"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Reality and "The Hurt Locker"

As Oscar season bears down on us, one of the leading - and surprising - contenders is being accused of not getting certain things, well, right. "The Hurt Locker" got some nasty headlines on Drudge and the Washington Post yesterday for portraying certain things from uniforms to tactics unrealistically. A good summary of those complaints - and a few rebuttals - can be found here (http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YzlhMjg4OGEzN2M2YjA5NjhjNmQyNDRhYTg3YmI2MDM=). I can't speak to most of this because I saw Iraq from the air, not the ground, so I'll defer to the criticisms of those who were down in the dirt. That said, some critics might be overreacting on a couple of counts. One, booze: yes, it's extremely difficult to find, and in my time I certainly never saw anyone drunk (maybe a little happy from our two holiday beers on Veteran's Day, but that was mostly due to the low tolerance of guys well into their deployments). However . . . acquiring it is not impossible. Civilian contractors were generally not under the same constraints as the military when it came to booze and, while care packages are usually screened, some people still found ways to send their loved ones a little something extra. So difficult, yes; impossible, no.

Second - and while this might apply more to "Generation Kill" - officer-less worlds or worlds with incompetent officers do exist. Again, I can't speak to EOD, so the lack of any commander may well be completely wrong. But as to the prevalence of dumb officers in the Recon Battalion of "GK"; well, sometimes that's just how the stars align. Occasionally you get a "peer group" of guys who barely passed Leadership 101 at the Basic School all showing up in your unit at the same time. In the air wing, this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the numbers of officers are disproportionately higher than on the ground side, so a weak peer group might not cause the same damage. But to argue that it's impossible to have a group of incompetents all calling the shots at the same time is flat-out wrong. And while I haven't read the book version of GK yet, if that was the state of that particular Recon Battalion at the time, then it sucked to be them but it's entirely plausible.

The pirate DVD kiosks are 100 percent dead-on.

And while running through the streets of Baghdad with only a sweatshirt and a pistol stretches credulity, he might have known just where to go even if he didn't know the neighborhood. As anyone who's been on a major base or FOB can tell you: just follow the lights. I'm pretty sure you can see them with the naked eye from space.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Thanks for the clarifications; Meghan pointed out that I may want to read this as I had some questions in my own post that were answered here, however I defended myself for not reading your post first because I wouldn't have read it until I saw the movie, so as to not spoil anything. Of course I'm pretty sure we all know that I may not have read it anyway because of your penchant for using big words that are outside of my vocabulary.