Universal Delusions of the Left About the Military

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Mon, Dec 8 - 9:00 am EST | 4 years ago by
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“It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble.
It’s the things we do
know that just ain’t so.”
~ Artemus Ward

Lines of Departure - Universal Delusions

In last week’s column, we discussed some of the delusions of the Left with regard to the military’s ability to change people. It’s hardly the only area where they don’t have much of a clue about the military, and cannot grasp how ignorant on the subject they are. The evidence is everywhere, really, from liberal journalists reporting anything with treads as being “tanks,”1 to accepting as face value some of the just-not-quite-right incidents reported by “Scott Thomas” [Beauchamp], to believing that John – ‘I was for being against the troops before I was against being for them’ – Kerry did, and then didn’t, and did, and then didn’t, and did… you get the idea… throw his, or somebody’s, or his, or somebody’s or… you get the idea… medals or ribbons or medals or ribbons… you get the idea… over the White House fence in protest over the Vietnam War… or to get his name in headlines for his eventual political career; you can decide which for yourself.2

Speaking of Vietnam, back in the ’60s, during the Vietnam War, there was a left-wing activist and song writer named Buffy Sainte-Marie. Born in Canada as a Cree Indian (yes, yes, I know the Canadians like to say, “First Nations.” I, however, do not), and orphaned young, she was adopted by a related family, growing up in Wakefield, Massachusetts.3 Buffy was, as far as I can tell, reflexively left wing and reflexively pacifist from a pretty early age. She has an undergraduate degree and a PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with grades sufficiently high, and sufficiently before academia’s complete surrender to leftism and multiculturalism (even in Massachusetts), as to suggest she’s bright. I am sure she is a very nice woman.

Yes, I actually do mean that.

Why go back that far? Because “we are what we were back when.”

Okay, let’s stop now for a bit while you, gentle reader, go to YouTube and look up and listen to one of Buffy’s early songs, and a personal favorite of mine, “Universal Soldier.”4 Go on and listen to it twice, three times if you must; I’ll still be here waiting when you’re done.

Okay, done now? Good. Nice song, no? Catchy tune, evocative imagery; it’s an interesting mix of the true, the morally true and poetic… and the just flat wrong and silly.

First the morally true and the poetic; yes, soldiers have come in all ages and sizes, from all countries and pretty much all cultures and faiths,5 and are, frankly, pretty much alike. Indeed, we’re so much alike that, unless we’re actually called on to fight, we usually get along extremely well with each other, whatever the relationship between our countries. I suspect that would even be true of us and North Korea’s troops, could the latter be removed from surveillance and convinced they were not under surveillance.

“Fights with missiles”? She meant nuclear tipped ICBMs, I think, not Anti-Tank Guided Missiles and, sure, one doesn’t really fight with city busters. Still, cut her a break; she’s a poet, hence entitled to some poetic license. Same thing with being “a soldier for a thousand years.” It’s been much longer than that but “a thousand years” will do.

Then there’s the absolutely true; the soldier’s orders, in a democracy, ultimately come from the people. You – yes, that’s right, you over there in back – are responsible for what the politicians order the soldiers to do. They do it in your name and on your behalf. There’s no ducking it.

Unfortunately, that’s the point at which truth – truth moral, actual, and poetic – stops.

Is it true that the soldier “knows he shouldn’t kill”? No; that’s generally nonsense. With the occasional odd exception that pops up, the soldier knows he should and must.6 I think here that Buffy just didn’t, and probably couldn’t, understand that not everyone thinks the way she and her close friends and associates do.

“Without him Hitler couldn’t have condemned him at Dachau”? It seems to be – as with anything with treads being a “tank” – that the Left has a hard time seeing past appearances or making fine, or even not so fine, distinctions where the military is concerned. In short, no, not everyone in a uniform, even a snazzy black uniform with silver trim and lightning bolts on the collar, is actually a soldier.

“Without him Caesar would have stood alone.” That’s literally true, of course, as it is also true that, without the soldier, Caesar couldn’t have wheeled his legions through Gaul, spreading “sword and flame on hearth and home.”7

Equally, however, and this is the point Buffy missed here, and that the pacifist left generally misses, “without him” Marius would have stood alone, too, unable to stop the Cimbri and Teutons. “Without him” Rome dies five hundred years before it had to, if not even centuries before that, to Hannibal or Pyrrhus, or to the Samnites. “Without him” maybe Hitler couldn’t have condemned uniformed and armed prison guards at Dachau, but “without him,” on the allied side and in the Red Army, the last Jew goes up a chimney, the Slavs are enslaved and extinguished, Britain falls to Nazism, France and the Benelux cease to exist.

“Bu’, bu’, but; we should get rid of all soldiers.” Bu’, bu’, but; you can’t. You can only get rid of them on one side, your own. That’s where your influence – and Buffy’s – ends. Moreover, if you ever could, you would probably be extinguished. See, for an example of the effect of unilateral pacifism and demilitarization, the fate of the Moriori People of the Chatham Islands.8

The part, however, that I find most telling is, “And he thinks we’ll put an end to war this way.” My God; how foolish those soldiers must be to think we’ll put an end to war through war!

I know, oh, lots of soldiers. Likewise Marines, and Sailors, and Airmen. Likewise from all over the world. And you know what? I can’t think of a single one who believes we’ll put an end to war that way, or any other way. Why make the claim? I can’t think of any legitimate reason beyond that Buffy simply could not conceive of people who thought differently.

So who was being foolish there, even if she’s a very nice woman?


1 I have occasionally thought about setting up a school for journalists – war reporters, specifically, and I’d charge through the nose for it for my psychic pain – to teach them a little something of the subject. I am, however, pretty sure that they really don’t want to know about it or to open the door to letting facts color their reporting.

2 I have my BA from Boston College, which is where John Kerry took his law degree. I was accepted to BC Law, too, but realized, after being accepted, that I didn’t want a law degree from the same school the orange-faced, windsurfing buffoon went to.

3 Although we’ve never met, so far as I know, and likely never will, Buffy and I are sortakinda homeys, Wakefield being about eight miles north of Boston. I think I saw her once in passing, but I wouldn’t swear to it.

4 Or I can save you the trouble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGWsGyNsw00

5 Okay, I choke a little on the idea of a Jain combatant. A Jain medic I could see but that’s not the same thing, exactly. But, you know, maybe.

6 Spare us citing to the 5th or 6th or 7th, Commandment, aka: Thou Shalt Not Kill. It’s a bad, misleading translation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thou_shalt_not_kill. Wiki? It’s okay for non-politicized matters.

7 http://www.s2company.com/files/readings/soldier.htm If Buffy had read that, she might have understood a little better.

8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moriori_people and discussed, passim, here: http://www.tomkratman.com/Ranthhour.html I have some reason to suspect that a whitewash of pacifism, the Maori, and the invasion is currently going on in New Zealand: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moriori_people

Don’t miss last week’s column: The Left and the Military.

Tom Kratman is a retired infantry lieutenant colonel, recovering attorney, and science fiction and military fiction writer. His latest novel, The Rods and the Axe, is available from Amazon.com for $9.99 for the Kindle version, or $25 for the hardback. A political refugee and defector from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, he makes his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He holds the non-exclusive military and foreign affairs portfolio for EveryJoe. Tom’s books can be ordered through baen.com.

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  • Ori Pomerantz

    Not an end to war, but judging by the historical record (War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots) you could put a serious dent in it.

    Pax Romana – it isn’t Pacifist, but it worked.

    • Tom Kratman

      I may add that to my list.

    • Paulie the Antitranshumanist

      This is the endgame Ian Morris envisions:

      So: If we can hold off from violently exterminating each other long enough, we’ll finally arrive in a posthuman paradise where we gently exterminate ourselves. Yay. He is transhumanist scum, and may he and the rest of his anthropocidal ilk all painfully die in the next great war.

    • Ori Pomerantz

      That his ideas of the future don’t make sense does not invalidate his historical research.

    • Paulie the Antitranshumanist

      That is not “ideas of the future”, it’s eschatology. Just as we’d be skeptical of a leftist historian’s research which just so happens to align with a leftist’s religiously-held view of mankind’s past and destiny, we should be skeptical of a transhumanist historian’s research which just so happens to support a transhumanist narrative of our species inevitably evolving from hyper-murderous miserable apes to blissful enlightened robots.

      I wouldn’t read Morris without also/first reading an antipode, like “Sex at Dawn”, which may be guided by its own wishful biases, but at least it doesn’t conclude by claiming we must commit self-genocide to escape the curse of being human. (Hell, by arguing that humans had it pretty good for tens of thousands of years, Ryan is the one making the conservative argument, and Morris is the radical utopian who rejects our nature, no?)


    • Ori Pomerantz

      Ian Morris does understand it isn’t inevitable. In a previous book (http://www.amazon.com/Why-West-Rules—Now-Morris-ebook/dp/B003VTZSFY/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1418088405&sr=8-3&keywords=ian+morris), he detailed the times the west was stronger, the times the east was stronger, and the reverses in history.

    • Anonymous

      Ah, transhumanists. They want to immanentize the Eschaton–or, rather, bring about something they call the “Singularity,” which is just like the Eschaton, but with more robots and more blinky lights.

      They terrify me. Transhumanists frighten me much more than Islamists or even the Deep Greens. Even most of the worst of the Greens just want our grandchildren to wear grass skirts and live in caves; the “transhumanists” want to exterminate our species completely and replace it with an assortment of shiny computerized gewgaws. This future of utter, artificial equality in sterile, artificial, virtual environments appears to have tremendous appeal to Marxists of a certain bent, I have noticed.

      As I have written elsewhere, they appear to envision a future in which everyone will get his brain pulped and rendered down for memory and personality data, which will somehow-or-other magically converted into data to run Internet chat bots and immortal robot bodies, or maybe just play World of Warcraft for the rest of eternity, instead of going to Heaven; questions about who will reboot the servers and replace the hard disk drives when they fail–and manufacture the replacements, who will fix the damaged cables after floods, and suchlike, are left as an exercise for the alert reader. One hopes that we will be offered the choice of whether or not to stick our heads in the giant sausage grinder. I personally plan to distract them when they come for me by asking them about their latest Harry Potter or My Little Pony fanfiction–and I wish I were kidding about that last bit. As an aside, the morbidly curious are directed to search for the name Eliezer Yudkowsky and the “Less Wrong” forums, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  • Mark Andrew Edwards

    Yeah, there’s a whole section of musical history I’ve missed out on. I couldn’t stand the anti-war stance of huge sections of the music industry from ’65-’75. Basically everything that ever appeared on that ‘Freedom Rock’ anthology they used to advertise on TV. CCR, Edwin Starr, Buffy? Dead to me.

    • Tom Kratman

      Well…amusingly enough, that’s something else the left misses. Their anti-war songs are often enough _our_ war songs, or can be, because it is precisely the things they detest that we crave and seek out. It’s all just a matter of attitude.

    • Mark Andrew Edwards

      I hadn’t thought of it that way. :) I’ve always enjoyed Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade” in ways the band probably wouldn’t approve of. ‘Rally round the family, with a pocket full of shells’, indeed.

    • Tom Kratman

      Go listen to the Irish folk song, Mrs. McGrath, but not the Springsteen version. It’s an anti-war song. Soldiers, however, tend to find it quite cheery and funny.


    • https://plus.google.com/+JoelCSalomon J. C. Salomon

      I’ve only ever read this poem by Yehoash (Solomon Blumgarten) in its English translation by Marie Syrkin:

      An Old Song

      In the blossom-land Japan
      Somewhere thus an old song ran.

      Said a warrior to a smith
      “Hammer me a sword forthwith.
      Make the blade
      Light as wind on water laid.
      Make it long
      As the wheat at harvest song.
      Supple, swift
      As a snake, without rift,
      Full of lightning, thousand-eyed!
      Smooth as silken cloth and thin
      As the web that spiders spin.
      And merciless as pain, and cold.”

      “On the hilt what shall be told?”

      “On the sword’s hilt, my good man,”
      Said the warrior of Japan,
      “Trace for me
      A running lake, a flock of sheep
      And one who sings her child to sleep.”

  • Matthew House

    Speaking as a soldier, once. Don’t want us ‘over there’? -Then don’t send us-. We have no agency. As Soldiers of the Republic, we exist to obey, and enforce the will of the public. So if you wanna know ‘who’s responsible’ look in a mirror.

    • Tom Kratman

      And she sortakindamaybeperhaps said that, though it seemed she was blaming everyone, including the soldier.

    • Matthew House

      Sure, except the soldier isn’t part of the decision making process. at all.

    • Tom Kratman

      Well, he could always mutiny and be stood against a wall and shot, but perhap the left doesn’t, in the main, really understand _that_, either.

    • Ori Pomerantz

      I think the left expects that the mutiny will be taken up by so many troops the government won’t be able to suppress it.

    • Tom Kratman

      In yet another example of delusional thought and expectations?

    • Ori Pomerantz

      The soldier, in most cases, has the same level of agency and responsibility as I do. His vote doesn’t count for more than mine (personally, I believe it should), but it doesn’t count for less either.

    • Matthew House

      I’m sorry, you are wrong. You cannot be punished for refusing to fight.

    • Tom Kratman

      Yes, you can. See Art. 99, UCMJ.

    • Matthew House

      Mr. Kratman – I agree with you. I was attempting to explain to Mr. Pomerantz that as a civilian, he has more agency and responsibility than a soldier, because he is -not- subject to UCMJ.

    • Tom Kratman

      Ah, the operative word then was “You.” Makes sense.

    • Ori Pomerantz

      No, but my agency, my ability to affect whether soldiers fight or not, is at the same level as those soldiers. They got to vote, and I got to vote.

      Most US soldiers are citizens, so it isn’t a case of “the soldier isn’t part of the decision making process. at all.”.

    • Matthew House

      Either you really don’t understand how being a soldier in America works, or you’re being intentionally disingenous.

      Sure, Soldiers can vote as well. But if some idiot in the capitol decides to send him, he -goes-. He doesn’t get a vote in that. And deployed military have to use absentee ballots, which are routinely dumped. To add insult to injury, in many cases, the Military simply doesn’t -bother- to make ballots available. So, effectively, a deployed soldier does -not- ‘get a vote’ as you like to say. And as if that wasn’t enough, Soldiers are heavily indoctrinated against getting involved in politics at all, in fact, getting involved in politics while on active duty in the military is quite risky, and may have UCMJ penalties, like going to leavenworth.

    • Ori Pomerantz

      I didn’t know about disenfranchising soldiers. I apologize.

    • Matthew House

      Quite alright, sir. Most people -dont- know. For example, if you’re active duty, but stationed in the US, but not in your ‘home state’, you have to use an absentee ballot, even if you’re not deployed. Absentee ballots, as I understand, are only counted in cases where ‘it’s a close race’. And, in many cases, are simply thrown away, without being counted. And if by some miracle, you manage to get someone back home to mail you an absentee ballot to your deployed position overseas, the odds are you will not receive the ballot until -after- the election. And, if by some further miracle you do manage to get one in time, it sure as hell won’t get -back- to the US in time. So, while ‘officially’ soldiers ‘get a vote’… in reality, they dont.

    • MarkD

      True in the election Jimmy Carter won based on personal experience. I was in Japan, not a war zone.

    • MarkD

      I know you did not serve in anything more military than the cub scouts, or you would not be making this statement.

    • Matthew House

      I think you might be operating under a misunderstanding. When I said “you cannot be punished for refusing to fight” I was stating that Ori Pomerantz, as a civilian, couldn’t be punished for refusing to fight, because he was a civilian. I then went on for several paragraphs detailing that the american soldier could, and would be, punished for refusing to fight. My personal service record aside, it wouldn’t matter if I served or not, I’m still right.

  • Sam

    “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”

    In human history, we have. And when we, as a species, have tried, it always fails. We all WANT peace. Wanting doesn’t make it so. And while we all want peace, some want peace on terms that make it less palatable than even war. And that “some” is, unfortunately, always a large enough percentage to keep the rest of us from find the peace we’d find acceptable.

  • Neil

    “In short, no, not everyone in a uniform, even a snazzy black uniform
    with silver trim and lightning bolts on the collar, is actually a

    Hmmm…well Ms. Sainte-Marie certainly Godwined herself there, but…there’s a no true Scotsman hiding in that sentence. The einsatzgruppen couldn’t have gotten on with their work unless a whole bunch of soldiers (theater commanders, at least) looked the other way.

    • Tom Kratman

      Oh, and helped occasionally. My comment is specific to Dachau.

  • Duffy L. Sauers

    Well, does one actually expect people like Buffy, who live
    within the walls where safety lay, as it were, safe “only because rough
    men stand ready to do violence on their behalf”, to comprehend what is
    necessary and what is not? Discounting even the fact that at the time, not a
    few of those soldiers did not volunteer, but did the job when asked (told) that
    they must, selected by a group of their fellow citizens. Sometimes I tire of
    moral relativism tied to a general lack of comprehension of what the world is
    really like.

    Poverty in America? Please, The United States has managed one
    of the most under reported and misunderstood firsts in the History of Human
    Civilization. We as a nation are literally the first in recorded human history,
    in all of the combined human cultures that ever existed, to have achieved an ignoble
    first. Poor people in the United States are far more likely to suffer from ill
    effects of obesity most of their lives than they are to go hungry at any point
    in their lives. This is not true in well over half of the current human
    population, and it is so exceptional that many forget that real hunger was a
    normal part of human existence for most of the history of man. And I do not
    mean “Gee I could sure use Big Mac” Hungry, I mean painful not eaten in a
    couple of days hungry.

    Material wealth? Does anyone know what the term Hovel
    actually means? I once had an idea to try and buy up a bunch of those two story
    prefab storage Barns from Loews and ship them to the Balkans, but then I hit on
    a better idea. Mobile Homes, that way, when the Serbs/Albanians/Croats/Bosnian
    come for some ethnic cleansing, hell, just pop the wheels on and haul ass.

    That last one was not just a joke. For example, in Mexico in
    the recent past, 40 something college students, protesting corruption were, at
    the orders of the mayor of small town, arrested by the police, turned over to
    Narco Terrorists, who Tortured, killed and Mutilated the remains of the
    students. While looking for the bodies of the students, three mass graves were
    found by searchers that were not related to the student’s murder. That does not
    Happen in the United States (which does not mean it won’t or can’t, Germany did
    not have a lot of history with concentration and death camps, till they did.
    There was a reason that there was so many Jews in the area.) And people like
    Buffy Saint Marie, John Kerry, the ACLU, most of the “Media” really have
    nothing to with that.

    And if it ever does happen in the United States, you can bet
    that some of the groups of people I just named will be at fault.

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