Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Haditha in Context

Major Mike

In an earlier post, entitled "Blogoshere Blues", I was trying to rally the blogoshpere troops. I sensed a deflation on the Right. A by-product, I suspect, of the Niagara Falls stream of negativisms from the left leaning MSM, some Republican ineptitude, and some howling at the moon, or better…some screaming into the great abyss of the blogosphere by writers, their passions unheard, their ideas unread.

I was rightfully castigated by Boghie, the pyramid addicted, research and economics god, who blogs at Boghie on Your Six. He sensed I was wrong, and I think he was right. It was I who was exhausted in my efforts.

I was worn down and consumed emotionally with the news of the successful completion of my efforts to adopt my beautiful, and often clever, fourteen year old daughter. I have been plagued at work by a conundrum of problems in troubleshooting a critical furnace (still only marginally successful), by a combination of factors that relegate the phrase “gremlins” to mean a friendly, social sphere of cooperative energies. And finally, there was Haditha.

I was done. I couldn’t type. It is an immensely complex issue that I didn’t have the energy to attack. So I didn’t. For the first time since I was first published in Proceedings magazine in 1991, I backed away from the fight, and what is worse, is that I failed to do it when my fellow Marines are entitled to my support.

I was disheartened by the initial, hysterical reports. I was disgusted by the judge and jury act of Rep. Murtha. I am also disgusted by the leaks coming out of the NIS in SoCal. I am fearful that the Army leadership in Iraq understands little about counter-insurgent warfare and its inherent difficulties and stresses. And I am in anguish by the thought that these charges may be true, and that the leadership elements in the Corps may be failing their Marines, and more importantly, that some elements of the Marine Chain of Command, may be derelict in their duties, and failing our country.

It was too much to tackle. But I became haunted by the idea that Marines world-wide would be smeared to a great extent, if some call for calm, reason, and possibly mitigating factors, were not brought out.

So here I am…three weeks removed from my last serious contribution, and 2/3 into my second gin and tonic, and getting into what is likely to be a cathartic piece that may go on for some time…turn back now.

The Global War on Terror is Real

Kudos to Mr. Atos for turning me on to Ayn Rand, and one of her basic premises, that if you cannot accept a certain baseline, you are not entitled to be part of the discussion.

So, if you believe that the GWOT is a farce, turn back. Second warning. There will be no more.

What do you call (in random order)… Munich Olympics 1972; the USS Cole; the World Trade Center attacks I & II; Madrid; London; Pan Am flight 103; US Embassy in Beirut I & II; Marine Barracks Beirut;; Entebbe, Uganda; Achillo Laura; US Embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania; et. al? Better yet…look at the link. Is the pace slowing or quickening?

So here are the facts…there are a small group, a super-minority, of sociopathic killers who want to dominate the political, social, and cultural aspects of YOUR life, through force, and they will kill you, and your family, regardless of your innocence in these matters, to achieve their goals.

You are cattle to be slaughtered for their purposes, and they will kill you and your family, without flinching. They will do this in order to demonstrate to your weaker, self-preservationist neighbors that they are serious. And your weak-willed neighbors, hoping to preserve only the physical aspects of their lives, will not lift a finger to protect you from these invaders. They will succumb to their terror to protect what is immediately in front of them…the next ten minutes of their lives, the hope that their innocent family will be spared, and the hope that someday this will all miraculously end. To pretend this is not so, shows a naiveté that no longer includes you in the rational discussion.

These people mean to destroy us, and our culture. Do not fool yourselves into believing this is a red-blue issue. How many attacks occurred during the lax and benevolent Presidency of WJC?

The GWOT is real. It is a real war; and fighting it requires force…not Congressional posturing, nor UN resolutions. It requires direct and violent action to defeat. This war is being fought in Iraq, by volunteers, in up-aromoured Hummers, armed to the teeth. I think you'll find this preferrable to bankers, lawyers, brokers, and other civilians going about their business at work in NYC, and trying to fight off hijacked airliners.

And, like all wars, it will have its ugly episodes.

Fighting Insurgent Conflicts

From the roots of the Western intrusion onto this continent, winning all manner of insurgent uprisings, has always been about dominating your enemy.

Our eventual domination of the continental US was won through complete domination of the divided and weaker, native forces. These forces were eventually defeated by a combination of the weight of our population and the brutality of our military effort. Sorry, fact.

Our technological advantages of the day sealed the fate of the native inhabitants. The bows and arrows of the natives, were never going to be a match for our Colts, Winchesters and Gatling guns. It was inevitable.

But it was not immediate. By all standards, the American Indian wars are recognized to have begun in earnest after the Civil War in 1865, and they continued until the eventual surrender of the Sioux in 1891.

Twenty-five years we fought an insurgent enemy. We fought them with a variety of the tools at our disposal. Weaponry. Tactics. Negotiation. Betrayal. Oppression. Domination. Fear. And likely, unspeakable brutality.

Eventually, through a combination of the above, and after 25 YEARS of DETERMINATION, right or wrong (by today’s revisionist standards), we completed our conquest of the native inhabitants. Twenty-five years.

This is the nature of fighting the insurgent combatants. The eventual winners of the Vietnam War fought for thirty years…we quit after fourteen.

Will wins these wars, not politicking. Timelines and hollow votes of support don’t win these wars. Biased press coverage doesn’t help win these wars. The party with the most will to dominate its opponent, wins these wars. Half measures and timidity are rewarded with brutal consequences and defeat. Gentlemanly behavior is rewarded with torture, beheadings, roadside bombs and other asymmetrical forms of attack…none of which are covered in the Geneva Convention.

If you don’t bring your will…bring your white flag…you WILL be defeated.

These Wars Bring Out The Worst of Humanity

Raids on homesteaders have been replaced with the indiscriminate killings of roadside bombs…the kidnapping and beheadings of policemen...hiding amongst the indigenous population while conducting attacks…and angular attacks on the opponent’s effort via their own, biased press. And a myriad of other tactics designed to erode the will of civilized men, and indeed civilizations.

Eventually, the brutality of the enemy will be matched by even the most civilized of armies. This equilibrium of effort must be achieved or the indigenous population will acquiesce to the more brutal element out of a sense of self-preservation. The local elements will be compelled to side with who they view as the eventual winner, in order to preserve any semblance of a physical future. As they view the eroding will of either side, they will shift to the more powerful…their longevity of their lives depend on it. All esoteric goals evaporate to this reality.

To those who have not enjoyed the glories of freedom and democracy, sacrificing one’s life on the glimmer of a promise, seems too high a price. So, the brutal win.

There is No Winning The Hearts and Minds of Islamofascist Insurgents

The new Army commander in Iraq is purported to be a “hearts and minds” guy. The type of person who believes, to win this war, that the hearts and minds of the indigenous population must be won. He is right in one regard…the indigenous populations must be treated with deference and respect, and that the “collateral damage" must be kept to an absolute minimum.

But he is wrong to believe that the hearts and minds of men, who behead other men by the dozens, will be won over with a few nominal Comm Rel programs. The hearts and minds of these murderers will be dominated only by the impact of a 5.56mm round. Period.

Everyday, a combination of our “hearts and minds” campaign is taking place all over Iraq. It is simply not reported, and the consequential effect, is a slanted view of our successes being overwhelmed by our setbacks, when the opposite is true. Is it any wonder that the population of Iraq is confused about which side to toss in with…they only see one side winning…the brutal side…the beheading side…the side with the roadside bombs?

Any wonder they don’t hold out for the hope of a better future, when our successes are not widely reported, but that our setbacks are??? Any wonder at all?

The US Is Not Immune From Committing Atrocities

Those who fight these wars are always marked by their brutality. Our nation was left deeply scarred by Vietnam. Not because Johnson lied to the public, or Nixon bombed the North, but because those who fought, fought a brutal enemy; and those that watched and critiqued, had little understanding of the nature of their experience.

It is this chasm that wounded this nation perilously. It was this defeat-enhancing combination of factors that left a generation of warriors forever in limbo in regards to its place in our history.

We are on the precipice of being there again. There is no excuse for committing atrocities in war, but it is inexcusable for a nation, via a biased media and a few chucklehead Congressmen to isolate and condemn the totality of its warriors for the isolated acts of a few.

Additionally, these men, regardless of the heinous nature of the charges, are entitled to a bias-free presentation of the facts, and an uninfluenced trial by Courts Martial. What is going on in the press and in Congress is a lynching. It is a disgraceful, abandonment of our founding principles, and it is beneath contempt.

But, keep in mind, brutal excursions outside our conventions of war, under the circumstances, are to be expected. And they are to be dealt with.

They should not be fodder for sensational exaggeration and exploitation. They should be properly dealt with, and focus should be concentrated on avoiding repetition, not on punishment and sensationalism.

Caution to the Chain of Command

The integrity of the Marine Corps Chain of Command is being put to the test. They have two essential tasks to perform in order to preserve the Marine Corps’ fighting espirit. They must both aggressively pursue these charges, and root out the truth. AND they MUST NOT influence the process.

Failing to do the former will destroy the Marine Corps as an American institution.

Failing to do the latter will destroy the Marine Corps as a fighting force, as our Marines will not be willing to sacrifice themselves for self-serving sycophants intent on promotion.

The Marine Corps cannot fix this problem with jargonistic slogans and meaningless follow-on training. They must truly determine whether this is an isolated case, or whether they are on the precipice of a paradigm shift within the collective persona of its forces. The usual shellacking of the issue with a fresh coat of white paint won’t suffice. I lived through the post-Vietnam malaise, and helped rectify it. I will not sit idly by if the Chain of Command fails to ensure that their Marines are properly trained, supervised, and more importantly, led.

Combat is a grind. It grinds down your stamina. It grinds down on your training. It grinds down on your will. It grinds down on your discipline. It is up to the leadership elements of the Corps to fulfill their obligation to the Marines they put in the field everyday…lead them they way they were meant to be lead. Get your officers into the field on these missions…lead your Marines…they deserve it.

Look for the truth; you’ll be respected for it. Look for scapegoats; you will be reviled for it.

I am too tired to link all that needs to be linked here. You don’t like it? Call me on it…I’ll find it in spades.


ma_che62 said...

Dear My Sandmen,
Don't you see the effect of what you are doing? Tone down your rhetoric and sentimentality regarding the integrity of the Marine Corps.

The press has tried and convicted these Marines. The President is saying nothing to defend these men who were in Iraq defending us. All of this piling on is having the effect of damaging severely the morale of our troops and will do irreparable damage to our ability to recruit an all volunteer military. The left has figured out how to defeat a military that is not based on the kill it's ability to recruit.

Our guys are being maintained in a brig at Pendelton in manacles and chains. A Mafia hit-man receives better treatment.

There is one and only one story here so far, i.e., something happened at Haditha and that something is being investigated. Until those results are made public, every one needs to shut-up and support the boys doing the dirty and dangerous work. And remember another thing: IF they are charged and if they are then convicted (presuming they can get a fair trial in this insane news environment) that means that there were 8 bad apples...many fewer than there have ever been in any other war that anyone has ever fought. In other words, it means nothing. Your zero tolerance and perfectionistic standard will create an environment where NO ONE will feel the desire to enlist and serve.

Oh, and you ought to read this:
You've got a great blog and I read it every day.

ma_che62 said...

Dear My Sandmen Part 2,

Read this one too...there is something very fishy about this story. This is why everyone needs to hold their fire.

ma_che62 said...

Dear My Sandmen Part 3:

Anonymous said...

The great American Con of the Press: they fake being objective, so you will believe their disguised editorial lies. It's not just that they don't report the good news from Iraq, they fail in their job to present a comprehensive, well-analyzed and thought-out vision for why success in Iraq is so critical to the security of America and the world at large.

Welcome to the only thing sleazier than overbilling lawyers, overprescribing doctors shilling for pharamaceutical companies, greedy coporate executives, and used car salesmen: the American Journalist. Flawed and crooked and self-centered as the rest of us, but riding around on a high horse, pointing out everyone else's sins, but ignoring their own. This is the last great industry-wide scandal left uncovered in America. Because of course, they'd have to cover it themselves. And none of them have the bravery to take their own inventory, to list their own pathologically self-centered faults. They'd rather just go after yours. mine and those who disagree with them politically.

The morale of the International Jihad Movement is almost entirely dependent on the posture of the American media. Their strategies, indeed, are primarily determined by it as well....The journalists I've met here have, to a man, all been Democrats, and all have railed against the Bush administration and have, with much hope in their eyes, predicted failure for America in Iraq.

Mr.Atos said...


While I do not disagree with what you say, regarding the narrative of Haditha, I must defend Mike's preliminary analysis of the situation as he sees it. His perspective is infinitely valid in this regard.

The rest of us, are indeed reserving commentary until the currently innocent are proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, otherwise.

War in general is an atrocity. It is a failure of human dignity and respect in every manner. So, any activity associated with it is no more or less atrocious, imo. What we can subject to moral evaluation is the goal of the intent, its proximity to success, and the net balance of projected horror.

Everything else is folly.

dueler88 said...

How much of the monster within are we willing to tolerate?

ma_che62, you would seem to support the notion that our armed men and women become Berzerkers.

I once had a long conversation with friend of mine who was in air force special ops in Vietnam. One of the things he said that stuck with me regarded the internal manifestations of the combat mindset. In spite all of the enemy he dispatched in very personal and violent methods, he did his job patriotically and maintained his humanity. There were those around him, however, that began to actively seek to kill the enemy, just for the sake of killing. That, he said, was the ultimate turning point - when the Monster Within overtakes the Man.

That being said . . . once the fight has begun, it is incumbent upon the Moral Combatant (if there is such a thing) to end the fight as quickly as possible - by destroying the enemy's capacity to do harm, and NOT by hurting the enemy for the sake of inflicting pain.

We must always internally balance the Warrior with the Scholar. But one must never overtake the other. The Left has abandoned the Warrior and has transformed the Scholar in to a toothless Poet. Those of us who have maintained the balance must somehow be ruthless enough to destroy the enemy yet human enough to never let go of the Scholar.

And THAT being said, perhaps the real-time technology used by the self-appointed "watchdogs" in the modern media has rendered any armed conflict we engage in unwinnable. Any death at the hands of their protectors is unacceptable, but the death OF their protectors is necessary.

ma_che62 said...

Wow! Guys, I've reread my post and I don't understand the confusion. I can't find where I am advocating "berserking." In fact, I said the opposite. I did state that: "Your zero tolerance and perfectionistic standard will create an environment where NO ONE will feel the desire to enlist and serve."

Awkward wording I admit. Zero tolerance and perfectionism in this context means that "we will punish even the APPEARANCE of cruel and ruthless behavior." The same kind of zero tolerance is afoot in our cities with respect to dealing with local police behavior. And that is why nearly ALL American cities' police departments are going begging for more new cops. It's plain human nature. If you make my job too difficult for me to execute because of unrealistic ROEs (we do need ROEs) you've imposed on me, I'll say "no thanks...get someone else to do your dirty work." It's gone too far.

And all of this talk of warrior and, it's not that complex. My point was and is:

1) we must support our fighting men with everything we have because they are making horrific sacrifices for us in perhaps the noblest thing the U.S. has ever tried to do;
2) we don't know what happened in Haditha;
3) we should shut-up until we do know what happened;
4) until we do know what happened, our Marines get the benefit of the doubt, i.e., they are innocent until they are proven guilty;
5) the investigation must proceed.

I WANT it to proceed because my sixth sense tells me that this is another Iraqi-Driveby-Media set-up. But I could be wrong...and we will find out if I am.

"War in general is an atrocity. It is a failure of human dignity..."

Huh? You mean that if I rape your daughter and in the process of strangling her you break my head with a baseball bat...that you've failed your human dignity? That's...well...odd. I would suggest that if you do not use everything in your power to kill me during my vile act that you've failed as a human...a Christian...a Jew...and that your sense of dignity is warped. I'm not attacking you personally. I'm disputing your sense of humanity and what dignity is all about.

Oh, another point I tried to make. The Wolf Blitzers and Chris Matthews and John Murthas ("ex"-Marine) of the country are vile because they are doing for the enemy what the enemy cannot do for himself. They are undermining our will to win this war...a war I hope we agree, that we need to win. I think My Sandmen made that point.

In closing - IF the Marines are charged and IF they then are convicted, I recall the words of Bruce Beresford, from Breaker Morant: "The fact of the matter is that war changes men’s natures. The barbarities of war are seldom committed by abnormal men. The tragedy of war is that these horrors are committed by normal men in abnormal situations. Situations in which the ebb and flow of everyday life have departed, and have been replaced by a constant round of fear and anger, blood and death. Soldiers at war are not to be judged by civilian rule, as the prosecution is attempting to do. Even though they committed acts which calmly viewed afterwards could only be seen as unchristian and brutal. And if men who committed reprisals were to be charged and tried as murderers, court-martials like this one would be in permanent session. Would they not? I say that we cannot hope to judge such madness unless we ourselves have been submitted to the same pressures, the same provocations as these men whose actions are on trial."

They get the benefit of my doubt. I can't sleep any other way.

Boghie said...

Major Mike,

This thing is a grind – there, here, and everywhere.

Here is what pisses me off enough to absolutely no end. When we had to make the decision to go into Iraq we had ‘full’ commitment in Congress, the media, and the electorate. We now know what ‘full’ commitment is to the Left Wing of our polity. It is Kerry voting for the 80 Billion before he voted against it. It is Mawkish Murtha voting to initiate combat - then a year later telling the world it is all someone else’s fault and we have to run away. It’s the media running amok with Abu Graib and Hidatha while finding the demise of barbaric Terror Turds to be unworthy of comment.

But, is it an American public turning its back?
Moving from an Oooraahhhh of 80% to an uuuggggghhhhh of 40%.

I think not. We are in a grind. To me, the American public is more like a lineman in the mud of a close football game than some flighty receiver bitching that he is not getting the ball enough. Why? Can you not feel the hunker. Let the LOPS (Low Output People) scream and rant – we will get the job done. Feel the ground shake as Americans dig in to get lower than the enemy on the other side. One line push at time. Deal with the media. Deal with the Lefties. Deal with the Eurotrash. Just one shove at a time.

I feel it. It is more lasting than an oooorrraaaaahhh.

And, it is very dangerous to those wide-outs throwing tantrums on the sidelines. Their season and their careers may end in a few months, but even now they are not sensing their own demise. Today, the day al-Zarqawi became a footnote; our ignorant and spoiled receiver took a punch at the coach. Bad news, no news, we lose. Guess what superstar, this is a ground game. We don’t need you. We don’t trust you. You do not matter.

Here is the world as I see it.

Over there, we fight barbarism. Others have fought the battle in years past. It is now our turn. This will be ugly at times – as your post emphasizes. But, it is necessary. It will not finish in a draw. There will be a winner. There will be a loser

Over here, we send our honor, our resources, and our blood to the very depths of hell. We knew it. We know it. We have to accept it. In this thing we have to win – or we will lose. There are no options.

In the end, we have to win.

Boghie said...

And, geeze Major Mike...

You don't have to make my hidden infliction so public...

I'm working on it...
I'm trying...

Major Mike said...

ma_che, I don't think we are far apart at all...nowhere do I advocate a rush to judgement, and I of all of the officers I know would be the last to condemn the Marines who stand accused...until, as I point out...they are given an unbiased and uninfluenced CM...if appropriate. I only was pointing out that this type of warfaremay breed a more brutal and marginal combat environment...I belive this is realistic. And I caution Marine commanders to treat our Marines fairly, and take their oaths of office seriously...CYA is not covered in the oath.

We greatly appreciate your comments, ant the fact that you stop by often. Thanks for your important contribution. need help. Thanks fot the great add. MM

Mr.Atos said...


If you do not understand the entire scenario that you explored, as repugnant as it is in the context of respectful discourse, is a complete human failure, then I can see why you persist with your point. Let me make it simple... Three lives destroyed is infinitely worse than no lives destroyed. Common decency, being the measure of human interaction, any violation of that standard for any reason is a failure, regardless of net balance of projected horror.

ma_che62 said...

Dear Atos,

It seems I'm not smart enough to get your decency thing. Webster defines decency as 1 a : FITNESS b : ORDERLINESS (archaic) 2 a : the quality or state of being decent : PROPRIETY b : conformity to standards of taste, propriety, or quality 3 : standard of propriety -- usually used in plural 4 plural : conditions or services considered essential for a proper standard of living 5 : literary decorum

Perhaps you are using it to mean #3 above. I don't know.

When Bush decided to take out al Qaeda and the Taliban in Aphganistan, in my book he was doing the decent thing...and there was no pondering whether his doing so constituted some kind of "failure" or "fall from decency". Prosecuting al Qaeda in federal absentia...would have been decent? It would have been perhaps more decorus...maybe even in better taste.

"Three lives destroyed is infinitely worse than no lives destroyed." It all depends on whose life is being destroyed and the context of your statement. Sometimes destroying someone's life before he destroys yours...or 10,000 lives of the right thing to do. Is it the decent thing to do? What the hell does decency have to do with it any how? How decent am I...are you? What kind of world do you think we live in? Destroying Hitler's life sometime in the 1930's would have been a pretty neat thing to do. Don't ya think?

Atos my friend, we are like the dogs...pack animals. Except that, unlike dogs, from time to time, super-vile alpha dogs appear and bring misery to millions of other dogs. Decency dictates that we take out such dogs (and I don’t mean 'for a walk') so that the vile alphas doesn't kill little puppies and innocent female dogs.

Review your history and try to find an era in which there was not the need to take out the alpha dog.

"Common decency, being the measure of human interaction, any violation of that standard for any reason is a failure, regardless of net balance of projected horror."

Sounds like moral relativism to me. Who's going to do your dirty work for you if doing so means being condemned to failure...indecency.

Even Christ (wasn't he a decent man?) was not a whimp. He understood that from time to time one must defend himself or his family. Stick with my rape analogy; you'll be better served. Common decency dictates that you whack the guy doing violence to your daughter because your daughter IS decent and because the decent thing to do is to protect her and her decency. Cowardice (a true failure and violation of decency) will keep you from taking the necessary step.

dueler88 said...


thanks very much for the comments. we have MUCH more in common than what we do not. such is the nature of semantics in blogging.

perhaps my approach (and perhaps atos') in our discussion is more philosophical than practical. all of your points are well-taken, and i agree with them.

however, i also think it's important to keep in mind what is lost in the heart of the peaceful man when he is forced to make the evils he detests a part of himself in order to stop the propegation of that evil. not only is it a catch-22, but it is a suspension (and hopefully not abandonment) of humanity at the hands of brute violence.

perhaps a foray in to some Gary Cooper movies - Sgt. York, High Noon, Friendly Persuasion, etc. - or some Shaolin philosophy, will make our point a little more clearly.

when in the moment of battle, it is incumbent upon one to attack the enemy with enough ferocity to permanently eliminate his capacity to do harm. but to use force against another, in any circumstance - even if it is righteous - is still a tragedy.

Mr.Atos said...

Right, Dueler!

I would only add that humans are not dogs, and bear little similarity in the ideal sense. That being said, humans can descend to any level of base behavior they CHOOSE... be it dog,insect, or bacteria. But, understand that humans must make the choice to do so. Humans must choose their behavior. We have no instinct that cannot be over-ridden by choice, therefore choice governs every human behavior. Beast have no such volition and must act according to program and in response ultimately to continued survival. Beast are programmed to survive and do what is necessary. Man chooses to survive and must select every step deliberately to ensure its continuation. That condition provides us with Ethics instead of Instinct. And Morality is nothing more than an individual's personal sketch of the ethical masterfile of how to survive. Yet, the primary rule of human existence (some call it Golden) is to live and let live. A violation of that fundamental tenant is failure. The consequence is forfeiture of one's humanity... with treatment reciprocated accordingly. Its an unfortnate failure, albeit necessary.

ma_che62 said...

First of all - Completments to Mr Sandmen for such a fine blog...and for having such interesting readers and commentators.

Dueler, Atos: Maybe we do agree on most...perhaps almost all...of this matter.

Where we may differ is with respect to what I sense from you guys as a kind of inherent view as to the nobility of man. I harbor no such view, hence my analogy regarding dogs and their pack/alpha behavior. My view is that we are closer to the dogs than we are to the angels and, as you point out, our ability to "choose" is the very thing that gets us into trouble...a kind of trouble that dogs never put themselves in (because they are not encumbered with that capability).

Man, as often as not, makes "choices" that work to his detriment...that undermine his own self-interest. The man who doesn't want to lose his wife and family but chooses to have an extra-marital affair thereby putting at risk his domestic happiness. The actress (what was the bitch's name?) who chose to shop-lift for...for whatever the hell do I know why...notwithstanding that she could have purchased the entire store with a fraction of her net worth. My spoiled upper middle class 15 year old sells his mom's codeine on campus because it's cool even though he knows that if he get's caught, it'll be reflected on his transcript and impare his chances of getting into the college of his choice. It goes without saying that man is capable of great things and at the same time horrific things. More often than not he avoids the great and the horrific and behaves simply out of petty self-interest.

I guess this gets to Atos' point of we humans having no instinct that cannot be overridden by volition. In any case, my decent into the dogdom discussion was meant in a metaphorical sense...that at the end of the day when we are reduced to loin cloths, spears, fire and caves, the law of the pack rules and few waste their time pondering choices. And that is something our enemies in the Islamist world understand much better than we do. While we argue amongst ourselves as to "why do they hate us?" they smile, wait, reproduce, wait, use our own technology to create a few headlines in our own media, wait, manipulate a few of our own useful idiots, wait some more... Their understanding of our base nature and our weaknesses is very keen and useful to them in a nefarious way. They've misunderestimated Mr. Bush...but they've homed-in on the rest of us.

BTW, whoever made the analogy about football and linemen versus receivers hit the nail on the head. This is going to be a long war. And we will win it decisively if we don't lose our nerve. AND THAT IS WHY I REACTED SO STRONGLY TO THE PRESS SHAFTING THE HADITHA MARINES BEFORE THEY HAVE BEEN CHARGED AND CONVICTED...WE ARE SHOWING SIGNS OF LOSING OUR NERVE!!!! :-)

There, now you guys go ahead and have the last word.

ma_che62 said...

I'll take the last word, a must read:

Alan Kellogg said...

What's the real difference between us and the other side? It's not that we don't commit atrocities, it's that we condemn our atrocities when they happen.

Boghie said...

Everybody Should Read: Dachau, 1945

Allan Kellogg,

Being civilized is more than condemning the atrocities we commit. It is the fact that we know the action is an atrocity.

Our enemy is barbaric. They do not accept that an atrocity is an atrocity.


There is a dramatic difference between decency and necessity.

I have never pulled a trigger, dropped a bomb, lobbed a shell, or launched a missile. I do hang around those that have. None that I know ever enjoyed the task made necessary by a kill or be killed conflict. We have all noted that no Marines are taken prisoner in this war.

I think the most gut wrenching part of Major Mike’s commentary is that some of us may have lost our humanity in this inhumane conflict. We are not barbarians. We are not marked by that beast.

This happens in all brutal conflict. We hope, and actually expect, it has yet to happen in our time.

Regardless, our mission is necessary. Our mission is just.

ma_che62 said...

"to use force against another, in any circumstance - even if it is righteous - is still a tragedy"

A flood or a hurricane can be a tragedy, certainly if they leave death in their wake. These things are misfortunes with very sad consequences.

Flying airplanes into skyscrapers and killing 3,000 people is not a tragedy. It's a massacre, an atrocity, mass murder, a crime against humanity. It was not a misfortune. It was a cold blooded and calculated attack. And taking necessary steps to kill those who are planning to massacre you again is not a tragedy. It's certainly a shame that you've been forced to do it...but it's not in any sense a tragedy. If anything it's HEROIC.

There are men of action and men of words. Atos and Boghie have indicated that they fall into the former category. Throughout history men of words have been provided the privilege of being such by those of deeds. They ponder and judge those who do the dirty work from a vantage of safety. Italian pacifists pour into the streets to protest in favor of peace and a country where there is already both. Same thing happens here. And for this they should not be taken seriously. Few of them ever go to the parts of the world that really need their faux courage. "FREE TIBET" It costs nothing to chant such crap. However, this is a digression, sorry.

"I think the most gut wrenching part of Major Mike’s commentary is that some of us may have lost our humanity in this inhumane conflict."

If the Marines of Kilo did commit a Mai Lai (if I hear that again my head is going to explode) then I agree, they did lose their humanity. But "some of us..." My son is a Marine; he has not lost his humanity; neither have his Marine buddies. I've not lost mine. Have you lost yours? I think you have to define what constitutes your humanity. I agree that they have lost their "innocence" and that is sad. I think we are confusing "innocence" and "decorum" with humanity.

"We are not barbarians. We are not marked by that beast."

I give up. I now realize that from the beginning that I probably have no idea what you guys been talking about. If flattening the Taliban or whacking Zarqawi is indecent, I'll take it everyday and all the barbarism that goes with it...I'll take my descent into the monster within...or whatever it is that seems to have scared you. In fact guys, I'm starting to wonder who has lost his humanity here. It's not our boys in Baghdad.

What could be more HUMANE than sacrificing yourself...voluntarily placing yourself in mortal order to protect others? Try to think about it in that way.

Friends, this is "lifeboat time", i.e., those who recognize the historical crossroads at which we now find ourselves are choosing (don't worry, it's metaphor) who they want in that lifeboat with them? Is it Susan Sontag (a little too late for her)? Andrew Sullivan? A Marine from Kilo Company? Personally, I'm not interested in spending a lot of time debating that one. This philistine will take the boys from K Company...and their decency...every time.

Someone in this thread said that "this type of warfare may breed a more brutal and marginal combat environment." I understand what you are saying but I'm not sure I agree. Dropping incendiary bombs on German cities from miles high in order to create firestorms with the intention of slaughtering civilians certainly creates a brutal and marginal kind of environment; it has in effect made civilians combatants...only to be exterminated.

I would guess that up until the 1700's combat was ALWAYS close-in...intimate...personal...brutal...cold steel etc. And civilians were seldom spared the horrors of the ancient wars...there were rapes...atrocities. The Crusades were marked by atrocities against civilians populations. The Muslims have specialized in brutal atrocities for over 1200 years.

No question about it, hiding behind women and children and shooting from mosques, IEDs, and booby-trapping baby strollers are unspeakable. They are intended to encourage over reaction on the part of our men who in the face of these crimes try to adhere to ROEs. Maybe that's what you were trying to say. And our guys nearly always hold back in the face of this.

ma_che62 said...

More analysis pointing to a set-up at Haditha. Prediction: the story implodes. Read.

Anonymous said...

Boghie said...


“I give up. I now realize that from the beginning that I probably have no idea what you guys been talking about. If flattening the Taliban or whacking Zarqawi is indecent”

Straw man argument. Major Mike’s post is much deaper than that as are the comments here. Let me make this clear. I have never had the OPPORTUNITY to pull on a Terror Turd. Damn it!!! I would like nothing more.

You seem to be getting excited that we don't relish the thought of killing on a mass and untargeted scale. We don’t. And, we aren’t. But we know we must fight to win.

The following comes close to how I see Hidatha:
'Pedicaris Alive or Raisuli Dead'

You might want to read Atos:
'Storm Warning'

Den Beste
'Strategic Overview'

Bill Whittle:

And, actually, you might want to peruse the ‘My Favorites’ links on my blog.
Those posts are picked carefully. They give a valid overview of were I come from.

I will not put my voice in the mouths of others, but I have a strong suspicion that Major Mike (Note the Name – it ain’t fake) always (even in retirement) balances the fact of killing with what it does to him, his culture, and his civilization. Every decision is a balance of necessity and mores.

It may come to a point that this conflict descends to ‘The Second Conjecture’ as defined by Wretchard. Not yet. And, hopefully never – given the opportunity for victory. Until then we have to deal with reality – and we can. But, just as Wretchard states in the first link ('Pedicaris Alive or Raisuli Dead') – the public and politicians must accept the facts of war ‘in the clear’ so part of our society can’t accuse your son for actions in the grey area. That was the intent of my first comment. We send them in with 80% approval, a huge majority in Congress, and a giant oooorrrrahhhh… Then the weak kneed Libs can’t get the antiseptic war they thought they would get – or maybe, like bin Laden, they too misread Bush and thought he would be Clintonesque. And, whoooossssshhhhhh, we see Libs on the run from a conflict that is cleaner and more antiseptic than any real and necessary war in the past. Marines of the quality of Major Mike, your son, and his buddies lose their innocence in all real conflicts with real consequences but they do not regress to barbarism.

And, by the way, we all are reading the Hidatha story. How it is a massacre and how it is nothing. As Major Mike stated in his post, the information is worth absolutely nothing right now. I absolutely hate the media’s spiteful reliance on unnamed human rights sources, legal counsel, or other unattributed non-entities – I do not trust them. Personally, I think the Marines will get exonerated or that their actions taken were under mitigating circumstances – but, unlike the media we all wait. Don’t hitch your horse to either point presented by the ignorant hairpiece media. They know not of what they are reporting.

To be perfectly clear: I want the forces I send to the front to kill Terror Turds and destroy their organizations. I accept casualties such as al-Zarqawi’s wife and child – but, I accept such casualties without joy. Acceptance in the form of: Those that Dine with the Terror Turds Die with the Terror Turds. Additionally, I accept that unassailable rights to privacy and assembly or whatever will be reasonably assailed. I know there will be Abu Graib’s and NSA Wiretaps. Ok, let us win. We have to. There will be a winner and there will be a loser. It is not Vietnam.

ma_che62 said...

"You seem to be getting excited that we don't relish the thought of killing on a mass and untargeted scale."

I've re-read my comments and it's hard how you conclude that. Few things could be further from the truth.

It is clear to me now that you're in favor of killing terrorists...and that you don't think this is Vietnam...that you are disdainful of our Congressional Cowards. I agree with all of that. And I especially agree with "let us win." It seems that we have little to debate (some one pointed out earlier that we probably agree on much of this stuff). Virtual debates are handicapped from the start by the medium.

In any case, I got pissed by all of the waxing poetic about us losing our humanity and decency, etc. I only understand half the poetry, pseudo or real, that I read so maybe I didn't understand the decency thing. (trust me when I tell you that I'm not that intelligent) In war SOME lose their humanity and decency. But WE do not necessarily. In fact, I would argue that the willingness to go to war to defend you family, land or civilization CONFIRMS our opposed to causing us to lose it.

Regarding your suggested reading list, I had already read them. Dershowitz has written at length justify the legality of morality of torture. An opportunist if there ever was one.

Regarding Wretchard's post, "The tragedy of the West is that it is simultaneously impatient for safety; intolerant of hardship and unable to bear guilt. The demand for no body bags; no protracted war; no inconvenience; no painstaking effort..."

This could have been written by me except that I use fewer words. We have, by now, become a self-absorbed civilization that is obese, easily frightened, lazy, and with no attention span.

Boghie said...


And the SOME that lose their humanity and decency are not representative of our armed forces, our nation, our culture, or our civilization. And, before we accuse any from our civilization of barbarism they must be proven to be so. That proof is not there.

And, as we have seen with our abhorrent media – the proof may not be there. Even Abu Graib – the most recent and proven example of somewhat organized maliciousness – does not rise to what the media is accusing our Marines of doing without having direct access to the final official review.

I have a little more faith in Americans than you do. I don’t feel a massive unrest forming. I think the media and the hard left have lost their ability to run everybody out the door by crying wolf over and over and over again. To wax poetic on another, but related topic, that factoid on the media is a very bad thing for our Democracy. I hope that other media form to take their place soon.

Again, concur… I think we were all writing around each other… Good to see you here and active.

ma_che62 said...

THis is a great blog. I thank Atos, Boghie and M. Mike for tolerating my cathartic dump. I'm a little "edgy" these days about people dumping on our Marines (if I feel edgy, we can imagine their rage...controlled as always). In any case, you guys are the best. These are historical times.

ma_che62 said...

As we felt in our gut, the drivebys' story seems to be unravelling:

dueler88 said...

great comments, everybody. we appreciate it.


in my philosophical ramblings, i suppose what i'm trying to demonstrate are the potential catastrophic repurcussions of the loss of humanity to the monster within. the first loss of humanity is conceptual - being able to see your enemy as sub-human. the second loss of humanity is killing another human being. what is most troublesome is very short distance between the first and second losses.

perhaps yoda said it best: "fear leads to hate. hate leads to anger. anger leads to suffering."

example one: nazi germany somehow codified the idea that jews were subhuman. 6 million lives later, we learned the dangers of prejudging to the degree of "subhuman."

example two: "japs" and "krauts". just who was it that used those pejoratives?

perhaps some element of detachment regarding one's enemy is required in order to effectively fight and defeat them. but - evidence the pacific theater WWII vet who exorcised his "jap" demons by hosting a japanese exchange student after the war, thus forging a bond between families that were formally enemies. THAT is humanity.

hell, you could even use this idea to describe our current domestic culture wars. there will always be whackos on the fringe of our domestic political spectrum, but we have more in common as americans than we have differences.

the big question we will have to answer in the next 10 years or so is this: do we have more in common with muslims in the middle east than we have differences?

Major Mike said... have nailed my deepest sentiments with...

"This could have been written by me except that I use fewer words. We have, by now, become a self-absorbed civilization that is obese, easily frightened, lazy, and with no attention span. "

...And it goes to a point I have made in many of my some regards, while our democracy is worth defending, some of its citizens are so self-absorbed, cowardly, ungrateful, lazy, and slovenly in their democratic responsibilities, that they are seldom worth a bead of sweat from a Marine on a regular training day, let alone a drop of blood in combat. There I said that...

...But, I almost always come back to this thought...I have been made strong to protect the weak...not only the physically weak, but the mentally weak, the weak willed, the weak of heart, and the weak of soul...the sacrfices that come (came) along with that sense of duty will never be properly rewarded by some those who benefitted, but it will grant me a final resting place next to other anonymous men of honor who have sacrificed more than I for this great democracy.

In the end we are privlidged to serve, and generally represent our government and its values well, but occasionally we, as individuals, may stray out of our civil bonds, and do the uncivil...I hope then, that our institutions then are just, not simply catering to a public clamor.

My compliments to all that have posted on this thread...true, civil discourse...refreshing. MM

ma_che62 said...

Major Mike,
I sometimes find myself say paradoxically: "I don't disagree with bin Laden on everything." e.g., Madonna, Brittany Spear, the trash self-absorbed, spoiled-brat-trash culture...all of the characteristics that all you guys have already get my drift. This is the choirboy talking tp the preacher.

I have this recurring image of 5th century Rome. It's a senatorial bacchanal. Little boys are administering to Rome's ruling class while the Goths are bashing down the gates of the city. A eunuch breaks into the scene to warn that the city is about to be overrun when on of the senators...mid-orgasm...blurts out "Send in our own barbarians!"

We haven't reached that point (Europe has) but sometimes I fear that we are not far away.