Mudcat Café message #1178948 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #69413   Message #1178948
Posted By: Jim McCallan
05-May-04 - 07:48 PM
Thread Name: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
And I think that is exactly the nub of the matter, Ake.
The notion that George Bush knows exactly what he is doing, and that his strategies will work.... eventually.

George Bush may lead a country which is the biggest superpower in the World, but that doesn't mean that he automatically is an expert on tactics, or on vision, and I am not happy at all that this Coalition is US led.
I find a lot that is unnecessary about the US MO, and have said it a number of times on this forum, that The British Army (for all its faults) has a better way of thinking, when it comes to dealing with those we are occupying.
One can quote the throwing of Irish terrorist suspects out of helicopters, forcing some to walk on broken glass; all the reams of allegations that came out of the Castlereagh Interrogation Centre, in Belfast in the 1970's, but the British Army have never alienated, like the US Army have alienated. Not in Iraq, anyway.
And I think that has to do more with experience of dealing with the public, than because of anything else.

The American Constitution gives ample enough leeway for almost everyone to achieve 'The American Dream' in their lifetime. 'The Pursuit Of Happiness' (though not specifically mentioned in the AC), is as much an invitation to exercise one's free will, as one can expect to receive embedded in one's Civil Rights. We have no such hinge in our door.
The upshot of this, is that one's limits (social and moral), are raised quite considerably, and the word 'excess' (among other words, of course), tends to get bandied about with much more regularity, than it does when discussing our own mores, for example.

The British are famous (or imfamous), for their reserve. The 'conservatism' that we are supposed to posses, reflects more, I think, on our deep down dislike of excess, and the trappings associated with it. The 'Stiff Upper Lip', that we are meant to have, depicts a resolve. A resolve without sacrificing principles.
This is hardly a recipie for a pursuit of happiness, but rather a line we try to draw in front of ourselves.
I believe that it is this 'conservatism', more especially, that has made our experience in Iraq a little... 'easier', let's say. Our soldiers exchange their helmets for berets as soon as it is reasonably safe to do so. We know not to interview people on the street while wearing sunglasses, for example. We do have a fairly developed sense of empathy, for a people of around 60 million.

We are quicker to trust.

Now, if one wants to draw parallels between social mores, and the manifestation of them in a conflict situation, we could widen the discussion to include what those social mores tell us is acceptable behaviour in the first place. I have no doubt that the limits are rising; not just in the US... but here, also. We are renowned however, for our resistance to change. It might take longer with us, as a result, but we are getting there, too.

I said in another thread that we have the 'PlayStation' generation upon us, and that we have to take this mindset into account.
Amos points out that not "all video games are military in nature and breed militarism", and indeed this is so.
They all basically have one object, though: To win. Outside of some of those football simulation games, I see nothing about any hindering rules to achieve your object, and as I said elsewhere, I expect to see more stories come out about 'prisoner abuse', for example.

To claim, as Teribus said (in another thread) that the psychos and the guys with a mission, get screened out in the selection process for the British Army, is a fair enough assertion; I wasn't actually criticising the selection process. But if the social limits are rising generally, anyway, we don't really need the psychos, then.
Just normal, everyday kids will do.

Whether it is a 'militaristic' or a 'violent' culture we have, is really only down to what label you want to affix to it.
It might even be too late to reverse that steam train, given that "The World is too much with us, late and soon".

Fact is, we live in changing World, where lots of things are 'cheap'. That can go from the consumer society, to accounting for every bullet.

Jim