Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Cry Havoc! and Let Slip the Dogs of War

Via the Southern Appeal blog, we learn of the furor over recent remarks by Marine Corps Lieutenant General James Mattis. Mattis, who commanded U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, participated in a panel discussion sponsored by something called the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. Forgetting that the natural virtues of personal combat, which do not include hypocrisy, are not widely held in modern society, General Mattis made the following remarks about the experience of battle:
"Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. ... It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right upfront with you, I like brawling."

He added, "You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."
I'm always behind the news curve, but when I looked around the Internet I wasn't surprised that the General's comments have stirred a slithery nest of morons, frauds, and self-righteous propagandists into a pulsing fit of indignation.

True to its Ratherite nature, the main-stream media spun Mattis' remarks into a story about a knuckle-dragging, blood-crazed redneck who would just as soon shoot up an elementary school as vote Republican. Almost every news outlet went with an identical lead:
"A senior Marine general who commanded forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has been admonished by the commandant of the Marine Corps for saying publicly, ‘It's fun to shoot some people.'" (New York Times

"A three-star Marine general who said it was ‘fun to shoot some people' should have chosen his words more carefully, the Marine Corps commandant said Thursday." (CNN)

"A Marine general who has commanded troops in Afghanistan and Iraq told a forum, ‘It's fun to shoot some people.'" (CBS News)

"A decorated Marine Corps general said, ‘It's fun to shoot some people' as he described the wars U.S. troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan." (Baltimore Sun)

"A senior U.S. Marine Corps general who said it was "fun to shoot some people" should have chosen his words more carefully but will not be disciplined, military officials said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"A Marine general who has commanded troops in Afghanistan and Iraq told a forum, ‘It's fun to shoot some people.'" (Union Leader)
So that, according to big media, is what Mattis meant to say -- it's fun to shoot a bunch of people. Not that it's fun to "shoot some people," namely barbarians who, if unrestrained, would plunge the world into a nightmare of hatred, ignorance and unholy power. No, General Mattis said it's fun to "shoot some people," any people, really, just so long as they scream on the way down. Might as well have your fun in a shopping mall as Fallujah. It's true. We got it straight from the New York Times and Dan Rather, who said Mattis' comments "sound downright trigger-happy." Sure, Dan, and you've probably got a downright National Guard memo to prove it.

The other sort of propagandists are playing what may be called the Islamic Variant of the Rather Attack. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Mattis is a man who enjoys indiscriminately killing Muslims: "[I]t sends a very negative message to the Muslim world that U.S. generals do not care about human life." In a strange coincidence, Al-Jazeera had the same spin: "We do not need generals who treat the grim business of war as a sporting event," said [CAIR's] executive director, Nihad Awad. "These disturbing remarks are indicative of an apparent indifference to the value of human life." Al-Jazeera went Rather one better, reproducing a photo of Lindy England abusing an Iraqi prisoner next to the story on Mattis.

Never mind that Lindy England is looking at hard time. Never mind that Rather's (and CAIR's) "trigger-happy" derision was spewed during the same CBS story which quoted Mattis exhorting U.S. troops during the battle for Fallujah: "If, in order to take out a terrorist, you have to hit, you know, shoot and kill innocent women and children, don't take the shot. Wait for another day." Never mind that Mattis required his staff officers to participate in a reading program intended to give them "a basic understanding of Islam, the region, and the culture." Or that Mattis "has a long record of encouraging Marines in his command to respect Arab culture and make every effort to protect the lives of civilians." Never mind all that, because Mattis is an American. Mattis is a Marine. Mattis is an affront to everything the hypocritically-squeamish culture of the Left holds dear. So Dan gets spastic about Mattis' "downright trigger-happy" remarks, and if a bunch of self-proclaimed victims want to jump on the bandwagon in pursuit of donations from people who ought to know better, that's all right by him. It's fun to ruin some people. The Left will be right up front with you, Dan, because they like brawling.

But Mattis said "fun"! He said it!! How could a decent civilized man say it's fun to kill anyone!!!! Because, in the sense I think Mattis meant, it should jolly well be fun. I remember, years ago, how the Muttawa (Saudi Arabia's official religious police) forced some young girls to burn to death in a fire that had started in a Saudi school. They had to burn, you see, because they didn't have veils on, and it would have been a great offense to allow them onto the streets. Better that they burn. Men like those Muttawa agents -- and the folks who watched and approved -- deserve to be shot. A righteous sense of vengeance demands it, their crime calls out to Heaven for it, and if someone can't take joy from keeping those misogynistic, pseudo-religious thugs from burning more children to death then I don't know what Heaven's for. Now it's true -- and I say this as someone who thinks we weren't justified in invading Iraq -- that there are reasons, good and moral reasons, why we shouldn't invade Saudi Arabia, hunt that scum down, and riddle them with bullets. (There are also good reasons to forego giving the same to our home-grown thugs). But let's not kid ourselves into thinking that such an enterprise, once begun, shouldn't evoke this healthy sense of anger in the men we send to get the job done.

I found it strange to see Dan Rather and others pandering to squeamishness about the nature of war and the souls of warriors. Truly sin makes men ridiculous. There are thousands of "physicians" (and I use the term lightly) who think it's "fun" to provide "reproductive health-care services." To paraphrase Mattis, "if, in order to take out an unwanted addition to the family budget, the cause of unsightly stretch-marks, these men have to hit, you know, slice and dice innocent children, they take the shot. They don't wait for another day." And when they get "downright scalpel-happy," our society applauds them and funds the political interest-groups that watch the "home front" and keep our abortion mills open. Want "disturbing remarks" that are "indicative of an apparent indifference to the value of human life"? You'll get them from William Brennan and Hillary Clinton, not General Mattis. Is there a guilty conscience in men like Rather, and the Americans who will no doubt be as shocked as he is, when they hear of a Marine's love for brawling? Does it cause them to become blind, like mirrors, comfortably condemning in others what really they fear to see in themselves?

I think the revulsion over Mattis' remarks come from the West's taste for dining with panthers, in the culture's hatred of man himself. People who openly praise the unrestricted killing of defenseless children as a brave victory for human rights are likely to have twisted ideas about the morality of combat. For sanity in the matter, I'll rely on soldiers to explain Mattis' words. Soldiers like Ralph Peters, or Robert Scales. For my part, I recall Jean Larteguy writing in The Centurions about having "two armies," one that matches the effete expectations of society and another that fights wars:
I'd like to have two armies: one for display with lovely guns, tanks, little soldiers, staffs, distinguished and doddering generals, and dear little regimental officers who would be deeply concerned over their general's bowel movements or their colonel's piles, an army that would be shown for a modest fee on every fairground in the country.

The other would be the real one, composed entirely of young enthusiasts in camouflage uniforms, who would not be put on display, but from whom impossible efforts would be demanded and to whom all sorts of tricks would be taught. That's the army in which I should like to fight."
That's the army in which any sane man would want to fight, or be defended by, because it's the army that gives him the best chance of being victorious and alive at the same time. It's General Mattis' army. I guess it creates as much shock among liberals as it does among the enemy. Thank God for that. And thank you, General Mattis.

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