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BS: 'Heroes' or Mercenaries?

GUEST,Lighter 09 May 12 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,josepp 09 May 12 - 12:19 PM
GUEST,Lighter 09 May 12 - 12:09 PM
olddude 09 May 12 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,999 09 May 12 - 10:00 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 08 May 12 - 06:38 PM
GUEST,Lighter 08 May 12 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,CS 08 May 12 - 09:10 AM
GUEST,CS 08 May 12 - 08:59 AM
GUEST 08 May 12 - 08:58 AM
Keith A of Hertford 08 May 12 - 04:42 AM
Richard Bridge 08 May 12 - 04:33 AM
Keith A of Hertford 08 May 12 - 02:46 AM
GUEST,Teribus 08 May 12 - 01:06 AM
GUEST,Lighter 07 May 12 - 07:29 PM
GUEST,CS 07 May 12 - 06:00 PM
GUEST,CS 07 May 12 - 05:51 PM
GUEST,CS 07 May 12 - 05:36 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 07 May 12 - 05:35 PM
Amos 07 May 12 - 04:46 PM
Richard Bridge 07 May 12 - 03:44 PM
GUEST,Lighter 07 May 12 - 10:46 AM
GUEST 06 May 12 - 12:27 PM
GUEST,Lighter 06 May 12 - 09:38 AM
GUEST,Lighter 06 May 12 - 07:37 AM
GUEST,josepp 05 May 12 - 07:49 PM
GUEST,CS 05 May 12 - 06:32 PM
GUEST,CS 05 May 12 - 06:15 PM
GUEST,CS 05 May 12 - 04:31 PM
GUEST,Lighter 05 May 12 - 04:23 PM
gnu 05 May 12 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,CS 05 May 12 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,CS 05 May 12 - 02:54 PM
GUEST,josepp 05 May 12 - 02:13 PM
GUEST,Lighter 05 May 12 - 01:54 PM
GUEST,CS 05 May 12 - 01:44 PM
Amos 05 May 12 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,josepp 05 May 12 - 12:51 PM
Ebbie 05 May 12 - 11:24 AM
GUEST,999 05 May 12 - 12:33 AM
GUEST 05 May 12 - 12:31 AM
ollaimh 04 May 12 - 09:28 PM
GUEST,Eliza 04 May 12 - 06:06 AM
GUEST,CS 04 May 12 - 05:00 AM
GUEST,CS 04 May 12 - 04:37 AM
Mrrzy 03 May 12 - 10:05 PM
GUEST,Lighter 03 May 12 - 07:44 PM
Richard Bridge 03 May 12 - 07:09 PM
gnu 03 May 12 - 06:49 PM
CET 03 May 12 - 06:33 PM
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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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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 - 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: 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,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: 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,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: 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,CS
Date: 08 May 12 - 08:59 AM

Me below.


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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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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,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,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 - 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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,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,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,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,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 - 04:31 PM

Thanks Lighter


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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: 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,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: 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,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,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,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: 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,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: 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,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: 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: 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,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: 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,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: 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,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: 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: 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: 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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