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At the request of subscribers, I must point out that ONLY those postings in this sections signed "degenerate X" are from the staff. Others are from subscribers and probably don't reflect the opinions of our staff, as our staff sees things in such fucked up ways there's no chance anyone sees it like we do...
So, the disclaimer said, let's retreat back to the armed forces debate! Yet again, it's a long one so read on or scroll by the no-man's-land:
TWO MINOR REPLIES
> "degenerate RVI has an awful lot of anger, doesn't he?"
> degenerate AA
[RVI] Yes I do. I'm making up for my extended childhood as a fuzzy
kitten, Goddamn it.
> "What an idiot you are. In fact, you're such an idiot that I'd like you to> take me off this mailing list. Thanks."
> Former degenerate SGM
>[RVI] "Former" Degenerate? I'm afraid this one never earned his/her
wings in the first place -- for to be a Degenerate is nothing if it isn't
to be able to associate with idiots. Often and well.
RESPONSES TO CRANKY
[RVI] The US Army is the biggest welfare dodge to have ever seen the
> light of day; yet, as it is 'right-wing welfare,' our nation generally
> accepts its present form of existence as necessary and unquestionable.
> [Cranky] I'm not sure I quite understand this. What's a welfare dodge?
> Also, what is "right-wing" welfare?
[RVI] A 'welfare dodge' is simply when one receives money from the
government for, essentially, doing nothing -- it's a term I picked up in
the '80s from conservative radio talk shows where it was applied to
so-called welfare mothers, student grants and loans, etc. "Right-wing"
welfare, in my private lexicography, reverses the direction of the
criticism and questions the acceptability of government money spent on
conservative causes -- tax cuts and aid in relocating factories for
corporations, capital gains cuts, money for private schools via vouchers,
inflated payments to the arms industry, infrastructure preparations
at industrial parks, etc. I include the bloated US Army, in its present
guise, in the same category because it is kept at present size and
strength out of paranoia, PR, pork-barrel politics,and to float the
domestic arms industry.
[Cranky] > Yuppies, no matter what their job, will never be asked to
stand in front of
> oncoming projectiles to insure the stability and existence of the nation.
[[RVI] Too bad. They might be inclined to make different sorts of
business decisions if they did. However, as I recall when our 'fighting
folk' went to the alleged Gulf War (I say 'alleged' because I am not at
all sure it was a war; it was rather more like a blown out of proportion
skirmish), there was nothing out of the mouths of the soldiers except
complaints, reluctance, second guessing their officers, and so on til the
military got them away from the civilian press. I was not struck by any
esprit d'corps, backbone, or whatever one wishes to call it. Compared
with, say, the British soldier of Kipling's day, there has been a decline
or degeneration (ha) in what it means to be a soldier. Tough? Well
armed and armored, I'll grant you (we sure as hell paid enough for that),
but I don't believe our soldiers are tough except possibly in the
relative fashion you pursued in your argument: e.g. Our soldiers are
tougher than yuppies. Which does not prove the point you want to make.
> [Cranky] > Now, before you think me some jingoist waving a flag around
> un-erring good sense of the US military, know that as a military historian I
> understand that the system is deeply flawed. I am only trying to get across
> that while flawed, it is not unworthy of respect from citizens such as
[RVI] Understood. Please grasp that I am not utterly anti-military,
either! My difficulty lies here in 2 things - 1. the belief that the
military precedes the Constitution, and 2. that simply because we've
shook the big stick at some 3rd world nations our military is what it
ought to be -- that it can hide behind advertising slogans and pretend
they're reality. How I got off on argument 1. isn't clear by now -- I
think it was the bit about the freedoms being guaranteed by the Army.
More on that in a second.
> [RVI]> First, the Special
> Forces men, for example, there were NOT draftees and they were the FIRST
> men in Vietnam - as battlefield advisors to the South Vietnamese.
> Secondly, I'd put my money on ANY of the men who served in Vietnam before
> I'd even consider the 'toughness' of one of our pampered, present day
> 'volunteers' whose great accomplishments include the aborted Iran Hostage
> mission, the invasion of the truly terrifying nation of Grenada, the
> possibly illegal invasion of an ally - Panama - in order to arrest one
> man, and the ridiculous overkill involved in invading the 4th world power
> of Iraq.
>[Cranky] I think you are confusing political and strategic maneuvers (or blunders) with the tactical efficiency of the US armed
forces. In every one of those conflicts that you mention, the military
units involved, for the most part, completed their missions with extreme
efficiency and tactical prowess.
[RVI] Come now; you're employing a false dichotomy, or at least a
distinction which leads nowhere in the way of analysis or explanation.
So what if the military units completed their missions with 'efficiency'
and 'tactical prowess'? How difficult were the missions to begin with???
Tactical effeciency is excercised _within_ the context provided by
political/strategic decisions. My point was that the Special Forces
units in Vietnam and Laos had an extremely difficult set of tasks which
they set themselves to with great effectiveness, the general outcome of
the conflict notwithstanding. Now, the Iran mess, Panama, Grenada, nor
the great Gulf War even vaguely resemble what faced our people in
Vietnam; the situations were nowhere near as complex; in the Gulf War we
were not committed EITHER as a nation OR as a military to a genuine war;
we adopted a policy of blitzkreig followed by nigh complete withdrawl,
etc. Our fighting force is no longer trained for the WWII-style
battlefield or Vietnamese-style guerilla war -- we now have a policy of
'get in an get out', precisely because BOTH military leaders and
politicians have given up on America and the American soldier as 'tough
enough' to fight in a protracted conflict. This is my perception, at any
A military which can do everything but which has poor leadership
and a poorer sense of what it is supposed to defend is still a poor
military, not one deserving of either appelation -"tough" or "smart."
And the head of the US military, as you know, is the President - so
separating the political from the 'purely' military decision may be
useful in classroom mlitary science or in political science, but in
reality, there can be no cleavage between the military decision and the
political one. Both either obey or violate the same principles.
[Cranky] Whether we should have been in these places in the first place
> another matter. But if you take the time (as you urge HGB to) to do a little> research,...
[RVI] Where, praytell? Give us some resources -- I'm just a van driver,
for God's sakes, not some academic weighted down with knowledge (as
should be apparent).
[Cranky]... you would understand that the US armed forces are every bit
as> "tough" as eras past. If not more so. The tactics and the doctrines
have changed but to say that present day soldiers don't deserve respect
because> they haven't been to a conflict that you deem worthy of respect
is a little> shortsighted IMHO.
[RVI] Then color me myopic. For the reasons given above (and a zillion
or two more) I disagree. Honor is earned, not awarded with the BDUs.[RVI] Vietnam Vets deserve respect, no matter what one thinks of that
> conflict they went to, as they have EARNED it.
> [Cranky] Again, I have a hard time understanding the basic difference
between the > Vietnam conflict and the Gulf War. Why does participating
in one make a > soldier worthy of your respect while the other one
[RVI] The Gulf War wasn't a war. It was a propaganda spectacle designed
A. to show the world 'who's boss' while B. keeping gas prices cheap for
industry, and C. keeping the re-solidification of the country begun by
the Reagan Revolution underway - a booster-shot of patriotism and a new
set of bad guys to replace the ones just lost in the dying of the Cold
War. While in a measure of peril, our men were never in _great_ danger
-- our generals advised against pushing on into Baghdad where there would
have been major resistence. And then we got the Hell out of Dodge as
soon as the dust cleared.... Hardly a fighting force - from the top down
-commited to anything beyond a minor scrap. In terms of combat, the Air
Force deserves the respect from that rumble, I'm afraid, not the Army.
>[RVI] And then there's this gem concerning " ...our Army (whose
> presence, if not allways it's actions, have preserved our freedoms
> (including the right to say anything you want)...." Do the words 'Four
> Dead in Ohio' mean anything to you, HGB? I guess they didn't encourage
> historical studies when you were doing all that PT, right? You mean to
> tell me that you have no recollection that 4 students got gunned down in
> an unprovoked massacre by National Guardsmen at Kent State in the late
> '60s? Unarmed people, utilising their 1st Amendment rights, protesting
> the use of Napalm on children and research by DOW Chemicals (makers of
> Napalm) at Kent State labs, got mowed down by a US Military unit gone out
> of control. And why the military had to be there - 'protecting' free
> speech - is a mystery to me, as free speech usually tends to itself
> pretty well in the USA.
>[Cranky] The Guardsmen were there at the behest of the Governor of Ohio. A civilian.
> [RVI] A civilian who, by our laws, is also HEAD OF THE GUARD OF HIS
[Cranky]> I agree that they shouldn't have been there however to say that
the National Guard (undertrained, poorer cousins of the standing army -
hint hint)> intentionally shot these people down is irresponsible. You're
not saying > that right?
[RVI] They didn't go there with that in mind, from what I've read, but
there was certainly a degree of indoctrination or atmosphere all military
types at the time were steeped in which had it that all protestors were
hippies, tools of communism, drug addicts, and threats to the country.
You know the story. The Guardsmen got scared, charged, and shot 4
students... in the back. ( I suppose had the better-trained cousins, the
Infantry, been there, 400 would have been expertly put away?)
[RVI] If that example of the danger of the military to
> the freedom of the citizen isn't enough, go look up the Hoover
> administration in a good encyclopedia; you will find there an article on
> how, when the WWI Vets marched on Washington in order to recover the
> monies owed them from service in that war, Hoover called out Gen. Patton
> who, in turn, let loose armed regular Army troops on unarmed US Vets and
> employed tanks in the streets of this nation's capital to chase them out
> of town. People got killed.
>[Cranky] Again I think you are confusing the policies of civilian leaders with the performance of the army in and of itself.
[RVI] Oh - the Army was o.k because it _efficiently_ walked all over its
objective - unarmed civilians? No; you're missing what I mean. The US
soldier is sworn to uphold the Constitution, and so on. This means, as
the Trials at Nurnburg and the Lt. Callie case point up, that the soldier
is best a soldier when he is able to resist an illegal, immoral command.
Stomping the vets in the D.C. Hooverville was, at best, a questionable
act. If our Army had been led aright, I think the General would have
resigned his post before following such a damnable command and he'd have
encouraged his men to do likewise. Yet the tendency of our army is to
follow all orders, no matter how ridiculous; it enshrines orders and
hierarchy and sloganeering in the place of thinking and in the place of
the Constitution, which was the whole point of having an Army. No, we
don't want soldiers making up their own objectives or deciding to
suddenly abandon protocol frivolously; but we do need more training in
Constitutionality and ethics for the soldier, to drive home the point
that the soldier is citizen first, soldier second. Nothing else will do.
[RVI] The Army, HBG, is always, at best, a
> necessary evil, which has to be kept under strict civilian control
> [Cranky] Like the governor of Ohio.
[RVI] That's why we elect them, unelect them, and can impeach them. The
military has far too much freedom in this reguard.
>[Cranky] What you say is true. But I think a baser truth is that without the Armed
> Forces there would be no free speech to stifle in those limited instances
> where it has happened.
[RVI] I say that without the freedoms in the Constitution and promised by
the Bill of Rights, our military would be moot. It would just be another
gang of overpaid terrorist thugs, and God knows we've plenty of those,
yet. But our freedoms and our rights precede our military in priority
and give the military purpose -- though, as I've said, I don't think that
purpose is being lived up to at present. I want an Army which is
something more than a PR gimmick or an extenton of a corporate need for
cheap petrolium or a training camp for South American Death Squads and
dictators. I want an Army that actually lives up to itself for once.
Until then, I cast a cold eye on it.
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