*

6.2.05

Hey, weren't you in "Apocalypse Now"?

Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who commanded Marine expeditions in Afghanistan and Iraq, made [the following] comments Tuesday during a panel discussion in San Diego, California.

"Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot," Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the audience. "It's fun to shoot some people.. I'll be right up there with you. I like brawling.

"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis said. "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."

Mattis' press office has not yet responded to a request to answer questions about his comments.

However, the Marine commandant, Gen. Michael Hagee, defended Mattis, calling him "one of this country's bravest and most experienced military leaders."

"While I understand that some people may take issue with the comments made by him, I also know he intended to reflect the unfortunate and harsh realities of war," he said in a written statement. "Lt. Gen. Mattis often speaks with a great deal of candor."

Hagee said he had counseled Mattis regarding the remarks and that Mattis "agrees he should have chosen his words more carefully."


Ya think?

Most of the time, I advocate a nuanced understanding of the American military and government, but I keep finding out that that's not really neccessary.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever played Counterstrike? Did you like it?

So this guy, unlike most american political or military leaders, or for that matter any one of us, made the mistake of being honest. Of course it can be fun to shoot people. Especially people you don't like. However, most of us don't get to do that. But we want to, don't we? Just look at our popular culture, books, movies, computer games, what have you. On our screens and in our heads we're doing it all the time. Why? Because it's fun. This guy gets to do it for real. Good for him.

Life in a western type democracy is dreary. It consists mainly of wage labour, a solid dose of violent (but mainly unimaginative) entertainment, and then 8 hours of sleep. The comfort we've demanded is now mandatory. In the industrial age, the only real adventure afforded the male of the species is warfare. It's either that or bungee jumping.

Like a few other males, instead of cheering the gladiators at the Forum with the rest of us wage labourers, this guy wanted to go out and do it himself. That sounds pretty healthy to me. He could have just started killing people randomly, but he didn't. He had the good grace to ask the rest of us who we wanted him to kill. In the United States of America, as in its european sattelites, the military is an instrument directed by the legally elected government, that is, the people.

Maybe you should address your (very legitimate) grievance with the afghan war somewhere else. The guy with the smoking gun didn't do it. We did.

February 06, 2005 7:09 pm  
Blogger Gaute said...

To what extent is the military really an extension of the popular will?

As Hermann Göring lamented, the people never really want war, they have to be persuaded.

I would think the main appeal of games like CS lies in being able to experience the game-like aspects of warfarewithout the moral implications of real murder.

February 07, 2005 1:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amaricas Army is a great example of a game that is free for download and has a very realistic and actual use. It was never designed to be -just a game. It is used for education within the American army and secondary, as preliminary recruitment in the gaming world amongst potential soldiers.

February 09, 2005 3:25 am  
Blogger Gaute said...

America's Army isn't an example of anything - it is a singular, unprecendented incident of a game being used as a recruitment tool. Commercially distributed war games are virtually without exception pure entertainment products.

February 09, 2005 11:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, Göring didn't "lament" anything:

"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." - Hermann Wilhelm Göring, at the Nüremberg trial.

It is a fact of the propaganda age that a people can be brought to do or think anything, at least in the short term. It is a fact of the propaganda age that we are being systematically lied to. How does this free us from responsibility? The second world war (since you brought it up) is as good an example as any. Was the german people manipulated by nazi propaganda? Undoubtedly. Was the german people responsible for german military policy? Certainly. Should the german people be held accountable for the atrocities committed by elements of the german armed forces even if they didn't even know they took place? You do the math.

If your country is at war, you are responsible. Get off your high horse, PC or playstation, whichever applies.

February 09, 2005 2:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,
I couldn't help but to notice Gaute's comment, that: 'Commercially distributed war games are virtually without exception pure entertainment products'. I find your argument hard to swallow, mainly because the term 'entertainment' is typically applied to lame, liberal discussions concerning popular culture representations of topics no one wants to take proper responsibility for.
Thus, I feel compelled to butt into your discussion, with the following quote:
'Entertainment - an ideological concept, ranking as one of the more successful rhetorical ploys of the twetnieth century (...) Entertainment as a concept is ideological because it is used to justify discursive practices, whic, while aimed at audience maximization and the reproduction of unit costs, are represented as neutral or apolitical, plausible (or legible) not by reference to the commercial imperatives of the entertainment industry but by reference to the assumed demands of a fictionalized audience or public. The idea of entertainment is trotted out to justify representations that can on other grounds be critisized for racism, sexism, metropolitanism, and the rest. In short, don't be beguiled by claims that something offensive is 'only entertainment'. (John Hartley, 1994:106)
If you want a WWII reference, check out this article: http://www.freenewmexican.com/artsfeatures/8893.html

February 09, 2005 3:14 pm  
Blogger MGL said...

Ok, before this goes any further: a ground rule.

If posting anonymously, sign with a name. I don't care if it's your name or not, just sign with something so we can tell who is saying what. Ok?

I'm seriously considering going back to Haloscan for comments. Blogger's comments system is inherently flawed.

Anyway, I have been too busy to comment, as I wish to do so at length. I'll try to publish something later today, or early tomorrow. Ok?

February 09, 2005 6:08 pm  
Blogger Sara said...

Hi Martin. I made the comment about entertainment.

February 09, 2005 8:14 pm  
Blogger Gaute said...

I don't know who or how many I'm actually debating, but never mind...

Bachelor no. 1: There's no high horse, just a disagreement of terms. Your allocation of responsibility only applies insofar as the political class gains legitimacy through being voted in or out every fourth/fifth/seventh year. In modern democratic societies, power generally flows from the top down, which was what my QnD Göring quote was meant to illustrate. Nothing more. It was not an attempt at Hitlerizing the debate.

Bachelor no. 2: That quote sounds very Cultural Studies-ish. Sure, you can find residual ideology in most every aspect of modern society, simply because nothing is objectively neutral, only in relation to the status quo. In this case, however, there is a clear distinction with regards to intention and function: AA is a deliberate recruitment tool, CS is pure spectacle. It's that simple.

And no, I don't want a WWII quote.

February 10, 2005 7:34 pm  
Blogger Sara said...

Hi Gaute,
I admit that the lengthy quote was a bit of a cheap shot, so I take it back. I should at least have had the courtesy to make up my own. It's not like I take the finer points of academia that seriously, since mostly it consists of a tedious shit-throwing rhetoric. However, I mean what I said about lame liberal media discussions, which has nought to do with cultural studies or any other institutionalised school of thought for that matter. I checked out your page, by the way. nice phots.

February 11, 2005 9:28 am  
Blogger Sara said...

er, photos.

February 11, 2005 9:28 am  

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