Sunday, February 06, 2005

Some people just need killing

I need to say a few words about the folderol surrounding the comments in San Diego by LtGen Mattis regarding his fondness for shooting people during war. I have a few observations about this.

Observation 1: John Kerry was mocked pretty mercilessly for advocating a more sensitive war on terror. Yet, when an active duty Marine General speaks a few words that represent a living repudiation of the Kerry Doctrine, the press gets a case of the vapors.

Observation 2: For some who have experienced combat, as William Sherman stated, “war is hell.” For others, combat has it’s appeal. According to Robert E Lee, “it is well that war is so terrible, else we should grow too fond of it.” And even though Sherman is quoted saying “War is hell,” he nonetheless knew the necessity of the battles he fought. Sherman knew that the South would never accept the fact that they were beaten until he marched his Union soldiers right into the belly of the Confederacy. Sherman did what he had to, as did LtGen Mattis. The difference perhaps lies in their reflections on their service after their part was done.

Interestingly, Sherman and Mattis are alike in other ways. Both Generals insisted on the strictest discipline from their troops, and the both hated the values of their enemies.

Observation 3: The most offended of those offended by Gen Mattis’ remarks was our old pal Barbara Starr. She rushed onto the air to breathlessly relate his remarks, then she played tape of everyone she could find doing what she said was “condemning” the General’s words. Although, I think a reasonable, non-biased personality would have a hard time characterizing General Hagee’s words or General Pace’s words as a condemnation. Gen Hagee: [Gen Mattis] should have chosen his words more carefully…Throughout our history, Marines have given their lives in the defense of this nation and human rights around the globe. "When necessary, this commitment helps to provide us the fortitude to take the lives of those who oppress others or threaten this nation's security. This is not something we relish, yet we accept it as a reality in our profession of arms. Lt. Gen. Mattis is a superb leader and one of the Corps' most courageous and experienced warriors I remain confident that he will continue to serve this nation with dedication and distinction."
Gen Pace: "The last three times that that general has been in combat, when he was leading Marines in Afghanistan and the two times that he led his division in Iraq, his actions and those of his troops clearly show that he understands the value of proper leadership and the value of human life."

Not exactly the verbal equivalent of a beatdown.

This whole episode highlights something that many others have noted, in ways much more profound than I ever could. There is a real divide in this world between those who recognize the enemy in this war for what he is and those for whom the only enemy is America. LtGen Mattis has closed with the barbarians who oppress women and hack people’s heads off. LtGen Mattis hates those barbarians, and relishes the opportunity to exact retribution for their crimes. There is satisfaction in that. Some people in America respect that, and admire the manliness and soldierly virtue of Gen Mattis. Marines certainly do. Barbara Starr and her band of America-haters at CNN do not.