Radically Inept
Saturday, April 03, 2004

I've been following a whole lot of the controversy in the blogosphere concerning the four contractors whose bodies were mutilated in Iraq. Some say, 1) 'oh, hero's to be mourned', or 2) 'how immoral for them to be treated that way'; this includes two points, and others, 3) 'mercenary dogs who got what they deserved'; which also has two separate points. All sides to the arguments I've seen, heard and read appear to me to be w/o merit. Really.

1) 'oh, hero's to be mourned': Hey, "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred." I'm sure part of the motivation for some of these guys, was in fact the danger. They just plain didn't like the idea of living in a 9 to 5 world, where they were more likely to receive an ignomious death at the hands of a drunk driver, or worse, die of some friggin' disease, and having to spend the last part of their lives having someone change their bed pans. Sure, I'm certain some were there just for the money.

This as an morality issue seems to play out in two different contexts. The first, they were only there for the money. Okay, if you don't believe that we had any reason to go to war, why else would you be there? (posted something similar to the following somewhere else) When my father returned from Vietnam and arrived at San Francisco Airport, he was accosted by some girl with a protest sign asking, "What the Hell for?" My father responded w/, "$548.30 a month."

Is that being mercenary? He did go on to do twenty years active US military service, and another 14-15 years of US government service.

I personally believe that the invasions of Panama, Grenada, and the first 'Gulf War', were ill conceived actions. But, I would gladly have volunteered (and, did for two of them) to go. As an officer in the American military, was I acting as a mercenary or a patriot, given the fact that I thought all three were w/o merit? Does that make a difference?

Does having a power elite in charge of the country providing a 'patriotic' veil, if often idiotic reason for war, make a difference? If you believe it and all you succeed in doing is lining the pockets of the military industrial complex, aren't you in fact a SAP? If you go anyway, w/o patriotic fervor, and do your job as a professional soldier, are you acting as a mercenary? Where is this line drawn? I could go on with more examples, and I will if asked, but I think the above succeeds in getting my point across.

this does bring up a queston. What would we have to pay you to take the chance? "There's not enough money in the world," you say? Good for you. Now, was that answer based on morality or cowardice. I found out in high school that a lot of the biggest, strongest football players didn't mind kicking some runt's ass, lacked the stomach to join the military.

2) 'How immoral for them to be treated that way': The second morality issue I see being raised, is 'was there something heinous in the actions of the people of Fallujah?' If so, so what? Well, I think this may be the simplest and most complicated of the points raised. I'll take a stab at them anyway. First, and for me the most important question, is 'was there anything innately immoral about their acts involving the mutilation of bodies? Now, I will look at this separately form the idea that they were tortured. Torture as an act, may be related, but for now let's leave that aside.

Is there anything inherently immoral in these alleged acts. Americans and the rest of the modernized West, but especially Americans, feel that somehow dropping bombs on a building and 'incurring' collateral damage, or napalming a village of suspected VC, but knowing that civilians are likely to be casualties in the effort, is somehow more moral than up close and personal killing. Americans especially seem to feel that if forty thousand feet, or four hundred miles separate them from the impact, that they have some how avoided the moral consequences of the damage, and the screams of the victims. And, yes, they have avoided the screams, but I will argue that no amount of distance or separation from the consequences relieves one of moral responsibility. As a matter of fact, the ability to cause mass destruction from a distance w/o any risk or having to see the direct impact of your actions, allows even more immoral acts than torturing someone. It gives cowards the ability to act w/o fear, and allows people to feel separate from the very pain and harm they have inflicted. At least when someone has to 'personally' drag the blade across a person's throat, or run the sword through someone's gullet and feel the gush of blood on their hands, or even to, with forethought, take a child's life, that person feels, hopefully, committed to some higher cause. But it takes nothing, or relatively so, to these cause these same levels of harm from a distance, hiding behind technology.

The second point I wish to make concerning this issue, may in fact be moot. I, don't have any information confirmed whether any of the 'atrocities' were done to living people, and I don't think very many of us do, or just acts after the deaths for revenge upon bodies already killed 'cleanly'. If the acts were committed upon living beings, well then, I find them morally reprehensible. But if they were done do 'carcasses'? So what? I feel zero, if they just burned dead bodies. My wife knows that my greatest wish upon my death, is to have an American Indian (I forget which specific tribe) type of disposal of the dead. Just string a piece of animal skin across for posts and place my carcass on it. Let the animals and the insects benefit from the energy stored in my body, rather than trying to seal it away frrom the natural world in some steel coffin. Hell, when I'm dead, I don't care what you do with the remains. I care one second before I'm dead, but once I'm dead, I don't care if you stuff the body with candy and use it as a pinata.

3) 'Mercenary dogs who got what they deserved': Based on what? Well, I think an important distinction might be going to war vs defending your country (notice I didn't use 'Homeland'? I'll get into that more in to that in another post[that's called a teaser in the business{I'm actually not in the business, but what the H}]). Defending your country, your family, your way of life, these are not choices, they are necessities. 'Going' to war is not a necessity. It's usually done because a group of political and/or corporate elites (I'm not sure there is a distinction) are trying to gain power for themselves, or deny power to 'their' competitors. It almost never has anything to do with what is good for the country. Defending your country from outside invasion is very different. Yes, I admit their are certain economic arguments that can sometimes blur the issue, but that's what they do: blur the issue (are you actually fighting to defend your way of life or the profits of an employer?). I will try to lay a case for this later (note how often I defer the real thorny issues by promises of 'later'. Very political don't you think?).

Well, sort of the second point to the issue: When is the line crossed between mercenarism and people wanting to get paid well for doing what most people won't ,can't or don't do? What would it take the average American to go to Iraq to help 'bring democracy?' I don't see long lines at the recruiting station. So, Americans are more than willing to let other people go fight their wars for them (or their elites), but they want them to believe in a cause they obviously don't believe strongly enough in themselves to go fight. Long sentence. But I think very accurate. If the war is so right, why aren't you having your children enlist or go to ROTC, or whatever?

Anyway, I think the whole thing may just come down to a whole bunch of pampered pussies used to dissecting a football game on Monday morning. Worthless. If the people that were making these arguments really backed up their positions, we would have a totally different situation from the one we have.

I'm sure that much of the above is unclear, but i wanted to make this argument in a timely faction. So as usual, I reserve the right to come back and re-edit based on your feedback...Or, not. 
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