On the Measure of Man

While searching around the Intertubes for positive stories, about US Military and Allies forces service-personnel, I am (more often than not) confronted by a verbal avalanche about the true nature of man (i.e. people who serve in the military). Hell, there was a particularly hilarious episode of Community that dealt with this subject.  Matthew Modine waxed poetic about the duality of man in Full Metal Jacket, and I, myself, was prone to a sense of superiority what with the internal monologue on the dichotomy dwelling within my own psyche. I’m not quite as pleased with myself now, as I was when I was 20 going on immortality.

I suppose this blog can be seen as a way to make peace with the dichotomy that I’ve never been able to parse. Then again, if the gods can’t be happy with just one facet, why should I have to be?  The two-faced Roman god, Janus, represents opposites in the nature of the Universe, and the multiple aspects of Shiva, a Hindu god is both destruction and creation, along with chaos and balance. The Christian god is equally contentious in aspect and demeanor; historically wars have been fought over The Truth; some would have him vengeful, others loving, and many more debate whether he is a god of justice or apathy. While, I refuse to turn this article into a religious debate (and no I am not interested in what your personal beliefs are), we are currently fighting a war with an enemy who believes that winning this war is a path to righteousness and paradise. They don’t have a monopoly on that belief, but then there-in lies the contradiction, and finally leads to my point.


A gentleman name Fred Reed has a completely different definition of what a warrior is:

The Warrior is emotionally suited to pitched, Pattonesque battles of moral clarity and simple intent. I don’t mean that he is stupid. Among fighter pilots and in the Special Forces for example it is not uncommon to find men with IQs of 145. Yet emotionally the Warrior has the uncomplicated instincts of a pit bull. Intensely loyal to friends and intensely hostile to the enemy, he doesn’t want any confusion as to which is which. His tolerance for ambiguity is very low. He wants to close with the enemy and destroy him.

I don’t disagree with any particular point of this. Pit Bulls are fun-loving, cuddly, gentle, and devoted, except when they’re not. Do a YouTube search for pit bulls, kittens, and/or babies if you need visual proof. I’m cherry-picking the article but trying to stay true to his gist.

However, the Warrior does not grant the public the right to grow weary. For him, America exists to support the military, not the other way around. Are two hundred dead a week coming back from Asia? The Warrior believes that small-town America (which is where the coffins usually go) should grit its teeth, bear down, and make the sacrifice for the country. Sacrifice for what? It doesn’t matter. We’re at war, dammit. Rally ’round. What are you, a commy?

To the Warrior, to doubt the war is treason, aiding and supporting liberalism, cowardice, back-stabbing, and so on. He uses these phrases unrelentingly. We must fight, and fight, and fight, and never yield, and sacrifice and spend. We must never ask why, or whether, or what for, or do we want to.

Here’s where I beg to differ, as I would insert the term, politician, in place of warrior for the remainder of the piece. I have a great deal of respect for this man. I was an avid reader about a decade ago, and he’s been there and done that and worn out the t-shirt. His words deserve consideration, but I cannot in good conscience agree with his definition of what a warrior is. Not when I’m married to one of those warriors, and have called some friend. Here’s another example which (I believe) supports my argument, from This Ain’t Hell:

Today was day 2 of actual patrols with the ANA, and I remain impressed by them. I was sitting outside one Qalat with an E4 (maybe an RTO) who looked up at his ANA counterparts and waved to one of them. “You know what pisses me off about the media and civilians?” he asked. “They either badmouth the ANA or they think all of these people are savages. Neither is true.” he lamented as he shook his head.

When we went into the compounds, they didn’t steal everything that wasn’t tied down, they talked to the homeowner first, requested permission to climb up on the roofs, didn’t leave litter everywhere, and then thanked the guy when we left. They continue to not get the total concept of safety* but on tactical stuff they are great. They understand how to use the maps, and communicated through the radios pretty effectively. When one guy was apparently not pulling his weight yesterday morning, he literally got a boot to his arse, and then the ANA Commander took away the guys weapon and chased him back on the compound. They seem to take real pride in the work they are doing, and seem very cognizant of the importance. It may be a small thing, but they decorate all their vehicles with the Afghan flag, and they seem to be very cogniscent of emerging nationalism.

Looking through Fred’s lens, this shouldn’t be happening. Warriors don’t give a shit about how the locals feel about themselves or how they treat their neighbors, even if those neighbors might be hiding Taliban fighters. Warriors also don’t give a shit about how the fledgling national army feels about itself. According to Fred, the US Warrior should not be wasting his time on “therapeutic crap” like pride or a lucky feral dog much less “that touchy-feely leftist stuff about respect the population, especially the women.”

So here’s to all you softies out there who are wasting time on worrying about dogs or respect, and cleanliness and bullshit like that.

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One comment on “On the Measure of Man

  1. Darkwater says:

    I wrote on this topic in a similar vein just recently — see in particular the quote from Tom Wolfe:

    http://plbirnamwood.blogspot.com/2011/10/minority-over-representation-in.html

    And welcome to the military blogging community; a Martian perspective can always find a place here amongst us.

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