Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Resilience

Michael E. Ruane, writing in the Washington Post: "Although the shattering psychological impact of war is well known, experts have become increasingly interested in those who emerge from combat feeling enhanced. Some psychiatrists and psychologists believe that those soldiers have experienced a phenomenon known as ’post-traumatic growth,’ or ’adversarial’ growth." This recent discovery that men are not made out of porcelain is another indication that we are not in another "Vietnam era."

Discussions - 42 Comments

If soldiers were given VA benefits for post tramatic growth, you would see a lot more cases reported... as it is I would claim that it infects about 30%.

When I saw that article in the Post I immediately predicted that someone at NLT would be swooning over it. Isn’t it hard to belive that the liberally-biased MSM (It’s a fact!!) Washington Post would put such an article on its FRONT PAGE? And they did an article all about the wounded soldiers from the Iraq War without mentioning that there are over 15,000 of them thus far! Wouldn’t it have been relevant to at least mention the potential number of soldiers who might be experiencing this post-traumatic growth? (I’m not exactly sure what "The Dissent"’s point was in his/her comment, but it sounds somewhat like an attempt to paint soldiers as dishonest and opportunistic welfare cheats who will lie to get some $$ from the VA - in any case, I’ll use his totally random claim that 30% of injured soldiers experience post-traumatic growth) So, if 30% of injured soldiers experience post-traumatic growth, that leaves only 10,000+ soldiers who don’t get some therapeutic benefit out of losing a hand, foot, arm, leg, their vision, their hearing, etc. I presume these are the soldiers who ARE "made out of porcelain"?

Certainly, it is in the best interests of every traumatized and injured soldier to try to move forward with their life and focus on whatever is positive, and no one should dismiss those resilient persons who can learn and "grow" in some way from what happened, but let’s be clear, these experiences, even in a just war, are tragedies. There is an aspect of all this that is simply false on its face, and really, almost absurd. One doesn’t "grow" by losing a limb or limbs, or losing some sensory perception. This is a loss, not growth. And while there are surely things that one can learn by experiencing such losses, this post-traumatic "growth" theory is simply a convenient way for war hawks to minimize the very real, very serious injuries that have tragically effected the lives of our military men and women, and their families. It’s all about "See!! It’s not so bad that this guy had his leg/foot/arm/hand(s) blown off! He has grown from the experience!" Losing body parts, losing one of your senses, witnessing torture, being tortured, being held as a POW - these things are now "growth"? So maybe, if it’s so therapeutic, those of us at home can cut off our own limbs as a sacrifice in the War on Terror (it would seem more valiant and noble than just going shopping or going to Disneyland, no?) Surely Orwell convulses in his grave.

So J Montgomery is upset that the WaPo did not run another article on how it’s very bad indeed that soliders are killed and wounded in war. Okay...whatever.

The article struck me as a reminder of how psychologists and psychotherapists subtract from the sum total of human knowledge. Maybe some people are shattered by trauma. Maybe some people get stronger. Maybe, says our expert at the end of the story, people who come out stronger are stronger to begin with. (What would we do without experts!) That expert doesn’t follow out the insight by observing that people who are shattered were less resilient to begin with, perhaps because it would confirm Dissent’s post, or perhaps because he had already gone over his tautology limit for the day.

And here I thought it was only the soft-headed libs who loved to promote the namby-pamby therapy and "growth" culture, but now the warmongers have found that it suits them at this juncture. Brilliant!

Surely Orwell convulses in his grave.

Actually, because Orwell beieved that fascism was the greatest threat to civilization in his day, he volunteered to fight against it despite being sickly and underweight. He also understood the cost of war, yet urged men to it if the danger was bad enough. Having watched his friends die at the hands of fascists and communists in Spain, he still did not hesitate to advocate force agaisnt the Nazis when he believed they threatened the world. I realize your Orwell reference has as its locus his concern with the way that the powerful, and particularly governments, use language. Nevertheless, were Orwell alive today, I would imagine him taking Christopher Hitchens’ position on this war against religious fanatics and leftover fascists, not working dilligently alongside Fung and yourself to undermine the war effort. He did, after all, engage in propaganda broadcasts for the BBC. If you want to enlist an appeaser for your side, I suggest you look elsewhere...

Hey Schramm, if there’s such potential for growth, why don’t you sign up? You’re not made of porcelain, are ya?

Oh yeah, the right, in its desire to co-opt every smart thing that Orwell ever sadi, has become overly zealous to consider Orwell one of their own, an early Christopher Hitchens of sorts - because hey let’s face it, Orwell’s an infinitely better writer. We’ll hear or read about how he did the anti-Stalinist stuff for the BBC, but what is rarely mentioned is that he and his unit during the Spanish Civil War joined the POUM - The Workers Party of Marxist Unification - and that he grew to passionately support that party, and that while he was certainly anti-Stalin, anti-Commie, anti-anarchist, and critical of Trotsky, he did consider himself to be a democratic socialist; he promoted such ideals in his late writings, and was certainly a leftist by today’s standards. He also served as the literary editor at
Tribune, a leftist/democratic socialist newspaper.

that’d be "...every smart thing that Orwell ever SAID..." of course...

Obviously our leftist friends are motivated by great concern for "our military men and women." I wonder, then, why so few of those in uniform seem to actually support a withdrawal from Iraq, given, of course, that this would appear to be in their own best interest.

Interestingly, the Tribune, the paper that Orwell once wrote for, has taken a strong stand against Blair and the UK’s military involvement in Iraq. Orwell was a very intelligent and principled socialist and I think it exceedingly unlikely that he’d be backing this quagmire bloodbath in Iraq, a country that had no WMDs, and no substantial connection to the 9/11 terrorists, but which is now quickly becoming the world’s training ground for terrorists.

You should read "One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer", by Nathaniel Flick.

The Spanish Civil War was as bloody and brutal as they come, and from the point of view of the Republican cause it was worse than a quagmire--it was a defeat. And it’s hard to argue that Franco and his Nationalists posed any threat to their neighbors. Surely nobody thought that he possessed "weapons of mass destruction."

Nevertheless Orwell volunteered to put his life on the line to fight Franco. Many in the West did likewise, and deplored the fact that the world’s free nations did nothing to assist the Republican cause. And you really think that Orwell would’ve opposed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, a tyrant who made Franco look like small potatoes?

Now, it’s perfectly reasonable to argue that the Iraq War doesn’t serve America’s interests. I would disagree, but at least it’s a legitimate disagreement. But please recognize that when liberals use this line they’ve departed from the idealism of Orwell and resorted to the kind of Chamberlainian arguments that Orwell detested.

John, could you clarify what you mean by "this line" in the last paragraph of your last comment?

By "this line," I mean the argument that criticizes the Iraq War for not serving American interests--in other words, the "realist" critique, which suggests that, as bad as Saddam might have been, he was the Iraqis’ problem, not ours. Left-wing opponents of the war can and do make that argument, of course, but they should realize that it has a lot more in common with the Republican Party of the 1930s than it does with Orwell’s crusading idealism. This is why Christopher Hitchens--who is, incidentally, also a democratic socialist--favors the war.

The simple fact of the matter is that combat does make a lot of men better men. It sharpens or changes your perspective on life, and this can frankly be a great thing. However the left or right wants to spin it for their side (or against the other), it’s simply an immutable fact that men often emerge from combat refined by the horror, thrill, fear, and a hundred other emotions. Our society has always been built on the backs of decent men who went to war and came back great.

Says LT Naum:

"....it’s simply an immutable fact that men often emerge from combat refined by the horror, thrill, fear, and a hundred other emotions."

This is exactly as profound as saying "It is an immutable fact that some people survived the World Trade Center Attack on 9/11 and subsequently found a new and pronounced appreciation for life after coming so close to losing their own."

So, some people go off to war and return with an enhanced appreciation for life. Others, of course come back with PTSD. Still others come back dead. Chance and serendipity have a great deal to do with the group that one belongs to. Our society has been built on the backs of all of them, not just the ones who get off on it.

In addition, I would add that our society has been built on the backs of steel workers and mothers, and librarians, and teachers and coaches and union members. Why romanticize the soldier?

Is that a serious question or a rhetorical one Fung?

Don’t you DARE call these people Yellow Elephants! Just because they don’t risk their own skins in Iraq doesn’t mean they aren’t able to blog loud and clear about how OTHER people losing their own skins or significantly large parts of them is in fact (although counter-intuitive) truly self-actualizing, macho and self-satisfyingly self-aggrandizing!

it wasn’t the Librarian Brigade which launched a half-dozen bayonet charges to save American independence at the Battle of Long Island in 1776, nor was it the Coaches’ Division that hit the beach at Normandy, nor did the Teacher Corps take a stand on Cemetery Ridge (though individuals who may have checked out books, coached, or taught school may have been in the mix). At all those occasions, though, I understand that SOLDIERS (qua soldiers) were present. Go figure. But whatever you do, for goodness sake don’t ROMANTICIZE them . . . I mean, heck, they only gave their lives for your freedom, what’s to get so excited about?!?!

oh come on people, there’s no way anyone can know one way or the other if Orwell would be for or against the war in Iraq. there’s just no way to know this for sure. John Moser and any liberals who want to claim his name for or against the war are engaging in a petty game. and as far as romanticizing soldiers goes, it wasn’t librarians, coaches, workers or teachers that stacked up naked prisoners at Abu Graib and made them do all kinds of sick s__t, either. it was soldiers, and I don’t romanticize them. if they actually defend freedom, great, let’s honor them, but if they do sick stuff like that I’m ashamed of them frankly. I swear the debate has been lowered so much now that we could have soldiers tossing Muslims into ovens and no one could question it if the ’defending freedom’ tagline were used by the war-lovers! I don’t think they’re over their to protect my freedom, either. what a bunch of bulls--t! if "growing" in the way that the article touts is so great, why don’t we all get in car wrecks or move to Iraq to enjoy some of their freedom and democracy?

Orwell, Schmorwell. Of course there’s no way one can know what he’d think: he’s dead, is he not? One is engaging in what’s called "speculation."

One can reasonably assert, however, that George (Orwell, that is) would deeply appreciate the tendency of George (W. Bush, that is) to dub "dirty air" bills "clean air" bills, to assert that "up" is in fact "down", and that "defeat" (as in Iraq) is "victory." Ta-da.

Hey, josh, like, they’re fighting in Iraq to defend your right to smoke weed and use clever words like "bulls--t!" Dude!

Fred- It was a serious question! We all know that societies have to provide something in order to motivate boys to put their bodies in front of flying metal. Otherwise, either no one would fight wars, or the people who start them would have to fight them, and we certainly can’t have that, can we?

But, just as my students learn that the media can’t make me anorexic, and the president can’t force me to be an unthinking zombie, I think that we can all agree to at least ask ourselves if we want the LT Dains or the Michael Ruanes of the world to continue without serious critique.

Why romanticize the soldier?

And I did read comment 20, but that is just stupid. Of course, if you go to a battle, you will find soldiers there, and not librarians. On the other hand, if you go to a classroom, you will find teachers there, and not soldiers. Big friggin’ deal. You can "give your life" suddenly and you can "give your life" for your whole life. Who were the soldiers fighting against? Other soldiers, in most cases, but we don’t romaniticize them, do we? Rather, they are yellow hordes, or Krauts, or evil pawns of crazy megalomaniacs, or brainwashed suicide fanatics, and so on.

And we are thinking clearly, because we are Americans.

So the question was a rhetorical one. You answered it yourself:

We all know that societies have to provide something in order to motivate boys to put their bodies in front of flying metal. Otherwise, either no one would fight wars, or the people who start them would have to fight them, and we certainly can’t have that, can we?

Romanticizing the solider is not exclusive to making critiques of the solider, however. But it would seem to necessitate that critiques be left to specific instances (and the individuals involved) rather than the armed forces in general. We don’t want to stigmatize the armed forces generally (see Fung’s quote).

well hey "anonymous poster" if they’re over there fighting for my right to smoke weed then this war is even dumber than I thought since a) I don’t have any such right since it’s illegal to possess or consume pot and b) I don’t smoke weed. Later, fool!

I say again: The simple fact of the matter is that combat does make a lot of men better men. It sharpens or changes your perspective on life, and this can frankly be a great thing. However the left or right wants to spin it for their side (or against the other), it’s simply an immutable fact that men often emerge from combat refined by the horror, thrill, fear, and a hundred other emotions. Our society has always been built on the backs of decent men who went to war and came back great.

Nothing controversial, nor anything ideological, here, Fung; just a statement of fact. I’m glad that you have other perspectives, and I’m confident that we’ll get to hear more little gems of your wisdom very soon, but I never made any comment contrary to anything you’ve claimed -- and never suggested romanticizing soldiers (though mankind has done so throughout ... well, human history). Was it just the sight of my name that produces the bile? (What was Pavlov’s dog’s name, anyway? Fung?)

Since you anticipatorily presented the issue of romanticizing soldiers ... What is this disdain you have for people that are willing to sacrifice their literal lives for a cause, anyway? And no, it’s not the same as "giving your whole life" - whatever that means metaphorically or metaphysically - to, oh, the teaching of psychology. Soldiers are romanticized, and professors are not, simply because it is a greater demonstration of love and devotion (qualities mankind has always valued and romanticized) to lay your life down for a cause or for another person than it is to wear tweed and smoke a pipe for tenure. Again, this is not intended to be controversial, nor self-aggrandizing (I have never done anything romantic as a soldier and find nothing romantic about my profession), it’s just a fact of human nature and human history.

And yes, I know the last comment about professors was snide. It was intended to be (just for you). Please spare us all, and cyberspace, your self-righteous reaction and criticism to it. I’m already ashamed of myself and stand fully corrected as to my stereotypical jab at an honorable profession. (I stand by the point behind it, though.)

Fred ---- Huh?

You asked why we should romanticize the solider. You answered it, at least for the most part, in the quote I pulled from your comment.


The other part of my comment was in regards to josh, Mother Mayi, and No Blood for Hubris who seem to think that to romanticize the solider is to shield them from due criticism. I do not think romanticizing the solider is exclusive to criticizing them; I was trying to assert the form such criticism should take (in light of the needed romanticizing).

do is certainly fine and well (I appreciate both professions!) but it’s wrong and blind not to realize that what happens on battlefields, whether anyone likes it or not, SHAPES or sets horizons for what happens in libraries and classrooms.

Here’s a thought experiment: Would what goes on in our schools or what’s in our libraries be the same if the British had won the American War of (not)Independence, if the Confederacy had won the Civil War, or if the Nazis had won WWII?

And who prevented those outcomes? American fighting men, not librarians qua librarians or whatever.

Finally, it’s a gross bit of conceptual stretching (to put it charitably) to speak of "laying down your life" in the relatively banal sense that you spend most of your life pursuing some beneficial and honest but not particularly arduous trade (like teaching) as if that sense is equivalent to what we mean when we speak of an American soldier who "lays down his life" in battle for this country in battle. The two are not really comparable, which is one reason why we have special monuments to soldiers, policemen, or firemen who died in the line of duty and don’t have similar monuments for people who "laid down their lives" bagging groceries, selling shoe, or what have you even though all honest work has dignity and they may have been fine folks.

This is (or should be) so commonsensical that I almost blush to have to point it out, but the degree of obtuseness we’re seeing from some on this thread requires it, I suppose.

To spend one’s life quietly in the service of other people is not the same as spending it suddenly in the service of other people. I never suggested that it was. But, the effects are there, nonetheless, just as a canyon is carved slowly but surely from the effects of a river. It is easier to perceive the sudden effects of an explosion, but societies and landscapes are similarly shaped by both sudden and chronic processes.

When I was a kid, I often played "Combat!" and I never played "Librarian!" I never asked to stay up to watch "Room 222," but I did try to watch "The Rat Patrol."

Certainly, warriors are more exciting, and explosions are more exciting than are spreadsheets and files, or volunteering to teach literacy in the projects. But, I still maintain that what truly makes this country great is our persistence in helping each other, and the general abhorence (among those of us who have grown up) of killing and destruction.

Notwithstanding your implication that all soldiers and the people who admire and appreciate them are immature children, "our persistence in helping each other" would have been absolutely, categorically, ineffective and meaningless if not for those soldiers - and the wars that they fought. "Persistence in helping each other" and a "general abhorrence of killing and destruction" didn’t gain our independence, defeat facsism, or establish democracy in any nation. That is precisely why neither of those concepts are romantic, as valuable (and nebulous) as they may be. They may be "what makes our nation great", as you claim, but they certainly are not what made our nation, or what keeps it great. Our willingness to engage in combat - despite our abhorrence to killing and destruction - is what has made our nation, and is what will continue to maintain our nation. Without it, we will become irrelevant-like the host of gutless, inert nations that exist in the world today. Of course, that may be precisely what you desire.

A military is necessary and useful, and those who make it work correctly and effectively are to be appreciated.

My problem is not, and never has been with the soldier, but with those who (a) misuse the power and responsibility of Commander-in-Chief (or other influential post) by mis-using the military, when other, more effective and humane methods are preferable AND available, and (b) with the mindless cheerleaders for the military and its romanticized, fictional versions.

So, just to be clear, I support our troops (and we have had this conversation before) but I do not support committing them without good reasons, and without proper equipment, planning, and truly pragmatic support. they are much too valuable, lethal, and expensive to be treated the way the Bush Administration has treated them.

And, while I’m merely a psychologist, my naive impression is that war is much too lethal, ugly, and heartbreaking for me and my armchair general friends to treat it as though it is fun.

Again, per our previous discussion, I believe that you do not support our troops. Your notions of "pragmatic support" (which are wholly unclear) do not comport with reality. I don’t believe that the soldiers have at all been mistreated by the President, and though I know you dismiss this view as mindless cheerleading borne of a superiority complex, I also believe that this view is far closer to the reality that you ignore (or simply choose to remain ignorant of). Again, whatever your precise notions of this paternalistic support for troops is, you can keep it. We don’t want, or need, that kind of "support".

As for your denegration of "romanticized, fictional" versions of militarism, I assume that you only hate it when Americans do it. Unfortunately, we romanticize and fictionalize it far less than other cultures - cultures who pursue their versions in the hope of destroying us - cultures with whom we are at war. Your current position on the war in Iraq does nothing, if seen to fruition, but contribute to this romance - but again, I assume this is okay with you. In the absence of "pragmatic" suggestions of "support" for how we can defeat this contrary cultural fictionalization of war in the midst of war (which you have faithfully and consistently failed to offer), I think we could use a little more honor, and romance, from your camp than the current, incessant, demoralizing finger-pointing to the past.

Please take this personally: I’m amazed that as a "psychologist" you are incapable of comprehending the positive psychological impact that war can have on soldiers. Perhaps a little less time on NLT and a little more time in professional research - divorced from your loud political ideology - would reveal a little of that truth. You may personally hate it that war is sometimes "fun", but as a psychologist I would think that you could professionally understand it. There is no reason for you to remain "naive" on the matter. Having said that, I must note that nobody on this site, or in the article that caused this debate, ever claimed war to be "fun". The claim was only that it may have positive effects on some soldiers - a claim which you have done nothing to address except to flippantly dismiss as "exactly as profound as saying ’It is an immutable fact that some people survived the World Trade Center Attack on 9/11 and subsequently found a new and pronounced appreciation for life after coming so close to losing their own.’" Both happen to be true. If you cannot disprove this professionally, then what is the point of arguing?

Lt. Naum said:

"I must note that nobody on this site, or in the article that caused this debate, ever claimed war to be "fun."

That may be true, but just barely! Here at this old thread there were more than a few NLT folks (including none other than Mac Owens!) who were happy to defend, or dismiss as no big deal, the following words of Christian love:

"Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot," [Marine Lt. Gen. James] Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the audience. "It’s fun to shoot some people.

Also, if I’m correctly understanding Fung’s point, it’s not that it isn’t true that some soldiers experience this growth and the "positive effects" described in the article - he’s not arguing that it’s not a psychological fact. It’s just that this is a pretty banal and perhaps even somewhat perverse fact to give attention to, as wars are not engaged in for the purpose of destroying or enhancing the mental and emotional health of the soldier. There’s little difference to be found in labeling soldiers "killing machines" (the allegedly respectful label) or "cannon fodder" (the allegedly disrespectufl label). Both consider soldiers as objects. If a war is justified and for a worthy goal, then we can be relieved that some soldiers who return from the brutal battlefields are actually strengthened from the experience, but if the war is not justified (if it is fabricated from a web of lies, for instance), then to tout the psychological benefits of having survived the war without acknowledging the intrinsic tragedy of those who have been maimed or scarred in some way as the initiating aspect of their growth, or without acknowledging that many have not grown at all, but have in fact been killed, this is absurdity. Yes, Naum "both happen to be true," but then, so what? Was 9/11 then really not such a horrible event since, eventually, some people grew from the experience? (Before anyone’s mouth-foaming mechanism kicks in, it was a rhetoical question, ok?) - and this is all I have to say on this silly Post article and the subsequent blogging and comments, so any further "Chris L" posts will not be from me...

Ah, the fabricated web of lies ... Without ever offering a shred of proof of a willful deceit (not shared, of course, by heroic democrats and liberals), these crows keep spouting the party line as if saying it over and over again will make it true.

Concurrently, Chris L. wrote (before skulking away): If a war is justified and for a worthy goal, then we can be relieved that some soldiers who return from the brutal battlefields are actually strengthened from the experience, but if the war is not justified (if it is fabricated from a web of lies, for instance), then to tout the psychological benefits of having survived the war without acknowledging the intrinsic tragedy of those who have been maimed or scarred in some way as the initiating aspect of their growth, or without acknowledging that many have not grown at all, but have in fact been killed, this is absurdity.

I see. So, if a war is just, we can recognize the benefit gained by soldiers, but if it is not then we have to ignore this, or necessarily focus as well on the maimed??? What about the maimed in the just war??? No, Chris L., THIS is absurdity.

And someone (other than Chris L., since he took his ball and went home) please show me a time or place where I or anyone else ever claimed that war is not terrible or not filled with terrible consequences. It defies all logic, even liberal logic, to equate "war can be good for some people" to mean "war is not bad." Though, I guess I could just claim this to be "rhetorical" and avoid any further criticism.

Thanks to Chris L. To disagree is not the same as to misunderstand.

LT, maybe you did not read above when I wrote this:

When I was a kid, I often played "Combat!" and I never played "Librarian!" I never asked to stay up to watch "Room 222," but I did try to watch "The Rat Patrol."

Certainly, warriors are more exciting, and explosions are more exciting than are spreadsheets and files, or volunteering to teach literacy in the projects

I understand perfectly how the Administration, the recruiters, and the "Liberal Media" all want us to continue to think of war as a big adventure. My point has been all along that we owe it to all of us to recognize that they are trying to manipulate us, and it is not for our own good. It is, instead, to recruit or maintain support for this war, which (in this case) is a tough sell, because it is an unjust one.

So, disagree all you want, but it is a cheap and transparent ploy to ignore the basis of my argument, and then to suggest that I don’t understand, simply because I disagree.

Your argument has no basis. First, you rail about romanticizing war. Then, you admit to doing so yourself (though as a kid). And now ... now, you present (for the first time) your "point": that "they are trying to manipulate us." Even in the light of your continual conspiracy theories, this is beyond belief. Of course, you offer the "unjust war" theory - presumably based on the web of lies argument (which you have never supported, nor never can support). To track the path of your "arguments" in this post is an exercise either in lunacy, or in the insanely obvious. This conversation begins with a simple claim of "post-traumatic growth" and has culminated in the same, old, usual "the Administration lied us into war." I’m just amused that it took you this long to remember the only tired, baseless argument that you own. I don’t accuse you of misunderstanding simply because you disagree. I accuse you of misunderstanding because you don’t demonstrate that you understand. Predictably, you faithfully continue to not demonstrate this. Again, you claim that the vast conspiracy is attempting to manipulate us into believing that the war is a big adventure. For some - like it or not, agree with the war or not - it frankly is. That is the basis of this whole conversation - and you still don’t get it. It is truly a "cheap and transparent ploy to ignore this basis" and resort to the irrelevant (as it applies to this matter) the issue of your bogus white whale.

LT, what do you need, big print and pictures? Are you so addled that you can’t read or remember an entry that occurred back a couple of minutes? You say:

And now ... now, you present (for the first time) your "point": that "they are trying to manipulate us." Even in the light of your continual conspiracy theories, this is beyond belief.

Now, perhaps you didn’t read this, or, more likely, you read it, and chose to forget it:

"We all know that societies have to provide something in order to motivate boys to put their bodies in front of flying metal. Otherwise, either no one would fight wars, or the people who start them would have to fight them, and we certainly can’t have that, can we?

But, just as my students learn that the media can’t make me anorexic, and the president can’t force me to be an unthinking zombie, I think that we can all agree to at least ask ourselves if we want the LT Dains or the Michael Ruanes of the world to continue without serious critique. "

Now, that was from post 24. I know that’s a long ways back, but you pretend to be a smart guy. Pretend a little harder, and read back 14 entries.

Now, another possibility is that your problem isn’t with numbers (14) or with memory, but rather your problem is that my writing is too subtle for you.

When I suggest that societies have to offer something to boys in order to get them to risk their lives, that suggests manipulation. And later (hang with me here, LT, two ideas in one day) I suggest that we might want to apply some serious critique to the arguments of people like you, I am suggesting that we don’t have to allow ourselves to be manipulated. We don’t have to blindly accept the elevation and romanticization of the status of soldier.

Later, you are right, I admitted to a childish, and childhood appreciation for loud noises, big explosions and killing bad guys. And then I suggested that the ongoing manipulation works on those of us who fail to grow up.

Now, you claim that you don’t engage in romanticizing the soldier, in the same post with this:

"it’s simply an immutable fact that men often emerge from combat refined by the horror, thrill, fear, and a hundred other emotions. Our society has always been built on the backs of decent men who went to war and came back great." Why don’t you just put that on a recruiting poster, or the back cover of the Audie Murphy story?

I have not denied that some people get off on war, or that there is adventure to be had, there. I have merely suggested that the cheerleaders, and jack-boot lickers and flag-wavers might want to wake up to the manipulation that IS going on. Tell me that Bush hasn’t surrounded himself with uniforms, lately, and that he didn’t put one on, like a monkey at Halloween during his idiotic "Mission Accomplished" speech. Tell me that isn’t manipulation. Tell me that the gov’t hasn’t denied the public access to real images of death and human pain in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to control the feelings at home. Tell me where I can see families greeting the caskets when they arrive in the States. Tell me that isn’t manipulation.

Did you see the President’s satellite conference with the hand-picked American and Iraqi soldiers, with the rehearsal caught on tape, and the Iraqi soldier saying "We like you!" at the wrong point in the script? Tell me that wasn’t manipulation.

Have you seen the recruiting commercial with the Black kid in the kitchen with his single mom, who realizes that he needs to join the army in order to be a man? Is that not manipulation?

Why don’t you learn to read and think before you pretend to be "amused" at other peoples’ arguments? You aren’t fooling anyone who can still think for themselves. But, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t fooled. And that is why people like you want people like me to shut up -- because we invite others to look past the shining image and wonder who benefits and who pays when boys go off to war. That is why you attack Cindy Sheehan (on other postings on this website0 with all the grace and sophistication of a 7th grade bully. You don’t want people to hear her message. If she didn’t scare you, you wouldn’t care, would you? Tough guy with a gun scared of a grieving mother. You are a fraud.

Oh. Nice. Way to elevate the debate beyond my "bullying". I guess we’re two of the same shade, coward.

There are so many falsehoods, fallacies, and distortions in your statements that I simply don’t have the time to respond. If I don’t know how to read, you certainly are no better at literacy. You find some surface things that shock and disgust you. Then, rather than look into the truth behind the situations, you prefer to simply attack them as "manipulation." You clearly have no concern for the truth, or for any position that is not your own. You hate the President for his "mission accomplished" trip - yet you have no concept of why it was done, of who recommended that he do it, for what reasons. It’s easy to find, if you had any integrity or courage. You don’t. That’s obvious. I’m not permitted to attack Cindy Sheehan (you say because I’m afraid). Why are her lies immune from attack? Simply because she’s a grieving, lying mother? I hate her ideology, and yours, because you both hate the truth (though hide behind your claims of loving it). I hate her position, and yours, because you are both cowards and would rather destroy soldiers than to permit them to succeed - though hiding behind your fraudulent claims of "support for the troops". You are cowards, and frauds - more so than I.

You hate military recruiting techniques. You would rather we didn’t have a military. How else should the military recruit, genius? Of course they romanticize the job of the military. What profession doesn’t romanticize its mission? How do you suppose we should try to get people to join the military? Your ideology is valueless, and you are the fraud.

I want you to shut up because you want to destroy everything we’ve accomplished in Iraq. Scared of you and Cindy Sheehan? No. Scared of what you might do to our country with your fraud? Absolutely. Afraid to attack you because of your 7th Grade bullying accusation? Never.

As for the notion of joining the Army to become a man ... I wish you would consider it. But, you are a coward and would clearly rather delight in, and abuse, your freedoms than earn them.

Am I being too manipulative? Too mean? I don’t care.

"You hate the President for his "mission accomplished" trip ..."

Exactly. but for this one event, i’d be in love with him.

"yet you have no concept of why it was done, of who recommended that he do it, for what reasons."

In other words, if I knew who the puppet master was, and why, then I would have much more respect for the puppet.

" I’m not permitted to attack Cindy Sheehan (you say because I’m afraid). Why are her lies immune from attack?"

It’s not about her, Einstein, it’s about YOU! You are defined, in part, by the targets of your attack. David was a hero, because he took on Goliath. JFK was a hero, because he stood up to the USSR. You are a frightened bully fraud, because you attack a grieving mother.

"You would rather we didn’t have a military..."

Again, you choose the words that you want to remember, and you have chosen to forget these from entry 33: " A military is necessary and useful, and those who make it work correctly and effectively are to be appreciated.

My problem is not, and never has been with the soldier, but with those who (a) misuse the power and responsibility of Commander-in-Chief (or other influential post) by mis-using the military, when other, more effective and humane methods are preferable AND available, and (b) with the mindless cheerleaders for the military and its romanticized, fictional versions."

Then you ask: " How else should the military recruit, genius?"

Try this one on for size: Our country is in danger, and we need good people to help defend it against a demonstrably dangerous enemy. If you join, then you and your family will receive adequate compensation, support, and the honor of the truth. We will never squander your patriotism by sending you into countries where your sacrifice is not necessary for the good of all America.

But, who would believe that? You are right -- it is better to lie.

Take care, tough guy. Watch out for those tear-eyed moms.

Can’t we stick to the point of the article? The point is that war is not hell, it is FUN. Therefore, what’s the big deal about declaring war? Or fighting in it, like that Cindy mother person keeps acting like it’s some big darn deal? It’s like making a big deal of George W. Bush’s youthful penchant for inserting firecrackers into live tHunh? It’s like Abu Ghraib! Its like waterboarding! Frat-boy hi-jinx! Wake UP, sheeple! Anti-warrists, anti-torture-ists, they’re just pussies. Faugh.

Oops. That should read, "like making a big deal of George W. Bush’s youthful penchant for inserting firecrackers into live toads and then watching them explode! Hunh? It’s like Abu Ghraib! It’s like waterboarding! Frat-boy hi-jinx! Wake UP, sheeple! Anti-warrists, anti-torture-ists, they’re just pussies. Faugh.

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