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[WAR] What is it good for?

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Posts

  • [Tycho?][Tycho?] Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    There will never be a particularly large anti-war movement barring extreme economic stress directly attributed by the public to the war (unlikely) or a reinstatement of the draft (also unlikely). People aren't going to get as worked up about if they still can keep mortgage payments going out and don't have to worry about their sons going over (without having a choice, of course - I'm sure families of volunteers are plenty worried about it). This is not to say that the war is not unpopular, but it is why it's not very visibly unpopular.

    Plus the simple fact that, well, we've been in Afghanistan for nearly a decade. The general public is just kind of resigned to it, not least because in the past presidential election (the last time a lot of people were paying attention to political issues) the idea of pulling out of Afghanistan was anathema to both candidates.




    Some large event (media event really) could really shift things. As you say, a large amount of people in the US are having kinda devastating financial events happening to them. "Financial events" being defaults, bankruptcies and losing their property/home. If it somehow comes to pass that the war is linked with general economic disparity, then people will start to get pissed the fuck off about the war.


    Ok guys bear with me- I might be a bit intoxicated, I'll go somewhere with this though.

    As an aside:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE67G2U920100817
    Bankruptcy claims trading hits record in July
    (Reuters) - The value of traded bankruptcy claims shot to a record $12.7 billion in July due to a handful of Lehman Brothers Inc claims, while the number of trades dipped for a fourth straight month, according to data released on Tuesday.

    Which means that these bankruptcies that are hurting people economically and are general more personally severe than the war*... these bankruptcies are being traded, for dollars, by the same massive financial institutions that caused so many of these problems in the first place. Who also get massive bail-outs and obscene bonuses to the top dogs.


    People are paying more attention to Afghanistan. As a convenient bit of anecdotal evidence, notice this poor, bereft Afghanistan thread. Then notice that there have been two Afghanistan threads started in the past couple days. It seems like its in the media more frequently. Certainly all power and concentration in government is focused on Afghanistan; the US withdrew many of its forces in Iraq only a couple days ago, while its forces increase in Afghanistan. As peoples situations become harder, they'll eventually start looking for people to blame. I have no idea why this didn't start quite some time ago, but hey politics is strange. Anywho, foreign wars are always at the top of the list as far as controversies go. So long as casualties remain high people's attention will be on it. As the US is forced to scale down its military due to budgetary problems, the question of what to do there will become more commonly asked. From there, well, wars can get pretty unpopular.


    *see how I kept the thread on topic!

    PS: and this was actually my original reason for bumping this thread, I'm wondering how many of you guys are in the West of North America. Whatever you consider to be West is fine. Just curiosity; I'm looking at the popularity of different threads on the forum, and how certain ones are popular at certain times. This probably means timezones, which can show a geographical variation of whats popular/interesting/on peoples minds. I'm in the East myself, but I wont be more specific.

    PPS: Duffel, is that from Cryptonomicon?

    ragesig.jpg

  • CasedOutCasedOut Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Um, opposition to the Afghan war is at an all time high.

    I am going to throw out my 2 cents on this, feel free to rip me apart.

    I think that while people oppose it, they aren't willing to do anything about it. Individual responsiblity is gone. Its almost as if people don't think they are in control of their own lives anymore. Instead they say oh I can't do anything about it, its beyond me etc. Even when it comes to how people live or criminals, we have a tendency these days to blame the conditions upon which the criminal was exposed to growing up. Sure these conditions may have an effect on a person, but all of this rhetoric lessens the idea of individual responsibility. Even a simple fact such as having seat belts being required to wear by law lessens individual responsbility.

    Anyways, my 2 cents is that people no longer feel in control and that is a shame and is simply untrue.

    452773-1.png
  • AltaliciousAltalicious Registered User
    edited August 2010
    CasedOut wrote: »
    Individual responsiblity is gone. Its almost as if people don't think they are in control of their own lives anymore. Instead they say oh I can't do anything about it, its beyond me etc. Even when it comes to how people live or criminals, we have a tendency these days to blame the conditions upon which the criminal was exposed to growing up. Sure these conditions may have an effect on a person, but all of this rhetoric lessens the idea of individual responsibility. Even a simple fact such as having seat belts being required to wear by law lessens individual responsbility.

    Another possibility is that there are still people who believe in individual responsibility and what you talk about, but those are the people who are more likely to understand the impetus to get and stay involved in Afghanistan, to serve in the military, support the troops etc. Aside from a hardcore of eternal anti-war protestors, only a tiny minority of those who object to Afghanistan and Iraq are willing to do anything about it that takes them out of pocket or their comfort zone.

    I have a huge amount of respect for principled anti-war or left-wing protestors who join NGOs or organisations working in war-zones. They are taking responsibility for their beliefs and doing something, and often understand the world, people, war, and the military much more than people who ascribe to the same views back home. As a result they tend to be (ironically) more realistic about people and the world, and more sympathetic to war and the military. It is hard to be so rabidly opposed to the Army and use of force if you are viscerally aware that your operation is working under the cover of both, and they are who will come and save you if things go wrong.

    But sadly they are a very small minority. I have little to no respect for the people you describe above, who sit back at home in comfort, perhaps donate $10 here and there, and opine loudly about how the world would be better if everyone did things the way they thought they should be done.

  • override367override367 misogynist/MRA/socially irresponsible Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    CasedOut wrote: »
    Individual responsiblity is gone. Its almost as if people don't think they are in control of their own lives anymore. Instead they say oh I can't do anything about it, its beyond me etc. Even when it comes to how people live or criminals, we have a tendency these days to blame the conditions upon which the criminal was exposed to growing up. Sure these conditions may have an effect on a person, but all of this rhetoric lessens the idea of individual responsibility. Even a simple fact such as having seat belts being required to wear by law lessens individual responsbility.

    Another possibility is that there are still people who believe in individual responsibility and what you talk about, but those are the people who are more likely to understand the impetus to get and stay involved in Afghanistan, to serve in the military, support the troops etc. Aside from a hardcore of eternal anti-war protestors, only a tiny minority of those who object to Afghanistan and Iraq are willing to do anything about it that takes them out of pocket or their comfort zone.

    I have a huge amount of respect for principled anti-war or left-wing protestors who join NGOs or organisations working in war-zones. They are taking responsibility for their beliefs and doing something, and often understand the world, people, war, and the military much more than people who ascribe to the same views back home. As a result they tend to be (ironically) more realistic about people and the world, and more sympathetic to war and the military. It is hard to be so rabidly opposed to the Army and use of force if you are viscerally aware that your operation is working under the cover of both, and they are who will come and save you if things go wrong.

    But sadly they are a very small minority. I have little to no respect for the people you describe above, who sit back at home in comfort, perhaps donate $10 here and there, and opine loudly about how the world would be better if everyone did things the way they thought they should be done.


    So, you're not allowed to have an opinion about something unless you quit your job and abandon your life in defense of your beliefs?

    XBLIVE: Biggestoverride
    League of Legends: override367
  • AltaliciousAltalicious Registered User
    edited August 2010
    So, you're not allowed to have an opinion about something unless you quit your job and abandon your life in defense of your beliefs?

    You're welcome to have an opinion, I'm just not inclined to listen.

    Why do you find this a strange concept? I'm pretty sure that for most things in your life, when you need outside help you go to someone with expertise, training or experience in that area. Yet when talking about war, the military, the conduct / causes of conflict and the like, many people instantly discount most of the sources in government and the military who actually do this stuff professionally. Instead, they are more inclined to listen to people who avowedly have absolutely nothing to do with that area, and their claim to knowledge is that they have no experience at all of what they are talking about. Sorry, I'm not convinced.

    In a microcosm, go talk to some people from NGOs. They tend to fall into two categories: field workers, and policy workers. The former are obviously those who go out and do stuff on the ground in wherever. The latter are often composed largely of young, recent graduates working in New York, London or similar large cities back home who have never been out to conflict zones, but write the policy and initiatives for that NGO which the field workers are meant to follow and enact. My experience has been that the disparity of views between the two is huge - the field workers are quite realistic and have a good appreciation of what works on the ground. The policy workers talk about ideals and academic papers and have little to no idea of either what is actually happening, or realistic plans for how to influence it. There tends to be little to no communication between the two, with the result that a lot of what some NGOs publish and give press releases on here bears little relation to what they actually do on the ground.

    I'm simply saying that, given a choice between the two, I'll take the opinion of the field worker any day. I'd hope that the vast majority of rational people would do the same.

    PS There is another factor which is probably over-represented on these forums, which is age. Young people as a group tend to be more driven by ideals and interested in this area than older people. They are also likely to be the ones with the least experience, and therefore often produce the least useful opinions on the subject. This is just how the world works - all opinions are not equal, all experience is not equal, and all ideas are not equal. Some are better than others, and people who know what they are talking about tend to produce a higher hit rate of the good stuff than those who don't. You can think that people should listen to you all you want, but until you demonstrate that you have something interesting and relevant to say backed up with some experience, nobody actually will.

    If you think this is all terribly unfair to the yoof, there is a mirror problem as well, which is older people who have similar experience assuming that what is happening today is the same as what happened before. They are often wrong. The fundamental principle isn't negative discrimination against age, it's positive discrimination for people who have relevant, recent expertise in and experience of events which change rapidly. Like I said, it's what you do in the rest of your life - why not this too?

  • polajumpolajum Registered User
    edited August 2010
    So, you're not allowed to have an opinion about something unless you quit your job and abandon your life in defense of your beliefs?

    You're welcome to have an opinion, I'm just not inclined to listen.

    Why do you find this a strange concept? I'm pretty sure that for most things in your life, when you need outside help you go to someone with expertise, training or experience in that area. Yet when talking about war, the military, the conduct / causes of conflict and the like, many people instantly discount most of the sources in government and the military who actually do this stuff professionally. Instead, they are more inclined to listen to people who avowedly have absolutely nothing to do with that area, and their claim to knowledge is that they have no experience at all of what they are talking about. Sorry, I'm not convinced.

    In a microcosm, go talk to some people from NGOs. They tend to fall into two categories: field workers, and policy workers. The former are obviously those who go out and do stuff on the ground in wherever. The latter are often composed largely of young, recent graduates working in New York, London or similar large cities back home who have never been out to conflict zones, but write the policy and initiatives for that NGO which the field workers are meant to follow and enact. My experience has been that the disparity of views between the two is huge - the field workers are quite realistic and have a good appreciation of what works on the ground. The policy workers talk about ideals and academic papers and have little to no idea of either what is actually happening, or realistic plans for how to influence it. There tends to be little to no communication between the two, with the result that a lot of what some NGOs publish and give press releases on here bears little relation to what they actually do on the ground.

    I'm simply saying that, given a choice between the two, I'll take the opinion of the field worker any day. I'd hope that the vast majority of rational people would do the same.

    PS There is another factor which is probably over-represented on these forums, which is age. Young people as a group tend to be more driven by ideals and interested in this area than older people. They are also likely to be the ones with the least experience, and therefore often produce the least useful opinions on the subject. This is just how the world works - all opinions are not equal, all experience is not equal, and all ideas are not equal. Some are better than others, and people who know what they are talking about tend to produce a higher hit rate of the good stuff than those who don't. You can think that people should listen to you all you want, but until you demonstrate that you have something interesting and relevant to say backed up with some experience, nobody actually will.

    If you think this is all terribly unfair to the yoof, there is a mirror problem as well, which is older people who have similar experience assuming that what is happening today is the same as what happened before. They are often wrong. The fundamental principle isn't negative discrimination against age, it's positive discrimination for people who have relevant, recent expertise in and experience of events which change rapidly. Like I said, it's what you do in the rest of your life - why not this too?

    Do you know a good mechanic, Altalicious? I mean, not just one who seems to know what he's doing, but one who you actually trust not to screw you around? Do you have a stockbroker you can trust? Hell, do trustworthy stockbrokers exist?

    Most people aren't really fond of going to "outside experts". Way, way too often the experts are grinding axes at the expense of the people they're supposed to be helping, and it leaves a sour taste that lingers. Same thing for the military/government. I know people in the military know more about what's going on. I also know they've predominately got political views that I don't agree with, that they gain power and influence in government as people get more scared, and that many of the officers are going to go on to civilian jobs that profit from war after their military careers. I also know that they'll lie their fucking asses off to further an agenda sometimes (see: Powell on Iraq).

    Gotta get the car fixed sometimes, though. And like I said, military decision makers are better trained to deal with conflict than I am. So yeah, we're forced to extend them a certain amount of trust. But the kind of unthinking trust you seem to be advocating? No. No way in hell.

  • AltaliciousAltalicious Registered User
    edited August 2010
    polajum wrote: »
    Do you know a good mechanic, Altalicious? I mean, not just one who seems to know what he's doing, but one who you actually trust not to screw you around? Do you have a stockbroker you can trust? Hell, do trustworthy stockbrokers exist?

    Most people aren't really fond of going to "outside experts". Way, way too often the experts are grinding axes at the expense of the people they're supposed to be helping, and it leaves a sour taste that lingers. Same thing for the military/government. I know people in the military know more about what's going on. I also know they've predominately got political views that I don't agree with, that they gain power and influence in government as people get more scared, and that many of the officers are going to go on to civilian jobs that profit from war after their military careers. I also know that they'll lie their fucking asses off to further an agenda sometimes (see: Powell on Iraq).

    Gotta get the car fixed sometimes, though. And like I said, military decision makers are better trained to deal with conflict than I am. So yeah, we're forced to extend them a certain amount of trust. But the kind of unthinking trust you seem to be advocating? No. No way in hell.

    Laugh. This is what I love about a certain type of avowedly liberal person (or so it seems from your other posts): the almost complete lack of trust in the rest of humanity.

    This is going to be a fairly stupid argument, so I'll make it short. For the record, yes I do know a good mechanic, and yes I do know a stockbroker I trust. I also trust the bus or tube driver when I travel to work not to crash, the company and/or person who makes the food I eat not to poison me, the maintenance guy not to send me crashing to my death every time I get in an elevator, and most of the other people who occupy the same relatively small space in southern England. Unless you are a survivalist out in the desert somewhere, so do you. There are lots of economic, social and moral arguments one can ascribe to which explain why we do this, but fundamentally we trust these people to do their jobs because life has demonstrated that, in general, it works. I haven't died from food poisoning, been in a tube or bus crash, and am not a considerably flatter stain at the bottom of an elevator shaft. Is that unthinking trust? Well, if I got on a bus where the driver was obviously drunk, or a lift hanging off its hinges, perhaps. But most people are capable of some basic level of judgement about what is a good or bad idea, and they generally use it. So, somehow, we manage to conduct 99% of our lives without the rest of humanity fucking us over.

    Except some people are just stupid enough to take the 1% of people or cases where you get fucked over, and apply that 1% to a lifestyle or world view where other people are things to be feared and mistrusted. What truly baffles me is when those people also happen to display the kind of left-wing views on government and society that espouse increasing one's general dependence on other people.

    Anyway, I suggest you continue on with your mildly pathological fear of professional opinion and assumption that experts are all untrustworthy axe-grinders, I'll carry on with my unthinking trust that the next bus I get on isn't going to drive flaming over a cliff, and we'll see who has more fun with life.

  • AltaliciousAltalicious Registered User
    edited August 2010
    polajum wrote: »
    many of the officers are going to go on to civilian jobs that profit from war after their military careers

    Trying to drag the thread back on topic, this has always bemused me. Soldiers profit from war during their military careers as well. They get paid to be good at what they do. They wouldn't have a job without it. Why not criticise that? Going into arms, industry or politics is exactly what almost everyone else who is any good in government service does eventually - they take a higher paid civilian job. The implicit assumption that there is something shady about this is like accusing litter-sweepers of tacitly encouraging littering in their spare time to keep themselves in a job, it is a little divorced from reality.

    There is plenty to dislike about the kind of nepotistic system which rewards face-time, lobbying and personal relationships as much as it does genuine talent, and thus routinely hires people positioned to do the former, but it is the system which is fucked up. Suggesting that military personnel are doing something wrong simply for working within the system that exists it like me suggesting that a New Yorker who dislikes intensive farming or sweatshops is doing something wrong because he can't afford all-organic produce and buys clothes from, well, anywhere. Sometimes the systemic problems are so pervasive that it isn't possible to avoid them.

  • nstfnstf __BANNED USERS
    edited August 2010
    Most people aren't really fond of going to "outside experts". Way, way too often the experts are grinding axes at the expense of the people they're supposed to be helping, and it leaves a sour taste that lingers. Same thing for the military/government. I know people in the military know more about what's going on. I also know they've predominately got political views that I don't agree with, that they gain power and influence in government as people get more scared, and that many of the officers are going to go on to civilian jobs that profit from war after their military careers. I also know that they'll lie their fucking asses off to further an agenda sometimes (see: Powell on Iraq).

    You're dealing with policy vs practical experts.

    You have policy expert Smith. Policy expert Smith went to famous school blah and learned from professor mc.suckmynuts xyz. So when they are put into place, all their opinions and proposals will focus on that specific type of solution, and by that sort of logic. It doesn't matter if it won't work, it doesn't matter if every bit of metric and factual data proves it's at best wasteful, at worst will end in an epic disaster. But they'll march on that course because they are out to prove their methods work.

    Policy people care more about proving their methods work and making a name for themselves than they do actually solving the damn problem.

    This happens in just about everything though.

  • BubbaTBubbaT Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Why do you find this a strange concept? I'm pretty sure that for most things in your life, when you need outside help you go to someone with expertise, training or experience in that area. Yet when talking about war, the military, the conduct / causes of conflict and the like, many people instantly discount most of the sources in government and the military who actually do this stuff professionally. Instead, they are more inclined to listen to people who avowedly have absolutely nothing to do with that area, and their claim to knowledge is that they have no experience at all of what they are talking about. Sorry, I'm not convinced.

    The military is hardly set up to promote the free flow of ideas. General McChrystal expressed his candid opinion on the Afghan war and the policies of his superiors. Guess what he's not in charge of anymore?

    The military operates under a rigid hierarchical chain of command. It is not some Socratic debating society where every private gets to publicly question the validity of the President's policies. The ability of military personnel to freely and honestly express their opinion is compromised at an institutional level. We have no idea if military experts actually believe what they're saying, or if they're doing so out of sheer self-preservation.

  • AltaliciousAltalicious Registered User
    edited August 2010
    BubbaT wrote: »
    The military is hardly set up to promote the free flow of ideas. General McChrystal expressed his candid opinion on the Afghan war and the policies of his superiors. Guess what he's not in charge of anymore?

    The military operates under a rigid hierarchical chain of command. It is not some Socratic debating society where every private gets to publicly question the validity of the President's policies. The ability of military personnel to freely and honestly express their opinion is compromised at an institutional level. We have no idea if military experts actually believe what they're saying, or if they're doing so out of sheer self-preservation.

    That's an argument not to believe spokesmen or PR people, and it applies as much to the rest of the world as it does to the military. As for the ability for military personnel to 'freely and honestly express their opinion', it happens all the time. There are numerous threads on these forums (and many more on military specific forums) where they do so with near complete anonymity. There are numerous authors who publish academic or other works while serving. There are even more commentators who have served, and now talk about military matters professionally. Whether you want to believe that all of these people (even the ones who have left?) are being dishonest with you due to some institutional brainwashing is up to you, but if you're arguing that the material isn't out there then you haven't been looking very hard.

  • BubbaTBubbaT Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    BubbaT wrote: »
    The military is hardly set up to promote the free flow of ideas. General McChrystal expressed his candid opinion on the Afghan war and the policies of his superiors. Guess what he's not in charge of anymore?

    The military operates under a rigid hierarchical chain of command. It is not some Socratic debating society where every private gets to publicly question the validity of the President's policies. The ability of military personnel to freely and honestly express their opinion is compromised at an institutional level. We have no idea if military experts actually believe what they're saying, or if they're doing so out of sheer self-preservation.

    That's an argument not to believe spokesmen or PR people, and it applies as much to the rest of the world as it does to the military. As for the ability for military personnel to 'freely and honestly express their opinion', it happens all the time. There are numerous threads on these forums (and many more on military specific forums) where they do so with near complete anonymity.

    If a poster is anonymous how can we verify their expertise? They could just as easily be some pacifist hippie claiming to be a soldier. And having to be anonymous just to say anything isn't being any more free to express a critical opinion than DADT means soldiers are free to be homosexual.

    And it doesn't apply to the rest of the world in the same way it applies to the military - unless you mean "the rest of the world" as in citizens living under authoritarian governments. If an Apple engineer grabs a bullhorn and interrupts Steve Jobs' speech at WWDC, yelling about how iPhones suck and Windows rules and black turtlenecks went out of style with Dobie Gills, Jobs can fire him. What Jobs can't do is toss him in the brig for 9 months.

    The enlisted man who disrespects his superior in a similar manner doesn't share that same immunity.
    Whether you want to believe that all of these people (even the ones who have left?) are being dishonest with you due to some institutional brainwashing is up to you, but if you're arguing that the material isn't out there then you haven't been looking very hard.

    For ex-members of the military it varies. Are you talking about ones who have a complete discharge, who aren't receiving military pay? I see no conflict of interest with them.

    Or are you talking about members of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)? IRR members are still technically part of the military, and are subject to the UCMJ. These members have a significant self-interest - namely, not being tossed in jail - in not stirring shit up too much. I didn't say anything about brainwashing. People don't have to be brainwashed to act in their own self-interest, and "don't do things that will get you court-martialed" definitely qualifies as such an act.

    I'm also not saying that these official insiders aren't knowledgeable about the situation. I'm saying that their very insider nature creates a conflict of interest which undermines the reliability of their claims. Heck, I know BP knows a whole lot about oil-drilling procedures. That doesn't mean they're the first people I'd turn to to analyze the impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill, or to determine who was at fault.

  • AltaliciousAltalicious Registered User
    edited August 2010
    BubbaT wrote: »
    If a poster is anonymous how can we verify their expertise? They could just as easily be some pacifist hippie claiming to be a soldier. And having to be anonymous just to say anything isn't being any more free to express a critical opinion than DADT means soldiers are free to be homosexual.

    The number of posters from the military on any one site have a normalising effect where some of them are going to be genuine, and they tend to recognise and 'out' the fakers. This obviously applies more to large military-specific forums (though there is a high proportion of small military forums which seem to be entirely founded by fakers), but my guess from reading the threads would be that PA has few to no fakers. Though the point about freedom to express an opinion for soldiers is no doubt interesting, my point was that whatever the technical freedoms, they can and do express such opinions. It doesn't take a genius to measure the weather-gauge of opinion from the military which is openly available, and deduce the likely truthes from it.
    And it doesn't apply to the rest of the world in the same way it applies to the military - unless you mean "the rest of the world" as in citizens living under authoritarian governments. If an Apple engineer grabs a bullhorn and interrupts Steve Jobs' speech at WWDC, yelling about how iPhones suck and Windows rules and black turtlenecks went out of style with Dobie Gills, Jobs can fire him. What Jobs can't do is toss him in the brig for 9 months.

    The enlisted man who disrespects his superior in a similar manner doesn't share that same immunity.

    I may be applying norms of the UK military to the US, but I suspect you will find that the potential punishment for the soldier doesn't tend to be the standard punishment, and that an Apple engineer might consider being fired from his job to be as bad as 9 months in the brig for insubordination...the soldier at least gets to keep his job. In essence, you are making a black-and-white situation from something which is governed by 'grey' normative behaviour, and the power of that to influence employees applies as much to large corporations as it does to the military.
    For ex-members of the military it varies. Are you talking about ones who have a complete discharge, who aren't receiving military pay? I see no conflict of interest with them.

    Or are you talking about members of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)? IRR members are still technically part of the military, and are subject to the UCMJ. These members have a significant self-interest - namely, not being tossed in jail - in not stirring shit up too much. I didn't say anything about brainwashing. People don't have to be brainwashed to act in their own self-interest, and "don't do things that will get you court-martialed" definitely qualifies as such an act.

    Very good point, fair enough. However, you then have to consider the panalopy of non-US ex-military personnel who don't have such reserve service worked into their terms, and freely comment in national and international media after they leave post.

    My basic point is: if you look at many examples (i.e. take on Afghanistan, the recent Wikileaks leak) the body of military or ex-military commentators will take an entirely different view to the anti-war or pro-freedom of information body. My argument is simply that the current or ex-military people worldwide have a lot more experience and real knowledge of their subject - none of the reservations you have pointed out explains why the [ex-] military opinion is quite so unified in disagreeing with the other. In fact, I find it astounding that people tend to widely ignore such a unified, experienced group voice saying one thing in favour of a disparate and unexperienced collection of (to be honest) borderline conspiracists. Seems to me that the burden of proof should be on the latter, rather than the former.
    I'm also not saying that these official insiders aren't knowledgeable about the situation. I'm saying that their very insider nature creates a conflict of interest which undermines the reliability of their claims. Heck, I know BP knows a whole lot about oil-drilling procedures. That doesn't mean they're the first people I'd turn to to analyze the impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill, or to determine who was at fault.

    Absolutely, and I agree, but that is an extension of the PR / spokesman caveat. I have experienced this even within the military - if a particularly news-worthy event happens which you need to know about, you don't go to the official version, you go to the guys who were actually there. That is simply aiming off for the kind of political or institutional presentation of facts which happen in any large organisation. Nonetheless, though you're free to ignore my word, what you see in secret documents and what appears in the media only differs in the precise detail - covering up the truth of what actually happened isn't something governments want to risk nowadays. The fact that most newspapers recieved the recent Wikileaks documents with "Yep. We know. And?" headlines would seem to support this.

    But it is possible, with a little endeavour, to overcome this. From having seen a lot of the reality behind various news stories which get published about Afghanistan and the like, and then reading the 'unofficial' versions reported by military, ex-military commentators in the media, academics who deal closely with the military, and people on internet forums who 'claim' to be military...I would say that as a whole, they are a more reliable collection of information than you are giving credit for.

    Perhaps I am biased in that the problem may be that you need to have some experience to recognise who to listen to. Perhaps you are not inclined to believe me. But if you apply all the general logical conditions (particularly Occam's Razor) which I hope you would to any debate the provenance of which you are unsure of, you should find that in this case military commentators come out as likely to be by far the more reliable.

  • EvigilantEvigilant VARegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    There's a difference between personal beliefs and professional differences. Personal beliefs are fine and encouraged in the military, as long as you do it correctly. And I don't mean correctly as in: "You can only have this idea", but correctly in that you express your personal beliefs out of uniform with respect to the people you might be complaining about and at a proper forum/location. It's perfectly fine for a service member to say what they feel, as long as they aren't in uniform or using their rank (it's seen as an official statement rather than a personal belief according to the Military).

    However, once you put that uniform on and go do your duty, you're forbidden from saying or doing anything against the current policy. There are no forums for discourse amongst service members, it defeats the purpose of orders. You are ORDERED to go do this, you are ORDERED into action and as long as those orders are lawful you must obey them otherwise face punitive action to include possible jail time, and if you go to jail, no you don't get to keep your job. You're in a Federal Prison for a crime you've committed, as the result of some Court Martial about your conduct. You're processed out, you serve your time, and you're forbidden from serving again.

    The uniform and your rank is more than you, it's the whole freaking military you're representing, and as such, the military views any speech by a member in uniform to be "Official in function". So all those service members who are wearing their uniform at some rally protesting or making whatever statements, regardless if it's right or wrong, is breaking the UCMJ.

    Any military expert in uniform in any form of media has to reiterate whatever current DoD policy is in effect, regardless if they believe in it or not. You do not use the uniform/and or rank to your advantage to help push, adjust, or kill any agenda. Out of uniform, as long as they are being respectful, you can pretty much say whatever the hell you want. Obviously this does not apply to retired members. Yes, Lt. Choi was breaking the law, regardless if what he was protesting was a stupid law or not, he was still breaking the UCMJ and it will be added to his court martial/hearing for being processed out of the military. Whether I agree with him or not is irrelevant: What he was doing was breaking the UCMJ and using his uniform and rank for conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman while representing the US Army. Yes, that's a real charge: Conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman.

    All of the forum members here who are in the military don't use their military rank or "uniform" for any official statement. It's all personal beliefs, and as long as you are not espousing some crazy bullshit it's perfectly fine. It ceases to become alright if you're ordering people into action, if you're using your name and/or rank for an official statement that is not in line with military policy. It's all about customs and courtesies, and I fail to see why so many people fail to grasp it.

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  • AltaliciousAltalicious Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Exactly that. And usually, what the general public are interested in are not orders, but a snapshot or story about what is actually going on in places they will never see. So it is unsurprising that 'personal beliefs' manage to encompass a huge spectrum of what is really happening on current operations.

    I understand BubbaT's reticence that an institution which relies on orders and suppression of opinion in certain circumstances allows people to honestly express opinion elsewhere...but surely that same rationale could be applied to argue that those people are desperately looking for an outlet to tell people what they think? As I said before, it happens a lot more than the public give credit for. But don't believe me: most people now know someone who has been to Iraq or Afghanistan. Go ask them what they thought of it. Pretty sure they'll be happy to talk.

  • BubbaTBubbaT Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    But it is possible, with a little endeavour, to overcome this. From having seen a lot of the reality behind various news stories which get published about Afghanistan and the like, and then reading the 'unofficial' versions reported by military, ex-military commentators in the media, academics who deal closely with the military, and people on internet forums who 'claim' to be military...I would say that as a whole, they are a more reliable collection of information than you are giving credit for.

    Perhaps I am biased in that the problem may be that you need to have some experience to recognise who to listen to. Perhaps you are not inclined to believe me. But if you apply all the general logical conditions (particularly Occam's Razor) which I hope you would to any debate the provenance of which you are unsure of, you should find that in this case military commentators come out as likely to be by far the more reliable.

    I haven't said anything one way or the other regarding the merits of the Afghan war, other than that America doesn't have the stomach to wage the war in the most effective, albeit ruthless and brutal, fashion - one that would ensure a stable aftermath.

    The military consensus may be correct, I'm not calling it one way or the other - to be honest I haven't really been following what's going on in Afghanistan recently. I'm more taking issue with the idea that what an identifiable "in the field" soldier says is completely their own opinion, given the punitive measures the military can take against dissenters, which vastly exceeds that found in nearly every other industry. When a boss can have a subordinate incarcerated for criticizing the boss' ideas, naturally I'm going to take with a grain of salt any heaps of praise the subordinate has for the boss' ideas.
    Evigilant wrote: »
    All of the forum members here who are in the military don't use their military rank or "uniform" for any official statement. It's all personal beliefs, and as long as you are not espousing some crazy bullshit it's perfectly fine. It ceases to become alright if you're ordering people into action, if you're using your name and/or rank for an official statement that is not in line with military policy. It's all about customs and courtesies, and I fail to see why so many people fail to grasp it.

    Therein lies the problem, though, if we are working off Altalicious' assumption that those "in the field" with first-hand close-up experience will provide the most reliable expertise on the subject. Without those identifying credentials, how are we to know if one poster is the Lt. Jones who is stationed in Afghanistan or the Lt. Smith who is stationed in Okinawa? Only one of them has been in the shit in Afghanistan. The other has heard whatever's come through the grapevine, but their actual first-hand experience in that specific theater is no greater than the desk-jockey policy analyst.

    It's a bit of a catch-22. We need identifiable servicemen to establish relevance, but the act of identifying oneself as such a serviceman would seemingly attach the various restrictions of the UCMJ.

  • nstfnstf __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    When people leave the service they can say where they where and what they did, what they saw. This is governed by various national security restrictions (ie I can't anything that is classified, and I can still get in trouble for that) but most people are willing to talk about it.

    I was in 4 years, and went through 4 years of inactive. I can speak my mind now. I can't tell you anything that's classified nor would I.

    Honestly I really don't know any military people that aren't willing to talk about how they feel and their views, provided they are not in uniform and allowed to do so, and it's not classified. Most are perfectly willing to talk about it, but as in say the thread here about the christian rock event, people that haven't served can't even grasp what it's like, or how life is like, or how things work. It's a completely alien concept. So a lot of us will at times shrug our shoulders and roll our eyeballs.

    That thread was about expertise on the subject of "is being sent to go field day your barracks is punishment" and all the never served screamed up and down it was, all those who have just went "ehh, such is life when you aren't doing anything else and are in a training unit". And then were all blown off as being morons because it is a punishment... think about that for a second. Things are not the same.

    The problem is that outside of basic military life, most of this shit is classified, only because that's how things fucking work. At best you can just take it with a grain of salt, and hope for the best. Though I think, you'd probably find most military people are rather open and honest when not in uniform, and when in one, they do respect it.

  • EvigilantEvigilant VARegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Honestly, you should never rely on one person's first hand experience for the actual conduct of anything or anyone in the military. The military is vast, it has numerous missions and people serving in it, to rely on a select few is foolhardy.

    There's a Washington Post article maybe...5 years old now that deals with the disconnect between the civilian populace and the military. There is a common misconception that the military aims for the poor, but that's not the case because the poor don't have the technical skills or qualifications to do many military jobs. The rich don't join because they have no need to, their life is "fulfilling" as it is. So the Military aims for the middle class, and it's a select few in the middle class that shoulders the burden of the most recent 2 wars. When asked 5 years ago: 80% of the military had faith in their civilian leaders compared to 40% of the population had faith in the military to do it's job. We, the military, trust our leaders to do what is right but our neighbors don't trust us to do the job.

    Statistically children raised while one parent was in the military is more likely to join than those who's parents where not in the military. More and more of one group or class of people are serving in our armed forces; that we're creating a warrior class. While I'm against the draft because it would harm more than it would help, the US for the simple fact is relying on a select few to burden the needs of the many. Honestly, how can you expect anyone not directly involved to know anything or much about a situation involving war or the military?

    All forms of the media don't really interact with the military much: it's mostly retiree's or some advisor, because most of your current serving military members have to adhere to UCMJ and public affairs policy. There's also national security interests, so the fact of the matter is all forms of the media get the military straight wrong, for the most part. Because of this growing vast disconnect and misrepresentation in the military, more and more civilians just don't know what goes on or what it is like to serve, unless you happen to know someone who's in or had served. Regardless what you may have heard or have seen: The Hurt Locker was not an accurate portrayal of Iraq, Band of Brothers only covers 1 unit, Generation Kill is only a platoon and company of Recon Marines, Army Wives was grossly inaccurate, the Pacific only focuses on 3 marines, and reporter embeds only report on 1 unit and their interactions while embedded in that unit. There is never a clear and concise picture, there is never the full information for a variety of reasons, but what can you do? How can you have an informed opinion on a topic with such a disconnect of information and what information you have may be months or years old? Do we wait for the wars to end to have a talk? Do we rely solely on our leaders to provide us all the information in a timely manner? Do we take one service member's story over another because it better serves our purpose? I mean, what do you do?

    In the WP article 5 years ago, a retired general had come up with an idea of a deployable state department, because the State Department has been extremely neutered in our recent international politics. This deployable force would be full of lawyers, judges, engineers, cops, doctors, etc.. so that after the military came in and did their thing and secured the area, this deployable state department would come in and enact law and over see rebuilding. Whether that's the right idea or not is not the point: The fact that it was a retired general, a previous military service member, who is the brainchild of an idea is just backwards. It should be the civilian populace coming up with an idea and giving it to the military to solve.

    And therein lies the heart of the problem in not only this conflict but all future conflicts unless something is done. The civilians just don't know what goes on: because they don't serve, because only a core group of people really share the burden, because there is such a brain and talent drought in the military, and because fewer people are in the know. Outside of military bases, how many people do you know that can say they know someone in the military? I can tell you stories left and right about my times in Iraq and my 9 years in so far, but what do you care? What would you do? What do you know about military life or care to know?

    And I'm just one person and my experiences may or may not be different than another person who was in Iraq as well.

    I personally believe that unless more and more military members enter higher visible leadership, like representatives, senators, etc... the void between civilians and the military will continue to grow further and further apart.

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  • MatriasMatrias Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    As a citizen from a nation that has committed far more than their share of effort and sacrifice, I find the idea of the US forces worming there way out of their a great disappointment.

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  • polajumpolajum Registered User
    edited September 2010
    polajum wrote: »
    Do you know a good mechanic, Altalicious? I mean, not just one who seems to know what he's doing, but one who you actually trust not to screw you around? Do you have a stockbroker you can trust? Hell, do trustworthy stockbrokers exist?

    Most people aren't really fond of going to "outside experts". Way, way too often the experts are grinding axes at the expense of the people they're supposed to be helping, and it leaves a sour taste that lingers. Same thing for the military/government. I know people in the military know more about what's going on. I also know they've predominately got political views that I don't agree with, that they gain power and influence in government as people get more scared, and that many of the officers are going to go on to civilian jobs that profit from war after their military careers. I also know that they'll lie their fucking asses off to further an agenda sometimes (see: Powell on Iraq).

    Gotta get the car fixed sometimes, though. And like I said, military decision makers are better trained to deal with conflict than I am. So yeah, we're forced to extend them a certain amount of trust. But the kind of unthinking trust you seem to be advocating? No. No way in hell.

    Laugh. This is what I love about a certain type of avowedly liberal person (or so it seems from your other posts): the almost complete lack of trust in the rest of humanity.

    This is going to be a fairly stupid argument, so I'll make it short. For the record, yes I do know a good mechanic, and yes I do know a stockbroker I trust. I also trust the bus or tube driver when I travel to work not to crash, the company and/or person who makes the food I eat not to poison me, the maintenance guy not to send me crashing to my death every time I get in an elevator, and most of the other people who occupy the same relatively small space in southern England. Unless you are a survivalist out in the desert somewhere, so do you. There are lots of economic, social and moral arguments one can ascribe to which explain why we do this, but fundamentally we trust these people to do their jobs because life has demonstrated that, in general, it works. I haven't died from food poisoning, been in a tube or bus crash, and am not a considerably flatter stain at the bottom of an elevator shaft. Is that unthinking trust? Well, if I got on a bus where the driver was obviously drunk, or a lift hanging off its hinges, perhaps. But most people are capable of some basic level of judgement about what is a good or bad idea, and they generally use it. So, somehow, we manage to conduct 99% of our lives without the rest of humanity fucking us over.

    Except some people are just stupid enough to take the 1% of people or cases where you get fucked over, and apply that 1% to a lifestyle or world view where other people are things to be feared and mistrusted. What truly baffles me is when those people also happen to display the kind of left-wing views on government and society that espouse increasing one's general dependence on other people.

    Anyway, I suggest you continue on with your mildly pathological fear of professional opinion and assumption that experts are all untrustworthy axe-grinders, I'll carry on with my unthinking trust that the next bus I get on isn't going to drive flaming over a cliff, and we'll see who has more fun with life.



    That was...interesting. Couple of points before I get to the thrust of my argument, if you don't mind?

    I don't think I've ever in my life avowed that I'm a liberal. I'm not a liberal. As you pointed out, liberals mostly have more faith in humanity than I do.

    Having said that, pathological? Is that hyperbole, or do you have some basis for suspecting I'm mentally ill? Should I see someone?

    Now then- I never said that "all" professionals are untrustworthy axe grinders. I never even said that most of them are-I did say that people in the military have predominately different political views than I do. I didn't intend to imply that people in the military were therefor predominately untrustworthy, and I apologize if I gave that impression.

    What I did mean to point out is that people mostly don't trust professionals unconditionally, and that furthermore they shouldn't. Specifically (and since you didn't see fit to answer specifics of my post I'll point it out again) somebody in the US military and or government lied their asses off about Iraq. Colin Powell got to be the face of the lie-some people think he was in on it, others think he was a hapless patsy. Me, I dunno. But that lie originated in the government and/or military, and it served to steer US policy towards war. American's SHOULD'VE been more suspicious of the experts. We weren't, so we get to pay for it. So it goes-it's not the first time exactly that has happened, and it probably won't be the last.

    But against that backdrop, your contention that we ignorami should shut up and trust the experts is laughable. Once again- I understand that experts know better than I do. I accept that I can't exist without extending them a degree of trust. But they can damn well earn any trust beyond the bare minimum. And spoiled by a few bad apples or not, the military isn't anywhere near earning that kind of trust from me.

  • [Tycho?][Tycho?] Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    polajum wrote: »
    polajum wrote: »
    Do you know a good mechanic, Altalicious? I mean, not just one who seems to know what he's doing, but one who you actually trust not to screw you around? Do you have a stockbroker you can trust? Hell, do trustworthy stockbrokers exist?

    Most people aren't really fond of going to "outside experts". Way, way too often the experts are grinding axes at the expense of the people they're supposed to be helping, and it leaves a sour taste that lingers. Same thing for the military/government. I know people in the military know more about what's going on. I also know they've predominately got political views that I don't agree with, that they gain power and influence in government as people get more scared, and that many of the officers are going to go on to civilian jobs that profit from war after their military careers. I also know that they'll lie their fucking asses off to further an agenda sometimes (see: Powell on Iraq).

    Gotta get the car fixed sometimes, though. And like I said, military decision makers are better trained to deal with conflict than I am. So yeah, we're forced to extend them a certain amount of trust. But the kind of unthinking trust you seem to be advocating? No. No way in hell.

    Laugh. This is what I love about a certain type of avowedly liberal person (or so it seems from your other posts): the almost complete lack of trust in the rest of humanity.

    This is going to be a fairly stupid argument, so I'll make it short. For the record, yes I do know a good mechanic, and yes I do know a stockbroker I trust. I also trust the bus or tube driver when I travel to work not to crash, the company and/or person who makes the food I eat not to poison me, the maintenance guy not to send me crashing to my death every time I get in an elevator, and most of the other people who occupy the same relatively small space in southern England. Unless you are a survivalist out in the desert somewhere, so do you. There are lots of economic, social and moral arguments one can ascribe to which explain why we do this, but fundamentally we trust these people to do their jobs because life has demonstrated that, in general, it works. I haven't died from food poisoning, been in a tube or bus crash, and am not a considerably flatter stain at the bottom of an elevator shaft. Is that unthinking trust? Well, if I got on a bus where the driver was obviously drunk, or a lift hanging off its hinges, perhaps. But most people are capable of some basic level of judgement about what is a good or bad idea, and they generally use it. So, somehow, we manage to conduct 99% of our lives without the rest of humanity fucking us over.

    Except some people are just stupid enough to take the 1% of people or cases where you get fucked over, and apply that 1% to a lifestyle or world view where other people are things to be feared and mistrusted. What truly baffles me is when those people also happen to display the kind of left-wing views on government and society that espouse increasing one's general dependence on other people.

    Anyway, I suggest you continue on with your mildly pathological fear of professional opinion and assumption that experts are all untrustworthy axe-grinders, I'll carry on with my unthinking trust that the next bus I get on isn't going to drive flaming over a cliff, and we'll see who has more fun with life.



    That was...interesting. Couple of points before I get to the thrust of my argument, if you don't mind?

    I don't think I've ever in my life avowed that I'm a liberal. I'm not a liberal. As you pointed out, liberals mostly have more faith in humanity than I do.

    Having said that, pathological? Is that hyperbole, or do you have some basis for suspecting I'm mentally ill? Should I see someone?

    Now then- I never said that "all" professionals are untrustworthy axe grinders. I never even said that most of them are-I did say that people in the military have predominately different political views than I do. I didn't intend to imply that people in the military were therefor predominately untrustworthy, and I apologize if I gave that impression.

    What I did mean to point out is that people mostly don't trust professionals unconditionally, and that furthermore they shouldn't. Specifically (and since you didn't see fit to answer specifics of my post I'll point it out again) somebody in the US military and or government lied their asses off about Iraq. Colin Powell got to be the face of the lie-some people think he was in on it, others think he was a hapless patsy. Me, I dunno. But that lie originated in the government and/or military, and it served to steer US policy towards war. American's SHOULD'VE been more suspicious of the experts. We weren't, so we get to pay for it. So it goes-it's not the first time exactly that has happened, and it probably won't be the last.

    But against that backdrop, your contention that we ignorami should shut up and trust the experts is laughable. Once again- I understand that experts know better than I do. I accept that I can't exist without extending them a degree of trust. But they can damn well earn any trust beyond the bare minimum. And spoiled by a few bad apples or not, the military isn't anywhere near earning that kind of trust from me.

    I think we can mostly trust experts to do what they do best... but when it comes to the military and war, this is almost never good for the populace as a whole. Your example of Iraq was perfect, so I'll stick with that. Members of the government and probably military as well wanted to invade Iraq. They set out to convince people that this was a good idea, and succeeded brilliantly. That war involves lies, injustice and slaughter doesn't really factor in. Its not the job of a general to promote peace, nor the job of a politician to discourage people from joining the military.

    The people in these positions can be perfectly competent, but its the positions themselves that I have problems with. Commanders in Afghanistan have absolutely no reason to tell me the truth, for a variety of reasons. So I see no more reason to give them more credibility than some TV commentator who has never been there (and is also likely bending the truth).

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