Saturday, February 05, 2005

At War 101

The comments of Marine Corps LTG James Mattis about killing the enemy are a useful prompt for examining the views of those reacting to the comments. Both in what they think the comments were and how they feel about them. The article notes:

According to an audio recording of Mattis' remarks, he said, "Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. ... It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right upfront with you, I like brawling."

He added, "You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis continued. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."

His comments were met with laughter and applause from the audience.

Predictably, opponents of the war are horrified at the comments of our general. They protest that we "are better than the enemy" and shouldn't make such comments about killing human beings. I'm certainly glad the anti-war side thinks we are better than the enemy--though they have a tough time saying "enemy" like they mean it (except when talking about domestic political opponents, of course). But when they say that we are better they seem to only mean that no matter what the enemy does, we shouldn't fight back. Arrest them, maybe--though we have to understand their rage. Then pay for a public defender. And if found guilty, shower them with money to cure that root cause of rage, and change our policies as long as we're at it. To me, that isn't a very helpful attitude.

But let me add the flip side to "we are better than" the enemy. Namely, "our enemies our worse than us." If we are better than the Baathists and jihadis we fight, they must be worse than we are. That is pretty straight-forward logic. But the anti-war side will never say that the enemy is worse than us because when they say we are better than the other side they only want us to show restraint. They are not expressing our moral superiority.

Because if the anti-war side complaining about Mattis' comments really thought that we are better than the enemy, they wouldn't be so upset. The enemy is horrible (see here and here) and therefore we did a good thing destroying them. Our military personnel who killed and defeated the enemy are the good guys. They are right to express satisfaction and even some happiness at killing and defeating such monsters.

But since the anti-war side thinks we aren't really at war, and that if we are we are on the wrong side, they think that it is horrifying for any of our military to draw satisfaction in killing plain ordinary "people" in other countries. No, the anti-war side thinks our veterans of the war should come home and experience emotional trauma at the horrible things they've done in some sort of idealized post-Vietnam disorder (Which, if what I read is correct, is a myth anyway. Our Vietnam veterans are just fine). How, the anti-war people think, can our veterans of the war be happy at what they've done?

So let me set forth the basics here:

--We are at war.

--Our enemies are sick and cruel nutballs that would inflict death and destruction on a mass scale if they could make their dreams come true.

--Our soldiers, Marines, and other military personnel are the good guys and they have destroyed two evil regimes and are helping keep the bad guys at bay all around the world.

--Our veterans of these battles and wars are right to feel good about what they have accomplished.

--We should celebrate the success and sacrifice of our troops in a just war and not demonstate that we "are for the troops" by pulling out in defeat and giving our veterans all the psychiatric help we can afford so they can get over their horrible crimes.

General Mattis has been defending us over a long career:

According to Mattis' biography, he commanded, as a lieutenant colonel, an assault battalion during the first war with Iraq. During the war in Afghanistan, he commanded the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade; in the second war in Iraq, he commanded the 1st Marine Division during the invasion and when the unit returned to Iraq for counterinsurgency operations last year.

I hope LTG Mattis and the rest of our armed forces get to kill more of the enemy and I hope they draw satisfaction from killing the enemy and therefore protecting us from some pretty evil pieces of living garbage. I know I'm grateful that Americans and allies are out there fighting and winning.

It is really frustrating to have to go over the basics more than three years after September 11.