John McCain

There Are Good Guys and There Are Bad Guys, There Are Crooks and Criminals

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I didn't watch much of the commentary around the POTUS's speech last night, but I noticed an odd pattern in the expert discussion on the war. The smart, expert, ex-military talking heads on the cable channels didn't seem to have a specific nomenclature for the enemy in Iraq. They called them "bad guys."

For example, Brigadier Gen. James "Spider" Marks (Ret.) on Anderson Cooper 360:

He talked about clearing and securing. He talked about protecting good guys, in the vernacular. And he talked about killing bad guys. And the U.S. has to help protect the good, and the Iraqis need to get about the business of killing the bad guys.

Sen. John McCain on Fox Special Report:

Before we would go into a place, clear, and leave, and the insurgents and bad guys would move back in and take over.

Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.) on Scarborough Country:

[It's a] relatively small number of troops going into some neighborhoods in Baghdad, in parts of al Anbar Province, they`re going to kill some bad guys, capture some bad guys, pacify some areas and turn those areas over to some Iraqi troops.

A.J. Hammer on Showbiz Tonight:

Is it me, or are today`s big-screen action heroes getting older? I mean, instead of, you know, hopping in some kind of sexy car and cruising off into the sunset, they`re chasing down their bad guys with a walker.

Actually, that last one was from CNN's low-rated Hollywood news show. Still, though. Is it just the norm for ex-military people to call the enemy of a current conflict "bad guys"? It seems incredibly unenlightening for this particular conflict. It bolsters the idea that there are X number of villainous terrorists, and up to now we've been letting them off with a warning like the evil German soldier in Saving Private Ryan, and eventually they'll return to stab Adam Goldberg (read: everybody) in the chest. If there was a set number of "bad guys" in Iraq, though, we'd have this licked already.

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  1. These people all adopt the same catch phrases/words at the same time. Bill O’Rielly probably said it and it caught on like brush fire. I guess “cut and run” is getting old.

  2. Maybe it’s just that the less one knows about something, the more generalized the language becomes to describe…and stuff

  3. If there was a set number of “bad guys” in Iraq, though, we’d have this licked already.

    Why? Do you have any evidence for this assertion? Is it borne out at ALL by military history?

  4. “the evil German soldier in Saving Private Ryan, and eventually they’ll return to stab Adam Goldberg”

    oh – was that the dude they let go in that really silly scene where Tom Hanks starts talking about his career moves from Bachelor Party to Dragnet? Then in the final scene in the bell tower he stabs the GI after a really strange looking fight?

    ooooh. Gawd I hated that movie. (The Big Red One is better, IMO)

  5. “Bad guy” sounds so much better than “Islamofascist”, dontcha think?

    Sorry, I’M SPINNING, I’M A LUNATIC!!!!!!!!

  6. I always figured it was because they couldn’t use terms like “Jerry” or “Charlie” to describe the enemy. Y’know, not PC (though maybe soldiers actually do have something analogous to “Charlie” for insurgents). And, y’know, “insurgents” sounds so dangerous, and thats not what we want. “Bad guys” has a much more elementary school feel to it. Its turns a dedicated, determined enemy into the Hamburgler. And we can beat the Hamburlger, can’t we?

  7. It glosses over the fact that we’re fighting a variety of flavors of bad guys each with different motives and goals that call for a different response. You’ve got the home-grown Sunni insurgents, the various Shi’a militias most notably the Mahdi Army, the foreign AQ types, etc.

    Also, saying “bad guys” implicitly makes you a good guy.

  8. Because it’d be easier to build a space shuttle in your garage than try to understand all the factions and schisms of the various ululating mideast morons cutting off each other’s heads, you’re going to be reduced to using terms like “bad guy” and the like.

    Trying to break down the mideast and rebuilt it into Switzerland is going to be a bit challenging if you don’t know that there’s sunnis and shias and iranians aren’t a-rabs and all that stuff. So, best to stay home.

  9. Its turns a dedicated, determined enemy into the Hamburgler. And we can beat the Hamburlger, can’t we?

    LMAO! Though I probably shouldn’t be.

  10. It has to do with the abrogation of choice in whom one fights that occurs in state militaries.

    Back in my time in the Navy, we went where the president or some officer appointed by him told us to go. If he ordered us to Somalia to launch aircraft to provide CAP’s for an expeditionary force to support one bunch of warlords we’d go do that. If he told us to launch missiles to destroy a factory, we’d go do that.

    The use of the phrase “bad guys” represents this way of thinking. My CO didn’t decide, hey, let’s go fight some Somali Warlords. He was told to do it. The moment he was told to do it, those warlords and their followers became “bad guys”, not because my CO or I made some independent judgment that these people were doing something that made it morally permissible for me to kill them. President Bush I ordered an intervention in Somalia, announced that my ship’s battlegroup would sail there and begin imposing the President’s will. Suddenly, the people whom we didn’t even care about 30 minutes ago became “bad guys” whom we were quite willing to kill, if it came to that.

    Rather than worrying about why we are fighting them, we just assigned them the appellation of “bad guy” and went to work.

  11. Who have we fought in the past? Japs, rebs, gooks, krauts?

    “Bad Guy” is a PC term. Anyone have a suggestion for a good, thoroughly racist term for the enemy?

  12. “the evil German soldier in Saving Private Ryan, and eventually they’ll return to stab Adam Goldberg”

    WTF? Ah Dave, I don’t if you are aware of this, but in the real world outside the movies, German soldiers really were evil and were responsible for God know how many deaths and even the ones that weren’t individually evil were a part of one of the most monstrously evil organizations in human history. I don’t know Dave, what would you call the people we are fighting in Iraq? What would you call people who routinely behead civilian hostages, who routinely set off bombs in crowded areas, who routinely murder civilians for the purpose of intimidation and terrorizing the rest? If someone like Zarqawi is not a bad guy then just who is?

    What do you think when you do think? This is not a war of large uniformed armies. It is not even really a war of insurgency. Insurgents hold areas of ground, small areas, but areas none the less. The enemy hasn’t been able to do that in Iraq since 2005 at the latest. Right now it is a war of terror. The enemy doesn’t hold ground, it hides in the civilian population and does things like blow up mosques, public places and police stations. Do you really think that their are just innocent people building bombs in Baghdad right now who are just caught up in the situation the same way a German got caught up in World War II by getting drafted? Are you nuts?

  13. TomHynes,

    I beleive Hadji is the current racist term used for the enemy. Also, there is nothing racist about the term “reb”. That is what the southerners were isn’t it? Rebels?

  14. So John,

    Are the perpetrators of the of the massacres such as the “Firebombing of Dresden” and Operation Keelhaul “bad guys” or “good guys?”

  15. The were good guys Terran. They ended one of the worst regimes in history. As bad as Dresden was, it ended all functioning Nazi government in the area and ended their ability to continue the holocost. Was Dresden necessary and a mistake? Perhaps, but even if it was, that doesn’t make the cause of ending Nazi rule in Europe any less just. If Germany hadn’t started the war in the first place and engaged in any number of unspeakable atrocities, there never would have been a Dresden. I am sorry but the Germans were not victims.

  16. And by their headgear shall ye know them, and their badness become revealed unto you,
    and thereby shall the righteous be filled with hatred and loathing.
    Verily, the smiting of them shall be like goodness, and praise unto me, and I shall open to them who smite the guys of badness the gates of eternal paradise.

  17. How was Dresden a mistake? We dropped incendiaries on the intended target and it burned to a crisp.You can argue it was unecessary,immoral,or a waste of military resources but not a “mistake”.The firebombing was quite succesful.All US bombing missions should go so well.

  18. terran wrote:
    “Rather than worrying about why we are fighting them, we just assigned them the appellation of “bad guy” and went to work.”

    Well, that is a completely understandable position from that perspective.

    What concerns me, though, is when it comes not from those following orders, but those giving them. If a soldier or commander doesn’t need to make that distinction to be able to carry out an order, thats fine. But, uh, when the leadership doesn’t care to make that distinction – or doesn’t care to fill in the dim-witted public – THAT is a bit troubling.

  19. So, John,

    What you are saying is that it is possible to immolate innocent people who have done you no wrong and be a “good guy”. That it is possible to force people who fled the Bolsheviks, and at bayonet point drive them, men, women and children, into cattle cars that would take them to concentration camps or execution and be a “good guy”?

    Wow. Just yeterday you were calling for the jailing of people who threaten deadly force against innocent people, and today you are praising those who use deadly force against innocents.

  20. TomHynes ,

    For a non-PC term for our enemiesI like the term “slammis”.Sure there are good muslims but in Vietnam there were good “slopes” too.

  21. Actually it was the British that did Dresden not the U.S., but the U.S. firebombed Tokyo which killed more people than Dresden. I think it is reasonable to say that the area bombing was immoral. I don’t agree with that but I can understand the point. I do not think tha is it reasonable, however, to argue that the morality or lack thereof of the area bombing in anyway made the Germans and Japanese victims or in any way diminished the necessity or rightousness of ending those regimes.

  22. I’m not sure why it’s a big deal to point out that the people fighting in a war consider themselves morally superior to those they’re fighting against.

    If you don’t think your enemies are “bad guys” then it’s time to put down the gun.

  23. Terran,

    You are saying there were no rigtous causes in World War II and that the world is no better off for our side having won? Just because one side commits atrocities, doesn’t mean that on balance they are not greatly preferable to the other side. That doesn’t excuse the atrocities, but it doesn’t make them morally equal to murdering 13 million people in death camps and indescrimiately murdering millions more in the occupied territories.

  24. The John vs. tarran debate here is an odd one?it seems to me that war by definition is an immoral (or at least amoral) activity. War is forcing one group’s will onto another – which group’s will is more “moral” is inconsequential. The only important thing is who wins.

  25. If we call the US citizens who disapprove of Bush’s conduct of the war are labeled “bad guys,” then, for sure, their numbers are growing.

  26. Actually it was the British that did Dresden not the U.S.

    The British initiated the attack, the USAAF most definitely participated. Not that it necessarily makes us “bad guys”.

  27. I think the use of the term’bad guys’ just proves that the world is just W.’s private game of Cowboys and Iranians. Or something like that.

  28. John,

    Have you looked at how many people were murdered by our world War II allies (Mao and Stalin)? Hitler comes in third after them. May I remind you that the kickoff off World War II was the invasion of Poland by the German and Soviet armies?

    Had Hitler and Stalin played their cards vis a vis alliances and attacks a little differently, you would be writing a post condemning me for equating the crimes of Stalin to the comparatively lesser ones of Hitler.

    Most of the soldiers fighting in the war thought they were good guys. Some were protecting their homes against the “dirty backstabbing Jews”, some were defending their homes against capitalist oppressors, most were conscripts who fought because to refuse was certain death. But to accuse the German Soldier who carried a rifle of being evil because he had the misfortune to be conscripted by Hitler, while praising the British soldier tearing a child from his mother’s arms and throwing it into a boxcar as being a good guy simply because he was lucky enough to be born in England strikes me as being a bizarre form of moral relativism.

    Most human beings want to be “good guys”. Many do evil things because they were misled into thinking they were doing good. Heck, even I fell into that trap. After all, I volunteered for the U.S. Navy and helped make sure that my ship was in the optimum position to kill people and destroy their property. I was once a “bad guy” myself.

    As to fighting World War II, I am ambivalent. Certainly our entry into WW I was a disaster which turned what should have been a stalemate that destroyed nationalism and strangled at birth the various socialist movements in France, England, Germany, Austria Hungary and Russia.

    Hell, if we hadn’t intervened in China and Japan in the late 19th century, there would have been no Japanese army raping and pillaging Manchuria.

    If the U.S. had stayed out or World War II, I think the world would be a better place. Neither the German nor Soviet state-controlled economies were self supporting – they depended on plunder or foreign aid to prop them up. I could be wrong, though, since before they collapsed, the Soviets or the Germans or the English could have developed nuclear weapons with which to attack us. In the end, we essentially ensured that most of the world fell under the domination of brutal dictators, a condition which they groaned under for nearly half a century.

    But, if in the 19th century, the U.S. government hadn’t been so in love with sending “good guys” to kill “bad guys” the world would unquestionably be a much better place.

    Speaking for myself, I will never bear arms for any government ever again.

  29. So John, if German soldiers (ie. able bodied men) during WWII were Evil, what is that makes contemporary German men not-Evil? Did they breed out all the Evil genes?

    Or could it be that modern-day Germans are much the same is their forefathers but happen to live in a society with different values and very different rewards and punishments. A society where killing Jews gets you locked up rather than decorated.

    Similarly I don’t doubt that many of us currently civilized Americans would, if stuck in the middle of a vicious sectarian civil war, be gleefully terrorizing and torturing our neighbours.

    If Iraq was secure and had a functioning liberal society a lot of agressive young men would find it worth their while to make killings through commerce rather than the cutting off of heads.

    We can kill “bad guys” all we like, but as long as Iraq remains broken, the remaining population will continue to harbor a lot of people doing very bad things.

  30. Maybe the lesson here is this: don’t go to war unless you really believe that you’re the good guys and those you intend to fight are the bad guys. I get the feeling that many Americans are not so sure.

  31. Geez John, way to get a tangent going. You’re interesting WWII points have nothing to do with what Dave wrote. Where did Dave say the Nazis weren’t evil? His point is that the the soldier in Private Ryan is unambigously evil, so I read him as saying the insurgents are not unambiguously evil, or less evil than Nazis at any rate. It seems to me pretty clear what Dave’s point is – the word “bad guys” is used on purpose to create the impression that the people in Iraq fighting the US are a group of simple cartoonish clowns whom the US could easily defeat if it showed more will to win. Now John, please address that (certainly debatable) point and leave the Nazis at home.

  32. Jeez, these guys are just using their standard terminology. In this context, military guys are using “bad guys” as generic symbol for the people they are fighting. Just like the “m” in E=mc2 represents mass.

    The military and its equipment is built to fight against somebody, but that somebody is normally unknown. You train people or design a tank to fight an enemy, not specifically to fight the Chinese. The generic enemy is frequently referred to as the “bad guys.”

    Yes, I know a lot of tactics and tools are being designed to fight this war, but the ex-military guys are just using the language they’ve used for years.

  33. Vanya,

    It was terran who brought up WWII, not me. I was just responding to his points. Take your complains up with him not me.

    “His point is that the the soldier in Private Ryan is unambigously evil, so I read him as saying the insurgents are not unambiguously evil, or less evil than Nazis at any rate.”

    The people we are fighting in Iraq are unambiguously evil. How is not unabiguously evil to blow yourself up in a crowded market place? How is not unambiguously evil to kidnap an innocent civilian and behead them on film? How is not unabiguously evil to bomb one of the cultural treasures of the Muslim World? It is true that the fact that are enemies are evil doesn’t necessarily jusify the war, but to deny that they are evil seems to me to deny pretty obvious facts. It is the fact that Weidgel can sit around and wonder why people who like Zarqari could possibly be “bad guys” is why the guy makes my flesh crawl.

  34. Gee, Robert E. Lee got his soldiers to kill a lot of folks just by referring to them as “those people.”

  35. No, john,

    I believe it was Wiegel who brought up the subject. Then you started berating him for implying that a German soldier could be anything other than evil (although in all fairness, later on in your post you did absolve conscripts of evilness)

    I just was trying to figure out whether your abhorrance for atrocities depended on what flag the criminals were waving at the time they committed them or the atrocities themselves.

    The answer seems to be an unequivocal yes. I guess if my boss tells me to immolate some civilians, and I am wearing an American flag on my shoulder, you feel it’s cool.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

  36. Once again, John, you missed the point of Weigel’s post. He isn’t questioning whether or not people who blow up crowded marketplaces are unambiguously evil. He’s simply saying that it seems absurdly “unenlightened” to make no distinction between people beheading contractors on film, foreign fighters, and young iraqis who, either through no other economic opportunities or through a desire to stand up to the perceived occupiers have taken up arms. If the top brass in the military can’t acknowledge that we are fighting against an enemy that is multi-faceted, complex, and constantly growing and changing, then we truly have lost. Just to call them all “bad guys” shows that they either won’t admit to the american public or are just delusional about who they’re up against.

  37. I object to “bad guys” because it seems childish, as if the US is only playing at war. Which, in many ways, we are (or at least not pursuing this war as seriously and intelligently as we might.)

    I call the enemy – wait for it – the enemy.*

    He is the enemy because – wait for it – he’s trying to kill me.

    Who the enemy is (well, past the people actually shooting at me) and why he is trying to kill me are different questions. Questions that cannot be answered by calling him a “bad guy.”

    *Enemy is also a word that means something – one who is antagonistic to another; especially one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent.

  38. “It is the fact that Weidgel can sit around and wonder why people who like Zarqari could possibly be “bad guys” is why the guy makes my flesh crawl.”

    See, no. Zarqawi is an unambiguous, identified “enemy”. Yes, you can call him a “bad guy” if that floats you. But, McCain, Bush, et. al. aren’t just refering to one person – they’re using the term to describe, well… Lots of people. It seems that they can’t identify the enemy until the enemy starts shooting. It gives me the impression that the civilian leadership that commands the military doesn’t know what they’re doing.

    If a principle of waging war effectively is knowing your enemy, it seems we’ve been having problems.

  39. “bad guy” is simply a jargon term for anybody you kill. But there are lots of different kinds of bad guys.

    There are your straight-forward bad guys like Zarqawi.

    There are ‘collateral bad guys’ like the family of 8 that lives in the house next to Zarqawi who’s house was also flattened.

    There are ‘friendly bad guys’ who are those guys you thought were insurgents in the heat of the moment, but turned out to have been a squad of Canadian special forces guys.

  40. Wow… So THIS is what a semantics circle-jerk looks like.

    Trooper Jones wins the thread.

  41. There are also ‘A-Team bad guys’ who are really terrible shots, and who rather than killing them, you throw the dynamite just behind them so they have to jump out of the way just as it goes off, which makes them surrender.

  42. The stupidity of the term “bad guy” is that it suggests some intrinsic and irrevocable nature – as though if we could only figure out who these aberant people are and shoot them all, our problems would be solved.

    In fact, there is no fixed number of enemies, and if while trying to kill the currently identified bad guys we piss off everyone else enough that they take up arms, it turns out the proportion of bad guys tends towards 100%

    Right now a lot people in Iraq are choosing to be our enemies because in the current circumstances it is in their interest to do so. Cooperating gets them killed; being a “bad guy” gets them power and prestige. Changing those circumstances is probably more productive than killing the entire population.

  43. I would also pick “enemy” as the proper term for the people our forces are fighting. There’s a problem with that, though. If one says “The Enemy”, the listener infers that there is one, unified force we are up against, which doesn’t seem to be the reality in Iraq. Using “Bad Guys” allows for the various bands of militias, be they die-hard Ba’athists, foreign jihadis, patriotic young Iraqis pissed at the occcupation of their country, etc., without getting too specific. Describing everyone not wearing the uniform of your unit or of your allies as The Enemy risks including the non-combatant civilian population in the term, which would be very bad, as it would legitimize the criticism that we are fighting against a Maoist-style guerilla force, which we have had trouble against in the past.

    When our guys call the opposition “Hadji” I doubt that they are using the term of respect Muslims earn after making the pilgrimage to Mecca. I think they are remembering Johnny Quest. Other sobriquets for the jihadis and Islamofascists could be: wogs, sand monkeys*, towelheads, Abdul.

    *H&R poster Mo once referred to a version of this that was a bit more Michael Richardsesque.

  44. We use all kind of euphemisms in war to lighten the psychological burden what we are really doing. It makes it easier for both the troops and the population back home to deal with the fact that we are killing other human beings. “Bad guys” brings to mind people who deserve to be killed in movies and video games and (as mentioned above) reassures us implicitly that we are the “good guys” no matter what we do.

  45. I think they say “bad guys” because they don’t really have a grasp of who the different groups are. Way too many politicians don’t even know the basic difference between Sunni and Shia Islam. I’ll bet that the generals talking on TV know the difference between the two, but they don’t have a clue as to the diference between a Shia good-guy and a Shia bad-guy. Our troops and officers haven’t been able to figure that question out on the ground, how can we expect our talking-head generals to know what’s going on? People who call our enemies “bad guys” are clearly full of shit and can be safely ignored. They have no idea who the bad guys are.

    John; “The people we are fighting in Iraq are unambiguously evil.”

    The problem is discerning between the people we are fighting and the people we are helping. Given that we don’t really know who we are fighting, I’m not sure the statement means anything more than “terrorists are evil.” I didn’t need H&R to explain that.

  46. I haven’t read through all the comments yet, but I suspect in this post we are just making an overly big deal out of the way military people talk nowadays.

    Is it just the norm for ex-military people to call the enemy of a current conflict “bad guys”?

    Yes. Yes it is. At least if they are recently ex-military. More to the point, it is also the norm for currently-in-the-military people to refer to the enemy of a current conflict, and sometimes the hypothetical enemy in a hypothetical future conflict, as “the bad guys.” “Bad guy” is just a common term that guys in the military use to mean “people we are fighting who want to hurt us if they can.” I.e., “the enemy.”

    This terminology has been in common usage since at least the late 1980s.

    Disclaimer: I have never been in the military, but I have worked with and talked to a lot of people who have. I used to work for a defense contractor 1989-1992.

    If the posters known as either “kwais” (ex-marine and military contractor) or Ayn Randian (reservist [or Guardsman?] currently serving somewhere in the direction of Afghanistan) happen upon this thread, they can probably confirm, clarify or elaborate upon this.

  47. Lamar,

    You make a good point. That is the problem of 21st Century war. Figuring out who and where the enemy is. Of course, the fact that the “bad guys” or “enemies” or whatever you want to call them often hide themselves within the masses of innocent people or pretend not to be our enemies, doesn’t mean that there are no enemies or that those enemies are not in fact unambiguously evil. Further, even if there are a few lousy people on our side, doesn’t make our enemies less evil. No question Pinochet was a really bad guy if there ever was one. Of course, that fact or even the US support of him didn’t make his communist enemies any less evil.

    Lastly, let’s not mistake what is going on. There is not an outright popular uprising against U.S. forces going on in Iraq. What is going on is a lot of sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni, foreign terrorists in Iraq to fight the infidel, and Iranian and Syrian agents there to fight the U.S. and flame the fans of sectarian violence. At best the people doing violence in Iraq are aggrieved parties looking for revenge against some other ethnic group, at worst they are nihilistic killers looking to sow as much chaos and death as possible. I think it is far too complex of a situation to look at people doing violence there or fighting the US as just innocent patriots standing up to an occupying force.

  48. So John, if German soldiers (ie. able bodied men) during WWII were Evil, what is that makes contemporary German men not-Evil? Did they breed out all the Evil genes?

    By their works shall you know them. You idiot.

  49. I don’t buy the concept of insurgents being nihilistic. They actually reap significant rewards from their actions, in the form of social status and political power. I’d say they’re morally flexible opportunists.

    People in Iraq, as in the USA, act in what they see as their self interest. In Iraq, setting off bombs is a good way to get ahead, so there are plenty of people willing to do it.

  50. Funny but we are basically hunting Al Qaeda and other Sunni’s in Iraq. We’re doing Iran’s dirty work for them.

  51. Also,

    The enemies of the United States will be the allies of the al-Maliki government (and sole protectors) the second the US pulls out troops. The Iraqi’s aren’t going to help neutralize any of our enemies.

  52. Libertarians have officially jumped the shark.

    We disagree with drug prohibition, so we mock commericals that say meth is bad for you.

    We disagree with the way the current war is being conducted, so we mock the idea that there is an Islamist enemy.

    And now I am reading post which sarcastically snicker at the idea that Nazis were the bad guys and Americans were the good guys.

    Just wonderful. I hope those of you who are so above it all with your knowing smirks and lack of better ideas will one day be so enlightened that you stand for absolutely nothing, because who is to say that standing for something is better?

  53. I for one appreciated the Camper Van reference.

  54. Dave:

    We don’t mock the ad because we think meth is good for you, we mock the advertisement because it is ineffective or counterproductive as to its stated goal.

    We don’t mock the idea of an “Islamist enemy,” we mock the idea that we went to war without having any clue as to which Islamists are the enemy. BTW: I noticed you don’t seem to know either.

    Your last paragraph is perhaps your worst. There is a huge difference between saying that all German citizens and German soldiers during WWII were inherently evil and saying that the Nazis were evil. It would also be untrue to say that no Americans were evil during WWII. As to the generalities, nobody argues that the Nazis were the good guys or that the Americans represented the evil side of the war. That’s just stupid talk.

    So, while I can appreciate your disgust with how snarky, ironic and abrasive some libertarians can be, I can’t sign on to your bludgeoning of what has been written above. BTW: Libertarians stand, for the most part, against foreign adventures, including Iraq. You’ll have to pardon us for having a tough time figuring out how to extract ourselves from Bush’s Catch-22. As stated earlier (and the theme of this thread), our experts don’t even know who the enemy is, how are we supposed to support sending in more troops to fight an enemy we can’t even define?

  55. “And now I am reading post which sarcastically snicker at the idea that Nazis were the bad guys and Americans were the good guys.”

    Yeesh… Such tripe.

    I happen to be mocking simple use of the term “bad guys”. I see it as oversimplifying a dangerous and determined enemy. Seriously. I’m picturing US troops up against Ming the Merciless whenever I hear the phrase uttered.

    Sorry if my dislike and open criticism of such vagaries harshes your patriotic vibe.

  56. Dave, I want to see Islamic fascism defeated completely and totally, and liberty prevail. The issue is whether or not approaching this fight primarily in terms of killing “bad guys” is a good strategy.

  57. Dave is really gonna hate my take.

    From an Iraqi Sunni perspective, they are the Wolverines and we are the Soviets. The Brits are the Cubans.

    Okay, well, I haven’t thought this all the way through so I’ll have to wing the rest. Um, The Shi’as are like C. Thomas Howell’s parents, and the Kurds are, hell, I don’t know. Let’s go with Jennifer Grey.

  58. “Dave is really gonna hate my take.”

    I also hate your take.

  59. “I want to see Islamic fascism defeated completely and totally, and liberty prevail.”

    Oh, great; now we have to overthrow the House of Saud, and break up Aramco.

  60. de stijl:

    All I know is that Maverick giving the bird to the MiG while flying inverted has to be the Sunnis.

  61. What is wrong with those of you still trying to find a deep meaning in the term “bad guys?” Stevo Darkly and I have both explained it is just a standard military term in times of both war and peace.

    Yes, a trainer could say “Pull the trigger when the crosshairs are on the person of unknown religion, gender, ethnic and sexual persuasion, who may or may not be inherently good or bad, we do not know, we are merely following the orders of our political leaders and the chain of command.”

    Or they can say “Pull the trigger when the crosshairs are on the bad guy.”

  62. Actually, it’s aim ‘center of visible mass’ of the target and ‘squeeze’ the trigger.

  63. stuartl:

    We’re talking about the pundits and supposed experts, not the guys on the ground. Though the military people I know say that guys on the ground have much more colorful names for the “bad guys,” it is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. The supposed experts do not even seem to know who the enemies are. During a calm discussion about strategy, tactics and operational abilities, an expert should be able to distinguish between enemies.

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