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June 02, 2006

Blame journos, Quakers, and hippies for next civilian bloodbath

Instapundit posts an email he received from Peter Ingemi about the Haditha massacre:

There is one aspect about Haditha that seems to be ignored by everybody.

Our press and the anti-American left both in this country and outside of it has been reporting "Hadithas" over and over again over the last three years.

Time and time again our friends have accused us of every possible atrocity that there is to the point that internationally people are already able to believe this or the 9/11 stuff or all the rest.

Because of this, internationally it is totally irrelevant if the Marines actually violated the rules of war. Our foes are going to say that we've done things if we do them or not, so the only people that it really matters to will be; the people killed (and family) and the people in our own country who support the military.

The real danger is that we who support the war will reach the point that we say "we might as well be taken as wolves then as sheep". At that point the left can celebrate that they have made our military and those who support it the people they claim we are. Once that happens however any compunction about respecting them will be gone, and remember one side is armed and one is not.

That is a fate that I don't wish on any of us. [Emphasis added.]

The shorter Hegemi: Shut up or we'll kill you, too.

The slightly longer Hegemi: One of these days, the U.S. Military is just going to say "Ah fuck it, let's commit crimes against humanity. Who wants to shoot some hippies?" And when the streets run red with the blood of peaceniks, it'll be their own damned fault for hassling us about all those petty little massacres.

Via This Modern World, hat tip to Thad.

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One thing that's been especially sad about this whole affair to me (the coverage of it, I mean, the affair itself is too awful to put words to) is the noramlly quite rational people who accept that a crime happend who seem surprised by it and act as if this is an isolated case. _That_ would be the real surprise. Every army fighting wars eventually commits attrocities. We are not surprised when _other_ armies do it, and only an idiot acting like a 5 year old would think that we americans are so morally superior as to not do it. This isn't in any way to excuess such actions- everyone involved in the action and cover-up should be punished. But this is a totally predicatable part of any war. That this is so is one more reason why war should not be gone in to lightly, especially wars of choice for bull-shit reasons like this one.

Counterinsurgency warfare generally uses terror as a tool, just as guerrilla insurgencies do.

What?! you mean the problem over there is not WMD, or all those Al Qaeda operatives that used to work for Saddam Hussein? It was all those librul pacifists all along. Who'd a thunk it? Well, we have a bomb for them! Lets just nuke NYC and SF right now and solve all our problems! [and Won't B.O. be pleased!]

Once that happens however any compunction about respecting them will be gone

As has been pointed out elsewhere, this is the only thing that approaches funny in an otherwise tragic and nauseating spectacle: the implication that "prowar" folk like Reynolds and his legions of fans ever had any "respect" for anyone who disagreed with them to begin with.

Other than that--what Matt said. War is an atrocity. If you thought it was going to be different this time; if you thought "we" had "learned our lessons" from incidents like My Lai; if you thought technology promised a shining future of clean, surgical wars in which only the Bad Guys get maimed and killed...then more fool you. War isn't just another tool in the foreign policy kit, and Haditha should serve as a salutary slap in the face to anyone who thought it ever could be.

Just heard this morning on the BBC that Negroponte is out there banging the war drums on Iran--nuclear bomb in 5 to 10 years, "worst state sponsor of terrorism" on the planet--but don't worry, we can trust the intelligence this time, because they've learned the lessons of the Iraqi WMD fiasco.

I'm sure we'll be greeted as liberators, too.

The naive versions of just war theory tend to gloss over what wars actually entail. The pro-war crowd talks about wars as if they were just clashes of armed professionals governed by rules of combat. Sometimes they'll admit that civilian deaths are tragic but unavoidable collateral damage that can be justified by fact that these were unintentional killings that were absolutely unavoidable in the pursuit of our noble objective. They don't like to talk about the inexcusable deaths. Yet, these are as inevitable as any other kind of killing in war. I think we all agree that saying that "these things happen" doesn't excuse anyone, it just ads to the blame of the people who created this mess in the first place.

This reminds me of your Nice Guys article (which I just recently linked here). Many not-so-nice "nice" guys want extra-credit for not being rapists or wife-beaters, and if no one's going to give them this credit then it's no more Mr. Nice Guy. What a healthy and mature way to approach foreign policy. When we invade your country you better greet us with flowers like the damned nice guys that we are, or else.

Thanks for this, Lindsay. I read too many blogs, and saw this elsewhere but lost it. Now I have it saved, memorably. The link is worth a click-thru, there is an update.

As to whether this is a normal consequence of every war, I disagree. This is more a consequence of an horribly undermanned horribly-waged counter-insurgency war in some of the worse conditions imaginable. Whether a different war could have been plausibly waged is another argument, which may become important in 2008-09.

Kingdaddy has written a virtual book on counter-insurgencies, look to his left column.

My particular take on this, as is my unhealthy wont, is not particularly about Iraq or Haditha, but about Violent Conservatives in America. Glenn Reynolds seems to approve of this mindset. I think partisan politics or policy disagreements will become violent in the near future, and that the threat of domestic violence partially determines the current policy and political options.

In the discussion of RFK jr's recent article in Rolling Stone about the 2004 election, many of my favourite bloggers have asked:"If stolen elections were a certainty, what would or could we do?" Well, we all better figure that one out, and the Reynolds cite provides a clue as to the determination and committment of the opposition. If the Democrats had seriously attempted to challenge 2000 or 2004, the right would have started shooting rather than accept defeat. That is an important context which helps explain why no one wants to look too closely at Ohio, why Gore and Kerry conceded gracefully, why the press is so easy on Bush etc.

Folks, we have a problem here. Only one side is serious about politics.

If the Democrats had seriously attempted to challenge 2000 or 2004, the right would have started shooting rather than accept defeat.

I worry about this, but I'm not sure this is wrong. I think there are a lot of physical cowards on that side full of big talk and eliminationist rhetoric. I think they will bully only when they meet no meaningful resistance, but I think the number of right-wingers who will forsake comfortable lives to sleep in basements, travel at night and get shot at.

The important thing is that they be the first to use political violence. That would increase the support of the left.

Also, what makes them think our side is unarmed? Or, for that matter, less willing to use violence?

I meant to say, "I'm not sure this is right."

All deaths in an unecessary war are tantamount to murder. At least on the part of the aggressors.

But the great irony of Haditha is that much was made by the pro-war right during the last election of Kerry's accusations that the United States was murderously immoral in the prosecution of the Vietnam War. And now Bush's government is accusing soldiers in Iraq of being murderous. Once again Bush betrays his base, and they bend over and take it without a whimper.

Blindly supporting our troops is only necessary if you are a Democrat.

I'm a regular commenter here, but what I'm about to say is inflamatory enough that I'd prefer to remain anonymous on this one:

A friend of mine who recently spent a year in Iraq estimates that 9 out of 10 Iraqis his unit killed were unarmed civilians.

Another guy related how his unit frequently placed weapons on dead unarmed civilians and deemed them "insurgents".

I'm trying to post about this on my blog, but unfortunately it's down. So I'll just say this: what's striking is that Instapundit doesn't give a damn about the fact that American troops murdered Iraqi civilians. Instead, what concerns him is that the American army is sort-of investigating it (clearly, proof that the US is a good country), and that it causes people to hate the US.

Let's see. If you put recruitment ads in moronic "men's" magazines like Maxim and FHM, might you get barely post-adolescent punks that don't make the most Solomonic decisions in the chaos of war?

If you recruit an incurious, unimaginative frat-boy from the cosseted aristocracy to the White House, might you get someone who doesn’t understand that atrocity is an inevitable consequence of war (even one waged by a nation officially “Blessed by God”)?

Fucking amazing.

When I was an undergrad (2 yrs. ago), one of my profs told me that in the social and political philosophy course he was teaching a student wrote their paper on the "treasonous" editors of The Nation. The essay went on to talk about the coming war between liberals and conservatives, and the author declared that he would be on the front lines fighting for the conservative cause.

The professor told me there were a few other papers in the class like that one, although they weren't quite as extreme. At the time, I wondered how widespread the sentiments expressed by those students were. It occurred to me that they must be rather common if these people actually felt comfortable turning in their papers as though they were serious pieces of scholarly work. I guess now I have a confirmation of that.

Alon, that's definitely what's striking about it (as in striking us right in the face).

>Counterinsurgency warfare generally uses terror as a tool, just as guerrilla insurgencies do.

anon, thanks for posting that. Do you have a sense, regarding the quote I paste here from upthread: is our military using this as a tactic? Or are the people who do this, or a My Lai, simply overheated and losing it?

Are they using terror as a tool, or is terror using them as a tool?

Okay, blog's up.

In the post I originally quoted, [Instapundit's] main concern was not that the United States Marine Corps murdered civilians, but that people might not like the US based on that. Given that at the time everyone right of Michael Moore believed it was treasonous to consider the political fallout of 9/11, even in conjunction with offering a blanket condemnation of Al Qaida, his angle seems misplaced.

And,

Ingemi's rhetoric is the same as one of the most common lines used by domestic abusers: "If you complain, I'll beat you up even more and it'll only be your fault" (incidentally, pro-war people use a variant of "Nobody else will ever love you," too: "We're the only ones who can protect you from the evil terrorists").

People who commit abuse often use such lines in order to both intimidate and legitimize their violence. After all, practically all people, including psychopaths, wants to see themselves as moral. If they murder, or rape, or assault, they almost invariably look for someone else to blame: upbringing, affirmative action, feminism, poverty, what the woman was wearing, media violence, whatever.

Thanks Lindsay. That is one of the best "shorters" I've ever seen. The only thing left for these guys is to drop the "or." As in: "Shut up. I'm going to kill you now."

1984 - Mind that my friend has been back for over year now, so my info is out of date. The way he describes it, the only official policy might be that indescriminate shooting is OK.

From what I can tell, there are two major factors. First, every person and every car is a potential bomb or ambush. So when they go out on patrol they are wound tighter than anyone should ever be. Doing that for days that turn into weeks that turn into months is an unbearable amount of stress.

The other factor is that most of these guys have grown up playing pretty realistic video games, where "light 'em up" is an entirely reasonable tactic. It doesn't sound like the unit officers (at the squad or platoon level) restrain this impulse.

My friend has completely dissociated from his experiences. He describes some pretty horrible stuff like normal people would describe going to the grocery store.

Praiseworthiness is responsiveness to moral reasons, but the reason to be moral isn't to be praised.

You're running something which has a very good comments thread at TPM Cafe. Larry Johnson is in Iraq ( ex CIA ) having a look around. One thing coming out is a clarification and reminder of why that lady journalist was kidnapped : it's been an "anti-insurgency" technique to kidnap wives of suspected fighters against the American occupation of Iraq.
The posters at "Baghdad Burning" have scads of interesting commentary from the viewpoint of people who live there - and a "Thank You" note for testifying in Washington.

"...Ingemi: One of these days, the U.S. Military is just going to say 'Ah fuck it, let's commit crimes against humanity. Who wants to shoot some hippies?'"

It has happened that way: ever heard "Four Dead In Ohio"? But it isn't our military that we have to fear, but Reynolds and his friends. They don't speak or think for our soldiers (all right, Marines would rather be called Marines.) They do identify with Bush's Folly and need to think the reason they do is that they and Bush are on the side of Truth, Justice, and the American Way. It's ever harder for them to go on thinking that in the teeth of torture and massacre, exactly the sort of crimes they still invoke to justify the war as if it still were against Saddam.

Now come journo, hippie, and Quaker Nathans to tell King David: Attah ha-ish, you are the man, the very man in the story whom you said deserved to die, of whom you demanded restitution seven-fold; and because you are that man, "Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from thy house..." Reynolds and friends think they can deny who they are by threatening the prophets who tell them -- or at least they can tell a spiteful story of their own about turning the sword against the prophets. Better they should lipstick a superscription from Pogo on their mirrors: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Ignemi's jeremiad of a follow-up is a sight to behold. The reason the left despises the military and Christians with such a passion, and are thus doomed to a gruesome slaughter at the hands of the military (not their fault! they were tired of being criticized!) in the forthcoming civil war, is because they took God out of the schools!

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