Military Honor

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Lucus Eques
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Military Honor

Post by Lucus Eques » Thu Jul 20, 2006 5:02 pm

In general, military personell, and particularly American soldiers tend to be slandered, or looked down upon, either as stupid, naive, childlike, or even immoral — this we can owe largely to their treatment in the press, or rather how they are presented, for how often do we hear of acts of honor? or salvation? when indeed the shameful acts of the few are all we tend to receive.

I am considering a military career, and by chance on this page I found the "Core Values" of the United States Navy:

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Honor. This includes the core values of: Honesty, Integrity, and Responsibility. Naval personnel must conduct themselves with the highest ethical standards in all relationships with seniors, peers, and subordinates. Successful Naval leaders must be able to make honest recommendations and receive recommendations from juniors. Most importantly, Navy and Marine Corps members must live by an uncompromising code of integrity, take responsibility for one's actions, and always strive to fulfill or exceed our moral and legal obligations to our service and our society.

Courage. This includes the core values of: Competence, Teamwork, and Concern (respect) for people. Naval leaders must not be afraid to undertake any mission, no matter how demanding, hazardous, or difficult it may seem. A leader must always make decisions in the best interest of their service and their country, regardless of personal consequences. Naval personnel must always do what is right even in the face of personal or professional adversity.

Commitment. This includes the core values of: Loyalty, Patriotism, and Valor. Successful leaders must demand respect up and down the chain of command, and always care for the safety and well being of their subordinates. Naval personnel must show respect towards all people regardless of race, religion, or gender, and treat every individual with the highest dignity. Leaders must be ever aware and strive for positive change and constant improvement. Navy and Marine Corps personnel must exhibit the highest degree of moral character, and work together as a team to improve the quality of our service and nation.

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My forum name reveals plainly my admiration for chivalry, and those here who share this admiration may be pleased as I was to know that our defenders are trained to be as honorable as any knight.
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Post by CharlesH » Thu Jul 20, 2006 5:37 pm

edited for brevity
Last edited by CharlesH on Fri Dec 08, 2006 12:11 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by bellum paxque » Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:18 pm

mi Luci,

Unlike CharlesH, I too have often heard the American armed forces slandered, slighted, and belittled. Sometimes, I've even joined in. The usual reason given for such disparagement is that, as the army now is completely voluntary and is also used as a last resort for people with no other options or opportunities, the moral and intellectual quality of enlisted men is questionable.

I've never been in the army, so I can't say where it's true or not. I do know that several of my close friends are embarking upon careers in the air force or army, and my dad and my best friend's dad both served in the navy in Vietnam. I highly respect all of these people and am not ashamed in the slightest that they either have or will invested their talent and energy into the defense and preservation of the USA.

The personal integrity of American soldiers, as with the integrity of any group of people, ought not to be either lauded or undermined corporately but rather individually. There are those who deserve our praise, but others surely deserve our censure. It is the responsibility of the leaders of American armed forces to foster the leadership and recruitment of the former, and to limit the activity and damage of the former. Nevertheless, it is not the "army" itself at fault for atrocities such as those perpetrated in Iraq (say) or elsewhere, but rather those particular criminals on whose name the blame should fall.

Respectfully,

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Post by Deudeditus » Mon Jul 24, 2006 5:11 pm

though a few soldiers can do a lot to tarnish the reputation of the others, I know of no one, personally, who deserves the tarnish.

why is it that a thread with a positive attitude towards US military (or the US in general) only has 3 replies?

Luce, which branch were you planning on joining? the Department of the Navy has an excellent Cryptolinguistics program, I take the DLAB to determine my qualifications for it next week. I'm applying for aut cryptolinguistics or intelligence or PR.

If you need to talk to someone who isn't directly trying to recruit you into a specific branch, my emails are
eyl03@hotmail.com aut
semper_ero@hotmail.com

I am immensely proud of anyone who has chosen to defend our country and her values, and they command my utmost respect. Please, BPque, tell your father that it was much appreciated.

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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Mon Jul 24, 2006 6:21 pm

Deudeditus wrote: why is it that a thread with a positive attitude towards US military (or the US in general) only has 3 replies?
I can only speak for myself - I actually have quite a bit to say, and I am still waiting to have the energy to collect it in a post, but I have not let go of this thread.

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Post by Lucus Eques » Mon Jul 24, 2006 6:57 pm

You're going into the Navy, Jon? Fantastic. My uncle enlisted in the Navy, and was a Senior Master Chief when he was done. I intend to become a fighter pilot for the Air Force. No one, actually, has attempted to recruit me; I came to the decision on my own.
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Post by Deudeditus » Mon Jul 24, 2006 7:39 pm

actually, Luce, I joined the Marines (I replied to a post of the venerable PeterD the night before i went to MEPS (military entrance processing station), but as the USMC is a part of the DoN (gotta love the acronyms!! :D ) I included them both. A friend of mine is going to train to be a tactical aircraft technician... something like that. Have you talked to all the branches? I strongly recommend doing that, even if you are sure about the USAF. At first, I was going to join the Army, but after I saw a recruiter or two from all of the branches, I narrowed it down to the Coast Guard or the Marines.

I eagerly await a response, GGG

-Jon

Hu

Post by Hu » Mon Jul 24, 2006 7:51 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:You're going into the Navy, Jon? Fantastic. My uncle enlisted in the Navy, and was a Senior Master Chief when he was done. I intend to become a fighter pilot for the Air Force. No one, actually, has attempted to recruit me; I came to the decision on my own.
Fighter pilot? Interesting choice. My dad was in the Navy for four years as a radio technician (which is what he became in civilian life).
CharlesH wrote:Anyone who lives by the core values of the U.S. Navy whether they be a soldier, sailor or citizen, is deserving of the utmost respect.
I agree completely. This sort of thing never really sank in with me until I watched Ken Burns's The Civil War a while ago - then it struck me in a quite real way just how much others have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for our freedom. I'm grateful to them every day.

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Post by Kopio » Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:06 am

bellum paxque wrote:The usual reason given for such disparagement is that, as the army now is completely voluntary and is also used as a last resort for people with no other options or opportunities, the moral and intellectual quality of enlisted men is questionable.
Wow....there's a broad stereotyping if I've ever seen one (although I realize you recant a bit and do say some nice things, but...)! You know...I have a cousin who was a 4.0 student. He decided to join the Army. After finishing 3rd in his class at West Point, he is now an officer in Korea. After he finishes his career with the Army, he is hoping to go into the Secret Service, FBI, or CIA. He is one of the most upright, honest men that I know. My whole family is very proud of him.

I have the highest regard for the men and women who choose to serve our country this way. Had it not been for asthma, I would have enlisted first opportunity in the Navy. My father was a Navy man. He got out right before the Bay of Pigs, but then later in life he re-upped with the Coast Guard and spent 16 more years working Port Security in Portland Oregon. Some of my closest friends are Marines, and I love them and what they stand for dearly. No matter what your opinion on the matter, we have our armed forces to thank for the freedoms which we hold dear in this country.

Ok....I'll put my American flag away now (no, I don't really fly one, but my father has for many years) and get off my soapbox.

Good for you Lucus. I think you would serve our country proudly, with honor, and dignity. we could use more men like you.

Other than that....I don't have much of an opinion :)

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Post by bellum paxque » Tue Jul 25, 2006 1:43 pm

I'm sorry, Kopio, if I offended you by printing what, I admit, is a huge blanket statement. I wasn't intending to actually vouch for it, though. I was just reporting what I've heard and (in the past) have sometimes suggested. If this were Latin, I would have put it in a quod clause with a subjunctive verb (quod exercitus compleatur...) to indicate the implied "allegedly."

Where in Korea is your cousin serving? You may not know, but I'm teaching English in Seoul for the year.

Best,

David
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Post by Kopio » Tue Jul 25, 2006 6:15 pm

bellum paxque wrote:I'm sorry, Kopio, if I offended you by printing what, I admit, is a huge blanket statement.
No offense taken...which is why I encluded that parenthetical statement. I just thought it was a little broad. I just really dislike stereotyping, I guess because I am so often stereotyped, and I hate being identified with the majority of people I am stereotyped with....does that make sense??
bellum paxque wrote:Where in Korea is your cousin serving? You may not know, but I'm teaching English in Seoul for the year
I don't remember off the top of my head...I have his mailing address...but that's not a lot of help...it's just an APO.

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Post by Kasper » Wed Jul 26, 2006 2:04 am

Kopio wrote:
I have the highest regard for the men and women who choose to serve our country this way.
Sorry spoil the cosy thread, but... I work for a government law firm and most of my time is spend investigating personal injury claims made by ex-military personnel. It always amuses me how they always claim afterwards that they gave their life and what not to serve the country and protect our freedom. You know, from the hundreds of recruitment forms I have seen where the applicants state their motivation for joining the military, I've never seen one that said they wanted to serve their country. The reasons are usually something like wanting to learn a trade or get an education, steady employment, travel, 'something different', etc.
The whole serving the country thing, at least in Australia, seems a bit of add-on afterwards.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”

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Post by AABaker » Wed Jul 26, 2006 2:55 am

Ever read Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hanna Arendt? Eichmann was a nice guy, loved his family, treated everyone really nice, had Jewish friends even, but he was just following orders...and happened to be responsible for millions of Jewish deaths.

Typical Nazi soldier was a good person, with integrity, a Christian who thought their values were in line with the Bible (they forgot about the "peacemaker" parts).

So yeah, maybe many soldiers have integrity and honor...it is the content of that integrity and honor that is in question.

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Post by Lucus Eques » Wed Jul 26, 2006 3:12 am

Thank you for the compliment, Kopio; I laud your father and friends, and other military personnel.

It is regretable to hear that your servicemen take advantage of the legal system like that, Kasper. Indeed, it seems that those soldiers with whom you deal are not honoring their country. I do not know for certain, but I don't feel that the same thing occurs in the United States, though I'd welcome a notion or a statistic. For many of our sevicvemen, the idea is also to get a job or to learn a trade, as you stated from those very applications. However, in my experience, it seems that these certain men and women who otherwise would not make very much for themselves in civilian life end up becoming model citizens, exemplars of discipline, strength, and even intelligence, as we have seen. The ability for any organization to achieve this is simply remarkable to me: for we accept that within all individuals lies both good and ill, and that the United States military, at least, brings out the good, and forms the mature man from the knave is a truly astonishing and wonderful result. This is not to laud my country's military above those of others, but it is simply, as some of us already have said, a significant positive, a grand thing.
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Post by Kasper » Wed Jul 26, 2006 3:28 am

Discipline, particularly self-discipline, wherever it is acquired is a grant thing that is likely to guarantee succes in various aspects of life. I have no doubt that the military as an organisation has a very high capacity to teach discipline. For this very reason I've often considered joining the Reserves, but at present time does not permit.

Ps. it is not that any one is taking advantage of the legal system. If people are injured at work, be it military service or otherwise, are entitled to claim compensation.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”

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Post by ThomasGR » Sat Jul 29, 2006 10:00 pm

Good words talking about honour, courage, commitment, but the reality is quite different. As long one follows his military career behind a desk, just copying or writing papers and distributing them, he has the luxury to be a gentleman. On battlefields, things are quite different. There, your only duty will be to kill as not to be killed, and follow orders even if you don’t know what’s the purpose of them. Most soldiers act savagely not because they are scum, most of them in other circumstances one would call pious people, but they become such out of plain anxiety as not to die. Since the ultimate goal is to win the war, officers (often) take advantage of this fear and encourage soldiers to become frightful killers.

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Post by Bert » Sat Jul 29, 2006 10:42 pm

ThomasGR wrote:Good words talking about honour, courage, commitment, but the reality is quite different. ......... Most soldiers act savagely not because they are scum.......
Does fighting honourably, courageously and with commitment translate into savagely?
I think that overcoming fear and still do your duty (even if you don't understand the purpose of the maneuver) is a positive thing.

It is the scum that rapes the women of those over whom they have control. They will be scum in other settings as well. Whenever you have a large group, scum will be represented.

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Post by Agrippa » Sun Jul 30, 2006 1:24 am

To me a soldier is someone who swears to a sovereign to do what the sovereign wishes, and by that note you are allowing yourself to be put into a position where you must either do what your commander urges you or break your word and suffer the consequences. I would make a horrible soldier; I would prefer to be shot than to shoot another. I can't even eat meat because it feels like savagery to me, much less harm another human being on orders. If you don't have a problem harming another fellow human being for glory, for the idea of a nation, or something else, then go for it.

Also, I have absolutely no political affiliation, but how can you say that soldiers have a bad name? I live in the South (well, Florida is only geographically southern according to some), and without fault everytime I stop at a light I see a car with a "Support Our Troops" bumper sticker. Everyone here seems to think that soldiers are some higher evolution of the species or something, and not contrariwise.

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Post by AABaker » Sun Jul 30, 2006 3:31 am

Agrippa,

I think you are right. Empty talk about just wars and such things, makes no difference, because even if there were such a thing (and there is not), the duty of a soldier is not to decide whether war is just or unjust, but to follow orders. Far from imparting leadership skills, the military imparts the value of conformity. Far from imparting honor, it trains in dishonor, by telling a person is it okay to kill another human being as long as some guy in the oval office says it is "war" not murder. It imparts not truth-telling, but lies and self-deception as people kill for the nation-state, which is no different than killing for the electric company.

I am glad to see that some people here, who study classical languages are not sold out to the state.

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Post by ThomasGR » Sun Jul 30, 2006 5:41 am

Bert wrote:Does fighting honourably, courageously and with commitment translate into savagely? I think that overcoming fear and still do your duty (even if you don't understand the purpose of the maneuver) is a positive thing.

Theoretically, I have to agree with you. But on battlefields, soldiers experience things, which are more than a person can hold. One may say without exaggeration that he goes through a transformation, that his fear to die is something humans can never win.
Bert wrote:It is the scum that rapes the women of those over whom they have control. They will be scum in other settings as well. Whenever you have a large group, scum will be represented.
Not always. Under this inhuman pressure, soldiers will start to think different and act as members of a group, and the hero of this group is the person who has become the perfect killer machine. Raping enemy’s women, a soldier/hero considers to be an act of revenge, not a savage one. Common morality as we all follow in our daily lives does not apply here.

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Post by bellum paxque » Sun Jul 30, 2006 10:38 am

The existence of soldier-poets such as (to take an obvious example) Wilfred Owen proves that the "inhuman pressure" of war can produce an incredible degree of sympathy as well as savagery. Let's not generalize too far: no doubt the staggering weight of war has sent many soldiers spiraling into a wild blood-lust. But not all. Not all wars are of equal brutality, and not all men and women are bent so easily to the will of the group.
his fear to die is something humans can never win.
Is this really so true? Is the primal drive to preserve oneself so strong that no depth of character or principle can overcome it? The witness of martyrs and patriots the world over disproves this.

Respectfully,

David
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Post by Bert » Sun Jul 30, 2006 12:58 pm

AABaker wrote:Agrippa,

I think you are right. Empty talk about just wars and such things, makes no difference, because even if there were such a thing (and there is not), .....
No? Many wars were just from the side of at least one of the sides. Were the Soviets just in invading Czechoslovakia? Was Czechoslovakia just in defending itself?
Agrippa wrote: If you don't have a problem harming another fellow human being for glory, for the idea of a nation, or something else, then go for it.
For glory? For the IDEA of a nation?
I don't think I would make a good soldier either but I would defend my family. Not for glory but for my family, (not for the IDEA of family.)

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Post by Lucus Eques » Sun Jul 30, 2006 1:42 pm

Apologies, friends, but I think many of the above remarks are not only shocking, but seem to come from complete ignorance. A lot of assumptions about war and savagery and inhumanity are being made here, yet I don't think any of us have actually ever been in war, much less served in any military. Perhaps an indepth analysis of chivalry, warrior poets, the biographies of military leaders and followers, and of history will offer a more enlightening perspective on the meaning of war, and of honor.
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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Sun Jul 30, 2006 5:13 pm

My long awaited commentary!

When Lucus first brought up the information about the Navy's values, I instantly thought of the ESLRs at my school - "Expected Schoolwide Learning Result". There were six of them "Communicators", "Collaborative Workers", "Thinkers", and three others I can't remember now. Anyway. every classroom had to have six posters posted on the wall, which listed the qualities that the "Thinkers", "Collaborative Workers" etc were supposed to have upon graduation from the school. When the accreditation people inspected our school, we were also instructed to memorize the ESLRs lest the accreditation folks stopped us in the hallway and asked. The teachers were required to use these in the classroom. One of my favorite teachers "used" them as geographical markers - if you were looking for paper, you went to the "Collaborative Workers" poster, if you were looking for spare textbooks you went to the "Thinkers" poster, etc. Basically, the fact that we had to have this rammed down our throat as some kind of dogma to be repeated upon request meant squat. On the other hand, they were all good values, and the kind of behavior one would hope young people would develop. I would even say that the school was in a large way successful in making students into thinkers/collaborative workers/communicators/community contributors (aha! I remembered a fourth one). However, IMHO, this was mainly because many of the best teachers *were* these kind of people and were good role models for the students, not because we had to memorize these ESLRs. I cannot help but think that the Navy's values are simiilar in effectiveness to the ESLRs.

Around here (a very anti-war community), the feeling is that the soldier on the ground is an innocent citizen who is being abused by the government - "Support our Troops - Get them out of Iraq". After all, the current Commander in Chief of the United States Armed forces got very few votes here, so the command is considered rotten from the top. I don't watch the news on TV very much, but even I have lost count how many times I've seen a teary-eyed local mother of a soldier who died in Iraq.

There is also a great fear of the military-industry complex - quite a few people claim that the United States has so many military engagements because military contractors have corrupted the government (for example, the trailer for the recent documentary "Why We Fight" has a quote "When war is this profitable, you'll see a lot more of it.") This is considered the fault of the government and high command, not the troops themselves. The brother of one of my former teachers used to be a marine and recently worked as a bodyguard in Iraq, and my teacher said he gets paid $800 dollars a day by the private company which the government licensed to protect its diplomats. While she was happy that her brother got paid so much for doing such a dangerous job, she commented that since all of his experience had been from the marines, why didn't the government just assign some marines to protect the diplomats rather than pay so much for this private company to use the exact same people? She also had a number of anecdotes from her brother about how corrupt the spending on the war of Iraq is - for example, gourmet ice cream provided for soldiers by a company **** Cheney used to work for.

I also have a counsin-in-law who is pursuing a lifelong military career who is serving in Iraq. I have never met him since he only married recently, therefore I do not know why he picked this career nor have any reason to believe he is a bad person. However, my cousin, who is currently living on an army base and is taking care of their young baby, needs regular treatment for a medical condition. The military doctor prescribed her something which she discovered, after a little reasearch, would kill her if she actually took it. She has heard stories from other women on the base about the incompetency of this doctor. My mother asked her to request a new doctor, and she said that they would only let her if her husband left the military. My mother then told her that since her husband was in a Iraq and she was taking care of a young baby that she should get better treatment, and my cousin replied that every woman on the base had a husband in Iraq and that they (the bureaucracy running the base) don't really care. She can't even go to a private doctor paid out of her own pocket unless her husband leaves the military. While I do not entirely agree with the local perception of the military, I do think that the military is an impersonal institution which requires slavish obedience from its members, and this incident only strengthens that perception.

My own father was enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After he left college, the Vietnam war was still going on, and he hated the idea of being drafted (not the idea of going into combat - the idea of being forced to do anything). Therefore, he took a pre-emptive strike and enlisted in the Navy. As things turned out, he was posted in Japan and Virginia, both fairly peaceful locations during the Vietnam war. The years he spent in the Navy, paticularly Japan, were some of the best years of his life, or at least the years he talks about most (he talks about his Navy years more often than all the years before he enlisted combined). He feels that he was not ready for college when graduated from high school, and wishes that he had joined the military first and then went to college when he would have been mature enough to appreciate it. On the other hand, he hardly has a romantic view of the military and complains about a number of its faults - for example, in order to keep thinks fair, the Navy "screwed everybody equally" by making sure everybody had both day and night watches and could never have a normal sleep cycle. My father would have preferred having permanent night watch duty instead of the system of requiring everybody to do both, even though it was less fair.

As for my opinion? First of all, I think I would make a bad soldier because I generally refuse to do something unless I know (at least to some degree) why it has to be done. However, I think the discipline amd focus it imparts can have a good influence on young people. An effective military also needs soldiers which can think as well as obey. In an interview I once read with a marines officer who enlisted in the marines as soon as he graduated from an ivy-league college, he said that the soliders in Iraq have to do as much diplomacy with the locals as fighting, and described how the soldiers have to have good social skills (and brains) in order to handle many situations well. I also think the military is good for things other than shooting people - for example, the military did more for the victims of Hurricane Katrina than any other branch of the government during the first few weeks after the disaster, and even afterwards much of the repair work of the levies was done by military engineers. On the other hand, militaries do abuse their powers and commit war crimes. Basically, I think the military is an imperfect, but not evil, institution.

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Post by ThomasGR » Sun Jul 30, 2006 6:01 pm

bellum paxque wrote:The existence of soldier-poets such as (to take an obvious example) Wilfred Owen proves that the "inhuman pressure" of war can produce an incredible degree of sympathy as well as savagery. Let's not generalize too far: no doubt the staggering weight of war has sent many soldiers spiraling into a wild blood-lust. But not all. Not all wars are of equal brutality, and not all men and women are bent so easily to the will of the group.
Of course not all soldiers are fitted to become killers. The duty of an officer is to record every soldier one by one and select the proper soldier according to his abilities and for the job that has to be to be done. Some are fitted for preparations, and others are good in overcoming their fears.
quote: his fear to die is something humans can never win.

Is this really so true? Is the primal drive to preserve oneself so strong that no depth of character or principle can overcome it? The witness of martyrs and patriots the world over disproves this.

Respectfully,

David
I don't know about martyrs and I doubt what the official Church teaches us about them. I may guess many of them were ready to denounce their believes, but either it was too late for that, or fall victims of the (political) circumstances. In either case, they are cases for psychological studies. About patriots and heroes in war times, today we have more material to study. We have records from WWII, from Viet Nam, and nowadays also from Iraq. Most heroes are normal people we meet every day, and they acted always as members of a group. Being let alone, probably they would collapse and suffer from neurasthenia, like your poet in your link. But acting as members of a small group, they have the chance to become heroes and boast about their courage. At this moment I’m thinking of that girl in the Iraqi prison, her behaviour was scandalous a time ago, and the latest marine who tried his talent as a poet and in song composition. Both were reported to be lovely, peaceful persons with no problems at all. Society generally likes to praise heroes and engage poets to write sagas and eposes on heroic acts, but how many poets actually experienced the fright in a battlefield? I doubt there is any.

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Post by Agrippa » Sun Jul 30, 2006 8:07 pm

Is this really so true? Is the primal drive to preserve oneself so strong that no depth of character or principle can overcome it? The witness of martyrs and patriots the world over disproves this.
One can, but I don't think soldiers are the type of people that can do this. The only people of which I can think who have denied that drive to the point of near extinction are people like monks, and really, in most religions you can find these people, early Christian Syria was full of them, and in India they still exist. They don't eat, bathe, or do anything really, until they cease evem to live. It isn't killing yourself since that is an action; what these people did cease to act at all, but that's neither here nor there. A soldier is still trying to change something, something which will live beyond himself, perhaps a country, perhaps a friend, a battalion, or an idea, but he is still trying to live through something. He's less killing himself than seeking some manner of immortality. I guess this may seem to be nitpicking, but to me there is a big difference.
No? Many wars were just from the side of at least one of the sides. Were the Soviets just in invading Czechoslovakia? Was Czechoslovakia just in defending itself?
If you want an absolute answer, then I can't give one. Everytime someone tries to say something is absolutely just it leads to contradictions, and that's why casually-speaking, or philosopht aside, some things are "just," but in reality the concept of justice is really relative. Also, that a war is just and that a person should serve in said just war are two different things. It may be the most "just" of all wars, but in the end of the day you're still shooting people, and most likely, you're doing so because of the ulterior motives of a sovereign, since you'd be hard-pressed to find many nations who go to war for reasons other than their own benefit. Good nations are those who have haven't been put in a position to benefit off of foul deeds, because if they had been, chances are they would have.

For glory? For the IDEA of a nation?
I don't think I would make a good soldier either but I would defend my family. Not for glory but for my family, (not for the IDEA of family.)
Look, I used "idea of a nation" for nationalism and the like, where you don't exactly fight for the physical entity France and its rivers and people, but the idea of France as the new home of liberté, égalité, fraternité, and so on. And like I said, there are better ways of protecting your family than joining the military. Buying a rifle to protect them would be one, or moving them out of the danger zone would be another.
Apologies, friends, but I think many of the above remarks are not only shocking, but seem to come from complete ignorance. A lot of assumptions about war and savagery and inhumanity are being made here, yet I don't think any of us have actually ever been in war, much less served in any military. Perhaps an indepth analysis of chivalry, warrior poets, the biographies of military leaders and followers, and of history will offer a more enlightening perspective on the meaning of war, and of honor.
Um, how would reading what "warrior poets" and "military leaders and followers" enlighten us of the true nature of war? And what would looking at the history of these doctrines show us? Chivalry seems like hypocrisy to me, like a relic from a time dominated with a doctrine of forgiveness and love which nonetheless was brutal and savage, and so had to pretend as if this killing, this destruction and violence, was justified because it was gallant or heroic.

Oh gosh I don't think I've ever written as much here as I have now. :oops:

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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Sun Jul 30, 2006 8:21 pm

Just a quick comment - one of the anti-militarist posts referred to Wilfred Owen, who was a soldier poet if there ever was one.

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Post by Agrippa » Sun Jul 30, 2006 8:53 pm

The problem with war poets is that they don't often tap into the underlying reality of what happened, often getting stuck in specifics. They usually focus on making a point, or supporting this or attacking that, and to me that makes their poems both temporary and, in a certain way, akin to punditry in iambs.

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Post by ThomasGR » Sun Jul 30, 2006 9:26 pm

A good example of war poetry is the description of the battle near Thermopyles. The poet describes how thousands of arrows had darkened the sunlight, but not how soldiers died. and centruies later, falling of bombs is described like watching fireworks in a maginicent ceremony.

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Post by bellum paxque » Sun Jul 30, 2006 11:48 pm

The problem with war poets is that they don't often tap into the underlying reality of what happened, often getting stuck in specifics.
How can you examine the "underlying reality" of war without looking at specifics? Here's war poetry minus specifics:
Heroes do glorious things,
but people die.
(War sucks.)
If you think that all war poets are either oblivious of the horror of war or deluded by gilded patriotism, please read the following World War I poems: "Dead Man's Dump" by Isaac Rosenberg and "Strange Meeting" by Wilfred Owen

A relevant passage from the latter:
...I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now... "
Both of these soldier-poets were killed in the War.
Um, how would reading what "warrior poets" and "military leaders and followers" enlighten us of the true nature of war?
Agrippa, after reading some of the poetry of Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg, do you really think that poetry can tell us nothing of war?
Society generally likes to praise heroes and engage poets to write sagas and eposes on heroic acts, but how many poets actually experienced the fright in a battlefield? I doubt there is any.
I think my examples should prove the opposite. Owen lived in the trenches for several years, was hospitalized for shock and other injuries, and died there. If he didn't experience fright, who did?

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Post by Bert » Sun Jul 30, 2006 11:52 pm

I will only comment on a few points.
Agrippa wrote:
Is this really so true? Is the primal drive to preserve oneself so strong that no depth of character or principle can overcome it? The witness of martyrs and patriots the world over disproves this.
One can, but I don't think soldiers are the type of people that can do this. ...........A soldier is still trying to change something, something which will live beyond himself, perhaps a country, perhaps a friend, a battalion, or an idea, but he is still trying to live through something. He's less killing himself than seeking some manner of immortality. I guess this may seem to be nitpicking, but to me there is a big difference.
It doesn't seem like nitpicking but more like changing your argument.
First you speak of a primal drive to preserve oneself, now you are saying that if someone is willing to sacrifice himself, it is not really a sacrifice of life if he sought some sort of immortality in something or someone else.
Agrippa wrote:
No? Many wars were just from the side of at least one of the sides. Were the Soviets just in invading Czechoslovakia? Was Czechoslovakia just in defending itself?
If you want an absolute answer, then I can't give one. Everytime someone tries to say something is absolutely just it leads to contradictions, and that's why casually-speaking, or philosopht aside, some things are "just," but in reality the concept of justice is really relative..........
I assumed you meant 'just war' the way every other person would understand it. Not as a war were there is absolutely no injustice and wrong.
Agrippa wrote:
For glory? For the IDEA of a nation?
I don't think I would make a good soldier either but I would defend my family. Not for glory but for my family, (not for the IDEA of family.)
Look, I used "idea of a nation" for nationalism and the like, where you don't exactly fight for the physical entity France and its rivers and people, but the idea of France as the new home of liberté, égalité, fraternité, and so on. And like I said, there are better ways of protecting your family than joining the military. Buying a rifle to protect them would be one, or moving them out of the danger zone would be another.
I meant 'protecting my family' to be a small scale example of 'protecting a nation.' While protecting the family I am justified in harming the one who is attemting to harm them. Extrapolate this to a government protecting a nation and calling on capable citizens in this.

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Post by Agrippa » Tue Aug 01, 2006 1:42 am

Agrippa, after reading some of the poetry of Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg, do you really think that poetry can tell us nothing of war?
...
How can you examine the "underlying reality" of war without looking at specifics? Here's war poetry minus specifics:
Not of war; I'm talking about the actuality of things. Plato would say what "is" as opposed to what is always "becoming." Shakespeare stands as the greatest of all literary minds in my eyes because he does exactly that, which is why he reaches no conclusion and prescribes nothing. As soon as you start to preach against a war, against a the tragedy of war, for a war, or for heroism in war, it loses artistic merit. I said most for a reason, and that is because some war poetry does do what I said, but for the most part war poetry is entirely too focused upon war. I guess saying that sounds silly, but I guess it just shows how fundamentally flawed I think that kind of poetry to be.
If you think that all war poets are either oblivious of the horror of war or deluded by gilded patriotism, please read the following World War I poems
I never said that. I think that the opinion that war is terrible and that war is excellent is still one-sided and usually written to stir a certain people, and that this is another thing I have against it.
Agrippa, after reading some of the poetry of Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg, do you really think that poetry can tell us nothing of war?
I'm not sure; it can give us facts, but historians with cited information are more credible, and I am skeptical of the ability of most war poets to look at war completely objectively. They seem to me to pick a side, either that pro or against, and go for it. So I guess I don't know, but when you have two poets saying opposing things about a war, which can you trust?
I think my examples should prove the opposite. Owen lived in the trenches for several years, was hospitalized for shock and other injuries, and died there. If he didn't experience fright, who did?
There are plenty of poets who lived through war and written negatively on it, so I totally agree with you there.
It doesn't seem like nitpicking but more like changing your argument.
First you speak of a primal drive to preserve oneself, now you are saying that if someone is willing to sacrifice himself, it is not really a sacrifice of life if he sought some sort of immortality in something or someone else.
This is exactly what I'm saying. People who sacrifice themselves, throw themselves to death to prove a point, or take down an enemy or something, are huge egoists in the purest sense of the word, that is, they have a very strong identity of a self as opposed to others. I'm saying that by giving your life to your country, you are willing yourself to live, except now no longer in the fleshy, wet, pink-and-mushy sense, but in the history-books sense.
I assumed you meant 'just war' the way every other person would understand it. Not as a war were there is absolutely no injustice and wrong.
My point being that wars are never just or not just. The overwhelming majority might see it one way and make it just, but in the end, it isn't as if there is a difference between this war or that as far as the justness of it excepting public opinion or interest. Can you say what makes one war intrinsically good and the other inately evil? I can't, not even for WWII, despite me being Jewish and knowing that we lost family in the war.
I meant 'protecting my family' to be a small scale example of 'protecting a nation.' While protecting the family I am justified in harming the one who is attemting to harm them. Extrapolate this to a government protecting a nation and calling on capable citizens in this.
Defending yourself is very rarely a bad thing, but that part of my post was working in conjunction with me saying that one cannot join the military and know that you won't be called upon to do something against your beliefs or morals. However, if you have no problem with harming another for patriotism, then you don't need to have this fear and should by all means volunteer. I'm being completely serious when I say that and I'm not trying to slyly say that you shouldn't ever volunteer.

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Post by AABaker » Tue Aug 01, 2006 6:20 pm

despite me being Jewish and knowing that we lost family in the war.
I am intrigued...are you a devout Jew or one by birth? Interested in what you think of Zionism. I have some Jewish friends in NYC, anarchists (I am an anarchist as well, and a Mennonite), who think the whole state thing is a bad idea from the get-go. I hear that Hasidic Jews are largely that way as well.

Needless to say, regarding your views on war, I agree. War is not just or unjust...in any case, "just war" is such a vague concept that it actually functions to legitimate whatever war the state wants to wage: we ahve the theory, so it must be just. In practice, amongst the citizens, it leads to a blank check for the state to do whatever they want.

An interesting point I heard Noam Chomsky make recently about the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor...in relationship to preemptive strikes: The US was building up their airforce base there in preparation for attacking Japan, and had been saying as much in offical communications. Therefore, the Japanese bombed what they considered, and what they US verified was, a threat.

So if it was not okay for Japan to bomb Pearl Harbor, why is it okay for the US to wage such wars on Iraq? Or for Israel to preemptively bomb Egypt? What is just and unjust is a matter of where one sits and not intrinsic to the situation in these wars.

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Post by Agrippa » Tue Aug 01, 2006 7:27 pm

AABaker wrote:
despite me being Jewish and knowing that we lost family in the war.
I am intrigued...are you a devout Jew or one by birth? Interested in what you think of Zionism. I have some Jewish friends in NYC, anarchists (I am an anarchist as well, and a Mennonite), who think the whole state thing is a bad idea from the get-go. I hear that Hasidic Jews are largely that way as well.
I'm devout, but I'm sort of an unorthodox Jew, but devout if that makes sense. I don't think a religion needs a state, and I am neither for nor against Israel, and I try to avoid politics whenever possible. Still, I don't even like the idea of temples, so like I said, I'm an unorthodox Jew.

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Post by bellum paxque » Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:34 pm

I've never heard that interpretation of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Are you sure that's historically accurate? The usual story I've read is one of Japanese deception, including an envoy in Washington at the time of the attack who was proposing stronger relations between the two countries.

Remember, Noam Chomsky isn't precisely the most objective of pundits. However, it's possible that his interpretation is consistent with the facts.
War is not just or unjust...in any case, "just war" is such a vague concept that it actually functions to legitimate whatever war the state wants to wage: we ahve the theory, so it must be just. In practice, amongst the citizens, it leads to a blank check for the state to do whatever they want.
AABaker: it seems like there is a logical problem in this paragraph. Let me see if I follow your points:

1) Just war theory can easy be twisted because of a state's tendency to want to believe it's right.

2) This can change from delusion to deliberate deception when a state uses just war theory to convince its citizens the war is right.

3) Therefore, there is no such thing as just war.

What? The point, perhaps, is that practically ("In practice," as you say), just war is prone to abuse and confusion. This does not mean, however, that it's impossible to evaluate the validity of a war. To take the example of Japan, are you not familiar with the aggressive expansionism with which Japan had subdued much of the Pacific rim during the years prior to World War I? Or the horrendous atrocities perpetrated on the Chinese people during these years? In context, how can Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor be anything but one more brazen step toward imperial domination?

Respectfully,

David
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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Wed Aug 02, 2006 1:00 am

I vaguely remember from my US History class that the United States had done things to seriously provoke Japan prior to Pearl Harbor ... I don't remember any specifics - well, the United States had threatened to remove Japanese-American children from public schools, and some minister in Japan was so upset he suggested going to war with the US over it, and then the United States turned around and let Japanese-Americans back in school, but that might have happened as early as the 1920's. I'll do a quick internet search to see if anything can jog my memory.

EDIT : Ah, yes, the trade embargos! How could I have forgotten! The U.S. dissapproved of Japan's actions in China, which led to escalating tension which resulted in a series of embargos (all of them initiated by the U.S.). Since 80% of Japanese oil was imported from the U.S. at the time, and no Japanese territories had much in the way of oil, the Japanese considered the U.S.A to be strangling their military and economic might.

I thank this website for helping me remember - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor

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Post by Lucus Eques » Wed Aug 02, 2006 2:58 am

Japan invades Manchuria to steal its oil and natural resources and they call the US the provocator for a trade embargo?
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Post by bellum paxque » Wed Aug 02, 2006 4:02 am

Yes; we did disapprove of Japan's actions in China, and I seriously doubt that anyone has every approved of the Rape of Nanking.

The point is not that Japan has no reason for attacking the US: the point is that the attack was not justified by Japan's imperial ambition.

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Re: Military Honor

Post by Democritus » Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:04 am

Lucus Eques wrote: I am considering a military career, and by chance on this page I found the "Core Values" of the United States Navy:
If you haven't already, you should get in touch with someone who has been in the service recently, to let them give you an idea of what to expect. In addition to helping you decide whether to enlist at all, they can also help you figure out what sort of career path you should aim for, once inside.

When I was younger, I might have considered a similar career, but I have bad eyesight.

Lucus Eques wrote:In general, military personell, and particularly American soldiers tend to be slandered, or looked down upon, either as stupid, naive, childlike, or even immoral — this we can owe largely to their treatment in the press, or rather how they are presented, for how often do we hear of acts of honor?
I don't agree that this is true. Sure, military people are mocked, but so are lots of other professions -- lawyers, politicians, salesmen of all kinds. Scientists and professors are routinely depicted as absent-minded, or out of touch, or indifferent to anything but their own quest for knowledge. How about government bureaucrats? Some of the people who work in government bureaucracies put up with a lot of crap for very little money, and some of them do it out of the same sense of patriotism that soldiers do it. They get very little respect for it. How about public school teachers? What do you think is the common view of public school teachers?

Rich people are mocked for being spoiled and snobbish. Poor people are mocked for being lazy and unmotivated. Middle class suburbanites are mocked for being conformist or ignorant or Bourgeois or lord-knows-what.

I had a friend who grew up in West Virginia, and she once told me that "hillbillies" are the last ethnic group that's allowed to be mocked anymore. She has my sympathies, but the truth is that there is still plenty of mockery to go around for all sorts of ethnic groups. A person tends to notice slights against themselves, and give less notice to slights to other people. Everybody does this, I do it too, but I believe a person has to notice this tendency and try to fight it.

I have heard this meme many times, that people outside the military service don't respect the people in it, and it just ain't so. Military people get a lot of respect. All career military personnel I ever met were impressive people. And I'm not the only one who thinks this -- I hear similar opinions expressed all the time. Sure, some people may look down on the military, but people look down on all sorts of professions.

Even recently, Hollywood has produced lots of films which portray soldiers as heroes: Glory, Saving Private Ryan, Enemy at the Gate. Not to mention Ken Burns' miniseries "The Civil War."
Last edited by Democritus on Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:08 am

I imagine the United States millitary understood that cutting Japan off from 80% of its oil supply would seriously upset them, and logically decided to build up the anit-Japanese forces to which Noam Chomsky referred. Also, I believe the United States was scared that imperialist Japan might go after some of its Asian territories, paticularly the Phillipines.

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