The Price We\'ve Paid

Lt. Gen. Honore has garnered, quite rightly, praise for telling his troops, "Point your weapons down. This is not Iraq."

But what gets me is, he had to say it. Twenty years ago, he wouldn't have had to.

Twenty years from now, when the next disaster strikes, will an Honore be around to say it? Will anyone?

Share this

I think that means he wants

I think that means he wants them to shoot people in the legs rather than the head. ;P

Heh, that's great. Let that

Heh, that's great. Let that be a lesson to them, you go looking for work, you might end up with work to do. :)

See

See http://www.livejournal.com/users/interdictor/56078.html for a great story about bored military breaking into places.

I would agree. The stories

I would agree. The stories from New Orleans were looting, killing, roaming gangs armed with all sorts of weapons, mayhem, dogs & cats living together, mass hysteria, etc. If I'd just come from the Sunni triangle and that was the description of my next assignment, I'd have the weapon ready, too.

Fortunately it is turning out that it wasn't quite as bad as the rumors said, and Honore has the right idea (thugs & criminals may be in NO but they're not jihadi insurgents either, they're in and around Americans and neither criminal nor citizen is in general or ideological revolt against the US).

Nick, I'm not so sure.

Nick, I'm not so sure. Remember, the majority of these guys are Iraq veterans and the media hyped this as a complete war zone. These soldiers reacted the way they knew how. This isn't much different from how soldiers were reacting when they had to go into cities for disaster relief or domestic violence in the Vietnam era. The country overcame those wounds, as you note, about 20 years ago. And it will again.

Nick, you're absolutely

Nick, you're absolutely right that many wartime changes never return to normal. But, I think you are focusing on the wrong things. The wounds of war to the military's psyche heal relatively fast, all things considered. The destructiveness unleashed by the fifth column approach to the citizenry of our intelligence apparatus, that's a whole different story.

John, My point was that now

John,

My point was that now those troops have recent experience as occupiers among a hostile population, occupiers not always scrupulous in their respect for the rights of the occupied. That experience, I fear, will coarsen their habits in dealing even with their fellow Americans. I hope Eric and Brian are right that the coarsening will prove temporary; so many wartime changes to the relationship of government and citizenry never fully ratchet back to normal after the war.

Nick, How do you figure

Nick,

How do you figure that twenty years ago he wouldn't have had to say it? What's changed between then and now?

John and Sam, you may well

John and Sam, you may well be right that even twenty years ago we'd have faced a similar problem; on that I spoke too confidently. I don't intend to romanticize the past, or the military. As you say, John, it's an institution devoted to killing and it desensitizes its members under the best of circumstances. I do think that every time troops are put in an Iraq-like situation it makes the desensitization incrementally worse.

My point was that now those

My point was that now those troops have recent experience as occupiers among a hostile population, occupiers not always scrupulous in their respect for the rights of the occupied. That experience, I fear, will coarsen their habits in dealing even with their fellow Americans.

Nick, I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you have never been in the Army or Marines. I have, and I have to say that your thoughts on the mindset of the American armed forces strike me as naive to the extreme.

Those troops were entering what they judged to be an urban combat environment. They've been watching the teevee and they very likely have in their ranks folks that come from the inner city. They know that there is a number of armed people out there who wouldn't think twice at capping a Guardsman just for the hell of it. They certainly (even without the Iraq fiasco) have recieved training in urban warfare, and they've therefore certainly learned the lesson: if the enemy has even a smidge of skill and bravery, you are going to take casualties. If the enemy wants to take the fight to you, you may very well be seriously fucked. And they've been plugged into the grapevine and hearing rumors and been talking among themselves, and they are scared and paranoid. Not frightened, mind: scared. Now you jam those troops into the back of a 5 ton truck, shoulder to shoulder, and trundle off into three feet of water at 10 mph, a big fat rolling target.

And you expect them to act how? Like they're there to respect rights? Me personally, I'd expect them to act like soldiers entering a hostile area. The military isn't about respecting rights, Nick: it's about *killing people*.

I would recommend that you read On Killing : The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. *You* might not be able to concieve of pointing a loaded weapon at hurricane victims, Nick, but that's because you haven't been *taught to*.

Nick, you probably ought to

Nick, you probably ought to take a refresher course in American History. There was no General Honore when the Army was used against the Bonus Marchers in 1932. There was no General Honore at Kent State, no Honore at the LA riots, and no Honore when Marines killed an 18-year old goat herder while participating in the war on drugs. He deserves his kudos because when the military is used in a civilian policing situation what he said should always be said, but seldom is. This was true 20 years ago and will be true 20 years from now. Unfortunately, there are not many General Honores.

Perhaps having your firearms

Perhaps having your firearms ready is how you react when you find 8 year old girls raped and stabbed to death. But that's fault of the State too? Does anarcho dogma not recognize that some "private inititiave" is criminal (such as rape and stabbings)?