Friday, February 04, 2005


War is Fun!

Many of you have probably already heard about Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis of the USMC who talked (openly and in public) of shooting people being "a lot of fun." Here is the heart of the damning material:
Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. . . . It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right upfront with you, I like brawling," he said at the forum in San Diego.

"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil," he added. "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."
You see, that's troubling to me. But even more troubling is the response from his superiors. Which was: try not to say that kind of thing that way in public from now on.
"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," [Marine Corps Commandant Michael W.] Hagee said. "Lt. Gen. Mattis often speaks with a great deal of candor. I have counseled him concerning his remarks, and he agrees he should have chosen his words more carefully."
First of all, I agree that his comments reflect the unfortunate and harsh realities of war (namely that there are human beings who take pleasure in causing pain and harm to other human beings) but that certainly wasn't the intent of his remarks. Calling war "a lot of fun" and "a hell of a hoot" doesn't particularly seem intended to reflect the unfortunate and harsh realities of war, especially to an audience that is receptive and clapping in response to this stuff. Meanwhile, check out the coverage on al-Jazeera. The story is teamed up with a story about US Marine Colonel Gareth Brandl, who said that Satan lived in Fallujah. The photo shows a smiling soldier giving a thumbs up over an Iraqi (who appears either incapacitated or dead) with the following caption: "A number of US servicemen are facing action for prison abuses" (thanks, Aunt Deb, for the link.)

Now is it that hard to draw the lines of connection? Religiously motivated US Marines think that shooting people is fun. Not only that, you have pictures of US soldiers who appear to be having a hell of a lot of fun abusing detainees (smiling and giving the thumbs up over human pyramids of naked Iraqis, smiling widely on top of Iraqi detainees with bags over their heads, etc). Yep, they must hate us for our freedom. But don't they see how much FUN freedom is?

If you really want to understand the General's comments, go to
well, i read the reverential spectator piece. i can't say it's changed my mind one bit. gen. mattis might be "a great warrior" but i wouldn't classify him as a true american hero.
furthermore, i'm not sure that i "misunderstood" the general's comments. i believe i quoted him accurately. in reality, i'm far more interested in the reaction: in my post i talked about reaction from the military and from al-jazeera. it's not really about who has a "better understanding" of who mattis is, but the competing ideas of how his statements play into a larger narrative. in that sense, the spectator plays into the military narrative: mattis is a great man, his words were simply unrepresentative of how great he is (and, in a broader sense, how great the US military is).
Help me Dude, I'm lost.

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw Elvis in the supermarket yesterday.

No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new plasmatv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a plasma tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger then I'm gonna go home and ask Michael Jackson to come round and watch that waaaay cool surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on my new plasma tv .

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)
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