can live to fight another day. There’s nothing wrong with either method, but in reality there are situations where only one method is best. And in a war, aggression is a lot better than flight. Adrenaline, anger, hate, and endorphines are a lot more valuable in a fight than fear.

    That each side has both–pieces of the truth and delusions–is unacceptable for either side.

    Don’t ask me to accept that the Left understands human nature better than I do. Because they don’t. Human nature is the only source from which truth may spring, because reality derives from human nature. Human nature does not derive from reality and events. Nothing done will change human nature, and nothing will.

    You cannot have half an understanding of human nature and call it half a piece of the truth. Half an understanding of nuclear weapons is not very useful. 50/50 chance of blowing yourself or the enemy up, is not very useful. What makes anyone think that 50% of the truth is useful if you can just put the pieces together?

    All in all, there are just people who need killing. And then there are people who are way too aggressive and competitive to be ever considered “normal”. You can pick these guys out, those in the military are mostly with the Marines, Special Forces, Seals, etc. Most of them in the civilian sector are either in Engineering, Defense Contractor companies, or athletics. And gangs too.

    You can’t treat these people from a Left or Right perspective. Nor can you treat these people and not have it backfire, by combining the “best of both” or some shit like that. No, if you don’t treat humans 100% always, never a doubt never a moment of lack, as a human then all plans will backfire.

    I guess the point is, terroists are aggressive dudes and it takes other aggressive dudes to take them out. And to an aggressive dude, if we can inflict 1000 times the damage on you that you inflict on us, we count ourselves victorious and in the game.

    A non-aggressive person would want to negotiate, debate, talk it out, take “covering” measures. Make sure that attacks don’t backfire, keep your balance, have armor on, have goggles, cover everything conceivable.

    Both are workable. In a tactical situation, you want to cover your team’s ass as well as the hostage’s. But this is war, and in war, it is all about how hurt the other guy is.

    Worry about other enemies later.

    In a knife fight, taking your attention off the enemy to consult your watch to see how late you are to the meeting, is a sure fire way to get killed.

    Don’t pay attention to your fear. Never take counsel from your fears.

  22. maryatexitzero Says:

    The left in general seems to be gravitating towards “thoughtful conservatism.” Many Leftists object to neo-cons and their dangerous, neo-trotskyite, liberal ideas. Years, years and years ago, the Democrats used to be the party of new ideas. Now, all they want to do is relive the old days of protesting war, lots of free love and tie dye. And they could get away with it, if it wasn’t for those neo-cons.

    If the insurgents gave Hanoi Jane a chance to play with their anti-aircraft guns, do you think she’d turn down a chance to relive her glory days?

    When she said, after her trip to Hanoi:

    ..It was on the road back from Nam Dinh, where I had witnessed the systematic destruction of civilian targets- schools, hospitals, pagodas, the factories, houses, and the dike system.

    As I left the United States two weeks ago, Nixon was again telling the American people that he was winding down the war, but in the rubble- strewn streets of Nam Dinh, his words echoed with sinister (words indistinct) of a true killer.

    …sounds kind of familiar.

    When she said:

    “One thing that I have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt since I’ve been in this country is that Nixon will never be able to break the spirit of these people; he’ll never be able to turn Vietnam, north and south, into a neo- colony of the United States by bombing, by invading, by attacking in any way.”

    She should sue Howard Dean for stealing her material.

    The Left never changes or learns. They’re as paleo as Pat Buchanan.

  23. erasmus Says:

    tmjutah:
    1. The implication(s) you draw from my comments are in the mind of the beholder.
    2. Yes, I also want our forces to kill as many terrorists as possible. That is what I hoped the WOT would be about. Some of it is.
    3.”We are a democratic republic.” We ought to be, but tell me what Article in the Constitution grants pre-emptive voting rights to our corporations and conglomerates, whose money bribes Congress and subverts any legislation in the public interest -on health, environment, on most any issue dealing with matters relevant to the whole society.
    This is, if you walk the corridors of power in DC, a given, a recurring truth.
    (Does it touch the military? Hey, talk to someone who’s been in the military-industrial complex Ike warned us about in January of 1961.)
    4. I brought up the spirit, not the tactics of GI Joes in WWII. Of course we can’t fight terrorists in many parts of the world as we fought Rommel in Normandy.
    5. You call the opposition to the current administration “disloyal.” But to whom or what should they be loyal?
    6. What is so disappointing in the blogsphere is the stunning similarity of blogs on the right and left. Each side insists it has discovered the truth, the way. Here, the “left” (liberals, MSM, lefties) are the enemy, bent betraying the USA. On the left the right-wingers, MSM and corporations already have made America into a pre-fascist and decaying empire.
    That each side has both–pieces of the truth and delusions–is unacceptable for either side. So each side shouts by the other.
    Too bad. I don’t disagree with you on how our armed forces should proceed and I want them to be effective and victorious in their battles against terrorists.
    On the larger context–an either-or mentality prevails, alas.
    If it’s in the NYT, it must be…
    Not necessarily. Let’s look at it, paragraph by paragraph. Let’s see what the reporter(s) did, and how we can tell if they were accurate and honest.
    Naw. It’s the MSM, so…
    Maybe you don’t proceed from that kind of a platform. If you don’t, I actually like thoughtful conservatism–if you want to know what I mean by that, go to the website of the Russell Kirk Foundation and read his ten principles of conservatism. Now, anyone who wants BOTH–a decent and intelligent left AND right in our free marketplace of ideas, would love it.

  24. TmjUtah Says:

    “You can be tough, disciplined and victorious without black-shirted disregard for life and decency.”

    Erasmus,

    Actually, “putz” was a replacement for about six paragraphs, all containing much stronger words, that just kind of spilled out in response to your latest straw man in the bleachers comment.

    After a few deep breaths and consideration I decided that the whole was incompatible with civil discourse and worst of all it would have been disrespectful of neo’s forum.

    They also would have been wasted on you, so what would be the point?

    We are a democratic republic. We teeter on the edge of totalitarianism every time we choose new leaders. The implication of your comment – clearly – was that there’s some identifiable progression under way toward a specific fascist reality, and (what set me off) that our military is somehow on the same rails.

    I see a nation of free people, vibrant and successful, engaged in a twilight war that will determine the fate – the life or death fate – of literally billions of people. That determination may be made this year, or maybe decades from now.

    Iran looms large as a nuclear threat, and they just installed (not elected, but consciously elevated) a whack who makes Howard Dean look like a statesman. China’s choice of democracy or regional empire will be made, or be forced upon them, within a generation.

    Democratization takes a lot of time, money, and most scarce of all, moral courage. Our current polity hates to wait, we are immensely rich, and our political minority treats “moral” as an outdated concept.

    Tough mix, ain’t it?

    That same minority has refused to represent in good faith, and has voted poll trends where voting their conscience would have been the moral thing to do.

    The fascist threat to this country is not the Bush administration, erasmus. It’s the people desperately attempting to abort democracy across the middle east.

    That’s the terrorists. And our Democrats. The terrorists aim for a caliphate but will be content to just stagger forward slaughtering the weak or cowardly when they can. Our disloyal opposition aims for power, and if it means defeat on the battlefield today, that’s a price they’ve proven willing to pay once already.

    If we had set out to fight this war like we did WW II, we’d be done by now.

    I’ve read the available media reports on secret prisons and warrantless monitoring of domestic communications and noticed that the leakers are anonymous, that it takes seven to ten column inches to find out that the actions were conducted under congressional oversight, and that golly gee, there’s a book deal, too.

    I want our guys to kill lots of terrorists. I want them to kill insurgents by the boatload. I want our troops – the ones tossing candy to kids and building schools, hospitals, and powerplants – to be so feared that somebody standing up in the middle of a tribal council in Buttmunch, Pakistan calling for jihad will be shot by his colleagues and save us the trouble of making a trip. I want Bashir Assad to crap his pants every time a jet flies over his house. And the sooner we tell the Sauds they are on their own, that they can’t fund any more PACs or schools or politicians here, the better off we’ll all be.

    Simplistic, ain’t I?

  25. Bookworm Says:

    That’s a fascinating post. I remember reading many years ago a New York Times article that followed an elite Israeli unit that was operating in the West Bank. The writer followed the troops as they searched a house. Suddenly, they heard a noise from a back room. The writer acknowledged that less well-trained troops would immediately have opened fire. These experienced warriors, however, held their fire — and discovered in the back room a six year old boy the parents had forgotten to take when they evacuated the house.

  26. erasmus Says:

    1. Anonymous
    Yes, slope would have been better. Don’t know if anything is slipping or will slip.
    2. tmjutah
    Yes, “Auftragstaktik,” (mission-oriented command system) works and I am glad we (and the Israelis) have adopted it. I’m all for training that works and wins.
    For what cause?
    “Those who surrender liberty for the sake of security deserve neither liberty or security.” Benjamin FranklinThe CIA abductions in Europe, the secret prisons, today’s revelation of secret surveillance within the USA don’t bother you. They bother me.
    I want us to defeat Islamofascism as we defeated German Fascism. That’s why I brought up the GIs of WWII, who did not become like the Waffen SS. You can be tough, disciplined and victorious without black-shirted disregard for life and decency. That is an American tradition I hopw will live on.
    So, you want to engagethe usual bloggish name-calling, enjoy.
    3. Ymarsakar
    But was Vietnam ours to “save?”
    A Brit recently observed that Marx was wrong about Communism but right about Capitalism. I have always hoped we’d prove he was wrong about both.

  27. Ymarsakar Says:

    To Erasmus and then Neo

    3. The kind of training this post is about is a mighty slippery slope.

    Some people are worried about killers, perhaps maybe they doubt either themselves or their fellow citizens. Either way, personally, I used to be scared of the military. And without knowing just what the “military” was for that. Now, as I know more, I am actually quite comfortable with the military. Mostly with the Special Forces. It is like I understand them, but more than that. it is like I cheer them on.

    Psychologically, I’m not worried at all, and I find myself correcting my thinking to remove those doubts and weaknesses in order to emulate the “Special Forces” psychology more and more. Increasing my will, by exercising it on small frailties and doubts.

    I think at its root, I do so because I find comfort in strength and power. Those without it, are helpless, those with it have a chance.

    Therefore since the choice left to me is either to be weak or to be strong, I choose to be strong. And there is no better example than the military, to learn how to be strong.

    And I trust the military and the Special Forces for two reasons.

    First, they fight for the same cause I fight for. They just do it by killing people and following orders.

    Second, because I’ve read about them, their lives, actions, psychological. And I LIKE them.

    I like people who can kill on a dot, coldly and efficiently. I admire their discipline, their restraint, and their abilities. I always have to a certain degree, provided that they are actually American patriots.

    But even if they are not, I would still respect them to a certain degree.

    Personally, I think there are people with weak wills. And Erasmus is one of them.

    I used to worry about the pre-emption policy about invading Iraq, so I know how it feels to have a weak will.

    And it’s nothing to be proud of, and it won’t win any debates either for that matter.

    Grossman doesn’t believe humans are a blank slate. What he talks about is solely about training humans in how to control their emotions and instincts. Violence is natural to humans, murder of people you don’t know nad have done you no harm, is definitely not natural to humans.

    People don’t tend to walk up to a stranger and kick them in the balls just cause they are “human”. No, it tends to be something personal required. Some emotion, rage, anger, hate.

    And that’s what Grossman teaches in how to control. Maybe that is it, I value discipline for its own sake.

    Discipline really is the difference between a soldier and a murderer. A killer and a terroist.

    I like discipline, and I like those who have it in abundance.

    “This began,” Fonda maintained, “because the military discovered that in World War II and Korea, [U.S.] soldiers weren’t killing enough.”

    If the US military wanted the soldiers to acquire a higher kill count, why the hell did they stop producing Jacketed Hollow Points for our assault rifles? Huh? Is this a case of reality not being consisent with Jane. Or is Jane going to take credit from the military, because she thinks that without liberals the military would still be using JHP bullets in their assault rifles?

    “So they changed training procedures” to teach troops how to commit atrocities.

    To Jane, discipline is an atrocity. To Jane, following orders is a gross malefeasance. To Jane, creating unit cohesion and esprit de corps that saves lives, is a “waste of time”.

    Die Jane die, because if she ever was under fire, we should make sure she gets neither the benefit of discipline, unit cohesion, or soldiers following the order to “Save the civilian”. In an idealistic quantum world, that would happen. And it will happen fast.


    Many people think killing is a natural act, but Col. Grossman argues that it isn’t. He discusses how new and innovative pop up targets, video-based firearms training simulators, and Simunition®-based training are used to facilitate overcoming this innate resistance. These devices are then combined with high repetition to condition a correct response even in the face of fear….

    That sounds like America’s Army. When they still shoot their teammates. And in Ravenshield, omg, that’s horrendous. The color uniforms change with each map, so you might be shooting blue this map, but the next one you get to shoot grey. And blue happens to be YOUR team’s color. This is what happened in Somalia, and why terroists wear civilian uniforms. It slows down our reactions. The reactions of any human that is trained in shooting a specific target.

    Video games do dissensitize you to violence, but that isn’t useful unless you have the military philosophy to go with it. Which is the point. How to get someone to approve of the nuclear annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, after looking at the human misery, without being so inured that he doesn’t care what happens to the rest of Japan.

    Range training must be repetitive. When a pop up target of a bad guy appears (stimulus), you shoot (response). Stimulus-response, stimulus-response, and then a pop up target of a man holding a cell phone appears, you don’t shoot. The more realistic the target is, the better….

    I’ve never heard it discussed in this much detail before of course. But it has a lot of similarities to learning how NOT to shoot your teammate’s in America’s Army. Which would tend to make it a very effective training tool. Cause some shape moving around in the shadows with a ski mask on, can be recognized, without any conscious thought process ; ) That could be good or bad depending on what happens. People who have relied upon color coordination games like Ravenshield, get in AA and kills their teammates left and right. Because it was the shape that was important in AA, not the color. Although the color helped, but it doesn’t work in shadow. Or night vision. Intelligence has a lot to do with it though, I mean if you figure out what is happening, then it will be easier to learn. If you don’t know what is going on, and you’re frustrated, not much is going to be learned. Real military training probably bypasses that entire through muscle memory. Which is one reason why being able to follow orders on the dot in a combat situation is so important.

    The idea that training the military to be more automatic in its responses and less stressed in combat is hard to accept; it seems so cold and brutal. But, once understood, I think it’s clear that courses working towards that end, such as Grossman’s, actually lead away from more My Lais, not towards them.

    This is why most military people and most people who study the military, like me, tend to find Iraq nothing much to worry about. And lack of atrocities, amazing discipline, amazing esprit de corps, etc etcera has to account for a lot that. CIvilians who don’t know the circumstances, won’t find the fact that soldiers still give out candy to be something surprising. I still do, because it means the children are on our side, and that means we have the initiative.

    We have forced the enemy to be in a situation where they have decided to kill the children, because they can no longer get to us. We have made the enemy either die or become desperate, and they have died and become desperate.

    The lessons of Vietnam have been learned militarily. But the civilians lessons are lagging for sure. No other military on this Earth could fight guerrilas and terroists as well as we can. And it is because our strategy is different than other people’s. China and Russia and Syria levels cities, cause they can’t go into them. We take cities instead of leveling them, because we can and do.

    It’s a show of will.

    The weird thing was, the Vietcong lost in the end. They lost every battle, and they won the war for sure, but still they lost everything that mattered. What were they fighting for, who were they fighting against? Is Vietnam as prosperous as Germany, Japan, and South Korea? Just what kind of sane person chooses ideology over food and water anyways… The disease of communism was not just one of the mind, but of the soul. We tried to save Vietnam from themselves… didn’t work. Primarily because we failed in saving America from Vietnam. Can’t save Vietnam if you can’t save yourselves. And to save yourselves, you got to be very lethal and trained.

  28. TmjUtah Says:

    Erasmus -

    I graduated from boot at MCRD San Diego in 1980.

    I trained, studied, and toughened up in the company of sixty odd other kids from across the country. During those 13 weeks I drilled, participated in physical training, learned the basic suite of what was then called “Essential Subjects” for all Marines.

    Were we encouraged to identify as warriors? You betcha. Killers? Every day. There are even CD’s you can buy that will allow you to hear running jodies or marching cadence calls that contain the word “kill” in them several times in each verse. That’s what the duty is, Erasmus. Volunteering for military service is an implicit statement on the part of the individual that he/she is willing to kill AND run the risk of dying in the service of the nation.

    Why learn to kill quickly and efficiently? Because the situation that requires armed, uniformed citizens acting as executors of national policy is by definition war – whether or not the legislative i’s have been dotted or the t’s crossed. The environment in which soldiers (which I prefer to warrior; the semantics are more accurate) operate is the ultimate argument of violence to decide an issue.

    Humans are highly emotional animals. If we wanted a bunch of pyschopaths we could just box up recruits with DOOM games, Tarantino films, and PETA/ALF brochures for a few months and then drop them on the enemy as needed. Except that they would hopelessly ineffective, poorly suited to working as a team, and would find that there’s no regeneration on a real battlefield.

    Training soldiers is aimed at accomplishing missions. Killing is just one subset of the skills required to that end. Learning how to survive the environmental and psychological challenges of the battlefield (as Goesh described so well) is another objective of training.

    I spent more time learing when to kill than I ever did learning how to kill. And the vast majority of my experience was as a line Marine – not Recon, not ANGLICO. The other minor slice of advanced training I received was even more heavily weighted toward discriminating between legitimate threats and non-threat/non-combatants.

    If you field a battalion of six hundred men and out of that six hundred only two hundred willingly and consciously attack on order, and of the remainder only two hundred more will willingly fire their weapons in self defense (see Marshall’s numbers), you end up with a unit that can be destroyed by an enemy unit numbering less than a company – if the enemy lacks the deadweight of the battalion.

    Destroyed means just that. Killed. And the mission that the battalion was tasked with will remain undone, which means another battalion moves up for another shot.

    So we train our folks to be as lethal as possible, in order that the opposition has no edge. We train them to think “mission” and not “Mortal Kombat”. We train them to get the mission done – and live.

    And when they come home the vast majority end up with families, jobs, and hobbies. Just like me. As have the veterans from all our services through all our wars.

    I was going to comment on your opinions of civil liberty abuse and such, but you Godwinned yourself with that SS remark. Putz.

    You and Jane. A team.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Isn’t the “slippery slope” a logical fallacy? What business does it have in any kind of debate?

  30. erasmus Says:

    neo:
    1. German and Austrian Jews, definitely (the Anschluss was in March of 1938).
    2. Yes, the death camps (Sobibor, for example) didn’t start up until the masses of Russian, Polish, Hungarian Jews started rolling in.
    3. The kind of training this post is about is a mighty slippery slope. What principles are you instilling in the soul of this “killing machine?” I’d sure want this opened up to public debate before proceeding.

  31. neo-neocon Says:

    erasmus: Yes, I believe that technically you are correct. The concentration camps were more of a crime against humanity, and an atrocity, committed mostly during a war. The gathering of the inmates from all over Europe could not have occurred, of course, without the war. Without the war only German Jews (and probably Austrian Jews) and others in those countries (homosexuals, etc.) would have been within the reach of the Nazis. The war gave them a larger canvas for their crimes–”war crimes” or not.

    It’s my understanding, however, that the death camps (not all concentration camps were death camps) only got going during the war.

    My larger point, though, was about how training people to kill with less PTSD and stress would probably only work to reduce war crimes and/or atrocities, and/or crimes against humanity, in an environment that did not encourage such crimes in the first place. It might indeed have the opposite effect in an environment that encouraged such crimes.

  32. OBloodyHell Says:

    > “The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies.”

    If part of your solution is to kowtow to the dictates of anyone you enounter, you might have a chance at this… Good luck with your dhimmitude, BTW.

    That is, until you meet two different people(s) who are enemies and both of them believe “The friends of my enemies are my enemies…”

    DOH!!!

  33. OBloodyHell Says:

    > To survive, you must do what needs to be done – now. In order to react reflexively, yet responsibly, and continue to fight no matter how impaired, you must have a set of conditioned responses ingrained into your mind.

    The west reinvents the concept of Zen for use in Martial Arts….

    As usual, Orientals were there a long time ago…

  34. erasmus Says:

    neo:
    Sorry, but the concentration/death camps in Europe in WWII were NOT one “great war crime.”
    1. They were conceived before the war broke out and quite a few (Buchenwald) existed pre-September, 1939.
    2. They existed and performed their function for the Reich often without the fog of war: cold-blooded beatings, humiliation, starvation, medical “experiments,” and, of course, methodical extermination. Enemy soldiers swere not near most of these camps until the final phases of the war.
    3. The brutalities inflicted on inmates, Jews and others, were of both kinds: methodical, cold-blooded killing and individual, lusty and gratifying beatings and killings: a Croation guard slamming down a shovel on the head of an elderly Jew again and again, an SS guard taking the baby from its mother and tossing it up in the air to catch it on his bayonet.And then there were the ovens etc etc.
    “War crime?”
    The Germans, SS and Wehrmacht, did indeed commit war crimes too. But the camps were a separate and special achievement of National Socialism, as the gulags were of Communism.
    Acts committed in war should be judged as products of and within the war, including crimes.
    The camps were a world of their own.

  35. neo-neocon Says:

    Yes, Marshall’s stats are somewhat suspect. But the general idea seems to hold water. From the post above, there’s this:

    …Even though [Marshall's] methodology has come under attack — critics say his numbers are exaggerated — his premise is generally accepted, and his book, ”Men Against Fire,” is read throughout the military establishment…

    The training of which I’ve written began shortly after WWII, so Vietnam veterans would have received some sort of training under it. But as the years have gone by, it seems to have become more focused and developed. The entire thing is designed for a number of things: (1) to have those who must kill at times (military, police) do so in a state that does not resemble panic; therefore, to have good judgment. In some cases this would result in less killing, not more, and certainly less indiscriminate killing (2) to reduce the occurrence of PTSD (3) to reduce the occurrence of any atrocities or war crimes.

    Compared to those who had gone before, US soldiers were certainly not committing #3 in any great numbers. But of course they did occur on occasion, even in WWII.

    To me, it’s clear that anything that reduces stress would tend to lead to a reduction of incidents like that, in a society in which they are condemned, such as ours. If atrocities and war crimes are considered OK–and even desirable (i.e., a concentration camp, for example, which is one big war crime), then anything that reduces stress could be more likely to enhance the ability of those in power to commit those war crimes.

    Like anything, it’s a double-edged sword. But the goals of our military are firmly against such things in the theater of war, and our rules of engagement reflect that.

  36. David Thomson Says:

    Jane Fonda also severely harmed our country financially. Does anyone remember the 1979 film, “The China Syndrome?” Fonda and her fellow leftists terrified many Americans with their junk science extremism. We essentially stopped building new nuclear plants. Our personal energy bills are now far more costly than they should be.

  37. Goesh Says:

    In Viet Nam, sleep deprivation and dehydration were significant stress factors and we would go for long periods of time without a shower, sleeping in fire pits or what the army calls fox holes. There were alot of bugs, we ate out of cans and would run short of water on patrols. Our water came from tanks we called water buffalos and it was warm and nasty tasting. We would use water purification tabs in the bush and diarrhea was real common. We weren’t aware of our stench because we all had it. As grunts you could always distinguish us from non-grunts back at base camp because the toes of our boots were white and chewed up from being on the ground on our bellies so much and humping through the bush all the time. Terrain factors in significantly when it comes to fire control. In the bush when we got hit we had no idea how many there were and exactly where they were. There is an instant blur of gunfire and screaming and motion, terror and rage comes like volts of electricity, tunnel vision sets in. We often didn’t see them but we could see and hear fire coming from a tree line for instance or worse yet from both sides with flankers on the move. It might be a small patrol or a whole damn bunch of them. Full auto/spraying was needed to suppress the gooks and we always carried bandoliers filled with clips. They never knew how long it would take for air support to arrive and neither did we for that matter. Sometimes it wasn’t available and artillery couldn’t always be counted on either.It was much different than urban combat in Iraq. There is much, much less physical deprivation for one thing and that makes for better judgement under fire. The troops in Iraq don’t have to urinate or defecate in their pants because they can’t get out of a fire pit to go to a slit trench during a long fire fight and being hit with mortars. Iraqi troops aren’t sleeping in holes and being bitten by fire ants and mosquitos and having centipedes crawl on them when they are able to try to get some sleep. I doubt that diarrhea and dehydration are much of an issue, thanks to better technology and they are having mostly hot meals and regular showers. We didn’t spray much when we had clear shots but it sure makes sense to teach and train for controled fire. In the bush in Nam civilians were not an issue but they were in the villages. The psychological pressure is the same in Iraq because our troops are essentially surrounded like we were, never knowing who the enemy is and when you can get hit. There are no lines in Iraq, but there are safer areas like there were in Nam. Today’s military is so much more aware of PTSD and is addressing it. Units are going over together and returning together and are given time to unwind.We were put on planes and 15 hours later we were stateside. When I left Nam, I came off a patrol, spent a day at base camp and the next day I was in the States. Troops today are being educated about PTSD and supports are in place for it. This in itself makes for a vastly improved military force compared to Viet Nam forces. Troops today are better equiped and trained, paid better and the medical care is so much superior. I believe the motivation, commitment and willingness to fight is consistent down through our history, today as it was during Colonial times. Most of us older Vets would be in Iraq if we were younger. It simply has to be done. Jihadis/terrorists must be killed where they are found.

    It’s hard to talk about killing and part of me wants to just delete this post. I remember my first and last firefight the most vividly, the others are pretty much a violent blur. I quit counting the firefights I was in after #19 because I thought it would jinx me. We are all born to be able to kill and instincts take over in combat. Terror, rage and adrenilin rule in a firefight and always will, whether it’s with swords or rifles. I think we bring with us the ability to be proficient killers and training hones it but does not produce it. Some are born to be better than others at this terrible job. In my outfit I did not see civilians killed for the sake of it. You need to know it all. We were brutal to them at times and we burned their hooches (huts) when we had to. More than one guy wore some ears from dead gooks around his neck. Sometimes we would bury a dead gook with his hand protruding from the ground giving the finger to the world. Some of us had gotten hold of scalpels and taped slats of wood to the handles to be used if we got overran and it came down to hand-to-hand. Killers are never heroes for being killers. You cannot allow yourselves that digression and celebrate as a society the act of killing itself, like when burned bodies of civilian contractors were hung from a bridge and made objects of celebration recently in Falllujah. You must celebrate the sacrifice that seeks to stop that behavior and what can come once it is stopped. I’ve said it before – guys like me can convert the sword to a plowshear but the terrorists can’t. Fortunately I think most Americans realize this.

    Fonda’s bullshit? It comes from narcissm which you and a number of other mental health professionals have more than adequately addressed. You and three other professionals that I am aware of (Dr. Sanity, Shrinkwrapped and OneCosmos) have applied considerable experience and training and reached the same conclusions. Gee! Where there is smoke there must be a hell of alot of fire. Having tobacco juice spit on her by a Veteran should have told her something, but I guess not.

  38. maryatexitzero Says:

    Jane is using this argument to disguise the fact that she doesn’t want our soldiers to kill anyone – because they’re Americans, and Americans should never defend ourselves, because we are such awful people. And killing is so icky and karmically bad and everything.

    Sheryl Crow summed up Hollywood’s attitudes towards war perfectly when she said:

    “I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies.”

    Under the threat of terrorism, these high-profile stars have embraced pacifism with the same enthusiasm that they formerly had for scientology and kabbalah. Nobody wants to be the next Theo Van Gogh.

    The pacifists are even afraid to admit that they are pacifists. The best way to spot them is to ask how they think the enemy should be killed – what specific methods should we use? They don’t approve of any military tactic because they don’t approve of the miltary. We should just not have enemies.

  39. erasmus Says:

    This is what one of the world’s finest military historians had to say about the stressed out citizen-soldier in the US Amy:
    “…the fact remains that the American GI did win World War II. He did so, moreover, without assaulting, raping, and otherwise molesting too many people. Wherever he came — even within Germany itself — he was received with relief, ot at any rate without fear. To him, no greater tribute than this is conceivable.”

    And we want to trade in the flaws and virtues of this defender of the American way for “efficient and yet principled killers?”

    Holy Ike! But tell me, where will those “principles” come from? The kind of leader who secretly orders surveillance of citizens? A leader in the future, who may view some humans as expendable? We no longer want to take our chances on the weaknessses and strengths a mixed and representative bunch of Americans bring to the battlefield?

    Our very own Waffen SS in waiting.
    No thanks.

  40. Lancer Says:

    Careful with SLA Marshall, there is no data to support his conclusions. He made it up. See this hnn post: http://hnn.us/articles/1356.html

    Also careful with Col Grossman; what he wants us to believe flies in the face of milleniums of evolution: humans (especially human males) have a large capacity for violence. Col Grossman wants us to believe that violence is not part of our nature, but is trained. (And thus can be trained/conditioned out of us–peace gulags anyone?)

    Fonda, Marshall, Grossman, et al, are classic examples of the belief in humans as “blank slates.” See the book by that name by Steven Pinker.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    Jane Fonda could use more botox, she’s beginning to sag.

  42. Foobarista Says:

    Let’s say you’re an Iraqi in an enemy-held town and there’s a firefight going on between AQists and Marines. Would you rather have the Marines trained as efficient killing machines, instantly and coldly judging targets and taking them out as their mission requires? Or would you rather have them be scared kids who are likely to go full-auto randomly as anything else?

    Your chances of living through the firefight are far higher with the “killing machines” than with the “spray and pray” – which is what AQ’s fighters would be using.

  43. troutsky Says:

    “Its like having blinders on” You guys are great.A scientific rationale for effective killing, and even Che would agree!

  44. Pancho Says:

    Having never served herself, nor apparently made any attempt to actually view Army training Ms.Fonda doesn’t realize that I myself have had live ammunition fired directly over my head during training. This is to remind us that the other guys are very intent on killing us and have no qualms about doing so in any manner possible. War is hell…

  45. Armed Liberal Says:

    I’ll put a post on this in the queue, but a couple of fast thoughts – as someone who’s been through much of the same kind of training that the military gets, one thing that’s emphasized is making not shooting as automatic as shooting – where appropriate.

    The other is that there has been some controversy over SLA Marshall’s research, which Grossman uses as a jumping-off point. Having said that, there are a number of things in Grossman that I do find myself in agreement with.

    And finally no discussion of My Lai is complete without a discussion of the actions of Hugh Thompson on that day. I blogged a bit about it here.

    A.L.

  46. Megan Says:

    Fascinating as usual.

    I know little of what happened at Mai Lai other than the left throws it out as an example of America’s sins. I’ll have to add it to my list of historical events to learn more about.

    I for one am glad that our soldiers are well trained to kill. I’d rather they came home alive. Before my neighbor left for Fallujah he basically said “shoot first ask questions later” because he knew he had to come home to his wife and kids. I’m glad he’s home safe and sound.

    If the left really supported the troops (as they so often claim) they would be glad that “our” guys are so well trained.

  47. Anonymous Says:

    Great piece, Neo! And of course the purpose of military training is to create a cohesive group of fighters who help one another out to minimize their own casualities while inflicting maximum casualties on the enemy.

    As for My Lai, a rather obscure American Colonel named Colin Powell was in command of the larger unit of which Lt. Calley’s group was a part.

  48. Kurt Says:

    And as long as we’re talking about “killing machines,” let’s not forget that it was none other than a left-wing icon, the infamous Che Guevara, who once wrote of his desire to turn his men into “violent, cold-blooded killing machines.”

  49. colagirl Says:

    Great post, neo-neocon. Well done.

  50. Motor 1560 Says:

    LTC Grossman’s book is a must read if you are to understand this discussion to it’s fullest. After the advent of the M-16, marksmanship lost to “area fire” the so called spray and pray method. Now, as part of more realistic training marksmanship is coming back. Of course, the Marines, God love ‘em, never stopped.

    Conflating combat effectiveness with atrocity is the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from Hanoi Jane and her ilk.

    “Train like you fight; fight like you train.”, is the new method. Training in and for stressful conditions with “shoot, don’t shoot” elements works. Soldiers learn to move seamlessly from situation to situation because, they’ve been there in training.

    Another important element if the after action environment, a whole separate topic of psychological stress reduction.

    Fonda is not ignorant. She knows exactly what she is doing. Frankly, I think that she is irrelevant these days in a political sense for anything except driving rational people out of the Democratic party as they seek more rational leadership.

  51. neo-neocon Says:

    I take Ms. Fonda seriously only as a jumping off point for some serious reflections on the topic itself.

    Unfortunately, though, there are many who still take her seriously–or at least share her ignorance about the subject whereof she speaks.

  52. erasmus Says:

    Two small suggestions:
    1. As background to this topic, read–if you can get it–”Fighting Power. German and U.S. Army Performance, 1939-1945,” by Martin van Creveld.

    2. Why take seriously anything Ms. Fonda says, on any topic save herself.
    The only worthwhile comment about her dates to her video, “Step and Stretch Workout.”

    What do you get from watching it?
    Stretch Marx.

    Curtain.

  53. Newvictorian Says:

    An excellent and comprehensive summary, Neo. All of us who have served in the military or studied these matters for many, many years past are aware of these training techiques and Col. Grossman’s book, but much of the public may not be.

    It’s typical of Ms. Fonda to get it all fouled up, because when one looks at a subject with too many preconceived notions it’s like having blinders on.

    It’s so refreshing to find people like you and others I link to and admire who are determined to examine the world with an open mind.

  54. njcommuter Says:

    TmjUtah:

    If we had set out to fight this war like we did WW II, we’d be done by now.

    This isn’t WWII. It’s a different kind of war, a war we are still learning how to fight. When the USA entered WWII, we had created enormous advantages in doctrine (read There’s a War to be Won) and both the population and the leadership understood the nature of the war, a war between states. Now we are fighting a war between states and those who do not have states in the traditional sense. I’ve pointed to Bobbitt’s analysis often (Shield of Achilles, Terror and Consent) because he is the only author I’ve read who really gets his head around that point and begins a systematic analysis on it. (SoA is background, and if you read it, read the introduction over and over until you can say “That should be obvious,” or you’ll miss the whole point of the book.)

    Goesh:

    In Viet Nam, sleep deprivation and dehydration were significant stress factors and we would go for long periods of time without a shower, sleeping in fire pits or what the army calls fox holes. There were alot of bugs, we ate out of cans and would run short of water on patrols. Our water came from tanks we called water buffalos and it was warm and nasty tasting. We would use water purification tabs in the bush and diarrhea was real common. We weren’t aware of our stench because we all had it. As grunts you could always distinguish us from non-grunts back at base camp because the toes of our boots were white and chewed up from being on the ground on our bellies so much and humping through the bush all the time.

    They did have a lot of those problems in Iraq. Read David Bellavia’s House to House. True, they were crammed into an IFV instead of fire pits, but they had the same diarrhea in a more confined space.

  55. Don Says:

    The other is that there has been some controversy over SLA Marshall’s research, which Grossman uses as a jumping-off point. Having said that, there are a number of things in Grossman that I do find myself in agreement with.

    I have quite a few issues with Grossman.

    For example, he uses the multiple-loaded rifles of the American Civil War as an example to support his thesis. Yet the more likely cause was simple fear, not a reluctance to kill.

    He points out that most killing occurs on a flanked or fleeing enemy; he claims this is because the fleeing enemy isn’t perceived as human. I think that it is simply the fact that it is easy to kill someone who is not effectively resisting.

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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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