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NewsReal Sunday: Liberals are Culturally Programmed to Honor the Dead, but Ignore Their Valor

November 1, 2009

Liberals and the media campaign to show coffins at Dover, but ignore images like Michael Yon's heroic photo of Major Mark Bieger risking his life for a little girl wounded by terrorists.

Reading Paul Cooper’s touching and thoughtful post has had me thinking all day.  How should we honor our fallen?

Subbing for Keith Olbermann Thursday night, Lawrence O’Donnell took a whole segment to rhapsodize over President Obama’s “historic” trip to Dover Air Force Base to greet the coffins of Afghanistan war dead, and Friday used it as a bludgeon saying it was something Bush and Cheney “never had the decency to do.”

But Vietnam Marine legend and our foremost chronicler of modern war, Bing West, ended his book on the battle for Fallujah, No True Glory, by charging us to honor our military not as victims, but as warriors.

“There would be no true glory for our soldiers in Iraq until they were not looked upon as victims but as aggressive warriors. Stories of their bravery deserved to be recorded and read by the next generation. Unsung, the noblest deed will die.”

But liberals are decidedly uncomfortable with such things.  They have been clamoring to get into Dover to “honor” the dead — or to exploit them to drive home the image of the cost of war in the public mind.  They are good on issues like shortcomings at Walter Reed Hospital, but not at telling the stories of our Medal of Honor recipients.

Thinking on this topic had me searching for this passage from my review of Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground. No one has spent more time embedded with frontline troops in more parts of the world than Robert Kaplan. I summarized Kaplan’s point thusly:

Despite news reports of low morale in the armed services because of overdeployment, with Army Special Forces and Marines,” he notes, “I had met only two kinds of troops: those who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those who were jealous of those who were.”

The biggest complaint from Marines and Special Forces is not about being put in harm’s way – rather, Kaplan writes, they sneer about “the tyranny of the single casualty” that makes politicians so risk-averse that it actually increases danger in the long run. “Force protection is force projection,” is the soldiers’ refrain.

And while the media focus on casualties and goad President Bush to show he cares, the troops beg for the opposite, saying every fuss made by the media – and especially a politician – makes Americans more appealing targets and their job even tougher, Kaplan reports.

In other words, too much focus on preventing military deaths, and making our enemies think that producing more of them will weigh so heavily on our President that he may cut and run, each in its own way, makes casualties more likely.

But there is another part of Imperial Grunts that struck me on this Sunday as I looked back at this review:

By traveling the world and living with soldiers and Marines for months at a time, Kaplan learns that the blow-dried, Northeastern and impossibly cosmopolitan U.S. reporters understand little about the “heavily Southern, Evangelical Christian nationalists” who make up the “point of the spear” of America’s foreign policy.

Now where else have I heard a similar description lately?  Oh, right, for months, Chris Matthews and his weekend panel members Andrew Sullivan and Kathleen Parker, uber-hater Keith Olbermann, and Rachel Maddow through her foaming at the mouth guest Frank Scheaffer,  have been damning conservative Republicans as appealing only to Southern, white, Evangelical Christian nationalists who want to return to a go-it-alone (nationalistic) foreign policy.

Gee, I wonder why Democrats are always trying to hamper the collecting of military absentee ballots, or why mainstream media reporters have such a hard time talking about military objectives rather than body counts?

Now, before conservatives get too proud of ourselves as how much more we have in common with the heroes of our armed forces than those darn liberals; here’s a passage from Kaplan’s Grunts that puts it in perspective:

“Running into the fire rather than seeking cover from it goes counter to every human instinct – trust me …” Kaplan writes. “I had started deluding myself that they weren’t much different from me. They had soft spots, they got sick, they complained. But in one flash … I realized they were not like me; they were Marines. It is no exaggeration to say that Capt. Smith and Bravo literally rode to the sound of the guns.”

Perhaps it was that quality that President Obama was honoring at Dover the other night.  I suppose he deserves the benefit of the doubt. Once.  (Though Liz Cheney is exactly right that he didn’t need the cameras and the press pool to accomplish that.)  If he does it as a matter of course, then the Special Forces commander’s complaint to Robert Kaplan about making Americans higher value targets becomes a real issue.

In the meantime, let’s honor our fallen heroes as they return home.  Not just as photo ops, but care for their families, and remember their sacrifice.

But lets also honor the guys who, in the words of George S. Patton, “make the other poor damn bastard die for his country” (or cause).  Giving them the tools– and the rules (of engagement)– to win is the best honor we can pay to the fallen.

As O’Donnell, Olbermann, Maddow and Matthews beat the drum to get out of Afghanistan, they are calling on President Obama to salute the caskets, and then waste the sacrifice made by the people in them.

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40 Comments
  1. November 1, 2009 8:49 pm

    [Giving them the tools– and the rules (of engagement)– to win is the best honor we can pay to the fallen.]

    That’s exactly what Obama is trying to do and what the Bush administration failed to do. Bush even failed to honor the fallen soldiers. He kept their deaths banned from the press where the public could see the horror of war. They didn’t even provide the armor our soldiers needed for protection.

    • jochang permalink
      November 2, 2009 6:48 am

      Do yourself a favor, Ben, read David Forsmark’s comment.

      Also, rules of engagement in war, surely, are guidelines, to be interpreted according to actual conditions, for that is how an intelligent soldier uses them to accomplish tasks and for self-preservation. But you may not have thought of that, Ben, being an instant expert, who probably has never put his own life on the line. At least that is the way you appear. If I’m wrong about that, I would apologize, but some of us are able to tell. You know what I mean, don’t you?

  2. David Forsmark permalink
    November 1, 2009 9:31 pm

    Bush did not fail to honor fallen heroes. He went to be with the families quite often, but he left the press pool behind. It wasn’t a photo op, and the press couldn’t exploit it. I know that’s frustrating for you.

    As for Obama providing the rules of engagement, that is also a crock. The rules of engagement in Afghanistan are so strict they make those in Vietnam look like a Rambo script. Terrorists run into a house. Unless you know the house is empty of anyone but a terrorist, do not fire. Captured terrorists are being turned over to civilian law enforcement and provided lawyers, etc. etc.

    BTW, within one sentence you blast Bush for failing to honor the fallen, and in the next sentence you betray that what you really wanted was to exploit the fallen. Usually people take a little longer to work around to their self-contradictions.

    • Jack Hampton permalink
      November 2, 2009 6:56 am

      I agree with everything jochang said and Mr. Formark said in his subsquent comment. I can only imagine Ben does not have a clue or understand that most of the military think very highly of GW Bush. I would not have wanted my coffin used as a photo op and Bush gave then what we had equipment wise and devoloped new equipment as we learned the need for them as in any war. Ben just does not get it or understand.

    • November 2, 2009 1:46 pm

      [Bush did not fail to honor fallen heroes. He went to be with the families quite often, but he left the press pool behind. It wasn’t a photo op, and the press couldn’t exploit it. I know that’s frustrating for you.]

      The words of a true Bush apologist. Bush wouldn’t allow the press to photograph the caskets coming home because he didn’t want to lose support for the Iraq war. It was purely political. Many families wanted the sacrifices the soldiers made to be honored and reported on, but Bush wouldn’t allow it. That was a disgrace. And Rumsfeld didn’t even sign the condolence letters by hand. He used a signing machine!

      Those people couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the troops they sent to fight.

      • In the Know permalink
        November 2, 2009 2:01 pm

        Yes,

        Those neo cons all had us fooled. Reagan and Bush hated the troops. It’s the vast right wing conspiracy I tell ya!

      • Jack Hampton permalink
        November 2, 2009 2:48 pm

        I will never apoligise for Bush disagreed with him on to many things. But he was right on this Clinton did not allow the coffins to be filmed or photographed nor did 41. You are the disgrace wanting to use the bodies of our honored dead for stage props. Your assertion in regard to military famlies wanting the coffins shown is shear garbage.

    • LanceThruster permalink
      November 2, 2009 3:13 pm

      Yeah, Shrub gave up golf in their honor (except he didn’t). How’s that for respect for their sacrifice?

      see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/15/georgebush.usa

  3. MaryAnn permalink
    November 2, 2009 5:42 am

    Good article. I look at what Obama is doing to the country, the economy, the private sector, his attacks on freedom, and couple that with his attitude toward our military (which was displayed during his time as senator) and how he is currently using and abandoning them for his political gain, and I simply cannot give him the benefit of the doubt. You are a much more charitable person than I.

  4. November 2, 2009 6:51 am

    Like it or not, Obama is no George W. Bush and never will be. Americans didn’t appreciate one of the best leaders this country has had in a long time. Maybe as people of all races in this country wake up and discover who we are allowing to rob us of our freedoms, George W. Bush will finally be recognized for the leader he still is. Communism has been eating away at our country for a long, long time. When Martin Luther King Jr. tried to warn us, we didn’t listen. We have no one to blame but ‘we the people.’ You can bet that ‘good people’ will get out to vote in coming elections. And maybe someday judges who have got ‘guts’ will begin prosecuting people for voter fraud and maybe even treason.

    • November 2, 2009 1:49 pm

      [George W. Bush will finally be recognized for the leader he still is. ]

      He has been honored. I wrote about it on my blog.

      Bush honored for leadership

  5. David permalink
    November 2, 2009 7:41 am

    David Lawrence, Ph.D.
    31 E. 72nd St.
    NY, NY 10021
    awesomelawrence@aol.com

    THE DEAD IN DOVER

    If I were coming back in a box from Afghanistan and Obama was standing there saluting me in Dover Air Force base, I’d jump up out of my coffin and ask, “What right do you have to mourn me? You have never supported the troops. You want to junk our weapons, our nukes, and make us defenseless. You announced that Afghanistan is the war worth fighting and then run from any new commitments like you did in the Illinois Senate where you were disengaged but present. Please don’t salute me. You have not earned it.”

    I know Obama. I was a hippy, drug user in college too. I was a sensitive, anti-war liberal. Obama pretends he likes and respects soldiers. He doesn’t. I didn’t. Hippies hate soldiers because they are real men instead of feminized, sensitive poetic types. I wished soldiers dead. I was a narcissist. Exactly, what Obama is constantly accused of being.

    I feel sorry for the dead saluted by Obama. It is hypocritical. It is political correctness in its most grave and absurd.

    Some of the parents wouldn’t let Obama salute their dead children. I give them credit.

    • November 2, 2009 1:53 pm

      [I was a sensitive, anti-war liberal. ]

      Anyone who is pro-war is a complete dumb-f*ck. While some wars are necessary, as was our invasion of Afghanistan, it’s still not a good thing.

    • Paul Cooper permalink
      November 2, 2009 4:33 pm

      David Lawrence,

      Obama actually saluted all the soldiers in Dover that day. Only one family allowed the press to take pictures of that salute. I know that family – and they are not any less heroes for their sacrifice just because they allowed the pictures to be taken. You can disagree with Obama requesting the pictures. But please don’t infer a family is wrong for agreeing to it. The parents of Sgt. Dale Griffin told Obama the troops need more support in Afghanistan. They have served their country proud!

      • David Forsmark permalink
        November 2, 2009 6:30 pm

        Thanks Paul. Did Obama actually ask for the picture? Are we sure of that? The details have been a bit murky, depending on who is trying to spin it a particular way.

      • Jack Hampton permalink
        November 3, 2009 4:21 am

        Mr. Cooper
        I would hope that no one would have that attitude in reference to a family nor have I seen indication of that here. If they wanted the picture then that would be fine for them and there deceased loved one.

  6. Freeme permalink
    November 2, 2009 9:57 am

    This visit by an empty vessel was a ‘photo op’ and nothing more, otherwise…why would there not be visits to Iraq and Afghanistan while the fighting troops are still alive to boost their morale? The troops have been carefully avoided before, during and after the elections since he took office and met with the Commander in charge ONCE in SEVEN MONTHS for a half hour, that is…until the media let it be known. WOW! It is all about creating and maintaining an image regardless of where the heart really is…assuming he has one?

  7. John Davidson permalink
    November 2, 2009 1:55 pm

    There is no sense for Obama to leave Dover until he decides to support our military, for the lives of the rest of the soldiers remain his responsibilty, no one elses and if he continues to waver, planes will flow into his vice president back yard at an accelerated pace.

  8. LanceThruster permalink
    November 2, 2009 3:17 pm

    Interesting piece from the Poor Man Institutte – http://thepoorman.net/2009/09/22/pull-my-strings-and-ill-go-far/

    Speaking of making meritocracies work for you, remember kids, follow these simple lessons and you will rise fast in the ranks on your way to becoming a super serious chin stroking elder statesman foreign policy elite (because you earned it!):

    1. Being “strong” on a given foreign policy subject is directly proportional to your willingness to blow people/things up, with as little hesitation as possible. Considering any other option betrays your weakness, indecision and inner Frenchman. Further, refusing to bomb a given country is always the equivalent of Chamberlain appeasing Hitler and such reticence will have similar results. Always.

    As a corollary, supporting a disastrous war will always earn you more credibility than opposing a disastrous war. You probably opposed it for the wrong reasons, and would oppose the next catastrophe based on the same faulty reasoning. Better stick with the guy with the happy trigger finger. Just to be safe.

    2. Victory can never be achieved by withdrawing troops, no matter what. Escalation, or continuing an occupation, are themselves perpetual victory. There is no point at which costs of an occupation outweigh the benefits. What matters is that other countries/populations realize that no one can ever make us leave a given conflict. Without that level of respect, we are doomed.

    As a corollary: the only reason any conflict is ever unwinnable is because of lack of political will (ie traitorous dissenters on the home front weaken our spirit).

    3. If there is an ongoing conflict involving US troops and it’s not going well, the answer is always send more. There is literally no problem that more troops can’t solve.

    4. If there is an ongoing conflict NOT involving US troops, the answer is always send US troops. Bonus points if you can think of new and unique justifications to send troops into combat, such as to escort aid after a natural disaster.

    5. Diplomacy is always weak. Merely meeting with a foreign regime is itself a gift of enormous value for the lucky regime. Argue that it will bolster the legitimacy and popularity of the foreign regime even if our leaders are extremely unpopular with the applicable population.

    As a general rule, don’t give away your precious bodily fluids celluloid images for the mere possibility of reaching a negotiated settlement when you can bomb them into compliance instead (See #1 above).

    6. The military budget must never be cut. Cutting it even slightly will leave the US instantly and completely vulnerable to the invading [INSERT ENEMY DU JOUR] hordes. The proper level of spending should be equal to, or greater than, the rest of the world combined. Because what if the rest of the world teamed up on us? What would we do then?

    7. There are unlimited troops for unlimited missions. Never let logistics or pesky facts about actual available troops interfere with advocacy for more and better wars. Serious people don’t let such concerns interfere with being strong on a given policy.

    8. Play for spite whenever possible, think of the world of international relations as a zero sum game, and treat every conflict as an existential crisis and/or the “Greatest Challenge of Our Time.”

    9. Never criticize: Israel, any actions of US troops, the size of the military budget or any active or retired general.

    10. Never question our motives, or suggest something unseemly. We are always and only invading other countries to help them, out of a selfless magnanimity. What do we stand to gain? Flowers and candies only. That is our motivating force.

    11. Never suggest that our foreign policy choices lead to resentment/backlash or anti-Americanism. People are just jealous or evil. Some may also be brainwashed or insufficiently grasp the fact that we’re here to help.

    12. Brutal dictators that support our policies are moderate, enlightened reformers slowly implementing democracy for their adoring people. Brutal dictators that don’t support our policies are dangerous extremists, and each the next Hitler (regardless of military strength) who need to be toppled for the sake of their long suffering people.

    And so on.

    (as inspired by)

    (* This minor correction only bolsters my point. Or something.)

    • Jack Hampton permalink
      November 2, 2009 3:25 pm

      Barf, looks like this clunker is about out of gas.

  9. John Davidson permalink
    November 2, 2009 4:59 pm

    Lance;

    Next, must we endure excerpts from that 2000 page monstrousity floating about Congress and the internet.

    This is not a blog site, sell them elsewhere.

    We’d like to know how you think about this issue. Unless, of course, you have metal wires attached to your moving parts. Then, perhaps an exception could be tolerated.

    • LanceThruster permalink
      November 3, 2009 1:13 pm

      What’s this “we” stuff John? You got a mouse in your pocket or are you the designated spokeshole for the blog?

      What I think is embodied in the excerpt; GOPublicans think that supporting the troops prohibits the rational analysis that more effectively determines a judicious application of force. My friend’s Marine son returned from Iraq with the impression that the mission was already FUBAR (he was there for the fall of Baghdad). He told me that the prevailing attitude with his fellow Marines was, “Support the troops, not the mission” (a concept mocked in here repeatedly).

      I have seen almost every bullet point in the excerpt used here at Newsreal. Suicides in the army are still a problem and increased deployment will certainly impact that reality (see: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125720469173424023.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLTopStories ). My friend’s son (Adam – Marines 1/5) saw a 6 year old Iraqi girl in a daze looking down at the body of her dead mother. She had the back half of her head blown off from a rifle round and was unaware of how badly injured she was. They were caught in the crossfire. Adam is a pretty well-adjusted young man but thinking feeling people do not see things like that and remain totally unaffected. Right wing armchair warriors dismiss the horrors inflicted upon the innocent and the direct participants by keeping their blinders firmly in place but their obliviousness does not erase the reality of those suffering the consequences of our actions.

      I have seen the cruel, offensive, and objectionable disrespect heaped on the likes of Max Cleland. His wounds are somehow less traumatic or less of a sacrifice because those of the “101st Fighting Keyboardists” have 20/20 hindsight and would never allow something like that happen to them (yet with all this scary theoretical combat knowledge they possess, they still do all their “fighting” from a position of safety). The military environment can be quite hazardous, whether directly combat related or not.

      I met a soldier in a bar back from Gulf War I that talked about a friend he lost over there. She was driving a light supply vehicle with a trailer and took a gully at the wrong angle and her load shifted. She was thrown from her seat and died pinched between the jackknifed truck and trailer. From the track record of many of the commenters here, her death would as likely as not be met with howls of laughter and derision because she made a simple but fatal error (routine crashes account for quite a number of deaths in the war zones because the troops want to put pedal to the metal to prevent being a slow moving target).

      A friend’s cousin with the paratroopers was killed on a training jump. There are those in here who would have you believe that their dedication and willingness to endure the rigors of combat training, leading unfortunately to their ultimate sacrifice, is somehow less honorable because it did not involve the bravado and glory that those carping from the sidelines envision for themselves in their wholly imaginary military enlistment.

      I think that the military can be a noble profession, but that good and honorable military personnel can be used for ignoble purposes. It is the job of each and every citizen and the civilian leadership to make sure those assets are not squandered or misapplied. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld dropped the ball in almost every way imaginable; costing many troops their lives, their youth, and their physical and mental well-being needlessly. If you send people to do a deadly serious job, at least give them the proper tools in a clearly defined mission that the military is suited to accomplish.

      There’s a lot more thought in that reasonably short excerpt than I’ve seen in page after page written here. That reflection acknowledges and honors their valor far more than empty cheerleading from the safety of the homefront.

  10. David Forsmark permalink
    November 3, 2009 2:47 pm

    More straw men than a corn maze, as usual.

    1. You’re right that the military is a dangerous job. It is in peacetime, too. It’s worth noting that during the Clinton Administration that there were only slightly fewer military casualties than during the George W. Bush Administration. I didn’t see the media clamoring to be at Dover (or during Kosovo) to “bring home to Americans the cost of service.”

    2. It’s nice of you to admit that the military “CAN” be a noble profession.

    3. No one on this blog has ever mocked someone’s death in the service of his or her country whether combat related, or not. I’ve never heard anyone who has.

    4. Max Cleland is an interesting case. Democrats put him up as a war hero, not just someone who paid the price for service. It turns out his injuries resulted from his own mishandling of a grenade. That makes him a tragic figure, and his service was admirable. However, he was attacked FOR HIS VOTING RECORD ON THE WAR ON TERROR, not his exaggerated war record. In fact, Max Cleland is the definition of a liberal war hero, known for the damage to his person–whether by himself or the enemy– and not for what he inflicted on the other side.

    5. Bush etc, dropped the ball in “every conceivable way.” If that were true, we’d certainly be talking about casualty figures that were about the same in two wars over most of a decade, as in one year of Vietnam, or about 25% higher than the peacetime Clinton military (lower in some of the years.) Their strategy was bad for 2 years in Iraq under Casey. And handing Iraq over to Paul Bremer was a disaster like only a State Department insider can produce. However, they also were willing to change strategies and generals when things weren’t working. War is a series of mistakes, it’s whether you repeat them that is the real test.

    6. There was never been a “clearly defined mission” in war in the perfect sense you only demand from Republicans. The mission changes, the enemy changes, the circumstances change. This simple minded clearly defined definition that will result in a casualty-free war and be over in time for the evening news like your favorite TV show.

    • LanceThruster permalink
      November 3, 2009 3:31 pm

      You said –

      “Democrats put him up as a war hero” and “In fact, Max Cleland is the definition of a liberal war hero, known for the damage to his person–whether by himself or the enemy– and not for what he inflicted on the other side.”

      —-

      More later when I’m able –

      from: http://www.thenation.com/blogs/bivens_outrage/1274/omission_accomplished

      Coulter also cleverly seizes upon remarks by Cleland and others expressing frustration at the random meaningless of his wounds: In essence he hopped out of a helicopter straight into an exploding grenade dropped accidentally by another American. Cleland has the humility and subtlety to say there was nothing heroic in that, it was just fate, bad luck; Coulter slyly twists such remarks into a blanket statement that Cleland is no hero, he’s just a shmuck who blew himself up.

      But wait. Once again, here is the *US Army’s own description* of how, four days before he lost his limbs, Captain Max Cleland “distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous action on 4 April 1968 … during an enemy attack near Khe Sanh, Republic of Vietnam.

      “When the battalion command post came under a heavy enemy rocket and mortar attack, Capt. Cleland, disregarding his own safety, exposed himself to the rocket barrage as he left his covered position to administer first aid to his wounded comrades. He then assisted in moving the injured personnel to covered positions. Continuing to expose himself, Capt. Cleland organized his men into a work party to repair the battalion communications equipment, which had been damaged by enemy fire.”

      In that same piece it’s reported: …Bush himself told The Houston Chronicle in 1994 he joined the Guard because “I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes.” That’s pretty straightforward: He joined the Guard to stay out of Vietnam, a war he supported. (All the more ironic, then, that he now orders the Guard into harsh Iraq duty, and then sanctimoniously parries questions about his Guard days by noting how, thanks to his policies, service in the Guard is now quite dangerous .)

      —-

      Clelands patriotism was assailed because he wouldn’t rubber stamp every Constitution-shredding bill the “decider” wanted passed. He really showed his character when he resigned from the 9/11 commision because he didn’t want to be part of a “whitewash.” Now that takes guts. True-f*cking-grit. Yet even when the US Army lauds his actions, you somehow know better than they do.

      Why do you hate our military, David?

      Military service does not automatically make one noble, nor does being the “good guys” excuse reprehensible conduct or there wouldn’t be any need for war crimes prosecutions. The Wehrmacht had “Gott Mit Uns” on their belt buckles fer chrissakes. Some of our own military leaders in WWII expressed relief that we’d won or we’d be subject to war crimes prosecution.

      One of my military heroes is Hugh C. Thompson, Jr. (April 15, 1943 – January 6, 2006) .

      see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Thompson,_Jr.

      He sure as hell wasn’t a “Champagne Squadron” ne’er do well like the Shrubinator.

      • November 3, 2009 5:01 pm

        [Military service does not automatically make one noble,]

        That’s true. Timothy McVeigh served in the military.

        • Jack Hampton permalink
          November 4, 2009 2:54 am

          “Military service does not automatically make one noble,]

          That’s true. Timothy McVeigh served in the military.”

          You got that part right. They are set to execute a former military individual next week for multiple counts of murder. Then there is John Kerry that set up his comission of Winter Soldiers lolol a bunch of lairs led by a liar. His partner claimed service he never had and had to resign. Then there is the Democrat Senator that claimed to be a fighter pilot in Vietnam forgot his name but the only thing he ever fought was a stool at some bar.

    • Jack Hampton permalink
      November 4, 2009 2:39 am

      I am still waiting on the photos of the mass graves of hundreds of thousands that Clinton bombed Yugolavia for but the media never found. We went to war in that case for Albainian Muslim drug dealers that are now running people out of there homes. Is that gas bag still clunking along?

      • David Forsmark permalink
        November 4, 2009 12:38 pm

        Jack, the mass graves did exist, and if it wasn’t genocide, it was close enough for government work. However, on a related note, an Air Force buddy who wrote to congratulate me on this post reminded me of something he and I wrote about during the Kosovo War. Air Force pilots complained that the rule of engagement made them fly above 15,000 feet because Clinton was so risk averse. It didn’t really protect the pilots that much, but it did increase civilian casualties, such as the incident where a passenger train crossed a bridge as the bombs were already falling. Pilots lobbied to fly lower and take the risk because they did not want those deaths on them.

        Yes, the military can be a noble profession.

        • Jack Hampton permalink
          November 4, 2009 1:23 pm

          Mr. Forsmark I very well might have been misinformed during that period I was very busy but I do remember the concern in regard to the high altitude bombing.

        • November 4, 2009 8:43 pm

          [Jack, the mass graves did exist, and if it wasn’t genocide, it was close enough for government work.]

          Is that why they recently honored Clinton with a statue?

          “PRISTINA, Kosovo – Thousands of ethnic Albanians braved low temperatures and a cold wind in Kosovo’s capital Pristina to welcome former President Bill Clinton on Sunday as he attended the unveiling of an 11-foot (3.5-meter) statue of himself on a key boulevard that also bears his name.

          Clinton is celebrated as a hero by Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority for launching NATO’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999 that stopped the brutal Serb forces’ crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.”

          http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/ap_on_re_eu/eu_kosovo_bill_clinton

          • November 4, 2009 8:47 pm

            I think I forgot to close the quotes on the link. Sorry.

          • Jack Hampton permalink
            November 5, 2009 4:50 am

            Ben
            They erected the statue because he bombed the people of Yugoslavia into the stone age for them. I guess there could have been mass graves but I never saw any photos of them normally the press plasters the screen with these things I never saw any footage of the mass graves. I know there were some mass graves from a previous conflict and war criminals but I never saw any film from this war of the claimed mass graves. But it has created a mess now the Albanian drug dealers run wild and control everything. This is not over make no mistake. There will still be a price to be paid. These people never forget. I however Will take David Forsmarks word for it.

            • David Forsmark permalink
              November 5, 2009 8:00 am

              Clinton deserves some credit for Kosovo. Ironically, it was the pilots who were more willing to risk their own lives than Clinton was, especially since the bombing was to SAVE people on the ground. While there weren’t clear cut good guys and bad guys among the warring factions, the slaughter of the noncombatants has largely dissipated, and this gamble– of which I will admit to having been skeptical– was worth it.

              Also, American Special Forces types will tell you the experience in the Balkans helped immensely in formulating the doctrines which eventually worked in Iraq– once a commander who had learned the lessons was appointed.

  11. David Forsmark permalink
    November 3, 2009 11:26 pm

    Hmmm. about 10,000 words later, you have yet to name a soldier that you honor for anything other than sacrifice. Were there no Audie Murphys in 8 years of war? When a soldier’s name pops up, it’s Timothy McVeigh. Nice. If we go on long enough, I’m sure Pat Tillman and Lindie Englund will come up, too– not that the two are equated.

    I’ll bet we could do this for years without you guys ever naming Paul Smith, Mark Mitchell, Brian Chontosh, Armand McCormick, Robert Kerman, Javier Comacho, Marco Martinez, Brent Morel, Willie Copeland, and how about some feminist groups touting Leigh Ann Hester?

    Surely, you’ve heard of Michael Murphy? Thanks to a huge bestselling book, the press had to show up so that could be on A13 of the Times.

    And at least quit pretending allowing cameras at Dover was about the fallen or their families. 1 out of 18 was on board the other night. That’s about the average, I’d bet. It was a campaign promise made to the press corps, and fulfilled as part of a liberal agenda check list in the first flurry of executive orders. Nearly every word written in support of it was nonsense about how it would drive home the cost of war to stupid Americans. In other words, it was always about making the dead into political props and nothing else.

    • Jack Hampton permalink
      November 4, 2009 5:34 am

      David Forsmark
      I guess that is why you get the big bucks as a writer. You say it so much better than I do.

      • David Forsmark permalink
        November 4, 2009 7:20 am

        LOL, Jack. You keep posting. Your service makes your opinion matter a LOT to me, as does all the emails I’ve been getting from vets and their parents saying to keep after this topic.

        Semper Fi.

    • LanceThruster permalink
      November 4, 2009 4:27 pm

      To not have named the ones you did does not at all mean that I would not be impressed with their meritorious actions. My Marine friend Adam was written about in “A Table in the Presence” ~ Lt. Carey H. Cash (though not by name) for winning a commendation for his actions in an ambush/firefight. The part of the story that stuck with me was how he tended to a wounded Marine who had half his face blown off from an RPG hit on their LAV (Bradley?) while returning fire through the blast hole. He said that just that morning friction with that particular Marine had boiled over and they kept shouting at each other about what a jerk the other one was and so on.

      I attended a testimonial dinner near LAX for Gen. Paul Tibbets and several other crewmembers of the Enola Gay. I gave him copy of war historian Paul Fussell’s essay, “Thank God for the Atom Bomb” because I read some of his grandkids think of him as an evil monster. He had never seen the essay.

      -have to run – more later

  12. Kevroc permalink
    November 4, 2009 4:23 am

    I may not agree with Lance all the time but, I enjoy his posts and appreiciate the links.

    America is great because of the different opinions and voices.

    My .02

    • LanceThruster permalink
      November 4, 2009 10:08 am

      My sincere thanks, Kevroc.

      I consider it a sign of respect to speak openly and honestly, even when disagreeing. It allows for both sides to sharpen their own arguments and reassess their own positions. I welcome strong opposing views because purposeful “jousting” and a continuous reevaluation builds confidence in the strength of a given idea. The sad thing about any side’s propaganda is the tendency to reduce complex arguments to overly simplified and dogmatic distillations, often by blatant misrepresentations of the other side.

      I too consider all Americans, their ideas, and their values, part of the diverse tapestry that is the foundation for our ultimate strength. Lack of an opposition party/viewpoint prevents timely course corrections from either side when necessary. I at least respect the true conservative position of avoiding decisions in haste and changes that are too sweeping even when I feel such changes are needed, appropriate, and beneficial.

      We should limit our fights whenever possible to the arena of ideas. Bring out your champions and let the best ideas prevail.

      (btw – I’m a bit shy of my usual 10,000 word tome this time. Hopefully you’ll spot me the balance till I can deliver the rest – sorry)

      If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. – Sun Tzu

      For the record, that’s “enemy” in terms of opposition views, not literally.

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