Monday, January 16, 2012

"Pissgate" and a theory.

It's old news now, that some Marines widdled on a dead taliban thug.  I'm firmly in the "don't care" camp on that one.  It doesn't bother me.  I don't want to institutionalize that behavior as acceptable, but neither do I think it is bad enough to warrant any kind of meaningful consequence.  To me, it should be like driving 70mph in a 65 zone - technically a violation, but generally ignored.

The outrage brought on by "pissgate" - both feigned and genuine - prompted me to do some thinking, though, and now I want to bounce that thought off you:

Compared to veterans of other wars, veterans coming home from the War on Terror seem to have a higher incidence of PTSD and/or troubles re-integrating into daily life.  I could be wrong about this.  That might not be the case at all.  But it certainly *seems* that way.  If it is true, the next question should be "why?"  Why are today's veterans more likely to come home with emotional problems?

In previous conflicts, the enemy was clearly depicted as enemy.  Check the propaganda of the time - the enemy was made worse than merely "enemy."  The enemy was made bestial, barbarous and barely human.  The enemy was given unflattering names like "Jap" and "Kraut" and "Gook" and "Hun bastard" whose entrails would make a "good lube for our tank tracks."  American society believed our troops to be better than the enemy's, and our cause greater than the enemy's cause.  Firebombing (or, gasp, nuking!) a city was acceptable.  If an American disrespected an enemy corpse, there wasn't outrage.  Because it was the corpse of a enemy!  Corpse of a quasi-human devil of an enemy! Americans lost in battle were mourned, and victors given a Hero's Welcome upon coming home.  The veteran comes home knowing he did right.

Contrast that with today.  Today is tolerance.  Today is diversity.  Today is moral equivalence.  Today it is unacceptable to much of America to assert one's culture is superior to the enemy's other's culture.  Today it is "proportionate response" instead of using martial skill and superior arms to the utmost. Kids are taught that all cultures and all religions are equally good.  And equally bad.  We are told that they are "just like us" and that their customs (however deviant or downright evil) should be respected.

What does all this PC junk do to our troops?  Instead of having confidence that the fight is just and the cause is noble, how does that Soldier or Marine not ask himself "What kind of person am I?  I've traveled halfway around the world to kill somebody whom I've been told over and over is just like me!  What kind of a monster am I becoming?"  The veteran comes home but there is no tickertape parade.  Instead there is doubt and angst and uncertainty that he did right.

Little wonder that today's veterans are more apt to suffer emotional problems, and that the (mostly harmless) act of urinating on a dead terrorist would prompt so much outrage.


  1. Your theory has legs, Inno. In the 'good ol' days,' we indeed would target the civilian populations of our enemies.

    Enemy civilians (or as Ward Churchill would call them, 'Little Eichmanns') support the war effort against us, participate in providing food, arms and uniforms to our enemies, and indeed were fair game, as war is hell.

    Now, with technology what it is these days, we conduct 'surgical strikes.' Heaven forbid we kill one lousy stinking civilian, or their dog.

    Our soldiers are instructed as how to minimize civilian causualites, and are charged with crimes when they are not surgical enough with our enemies.

    These marines did not step over the line. As far as I am concerned, they should have crapped on them, too. This enemy we face is actually as bad or worse than our worst enemy in the past. They are filthy, evil criminals, who hide behind women's skirts, and shoot at us from inside mosques.

  2. Compared to veterans of other wars, veterans coming home from the War on Terror seem to have a higher incidence of PTSD and/or troubles re-integrating into daily life.

    I don't think so. I think it's due to the increased visibility provided by the media and other organizations, which is both good and bad. The guys who came home from "my" war (Viet Nam) were prolly just as likely to suffer from PTSD as not. The difference, IMHO, is we were expected to suck it up and get on with life. The same holds true with my father's generation, who fought in The Big One and Korea. My Ol' Man had lotsa stories about guys who were never the same after surviving 25 missions over Der Vaterland, and my father-in-law (who was a Marine at the Chosin Reservoir) had the same sorta stories.

    Is my opinion, is all.

  3. I recently watched a series on the History Channel on the Vietnam War. They had these little "factiod" blurbs between commercial breaks. One stated that in WWII the average soldier spent 10 days a year in combat. In Vietnam, the average soldier spent somewhere over 200 days. I wonder how similar the numbers are between Vietnam vets and Iraq/Afghanistan vets? It would stand to reason that the more combat-the more likely that someone would develop symptoms of PTSD.

  4. Inno--

    I don't think so. I think a lot of the reason for higher rates of PTSD has to do with men being more willing to ask for help. My crazy ex-brother-in-law used to do the crazy when he returned from Viet Nam. He and his buddy. Did you ever hear of the "creepy crawl?"

    I've a younger golfing bud who is going through PTSD. There are times on the course when you can see it take over. Hey, it's just golf! But, again, the difference is, we talk about it. And I've told him, when he gets hit with it, talk to me.

    Is he getting better? Yep. Slowly. And maybe he'll never get over it entirely. A lot of my dad's friends who served never spoke of their war experiences. One of my bud's dad woke up, each and every night, crying.

    The horrors of "Catch-22" were real for a lot of men. Death was near. Some of their buddies never made it.

    War is hell. Piss on a guy who tried to kill me?

    Hell yeah.

  5. I agree with Buck, and Ten Mile Island. PTSD is now diagnosed for people with any T, car accidents, etc. I think you can add in a little bit of - 'today's' soldiers are not as ready, meaning their lives are much more cushy before entering the military.

    As for pissing on the guy? Okay, whatever. Filming it? Stupid. We would probably have a different view of the Spartans, had they had camera phones...

  6. Please please one day may we be free from the scourge of this PC crap. The liberals who gave us political correctness are the worse kinds of assassins. Instead of killing individuals they destroy 3000 years of western culture to satisfy their own self-loathing.

  7. The biggest problem is our troops don't have the backing of anyone on the left.

    As for pissing on the dead enemy ... it doesn't go far enough! Poor pigs blood on the dead.

  8. Excellent point -- this "widdle" was a technical violation only.

    There is a lot to your argument.

    Fighting among boys used to be considered normal. Boys used to be taught to "stand up for themselves" physically and to resist bullies. In the interests of promoting civilized behavior, communities dictated places and situations where it was unacceptable to fight but also places and situations were it was quite acceptable--even mandatory--to fight. When yesterday's mother sent her young son out to play, he was pretty much free to roam and explore (and he did) and expected to take care of himself, with help, if called for.

    Not so today, when the PC attitude is that "mediation" = self-defense.

    The darker side of the former respect for manliness was that PTSD wasn't even considered a medical problem until the 70s and 80s. Only vets more or less totally incapable of functioning were considered to need treatment for "shell shock." Vets who suffered long-term damage from their horrific combat experiences before then pretty universally kept their pain to themselves, and their families kept the symptoms secret as much as possible. Behind closed doors, there are many old gents still suffering from PTSD.


Family-friendly phrasing heartily encouraged.

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