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BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?

GUEST,CS 26 Apr 12 - 09:35 AM
Rapparee 26 Apr 12 - 09:53 AM
GUEST,999 26 Apr 12 - 10:12 AM
olddude 26 Apr 12 - 10:19 AM
GUEST 26 Apr 12 - 10:31 AM
GUEST,josepp 26 Apr 12 - 10:33 AM
GUEST,CS 26 Apr 12 - 10:35 AM
GUEST,CS 26 Apr 12 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,999 26 Apr 12 - 11:13 AM
Leadfingers 26 Apr 12 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,Lighter 26 Apr 12 - 11:45 AM
ranger1 26 Apr 12 - 12:46 PM
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Richard Bridge 26 Apr 12 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,CS 26 Apr 12 - 01:30 PM
gnu 26 Apr 12 - 01:45 PM
frogprince 26 Apr 12 - 01:52 PM
Bonzo3legs 26 Apr 12 - 01:53 PM
Rapparee 26 Apr 12 - 02:04 PM
gnu 26 Apr 12 - 02:12 PM
kendall 26 Apr 12 - 02:13 PM
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Subject: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 09:35 AM

I'm aware that this thread may be potentially highly flammable, but I just wanted to provoke a discussion about the glaring disconnect (which I perceive at least) between the way in which the military have been aggressively packaged and marketed in recent years and the reality.

An opinion piece published on Indymedia articulated some of my own strong misgivings about the "Heroes" PR campaign/propaganda we have all been subjected to from the mass media for the past several years. A campaign I for one have found decidedly nauseating, and the saccharin quality of which I've been forced to endure recently in a choir while learning the 'Military Wives Hymn' which goes so far as to directly identify army boys with Christ in it's use of the lyric "my prince of Peace!":

"Those who join the world's armies are not heroes. They are, by definition, mercenaries – invading, occupying, murdering and terrorising in return for a pay-check. There is nothing heroic about this. Heroes do something extraordinary and spontaneous for no reward, monetary or otherwise. All soldiers – whilst they agree to murder and dominate on behalf of the oppressors – are mercenaries."

More here, in which the piece also discusses the way in which the army are being currently trained to suppress public dissent in the wake of this govt.s "austerity" cuts:

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/04/494634.html


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Rapparee
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 09:53 AM

Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling,
And took their wages, and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.
                         -- A.E. Housman

When you know what the hell you're talking about, then you might want to open your mouth. Otherwise you'll sound like a fool.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 10:12 AM

'How do we pick and choose where to get involved? Canada and other peacekeeping nations have become accustomed to acting if, and only if, international public opinion will support them - a dangerous path that leads to a moral relativism in which a country risks losing sight of the difference between good and evil, a concept that some players on the international stage view as outmoded. Some governments regard the use of force itself as the greatest evil. Others define "good" as the pursuit of human rights and will opt to employ force when human rights are violated. As the nineties drew to a close and the new millennium dawned with no sign of an end to these ugly little wars, it was as if each troubling conflict we were faced with had to pass the test of whether we could "care" about it or "identify" with the victims before we'd get involved.'

Roméo Dallaire

That man a mercenary? I don't think so. If you are unaware who he is, think Rwanda and 20,000 people he saved from being butchered. Canada had the good sense to make him a Senator after they got rid of him as a military leader. You can find "The General and the Genocide" with a google search. Read it, then tell me about him being a mercenary.

You are entitled to your opinion about those who have left all or parts of their minds and bodies in conflicts, but please don't say shit like that in front of me, thank you.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: olddude
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 10:19 AM

Well one hell of a lot of those so called "mercenaries" gave their life so you can post freely on this website. Without them, you would be in jail or dead .. so I thank the hero's that came before me and are here with me now


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 10:31 AM

"Those who join the world's armies are not heroes. They are, by definition, mercenaries – invading, occupying, murdering and terrorising in return for a pay-check. There is nothing heroic about this. Heroes do something extraordinary and spontaneous for no reward, monetary or otherwise. All soldiers – whilst they agree to murder and dominate on behalf of the oppressors – are mercenaries."

Demonize much? As a former-"mercenary" I can forthrightly state that we who join the military are not heroes just for that fact alone. But neither are we murderers or terrorists. We do the job assigned to us whether we like it or not. And, yes, we do it for a paycheck. I'm sure as hell not going to do it for free. That was the hardest 6 years of my life.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 10:33 AM

Last post was me. Also look up "mercenary," I think you're unclear on the concept.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 10:35 AM

Maybe when the US ceases it's incessant campaigns of military aggression against the rest of the world, then I'll be interested in having my opinions criticised by those those who support their massive military machine.

WWII was a long time ago by the way. And as heroic as many of those who served back then may have been, it can't be used to condone aggressive Western military activities today.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 10:43 AM

By the way, I do apologise for any offense caused to those here by expressing my views. I'm aware it's a very contentious position.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 11:13 AM

CS, it is certainly a hot topic. I meant no offense to you personally.

In more or less democratic countries, soldiers go where their elected civilian representatives send them. The issues you mention are real, but the folks you have to address are in Ottawa, London or Washington. Believe it or not, most soldiers would be very happy to serve their time in peace without being shot at or shooting at anyone else.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 11:32 AM

So , CS , does that make the guy who went awol instead of going to Iraq for the first war after twelve years of living it up on VERY good money in Germany a 'hero' ??   NOT in MY book ! And YES ! I HAVE been there , and been shot at for my trouble. At least in UK service personnel do a damn difficult job , even if it IS for money


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 11:45 AM

Housman wrote his defiantly sarcastic poem in response to German World War I propaganda that German soldiers were wholesome patriots while the British Army was made up of "mercenaries" from the slums.

A "mercenary" fights for whoever pays the most. Few members of any national military fit that category. Of course, if someone wants to claim that receiving a salary to serve automatically makes a mercenary(because everybody hates mercenaries), they can go ahead and say so. But the real distinction should be obvious.

As for heroes, battlefield heroes do what they do unselfishly, no matter what side they're on. That includes the "bad guys."

They don't think, "Gee, if I save/ kill that guy, I'll get a medal!" Not every hero gets a medal. Far from it. Normal people don't seek to be shot at or blown up just to get a snazzy medal. People who do are psychos.

The actions of people who say, "Gee, if I blow up those helpless civilians I'll go straight to Heaven!" are indistinguishable from psychotic actions, IMO. Regardless of their religion.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: ranger1
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 12:46 PM

Ask to see a soldier's paycheck sometime. They don't get paid much for putting their lives on the line.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: gnu
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 12:54 PM

I can understand YOUR view, CS, of the PR part of things but I agree with everything said opposing the "mercenary concept". Especially 9's... "please don't say shit like that in front of me, thank you.". Except for the "please" part.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 12:57 PM

Armies are a regrettable necessity for countries, but I do worry about the mindset of those who join military forces voluntarily. Those I know who have joined at very low levels seem in many cases (not all) to be the sort of people to whom dominance is the answer to disagreement. Those who I know who have joined at any level seem in almost all cases to be the sort of people for whom orders have a protected status, who want to be protected from having to think for themselves, who will follow orders blindly and want to be able to give orders that will be followed blindly - and who may have enjoyed or suffered those things in their families.

Those I know who used to be in military forces seem often to have suffered mentally as a result of the things they have done under orders.

But the military in Afghanistan surely are right on the whole to be prepared to fight the Taliban - look at what the Taliban did. Their leaders and the civilian commanders above them however surely erred. AFAIK there has never been (Teribus or Keith A may know better than I) a successful invasion of Afghanistan and now there is a military shambles almost as bad as Vietnam.

Iraq - well the invasion may have toppled a tyrant, but again an ignominious retreat is dawning and I strongly suspect that a regressive theocracy to rival Iran will emerge. Libya - well, wait and see, but the requirements limiting candidacy in election (if elections do ever properly result) are not promising.

I tend to feel sorry for but suspicious of the man or woman in uniform. Conscripts have no choice, but those who volunteer to fight must surely be mostly those for whom fighting rather than the triumph of good over evil is a virtue, because they know when they volunteer that they do not have the choice of whether they serve good or evil - only that they have offered to serve and now must serve, as they are commanded.

But is there a better path for a country than to maintain a military force?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 01:30 PM

Thanks for that thoughtful response Richard. In particular I would tend to agree with this:

"those who volunteer to fight must surely be mostly those for whom fighting rather than the triumph of good over evil is a virtue, because they know when they volunteer that they do not have the choice of whether they serve good or evil "

As a musical aside, I just realised that one of the folk songs I sing vividly describes some of the issues touched on here. Arranged by Andy Irvine and based on a Romanian folk song collected by Bartok at the turn of the century, to me it feels as keenly pertinent today as ever:

Blood and Gold


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: gnu
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 01:45 PM

Bullshit. Many are forced to join the military because it's the only paycheque available. The rich of our nations MAKE it happen for THEIR benefit.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: frogprince
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 01:52 PM

Bingo, gnu.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 01:53 PM

"Bullshit. Many are forced to join the military because it's the only paycheque available. The rich of our nations MAKE it happen for THEIR benefit."


I wondered how long it would take for that old chestnut to emerge from the loonie left!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Rapparee
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 02:04 PM

Being an "old chestnut" makes it no less true. Been there, been that, seen that, got the medals.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: gnu
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 02:12 PM

Bonzo... yer the loony if you don't understand that reality. I suspect you may have been born with a silver spoon up yer ass. Never heard of poor people in our countries? That's rich.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: kendall
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 02:13 PM

Don't get me started!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Jeri
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 03:50 PM

We're from different countries with different economic situations. Thinking of those in the military as mercenary is a simplistic was of looking at things, and has a lot to do with not knowing anything about what people in the military do that isn't swallowed from third-hand (at least) sources. In my case, I did disease prevention. Would that ever qualify as something a "mercenary" does? I also joined because I couldn't find a job and I needed the money, so I KNOW that's one reason people join.

If it doesn't matter what job one does, but who one does it for, I suppose that makes all government employees mercenaries.

I associate the term with someone who kills for money, and doesn't care who they're killing or killing for. Not only is there no right or wrong, there's no loyalty based on principles.

Most people in any military are, whether you think it's good, bad, or maybe, are loyal to a country.

Military members also can decide not to shoot or do whatever is expected. They can be prosecuted, but they can refuse orders.

At least it seems it's been a while since we re-played this particular argument. Maybe there will be some new thoughts.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Charmion
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 04:30 PM

This is such a first-world problem.

Whenever this topic comes up, I see once again the gap that yawns between the civilians of prosperous developed nations and the men and women who serve in the professional armed forces of those nations. Have this conversation with an Afghan, or an Israeli, or perhaps a Sudanese, and brace yourself for polite confusion or scornful laughter.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST, Lighter
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 04:47 PM

> the gap that yawns between the civilians of prosperous developed nations and the men and women who serve in the professional armed forces of those nations.

Should read "some civilians."


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 05:01 PM

There would be more to your theory gnu if it was so easy to get into the armed forces, but it isn't - I know a number of youngsters right now who can't get in. It's just another job to compete for. So it's still a choice. At least in the UK.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Charmion
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 05:25 PM

Sorry, Lighter. Some civilians. I'm a civvy myself, after all -- now.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 05:34 PM

Firstly, I think it may be worth clarifying that my initial post was principally (albeit not necessarily entirely) aimed at the UK, inasmuch as here in the UK we've been saturated with the "Heroes" propaganda machine for some years now, so much so that as said above, the IMO obnoxiously populist 'Wherever You Are' Military Wives Choir hymn, directly identifies soldiers with the 'Prince of Peace' Christ himself.

Secondly, my -and seemingly others*- increasing anger at this unrelenting sacrificial 'Christlike' propaganda, may have arguably generated a false dichotomy of black v's white, whereby the inverse negative image of the propaganda, encroaches upon the reality - which may in truth lay somewhere in the middle of both.

That's not to say I retract my objections to the ways in which soldiers are cynically used as imperial tools by politicians, but that I think there are clearly a variety of reasons that soldiers sign up - including economic choices as pointed out above.

This does not mean that I personally would condone such choices however, but that I recognise others may have a differing set of priorities to me, as indeed is their right.



* there is a Facebook group "Soldier's Aren't Heroes" which I can't link to due to the volume of hits hating on it!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: gnu
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 06:36 PM

Ricky... tell them to apply for service as a grunt in the US. Bob's yer uncle. A bit of paperwork and wham bam thank you Maam.

And, as for my "theory", bullshit. Plain, pure bullshit. It's a fact and if you deny it, you deny reality. Even if the UK has more applicants for military service than jobs available, it merely points to the fact that poor people are fighting for those jobs. I believe you have kneecapped your own arguement... check AND mate, mate.

It ain't rocket science. It's just the way it is.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 07:51 PM

There are all kinds of different angles to this matter, and the truth is not WHOLLY contained in any one of them. Therefore, best if people don't respond with the first kneejerk reaction that their background moves them to when their buttons get pushed....but think about the subject at some length.

First of all...

1. A true mercenary is by definition someone who willingly fights for ANY side that pays him well enough, regardless of what the cause is or why. And he'll change sides if offered higher pay! That would be a pure 100% mercenary...his position is completely ammoral and it has only to do with getting the best pay he can get.

There are some people like that. Most soldiers do not fall under that definition, however. They are mostly willing to fight only for the side that they most believe in or identify with in a military conflict...and that means, they'll fight for their country, their culture, their religion, their political affiliation, etc. They usually fight for the culture they're most familiar with, to put it simply.

And they may be quite naive when it comes to that...thus they may end up backing very questionable causes, as I think is the case with the people out there fighting America and the UK's imperial wars, which are really being fought for the control of oil, not for democracy.

Nevertheless, the soldiers in the official armed forces are usually under the (false) impression that they are fighting for decent things, such as democracy, liberty, freedom, etc....they are not consciously acting as mercenaries.

2. They ARE getting paid. Of course! No one would go at all if there wasn't a salary being offered. People have to expect to get paid if they are going to work for any enterprise, because they have to support themselves and their families. The mere fact that they are getting paid does not qualify them as mercenaries. There would BE any armies if the soldiers didn't get paid something for serving.

3. What about the question of "heroes"? There are countless heroic acts performed by people on all sides in every war, regardless of whether it's your side...or the other side. But do these herioc acts in themselves mean that the people performing them are "heroes"??? It's a matter of opinion, isn't it? I think they're just ordinary people in dreadfully stressful situations, doing the best they can...and their governments CALL them "heroes" in order to bamboozle more people into getting into the same awful circumstances.

So the "hero" labelling is something that is mostly done by governments to keep the public supporting a war. And they wouldn't dream of calling equally brave fighters on the other side "heroes", would they? So our governments are cynically and hypocritically using the term "hero"...not for the good of the men they send out to die...but to manipulate public support for a war.

I am reminded of what Adolf Galland said once, long after the end of WWII. He was one of Germany's greatest surviving fighter aces, and he had many friends among his former opponents in the Allied forces after the war, and was considered an honorable man by the men who flew against him.

At any rate, a brash young reporter said to him in the 1990s..."Mr Galland, how does it feel to be a real living hero of the air war?"

He gave the young man a long, solemn look, and said, "I don't recall any heroes. I just remember my those who lived...and those who died."

That pretty well sums it up. He was there, and he knew the empty rhetoric of "heroism" that is bandied about by governments and media and exactly what it is used for...and he was not going to pander to it one bit. It wasn't glorious. It was a tragedy on a simply massive scale. So why glorify it?

4. Now, back to the matter of mercenaries...although the soldiers employed by a government are NOT technically mercenaries, in my opinion....you could certainly argue that they are mercenaries by default...if you want to. That's a matter of indidual opinion. If so, they're not consciously aware that they are, but they're being used.

It is my opinion that governments have been cynically using soldiers ever since armies have existed. This is true of virtually all governments, and a lot of soldiers eventually realize it, specially when their side loses a war. They experience disillusionment and realize that their leaders were just using them. They feel revulsion for what was done to them. This was certainly true of a vast number of Axis soldiers after WWII, and some Allied soldiers also had this reaction after the fact, depending on their experiences and their individual nature.

Others remained true believers in the cause. That comes down to a matter of individual belief and temperament.

5. Every shade of opinion offered above in this thread has some justification to it...some kind of reason and consistent rationale...but it isn't the only way one can look at it.

6. If you're a patient person, you'll be willing to see the angle the other person is coming from and understand it.

7. If you're not a patient person, if you can only see from one angle....then you'll tell them they're full of shit and start verbally abusing them.

And that's what I mostly see happening on the Internet. Pretty sad.

8. And there are still other ways one can look at this very complex issue. One might address, for example, the privatization of warfare that is occuring primarily in the USA as private American corporations like Blackwater and many others of the same type take over what the government-employed soldiers used to do, and field many paramilitary forces to fight America's wars (and to deal with something like security following Hurricane Katrina). Those guys DEFINITELY are mercenaries, because their employers are doing it strictly for profit, and getting very well paid to occupy and brutalize 3rd World countries (or poor neighborhoods) on behalf of corporate interests.

And that's scary.

Virtually all wars are fought basically for profit. To secure land, resources, trade routes, and political power. In that sense all wars are mercenary actions (by the aggressor)...but the soldiers themselves are usually pretty much unaware of that. They are told all kinds of other idealistic moral reasons for why they are fighting...generally a pack of lies.

And that's sad.

Who are you going to blame for it? The soldiers? Or the rich people who sent them out to fight?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 07:54 PM

Say...There are a few minor typos in the above. It happens. Use your common sense, and I think you can figure them out easily enough. Just pay attention to the context, and it shouldn't really be that hard.

There's a "would", for example, that should be "wouldn't".

I could go through it all piece by piece, but I've already chewed up more than enough time on this thread. And there are other things I could be doing.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Rapparee
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 09:16 PM

To enlist in the Armed Forces of the US you need either a GED or a high school diploma. Minimum. The days when someone is going to allow a dropout to drive a multi-million dollar tank are over. And if you have REAL computer experience (not just FB and games) it helps.

Training is rigorous, and while I as an ex-grunt might not agree with it, I'm not in a position to criticize because my own service was long ago and far away in many directions. Even then you did your best to turn out soldiers, not just cannon fodder...and so did whoever you were fighting (e.g., the Viet Cong).

But I'm out of that and out of here. Like LH, I have other things to do.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: artbrooks
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 09:29 PM

Troll alert


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: gnu
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 10:41 PM

Y'Art! I hear ya. I am gone too.

gnightgnu


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: michaelr
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 10:44 PM

It's a music thread now.

I call bullshit on "forced to join" etc. In the absence of a draft, and especially in the absence of what they call a "just war", no one is forced to become a soldier. It's a choice. Anyone can choose not to be a hired killer. It involves ethics.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: gnu
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 11:16 PM

Sorry, I had to come back for this one...

michaelr:

Ethics? No one is forced to become a soldier?

It involves survival for some of the poor in our countries.

What do you people not understand about that?

Join up or starve or steal. It HAPPENS. EVERY day.

I cannot believe you guys. How callous and how unfeeling for your poor brothers and sisters. Shameful. Almost as criminal as the rich who subjugate the poor in forcing them to kill in their blood for oil wars.

Ethics my ass. Youse all should get some ethics. And some compassion and understanding.

And, you should thank those soldiers for your standard of living and your freedoms. They come at a high price and the POOR are the ones who pay the HIGHEST price.

Fuck I am pissed off.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Teribus
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 03:02 AM

AFAIK there has never been a successful invasion of Afghanistan - Richard Bridge

Down through the centuries there have been many successful invasions of "Afghanistan" (During the Mongal invasion they actually had the entire population killed - can't get more successful than that) It was once given away as a wedding present. Throughout its history up until 1747 it has been passed from one Empire to another and thereafter it has complied with the bidding of Empires until it gained its independence in 1919.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 03:39 AM

Little Hawk, I've often been impressed by your rational and reasoned thinking, and your moderate, wide-seeing approach to contention. You have excelled yourself here IMO. I agree with all you have written. (Not that my humble opinion is worth much, but for what it is worth, you've summed up the topic from all sides justly and wisely. I really admire that.)


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 05:01 AM

Teri - I'd say that there was no successful invasion of Afghanistan since earlier than that, bearing in mind what happened on the retreat from Kabul in, what was it, 1842. The Mongol massacres took place before 1221. OK, maybe "ever" was a slight overstatement. But the history of Afghanistan on Wikipedia looks like some support for saying that since then no invading force has stayed in Afghanistan and all have eventually been supplanted by local forces.

LH - you start from the assumption that a mercenary will typically renege for a better offer. My very limited knowledge of medieval history leads me to think that a mercenary troop generally accepted and engagement for a period or task for a fixed fee and that quitting the engagement before then (unless the fee went unpaid) was both untypical and strongly disapproved of - and indeed militated against obtaining future engagements.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 05:55 AM

Many African mercenaries (among the many conflicts and uprisings, civil wars and rebellions over the years) have changed sides, either because the money ran out, more was offered by another party, or things got too dodgy! In medieval history, during the civil disturbances against Matilda, King Stephen's Fleming mercenaries (generally operating on the Welsh borders) were very capricious and unreliable. They definitely weren't fighting for him for any altruistic reason.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 10:51 AM

Well said LH. You've summed up the situation very well. I've very little to add.

People in the UK don't owe their freedom to soldiers since those who fought in WW2, like my dad (not that he had much choice). Even then a successful invasion of Britain by Germany would have been pretty much impossible.

Soldiers aren't particularly well paid, but they are fed clothed and housed somewhat.

And finally, killing people is wrong.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 10:58 AM

Incidentally the Irish Times today reports 10,000 applicants for 600 jobs in their military. That definitely makes application for such jobs a choice.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Teribus
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 11:02 AM

The massacre of Lord Elphinstone's Column in January 1842 might have been a bit of a reverse but his was only one of four British Garrison's in Afghanistan at the time. Akbar Khan must have latterly rued the second he decided to play the treachery card and order the Ghilzai Tribesmen to attack the 4,500 troops (700 British Troops and 3,800 Indian Troops belonging to the East India Company) and 12,000 civilians (men, women and children) withdrawing to Jalalabad under his (Akbar Khan's) safe conduct.

The British withdrawal had been decided upon in November 1841. Once Surgeon William Brydon rode in alone to Jalalabad on the 15th January the withdrawal order was rescinded and the three remaining Garrisons and reinforcements from India became a Force of Retribution ordered to teach the Afghans and Akbar Khan in particular a lesson.

In the following ten months, Akbar Khan and his forces were defeated four times, the border fortress of Ghazni was blown up, the British entered Kabul and blew up the Great Bazaar and Akbar Khan fled. All the prisoners taken from Elphinstone's Column were rescued and Akbar Khan's father was placed on the throne (Five years later Akbar Khan was murdered on the orders of his father to prevent him causing any future embarrassment). The British withrew almost one year on from when the original order had been given and the Russians did not attempt to enter Afghanistan again until 1878.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 11:16 AM

There are different degrees of being a mercenary, Richard.

A complete 100% totally ammoral mercenary will simply serve the side which pays him the best, and he will change sides if offered better pay. There have been many examples of this, both in war and in organized crime. War, of course, IS an organized crime...but I digress. ;-)

A politically (or religiously) motivated mercenary will serve the side he prefers in a political or religious sense...IF he is paid enough to. He won't switch sides. He'll negotiate the price, and if it's agreeable to him, then he'll fight for the side he indentifies with.

A patriot will fight for nothing at all. A patriot is not a mercenary. A patriot may, though, fight for a very questionable cause or wrongful cause, not knowing it is wrongful...as millions of patriotic Germans did, for example, in WWII. One must keep in mind, though, that their general impression of the situation was formed by the information they were exposed to in their national media...and by their typical loyalty to the culture they had grown up in. Like people everywhere else, they believed deeply in their own country and they were ready to fight for it, if it appeared that their country was in danger. And it most certainly was, once the fighting started.

It would not have been clear to them at the time that their own government's policies and decisions were the main cause of the fighting. To the contrary, they figured that they were being told the truth, and that their own government was legitimately defending Germany against all kinds of dire threats from both without and within.

People are easily convinced of such scary things by their governments. Witness the USA in the present era....

People fight because they're afraid. Beware the government that employs the politics of fear. Such governments, like "lean and hungry men", are dangerous.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Megan L
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 01:41 PM

Hmm the dictionary i just picked up(YES paper and pages of type an amazing invention :) )described mercenary as venal one who works for money or other reward

I guess that would probably cover most of the working population these days. Does that also mean the more money you work for the more mercenary you are?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Ebbie
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 03:23 PM

'...complete 100% totally ammoral mercenary...'

Redundancy and repeating oneself as well saying something over and over is over-kill, not to mention beating a dead horse, singing to the choir and carrying coals to Newcastle.

And the word is Amoral. :)


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 04:07 PM

////Soldiers aren't particularly well paid, but they are fed clothed and housed somewhat.////

In the US military, you PAY for your food, your uniforms, and your housing. It is taken out of your check before you ever see it. It is NOT FREE. Nor is it optional for the enlisted ranks. Officers may elect not to pay automatically for military chow (IOW, they receive commuted rations or "comrats") but that means whenever they do go to the chow hall or the ward room for a meal, they must pay for it out of their pocket. It is not free. People get this idea that miltary personnel get freebies but that is not true. Same with medical and dental care--it's paid for by the military but not on a case-by-case basis. You're paying into it with every paycheck but don't have to pay for it when you actually use it--sort of like insurance or --dare I say it? Socialized medicine). The civilian world could learn a thing or two about how the military handles its own.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 04:23 PM

Right, Ebbie. I was emphasizing to the max, just to be 100% absolutely certain sure and positive and with no doubt left in my mind whatsoever that Richard would get definitely and exactly what it was that I meant. ;-D


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: artbrooks
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 04:28 PM

Josepp, your understanding of the US military pay system is sadly lacking. I would explain it, but that would require a major thread drift.

As far as being mercenaries is concerned, suffice to say that military pay, especially at the lower ranks, is so low that soldiers and their families often qualify for public assistance.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: gnu
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 04:45 PM

Art... that is disgusting ans shameful.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 05:56 PM

"As far as being mercenaries is concerned, suffice to say that military pay, especially at the lower ranks, is so low that soldiers and their families often qualify for public assistance."

It's the same in Canada, Art. I'm with Gnu: it's a disgrace.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 06:01 PM

////Josepp, your understanding of the US military pay system is sadly lacking. I would explain it, but that would require a major thread drift. ////

No, you obviously can't explain it or you would. Military personnel PAY for their food, room and board. It is taken out of your check before your check is even issued to you. We also had a Navy Relief Fund so guys who had an emergency and had to go home but had no money to travel with could go to Navy Relief and receive that money. And where did that money come from? Civilian taxpayers? No. Navy personnel. It wasn't mandatory to pay in but most guys did. I did. I never used it but I figured it was possible that I might.

////As far as being mercenaries is concerned, suffice to say that military pay, especially at the lower ranks, is so low that soldiers and their families often qualify for public assistance.////

That too is utter bullshit. I lived quite comfortably on a sailor's pay. I even lived in a flat off the ship even though I still paid for my military housing and my military meals (which I never ate unless I had duty). It's not true that military personnel are well-paid and get everything for free and it's not true that they are effectively impoverished. The truth is, we are paid adequately if we live within our means just like everybody else. When I was offered a reenlistment package back in 1986, it came with a $20,000 enlistment bonus for signing on 3 more years with $10,000 given to me up front as soon as I signed and the rest paid to me in installments in my paycheck. I turned it down and took my discharge instead. I had enough money. No money, my ass.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: artbrooks
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 07:11 PM

OK, Josepp.

US military compensation has 2 primary components - pay and allowances. Pay, or salary if you prefer, is set on the basis of a serviceperson's rank and seniority, and is geographically uniform within these criteria. Pay is taxed, subject to Social Security and Medicare deductions, and is the figure upon which retirement is computed. Allowances vary geographically, and are not taxed or otherwise subject to deductions. There are a variety of them, but the two major ones are housing and subsistence. If a person lives in military housing and eats in the mess, they are not eligible for these - they are not taken out of pay; they are not entitled to this portion of compensation. Uniforms for enlisted people are issued without charge; there is a small (currently $26/month) uniform replacement allowance. Allowances often make up about 40% of total compensation, but are not figured into retirement. A 20-year retiree will generally get 50% of base pay, or 28% of total compensation.   

Current compensation (pay and allowances) for a married Army PFC (E-3) at Ft. Drum, NY is about $3500 per month, before standard deductions, assuming that he or she chooses to live off-post in Killeen. Out of this, he pays for rent, transportation, food for himself and family, and so forth. This is within the income limits for a family of 3 to get food stamps in New York


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: gnu
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 09:37 PM

That ain't much coin fer riskin yer life, is it?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 04:50 AM

I must be honest and say that, while I feel very sad to see the coffins arrive from Afghanistan with those poor young lads killed in their prime, I'm only too aware that they were trained to kill, and that there are just as many dead Afghans (civilians mostly, and among them women and children) put into the ground over there. If you go to War with a rifle in your hands, prepared to use it, then Death may and can come to you too. I only view as 'heroic' acts of courage under fire to save ones comrades, or things like bomb-disposal. My father would thump me if he could read this, he abhorred any kind of pacifism, as he fought in WW2, but we were all personally and nationally threatened back then. I'm not so sure about why exactly our troops are in Afghanistan. Terrorism isn't something that armed soldiers can address, it needs Intelligence and negociation. I bet I'll get some stick for this posting, but that's my view!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Megan L
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 05:45 AM

Some of the bravest men in ww11 were pacifists they died manning ambulances and aid stations The first aid unit I belonged to Had a memorial in the front hall to all those who gave their life.

Looking at this purely in the term of jobs a soldier has the power of life and death everyday. Mind you so have surgeons and other medical staff does that make them also mercanaries


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 07:04 AM

Doctors take the hippocratic oath, a pledge to use their professional skills in order to preserve life.

I think it would take some considerable twisting of logic to equate them with those who do the precise opposite and pledge instead to use their professional skills go out and kill complete strangers if required by those who have hired them.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 01:29 PM

Some of the 'mercenaries' in Rwanda were mere children, boys of ten or twelve, paid with drugs and fed now and then. They were forced (in the sense that they were terrified of the consequences if they refused) to chop off the hands or feet of women, children and babies with razor-sharp machetes. I'm quite sure that many 'mercenaries' in various African uprisings over the years have 'enlisted' solely to earn a few pennies to feed their families. As Little Hawk says, there are so many different categories of mercenaries, one cannot easily judge them. My old Dad was a very hard fellow. In his view all who fought in WW2 were laudable; the brave were heroes; all the rest were despicable cowards. The Fire Watch, Ambulance Drivers etc were usually too old or young to fight. Some were conscientious objectors, but he had no time for them. We had long arguments about it, but we never found any common ground!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 01:52 PM

Reread the farewell speech from Eisenhower.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 01:55 PM

Some really good points Eliza. As you may have gathered, I'm a pacifist myself, though not of the absolute kind (inasmuch as I believe in the right to appropriate degrees of self-defense) and as such I'm deeply cynical of the machinery of war, particularly the glorification of both of it and those who willingly participate in and perpetuate it. Yet I too would not wish to condemn the genuinely deeply impoverished, traumasised/brutalised and vulnerable for doing some terrible things. The kinds of mercenaries of which you speak, are arguably just as much victims of war themselves, as are those they harm.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 02:05 PM

Exactly how I feel, CS. One has to defend one's land against invasion and attack. War brings with it many victims, in many guises. It's a terrible thing altogether, and I pray I don't live to see another one in which I'm closely affected.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Tunesmith
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 02:07 PM

I must admit that I find it hard to get inside of the heads of soldiers.
When you become a soldier, you give up the right to think for yourself, and must be prepared to kill on the orders of politicians from whom - in day-to-day life- you wouldn't even buy a used car.
But, then again, at 19 I did consider joining the army but by 25, I was an out-and-out pacifist.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 02:29 PM

As a minor tangent touching on propaganda glorifying war and it's participants (such as the UK's "Heroes" PR campaign mentioned in the first post) Eliza -and anyone else interested- might find this short essay on the Moro Crater Massacre by Mark Twain affecting. He very elegantly rips to pieces the newspaper reports glorifying the atrocity:

http://www.is.wayne.edu/mnissani/cr/moro.htm


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 03:33 PM

Well my two uncles, whom I never got to know because they didn't come back from D-Day, and my father, who was a total stranger walking into the house about a month before my fifth birthday, didn't even need to volunteer. They were Irish and could simply have gone home.

None of them volunteered because they were killers, and they certainly didn't join up for the seven shillings and sixpence a day that they were paid.

It is a disgraceful insult to categorise such men as mercenaries wherever and whenever they serve.

Without the sacrifice of such, you would all be under the thumb of whichever would be potentate happened not to share your squeamish natures.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 03:45 PM

////If a person lives in military housing and eats in the mess, they are not eligible for these - they are not taken out of pay;////

WHAT isn't taken out? Taxes or money? If the former, you may be right, I never said where the money goes. I don't know, I don't care. But if you say money isn't taken out, you're full of shit. It IS taken out and it's taken out before the check is issued.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 03:51 PM

"It is a disgraceful insult to categorise such men as mercenaries wherever and whenever they serve."

No-one has done that here.
From the quoted piece linked to in the opening post:

"All soldiers – whilst they agree to murder and dominate on behalf of the oppressors – are mercenaries."


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 03:56 PM

////My old Dad was a very hard fellow. In his view all who fought in WW2 were laudable; the brave were heroes; all the rest were despicable cowards. The Fire Watch, Ambulance Drivers etc were usually too old or young to fight. Some were conscientious objectors, but he had no time for them. We had long arguments about it, but we never found any common ground!////

I'm more with your father as far as WW2 goes. There was no room for conscientious objectors there because you had some power-mongers working in collusion to engulf Europe, Asia and America is a war where it is victor takes all. A war like Vietnam was different. There wasn't the same urgency.

Also, I suspect that many of the conshies from WW2 never told anybody 20 years down the road that they were conshies. You can bet at least some, if not most, were telling people, "Oh, yeah, I was up there on the front lines fighting for my life!" Count on it.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 03:59 PM

I would also like to add Don, that I personally find the cynical use of genuine sacrifices and heroism of the past as some kind of legitimisation for present day military aggression and illegal wars, to be pretty offensive.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 04:10 PM

And I think I probably aught to reiterate, that while I recognise that my personal views may well be offensive to others here, my intention was not to offend, but to simply provoke discussion by presenting an opposite viewpoint to that being promoted by the "Heroes" campaign we are currently having incessantly drummed into us via the media.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 04:10 PM

////"All soldiers – whilst they agree to murder and dominate on behalf of the oppressors – are mercenaries."////

What does that even mean?? Whilst they agree?? You mean they sign a contract that says, "I recognize you to be an oppressor and I agree to murder and dominate on your behalf for $5000 a month"?

You sign a contract agreeing to serve and follow their rules and regulations. You take an oath. Nothing about murdering and dominating. If you're in a situation where you're told to fire on people then you fire on people. It's not a matter of agreement, it's a matter of doing your duty. If you refuse to fire and one of them opens fire on you and kills your buddies--what do you say? You have to accept that your leaders have assessed the situation to the best of their ability and have made a decision that has to be successfully carried out or even worse things could happen. There's no agreement or non-agreement. You do your duty and you try to keep yourself and your buddies alive. It's not an easy situation to be in and it's not for you or anyone else to pass judgment on someone thrust into that situation.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 04:23 PM

////Current compensation (pay and allowances) for a married Army PFC (E-3) at Ft. Drum, NY is about $3500 per month, before standard deductions, assuming that he or she chooses to live off-post in Killeen. Out of this, he pays for rent, transportation, food for himself and family, and so forth. This is within the income limits for a family of 3 to get food stamps in New York////

Brooks! Read what you just wrote. A "private". A "private". A private is the lowest ranking on the totem pole. Of course they don't make much money. But guess what?? If you're a private, you can actually get advanced in rank and make more money!!! It's been known to happen a time or two. Why, it even happened to me. I left boot camp an E-1 and left the Navy six years later an E-6!!! I was making some pretty good scratch by that time. If I stayed in. I could have left an E-8 or maybe an E-9!! Who knows--I could have struck for officer and left an O-3 or 4 like my chief did.

Basically, if you're the same rank coming out than when you went in, you're a loser. That shouldn't happen to anyone. Everybody moves up.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: artbrooks
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 05:50 PM

Josepp, a PFC is the third level in the enlisted ranks. That is what E-3 means. It normally takes a year or more to reach that grade.

However, I assume that dialogue is not your interest, so I'm out of here.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 10:43 PM

Brooks!

People can make E-3 upon graduating from boot camp. I made E-4 (3rd class petty officer) just for graduating from A school--that was 7 months after I entered boot camp. I can't imagine being dumb enough to get married as an E-3. That's like getting married when you sweep floors for a living. Kind of stupid and short-sighted. As an E-3 you have a place to live that you cannot be kicked out of. You know where your next meal is coming from.

You can live easily on that pay. I did. But, sure, you get married and that makes it a while lot harder but should the military pay for your stupid decisions?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 05:40 AM

"If you're in a situation where you're told to fire on people then you fire on people. It's not a matter of agreement, it's a matter of doing your duty" Up to a point yes, but there is though surely always a moral line which should not be crossed. The defence I was only following orders does not always stand up. It can't be a universal get out clause for everything. Not that you're necessarily suggesting it is of course.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Teribus
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 06:24 AM

"I must be honest and say that, while I feel very sad to see the coffins arrive from Afghanistan with those poor young lads killed in their prime, I'm only too aware that they were trained to kill, and that there are just as many dead Afghans (civilians mostly, and among them women and children) put into the ground over there."

Just to acquaint some here of what our "Heroes/Mercenaries" (depending upon POV) have achieved in Afghanistan:

Between April 1978 and October 2001 there was no military force or organisation specifically charged with protecting civilian life in Afghanistan. Throughout that 23 year period Afghans died at an average daily rate of 307 per day.

Between October 2001 and October 2006 US - Operation Enduring Freedom Forces and ISAF operated inside Afghanistan and they were charged with protecting the general population. Throughout this five year period the average daily death toll amongst Afghan civilians was reduced to 14 per day, three-quarters of that number being Afghans killed by Anti-Government Forces.

Between October 2006 and the present day with ISAF and ANSF protecting the general population the average daily death toll amongst Afghan civilians is 5 per day (Population of Afghanistan is over 30 million). 93% of all civilians killed in Afghanistan are killed by Anti-Government Forces - The Afghan Security Forces and ISAF work very hard to prevent that happening.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 06:50 AM

""I would also like to add Don, that I personally find the cynical use of genuine sacrifices and heroism of the past as some kind of legitimisation for present day military aggression and illegal wars, to be pretty offensive.""

Nothing cynical about my post or my feelings C.S. and I find that comment personally most insulting.

The point of my comment is that in the real world, soldiers who serve their countries cannot be categorised as mercenaries, nor as willing killers.

Your self righteous generalisations reveal a disconnect between your emotions and your logical reasoning.

By all means attack the political masters who are never themselves in the line of fire, but have some thought about the way you attack men who are not the initiators of the conflicts.

They are not the problem, but they are an important part of the solution.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Megan L
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 07:06 AM

Since the first of our ancient ancestors threw a stone at another person there have been warriors. Not always men as the story of Scáthach the great female warrior and teacher of warriors on the isle of Skye shows. There have probably also been people bleating in the background about them I guess this old world just hasnt seen anything new after all.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 07:10 AM

"Nothing cynical about my post or my feelings C.S."

Again, I fear you have misinterpreted my post.

I didn't state that *you* were legitimising present day conflicts with heroisms of the past. Nor did I blanket generalise as I've clarified previously.

As stated, as far as I'm concerned there is one good reason to go to war, and that is in self defense in the face of genuine aggression (not rhetoric) from another nation.

Soldiers serving in illegal wars or being used as imperial tools in oil grabbing missions are not, so far as I'm concerned heroes, but pawns. I believe their political masters think the same, Kissenger called soldiers "dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy" I think the sooner we start challenging the propaganda that soldiers are all Heroes, the better, and particularly for those who might decide to sign up under the illusion that it is a grand and good thing to do.

I'm going to leave it there. As said I wanted to present an opposite perspective to that we are subjected to in the media. It's a simple debating strategy called dialectics to provoke discussion.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 07:29 AM

Teribus, there you go again. You do this altogether too often--throw facts into discussions. It'll have to stop you know!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 07:36 AM

"When you become a soldier, you give up the right to think for yourself, and must be prepared to kill on the orders of politicians from whom - in day-to-day life- you wouldn't even buy a used car."

Tunesmith, loved the used car salesman equation!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 08:22 AM

///I must admit that I find it hard to get inside of the heads of soldiers.////

They are often guys who think exactly like you but who either:

a. Didn't have the good luck to be able to avoid service.
b. Felt that they should do their time instead expecting someone else to do it.

///When you become a soldier, you give up the right to think for yourself,////

That's not true. You ARE responsible for knowing an illegal order from a legal one and you are required NOT to follow an illegal one.

////and must be prepared to kill on the orders of politicians from whom - in day-to-day life- you wouldn't even buy a used car.////

There's only one that gets any real say and that is the president. Who could have known what Bush was going to do when he got in office? And it was largely civilians who out him there--twice.

////But, then again, at 19 I did consider joining the army but by 25, I was an out-and-out pacifist.////

Nice luxury to have, isn't it? That's because others went willingly so you didn't have to. Try expressing that belief in Israel.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 08:41 AM

The issue of what is a legal and what is an illegal order can be very vexed - but a soldier who pauses to consider is unlikely to find military life kind to him. Volunteers for the military make a choice to join, knowing that they may be required to do things that conscience would oppose.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Tunesmith
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 09:24 AM

But for whom are soldiers fighting? Their Country? I don't think so!
I would say that - in the UK - the majority of the people would have voted against the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan - if given the chance!
Let's get this straight! A lot (most?) of the time, soldiers fight for dodgy politicians, and for big business interests!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,GUEST 1664
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 10:10 AM

Well actually Tunesmith, there was a majority support for the mission in Afghanistan, and despite what the media has you believe, Afghan is a safer country today for your average civilian than it has been at any point during the last 20 years, especially during the years of Taliban rule.

There are extraordinary acts of bravery happening every day out there, which are saving lives of our soldiers and of civilians.


I am a serving front-line infantry soldier, and in half the posts on this thread you'd think we were the enemy!!
I joined up because I wanted to SERVE my COUNTRY - yes, some people still believe in 'service,' this old fashioned concept, rather than serving THEMSELVES, their own salary and their own pension pot.
Because I BELIEVE that you should be prepared to fight for what's right in the world, and sticking up for the little guy unable to defend himself.
And because I wanted to travel, see the world, and live outside my comfort zone.

"While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that,
an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir",
when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys,
there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir",
when there's trouble in the wind."



As for being "murderers," well, we are sent out by the governments YOU elect!!! The government makes decisions to send forces on YOUR behalf, we act on YOUR behalf.
Unless high-level permission has been sought, WE CAN ONLY shoot if there is an imminent threat to LIFE (be that a civilian or soldier!!!)
I.e. the SAME right to self defence that you have as a civilian. We have no more rights than you.

Sierre Leonne, Kosovo - were the soldiers "murderers" there? Or did their presence and protection PREVENT huge loss of innocent life?



As for "giving up the right to think for yourself and having to follow orders."
Well that's just a load of rubbish. If you do act and shoot somebody, you best be dammned prepared to stand up for yourself and justify your actions if it comes to court (happens frequently.) Only yesterday did a soldier lose his career for punching a Taliban prisoner.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 10:28 AM

> You ARE responsible for knowing an illegal order from a legal one and you are required NOT to follow an illegal one.

At least in NATO countries and perhaps a few others. In Syria, for example, there are no "illegal" orders given against the other side. Anything goes. Nor are there illegal orders among guerrilla groups.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Tunesmith
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 10:37 AM

Guest 1664:

Just watch Afghanistan unravel once we pull our troops out!
And, don't forget, it was your bosses ( backing those chaps in the hills!) who drove the Russians out. Why?

And, as for Iraq!
Well, the average person in Iraq is now definately worse off than under Saddam, AND, thousands upon thousands of civilians have died because of the war!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,GUEST 1664
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 11:40 AM

Tunesmith, yes I too belive that Afghanistan will unravel once the troops pull out, I don't think the Afghan security forces have the competency etc to maintain it.

But back when the invasion first happened, there was really high support for it here in the uk. The democratically elected government, elected by you and I, along with 30+ other countries decided to send troops there because they believed it was in the global interest.

We are stuck between a rock and a hard place, because we have a committment there, and we can't just deploy troops/withdraw troops on a whim, based on support for the mission on that particular day.

As for the Iraq war disaster - anarchy or authoritarianism, which is worse? Yes thousands upon thousands of civilians died because of the war and it is a huge tragedy. But so to is the hundreds of thousands of Kurdish civilians that died when Saddam gassed them with chemical weapons, not to mention the Iran/Iraq war where 500,000 people died.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 12:27 PM

What GUEST 1664 is saying is that the military goes where the govt sends it and that govt is elected by the people. Even though the invasion of Iraq was unethical, the VAST majority of Americans believed it was the right thing to do at the time and only turned against it when it became painfully apparent that Bush had his head up his ass. But so did the people who elected him--twice.

If you don't like the missions that the military does DON'T send them there through the power of your vote. If you voted for Tony Blair--like it or not--YOU are part of the reason Britain went into Iraq alongside America. So think carefully before you vote in the next election. If you don't care what the military does, then fine. But if you're going to come on places like Mudcat and raise a fuss over the actions of our military in other countries, think first about you might have done (or not have done) that might have prevented it.

As for military personnel being made uncomfortable for refusing to obey an illegal order, I'd much rather have a clear conscience 20 years down the road than to hate myself for being too gutless to stand up for what I believe in. The guys who refused to participate in the My Lai massacre may not be regarded as heroes but they also don't wake up screaming and covered in sweat because they bayoneted babies and shot old ladies pleading for their lives. I think most of them can live with that.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 01:21 PM

I do not support our troops and haven't since they ended the draft. They are not fighting for any of my causes although going in to the former yugoslavia to stop the bosnian genocide would have been a good idea had they not been ignoring all the other genocides of nonwhite people as they did it. Stopping the Rwandan massacres and chopping off of limbs would have been a good idea had we done it. What we're doing in the middle east is a crime, and that comes from someone whose (pacifist and folk-singing) father was killed back in the 80's when terrorists were slaughtering americans wholesale overseas and nobody in the states seemed to notice or care. We thought the 80's were the decade of anti-american terrorism till it kept going in the 90's. 9-11 was the first here, sure, but hardly the first, and none of it justifies anything we've done in theoretical retaliation. Not In My Name. I don't want them serving and I thank those who keep out of it, not those who go in.
But back to the question, mercenaries who do what they are hired to do are always heroes to the people who hired them. Were the afghans to hire mercenaries to kill our guys those mercenaries would be heroes to the afghans when they succeed, and bad investments when they fail.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 02:40 PM

The essential problem, I think, is that serving one's country may be all very well - but it may also be quite the opposite. To take a simple situation, in a war there will be at least two sides and assuming only two sides the soldiers on each side may believe that they are serving their country. But their country may be right or it may be wrong, and the enlisted man has no choice about that.

Take the Boer war, for example, in which the UK invented (it is often said) the concentration camp. Were the British Army there heroes?

What about the troops of the USSR serving their country in Afghanistan? Were they heroes?

We take it on faith (and are probably right to do so) that allied forces were "heroes" in WW2 - but axis forces believed I imagine that they were fighting a just war - in the case of the Germans to lift the burden of an unjust peace (so they no doubt thought) imposed on them at the end of WW1.

If the current allied presence in Afghanistan is so virtuous why are "Taliban forces" so intent on laying down their lives?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: gnu
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 02:45 PM

Well posed, Ricky.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Megan L
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 03:00 PM

My Grandfather served in the Boer war and was killed in the first world war 14th september 1914


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: gnu
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 03:06 PM

I do not know if this appropraiate, but, my condolences, Megan L.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 03:37 PM

////I do not support our troops and haven't since they ended the draft.////

So if they started the draft, you'd support the military again?

////They are not fighting for any of my causes although going in to the former yugoslavia to stop the bosnian genocide would have been a good idea had they not been ignoring all the other genocides of nonwhite people as they did it. Stopping the Rwandan massacres and chopping off of limbs would have been a good idea had we done it.////

So we're not going to look at economic benefits as well as winnability in regards to where we go? We're just going to march into any quagmire as long as the combatants aren't white??? Maybe you explained that wrong and would like to try again because that was a load of shit.

/////What we're doing in the middle east is a crime, and that comes from someone whose (pacifist and folk-singing) father was killed back in the 80's when terrorists were slaughtering americans wholesale overseas and nobody in the states seemed to notice or care. We thought the 80's were the decade of anti-american terrorism till it kept going in the 90's. 9-11 was the first here, sure, but hardly the first, and none of it justifies anything we've done in theoretical retaliation. Not In My Name. I don't want them serving and I thank those who keep out of it, not those who go in./////

Whom specifically are you referring to?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 04:24 PM

Megan: my good friend's grandfather served briefly aged 16 or 17 in the army at the time of the boer woer, and signed up for WWI. On his 90th He seemed to have enjoyed it (Eileen told me it was probably a holiday compared with living with his wife). Might have been the same bullet that hit the one and missed the other.

But Richard has hit the detonator. God On Oour Side, Gott Mit Uns, Jihad. What would YOU do if your country was taken over by foreigners with endless resources?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 06:05 PM

More importantly, if your country were being invaded what would your response be?

Do you want to doff your cap, print "WELCOME" across your chest, and lie down to be walked over.

Because, no matter what country you inhabit, that would be the only choice for all you soldier haters, if your country did not have a properly trained standing army.

When the invader is marching unopposed up Dover High Street, it'll be a bit too late to be saying "Oo'er, I've changed me mind".

Of course, if we do have a standing army, you'll still be able to let them know how much you appreciate them, by calling them "Killer", "Mercenary", or any other of the charming pejoratives so beloved of the intellectually challenged.

Bottom line,...like the Police Force, you may not like them, but you would be a total damn fool to get rid of them.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,1664
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 06:23 PM

"But Richard has hit the detonator. God On Oour Side, Gott Mit Uns, Jihad. What would YOU do if your country was taken over by foreigners with endless resources? "

Or rather:
What would YOU do if your country was taken over by deeply conservative, theocratic fascists who impose a strict regime on your country and make it officially the most dangerous country on earth (as it was from the year 2001.)

The Taliban were about as welcome as a melanoma to the people of Afghanistan - conservative evaluations estime that OVER A MILLION PEOPLE FLED AFGHANISTAN WHEN THE TALIBAN FIRST SEIZED POWER IN 2001!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you have forgotten about the Taliban attrocities,then 5 minutes on google may help you.

Just last week their ilk poisened all the pupils at a girls school in Takhar.

42 nations have troops posted in Afghanistan, are they all wrong and on some imperialist crusade?


Please bare this in mind when you view the Taliban as some sort of brave defenders of the people!!!

all the best


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 06:34 PM

The necessity for a military does not affect whether they are virtuous.

Since (commonly) each of two opposing sides thinks they are "right" the voluntary soldier must logically appreciate that he may be compelled to do wrong.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,1664
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 06:41 PM

"Right" in his psyche, "wrong" by the psyche of the opposing nation.

Which suggests that the concepts of "right" and "wrong" and 'relative' and depend on your background etc...

Which suggests that your views on the topic might be "wrong."

Same with mine.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 07:32 PM

I think some people here might recall an incident in Uganda at Entebbe Airport in 1975(?). Negotiation didn't get the hostages released.

I think some people here might recall a hostage situation at the Embassy in London, 1980. Negotiation didn't get the hostages released.

I think some people here might recall the invasion of Kuwait (1982) by Iraqi forces. Their treatment of Kuwait citizens was deplorable. Negotiation didn't get the hostages--that is the whole population--released.

I think some people here might recall a situation in Rwanda in 1994. There are 20,000 people alive today because a general and his troops followed their hearts and skirted their orders.

Yes, soldiers are for the most part trained to fight, and part of fighting is killing, although it's tactically better to wound (thus taking a rescuer or two out of the battle). My view is this: I truly wish we lived in a world where armies and weapons didn't exist. But armies and weapons are a part of the way we negotiate when the more peaceful methods fail. I don't buy into hero talk, so in that regard I agree with the OP. Thereafter it becomes a different story.

And Josepp, please don't bother. I sat shiva for you two days ago.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 07:35 PM

100


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 10:38 PM

I'll jump in at the bottom with only skimming the thread to point out this article from late 2010, in which it is pointed out that 92% of the Afghan people never heard of the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/11/19/think-tank-afghans-dont-know-911/

The war going on in their country makes no sense (it never did to me, either, and I do know about 9/11). The Taliban and rebel war lords, etc., are freedom fighters, fighting against an invader. And that would be us.

Time to get out of there. There is no winning a war in Afghanistan. Many people have learned that the hard way in the past and Bush should never have gone there. Since he started that second senseless stupid war in Iraq, Obama has been busy winding down this stuff. But he should have gotten out of the Big A before now.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 06:26 AM

"If you voted for Tony Blair--like it or not--YOU are part of the reason Britain went into Iraq alongside America."

Many people voted for Blair but didn't support the subsequent invasion of Iraq. Many people initially supported the invasion of Iraq because they were given false information at the time. The British people were told that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and it was intimated that they could be deployed against us at 45 minutes notice. Or something like that from memory. That is the reason the British went in and of course it was all found to be incorrect information. So it is not quite as clear cut as if you voted for Blair you are responsible. The other parties basically supported the invasion because they too believed the info.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 10:00 AM

"The war going on in their country makes no sense (it never did to me, either, and I do know about 9/11)."


SRS: I was pleased to read that post. Please answer one question, just one: why did Building 7 come down?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Tunesmith
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 11:30 AM

And, let's not forget that the Russians went in to Afghanistan( they would say - like the West - invited in) because of the rise of extremist muslim factions.
But, of course, the USA undermined their efforts by supporting those tribal characters in the hills ( NOT the Taliban, you understand!).
Imagine, if now, the Russians decided to supply the Taliban with weapons.
What would we make of that!
No wonder the Russians don't trust the Americans.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Teribus
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 12:26 PM

it is pointed out that 92% of the Afghan people never heard of the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Immaterial the events of 11th September, 2001 have got nothing to do with the role and presence of ISAF troops in Afghanistan.

If you doubt that then do not please take issue with me for stating that instead read and take it up with the United Nations:

The Bonn Agreement

And

ISAF Mission Statement


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 01:27 PM

////So it is not quite as clear cut as if you voted for Blair you are responsible.////

Well, you can rationalize any way you like if it makes you feel better but the truth is that if you voted for him you helped put your troops in that country. And it doesn't matter what you believed about Saddam--BLAIR KNEW the case against him was bullshit--he HAD to know. He chose to go along with it.

My point is, it is pointless to try and rationalize with a "how could I know what he was going to do?" while criticizing the military for being there. Were they supposed to be psychic? They had the same info you did and didn't have an option to refuse to go unlike the civilians who were ultimately responsible for sending them there. There's a lot of self-righteous hypocrisy going on on this thread and it's all far left liberal rubbish.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Tunesmith
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 02:16 PM

josepp: Yes, exactly! And, why, knowing all that about politicians, would anyone be willing to join up!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 02:32 PM

Because they need work and if they didn't there'd be a draft because you have to have a military.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 03:03 PM

"Well, you can rationalize any way you like if it makes you feel better but the truth is that if you voted for him you helped put your troops in that country"

No doesn't stack up. The Blair govt that actually joined the US in the war won the second landslide election in 2001 a full two years prior to the said invasion. They did not stand on a platform of going to war with Iraq hence voters can not in any way be blamed. That is too retrospective. Anyway we don't have presidential elections. You talk about if you voted for Blair! Only a few voters in a County Durham constituency actually voted for Blair. Personally I don't need to try and feel better anyway as I voted SNP and they were consistently against the war and their leader was very outspoken about it. Blair by use of the royal perogative had the power to take Britain to war without consulting parliament but he chose to do so and the only people who voted for the war were the actual members of the parliament itself. They voted for it based on incorrect facts. Not disputing that.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Mrr, back to josepp
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 05:55 PM

About the draft: I would support drafted people who are stuck doing war stuff. I do not support people who volunteer for war.

About the Bosnian v. other genocides:

//So we're not going to look at economic benefits as well as winnability in regards to where we go? We're just going to march into any quagmire as long as the combatants aren't white??? Maybe you explained that wrong and would like to try again because that was a load of shit./// What I said was that it would have been a better idea to go in to stop all massacres, rather than only stepping in to yugoslavia, where the people being massacred were white, and ignoring all the other genocides, where the victims were "of color" (I don't think we had any economic reason to go into Yugoslavia).

I don't think we should wage war for economic benefits anyway.


Your question about to whom am I referring, which comes after this para of mine repeated here /////What we're doing in the middle east is a crime, and that comes from someone whose (pacifist and folk-singing) father was killed back in the 80's when terrorists were slaughtering americans wholesale overseas and nobody in the states seemed to notice or care. We thought the 80's were the decade of anti-american terrorism till it kept going in the 90's. 9-11 was the first here, sure, but hardly the first, and none of it justifies anything we've done in theoretical retaliation. Not In My Name. I don't want them serving and I thank those who keep out of it, not those who go in.///// not sure to whom YOU are referring. Did you mean my dad? He was Albert N. Votaw, USAID.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 06:13 PM

///What I said was that it would have been a better idea to go in to stop all massacres, rather than only stepping in to yugoslavia, where the people being massacred were white, and ignoring all the other genocides, where the victims were "of color"///

If the US went into Rwanda, we'd still be there and we'd have defoliated that jungle to a wasteland. In the long run, they were way better off without us.


////(I don't think we had any economic reason to go into Yugoslavia)///.

We get defense contracts from Croatia. I should know, I work on them.

///I don't think we should wage war for economic benefits anyway.////

I didn't say that.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 06:28 PM

/////The Blair govt that actually joined the US in the war won the second landslide election in 2001 a full two years prior to the said invasion. They did not stand on a platform of going to war with Iraq hence voters can not in any way be blamed. That is too retrospective.////

That is incorrect. From the time Bush won election he wanted to go into Iraq. Here's what Paul O'Neill recalls:

And what happened at President Bush's very first National Security Council meeting is one of O'Neill's most startling revelations.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," says O'Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic "A" 10 days after the inauguration - eight months before Sept. 11.

"From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime," says Suskind. "Day one, these things were laid and sealed."

As treasury secretary, O'Neill was a permanent member of the National Security Council. He says in the book he was surprised at the meeting that questions such as "Why Saddam?" and "Why now?" were never asked.

"It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this,'" says O'Neill. "For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap."

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18560_162-592330.html

But Blair, who loudly voiced undying support and loyalty to Geroge Bush didn't know about any of this.


///Anyway we don't have presidential elections. You talk about if you voted for Blair! Only a few voters in a County Durham constituency actually voted for Blair.////

Did he not win election again in 2001 AND again 2005--well after the diasaster in Iraq was common knowledge? Is he not the longest serving prime minister as well as the youngest and the only one in the Labour party to have 3 consecutive victories in the general elections?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Teribus
Date: 01 May 12 - 01:19 AM

From the time Bush won election he wanted to go into Iraq. Here's what Paul O'Neill recalls:

And what happened at President Bush's very first National Security Council meeting is one of O'Neill's most startling revelations.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," says O'Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic "A" 10 days after the inauguration - eight months before Sept. 11.

"From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime," says Suskind. "Day one, these things were laid and sealed."

As treasury secretary, O'Neill was a permanent member of the National Security Council. He says in the book he was surprised at the meeting that questions such as "Why Saddam?" and "Why now?" were never asked.

"It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this,'" says O'Neill. "For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap."


Of course what Suskind contends on Day one, is complete and utter nonsense. Regime change in Iraq by "Day One" had already been adopted as official US Foreign Policy almost two and a half years before during the summer of 1998, during the Presidency of Bill Clinton.

Those at the head of the US Intelligence and Security Agencies basically remained the same, it was they who in 1997 and 1998 advised the President of the potential threat from an Iraq under Saddam who refused to comply with UNSCR 687:

"So first, let's just take a step back and consider why meeting the threat posed by Saddam Hussein is important to our security in the new era we are entering.

This is a time of tremendous promise for America. The superpower confrontation has ended; on every continent democracy is securing for more and more people the basic freedoms we Americans have come to take for granted. Bit by bit the information age is chipping away at the barriers -- economic, political and social -- that once kept people locked in and freedom and prosperity locked out.

But for all our promise, all our opportunity, people in this room know very well that this is not a time free from peril, especially as a result of reckless acts of outlaw nations and an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers and organized international criminals.

We have to defend our future from these predators of the 21st century. They feed on the free flow of information and technology. They actually take advantage of the freer movement of people, information and ideas.

And they will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. We simply cannot allow that to happen.

There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein's Iraq. His regime threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region and the security of all the rest of us. - Bill Clinton to Joint Chiefs of Staff and Pentagon staff 17 February 1998


The same people advised George W. Bush when asked to evaluate the greatest threat to the United States of America AFTER Al-Qaeda had illustrated how vulnerable large centres of population were to asymmetric attack. In the collective view of the US Intelligence and Security Agencies the threat had not changed one iota from their opinion given in 1998 and that is how THEY briefed the new President BEFORE he was inaugurated, Clinton had pushed it to the back burner for the final months of his second term, leaving it to the United Nations. Bush took it more seriously as there were already mutterings about having sanctions lifted. After 9/11 then the matter had to resolved and both Bush and Blair tried the UN Security Council first. It would not have mattered who had won the 2000 Presidential Election the advice and recommedations would have remained the same. The Northern Alliance would have been assisted in Afghanistan to rid the country of the Taliban Government and their Al-Qaeda "Guests" and Iraq forced to comply with UNSCR 687 within a limited time-frame - there would be no letting UNMOVIC's inspection just drift on as it's predecessor organisation UNSCOM's had been allowed to. The choice with regard to war was Saddam's and his alone. In both instances action in both Afghanistan and in Iraq was correct thing to do and the right thing to do and the soldiers who participated were most certainly not mecenaries and to accuse them of being such is a baseless and unwarranted insult.

Oh go back to Clinton's speech - pick up on the definition and origin of term "The Axis of Evil"??


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 01 May 12 - 05:57 AM

""////I do not support our troops and haven't since they ended the draft.////""

This is arguably the single most inane statement in this thread (and that's quite an achievement).

We don't have a draft now because low grade conscripts are no longer of use in a modern army. The old days of moulding young layabouts into cannon fodder are gone, and will never return except in a future global bust-up.

Our current forces are intelligent, professional and highly trained and any one of them is worth ten conscripts in battle.

It is plain dumb to believe that they are simply trained killers, especially as a large part of their training is devoted to avoiding unnecessary killing, something which is improving daily.

One thing that nobody seems willing to acknowledge is the fact that they not only contract to fight, and where necessary to kill for their country, but, also if necessary, to DIE for their country, and for all of them that is a very real possibility.

IMHO anyone who hasn't the courage or tenacity to do likewise, has no right to disrespect those who do.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 01 May 12 - 06:00 AM

"That is incorrect. From the time Bush won election he wanted to go into Iraq. Here's what Paul O'Neill recalls:"

That is a complete red herring though! I was talking about the Labour victory in the UK election of June 2001 which ushered in the second Blair administration which took the UK to war in Iraq - not George Bush! The said party and its leader did not stand on a platform of Britain invading Iraq. Hence British voters did not vote fot that action to be taken. The said election was two years prior to the Iraq invasion. In fact it was before even the Afghanistan invasion and even before the attack on the Twin Towers.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 May 12 - 06:13 AM

Preparedness to die is not a useful test in seeking to distinguish a hero from a mercenary. It is true of both.

Considering the motivations of US presidents and UK prime ministers doesn't help much either - both are not prepared to die, although they are prepared to send others to die, and with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya are prepared to interfere in the affairs of foreign sovereign states for varying reasons - sometimes expressedly altruistic but often venal.

Now - soldiers (that's where we were, I think). Today they mostly choose to join a military. They know they may be ordered to kill people. Or, Don, to exercise their skills so that people are killed. They know that the reasons may turn out to be morally right, or they may turn out to be morally wrong, but unless they are prepared to stick their heads way above the parapet they know they won't have any choice but to do what they are told. And those who are "officer material" are those who are comfortable giving orders obedience to which depends mostly not on correctness but hierarchy.

On the other hand, a military can turn out to be necessary.

But "My country, right or wrong" is always morally wrong.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 01 May 12 - 06:35 AM

'Preparedness to die' is definitely not an indication of heroism. Suicide bombers are only too willing to blow themselves up for their cause. They may be 'heroes' among their own kind, but not in the general sense, surely. I've always been rather sceptical of fervent, blind and all-consuming patriotism. One should always have an eye on the wider picture and the morals involved. It was questions like these that so fascinated me during my extra course on Moral Philosophy at Uni.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Megan L
Date: 01 May 12 - 06:41 AM

My mother taught me there are no heros just people who do what has to be done.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Teribus
Date: 01 May 12 - 07:17 AM

"Now - soldiers (that's where we were, I think). Today they mostly choose to join a military. They know they may be ordered to kill people. Or, Don, to exercise their skills so that people are killed. They know that the reasons may turn out to be morally right, or they may turn out to be morally wrong, but unless they are prepared to stick their heads way above the parapet they know they won't have any choice but to do what they are told. And those who are "officer material" are those who are comfortable giving orders obedience to which depends mostly not on correctness but hierarchy. - Richard Bridge

1: "Today they mostly choose to join a military." - Very true and as such they apply themselves to learning their trade in as professional manner as possible. That trade is NOT simply killing people, their trade is work, move and survive as an effective unit in any sort of environment in such a manner that the task they have been set is accomplished.

2: "They know they may be ordered to kill people. Or, Don, to exercise their skills so that people are killed." - Again true and all such occasions will be covered by their "Rules of Engagement" - No soldier who serves with ISAF is deployed there having been told that his duty is to go out there and kill people.

3: "They know that the reasons may turn out to be morally right, or they may turn out to be morally wrong, but unless they are prepared to stick their heads way above the parapet they know they won't have any choice but to do what they are told." - In Afghanistan the norm dictated by "ROE" and exercise of "courageous restraint" means that ISAF can only return fire, they are not allowed to initiate contact, and are under orders to evade contact if loss of innocent civilian life is likely.

4: "And those who are "officer material" are those who are comfortable giving orders obedience to which depends mostly not on correctness but hierarchy." - Illegal orders are illegal and are not to be obeyed, the British Armed Forces are lectured and informed on this aspect of military life very extensively - I personally have exercised that right to refuse what I deemed to be an illegal order on two occasions, both incidents were subject to review and on both occasions I was found to be in the right.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 May 12 - 08:11 AM

But what if (could it possibly be so) you had been wrong? And how did you get on with the officers who gave you those orders after that? Did they still have authority over you? Did you enjoy the enquiries? Of all the illegal orders given, what proportion do you guess to be refused, and what do you think mostly happens to those who refuse to obey orders? Really, Teri, get with the real world.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 01 May 12 - 11:35 AM

Richard, imo you're better than that. Teribus stated a fact, and he refused an illegal order. It ain't always black and white. He's nearer reality and the real world than many who post here. Takes serious cajones to refuse an order. But no one ever said that being right was a release from being blamed.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Teribus
Date: 01 May 12 - 01:13 PM

Had I been wrong Richard I would have paid the price for it - that is commonly understood as accepting the consequences of your actions - in otherwords taking personal responsiblity for the choices you make - an anthema to a "socialist" I know, but if you have accepted the position you take the flak that goes with it.

As to how I got on with those who pressed me to follow the order I thought illegal after the event? Things went on as normal on the surface, I let it be known what I "wanted" to do next and lo and behold it happened.

Did I enjoy the enquiries? Well yes as a matter of fact I did, primarily because I knew I was right. I knew with 100% certainty the outcome before it came to any investigation.

Within the British Armed Forces very, very few illegal orders are ever given. I say that because I am aware of the training given whereas you are completely unaware of it. I have lived in that environment - you have not.

Your training and life experience is associated with the law and the law is governed by "evidence" (For which there are clear rules) and "precedent" (For which there are documented examples) - QRRN governed what I had to face and they backed me up to the hilt - I was never worried about the outcome.

Thanks 999 - I believe that you do have a better understanding than most.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 01 May 12 - 01:29 PM

Allan, the day after 9-11 it was obvious to anyone with a brain that we were going into Iraq. We certainly knew we were going in well before 2003. It's not like the invasion was a surprise. Blair could have refused to help. He chose not to. As another British poster on this thread told me (belying your claim that the voters are not responsible), everyone thought Saddam had WMD that could be aimed at the West in 45 minutes. And people believed that because Bush and Blair trumpeted the lie to anyone foolish enough to listen. It's plainly obvious the voters share the blame because they reelected Blair in 2005. By that time, what excuse could they offer? Clearly, they still favored the war or at the very least din't regard is to be as big a deal as certain domestic issues that they favored Blair on.

And that's fine as long as they aren't turning around and complaining the the military missions that were run under him--the repercussions of which are still being felt and will for some time. I didn't vote the Bush--couldn't stand him--but as an American I take the blame for my country electing this turd and everything that was done by him. It amazes the collousness of liberals I've gotten into violent arguments with when they refuse to take any blame for what happened in Iraq. The closest I ever came in my life to punching a woman.

You tell that to the Iraqis who had to live through that hell when one asks you what your country is going to do to make up for what it did to them: "Don't blame me, I didn't vote for him." Jesus fuck.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 01 May 12 - 05:52 PM

""Teribus stated a fact, and he refused an illegal order. It ain't always black and white.""

There are times Richard, when I find it difficult to reconcile your posts with the kind of analytical thought one might expect from a man with extensive legal knowledge.

What Teribus didn't say (probably because he would have no official knowledge of it), is that it is virtually certain that the enquiries which found in his favour on the illegal orders, would have filed an adverse report on the officers issuing those orders, resulting in, at the very least, a severe reprimand, and probably a lot more serious punishment depending on the exact nature of the orders and the likely consequences thereof.

They would have been far too busy digging their careers out of the shit to give T a very hard time.

I can hardly believe that this thought had apparently completely escaped you.

Don T


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 May 12 - 10:12 PM

It is precisely because, as 999 says, it takes "serious cojones" (or, alternatively, stupidity) to refuse to obey an order that, in reality, the vast majority of orders to do wrong are obeyed (and always have been obeyed). I can't believe that this point needs re-stating. It's so obvious. The military structure is based on orders and the hierarchy of command not on independent thought or conscience.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 May 12 - 10:22 PM

Sure there are heroes - look at footage of that flight that hit the bridge in winter DC, and the dud who went in to save the stew. Wow.

Also, josepp, whom *did* you mean when asking whom *I* meant?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 May 12 - 11:05 PM

Mrrzy: that 'scene' will remain in my memory forever. He pushed her out the water and then he was gone. I have wondered ever since--well, I'm not sure what I wondered, but I always hoped I'd have the nuts to do what he did.

Don, my friend:

"""Teribus stated a fact, and he refused an illegal order. It ain't always black and white.""

There are times Richard, when I find it difficult to reconcile your posts with the kind of analytical thought one might expect from a man with extensive legal knowledge."

I said the 'Teribus stated a fact . . .' sentence.

Teribus and I have been friends for years now, just have you and I.

Richard is also a friend. A good one, socialist or not.

The problem here is ideology, not rhetoric. This will never resolve itself if what we do is argue and not discuss. The restatement of our specific beliefs simply restates the beliefs, it does not elucidate.

I trust things are good, DT.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 01 May 12 - 11:28 PM

That was me.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 02 May 12 - 02:12 AM

"Allan, the day after 9-11 it was obvious to anyone with a brain that we were going into Iraq." Well I don't think it necessarily looked that way in the UK. Iraq and Saddam were not responsible for 9-11 and that was never used as an excuse. It was myself who mentioned the weapons of mass destruction reason given in the UK for going into Iraq two years later. This is all by the by and irrelevant. What I was pointing out was the assertion that those voters who voted Labour in (ie Blair's party) were to blame for his going into Iraq. Again the said election was long before the Iraq invasion, before the Afghanistan invasion, and even before the attack on the Twin Towers itself. Whether we were going to invade Iraq or not simply wasn't an issue in the said election. No-one can look into the future like that.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 02 May 12 - 03:44 AM

"in reality, the vast majority of orders to do wrong are obeyed (and always have been obeyed). "

Indeed. And as it has been already invoked a number of times by those angry with the initial proposition that 'soldiers are not heroes, but mercenaries', let's return to WWII to illustrate that very point.

RB has been posting consistently rational, non-emotive, non-personal and pertinent points throughout this thread so far as I can tell.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 02 May 12 - 03:46 AM

Clarification:

"Let's return to WWII to illustrate Richard's point as quoted above."

Good post 999 btw.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 02 May 12 - 08:33 AM

>in reality, the vast majority of orders to do wrong are obeyed


If you're talking about the United States (and perhaps you're not) this sounds like a conveniently glib assumption. How do you know? One could equally assume that most such orders would be rescinded after their illegality was pointed out.

And while "orders to do wrong" are undoubtedly given and obeyed, one may presume, perhaps, on the basis of regulations and ordinary judgment, that they are only a small fraction of all orders given in comparable circumstances, at least in American and, I imagine, NATO forces.

But does that lead to any comprehensive conclusion? Some people in command (just like bosses in civil life) really are grossly incompetent, unstable, sadistic, or have very poor judgment, particularly under stress. But only some.

The "only following orders" defense at Nuremberg was morally contemptible but not legally absurd. Any order issued against a designated "enemy of the Reich," soldier or civilian, was automatically considered "legal." The Nuremberg decisions ratified the concept that civilized standards trump national edicts.

And of course those standards are imperfect and imperfectly observed.

Anyhow, all these interesting discussions have little to do with the question "heroes or mercenaries?" or, for that matter, whether a soldier can be both or neither.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 02 May 12 - 03:07 PM

"all these interesting discussions have little to do with the question "heroes or mercenaries?" or, for that matter, whether a soldier can be both or neither."

I don't know. I think they are all very relevant. Including the very interesting distinctions you have raised regarding "legal" and "moral" rightness and wrongness, for which I might return to the linked piece from Indymedia with which I initiated this "heroes or mercenaries" discussion:

"The only heroic thing that armies have done in history is to defend each other against danger in the theatre of war, to refuse the senseless orders of their political masters, to refuse to occupy their own or another's country, to refuse to act as scabs against striking workers, and to refuse to carry arms or use force against their own people."

Personally, I would be inclined to agree with such a statement. As such Terribus I think probably acted in a strongly moral fashion -even possibly heroic, though I do not know the precise circumstances- when refusing to follow orders he considered to be wrong.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 02 May 12 - 03:22 PM

Sorry, from reviewing the thread I don't know whether Teribus considered the orders he refused to be Morally wrong, but I understand he considered the orders Legally wrong. Either way, as has been said, I believe it takes impressive courage for a soldier to refuse an order.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 02 May 12 - 03:58 PM

Just wondering if Little Hawk cared to continue to contribute to the thread?

He offered an excellent extensive post at the start of the thread. It would be good to see more comments from him specifically pertinent to ongoing discussion..


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 02 May 12 - 08:06 PM

A pertinent point for your consideration CS, might be that those mercenary non heroes you scorn are the sole reason why you are able to raise this discussion without any concern about official consequences, since they, or men very like them bought you free speech with their lives.

Just a thought!

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 May 12 - 05:07 AM

As I said, preparedness to die is not a useful distinction. Equally, the axis soldiers and the allied soldiers in WWII were (generally) both of the view that their actions were right.


I think, Lighter, you are confused. I did not say that the majority of orders were wrong. Merely that the majority of those that were wrong are obeyed - for the reasons given by inter alia 999.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 03 May 12 - 06:52 AM

A pertinent point for your consideration CS, might be that those mercenary non heroes you scorn are the sole reason why you are able to raise this discussion without any concern about official consequences, since they, or men very like them bought you free speech with their lives.

Just a thought!

Don T.

I've already responded to those who have made that point -including yourself previously Don - three or four times now.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 03 May 12 - 09:31 AM

Please re-read carefully:

>And while "orders to do wrong" are undoubtedly given and obeyed, one may presume, perhaps, on the basis of regulations and ordinary judgment, that they are only a small fraction of all orders given *in comparable circumstances,* at least in American and, I imagine, NATO forces.

Note the emphasis. The point is that even in the set of "comparable circumstances" (treatment of prisoners or enemy civilians, etc., etc.) it is likely that relatively few "orders to do wrong" are issued.

Back to the major issue. In my view whole "armies" cannot be "heroic" in the usual sense of the word (even if the default government description of armies of the Communist world has always been "the heroic People's Army of [fill in blank].")

Actions can be heroic, and people who perform such actions are heroes - at the time. Human nature being what it is, they can be non-heroes and even villains at other times. Look at Oskar Schindler.

To define someone as a "hero" is to say that their heroic action(s) notably outweigh their innumerable failings.


>Equally, the axis soldiers and the allied soldiers in WWII were (generally) both of the view that their actions were right.

True, but which of their countless actions were truly heroic? When an SS trooper risked his life to save his comrades on the Eastern Front, was he a hero? Or did he merely do something heroic that was absurdly insignificant in the broader picture? (It wouldn't have been absurd to the men he'd saved.)

As Richard syas, the lionizers' perspective makes a difference. The British Army and pacifists alike both endorsed the heroic actions of Captain Siegfried Sassoon, but they were different heroic actions and very different forms of heroism.

In America, John Brown and his sons murdered and mutilated five unarmed pro-slavery men in Kansas in 1856. Three years later, they seized a government arsenal in an attempt to incite a slave rebellion throughout the South. John Brown: mostly hero or mostly psycho? Are the labels even meaningful in a case like this? (He was definitely not a mercenary.)


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Bobert
Date: 03 May 12 - 10:35 AM

Like they say, "One man's freedom fighter is another's terrorist"...

B~


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Megan L
Date: 03 May 12 - 10:52 AM

Boberts quote reminded me of something i wrote standing by the graves of Germen airmen int the war cemetery at Lyness.

SOME MOTHERS SON

When all the talking's over
and the fighting has begun
your enemy or comrade
is still some mothers son.

Whatever it is they tell you
To make you believe instead
It is her son your killing
When you put a bullet in his head

Regardless who does the dying
Whose body falls to earth
A mothers heart is breaking
Till she takes her final breath.

Whether fighting for your country
your god or for the gold
some mothers eyes are crying
for the son she cannot hold

From Agincourt to Arnehm
Always answering the call
A soldier is a soldier
But a mothers son does fall


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 03 May 12 - 10:59 AM

Lot's I agree with in your last post, but:

"at least in American and, I imagine, NATO forces."

That's quite a big caveat, particularly if -as you reason later in your post- we are to consider the the heroism or otherwise of not armies en masse, but of individuals. Why would we wish to differentiate between US & NATO forces and other armies of the world?

I appreciate certain regulations may differ, perhaps making the potential for wrongful *orders* less likely than in some countries, but that doesn't mean to say the soldiers themselves, are made of any different stuff.

So let's place that US/NATO soldier within the framework of an army where particular regulations do not exist (maybe he's defected or simply relocated), are we to suppose that he or she might - by virtue of inborn racial characteristics - behave any differently to his non-US comrades where a clearly morally wrongful (illegal or otherwise by US/NATO standards) command is given? Or would he do as his comrade does, follow the order to do something terrible?

I was reminded today of the Kent State murders. 1970 USA the National Guard shot down and killed unarmed students protesting against the Cambodia War. Eye witness accounts contradict the claim that there was no order to shoot and state that the unit suddenly acted as one, kneeling and firing on the students in complete unison. 1970 isn't that long ago. Would those same men, or rather their counterparts today, do the same thing now? I don't think we have any reason to suppose that anything much has changed where soldiers following orders, legal or otherwise, morally right or wrong, is concerned.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 03 May 12 - 01:46 PM

> Why would we wish to differentiate between US & NATO forces and other armies of the world?

Because, as Teribus observed, these forces are instructed in the difference between legal and illegal orders. (Unless by "wrongful" you mean something broader than "illegal," which would be perfectly legitimate, but it would have to be defined.) I can't speak of the forces of other nations. The My Lai Massacre gave instruction in the legality and illegality of orders a higher priority in the U.S. than before. (Even at My Lai, many soldiers stood back from the killing.)

No, American soldiers are not made of any different stuff, but discipline, professionalism, and education made the My Lai incident an anomaly in the past fifty years. Where there's little discipline and scant regard for civilians or the Geneva Conventions - as, for example, in Nanjing, on the Eastern Front in WW2, in Bosnia, and in Africa - massacres and mass rapes are frequent, not to mention frequently encouraged.

Race, of course, has nothing to do with it. Individual psychology and culturally ingrained attitudes toward the enemy are decisive.

> where a clearly morally wrongful (illegal or otherwise by US/NATO standards) command is given...would he do as his comrade does, follow the order to do something terrible?

In wartime it isn't always clear what's wrongful and what isn't, and there are, of course, levels of wrongfulness. The "average" American soldier would react like the "average" NATO soldier, but perhaps not like the "average" Bosnian guerrilla. In the heat of battle, some technically wrongful orders are almost certain to be obeyed by anybody if it looks like a matter of kill-or-be-killed. It depends on the individual.

It is very difficult for the average person to imagine what the heat of battle, or the expectation of ambush, can do to one's judgment. Moral dilemmas arise that would ordinarily be impossible in civilian life.

Of course, if a soldier feels pretty sure that if he doesn't follow a grossly wrongful order he himself will be tortured, or killed, and his family made to suffer further (a realistic fear in some places), he is likely to follow the order and be haunted by it forever,
he's likely to follow the order.

> 1970 isn't that long ago. Would...their counterparts today, do the same thing now?

Not all the troops fired. Apparently only about half of the Guardsmen fired - perhaps a low percentage in response to a direct order, especially when others were firing. (Was their decision not to fire conscious or unconscious? Morally aware or just the result of fear and indecision? What if they'd simply heard no order?)

Presumably something similar would happen today, though today they would probably be shooting rubber bullets - which would undoubtedly mean more soldiers firing and possibly more injuries.

But who knows? (It is less likely than it might seem that a command was even given: the facts, as investigated in court, are inconclusive.)


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: CET
Date: 03 May 12 - 06:33 PM

Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS - PM
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 10:43 AM

"By the way, I do apologise for any offense caused to those here by expressing my views. I'm aware it's a very contentious position."

CS, you are not one damn bit sorry for "any offence". You set out to be offensive, and you are enjoying every bit of it.

I hate those mawkish super patriotic songs, too. Soldiers deserve better than that.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: gnu
Date: 03 May 12 - 06:49 PM

Megan L.... that is beautiful. Truly beautiful. I have tears. Thank you.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 May 12 - 07:09 PM

No-one should second-guess CS's sincerity unless they know her.

Lighter, part of the difficulty on this thread is that "hero" and "mercenary" are not, strictly, antonyms.

Although some have sought to defend the hierarchical military structure by asserting that illegal orders need not obeyed (however stressful relevant disobedience might be) one should not overlook that an order might well be lawful, but immoral - or indeed illegal under an jurisdiction other than that applying at the time.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 03 May 12 - 07:44 PM

> an order might well be lawful, but immoral - or indeed illegal under an jurisdiction other than that applying at the time.

That was certainly shown to be the case at Nuremberg and elsewhere.

> "hero" and "mercenary" are not, strictly, antonyms.

Indeed. However, they can be used tendentiously as if they were, which (I'm guessing) may have helped prompt CS's question.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 03 May 12 - 10:05 PM

Indeed, josepp, but still to whom were you referring way back then?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 04 May 12 - 04:37 AM

Well CET, you are right to an extent, I think -despite the early knee-jerk hostility which I expected- this has generally been a really interesting thread with thoughtful and educated contributions from all perspectives.

Despite my own pacifism (not absolute as said previously - I recognise the right to appropriate degrees of self defense) and consequent personal mistrust of the whole machinery of war and especially the glorification of it and those who willingly participate in it, if you can make a case for soldiers being heroes then the inverse (albeit not an antonym as RB comments) is equally likely to be demonstrable. As I said early on I don't think soldiers are necessarily either heroes or mercenaries, but that the truth no-doubt lies somewhere in the middle.

Otherwise, while I'm not reveling in upsetting people, I'm not scared of butchering a sacred cow on occasion. So far as I'm concerned Junior school children should be encouraged to discuss questions just like these at school as a part of a full spectrum of education.

BTW Megan L - Like Gnu, I found your poem very affecting, thanks.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 04 May 12 - 05:00 AM

EDIT:

If you can make the case 'soldiers = heroes' then the inverse of that (albeit not an antonym as RB comments) is equally likely to be demonstrable. Despite my own pacifism however (not absolute as said previously - I recognise the right to appropriate degrees of self defense) and consequent personal mistrust of the whole machinery of war and especially the glorification of it and those who willingly participate in it (as is the norm in the UK today) as I said early on I don't think soldiers are necessarily either heroes or mercenaries, but that the truth no-doubt lies somewhere in the middle.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 04 May 12 - 06:06 AM

Megan, what a beautiful poem! Have copied it out to keep. The whole tragedy of War amounts in the end to Death and Grief doesn't it?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: ollaimh
Date: 04 May 12 - 09:28 PM

the real issue is the long run of military cazpitalism from the british empire to the american. the military industrial complex have created an economy based on war, wshich serves the war capitalists, rather than trying to create an economy open to all and trying to create wealth locally. people are not forced to join the forces in rich countries they just refuse to change the system and have refused for centuries. few want to abandon jingoism and agression that creaste the conditions for consdtant american and british military interference in other countries.

those who served in iraq were agressive mercenaries. saddam was proped up by americans for decades. they sold him the mustaqrd gas and nerve gas components. if they hadn't supported him they wouldn't have had to overthrow him. in iran the us coup that over threw the elected mozadegh government created the present conditions. if american stopped interfering in other countries they will not have to invade to set up new regimes.

there was no justification for vietnam to iraq, except the profits of the military industrialm complex.

more worrying is the on going massacre of natives in central america, especially guatemala, by us proped up regimes. that is an on going genocide.

afghanistan , well it was a nato obligation so if canada wanted to remain in nato we had to get involved, and the taliban were hartbouring terrorists. however i see no justification for iraq, intertference in iran nor interference in central america.

of course given the historical genocide in the americas i would like to see the united states ot of north america. then maybe we could establish an actual democracy rather than the corporate controlled sham we now have


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 May 12 - 12:31 AM

the real issue is the long run of military cazpitalism from the british empire to the american. the military industrial complex have created an economy based on war, wshich serves the war capitalists, rather than trying to create an economy open to all and trying to create wealth locally. people are not forced to join the forces in rich countries they just refuse to change the system and have refused for centuries. few want to abandon jingoism and agression that creaste the conditions for consdtant american and british military interference in other countries.

RESPONSE: The long run of capitalism, military or otherwise, is as old as humanity. True, war at times serves capitalists, and if they're smart, even when they lose. We all know this, so what's your point?

those who served in iraq were agressive mercenaries. saddam was proped up by americans for decades. they sold him the mustaqrd gas and nerve gas components. if they hadn't supported him they wouldn't have had to overthrow him. in iran the us coup that over threw the elected mozadegh government created the present conditions. if american stopped interfering in other countries they will not have to invade to set up new regimes.

RESPONSE: I agree.

there was no justification for vietnam to iraq, except the profits of the military industrialm complex.

RESPONSE: True.

more worrying is the on going massacre of natives in central america, especially guatemala, by us proped up regimes. that is an on going genocide.

RESPONSE: True.

afghanistan , well it was a nato obligation so if canada wanted to remain in nato we had to get involved, and the taliban were hartbouring terrorists. however i see no justification for iraq, intertference in iran nor interference in central america.

RESPONSE: Canada is in Afghanistan because the USA needed immediate-reaction troops to be in Iraq. You will (should) recall that we had just been through the various flus which were determined by the CDC to have been of 'foreign' origins. Canada had an Alberta farmer/rancher who had an anthraxed cow. He made the mistake of saying so. Anthrax is in the soil of every fucking cattle field in the world. But Canada when Bush was the King became one of the Yankee's enemies. We were punished to the tune of about five billion dollars--that would be fifty billion US dollars. It was strangling our economy, so after we refused to join the "Coalition of the Willing"--that pathetic presentation of Bush on TV whereon/in he gave us the coalition of the USA, UK, Spain and Bulgaria. So, a deal was struck. Canada sent about 2500 troops to Afghanistan and the USA with suddenly-free-up-troops to the tune of 3000 and sent them to Iraq.

of course given the historical genocide in the americas i would like to see the united states ot of north america. then maybe we could establish an actual democracy rather than the corporate controlled sham we now have

RESPONSE: Historical genocide is not just an American thing. It is not forgiven them by themselves or to greater or lesser degree any other peoples. We live with it or not. The corporate view--that is, the view that you see as being corporate--is as much as we need to do, or die. The one thing to remember is to take a few of the bastards with you before you go. Take the bad ones.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 05 May 12 - 12:33 AM

That post was me, although I have no fucking idea why I should give a shit for posting as a guest. The thread was started by a guest.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Ebbie
Date: 05 May 12 - 11:24 AM

I believe that Guest/cs is Mudcatter Crow Sister.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 05 May 12 - 12:51 PM

////As I said, preparedness to die is not a useful distinction.////

It isn't??? Tell that to the people living around Chernobyl. They'll tell you about the men who willingly gave their lives to stanch the radiation in a melted reactor to save them.

And it's absurd to read comments about soldiers and their duties from people who never spent a day in the military and, indeed, clearly look down on those who do. It does NOT take courage to refuse to obey an illegal order--you don't know what you're talking about.

If you obey an illegal order gues what happens to you--that's right, you get charged with it. They fuck you for obeying it. Anyone who has spent any time at all in the military knows that the average military person lives by one rule: CYA--COVER YOUR ASS! If you don't, you will pay the consequences. When you refuse to obey an illegal order, you do so to cover your ass.

What about the marine who has publicly refused to obey any orders from Obama because he views them all as illegal? Hero or idiot?

What about the officer that was a doctor who said he wouldn't obey any order from Obama because Obama is not an American citizen and therefore cannot legally give him orders. Hero or stupid ass?

Soldiers don't disobey illegal orders or blow whistles on torture or anything else trying to be heroes. They are concerned that if they don't, someone else will do it first and implicate them. They are covering their ass. Even if you didn't participate, it doesn't look good that you stayed silent, it implicates you. They may become heroes in the process but that wasn't their intention.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Amos
Date: 05 May 12 - 01:08 PM

CS:

The rhetoric in your OP is misguided. A soldier gets paid, as he fights for his beliefs. A mercenary fights for his pay. If the distinction escapes you then the whole world of human efforts must look pretty wan in your eyes.

This is not to say there are not plenty of mercenary operatives in our present defense system. And the whole hting becomes much more problematic when the causes of war are themselves dubious and suspect.

But it would be better, IMHO, to identify the actual problems. Some very brave and intelligent people have gone into firefights convinced of their justifications for doing so, and have acted heroically in defense of their fellows. This is not something to be scorned at by some mudhen with a Dell.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 05 May 12 - 01:44 PM

A soldier gets paid, as he fights for his beliefs. A mercenary fights for his pay. If the distinction escapes you then the whole world of human efforts must look pretty wan in your eyes.

I'm very impressed by much done by people, especially people who walk against the tide of collective complacency where man's violence against man is concerned.

With respect, "a soldier fights for his beliefs" is I think a pretty romanticised view, I think most soldiers are probably more pragmatic than that, it's a career choice, short and simple. And to top it off they are heralded by the public as "heroes" for "risking their lives". So -if they're lucky- they don't get to feel bad for killing complete strangers in foreign lands who have never posed either them, their loved ones or indeed their countrymen any genuine threat. However justified they may have felt about it all.

My grandfather went to war during WWII because it was expected of him, he didn't volunteer, he was made to join like many, many like him. He enjoyed traveling the world, that's as much as I recall him saying about it. Though fortunately for him he saw no real combat, he just guarded people.

My partner's father joined the Marines, he travelled a lot in hot countries and killed five brown skinned strangers. He joined because it was a job that paid better than most around at the time. Is the world a safer place because he killed those five brown skinned strangers in far away countries? I would doubt it frankly.

A few heroes there may be in war, but I would suggest that they are in the minority. "A soldier fights for his beliefs" is as good a bit of rhetoric as any I feel, including that posted in the opening post.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 05 May 12 - 01:54 PM

Thread drift for pedants only...

Most civilians have little understanding of what war is like, particularly what combat is like.

I used to teach a university course on warfare in literature, and few of my students came in knowing anything about war except that it kills people. They tended to assume that most military personnel in war fight in front-line combat most of the time, that it's always legitimate to kill a surrendering enemy (or enemy prisoners), that there are "no rules" except instant obedience, that most enlisted soldiers are teenagers, and that most officers are like Gen. Patton, whom they think of as the greatest American general of all time (and often the only one they've heard of besides Grant, Lee, and Sherman).

Except for the Patton business, few of these misconceptions can be traced to Hollywood or to the American educational system. They're just fanciful assumptions. They're shared alike by "hawks" and "doves." The only difference is that the hawks approve and the doves don't. On the positive side, not even the hawks believe that war is fun.

After My Lai was in the news in 1969, opinion polls showed that strong majorities of American (and Australian) adults believed that the massacre of unarmed villagers by ground forces was a normal tactic in U.S. and Australian war-fighting, and that Lieut. Calley should not have been arrested: he was "only following orders."

The public's justification for the massacre was that "War is war" and "It's kill or be killed."

Only about a third of the respondents said they wouldn't have taken part. Think about it: only a minority would even *imagine for the sake of a poll* that they wouldn't kill unarmed women and children if ordered. Maybe they just assumed they'd be shot if they disobeyed.

Training and discipline are what distinguish an army from an armed mob. And though it occasionally breaks down, as at My Lai, there is a difference.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 05 May 12 - 02:13 PM

If I accept that what you say is true then it ties back to my earlier statements that it is the voters who are responsible for sending the military to other countries and if our soldiers massacre people, so be it. So why hold it against the soldiers who wouldn't be there if American policy didn't dictate it? The voters send them there without a second thought and consequences be damned. There's enough blame to go around, it seems to be unfairly concentrated here.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 05 May 12 - 02:54 PM

"So why hold it against the soldiers who wouldn't be there if American policy didn't dictate it? The voters send them there without a second thought and consequences be damned. There's enough blame to go around, it seems to be unfairly concentrated here."

If asked, most people are basically instinctively and morally (even if it is simply framed) "against war".
If asked, they will usually say: "I don't trust politicians. I don't agree with (whatever) war. But I support our troops".
The problem I have with that is covered by some of the discussion hitherto: soldiers freely surrender their personal moral responsibility to another power, they surrender it to the "used car salesman" (to borrow tunesmith's phasing) who no-body trusts. They do it, with the knowledge that they will quite possibly have to do very bad things on behalf of that used care salesman.

Most people who "support our troops" see the used car salesman as the "bad guy" in this scenario, because he said "do that thing!", but who is the guy doping that thing? Who's the guy actually dropping the bombs, controlling the drones, and shooting foreign brown people? It's not the used car salesman, but the guy who's taken the used car salesman's pay check.

Josepp, I appreciate that you may feel there's too much heat being placed on the individual soldier in this thread. But I think if you consider views in the wider world, that it's not the norm by a very long straw. I was watching a talk given by an Iraq vet turned resister yesterday, he was saying that resisters need support, because it's never going to be politicians who are going to stop sending people to war, it's only going to happen if GI's themselves stop agreeing to go. I tend to think he is right there.

With that folks, I'm going to cease posting here as it's probably only going to keep annoying people, and I'm just a woman who's never been to war so it's probably wrong of me to express an opinion anyway ;-)

Peace out!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 05 May 12 - 03:49 PM

"Think about it: only a minority would even *imagine for the sake of a poll* that they wouldn't kill unarmed women and children if ordered. Maybe they just assumed they'd be shot if they disobeyed."

Statistics indicated that in WWII 75% of the time, when allied forces were able to fire on enemy forces, they didn't do so.* There is no doubt a disconnect between would do in the imagination and would do in reality, for all of us.





*wish I could find the reference for this, I know the 75% reluctance troubled US military so much they implemented training procedures to counter the instinct in soldiers not to kill.

OK - properly out now....


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: gnu
Date: 05 May 12 - 03:52 PM

Amos... "A soldier gets paid, as he fights for his beliefs. A mercenary fights for his pay."

Well said.

CS... soldiers cannot disobey orders. And, soldiers exsit because... well, it's been done. If we all had enough to eat and shelter... it's been done. Stop war? Nah, ya gotta stop the rich first.

AQnd even that is more complicated than meets the eye.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 05 May 12 - 04:23 PM

That 75%-85% percent figure comes from "Men Against Fire," by Gen. S. L. A. Marshall (1947).

Many writers still repeat it. However, investigation in the 1990s showed that it was based on little more than anecdotes and intuition. (A journalist in civilian life, Marshall was a general in the Army Historical Section who commanded writers and researchers, not troops under arms.)

In any case, the U.S. military was so impressed by Marshall's "statistics" that they began to emphasize "fire control" and "fire discipline" as never before. By the Vietnam War, more reliable studies found that over 90% of U.S. combat troops would fire their weapons in battle.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 05 May 12 - 04:31 PM

Thanks Lighter


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 05 May 12 - 06:15 PM

This may offend, or it may provoke a smile - ideally the latter - but this thread has inspired me to explore some US folk:


Phil Och's - Draft Dodger

(obviously not too sure if I'm in or out yet)


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 05 May 12 - 06:32 PM

"Stop war? Nah, ya gotta stop the rich first.
AQnd even that is more complicated than meets the eye."

'No war but class war' Eh, Gnu..
How many working classes killed in war compared to their economic betters? Well I think you hit on one of my hot points there.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 05 May 12 - 07:49 PM

////Josepp, I appreciate that you may feel there's too much heat being placed on the individual soldier in this thread. But I think if you consider views in the wider world, that it's not the norm by a very long straw. I was watching a talk given by an Iraq vet turned resister yesterday, he was saying that resisters need support, because it's never going to be politicians who are going to stop sending people to war, it's only going to happen if GI's themselves stop agreeing to go. I tend to think he is right there.////

This was the stupidest shit you've said yet and that took some effort, I'm sure. So GIs just refuse to go, eh? In that case, the military has ceased to exist and even the biggest bleeding heart on Mudcat has admitted that militaries are necessary--like it or not. If soldiers can refuse to go to war, there's no reason to have a military because that is its raison d'etre. If you don't want to go to war--DON'T JOIN! You can't join without agreeing to go to war if called on to do so. You sign a contract. Any soldier who refuses to go has reneged and will face the consequences. And that's fine with me if he feels he can't fight in a certain war--I understand that--BUT he has NO RIGHT to expect others to do so. It was HIS choice.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 06 May 12 - 07:37 AM

I've never seen any evidence that the "poor" (or even the "middle-class"), taken all together, are any less ambitious, greedy, suspicious, or unscrupulous than the "rich." They just don't have the resources to be very good at it. (Of course, some do become successful mobsters - because of those very qualities.)

A hundred and fifty years of history, psychology, and anthropology seem to have exploded Rousseau's idea, which became the ultimate foundation of Marxism, that men and women are naturally benevolent until corrupted by ambition and greed.

The greed and ambition start developing at birth, along with the benevolence.

Neither Hitler, Lenin, Mussolini, Mao, Stalin, or Al Capone were born "rich," and none became ideal moral examples. (Of course the list could be extended.)


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 06 May 12 - 09:38 AM

For me, trying to imagine the world's armies throwing down their arms to prevent war is almost like imagining the world's drivers giving up their cars to save oil.

And even if it were to happen, there'd be no shortage of civilians eager to fill in.

Many socialists thought the First World War was impossible because the enlightened workers of Europe would never take up arms against each other.

In fact, so many millions were eager to do so that the UK didn't even need conscription till 1916.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 May 12 - 12:27 PM

"In fact, so many millions were eager to do so that the UK didn't even need conscription till 1916."

Though to be fair the British public at that time did not understand the horrors of modern industrial warfare. It's be a jolly adventure and all over by Xmas attitude seemed to be the initial reaction


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 07 May 12 - 10:46 AM

Certainly.

But they also knew, no matter what, that there would be a fair amount of killing by Christmastime. Not as much as there turned out to be in reality, of course.

And yet the volunteers kept coming for more than another year, till conscription began in March, 1916.

Personally they had little to gain. Few could have enlisted fo


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 07 May 12 - 03:44 PM

A soldier does not necessarily fight for his beliefs. What he fights for is determined by those above him in the command structure.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Amos
Date: 07 May 12 - 04:46 PM

CS, I concur that many soldiers are drawn into the situation of their assignments by very quotidian forces like a shot at decent pay and a college education grant. When they get into combat, however, they are there from no direct decision of their own, for the most part, except by reason of being hired on to the Army. That may have been originally by stupidity oir desperation or last hope, who knows.

However once they are in that goddamned frying pan, their true colors show under the heat, and some of them prove out to be heroic while others prove out to be selfish and self-serving and cowardly.

The fact of war is abysmally despicable, IMHO, a grotesque failure of imagination and communication, born out of ignorance, greeds, short-sightedness and political bullying. I have no temper for those who cause wars or agree to start them; but these are the men who by rights should use diplomacvy and imagination and fail to do so. USually on both sides.

THe conduct of individuals, once they are in the situation of war, is another matter and it is IMHO both jejune and simplistic to call such people "mercenaries". The kind of character that earns men acclaim as heros is the same quality that earns them the same acclaim in subways, house fires, forest fires, floods, or other catastrophes. The difference is only that for the most part wars could have been avoided by better management.

Again, this is just me; but I would think if you want to excoriate someone for conduct in war, your better target would be those who allowed or caused it to happen for political or economic gain.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 07 May 12 - 05:35 PM

One good answer to the problem of preventing wars might be an agreement that any government which believes all other avenues have been exhausted will hand over en masse to their respective deputies and lead their troops into battle exactly as the Kings used to do.

That would, IMHO, end wars at a stroke, because while you might get one or two who were willing (dubious, I know, but could happen), there is no way they would all volunteer.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 07 May 12 - 05:36 PM

" it is IMHO both jejune and simplistic to call such people "mercenaries"."

Indeed, as simplistic and emotive as heralding them "heroes" which is where this thread started: such propaganda works (as it has ever) so how best to throw it into relief and show it up as the cynical sham it is for the sham it is, than call upon it's opposite and equally valid number?

Lighter critiqued my comment echoing the Araqi Vet turned resister, that it's actual *individual* human beings - not mere orders (or those who give orders) - who bomb, who shoot up civilians, who control drones which turn wedding parties into horror stories, by arguing that it would be a nonsense to imagine the worlds armies suddenly all throwing down their weapons. Of course that won't happen, any more than participants in the slave industry collectively realising "Oh my! I'm doing something dreadful, let these people go FREE!"

Like reductions in capital punishment, like increasing vegetarianism, like reduced child labour, one hopes (and I think history agrees) that if you bloody well bang on about something for long enough, others will begin to listen and hear and rethink their former aquiescence to how it's always been.

Im the UK One Million were said to have marched against initiating the Iraq war. Not quite like it was back in 1916 I think.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 07 May 12 - 05:51 PM

EDIT - ref to vegetarianism - more correct analogy would be 'Increased public interest in good animal welfare'


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 07 May 12 - 06:00 PM

"The kind of character that earns men acclaim as heros"

Not in the UK. In the UK you have to consider this "Heroes" campaign they have goin on for some years now. Superficially it presents as a 'caring' charity which heals the heroes, houses the heroes, sings soppy songs about the heroes to make money to heal and home the heros, yet this campaign is a cynical mercantile tool functioning twofold: a) to alleviate the government of their economic obligations to their hired men, and b) to function as a PR tool and hiring campaign. After all who doesn't want to be a hero?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 07 May 12 - 07:29 PM

Sorry. That should have been "Few could have enlisted for the pay."

> The fact of war is abysmally despicable, IMHO, a grotesque failure of imagination and communication, born out of ignorance, greeds, short-sightedness and political bullying. I have no temper for those who cause wars or agree to start them; but these are the men who by rights should use diplomacvy and imagination and fail to do so. USually on both sides.

I agree.

> a) to alleviate the government of their economic obligations to their hired men, and b) to function as a PR tool and hiring campaign.

In the U.S., I don't know anything about the "Heroes" campaign. During WW2 Congress passed the "GI Bill," guaranteeing (for the first time in U.S. history) various immediate benefits for veterans, including payments for higher education. Does the UK not have something similar?

In 1925, Congress awarded all American WW1 veterans a "bonus" for their military service, but was something like a life insurance policy), not payable for twenty years.

President Coolidge vetoed the act, saying it demeaned veterans *and* military service. How? Because "paying for patriotism" made it less than patriotism! It would turn heroes into mercenaries!

Congress overrode the veto.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Teribus
Date: 08 May 12 - 01:06 AM

"A soldier does not necessarily fight for his beliefs. What he fights for is determined by those above him in the command structure."

What stage of the process are we talking about here?

1: The soldier/sailor/airman sitting in his camp/ship/base on hearing that the country is now at war and it is an absolute certainty that he or she is going to face combat? - In this case the individuals beliefs do not even enter the equation and neither do those of his senior officers (Command structure). The people who have determined things are the elected politicians forming the Government of the country who have just decided to take the entire nation to war.

2: The serviceman or woman deployed and in a combat theatre facing the imminent prospect of combat in either an offensive or defensive posture? - In this case the individuals beliefs are irrelevant he or she has no basis in detail for any belief relevant to the situation. In this case it is his or her Area Commander who assigns tasks to units and those tasks are assigned on what that commander believes to be the best way of achieving the objectives he himself has been assigned.

3: The serviceman or woman actually in combat - when muck and bullets are flying about and people are getting injured and killed -
does that servicemen or woman fight for their beliefs?? Do they fight for Queen and country and the honour of the Regiment?? - Don't you bloody believe it - They fight for themselves and for their friends standing shoulder to shoulder alongside them - nothing else.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 08 May 12 - 02:46 AM

and lead their troops into battle exactly as the Kings used to do.
You do not have to go back that far Don.
In our lifetime, most politicians had served in the forces, and had sons still in the firing line.
At least our Royals still put themselves forward.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 May 12 - 04:33 AM

Teri - get a reality pill. The military personnel are there and are fighting because they were ordered to do so. They do not have an effective personal choice to exercise. They know when they join up that this is what will be.

They may be brave to take the decision to enlist in that knowledge, they may hope that they will defend against aggressors or bring enlightenment to savages, but it does not make them heroes, for they do not know what they will be ordered to do.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 08 May 12 - 04:42 AM

They join in the knowledge that they can be placed in harm's way, and that their lives may be a disposable asset in some strategy.
Most of us have jobs where our health and safety are the over riding consideration of every and all activities.
e.g. I am not allowed to stand on a chair to reach something.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 May 12 - 08:58 AM

For those who don't know the state of play with the increasing programme of pro-military propaganda in the UK, here's a comment from Guardian sports writer (who in fact supports the troops) concerning the increasingly ubiquitous and coercive presence of military personnel and military charities at sporting events (where of course many young working-class men -often not extensively educated- will be present):

"While strolling along the A316 towards Twickenham in a crowd of rugby fans on Saturday afternoon, I bought one of those Help for Heroes wristbands from a couple of girls with a stall on the pavement and was happy to do so, although it seems a perversion of basic decency that successive governments should be willing to send young men and women to defend our liberty – so they say – without taking the full responsibility for what happens to them in the course of their service, leaving it to charities to provide appropriate care and rehabilitation. But it was what happened a couple of hours or so later that activated a lurking thought about the increasing convergence, at least on public occasions, between the military and sport.
As usual before an England international at the RFU's headquarters, flags were paraded and laid down around the pitch. The duty was performed by uniformed members of the armed forces: representatives, according to the programme, of the Royal School of Military Engineering, the Royal Engineers, the Army recruiting staff, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, and the Guards Division.
This sort of thing seems far from abnormal at Twickenham, where in the old days you could imagine a fair number of regular attendees turning up in regimental ties. There has also been an amount of cultural crossover in the England team, through such players as Rory Underwood, the flying winger of the 1990s, who earned his living in the dying days of the amateur era as an RAF pilot, Tim Rodber, a back-row forward in the 1999 World Cup squad, who served in the Green Howards, and Josh Lewsey, the full-back of the 2003 World Cup winners, formerly a Sandhurst graduate and, for two years, an officer in the Royal Artillery. And then there is the coaches' habit of toughening up their players by sending them on SAS courses.
Football lacks quite the same umbilical connection to the military, but it is trying hard to make amends. At Wembley in the last year or so the military presence has been inescapable, the stadium being invited to applaud soldiers who have just returned from, or are about to set out for, Afghanistan. Last Wednesday, under the FA's Tickets for Troops scheme, 1,000 members of the armed forces were invited to the match between England and France, and as the teams lined up before the kick-off, the players were required to shake hands not just with the representatives of their respective governing bodies but with members of the high command of the British army, air force, navy and marines.
It all seems a bit odd – a bit too insistent, almost coercive, like television presenters being required to wear poppies for a whole month before Remembrance Day, when what should be a private act of homage becomes the subject of moral blackmail."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2010/nov/22/england-rugby-help-for-heroes

And here's that hymn which lyrically conflates soldiers with "the Prince of Peace" Christ himself, that prompted me to post in the first place. It became Christmas number one in the UK in 2011 and sold more than half a million copies (though I can't find the full figures) - the UK public are quite easy to get on side with a sob story. Don't get me wrong, I'm guessing it's a tough gig being a military wife, never knowing where your man is going, or when or in what condition he may return. But wherever he may be right now, I believe pretty much everyone would be better off, including both him and his wife, if he simply wasn't out there:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0h39vBsiR68

By comparison, I've found much of the testimony from Iraq vet's who have spoken out against the war due to the brutality of what they've directly experienced, rather more affecting.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 08 May 12 - 08:59 AM

Me below.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 08 May 12 - 09:10 AM

"In our lifetime, most politicians had served in the forces, and had sons still in the firing line.
At least our Royals still put themselves forward."

I'd never thought of that before. Good point.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 May 12 - 12:53 PM

The lyrics to the song "Wherever You Are" are here:

http://www.barnstaplepeople.co.uk/Military-Wives-Choir-Lyrics-5-December-2011/story-14046106-detail/story.html

According to Wikipedia, the words were "compiled" from letters written to military people by their spouses or significant others.

Maybe I'm too far away, but I don't see the song or its lyrics as having any great significance. In the world of pop culture, it's just another sentimental vehicle to warm the public's hearts in a different way. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that.

If anybody's trying seriously to conflate the "Prince of Peace" with the British soldier, I think they're doing a pretty poor job of it. What strikes me is simply the badness of the pun. Now if it really were a religious hymn insisting that the Tommy is Jesus with a rifle, and people were singing it in church while the government began recruiting with a religious agenda, I'd start worrying. Otherwise it's just a play on words. In my view, it won't influence anybody to do anything, or even think anything that they haven't thought before - namely, "British soldiers fight for peace." Those who already think so will keep on, and those who don't will roll their eyes. Others probably won't give it a second thought. Or so it seems to me.

As for the flags and the uniforms, IMHO that sounds more like the sentimental mood of the day than a scary turn toward militarism. If politicians start demanding overt changes, like paramilitary groups for teens, Christianity for employment, and school indoctrination in the glories of war and a promising oil empire, that would be the time for real concern.

Why? Because dangerous jingos aren't subtle enough to propagandize through something like "Wherever You Are." They go for the jugular.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 08 May 12 - 06:38 PM

I wasn't talking about just politicians, or just signing up Keith.

I specifically said the government, by which I meant that the serving cabinet which decided that there was no alternative to war should signify their belief in that course by leading the troops into battle on the front line, preferably as enlisted ranks, which would preclude their wangling a cushy rear echelon posting.

If they truly believed in the righteousness of their actions they should feel honoured to serve.

If any such rule were internationally enacted you would see an instant end to wars. Those REMFs would find another way for sure.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 09 May 12 - 10:00 AM

That's carrying democracy too far.

Reminds me of a Lt Col or Col Sumner who, on his return from Vietnam, was accosted by some anti-war folks and someone yelled, "What are you doing over there?" to which Sumner replied, "I thought you knew. You sent me!"

Well said, Don.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: olddude
Date: 09 May 12 - 10:51 AM

Walking on a Thin Line - Huey Lewis

Sometimes in my bed at night
I curse the dark and a pray for light
And sometimes, the light's no consolation
Blinded by a memory
Afraid of what it might do to me
And the tears and the sweat only mock my desperation

Don't you know me I'm the boy next door
The one you find so easy to ignore
Is that what I was fighting for?
Walking on a thin line
Straight off the front line
Labeled as freaks loose on the streets of the city
Walking on a thin line
Straight off the front line
Take a look at my face, see what it's doing to me


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 09 May 12 - 12:09 PM

If the "leaders" had to go first, enough would go.

When one side was licked, the civilians would clamor for revenge.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 09 May 12 - 12:19 PM

/////Teri - get a reality pill. The military personnel are there and are fighting because they were ordered to do so. They do not have an effective personal choice to exercise. They know when they join up that this is what will be.

They may be brave to take the decision to enlist in that knowledge, they may hope that they will defend against aggressors or bring enlightenment to savages, but it does not make them heroes, for they do not know what they will be ordered to do./////

I agree with this. But I would add not to say that they aren't doing for it you. That's exactly who they are doing it for. If you don't like that, well, life is full of stuff that we don't like but that's how it is.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 09 May 12 - 04:35 PM

Submitted for your approval...

"If only there were evil people somewhere, insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?" --Alexander Solzhenitsyn

"The evidence [from the Nuremberg Trials] that no German was ever killed or incarcerated for having refused to kill Jews is conclusive. It is also incontestable that the knowledge that they did not have to kill, if they preferred not to, was extremely widespread....Germans could say 'no' to mass murder. They chose to say 'yes.'" --Daniel Goldhagen


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