Posted by: quiscus | April 16, 2011

April 16, 2011

1.  “What a Strange Way to Protect Civilians: Depleted Uranium and Libya”

2.  “In Libya, as in Iraq, “End of Combat” Means “More Combat”

3.  “TSA security looks at people who complain about … TSA security

“It’s circular reasoning where, you know, I’m going to ask someone to surrender their rights; if they refuse, that’s evidence that I need to take their rights away from them. And it’s simply inappropriate,” he said.”

4.  “How Not To Win Wars

Ever wonder why the US military can’t win wars? Why a few ragtag guerillas could send it running out of Somalia (Black Hawk Down)? Why one guy with a truck bomb could chase the Marines out of Lebanon? Why the attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran was such a disaster? Why the world’s most expensive military can’t win its unending wars against peasants with rifles? How is this possible?

Different jobs attract different personalities. The Mike Tysons of the world do not go into ballet, nor do the Mother Teresas become tank commanders. The career military attracts people who run from the merely abnormal to the frankly weird. For example, they place extreme value on ritual and ceremony, on ribbons and medals and colored things more appropriate to a Christmas tree than to a human being. They are authoritarian by nature, comfortable in a rigid, hierarchical, and conformist society that most of us would find equally unbearable and absurd. Suppose your boss told everyone in the office that they had to wear exactly the same clothes and stand at attention in the morning to that he could determine whether they had dressed themselves correctly. Militaries start with odd material.

Then they inculcate in themselves an exaggerated sense of their own powers, a sort of Terminator complex. This is done calculatedly in basic training when men are in impressionable late or, in the case of officers, extended adolescence. They absorb the notion of invincibility and it persists into adulthood.

The norm is a wild overestimation of one’s own powers, disdain for the enemy, and inattention to tactical facts. Why? Not because soldiers are actually stupid, but because they prefer martial ardor to thought.

The compulsory belief that they are the best-trained, best-equipped etc. elides quickly into the can-do-ism of the US military. A lieutenant does not say, “Colonel, this is a half-assed idea you have and isn’t going to work. Maybe you need to think a little more.” No. He says, “Yessir! Can do, sir!” Thus the glandular optimism of “Failure is not an option!” when since World War Two it has become the norm, and “There is no substitute for victory,” when losing and going home has proved serviceable, and, “The difficult we can do today; the impossible takes a little longer.” Agreeably cocky, stirring, mindless, and rampant in the Pentagon. “Sir! Yessir! Can do, sir!”


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