June 4, 2007

If These Guys Aren't Invested, Then It's Over

Late last night I saw National Georgraphic: Inside The Green Berets.  The platoon was having a memorial for one of the Berets who had just been killed by an IED, and the Green Beret giving the eulogy says, "he wasn't just fighting for his country, he was fighting for a higher cause-- he was protecting each of us."

Army of One, I guess.


Now that's just unfair! Any... (Below threshold)

June 9, 2007 12:08 AM | Posted by mercurial scribe: | Reply

Now that's just unfair! Anyone with a brain knows that once a person is fighting in the trenches, fighting for God and country go out the window due to their seeming distance and abstraction. But fighting for those to your left and to your right? That's the highest real cause you can fight for. And that's exactly what his eulogist expressed.

I'm stunned and disappointed in your viewpoint, which I usually respect. Shame on you for thinking ill of man who fought for his friends right beside him. It has nothing to do with narcissism, exception being your commentary on it.

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Nah it's not over until exo... (Below threshold)

June 29, 2007 10:52 PM | Posted by Common Reader: | Reply

Nah it's not over until exogenesis. But once those guys can make more of themselves all by themselves, then it's really over.

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I think you may have misrea... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2007 2:14 PM | Posted by Kevin: | Reply

I think you may have misread the meaning of this. I believe I can share a wider perspective on this because (1) I'm a former Marine, (2) I'm currently a Navy Psychiatry resident and (3) I'm a democrat who's vehemently against the war.

The higher calling of combat soldiers or Marines is, above all else, the unwavering loyalty to one another. Most service members whose politics differ from the Commander-In-Chief's compartmentalize their political views from their duties inherent to their Oath of Enlistment / Oath of Office. Personally, any cognitive dissonance is resolved by reminding myself that the ballot box is where I express my disagreement with the war, and that the existence of ballot boxes depends on a military whose members take an Oath that does not contain clauses hinging the level of obedience to his or her agreement with the administration. Do our combat operations in Iraq have anything to do with protecting our democracy? I and most people in this country don’t think so. Nevertheless, a military cannot dissolve into disobedience during unpopular wars; obedience to lawful orders has to be maintained. Anything other than “instant obedience to orders” is not a military, and without a military, a United States would soon not exist. Most people agree on that.

Back to the mourning Green Berets… the eulogy revealed the meaning of his death, and by extension, the meaning of their lives, their service, their acceptance that the next eulogy may be their own. Members of elite units such as the Green Berets go on to suffer PTSD at much lower rates than others exposed to combat, and many contend than (more so than those in other units) it is because the hierarchy of “Why we fight?” begins with the individual soldier or Marine standing next to them, the squad, the platoon, etc. My point is that there is nothing artificial about this. The eulogy’s attributing his death to the higher calling of defending his fellow soldiers is not some substitution for absent patriotism (because they're not “invested” in the war they don't agree with). Rather, the willingness to sacrifice their lives for one another had been the higher calling all along. Soldiers and Marines have never had to be invested in a war. They’re invested to each another.

Alone's response: ok, you made an interesting point. I hadn't considered that. I've always thought that soldiers are dispatched to fight, regardless of their own personal convictions, and yet here I made an error in logic by then contradicting myself, thinking that they had to believe in their cause.

So I retract this post, I was wrong.

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