Friday, March 1, 2013

Care to name a soldier?

I had a fun experience the other day when I asked a through and through civilian friend to name any soldier besides myself that he knew of.  Apparently, ahead of Petraeus and McChrystal or SSG Romesha lies a Private by the name of Manning.  Sigh...

Honestly, Manning is one of the more infuriating things to come out of the War on Terror.  A martyr against the machine, who wasn't one.  An enemy of the state who is isn't one.  A 'hero' who got coffee for probably asshole intel officers in Iraq, got bored and fucked up big time.  It goes well with a war that will 'soon end' but never actually end.  An Army that was already integrated but now is even 'more so.'  And a society that has never been safer, but also never been more afraid.

Please let me know when I've worn out this diatribe, but it just really irritates me to death when we as a nation have a discussion about the military without mentioning that yes, we are still at war.  And no, supporting Bradley Manning doesn't help end the war or do anything of any value except keep an idiot kid out of jail for the rest of his life.

I'm confident that Manning will get the book thrown at him, but within eight years he'll be pardoned.  I'm sure that shortly, the military will start churning out stories about green initiatives that are actually restoring the environment in war torn areas.  Something to keep liberals happy while the war continues.  Just think!  If we invade Syria, we can actually reduce green house gasses!!!

There's hell to pay for this sort of behavior.  And the cost isn't being distributed at all.  The question for me in these sorts of areas is and always has been how long can this last?  And when the music stops, how do I get a chair?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. In a sense, it doesn't end; the clear result now is a lot more state power and a metric sh*tload more executive power. It's going to be normal that the government has vast surveillance powers and that the judiciary will be more deferential (except, as we see, when the right doesn't like what the government is doing).

  3. PFK

    Conducting military operations is not necessarily "being at war".

  4. PFK,
    Always glad to read your posts.

    I have to agree with Aviator. "Military Operations" don't equate with war. Sure The prols on the ground are at war but for the nation it's not the same thing. For the cannon fodder leaving their guts and lives on the line it is war. But for those who are not sacrificing anything it is not, This is a sad situation. How do we fix it?


  5. And one more thing. Who cares if you know a soldier? Some of us ranted against invading Iraq but we were shouted down as being unpatriotic. So now ten years later we are being excoriated for not sucking up and knowing the soldiers?

    By the way I have known one old friend who died in Afghanistan ( In Wardak province, I wrote his obituary) and my nephew is going into the army reserves. At least the nephew is realizing he was being played like a harp. Too late for the other guy.


  6. James, Aviator,

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding your opinions, but that you can make this claim indicates how far we've changed. There's still 60,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and in the next year there will still be 30,000. We're at war. Just because they're talking about the 'end of the war' doesn't mean its happening now or will happen. One only needs to look at 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, etc, etc.

    "Military Operations" is what we're doing in Yemen, Nigeria, Libya, Mali, Uganda, the Phillipines, Iraq, Pakistan, probably all the other -istans, and another dozen places I'm sure.

    The government of the US is at war still in Afghanistan. The President is still keeping Prisoners of War, we are still conducting offensive operations, we are still heavily invested in defending the government of Afghanistan. Just because America is at the mall, does not detract from the war making that we are doing.

    BTW, excoriated is not even close to the reality of my comments. I'm bemoaning, if anything :).


    I think the time for that is past. I don't know if there's enough rope to go around.


  7. PFK

    What's the difference between what we (or rather you, the armed forces) are doing between Afghanistan and the other places you mentioned? Some are operations and others are war.

    Just recently Karzai has ordered USA SF forces out of Wardack. We may or may not comply. From what I hear that province has a large population of Hazara. Not really Karzai's people. Who are we at war with?

    The Taliban sure, But they are Pashtuns as is Karzai. The hazara are not. Pakistan is supporting elements of the Taliban as long as they fight us in Afghanistan but supposedly they, the Pakistanis are our allies. If you can sort it out and explain it to me I'd be much obliged.

    For me being an expat US civilian I have no idea who we are at war with. Pakistan to me seems like a tar baby. And why we are fighting a land war in Asia is beyond me. I am open to enlightenment from any corner.

    As always, I appreciate your posts PFK.

  8. PFK

    My comment was simply to address the ambiguity and tortuous logic of the mess we have created.

    No "war" has been declared. Domestically, other than the waste of financial treasure, only those in uniform and their families are suffering the human toll. It's our grandkids who will pay the credit card bill.

    Who is at "war"? Not the American people, just a bit less than 1% of the population. We have created a category where military operations are effectively a "policy" being at "war" with the Taliban in Afghanistan. It has been very carefully crafted so that it is not our "national will", but a policy will against the human beings we are attacking. It's a true goat f**k.

  9. PFK,
    As for war.
    B Manning just recently entered a plea of not guilty of aiding the enemy.
    Who is the enemy? We can't define who they are AND MORE IMPORTANTLY we have NEVER fought a battle or major engagement with a entity called AQ.
    NEVER. If we have pls correct my ignorance.
    So how did Manning aid the enemy.
    Did secret prisons and torture aid the enemy?

    Lately i've been thinking of BM and Rusty Calley.
    Calley didn't spend time in prison and was free during pre trial and he killed 125 people. Or he ordered 125 killed.
    So little BM was in isolation for 9 months. Maybe he should of killed a bunch of people and the gotten a prez pardon.
    The interesting part of BM's wiki stuff was Kerry's sidling up to Syria , and now he's doing the exact opposite. The hypocrisy is palpable. Where have the Winter Soldiers gone?
    We are just confused little puppies.
    I'm disappointed that your friend didn't know a anti- military ranger's name.

  10. PFK: Take a look at your history books; you'll see that this sort of thing is waaayyyy more common than you'd think.

    Our...I guess "misfortune" is what I'd call that we live in the shadow of that ginormous one-off we call "World War Two". That, and the American Civil War (with the U.S. involvement in WW1 being third in line) are huge exceptions to the typical "involvement" of the U.S. public in fighting.

    The typical "war" the U.S. has fought - and this included a hell of a lot of the Revolution, I would add - has involved very little or at best modest involvement from Joe and Molly Civilian. Even in WW1 there was a hell of a lot of indifference; the Wilson Administration deliberately worked hard at whipping up the hate-the-Hun spirit because of their worries that the American public wouldn't give a shit.

    Same-same for the Europeans during most of the 19th and 20th Centuries; so long as it was just the Regulars out wog-bashing, who gave a shit? Same-old, same-old. Good sport to read the stories in the Sunday Times about our heroic nameless soldiers mowing down hordes of fuzzy-wuzzies, eh, what?

    I know this chaps you ass because you have skin in this game, but this is the way the world often wags; soldiers fight and die and their civilians don't give a shit.

    The only thing I see different, and toxic, about this one is the endlessly ephemeral nature of the conflict. There's no VJ-Day to this one; no way to declare victory and quit. And given the delightful way that war gives power to the executive, why should that executive want it any differently?

    Xin loi, GI, as the veterans of another idiotic bit of overseas clusterfuckery would have told you.

  11. Here's a slightly fuller version of my comment above:

    Sorry. But that's how I see it.

  12. PFK,

    The reason I appreciate your posts so much is that you post your statements here and more times than not get "gang tackled" but keep coming back for more. Don't stop. These guys here seem to be "old codgers" that have been there done that. I'm forty five but feel a bit young around here myself. I reckon you are a bit younger.

    Also I have never been in the military so feel a bit limited on the responses I can make. However the people here are fairly welcoming. I think the I've only po'd RAW Jim once or twice and maybe Seydlitz.

    Keep posting your thoughts as it is ALWAYS healthy to have divergent points of view to be chewed upon. Regarding civilians vis-a-vis vets I don't believe there is much I can say. A hearty thank you can be construed the wrong way. A statement against the PWOT (thanks Jim) can also be construed the wrong way by those who are engaged in it. A healthy dialogue seems the best way to go.


  13. PFK,

    Maybe this is the crux of your post.

    There's hell to pay for this sort of behavior. And the cost isn't being distributed at all. The question for me in these sorts of areas is and always has been how long can this last? And when the music stops, how do I get a chair?

    What's the Hell to pay? And what do you mean by how do you get a chair at the table? A job, respect and a peaceful life? The answers to these questions are beyond my purview but maybe the "old codgers" could give cogent answers.


  14. James: We're not trying to beat down PFK, exactly. But there are reasons that the old sweats tell the replacements "Mister Landmine is NOT your friend and will not welcome you into his yard"; because, well, he isn't and won't.

    There's a "healthy dialogue" - yes, that's good. But there's also the sort of dialogue that's like one of those recipes for grizzly bear canapé that begins "After procuring one grizzly..." It's the fundamental premise that makes the argument hard to navigate, much less win.

    PF wants to start by getting the U.S. public to do something that it has done only at very rare, very unique times in its history; be very, very concerned about the conditions under which its government is employing its small, intentionally isolated professional army and what happens to the people in that army.

    That's not impossible, that's not undesirable, but that is highly unusual in both U.S. history and pretty much every other polity where imperial/colonial/overseas adventures have combined with a small volunteer professional military to isolate the populace from the soldiers. So what most of us are trying - at least, what I'm trying - to say here is that his fundamental premise; that what's happening here is fucked-up, that the U.S. will pay socially and politically in the long run, and this is unfair to the soldiers the public has "chosen" to carry out these policies has, instead, been the default setting for most of U.S. and the other Great Powers.

    And that this isn't something that represents a simple, easy, cosmetic fix. Instead it's more of the evidence of the massive shift in U.S. society that has taken place between 1972 and 2001; from the old model of "Rosie the Riveter" and G.I. Joe, from the WW2 paradigm of popular interest in foreign wars and concern for those who fought them back to the earlier model of general public indifference to those "little wars" and unconcern for the largely-unknown and faceless cadre of professionals who fought them.

    While that sucks, it answers his question "how do I get a chair"? And the answer you get is; you don't. Chairs are for closers, for the people who matter in a society, and the common soldier - the "real" soldier, the troublesome, idiosyncratic, obstreperous individual as opposed to the cartoon "We Support Our Troops" soldier - doesn't "matter". As a real person, a person who needs and wants things, who asks inconvenient questions and presents troubling answers, he's a nuisance.

    And nuisances get the door, not the chair.

  15. James,
    There's a reason that we got to be old codgers.
    I think the best thing about the pub is that we all try to be polite and respect opposing viewpoints.
    Even when sober.
    As for PFK i have never done anything but be positively encouraging to his written viewpoints.
    Someday he'll grow up to be an old codger.
    Next week i'll be 67.

  16. Chief, RAW,

    I get your points, respect them and generally agree but when PFK states there may be hell to pay and wants a chair at the table that is important to hear. I remember Carl the 11b and MSR roadkill. These guys had fundamentally different viewpoints and when posted cogently made for a lively discussion.

    Its time for PFK to make his counter point and prove his bones.

    JIm, Me post drunk? Well maybe a few times...


  17. James: Well, I suppose the value of that sort of thing depends on your outlook on how Life in General works.

    My thought on this is that I disagree with several of PF's fundamental points. First, that there "may be hell to pay". Looking back we can see that the elites in the U.S. and most of the other Great Powers suffered little or nothing from the indifference to the plight of their "Light Brigades". The only two political upheavals that I can think of that can be traced directly back to the soldier dissatisfaction are the German freikorps of the Weimar period and the early Russian revolutions of 1916-7. Neither were democracies and in neither case were the soldiers fighting foreign expeditions. In the U.S. there has been little larger downside for the public not to care about their professional soldiers during a time of other-than-major-war.

    There's hell to pay for the SOLDIERS, of course. But we know that; if PF is trying to make that point, around here, he's preaching to the old drunks leaning on the bar down at the VFW; here, sonny, let me buy you a round and tell you about how we got fucked in the BIG war...

    We know that there's hell to pay when you go out and fight a war that nobody else gives a flying fuck about. We know that you end up coming home and want to shake the fat civilians by the neck. While it may make you feel better to SAY it, it's not exactly news unless you have a way to make it effective, to change things, to make the stuff you want to happen happen. PF's original post seems to suggest that this can just "happen", and my responses (and Al's, and jim's) are trying to explain to him that that minefield ain't gonna be that easy to clear.

    And that was my problem with ol' Carl and MSR back at Intel Dump; the fundamental problem with their arguments was that they started from the basic premise that "We can DO this, we just have to figure out how to do it right." They assumed that the hard part was getting the details right.

    And my reply was then and is to PF now, no, this isn't a discussion even worth having unless you start from the point that what you're proposing is fundamentally damn deadly difficult and out of the line of normal historical conditions; you're saying, in effect, that "If I flap my arms REAL hard I can fly, so we need to figure out how hard to flap." and I'm saying "You CAN'T ever flap hard enough."

    Now if PF can come back with an update that explains how we change the attitude of Joe and Mary Lunchpail and Connie Congresswoman and Sammy Senator to make the welfare of individual troopers and the making of sound foreign policy more important than lowering taxes on rich people, getting soundbites on the news to get elected, and fattening contractor's and lobbyists' client's and contributor's wallets, then we've got a genuinely lively discussion.

    Otherwise we're just sitting here complaining that life suuuuuucks.

  18. And let me add this to the discussion:

    While on a personal scale it suuuuuucks to be a forgotten soldier in a forgotten war, what really suuuuucks for our nation as a republic is that the idiotic capricoles in these guys were put in the position to get screwed (and the one in Iraq in particular) were the result of a combination of toxic "leadership", outright lies, press malfeasance, and petty ambition.

    The acts that led to them are and should be considered at the very least grievous public faults and were, in many cases, crimes against international tribunal law (why the issue of prosecuting President Bush and his coterie for the Nuremburg tribunal charge of "crimes against peace" has never been seriously contemplated is beyond me; as of now we as a nation cannot pretend that Nuremburg was anything but blatant "victor's justice").

    Instead there is absolutely no sign that the U.S. as a nation or the U.S. public either as a significant number of individuals or as a body has any inclination to even examine the massive failure of public policy that has placed these soldiers in their neglected harm's way.

    So...while I feel for PFK - he is just now realizing that his nation has thrown away years of his young life, years that were wasted on foolish notions and mistaken premises - I feel more strongly that his predicament is not nearly as dire as the very nation which he served. And not BECAUSE of his predicament, but, rather, because that nation preferred to "Support The Troops" in their inane bumper-sticker way to examining the reasons those troops needed to be "supported"...

  19. PFK

    It all boils down to those four words in the Oath of Enlistment and an officer's commission:

    Obey the lawful orders....

    Nothing is mentioned in an oath of office or officer's commission, no less the law, about a requirement for "enlightened orders" or "considerate orders". Just obedience to "lawful" ones.

    Nothing in the Constitution requiring "enlightened decisions" or "optimal decisions", just who gets to make decisions.

    Andy Bacevich so correctly observed that for Americans, "War is a spectator sport". And I would add that the "inconveniences" of our style of war are miniscule due to a penchant for only playing "away games". No crowds, traffic jams or parking problems on our local turf. And since it's 24/7, you can watch it at your leisure. No disruption to your schedule at all.

  20. Chief,

    That's just brutal, a brutal synopsis. Wasn't there a time shortly after WWI when the soldiers went on some sort of strike for benefits and were suppressed? Arm them up with some AKs, etc... and there WOULD be hell to pay.


  21. And I guess my final comment on being at war is that since the time I was aware we have always been at "war." First the scary guerilla war in Vietnam (which I thought was a war against gorillas.) Then Lebanon, Libya, Grenada, Panama in the eighties. To Iraq, Somalia, Kosovo in the nineties, etc... all the way to now. I am actually glad that I did not join up.


  22. To all,
    I recently got a paper from the DVA and on it was a section that said which war i served in. The answer was listed as 7. Yep, it didn't say VN or any of that stuff. My participation wasn't even dignified with a name. They just slapped the number 7 in the appropriate box.
    When i served i never thought that i'd be a 7.
    I am really offended by such a designation. It's all part of a death by a thousand cuts. Welcome to the monkey house.
    Yeah i get paid with money , but where is the respect?
    The problem with hell to pay is that where does one start?

  23. James,
    why don't you list Columbia, Nicaragua, El Salvador,
    Angola,and a host of others?
    For giggles go to Whites book on the MOH and you'll be surprised at the places in which MOH's were awarded.
    For example - there was an Army MOH in Korea.
    The year was 1871.
    I think that we were playing nice with the Germans and Japs at that time. This was before we didn't play nice with them.
    Another example was the Boxer rebellion in which we allied with the above listed Armies. These folks beheaded Boxers and left the heads and bodies as proof that rebels were not gonna get any thing except the blade.
    We sure have come a long way since then.
    ps- i do go on.

  24. RAW,

    I was just naming the ones that came off the top of my head. I only go back to the early nineteen seventies on personal memories! (I DID think of Central America after I posted, but I think the point was made!) If any of you here (and I know there are a few) that did serve in Central and South America and thought it a war I apologize. I guess I got to throw the war on Drugs in as well!


    Ps. Jim can you post wars one to six you had to choose from and how high does the list go? Twenty?

  25. James,
    That's my point on the number 7. They sent me a survey and the war block said 7.
    I didn't fill it in.
    Your question is the same as mine-what are the numbers representing?
    It's like the John Lennon song "number 9"
    You can just call me number 7.
    As for making your point with the examples noted- yes you made your point.
    I just wanted to point out all the places that we have applied the big stick.(and then rapidly forgot.)
    Please don't apologize-just buy the next round.

  26. RAW, If as I think you live in Colorado or the west I would be more than willing to buy you a beer if I ever get there. I reckon I could learn something. Maybe the most important being dodging your (hopefully verbal) bullets AFTER I tick you off!


    On a last note I have thought of another soldier I knew. He being a guy on checkpoint Charlie in the eighties. He came through well. Got college paid and well adjusted to society. So all is not bleak. Some, or many, make it through unscathed.

  27. Anon,
    It was rough out on check point charlie with never knowing when you were gonna get a dose of the clap.
    Just funnin'.
    No not all is bleak. Most of us here have great retirements and benefits, BUT i NEVER FORGET the guys that weren't so lucky.As they say here in the south=we were blessed.
    There's not a day goes by that i don't think of something that i did wrong or regret while i wore the uniform.
    We live in N. Fl.and quite openly.