Sir, Do We Get to Win This Time?

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National security reporter Spencer Ackerman, who's written before about the disconnect between the wants of the anti-war left and the needs of soldiers, has a preview of the new, upcoming "Winter Soldier" hearings that will expose human rights violations in Iraq.

Organizers estimate that perhaps 45 to 55 Iraq veterans, and some from Afghanistan, will testify to such "terrible things" at Winter Soldier. Liam Madden, 23, a Marine veteran of Iraq who's now a student at Northeastern University, came up with the idea for a second Winter Soldier in late 2006 with his fellow IVAW members Aaron Hughes in Chicago and Fernando Braga in New York. "The people I've talked to who are testifying are going to talk about their experiences in Iraq, how they're put in positions to harm the people of Iraq and harm the image of America because of the position they're put in, and the complete injustice involved in that," Madden said. "Other people will talk about how a run-of-the-mill day in Iraq is. It adds up to a checkpoint here, a house raid there, a house raid there, a house raid there, to a population of Iraqis who can't tolerate you any longer."

They're all too aware of how the first Winter Soldier hearings turned ugly.

Yet the organizers of Winter Soldier will consider the event a failure if it appears to blame soldiers and Marines for the war. "Imagine you're out on a convoy and you get hit by an IED," Millard said. "And the SOP [Standard Operating Procedure] is you fire in that direction of that fire that came in. That's indiscriminate. Civilians get killed in that. It's not the soldier's fault. It's not the civilian's fault. It's the occupation's fault." Millard, a recently-discharged Army National Guardsman from upstate New York, served in Iraq as a general's assistant in Tikrit from October 2004 to October 2005. His job involved briefing senior officers on daily violent incidents and it led Millard to renounce the war as beneath the dignity of his comrades. "The common U.S. soldier is not a bloodthirsty animal," he said. "The problem is the occupation of Iraq itself."

Headline explained here.

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  1. They’re all too aware of how the first Winter Soldier hearings turned ugly.

    No matter how much they are aware of it, I suspect that such hearings will turn equally ugly. That’s not to say they shouldn’t have them, but I wonder if they are prepared for the shitstorm they will endure. Many on the left will still treat individual soldiers as “babykillers” and the right will treat them as “traitors”.

    Good luck, guys.

  2. “Imagine you’re out on a convoy and you get hit by an IED,” Millard said. “And the SOP [Standard Operating Procedure] is you fire in that direction of that fire that came in.

    uhh…what? the IED just blew up under a vehicle, it didn’t ‘come’ from any direction. this guy sounds like a heinous bullshitter.

    and note how he doesn’t actually say SOP is to fire indiscriminately, he says ‘lets say that…” then goes on to give a ridiculous example which is almost certainly not SOP. If this person is an organizer I predict this hearing to be dreadful.

  3. These are the wrong hearings to hold.

    The correct hearings to hold are to bring every contractor from Iraq, from Blackwater on down to the smallest supplier on a sub-contract, and to force them to bring their books. And then crucify them and destroy everyone involved if there is even a box of post-it’s missing or not accounted for.

    It’s harder to come up with spin to defend war profiteers than it is to generate faux outrage at Winter Soldier style hearings. This is for the simple reason that even if you produce evidence of real atrocities, the pro-war party won’t want to hear it and will say, “By agitating over this you are giving a propaganda victory to our enemies!” Remember, these are people who weren’t angry about Abu Ghraib – they were angry the pictures were leaked. They weren’t angry about the existence of secret prisons or rendition flights – they were angry that knowledge of these things became public. They don’t care what atrocities are committed as long as Al Jazeera doesn’t hear about them.

  4. Many on the left will still treat individual soldiers as “babykillers”

    I don’t think that’s true. The anti-war left in the 21st century is quite different from that of the 1960s and 70s.

    Back then, they called soldiers “baby-killers.” Today, they run them for Congress.

  5. I suspect pretty much everyone [including yrs trly] who pays attention to this will hear pretty much what they want to hear, but if it benefits the individuals who tell their stories, then it’s worth doing.

    “Let’s send our soldiers to invade and occupy a foreign country which has a totally alien culture and language, with no clearly defined goal, or measures of success. They can just wing it, as they go.”

    What a fucking goatrope.

  6. The anti-war left in the 21st century is quite different from that of the 1960s and 70s.

    As proven by their embrace of the fraudulent Lancet study and Kucinish claiming that Americans have killed one million Iraqis.

  7. the fraudulent Lancet study

    And you know it’s fraudulent how?

  8. The correct hearings to hold are to bring every contractor from Iraq, from Blackwater on down to the smallest supplier on a sub-contract, and to force them to bring their books. And then crucify them and destroy everyone involved if there is even a box of post-it’s missing or not accounted for.

    Hear hear!
    Maybe not as extreme as that, but definitely an audit is in order.

  9. “Imagine you’re out on a convoy and you get hit by an IED,” Millard said. “And the SOP [Standard Operating Procedure] is you fire in that direction of that fire that came in.”

    That’s total bullshit. Any other OIF vets here remember EVER being directed to fire in the general direction of an explosion? It happens but it makes no sense that this would be ROE.

    I did see this once during the invasion at objective “peach”. A rocket or morter came in near a fuel truck and the A-driver unloaded on the crater with a SAW out of pure panic.

  10. Sometimes I wonder if all of the scrutiny of warfare and the emphaisis on rules of war, anything that people do to try and sanitize the process is really a bad thing. The “bad guys” generally pay no attention to such niceties, and the “good guys” get the idea that they can fight a “good war.”

    So maybe we should have no rules of war, and when we fight a war we go in with the expectation that both sides will be absolutely merciless and committed only to the destruction of the other side’s ability to make war.
    I won’t pretend to know enough to say that it is a good idea, but I think it’s something that deserves further thought (although it’s not that original a thought – military thinkers from Julius Caesar to Sherman and before and after have expressed some version of it). What I hope would happen is that people would very rarely go to war, and when they did, it would be over something extremely important, like national survival. Still, human nature being what it is, maybe what we have now is the best we can hope for.

  11. As proven by their embrace of the fraudulent Lancet study and Kucinish claiming that Americans have killed one million Iraqis./i>

    Why CAN’T the “pro-troops” party manage to get any veterans to run for Congress these days, RC?

    Why ARE they all running as anti-war Democrats?

  12. A bunch of anti-war vets preaching to a choir of anti-war civilians is not going to change the public’s perceptions?

    Maybe holding a parade with papier-mache puppets depicting rude double entendre’s on “Bush” and “Dick” Cheney will do the trick.

  13. This is the sort of thing that frustrates me because people can’t just act like adults. It is important to have these messages out there and it is important for everyone to know what happens in war time and in this particular war. It’s just that these hearings will be so hopelessly political in every aspect, we’ll get nothing like quiet contemplation of how we feel about the real costs of this war.

    From the presenters themselves to the listeners who accept far too much at face value, to those on the campaign trail, this will be a disaster of misrepresentation and finger pointing.

  14. Sulla –

    I don’t think that dispensing with the rules of war would make Freepers less likely to want to go to war.

    After all, the odds of Sherman’s army rampaging through THEIR town are zero. So dispensing with the rules of war wouldn’t create a situation where all parties were more cautious about going to war – it would just create a situation where Freepers could stroke their cocks and call for the deliberate extermination of civilian populations that refuse to accept American occupation without being accused of supporting war crimes.

    That’s what they really want, you know. 95% of them think that the “way to win” is simply to kill every last inhabitant of the Middle East, man, woman, infant, goat, plant, bacteria, etc. And to do it as horribly as possible.

  15. Why CAN’T the “pro-troops” party manage to get any veterans to run for Congress these days, RC?

    I would assume the pro-war troops are more likely to stay in uniform, and anti-war troops are more likely to not re-up, go home, and run for Congress.

  16. Fluffy | January 24, 2008, 9:48am | #
    These are the wrong hearings to hold.

    The correct hearings to hold are to bring every contractor from Iraq, from Blackwater on down to the smallest supplier on a sub-contract, and to force them to bring their books. And then crucify them and destroy everyone involved if there is even a box of post-it’s missing or not accounted for.

    Hold on fluffster

    Why do you hate on people like blackwater for doing the dirty work of the army, who’s doing the dirty work of the Administration, for pay?

    Blackwater was explicitly given different SOP than soldiers because their primary mandate was PSD for state department functionaries in the Green Zone. They were asked to do an extremely difficult job, and given guidelines on how they could do it. Now their ‘customer’ is their regulator. The Gov. devolved responsibility down to a private organization. I see this as the admin’s fault, not the contractor. And they werent ripping the gov off cost wise, necessarily. How much would you ask for if you were a civilian and were given a job where you have a significant likelihood of being shot at every day? It’s easy when you’ve already got a volunteer army, but not so easy when you want top-flight professionals ready at a moments notice.

    More often than not, the money that was ripped off was in really boring things like supply contracts, rebuilding, shoes, shoestrings, food, gasoline, concrete, phone service, etc. The book ‘Assassins Gate’ has a little detail on the travails of the CPA in setting up a legit contracting system thats didnt by nature generate 60% waste. They were replaced by Big Green, which guaranteed 90% waste in the process. Blame Bremer, blame tommy franks, blame Rumsfeld, but i think it’s unfair to blame people like blackwater who take on extremely dangerous jobs and set a price based on what it costs to get guys to do it. If anything, if Armies were “private” and we had to decide whether to fight a war based on cost, this would help us realize that maybe we shouldnt do certain things because they’re too fucking expensive to get guys to voluntarily do these kinds of stupid, wasteful missions.

  17. Making war as awful as possible is only a reasonable goal if every conflict is to be a guerre a la outrance, resulting in the complete destruction of the loser. But in fact such results are a rarity; wars are much more commonly fought for limited political purposes and with limited military objectives – which implies limited means. (After all, you have to live with the other guy when it’s over.)

  18. GILMORE –
    If there’s an investigation into Blackwater’s books, and they didn’t do anything wrong, then what’s the problem?

  19. “Why CAN’T the “pro-troops” party manage to get any veterans to run for Congress these days

    joe-
    because of selection bias:
    If you are a soldier who is ‘pro-war’, where are you going to be, discharged/retired and at home, or actually in Iraq or in the pipeline to go?
    And then, to successfully as a ‘pro-war’ candidate , you have to have

    1) a ‘pro-war’ leaning district -and-
    2) (a)an anti-war incumbent or (b) open seat

    I do not see how 1 and 2.a can coexist based on the cummulative effects of the last three congressional elections. The only way an open seat occurs is if someone dies, or declining political fortunes (for instance, increasing anti war sentiment) makes holding his/her seat untennable.

  20. to boil my point down = the mission is the stupid thing. The people “serving” the stupid mission arent to blame. With the exception of the blatant profiteers who never delivered… of which there are many. In fact many of whom originated in Big Green itself. The army doesnt police its own the same way they do the ‘private’ entities. The “rebuilding” of iraq is where there’s been the most graft. Blackwater et al, the ‘mercenaries’ etc…. not so much.

  21. Yeah, I have to second GILMORE’S question about the Blackwater hate. Private armies don’t exist through coersion, they make the costs of war much more out in the open, and the people putting their lives on the line are choosing to do it and being paid what they want for such risk.

    Plus, if things get too crazy, Blackwater employees will just leave. Do you think Gallipoli would have gone down the way it did if the soldiers were private and under contract?

  22. It’s the babykillin’, stupid.

    ” The U.S. Army has been able to achieve an extraordinary feat, by sustaining it’s strength in a long war (longer than World War II) using only volunteers. The main reason for this success was the willingness of troops already in uniform to stay there. Reenlistments have been higher than before the war on terror began in 2001. The invasion of Iraq resulted in even higher reenlistment rates.

    The army sets goals each year, for the percentage of troops who will re-enlist when their current enlistment (usually for four years) is up. This past year, about 14 percent of troops in each combat brigade were expected to re-enlist. Nearly all brigades exceeded this figure, with the most spectacular being the 4th brigade of the 25th Infantry division, which had 37 percent of its troops reenlist.
    The consistently higher re-enlistment rates were the result of several things. First, there was patriotism and a feeling that the wartime service was making a difference. Most of the troops re-enlisting had been to Iraq or Afghanistan one or more times. They had seen for themselves what was going on, and believed in it. Then there was the money. Reenlistment bonuses averaging $10,000 (depending on rank and job) for the 64,000 troops that re-enlisted last year. These bonuses, plus combat pay increases the average soldiers pay by 10-20 percent. It helps.

    Then there is the fact that the troops are professionals and they like their work. It’s challenging, even though only fifteen percent have combat jobs. But the benefits are great (including retirement on half pay after twenty years) and you get respect from those you know and work with. The media snipes a bit, inventing dark fantasies explaining this unexplainable re-enlistment rate. But that’s easy to ignore, and the troops just keep signing up for more.”

    http://www.strategypage.com
    /htmw/htatrit/articles/20080123.aspx

  23. That’s what they really want, you know. 95% of them think that the “way to win” is simply to kill every last inhabitant of the Middle East, man, woman, infant, goat, plant, bacteria, etc. And to do it as horribly as possible.

    Take the gloves off!

  24. “”Imagine you’re out on a convoy and you get hit by an IED,” Millard said. “And the SOP [Standard Operating Procedure] is you fire in that direction of that fire that came in. That’s indiscriminate. Civilians get killed in that. It’s not the soldier’s fault. It’s not the civilian’s fault. It’s the occupation’s fault.”

    Why do they never consider the person who placed the IED to be at fault? IED’s can be very indiscriminate as to who gets killed.

  25. Atrocities happen in wars. And some will be committed by the “good guys”, even in “good” wars fought purely in self-defense.

    This hearing will be used to argue against the war, when in fact it has nothing to do with the question of if the war should have taken place or not.

    Mind you, I’m not saying there should not be hearings about atrocities. People who commit them, plus those who sweep them things under the rug should be outed and punished. Especially if it can be determined that they were somehow part of SOP/ROE.

  26. Reinmoose | January 24, 2008, 10:28am | #
    GILMORE –
    If there’s an investigation into Blackwater’s books, and they didn’t do anything wrong, then what’s the problem?

    No problem.

    I dont have any problem with cost-scrutiny. But it should be the job of the contractor to do this up front and get their roll up costs clear. The government goes out and asks for stupid shit, pays for it, and then later goes, “who the fuck approved this!??” It’s par for the course. The blackwater fellas are in fact more cost effective , despite their high per diem, than whole companies of artillery personnel being quartered in the green zone for theoretical application at some later date, or conversion to house-raiding and patrol units.

    The waste of the army is enormous by definition. The focus on private entities as the source of the waste is a red herring to excuse the Army’s own idiocy. It’s catch 22 type shit, basically.

  27. Gilmore –

    First of all, I consider the use of Blackwater forces to be a ripoff of the taxpayer, even when done “honestly” [i.e. according to the terms of their contract without any fraud]. The rate at which a Blackwater contractor can be acquired is a high multiple of the pay received by soldiers. If there aren’t enough volunteers to fill out the ranks of the volunteer army for a given mission, then we shouldn’t pursue that mission. If that frustrates the war aims of that douche Bush, too bad.

    Second of all, I’m confident that if we scrutinized Blackwater’s books closely enough, we would find abuses and bill-padding. And if you’re going to go into the business of being merc trash war profiteers, one of your occupational risks is that taxpayers who don’t like getting ripped off might decide to elect representatives who will fuck you up.

  28. “As proven by their embrace of the fraudulent Lancet study and Kucinich claiming that Americans have killed one million Iraqis.”

    I’m pretty sure that estimating the number of casualties is nowhere near calling soldiers babykillers and spitting in their faces. Does this mean that studies putting the figure closer to 150,000 to 200,000 are calling soldiers babykillers too?

  29. That’s what they really want, you know. 95% of them think that the “way to win” is simply to kill every last inhabitant of the Middle East, man, woman, infant, goat, plant, bacteria, etc. And to do it as horribly as possible.

    From an amoral perspective, that is indeed the way to win. Our military would have little difficulty making the region a peaceful place if they weren’t expected to act morally in the process.

    Victory, low casualties, moral rectitude — pick any two.

  30. And the same selection bias works against these types of hearings. Who’s more likely to testify, the recently discharged veterans who are satisfied with their service, or those who are not?

    Not to say they would not tell the truth as they saw it, but these type of things most of the time fail to illuminate the larger picture.

  31. Fluffer=
    Second of all, I’m confident that if we scrutinized Blackwater’s books closely enough, we would find abuses and bill-padding

    Unlike, say, the Government.

    You’re starting with the notion of “merc-trash”.

    Then you’re saying you want the government (ostensibly an objective and fair arbiter, uninfluenced by public outrage at their own failures and indiscretions and waste) to ‘evaluate’ their own spending decisions, and punish the people they paid to do a job they outlined.

    Seriously, you’re fucked in the head if you believe thats a story that doesnt have a foregone conlusion.

    The real criminals in your system are the boring people who supplied things like water services, electricity, concrete, auto parts, socks, chewing gum, etc.

    Not the guys who put on body armor every day and went out on the street to protect some state dept jerkoff who wanted to go to basra for some stupid ‘fact finding’ mission.

  32. The “rebuilding” of iraq is where there’s been the most graft.

    Please remember, I said EVERY contractor.

    I want everyone involved in spending so much as a dime in Iraq to account for it.

    I know they can’t. You know they can’t. Forget outright crime – problems with recordkeeping are part of the nature of operating in this kind of zone.

    You know what? I don’t care. I’m not going to say, “Well, you know, you can never account for every dollar spent in a war zone. We’ll cut you some slack.” No. No slack.

    The procurement establishment, including the mercenary companies, are a pretty good proxy for the war party. If they haven’t fulfilled their obligations, smash them. I won’t feel badly about it at all. I’ll be delighted.

    I’m happy to admit that I see this as an opportunity to punish a segment of the war party. Tough luck. When you gorge yourself at the public tit, this is one of the risks you run. Next time go into a different line of business. If they are technically violators – and an inability to survive a rigorous audit process would make them technical violators – it’s not an injustice to punish them, so fuck ’em. The fact that I have a secondary motive to want to see them drawn over the coals is immaterial.

  33. p.s.

    If you consider blackwater “merc trash”, what is your opinion of the average enlistee?

  34. GILMORE –
    All true. I wouldn’t focus on Blackwater’s books as closely as I would other contractors. Also, the government itself requires a huge investigation into who approves funds, for what, and what those funds result in. If a contractor padds their books, that’s bad. If the government pays too much for no-bid contracts to companies their friends own, that’s worse.

  35. If there’s an investigation into Blackwater’s books, and they didn’t do anything wrong, then what’s the problem?

    The problem is this administration contracting out tasks in a war zone that should properly be done by the military. I’m a believer in privatization for most gov’t functions, but the police, the courts and the military aren’t on my list.

    I don’t for a minute think that Blackwater is a group of indiscriminate, sociopathic killers. Security in a war zone is just not a job for contractors.

    As for Bush’s war profiteering (thieving?) buddies, I sincerely hope the next administration, Dem or GOP, tacks some hides on the wall.

  36. Sometimes I wonder if our misuse of our military is setting us up for a military coup. Is Petraeus going to cross the Potomac someday?

  37. The fact that I have a secondary motive to want to see them drawn over the coals is immaterial

    No, it’s making clear you’re turning legitimate wrath at government failures into blame at the people they paid to do their stupid missions.

    It’s ignorant basically, and misconstrued. The solution to your problem is to change the way the army -or technically the state dept – does business, not punish guys like blackwater.

    Anyone else, go ahead and witch hunt. I could give a shit.

  38. The real criminals in your system are the boring people who supplied things like water services, electricity, concrete, auto parts, socks, chewing gum, etc.

    Not the guys who put on body armor every day and went out on the street to protect some state dept jerkoff who wanted to go to basra for some stupid ‘fact finding’ mission.

    I have an additional problem with the mercenary companies, because I believe their existence subverts the Republic, and constitutes a huge risk over time.

  39. Making war as awful as possible is only a reasonable goal if every conflict is to be a guerre a la outrance, resulting in the complete destruction of the loser. But in fact such results are a rarity; wars are much more commonly fought for limited political purposes and with limited military objectives – which implies limited means. (After all, you have to live with the other guy when it’s over.)

    My thought (probably a naive one) is that there would be a large reduction in “limited” wars.

    My reasoning is that, in general, part of what gets the US into wars like Vietnam and Iraq is the idea that we can fight a “limited” war with limited means. My thought would be that if you make war the absolute worst thing imaginable, then it would become a last resort and people would find other ways to acheive the “limited political purposes.”

    As to the objection that

  40. Woops, pressed the wrong button.
    As to the objection that the “freepers” wouldn’t care, my hope is that the US, flawed as it is, still has a substantial majority of people would only accept a “total” war if it were truly necessary.

  41. From an amoral perspective, that is indeed the way to win. Our military would have little difficulty making the region a peaceful place if they weren’t expected to act morally in the process.

    Basically, then, you get Chechnya – but with a media firestorm added in. And the US is already able to win the military bits of most wars – it’s not like fighting harder is really going to help.

  42. If you consider blackwater “merc trash”, what is your opinion of the average enlistee?

    While I am aware that all volunteer forces are in a sense “mercenary”, there is really no comparison between a kid joining the army to serve his country and earn some money for college, and someone leaving the army to find some outfit to pay him a per diem to travel to some part of the world at his employer’s direction to kill people. But that’s just me.

    The solution to your problem is to change the way the army -or technically the state dept – does business

    Gilmore, if I was President my one requirement in an Attorney General would be that he agree to appoint special prosecutors to investigate that kind of shit too until we run out of lawyers.

    But you have to start with the low-hanging fruit.

  43. How about we actually wait and see what happens in these hearings before deciding whether the reports the troops provide are factual, accurate, relevant, enlightening, and useful in deciding that to do next?

    Naw, what fun is that? The knives are out for them already, as they always are for people who won’t toe the party line.

  44. I have an additional problem with the mercenary companies, because I believe their existence subverts the Republic, and constitutes a huge risk over time.

    So we’re Rome now? What, are Blackwater battle groups going to sack Washington (sounds good!) and put Vespasian Petraeus on the throne as an adopted Julio-Claudian?

  45. Gilmore, if I was President my one requirement in an Attorney General would be that he agree to appoint special prosecutors to investigate that kind of shit too until we run out of lawyers.

    Great.

    That would be a fantasic, intelligent allocation of resources.

  46. Sulla-

    We had a strategy of “mutual assured destruction” with the Soviets. That did not prevent us from building an enormous conventional force and parking segments of it all over the globe.

    I am actually sympathetic to your idea; we could very easily drop everything but our nuclear submarine capability, if we were willing to use it as a “doomsday device.” We *merely* make it plain that we are committed to the utter annihilation of any force, sovereign or otherwise, which attacks us.

    It would be ugly.

  47. last post =

    fluffer, whats your experience with the military? Meaning, have you any actual direct knowledge of how things work in the armed services, and their spending directives?

  48. So we’re Rome now? What, are Blackwater battle groups going to sack Washington (sounds good!) and put Vespasian Petraeus on the throne as an adopted Julio-Claudian?

    You can laugh all you want.

    The political structure of just about every society in history has been deeply impacted – one could even make a case that it has been determined – by the way those societies create and deploy military force.

    The record of societies employing large mercenary forces simply isn’t very good.

    That would be a fantasic, intelligent allocation of resources.

    Yes, it would be, if you have the right goal for your expenditure of resources.

  49. Meaning, have you any actual direct knowledge of how things work in the armed services, and their spending directives?

    I have not served in the military, and have not worked for any military contractor.

    But if you want to engage in special pleading about the difficulties faced in engaging in this kind of spending, don’t bother because I don’t care.

  50. The real criminals in your system are the boring people who supplied things like water services, electricity, concrete, auto parts, socks, chewing gum, etc.

    Not the guys who put on body armor every day and went out on the street to protect some state dept jerkoff who wanted to go to basra for some stupid ‘fact finding’ mission.

    I have an additional problem with the mercenary companies, because I believe their existence subverts the Republic, and constitutes a huge risk over time.

    If they had nuclear weapons, stealth bombers, ICBMs you might be on to something.

    Sorry but we’re not talking about free companies roaming the country side a la Renaissance-era Italy.

  51. The record of societies employing large mercenary forces simply isn’t very good.

    We aren’t employing anything close to the percentage numbers of mercenaries that such societies used. Not even close at all. Such fears are totally unwarranted. I appreciate the sentiment, but your fears in this case are totally unfounded.

  52. Nice Rambo quote Dave.

  53. “fluffer, whats your experience with the military? Meaning, have you any actual direct knowledge of how things work in the armed services, and their spending directives?”

    Yeah, Fluff’n’stuff. You can’t call out government waste or wasteful military policy until you can account for every last quarter the military spends along with a description of which state logo is on the back. Who do you think you are?

  54. Well all I can say is that I have a friend that came back from Iraq and told me of the destruction of civilian life and it was horrible.

    Now as far as the Blackwaters of the world, yes they are trash, they paid-killers but do not really represent a country, so they just kill for a living without any oversight or democratic stamp of approval. Blackwater is what the U.S. gov’t will use to avoid any input by citizens and subvert democracy around the world…they are an enormous threat to our republic.

  55. The problem is the soldier. The volunteered for Bush’s Army.

  56. Why do the troops hate America?

  57. Lamar | January 24, 2008, 11:13am | #
    “fluffer, whats your experience with the military? Meaning, have you any actual direct knowledge of how things work in the armed services, and their spending directives?”

    Yeah, Fluff’n’stuff. You can’t call out government waste or wasteful military policy until you can account for every last quarter the military spends along with a description of which state logo is on the back. Who do you think you are?

    No, homie, my point was that the average joe thinks Blackwater is some gargantuan criminal enterprise, when in fact the most obvious waste and misallocation is in the humdrum daily operation of the way field units are run today.

    People who have limited knowledge of how armies work tend to jump to simplistic conclusions that omit the big beast from scrutiny.

    Seriously, catch 22 isnt a parody. It’s a handbook on most military operating procedure.

    Blackwater, by comparison, is a lean, mean, effective private company that delivers the goods at a barebones cost, if you evaluate those costs in terms of support, transportation, training, intelligence, materials, etc.

    They are a punching bag for uninformed peaceniks basically

  58. The Bush Administration lies 935 times publicly about Iraq and we blame the soldiers? No. I think this adminstration deserves its Neurenburg and after a trial any members found to be knowlingly lying to get us into war should be executed as war criminals.

  59. “They are a punching bag for uninformed peaceniks basically”

    No you damn fool, the problem with Blackwater is that they can be called into force without any public knowledge or input. They make a farce of democracy.

  60. We had a strategy of “mutual assured destruction” with the Soviets. That did not prevent us from building an enormous conventional force and parking segments of it all over the globe.

    Except MADD applied to nuclear exchanges and tanks coming through the Fulda Gap, not limited proxy wars in the third world. Soviet Communism was a huge threat and I hate to judge anything too harshly in hindsight, but if it was truly an existential threat to allow communist influence around the world, then maybe it would have been better to crush communist outposts rather than fight “limited wars.” I’m not arguing something like “We needed to destroy the village to save it.” What I am saying is that if you aren’t willing to commit to total war, it is probably always better to use means other than any kind of war.

  61. US soldiers are brainless, dropout, autobots taught to kill through conditioning video games like “America’s Army”, are enticed and bribed into serving by nice payouts, are enraged to kill Muslims by FAUXNEWS, and are cajoled into enlisting through predatory advertising done in schools, college campuses, and of course, the sexy portrayal of the military by the Hollywood-Military-Industrial complex by such hacks as Michael Bay (Transformers).

  62. No you damn fool, the problem with Blackwater is that they can be called into force without any public knowledge or input. They make a farce of democracy.

    Blackwater is not a supplier of front line combat troops. They are a supplier of security and services. Nobody will be calling Blackwater “battalions” into force at any time.

    You are afraid of something that doesn’t exist. Stop wetting your pants.

  63. No you damn fool, the problem with Blackwater is that they can be called into force without any public knowledge or input.

    As opposed to the special forces in the US Army, or any other military arm?

  64. James | January 24, 2008, 11:21am | #
    “They are a punching bag for uninformed peaceniks basically”

    No you damn fool, the problem with Blackwater is that they can be called into force without any public knowledge or input. They make a farce of democrac

    Absolutely untrue. You can get details on every op, every dime they take in, every bullet they fire and why, BECAUSE they’re a private org. If you tried to do the same due dilligence with the army itself, you’d end up with a black hole of information crapola.

    Again, if you’ve had some experience with the difference between the armed services and private orgs, you’d have some taste of this.

    Where’s Kwix or whatshisname? The reason reader contracted to drive APCs in Iraq not so long ago. He’d clear this up pretty quick.

  65. There is no front-line in an insurgency.

    “Providing security” IS the front line.

    Why do you think the official name of the surge is the “Baghdad Security Plan?”

  66. “Nobody will be calling Blackwater “battalions” into force at any time.”

    They haven’t so far…but what about sending a Blackwater special operations unit into another nation to assasinate a leader? These people operate with a licence to kill and no oversight, the U.S. gov’t made sure they didn’t have to follow millitary law or Iraqi law or any kind of international law. They can also just refuse a mission and walk away unlike a soldier while making 3 times the salary of a U.S. soldier. I wouldn’t count on them for loyalty to this country.

  67. anon-
    wouldn’t they be decipticons vice autobots then?

  68. James | January 24, 2008, 11:32am | #
    “Nobody will be calling Blackwater “battalions” into force at any time.”

    They haven’t so far…but what about sending a Blackwater special operations unit into another nation to assasinate a leader?

    ugh.

    I could outline 500 reasons this has never happened and never will

    Seriously, do some fucking homework. Or at least research military history to get some basis for your fantasies

  69. Except MADD applied to nuclear exchanges and tanks coming through the Fulda Gap, not limited proxy wars in the third world.

    That was pretty much my point; despite our commitment to total war on the Russian Front, we still maintained a policy of limited tactical warfare in isolated hot spots.

  70. No, homie, my point was that the average joe thinks Blackwater is some gargantuan criminal enterprise, when in fact…

    You must have meant, “the average Joe”. There’s nothing average about joe. He’s special.

  71. They haven’t so far…but what about sending a Blackwater special operations unit into another nation to assasinate a leader? These people operate with a licence to kill and no oversight, the U.S. gov’t made sure they didn’t have to follow millitary law or Iraqi law or any kind of international law. They can also just refuse a mission and walk away unlike a soldier while making 3 times the salary of a U.S. soldier. I wouldn’t count on them for loyalty to this country.

    You watch way too many movies.

    You do understand most of these guys are just former US soldiers who just wanted to get better pay for similiar right? Why would they suddenly turn into Benedict Arnold the moment they get a few more dollars in their wallets.

  72. These people operate with a licence to kill and no oversight, the U.S. gov’t made sure they didn’t have to follow millitary law or Iraqi law or any kind of international law.

    And whose fucking fault was that? It sure wasn’t Blackwater’s. Remember, Mister Wetty Pants, that Blackwater can’t and won’t do jack shit (of the stuff you fear) without being hired and paid by…a government. So who are you afraid of again?

  73. Sorry but we’re not talking about free companies roaming the country side a la Renaissance-era Italy.

    You know why a military coup would never work in this country, and why something like Seven Days in May wasn’t realistic? Because ordinary soldiers would not obey the orders such an operation would require.

    But if you can call upon a mercenary force of 100,000 men, all you need our real soldiers to do is stay in their barracks. That order MIGHT be obeyed.

    Is this likely in the short term? No. Obviously not.

    But it becomes incrementally less absurdly unlikely every day that mercenary forces are used, and with every marginal mercenary added.

    If we hollow out the regular military and employ large mercenary forces for 25 more years, what then? I’ll still be around, so that time frame is actually of concern to me.

  74. Um, it’s seems NY-25 is a counterexample to my 10:30 post.

    An anti-iraq war republican retiring, possibly in part due to his anti- stand is at odds with the sentiment in his district

  75. “You do understand most of these guys are just former US soldiers who just wanted to get better pay for similiar right?”

    Except for the ones who worked for Pinochet in Chile or in other South American(American backed) dirty wars…so they will drain the military of its best soldiers and recruit thugs from all over the world…great.

  76. I think that, regarding the use of companies like Blackwater in Iraq, what’s more troubling than the possibility (probably small for reasons GILMORE pointed out above) of price-gouging is that they aren’t bound by any rules (neither US military ROE’s or Code of Justice or whatever, nor Iraqi or American law), and yet they are out there heavily armed and engaging frequently. It doesn’t mean they’ll go out there and murder civilians on purpose; it just means that two of the defining characteristics of the Bush administration, its lack of accountability and transparency, are extended to this Iraq project in yet another way. Like the Vets-Against-Iraq-War guy said, it’s the nature of occupation in general (and I would add furthermore the nature of this occupation in particular) that leads to an undeniable violation of the most basic human rights of Iraqis as a routine, everyday occurrence. The number of Iraqis who have met their end violently because of our invasion and occupation, as well as the strengthening of our enemies (opposite of intended effect!) and the enormous deaths+injuries to our soldiers, should always be the metrics by which we judge this situation. Hardly anything positive has come out of all this cost. The whole thing’s fucked up, we’re living on borrowed money, and continued ignorance of these facts and continued acceptance of false fear-mongering at home is what’s really dangerous to our republic.

  77. You do understand most of these guys are just former US soldiers

    Not just that, they’re guys the services trained for nearly millions of dollars…who voluntarily decide to continue to serve in their specialized capacity for a group thats run far tighter and clearly run than SOCOM, and have the flexibility to do on the spot missions without the requirements of big green funding and support

  78. But if you can call upon a mercenary force of 100,000 men

    You really think that 100,000 guys making $150,000 per year are going to obey an order to destabilize the country in which they get paid that groovy dough? And very possibly die in the process? And if they fail, they will be executed for treason? Come on.

    I tried to explain before that this isn’t Rome–these are internal mercenaries, not external ones who start to think that rolling their employer is better than working for them.

  79. “And whose fucking fault was that? It sure wasn’t Blackwater’s. Remember, Mister Wetty Pants, that Blackwater can’t and won’t do jack shit (of the stuff you fear) without being hired and paid by…a government. So who are you afraid of again?”

    Jesus Fucking Christ, did you see the congressional hearings where Eric Prince himself pleaded against any kind of oversight by the govt. of Iraq, the U.S. or anyone…scroll down and watch video of this asshole here http://www.crooksandliars.com/index.php?s=Prince

    What an arrogant prick.

  80. “these are internal mercenaries”

    Except when they arent. There are a lot of foregn nationals working for Blackwater.

  81. did you see the congressional hearings where Eric Prince himself pleaded against any kind of oversight by the govt. of Iraq, the U.S. or anyone

    So what? Who then gave him what he wanted? THE FUCKING GOVERNMENT. He may be an asshole, but aren’t the politicians who gave him what he wanted even bigger assholes?

  82. “who voluntarily decide to continue to serve…”

    I don’t have much to say in this debate, but let’s not confuse going to work everyday with service to one’s country. They are hired workers, not U.S. soldiers.

  83. You do understand most of these guys are just former US soldiers who just wanted to get better pay for similiar right?

    Right now that’s true. But recruitment is also done in countries whose militaries have less savory reputations and histories.

    And the bigger problem is the existence of the industry itself, and the fact that the billions of dollars the Iraq conflict has poured into that industry has transformed it from a minor set of enterprises to a significant force.

    Some of you guys are big private army fans. I’m not. I don’t want to see this industry get any bigger than it was in 2001.

  84. And you know it’s fraudulent how?

    Aside from the inherent, laughable claim that the civilian casualties in Iraq exceed those in most European countries during WWII, try this.

    Seriously, Lancet claims that proportionally more Iraqis have died during the current unpleasantness than German civilians (other than Jews) were killed during WWII. The most comparable country for civilian casualties during WWII was, I believe Yugoslavia, fought over twice, and under an occupation with the infamous executions of 10 civilians for every German injured, and 100 for every German killed.

  85. The problem is the soldier. The volunteered for Bush’s Army.

    This is precisely the kind of “reasoning” that the Democrats should desperately want to avoid if they’re smart. Otherwise, it will backfire on them big time and it’ll be 1972 all over again.

  86. James | January 24, 2008, 11:49am | #
    “these are internal mercenaries”

    Except when they arent. There are a lot of foregn nationals working for Blackwater.

    Show me. Really. Show me the #s.

    For what its worth, we’ve got “foreign nationals” fighting as grassroots troops in the army. We give ‘immigrants’ fast track citizenship for enlistment. What does that add to your insidious insinuation of foreign influence in our military?

    blackwater is not the problem, and never has been, and as long as people focus on them as some kind of special entity thats the locus of bad decision making, you’re ignoring the fact that the origin of all this shit is the pentagon.

  87. It only takes an elementary understanding of economics to know that as war becomes more profitiable….

  88. Except when they arent. There are a lot of foregn nationals working for Blackwater.

    I can’t believe that you and Fluffy are actually afraid that some highly-paid mercenaries would jeopardize their exciting, big-salary jobs to try and overthrow the US government. Who are they going to put in charge, Eric Prince? What does that gain them? 100,000 mercenaries can’t all share “deputy emperor in charge of hot chicks” duties.

    Historically mercenaries were paid in plunder for their serious income. You win the battle, and rape and steal what you want. They were always looking for big scores. These guys already have it great, and have no motivation for such shenanigans.

  89. JAMES = Than blame the citizens of this country for allowing this to to continue.

    You are blaming people like blackwater for an extension of the American voter’s will.

  90. R C Dean,

    You have shown that the numbers were inaccurate – which the authors acknowledge, and accounted for by releasing such a huge range. You have not shown anything remotely approaching “fradulent.”

    BTW, the latest study, which incorporated techniques designed to overcome the problems with the study published in Lancet, gives us a number around a quarter million, and only went through 2006 – meaning, it didn’t look at 2007, the deadliest year for Iraqi civilians of the entire war.

    But really, does it matter very much what X equals when someone says “This war has killed over X00,000 civilians?”

  91. I do blame the citizens for allowing this to continue but this whole Blackwater phenomenon was done undemocratically, the people were not consulted before hiring mercenaries. I would love to put it to a vote, if the American people will join in the call for mercenary warfare, then I will shut up.

  92. blackwater is not the problem, and never has been, and as long as people focus on them as some kind of special entity thats the locus of bad decision making, you’re ignoring the fact that the origin of all this shit is the pentagon.

    This is precisely the point. Blackwater is filling a need. A need created by…a government. One of the things governments do is start wars. Blackwater does not. Why is this so hard to understand?

  93. if the American people will join in the call for mercenary warfare, then I will shut up.

    Calling PSD ‘mercenary warfare’ is a bit of a stretch.

    And ask the state deptartment who’d they prefer to protect them in-theatre, and why. THEN you’ll shut up

  94. “One of the things governments do is start wars. Blackwater does not. Why is this so hard to understand?”

    Blackwater certainly has a great deal of incentive for wars to be started…its just good business.

  95. Blackwater certainly has a great deal of incentive for wars to be started…its just good business.

    So do journalists.

  96. Blackwater certainly has a great deal of incentive for wars to be started…its just good business.

    Who cares if they have an incentive? So does GM, as they make Hummers. They still can’t start a war.

  97. “Organizers estimate that perhaps 45 to 55 Iraq veterans, and some from Afghanistan, will testify to such “terrible things” at Winter Soldier”

    55 out of 300,000+ who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I say these sorry, commie-fuckers should be put to death.

  98. “Who cares if they have an incentive? So does GM, as they make Hummers. They still can’t start a war.”

    Well I think that is what Eisenhower was talking about when he said Military-Industrial Complex…

  99. Episiarch, you’re right, but missing the point.

    “Blackwater” is a spooky name. Everything else follows.

    These are incantations, not arguments.

  100. 55 out of 300,000+ who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I say these sorry, commie-fuckers should be put to death.

    I really hope you’re kidding.

  101. I think you also can’t discount the fact that the mainstreamization of mercenary service Blackwater represents also creates the possibility of dramatic changes in the psychology of service in the official military, and that this has profound implications for the composition of that force over time.

    You simply will produce a different army if the career path for recruits goes from being “serve a couple of years, maybe become an NCO and go career, if not go back to civilian life and sell insurance” to “serve a couple of years, acquire marketable skills, and then earn 6 figures doing mercenary work around the world”. There have always been soldiers who became mercenaries or security workers after their service, but the normalization of it is to me a concern.

    I recognize that some of my concerns have a low probability of coming to pass. But some of you guys are exhibiting pretty dramatic tendencies to American exceptionalism. If we do the same stupid things that previous societies have done, we run the risk of developing the same flaws as those societies over time. And the fact that we’re all nice patriotic Americans doesn’t matter. If we make the wrong institutional decisions, those decisions will have consequences, some of which we can guess at from examining history, and some of which we can’t know.

  102. James =

    You’re a douche.

    focus your indignation on the right thing, and maybe there’s a path to enlightenment

    I think this thread got derailed from a legit idea – soldiers commenting on their own war – to non-soldier posters ranting about shit they dont have a fucking clue about. Go back to square one, and get away from ‘bad war! good war! bad war!” distinctions to the details of why these guys/girls are motivated to speak out about problems in iraq. Not just uninformed platitudes about ‘mercenaries’ or the fucking ‘military industrial complex’. When thats your game, you’re always on the sidelines. It’s weak

  103. Fluffy | January 24, 2008, 12:34pm | #
    I think you also can’t discount the fact that the mainstreamization of mercenary service…

    Fluffy =

    ALL THEY DO IS PSD.

    how is that mainstream?

    99% of US service soldiers in iraq have never SEEN a blackwater employee. THey are almost exclusively in the green zone and in parts of bagdhad supporting State dept transport units.

    Get a fricking grip

  104. “But really, does it matter very much what X equals when someone says “This war has killed over X00,000 civilians?””

    Yes. Yes it does. An accurate assessment of the lives lost is about as important as any measure of a war’s cost. If your variance is several hundred thousand people, you are either saying an entire city was depopulated or you are saying it wasn’t. That matters.

  105. “Sometimes I wonder if all of the scrutiny of warfare and the emphaisis on rules of war, anything that people do to try and sanitize the process is really a bad thing. The “bad guys” generally pay no attention to such niceties, and the “good guys” get the idea that they can fight a “good war.””

    I’ve seen horrors…horrors that you’ve seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that…But you have no right to judge me. It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means.

    Horror. Horror has a face…And you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies.

    I remember when I was with Special Forces…Seems a thousand centuries ago…We went into a camp to innoculate the children. We left the camp after we had innoculated the children for Polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn’t see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every innoculated arm. There they were in a pile…A pile of little arms. And I remember…I…I…I cried…I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget.

    And then I realized…like I was shot…Like I was shot with a diamond…a diamond bullet right through my forehead…And I thought: My God…the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure.

    And then I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters…These were men…trained cadres…these men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love…but they had the strength…the strength…to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral…and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordal instincts to kill without feeling…without passion…without judgement…without judgement. Because it’s judgement that defeats us.

    – Col. Kurta

  106. Blackwater represents less than 3% of the total number of private security contractors in Iraq.

    Are you saying that 99% of US servicemembers in Iraq have never seen ANY private security contractor?

    Irrelevant if true. As early as 2005, the AP reported that private contractors had already suffered 250 deaths in Iraq. How did that happen if they aren’t really there?

  107. “serve a couple of years, acquire marketable skills, and then earn 6 figures doing mercenary work around the world”

    You do realize that the majority of soldiers are support/logistics personnel? Right? And that most Blackwater employees are from Special Forces? Your fear is again unwarranted. A mess cook (even a Marine) will not get a six-figure salary from Blackwater for any reason.

  108. By the way, here’s one way to measure mainstreamization:

    2005: Soldier gets out of service. People ask him, “What is your next move?” He answers, “I’m going to work for a private security contractor.” Nobody blinks, because that’s perfectly normal.

    1975: Soldier gets out of service. People ask him, “What is your next move?” He answers, “I’m linking up with a mercenary company and we’re going to go fuck some folks up in Africa.” Does anybody blink? Would that have been considered perfectly normal?

    Mainstreamization.

  109. 2005: Soldier Special Forces dude gets out of service. People ask him, “What is your next move?” He answers, “I’m going to work for a private security contractor.” Nobody blinks, because that’s perfectly normal.

    Fixed. And that would be perfectly normal; we’re talking about someone who has spent years of his life training to be a super-skilled combat operative. Of course he would want to get a job where those skills mean money.

  110. So we’re saying Blackwater is good because it means full employment for those whose only skill is to be a cold-blooded killer?

  111. So we’re saying Blackwater is good because it means full employment for those whose only skill is to be a cold-blooded killer?

    So doing deep recon, prisoner rescue, VIP protection, and forward observation make one a cold-blooded killer? You need to stop watching Rambo and start looking into what Special Forces do.

  112. You know it just occurred to me that the mindset that sees Blackwater-ish type companies as a threat to the Republic, is of the same sort that used to see FEMA as the shadow govt overloards in the event of an emergency, either real or contrived.

    But the truth looks like the incentives in both cases have lead to / will lead to expensive wasteful clusterfucks, not tyranny.

  113. “So doing deep recon, prisoner rescue, VIP protection, and forward observation make one a cold-blooded killer?”

    Yes. But I could be wrong. I’m sure their all giddy little Bambis.

  114. I’ll leave it at that. The military trains people to kill in order to carry out missions. You want to focus only on the missions and flag waving.

  115. “Blackwater” is a spooky name. Everything else follows.

    These are incantations, not arguments.

    Furthermore, most of the people who are calling them “mercenaries” are stretching the definition of the word to suit a political agenda (a standard tactic of people on the hard left). Mercenary isn’t a synonym for defense contractor, no matter how much people might want to use it that way.

  116. So we’re saying Blackwater is good because it means full employment for those whose only skill is to be a cold-blooded killer?

    No, what we’re saying is that deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want Blackwater on that wall, you need Blackwater on that wall.

  117. The military trains people to kill in order to carry out missions. You want to focus only on the missions and flag waving.

    Bullshit; create all the imaginary motivations you want but it doesn’t change the fact that there is a market in the world for these guys’ skills, and most of it does not involve killing anyone, especially if they can help it, and especially if they no longer work for the government.

    I want a very, very small military. You know what helps facilitate that? Special Forces.

  118. If you carry a weapon in a war zone and draw a paycheck from a private company employed by a party to the conflict, you are a mercenary.

    There’s nothing to stretch here.

    I know you want to pretend that these guys are the same as Britney’s bodyguards or mall security, and they’re not.

    Furthermore, if you’re a contractor performing a support task in a war zone that puts you at risk, and you bear arms in response to that risk, you are also a mercenary.

    You know it just occurred to me that the mindset that sees Blackwater-ish type companies as a threat to the Republic, is of the same sort that used to see FEMA as the shadow govt overloards in the event of an emergency, either real or contrived.

    I don’t think there’s any plan to create some illuminati government or New World Order with black helicopters.

    I just think that the number of institutions that have proven themselves capable of sustaining human freedom is relatively small, and that as a result we should avoid making dramatic changes to those institutions. Particularly when people in the past have made similar institutional changes that blew up in their faces over and over again.

    Is the development of the Rumsfeld military the equivalent of the Marian reforms or the spread of the use of free companies at the time of the 30 Years’ War? Probably not. I just don’t like that word “probably”. Not when we already had a perfectly good armed forces system that had an unbroken record of loyalty to legitimate authority and a pretty fucking great record of execution of its missions. “Hey, let’s change our system with its perfect record! And let’s change it in a way that has almost always fucked people over before! Woo hoo!”

  119. I want a very, very small military. You know what helps facilitate that? Special Forces.

    I want a secure Republic. You know what facilitates that? A citizen military not overly dependent on elite forces, and certainly not dependent on mercenary forces.

    If that makes the military bigger or more expensive than it might otherwise be, fine.

  120. From Wikipedia: A mercenary is a person who takes part in an armed conflict who is not a national of a Party to the conflict and “is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party”.[

    I’d say Blackwater qualifies as a mercenary organization. The whole war is illegal and immoral so I am actually more concerned with our military being used illegally than I am about a private company doing what they do, although they are getting paid with my tax dollars so that pisses me off. If the Bush/Cheney tag team of assholes wants to have regime change in foreign countries, I say they need to sack it up, hire Blackwater with their own money, and leave the United States of America out of it completely. If they can’t afford it, tough shit.

    Or convince Congress to declare war.

  121. “If you carry a weapon in a war zone and draw a paycheck from a private company employed by a party to the conflict, you are a mercenary.”

    I live in the ghetto; it is a war-zone by any definition. The cops carry guns. I had no idea they were mercenaries. Thanks for the heads-up!

  122. I want a secure Republic. You know what facilitates that? A citizen military not overly dependent on elite forces, and certainly not dependent on mercenary forces.

    Oh, we have a secure Republic. In that our government is so powerful and voracious that there’s no way some mercenary group is going to overthrow it. I’m a lot more worried about our current government than I am about the remote possibility of a takeover.

  123. I live in the ghetto; it is a war-zone by any definition.

    Other than, you know, the real one.

  124. The police are paid by a private party?

  125. I don’t think that Americans generally want to take a critical look at how careful or careless American troops are being in targetting American soldiers.

    I think Americans want to assume that the targetting is being done carefully and that any killing of babies is unavoidable.

    Soldiers play along.

    Willful blindness.

  126. “Other than, you know, the real one.”

    War on poverty, war on drugs, war on crime — it’s three wars in one here, bitch. Four, if you count the ubiquitous gang shootings.

  127. –being in targetting enemy soldiers.–

  128. “And you know it’s fraudulent how?”

    RC Dean:
    “Aside from the inherent, laughable claim that the civilian casualties in Iraq exceed those in most European countries during WWII, try this.”

    Nothing in that entire article alleges fraud.

    A wingnut shooting the messenger — who could imagine!

  129. “I don’t have much to say in this debate, but let’s not confuse going to work everyday with service to one’s country.”

    And please, please, let’s never confuse invading foreign countries that have never attacked the US and inciting millions to want to kill Americans with “service to one’s country”!

  130. Episiarch: I can’t help but notice the similarity between your posts and Donald Rumsfeld’s failed ideas about a smaller military.

  131. “Imagine you’re out on a convoy and you get hit by an IED,” Millard said. “And the SOP [Standard Operating Procedure] is you fire in that direction of that fire that came in. That’s indiscriminate. Civilians get killed in that. It’s not the soldier’s fault. It’s not the civilian’s fault. It’s the occupation’s fault.”

    I guess everybody at Nuremberg should have been acquitted on the grounds they were following orders, then? It wasn’t their fault, it was the Holocaust’s fault?

    You cannot simultaneously hold the proposition that the actions of military units are immoral and the actions of the troops that make up those unit are not. Responsibility for an action couples most tightly to the people who take the action. “We were only following orders” doesn’t cut it.

  132. People at Nuremberg WERE acquitted for saying they were just following orders.

    It was the people GIVING or PASSING ON orders who were denied that defense.

  133. So we’re saying Blackwater is good because it means full employment for those whose only skill is to be a cold-blooded killer?

    Anyone who think that our Special Forces are nothing but killbots is an idiot who has obviously never met one.

    The range of skills these men possess is truly staggering. Aside from shootin’ and blowin’ stuff up, most of them are pretty good mechanics, medics, and have excellent social and management skills.

  134. Nothing in that entire article alleges fraud.

    Most of the article is about the utter implausibility of the results and the piss-poor process that produced it.

    Toward the end, you see some people wondering how on earth they could have gotten numbers that bad honestly.

  135. “The common U.S. soldier is not a bloodthirsty animal,”

    No, but these assholes are sure as hell going to go out of there way to make it appear that way. The US has had tens of thousands of soldiers serve in Iraq and Vietnam, and there have been a handful of well-publicized instances where they behaved badly. Then along come these assholes to tar all of them, similar to the way John Kerry did before when he made wholly unsubstantiated claims such as the notion that the massacre of whole villages was commonplace and that the American soldier was no better than “Jingis” Khan (to use that pompous asshole’s pronunciation).
    These grandstanding Winter Soldier pricks deserve any ridicule that is heaped upon their pathetic asses.

  136. ” I’m a lot more worried about our current government than I am about the remote possibility of a takeover”

    Yeah, because your freedoms are being trampled on a daily basis. Hell, I bet you were looking over you shoulder the entire time you wrote that passage, you brave, selfless dissident and freedom-fighter you.
    Jeez, and you had the nerve to imply someone else was engaging in hyperbole. What a fucking flake.

  137. “The range of skills these men possess is truly staggering. Aside from shootin’ and blowin’ stuff up, most of them are pretty good mechanics, medics, and have excellent social and management skills.”

    Didn’t mean to downplay their all-around skills. I suspect dudes who only know how to kill aren’t quite the stuff of special forces. I have a bizarre mix of respect and disdain for special forces, sort of like how I feel about The Boss. Well, not really. I guess its more complicated than that. It’s more like how I feel about cops: Absolutely can’t stand them, except I couldn’t imagine not having them. I guess it’s more of a watchdog stance.

  138. R C,

    They were going door-to-door in a society that had just ceased being ruled by a totalitarian dictator, and was now a war zone wracked by sectarian slaughter.

    They weren’t asking people in a cul de sac which laundry detergent they used.

  139. Some of you people act like defense contractor enjoy ripping off the tax payer. Like they would ever charge us $500 dollars for a toliet seat, or $1000 dollars for a wrench.

  140. I have a bizarre mix of respect and disdain for special forces, sort of like how I feel about The Boss.

    Bruce Spingsteen?

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