General McChrystal has spoken to the press about his assessment and the resulting debate within the administration, saying that he welcomes debate of the way forward and is unequivocally not considering resigning. I wouldn’t expect him to say anything else. Remember, the specter of resignation was not raised by the General, but reportedly by officers close to him. If General McChrystal spoke of resignation, it would be repeating the same gaff that got another General fired in Korea lo these many years ago.
The General is not insubordinate. He’s not going to be insubordinate in the press, either. He’s not going to challenge the President’s authority to make decisions. He has made his assessment. He has made his decisions about the way forward. He has prepared any requests for further resources that he deems necessary. There is no reason to respond to any decisions prior to their announcement. He also recognizes that the President has to do his due diligence.
“A policy debate is warranted,” McChrystal told the Times. “We should not have any ambiguities, as a nation or a coalition. At the end of the day, we’re putting young people in harm’s way.”
What I can tell readers is exactly what I told them yesterday. There is a lot more to say, in detail, about the things that we have learned as a nation, as an Military, as an Army and as counterinsurgents about what we are doing in Afghanistan. At this point in the conflict, a decision has to be made. The public is playing a role in that decision. We are only as agile and strong as our slowest and least agile member, and once again the public is proving to be that weak sister. They do have influence, and they are exerting a negative influence at a critical moment. It’s as if the public were suddenly pressuring FDR to pull out of the Pacific in WW-II, urged by “thinkers” who prognosticate (mostly from civilian standpoints) that “island hopping” is a failed strategy.
It’s not all their fault. The public is like a crop of mushrooms; they are kept in the dark and fed fecal matter. The organizations whose jobs are to inform the public, the press and the rest of the mainstream media, cannot be relied upon to provide anything close to an accurate picture of the conflict or the conditions which result in an insurgency in a formerly failed state struggling to become a real nation. There is plenty of truth out there, but the major networks and news organizations will never present it. No one is painting anything like a complete picture of the situation on the ground here or the things being done to resolve issues.
General McChrystal is right; putting people in harm’s way needs to be thought through. He has done his thinking. It takes courage to face fire, but it takes another kind of courage to tell young Soldiers and Marines to go and face that fire. We need leaders with courage. They may not face the pain of a bullet’s strike, but they face another kind of pain. They need to to have the courage to face that pain. Leaders without courage are less than useful at a time like this. Those who advocate using “surgical” techniques in place of such risks are not demonstrating the kind of courageous leadership that is needed in such “interesting times.”
Al Qaeda and the Taliban are counting on just that trait. They are counting… betting their futures… on our less than positive national traits to come bleeding through the “colors that don’t run.” Those “colors that don’t run” are what we see. Many others see a purplish-pinkish smear that has all run together, because in their appraisal, those colors have run plenty.
We are judged by friend and foe by what we do, not what we say. Our colors are beginning to run as the people of the United States begin to listen to the wheezing fat kid in the backs of their skulls in growing numbers. We see the polls over here. The President sees the polls and his judgment is more affected by them than many previous Presidents. Some applaud that condition. I ask for courageous leadership to be shown here. If the weaker strands begin to fail, then the leadership need even more courage to make the decisions that will demonstrate that our word means something. It’s not a pride issue; it’s a trust issue. We have not proven ourselves trustworthy. We must prove that we have learned that once we begin a project, especially one of this magnitude, all excuses as to why it’s okay to quit and walk away only sway our own minds, not those of the rest of the world. Respect for our word is as important in the world as it is when you walk into a bank asking for a loan and they point out that you defaulted on your house. You wish that they would ignore that, but they won’t.
The rest of the world won’t ignore it, either. And out here, seven years is like ten minutes. That default doesn’t roll off of our credit report so easily. We can explain and explain why it’s not our fault, but the default on Vietnam will not go away until we have shown that we have learned the real lessons of that conflict. Not living up to our word is only one lesson we didn’t learn. If you read the rest of the assessment, you will find that a lot of lessons have been learned. Just as the new captain goes to turn the ship, everyone wants to man the lifeboats.
I stand shaking my head.
Perhaps I need more faith in the American people just like they need more faith in the unproven General and the behaviors he is enforcing here. Perhaps I need to have faith in the leadership who seems to waver, that there is real courage there inside, the kind of courage to face pain and risk loss. Perhaps there is greater understanding that refusing that pain and protecting the self is not smart, it’s failure. Perhaps there is broad understanding that another mark in the “L” column brands that “L” on the forehead of every American, just as the stain has not completely faded from the last failure.
In the meantime, there is a decision to be made. Ultimately, it falls on the shoulders of one man who desperately sought that mantle and now wears it. I would expect General McChrystal to say nothing else but what he said to the Times. He has cleared the path for courage to be shown, for our good faith and credit to continue to build. There are many who would cheer our failure, who plead for cowardice. Cowards have latched onto the words, “mission creep” that the President uttered this past weekend. They continue to pressure the President to turn from the hard, exhausting and painful; to embrace the softer, easier path to ruined credit. The President sees, on one hand, a General with a realistic appraisal of a tough situation and a plan to overcome the difficulties, but not without pain. On the other hand he sees the throng with icepacks on their heads, their feet clean of the dust of the ancient land, pleading for him to take that easy path to promised ice cream, to turn from responsibility.
A turning point is reached; the jumping off place. Tension builds as the one man who has taken on the mantle of leadership ponders our course as a nation and the letter we will all wear for decades. The General has spoken and stands waiting. The voices of the icepack-adorned throng grow shrill and strident, wailing and pleading for a man to ease their suffering by turning tail and fleeing from the pain. Advisers with plans of their own beg for the ear, promising less pain and offering mythic Rambos and robots to solve all of his woes, minimizing his pain while giving the illusion of commitment. Still, in the end, one man decides. Courage or cowardice? Risk or safety? Sweat or ice cream? Keep the national word or default and blame the previous signatory, convincing himself that the rest of the world cares who gave our national bond for it to be broken later? In this moment we either continue to redefine our national character or we admit that our weak character was not an anomaly but who we really are. It is now up to one man who sought that responsibility.
We, embroiled in the dust, each fighting in his or her own way, can only watch as our future history is formed before our eyes, our voices gelled into only one man who speaks for us all to the President.
I wouldn’t have expected for him to say, in this moment in time, anything else.
You are unlikely to see a strong reaction from the Marines on the publication of a the photograph of a mortally wounded LCpl Bernard. There are a number of reasons for that, I think. I must add first that I am surprised that they are not upset that the family of one of their fallen was totally disregarded in this action. I always thought that the Marines were family, and that the family of their family was, well, family. They are probably going to remain out of the fray, though. One of those reasons is that they don’t have to.
Plenty of others will raise a cry and hue for them. My initial reaction was powerful and gut-level; but then it’s time to look at the reaction and the reasoning behind it. First, the disregard for the family’s well-known wishes was disregarded. It was weighed against the standards that the AP finds important and, in the end, found less compelling than their business interests. Cold? Indeed; but there was a reason that the approval was first sought. The AP was seeking validation from the family. The AP never really cared if the response was negative. This means that the approval of the family would have added some value to the AP’s angle on this; but they were so willing to go without approval that they were willing to disregard a direct request from the Secretary of Defense, who asked them not to publish it.
They weren’t willing to take a “no,” but there was a reason that they wanted the validation of the “yes.”
While it could be claimed that we have abrogated our own rights to privacy simply by raising our hands, why do we sign press release authorizations… or not… when we do our processing to go to a combat theater? While that release is not intended for such situations, if we’ve abrogated our rights, then why do they need a release? The Dover policy is all about the right of privacy that is recognized for families. We volunteered for service in a time of war. There is not a single one of us who were drafted into the military. In return, we expect to be given some consideration. There are reasons why we feel that we need it.
These reasons were illustrated by the Huffington Post, who blew the picture up all over their home page. The HuffPo doesn’t care a bit about the tragedy of sacrifice in war; they want web traffic. It is their be all and end all; and they will get it. If you feel the spirit move you, by all means look… but I would prefer that you didn’t. It is harlotry, pure and simple. We should put up a sign: Please Do Not Feed the Whores. While driven by prurience, greed and general sluttiness, the HuffPo is also significantly slanted politically; no friend of Soldiers or Marines; unless you happen to be mortally wounded and therefore useful to the crowd that HuffPo caters to. Then you are to be blown up to gigantic proportions and your death agonies exulted over by those who hate you for who you are and what you died for.
And they have been. LCpl Bernard has been exulted over in his death agonies, something that many of us know would happen to us if our mortally wounded images were displayed. We didn’t join and risk being mortally wounded just so some schmuck could use the image of our sacrifice against what we believe in. We’re not claiming impunity against being photographed or filmed in the conduct of our duties. Hey, if you catch us doing something wrong, then show it. Good, bad or indifferent… show it.
Of course, there is a tremendous amount of good that goes on here, too. Damned little of that get shown, either. This war is not exactly the triumph of journalism. Journalism as it was once known is actually quite dead. Most of the journalists stay in Kabul and send out stringers. The same happened in Iraq. There is not a lot of journalism being practiced, and then a photographer gets “the money shot.” The AP, or pretty much any legacy media outlet is going to use it. They will take the hits on their websites and the gory horror of death selling papers for them. And the HuffPo’s of the world will blow up a young American’s death throes so that all those who oppose what the young man was doing can cry out with glee and babble on about how he deserved to die. This is heinous, and it is anathema to those of us who risk all to do this job. Now we risk not only our lives and ultimate pain for our families, but we risk disrespect from our own countrymen, who when media was more limited would never be tolerated exulting over the death of a Marine. But media is cheap now; so are a lot of the outlets.
Death is a private moment. It is also tremendously painful for our families. LCpl Bernard’s parents could have lived the rest of their lives without seeing that photograph. Not only have they seen it, they have lived to see their son’s death greeted with glee by some of their fellow citizens.
Our country is breaking faith with us… and that’s the point of the exultation. By dragging this young Marine through the streets of virtual Mogadishu, the Somalians of HuffPo and their exulting netskinnies are breaking faith with the military and they are doing it purposefully. LCpl Bernard never did a thing to deserve that. He deserves respect and gratitude. His parents, whose son lies forfeit on the altar of liberty, are subjected to his being dragged triumphantly about the internet by clannish internet warlords.
We are volunteers all. We deserve to be treated with respect or, failing that, we refuse to be disrespected. We cannot accept this type of abuse again. We need to demand that our leadership put safeguards in place to prevent this and protect us when we have been rendered vulnerable due to wounds. Losing our lives is one thing; having it rubbed in the faces of our wives, parents, or in my case, children is not something that we should ever have to worry about. We should call on Secretary Gates to review the policies. There is room for give and take. He gave them Dover; give us now our dignity. People who we capture are given more dignity than we are while our own citizens can virtually dance on our suffering and dying bodies.
I would recommend a policy that, like Dover, any images of an American servicemember that involves loss of life, limb or eyesight should require approval of the servicemember or in the case of death or incapacitation, a designated family member. The world has changed. In a digital world we have the ability to ask each and every time; and it should be done. The rights of each end where the rights of others begin; that includes the press. They obviously cannot be expected to hold themselves to any ethical standard.
Or is respect for our service only lip service itself, sold cheaply to the nearest harlot upon demand?
It’s time to start flooding Secretary Gates’ office with demands for such protection from the Virtual Vultures of Mogadishu.
I’ve slapped Michael Cohen around a bit before for his cowardly and intellectually dishonest “analysis” of the counterinsurgency fight in Afghanistan. I’ve pointed out before that he is driven by the fear that if we are successful counterinsurgents here, that COIN will become a cornerstone of American foreign policy. I’ve also pointed out that this is self-defeating, given Mr. Cohen’s advocacy of civil capacity-building development within our foreign policy organs. I’ve pointed out his ridiculousness, to be sure. He’s outdone himself today, and he’s drawn my fire.
Cohen writes today in rebuttal of an Op-Ed by Thomas Friedman, taking “offense” and taking Mr. Friedman to task for this snippet:
In grand strategic terms, I still don’t know if this Afghan war makes sense anymore. I was dubious before I arrived, and I still am. But when you see two little Afghan girls crouched on the front steps of their new school, clutching tightly with both arms the notebooks handed to them by a U.S. admiral — as if they were their first dolls — it’s hard to say: “Let’s just walk away.” Not yet.
While I disagree with Mr. Friedman’s analysis of the “grand strategic” reasons for our involvement in Afghanistan, let’s get to Cohen’s bit:
It’s hard for me to put into words the anger that wells up inside of me when I read such an odious and manipulative op-ed like this one. This is the equivalent of liberal humanitarian porn. Perhaps Tom Friedman should attend a military funeral and write an op-ed about the looks on the faces of two little girls in America whose daddy is killed in Afghanistan pursuing this mission.
Odious and manipulative. Methinks Cohen’s rage is concocted, and here’s why; he doesn’t have the right to tell someone to attend a military funeral to gain awareness. Cohen himself is engaging in sanctimonious emotional blithering that he is not entitled to engage in. He also doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
You see, I didn’t read Mr. Friedman’s remarks as being a definitive reason to stay in Afghanistan. In my book, Mr. Friedman has a lot to learn about national security and about the causes and conditions of insurgency, particularly this one. What I read was an emotional response, which I am entirely in tune with, which Cohen has labelled “humanitarian porn.” You see, I have seen with my own eyes what Mr. Friedman describes and I have felt the pangs in my own soul for not being able to fix this country for those children. It is real. It is unbelievably real. It is gut-wrenching and much deeper than Mr. Friedman even attempted to convey. Cohen would not know that. He has never seen it.
I’m not here for the Afghan children. I’m here for my children. The paradox is that in order to help my children, the Afghan children must benefit. Cohen could never comprehend this fact. He is too afraid that someone would read Friedman’s piece and somehow be titillated by it. He responds with an accusation of an emotional appeal and then makes an emotional appeal of his own, invoking flag-draped coffins.
My flag-draped coffin, perhaps?
NO. I categorically deny Cohen the right to invoke the image of my coffin. I categorically deny the cowardly, dishonest Michael Cohen permission to victimize me in order to fight back against his childish nightmares. I categorically deny Cohen permission to abuse my two little girls to make his sad political point. You see, Cohen has no meat in this game. I do. I am here willingly. Cohen does not have to look at my two little girls, nor, in the case of my death, would he. He does not have to right to use my family or the family of any Soldier in this country right now at this moment to make his mock indignant point. That is offensive beyond belief.
I am an American Soldier. I am, not him. His maudlin emotional blackmail offends me. I risk myself, and the sorrow of my children, of my own volition and due to an oath that I took that he cannot comprehend. He accuses Friedman of “humanitarian porn.” No. His was a fair observation that did not reach a conclusion but was a real observation of an emotion that I can tell you is real. I can also tell you that the high-minded Cohen does not give a crap about me or my two little girls. Not one crap.
Cohen is the pornographer here, wrapped in a faux flag and bleeding concern that he does not hold in his heart. Today his performance is on par with the best of the Taliban IO meisters, but I am not applauding. I am condemning. Cohen can go #^< ! himself. He does not, nor does anyone, have the right to portray the image of my grieving daughters in some self-serving argument. No one does.
Get a load of this:
I’m more than happy to argue with anyone about why I think the current mission in Afghanistan is the wrong one, but I’m not going to argue with someone who throws cheap, manipulative and emotional arguments in my face about two little girls in Afghanistan.
Oh yeah? Well I will argue with any son of a bitch who throws cheap, manipulative and emotional arguments in everyone’s face about two little girls in Ohio. Cohen argued with me via emails for a bit a few months ago, but he couldn’t take the criticisms of his simplistic and knee-jerk response of attempting to discredit the doctrine, which I will help show can be successful in preventing the descent, once more, of Afghanistan in to dark chaos, out of political fear. His opposition to the doctrine is based on childish fear, and due to this intellectual dishonesty, he would further endanger my country. I am willing to put my ass on the line to prove him wrong. It’s on the line, while he sleeps on a freaking Serta tonight and thinks about what flavor of chai latte to sip at Starbucks tomorrow morning. It’s bad enough that he is practically in bed with the Taliban on this issue; I can deal with that stupidity. But to drag my kids (yes, my kids, just as much as anyone who’s over here right now,) into it in his desperation to deny the effect of seeing poverty-stricken children getting a few sheets of paper and a pen, possibly for the first time in their lives, is crap. I’ve had just about enough of his chickenshit whining.
Cohen paints himself as some kind of intellectual. There are actual intellectuals over here in a program to study various aspects of insurgency and how to work through it. They are studying the types of things that Cohen likes to advocate from his psuedo-intellectual “speechboy” (a name he comments under at Abu Muqawama) persona, like how various aspects of civil development and rule of law affects violence. They are from the best schools; Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and others; professors, PhD candidates, and students. None of them have ever heard of Cohen. Ha. Now that’s funny. To them, his foolishness is completely irrelevant.
I just have a problem with suffering jackassery in silence. And leave my kids out of this!
Today, I got a chance to have my “in-brief” with the my new boss, a Colonel who is the Director of the CTC-A, or Counterinsurgency Training Center – Afghanistan. It took a week to catch fifteen minutes or so of his free time. He has none, and so what I got was stolen. The conversation went well. Among other things, I am clear to blog.
One thing: Don’t ever think that I speak for the CTC-A. I don’t. I speak for myself and myself alone. See the disclaimer for details. CTC-A would fall under at least one of the covered entities that I do not speak for.
That being said, I’ve got to say that I’m mui impressed with the curriculum here. I am surrounded by people who get it. Many are former advisors. Evangelists all, our job is to help my Army, and and armies of our allies and the Afghans, and governmental organizations of all of the above… and a few others… to “get” COIN. That in many cases refers to how to operationalize it, not just talk about it. Good stuff. It’s what I volunteered to come back to The Suck for.
It’s a great mission. I have been writing and evangelizing COIN for months and months… but I believe that when you believe in something, and you believe it’s the right thing to do, you do it instead of just endlessly talking and criticizing. *POOF* I’m in Afghanistan.
It actually took months and months to get here. It’s a story of a comedy of errors. You’d think I’d hate my Army, the National Guard, and all involved after the murderous process to get here, but I don’t. I’m just grateful to be in a position to contribute. Perhaps one day I’ll tell the story of the arduous struggle uphill to be once again permitted the honor of serving my country in Afghanistan. It will fill you with a bored anger akin to Eeyore’s slowly burning inner rage; an oft-overlooked and entirely under-discussed aspect of A.A. Milne’s masterworks of the 20th Century.
So, now free to discuss COIN in many, if not all, of its permutations, I begin with this:
At least they’re struggling to find some sort of relevance in the discussion, now that they figure that they have some sort of stake in it. I’m referring to the “progressive” left attempting to get a grip on the issue of Afghanistan. It appears that they may be asking some relevant questions, but the hope of coming to any conclusions that bear more than a vague resemblance to reality is slight indeed. This inability is exacerbated by the inclusion of Richard “I’m an expert because I showed up” Smith and Robert “I’m agin’ it!” Greenwald.
Both of those schmendricks are reality-resistant examples that mental/emotional GoreTex brain linings are available in stunning colors.
Spencer Ackerman will likely be the best informed of the lot, as he gathers information about the region fairly regularly.
So I’d like to offer my wishes for good luck with that to the enterprising organizers of this esoteric romp through theoretical Afghanistan. When “Netroots” decides to include some actual Subject Matter Experts in their discussions, there will be hope. I would like to remind them that hollering into a trashcan and listening to yourself is an ineffective strategy for relevant foreign policy determinations.
But it’s nice that they’re trying. It’s a little like watching kindergartners organize a prom.
This is what they were wearing at the same conference three years ago. No kidding; this is an actual picture.
These folks have a way to go before they have anything really relevant to say about foreign policy, and I don’t believe that they will ever have anything coherent to say on COIN or why we should do it in Afghanistan.
I’ve decided to go with a dot-com for a number of reasons. I hope that you like the change. Please let me know what you think of it. I hope to add functionality and features as I go. My timing was a little off, but that’s life.
The next chapter; going back to Afghanistan. More on the whats and hows of that later. Suffice to say for now that I am going back for a year to do something that I’m very committed to. I think that when you’re committed to something, you do what you can. I have to live that, not just say it. I’m doing what I can to “walk the walk,” not just “talk the talk.”
I’m in Kuwait. It’s hairdryer-hot, and I have no real idea when I will continue my journey to the next step; Bagram. I am an individual, traveling as an individual among a stream of other warsalmon, all of us swimming upstream. Someone waits for me on the other side of this human pipeline. I hope to make them glad that they chose me for this mission. The performance anxiety of a Soldier never goes away. There is always the next time. The satisfaction of a job well done is ephemeral. The job always changes, the challenges increase.
There will be more. Much more, I’m sure.
It will be interesting to contrast the Afghanistan of my still fairly recent memory with what I find very soon. I will try to continue to share both personal experiences and my perceptions of what I find to be happening on the ground there. I hope that anyone who reads this will find it worthwhile.
Those of us who have been to combat all have our D-Day. For most of us, it wasn’t called that. Sometimes it was; many invasions and operations have had their start day, also called, “D-Day,” but there is one day that forever bears that name. It is the symbol, ever since June 6th, 1944, of D-Days. Ever since that D-Day, it has affected all of us who have had our own D-Day. For me, that effect began as a child.
In movies, books, and in my imagination, I tried to understand what the thousands of men who participated in that operation went through. It set a standard in my own mind for what a Soldier must be willing to do, to endure, to brave. It inspired, shocked and loomed over me. I was in awe of those who rode the C-47’s, gliders, and landing craft. The exploits of the Rangers at Point du Hoc humbled me. The catastrophe at St Mere Eglise shocked me. The carnage of Omaha Beach overwhelmed me.
The bravery of those who jumped, crashed or made the landing stunned me. How could I ever live up to that? How did they? What, I wondered in my young mind, separated the living from the dead? Was it skill? Was it determination? Was it blind, dumb luck? I wanted to live. I pictured myself as the tough survivor. I found no empathy for the dead in my young mind. No, that wouldn’t be me.
D-Day was the calliope of war going full tilt all at once. Hundreds of thousands of individual stories, thousands of ships, aircraft, landing craft, and the terrible crescendo of all that noise. To my mind it was an overwhelming scenario, and the humanity of it overwhelmed my mind. So many men, each with a life and a history of their own. So many experiences being had in such a small area. So many individual acts of bravery and valor; many of which eventually came to light and so many of which will never be known. So many lives and their stories ended.
It was so much to ponder. Too much. I can never get it right.
For myself and my generation, and for generations that follow, it sets the benchmark. Cries of “Currahee!” still inspire feats of amazing courage, and raise the wounded from comas. Young Soldiers, particularly in the Airborne, are still bred with stories of their regiment’s legacy from that day, the night that preceded it and the months that followed it. That legacy sets a benchmark that generations of young men attempt to measure themselves against. I was one of them. There is no reaching that standard; only striving to come as close as one can, to do one’s job under such horror, to not let one’s compatriots down. To move one’s feet though hell and horror await.
My D-Day was anticlimactic in comparison. My baptism of fire was practically gentle in contrast to the roar and confusion and mass fear that reigned on June 6, 1944. Nothing that I have tasted, though it may be in some small way similar, truly compares. I remain humbled. It will forever remain unknown to me what I would have done when the ramp door dropped, or when the green light lit. They knew. They felt. They did. For so many, it was the last thing that they ever knew, felt, or did. Each risked that, knowingly, and did anyway… and became legend; the greatest generation.
I stand in amazement. I am struck by their courage, I am overwhelmed by their experience. I am grateful for their actions. I am humbled by their sacrifice. I am astounded by their grace. I am led by their example.
I am free by their choice.
There are going to be some changes around here. I cannot go into detail right now, but will clarify shortly.
What I can tell you is that it will be significant and relevant. It has also been time and focus consuming, so please stand by.
This from an Anonymous commenter on the last post:
The crazy vet is a generic concept. It’s like the “Postal” guy. While a Middle Easterner or an Arab or a Muslim is an actual guy. There are actual kids and families who are Arab, Muslims from the Middle East.
Behind every veteran identity (Marine, Ranger, Soldier, Sailor, etc.) is an actual identity, that is off limit.
Most law enforcement are military veterans, I think they know what they need to prepare for.
That’s exactly what I’m talking about. It shouldn’t be a “generic concept.” It has been made that way by a meme that has been started and supported by anecdotal evidence; by such things as Lizette Alvarez’s slanted reporting in the New York Times. She’s not the only one; she’s just my poster child. A word for “generic concept” is stereotype.
The same could be said of the Arab stereotype. Each Arab has their own story, their own history, their own experiences, their own trials and tribulations. Take this logic and turn it the other direction and it works just as well. As a matter of fact, in the original article I wrote about, the law enforcement officer wondered if he might offend the ethnic group by stereotyping them, but gave not a thought to training children to shoot a veteran and depicting the bad guy as a veteran; as if that were completely inoffensive and rational.
We are a country of images. Someone pointed out recently that many Americans have little contact with this war or the men and women who are fighting it. The image of the “crazy vet” has taken hold to the point that when a cop is tasked with coming up with a training scenario, he dreams up a crazy murdering vet. That is completely unacceptable.
There are no other words for it. It’s no understandable. It’s not accurate. It’s stigmatizing, and while people like Lizette Alvarez couch their writings as “bringing attention to the plight of the veteran” as if they really give a damn, they are doing more harm than help by a far sight.
Most law enforcement are military veterans, I think they know what they need to prepare for.
No, many law enforcement officers are military veterans, but I don’t believe that most of them are. And no, I don’t think they do know what they need to prepare for. I’ll bet you a quarter that the Border Patrol Agent who dreamed up that nifty little scenario isn’t a vet. With cross-border kidnappings and murders happening on a fairly frequent basis, I’d think that they could come up with a more realistic scenario. In fact, in the general geographic area where these men operate, there have been hostage situations involving drug traffickers barricading themselves in houses with competitors held hostage. Those are realistic scenarios, and things that the Border Patrol may have to deal with.
Perhaps they don’t want to stereotype drug dealers.
What struck me about this comment is the matter-of-fact way that someone who has come to accept the meme justifies this subtle form of abuse as completely reasonable.
Lizette’s work is nearly complete.
Here are the facts; you are less likely to be harmed by a veteran than a non-veteran. We are not “victims.” There are a tiny tiny tiny minority with chips on their shoulders who participate in such jackassery as IVAW and their ridiculous “Winter Soldier” displays. They cry out in some crazy mimicry of “victimhood,” but for the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of us who don’t participate in such bullshit, they are the complete dorks of the veteran world. Many of them have been thoroughly discredited, and some have proven to be frauds. All of them will live forever in shame before the rest of us.
We are not victims. We are not crying babies. We are grown adults who have made the choice to stand between this nation and whatever danger presents itself, even if there are sheeple who don’t believe that the danger is there.
I see a lot of honorable people dealing with the effects, physical or otherwise, of their sacrifices for their country, only to have writers with beautiful prose and oafish motives cast aspersions on them en mass with manipulated data and piteous cries of how they “care.” These honorable veterans are not moaning in victimhood, nor are they dangerous. They are the people who, if anyone’s life was in danger, would be most likely to endanger their own lives to protect that stranger. These are people who very often give of themselves, of their own time, their own efforts and their own money to make a difference; and they do make a difference. They are the ones who find ways to personally contribute to making the lives of wounded warriors better, instead of moaning about how “someone” or “the government” or “they” should take better care of our veterans. These veterans are the ones who are not so overwhelmed by the dichotomy between war and patient caring that they shirk it off for someone else to do something, satisfied with their acceptance of an ignorant stereotype.
“Generic concept” is exactly what I’m talking about.
So, what Anon is saying is, “Hey, it’s only a stereotype. Behind the stereotype identity is an actual identity, and that’s off limits.”
Never mind that it doesn’t make a lot of sense, or that the whole thing is contradictory. What this says to me is, “Yeah, it’s become a stereotype, but don’t worry about it. It’s just like stereotyping Postal workers because of all the workplace killings. As long as you have your actual identity, then you can just withdraw from your military identity and you’re just fine.” The thing is, it’s not fine. In this country where intolerance is unacceptable, in this country where stereotyping is decried… when it is against a group for whom sensitivity is bred in the media… we are sliding down a slippery slope towards demonizing and victimizing those who have demonstrated commitment to this country, and it’s led by the media. Those who have sacrificed their safe easy chair in their living rooms, those who have sacrificed time with their families, firsts for their children including the births of those children, those who have lost friends and given of themselves are becoming the accepted bogey man of training scenarios as if it were simply a matter of course.
Regardless of what the facts say.
We have the Department of Homeland Security writing opinions that returning veterans are a threat to domestic security, and instead of some great hue and cry against it (except from veterans groups themselves,) there is, “Hey, it’s okay… law enforcement knows what they’re doing.”
Nice, people. Really nice.
Now, I’ve been thanked personally by more Americans than I can count; these are people who are not going to listen to such claptrap. Many of them are veterans themselves, or have family members who have served or are serving. They cannot be turned against the veterans. It’s the other, larger, portion of the population who can be influenced by images and repetitive, subtle messages that are at risk of buying into the imagery that is being created. As a matter of fact, the comment that this post regards is a great example that the unacceptable is being accepted.
I saw the slope, and I pointed it out, and we are well down it right now. The only answer is to react with vigor every time the stereotype is forwarded. When there is significant pushback whenever such a falsehood is advanced, there will be a little more thought put into a concept, instead of the lazy acceptance of a stereotype.
My brother returned from Vietnam to people waiting to shower him with dog feces and epithets. I have not had that experience, nor will I tolerate it while I have the words to fight back with. The Deer Hunter didn’t come out of the blue; it was a culmination of the distrust that developed between the country they had served and the veterans of that war. It started with stereotyping and demonizing. It resulted in the largescale casting of Vietnam veterans as hapless victims. There are groups at work here in the United States whose business it is to create that same divide. Their tactic is to shape the vocabulary of the current conflict. They resolutely use certain terms, paint pictures and advance stereotypes in order to further their ideas. My tiny voice will not likely stem this tide, but I will not sit silently by as my cohorts and I are cast in a suspicious light in the very country we have risked our all for.
There is this snippet about Boy Scout Explorer training in New Mexico.
In a competition in Arizona that he did not oversee, Deputy Lowenthal said, one role-player wore traditional Arab dress. “If we’re looking at 9/11 and what a Middle Eastern terrorist would be like,” he said, “then maybe your role-player would look like that. I don’t know, would you call that politically incorrect?”
Yes, yes, God forbid we should offend foreign nationals; but don’t let that take away from the full magnificence of the article.
IMPERIAL, Calif. — Ten minutes into arrant mayhem in this town near the Mexican border, and the gunman, a disgruntled Iraq war veteran, has already taken out two people, one slumped in his desk, the other covered in blood on the floor.
The responding officers — eight teenage boys and girls, the youngest 14 — face tripwire, a thin cloud of poisonous gas and loud shots — BAM! BAM! — fired from behind a flimsy wall. They move quickly, pellet guns drawn and masks affixed.
So the Deputy who leads these kids is worried about being politically correct about simulating someone from the Middle East, but a disturbed veteran is okay. It’s not even an issue. This is a training scenario that some guy came up with off the top of his head, and the first thing that occurs to him is a disturbed Iraq veteran; but the idea that someone thought up a scenario involving an Arab makes them wonder if maybe they’re being insensitive?
The guy who thought up the “disturbed vet” scenario was a federal law enforcement agent, and he’s teaching this to kids. We’ve already pitted our law enforcement professionals against veterans to the point that when you say, “Okay, come up with a training scenario where a guy has flat lost his mind and he’s killing people,” his first response is, “Got it. Disturbed Iraq veteran. Let’s do this.”
That wasn’t the point of the article in the New York Times, it was background, but it’s the part that leaped out at me like the DHS report demonizing veterans.
Then there’s this. There is an unchallenged statement in this article by a gun control advocate who unequivocally states that veterans are more likely to kill people, when we’ve already seen in the past, when people have looked at the numbers, that it just isn’t true. It’s a myth, a meme, that some state as if it’s actually knowledge. It’s not. It’s misinformation at best and disinformation at worst; a lie to support their stance. The more people that they can frighten, the better for their agenda.
In the meantime, the very people who have had enough love for their country and their fellow citizens to go and put up with the worst living conditions and the most dangerous situations that most of them are ever likely to face are sliding down that slippery slope into becoming the suspects of their society.