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Last week, I posted a video showing an American military officer trash-talking a group of Iraqi police. Here’s a reply from Tim Hanes, former Captain, U.S. Army:
No, this video “doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in the U.S.
mission.” But what is possibly even more troubling is that there are
probably tens of thousands of soldiers and former soldiers out there
who, like me, were silently cheering this guy on as they watched.
Make no mistake, I don’t think that this is the way we should be
training the Iraqi police. I don’t think this soldier’s tirade did
anything but exacerbate the feelings of ill will that have grown up
between the U.S. military and the Iraqi people. I don’t think this
rant helped anyone at all except, for a time perhaps, the ranter
himself. Still, as I listened with tears in my eyes, I silently
cheered him. I commended his foul-mouth, a mouth that so eloquently
gave voice to the feelings of thousands upon thousands of American
soldiers who go to places like Iraq – or in my case Afghanistan -
really wanting to serve, wanting to make things better, until at some
point they see the utter hopelessness of it all. We watch as weapons,
trucks, bullets, money, handed out to our “partners” in these
countries are turned back on us to kill, and maim, and disfigure a
whole generation of American men and women.
I think before any of us can judge this man or his actions or words,
they should try leaving their spouse and their children for the the
second or third time to go off for an indeterminate period to
participate in the death throes of a military campaign that they know
to have failed, and maybe to die there – or worse still, to be
entrusted with the care of 100 men and women and bring only 90 of them
home. Before we do that, we ought to just shut up and let the man
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”