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[P]
The Kos Controversy

By proles in Op-Ed
Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:27:13 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, the webmaster of the Scoop-powered lefty blog Daily Kos, recently made controversial comments regarding the four Americans killed in Falluja. More precisely, he said "screw them." He later posted a clarification of his comments, but stopped short of an apology.

So, Instapundit, Tacitus, and many other sites have condemned the comment. Some advertisers have taken their ads off the site, the Kerry campaign took down their link to Daily Kos, and people have generally said "rabble rabble rabble." Tacitus and others have even suggested that Daily Kos should no longer raise money for the Democrats.


It should be noted that while Kos's comments were blunt, there is arguably a lot of truth to them. The four Americans killed in Iraq were mercenaries. They were employed by Blackwater Security Consulting, which also has many other mercenaries working in Iraq. The use of a surrogate fighting force rather than the official military is curious, opening up questions about regulation and policy. Are these mercenaries going to follow the same rules that the military does? Why do we need to resort to private forces in the first place? Additionally, these mercenaries make a good deal of money for their work: they are highly paid due to the danger they face. So they are doing it for the money, it would seem, whereas an actual soldier is paid considerably less and is presumably doing it to serve their country. This is not to say that mercenaries should be condemned for their greed, but I must admit the death of a mercenary doesn't seem as selfless as the death of a soldier to me.

Now whether this goes down in history as Kos's "Dean Scream" or simply becomes forgotten remains to be seen. Kos himself is pretty optimistic about the situation. And while Kos's original remarks were somewhat insensitive and obstinate, it seems that this campaign against him is a bit of an overreaction. He is a victim of his own success: as the maintainer of such a successful political site, he is in a sense a public figure and an increasingly important one at that. While it is a bit echo-chambery at times, Daily Kos is quite possibly a harbinger of things to come in the body politic.

Kos simply did something that we have likely all done from time to time: he made a comment online that was based more in emotion than rationality. But because of his stature in the online community he was targetted and condemned. I'm not screaming "right-wing conspiracy" just yet, but it does seem that he is being "piled on."

His apology was lacking: it would have been better to simply say "I'm sorry, I've had bad experiences with mercenaries and made that comment out of anger." But the arguments proferred by Tacitus and others - that Kos should now be branded a radical lefty and donations to political causes through his site are now "dirty" - are ludicrous. Even if he was completely unrepentant it is not right to totally pigeonhole somebody based on a single comment. And in any case, Daily Kos is much more than a single person. Condemning the entire site based on his comment would be akin to condemning the entire K5 community based on something rusty said: even though he's in charge, he's not representative of everyone else here.

Instapundit et al. should realize that this anti-Kos campaign they are mounting is ridiculous and obviously partisan. Making a single callous comment is not reason for being ostracized by the entire world.

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Poll
Is it right for Kos to be ostracized (lose ad support, be delinked by other sites)?
o Yes 38%
o No 61%

Votes: 181
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Scoop
o Daily Kos
o "screw them."
o a clarification of his comments
o Instapundi t
o Tacitus
o many other sites
o took down their link to Daily Kos
o mercenarie s
o Blackwater Security Consulting
o pretty optimistic about the situation
o Also by proles


Display: Sort:
The Kos Controversy | 576 comments (545 topical, 31 editorial, 11 hidden)
+1,FP (1.46 / 45) (#2)
by Hide The Hamster on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 06:06:56 PM EST

Premise: Dumbfuck partisan asshole shoots self in foot.

Delicious result: The $300+/month tiny advertisement gravy train is drying up into a cake of beef fat, flour, and Socialist Worker's Party-level esposure. Burn in hell, you politics-loving cockhole! Ah hahahaahah


Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

You're cute [nt] (1.00 / 5) (#3)
by MechaA on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 06:10:30 PM EST



k24anson on K5: Imagine fifty, sixty year old men and women still playing with their genitals like ten year olds!

[ Parent ]
Blissful will I be (1.78 / 14) (#7)
by Hide The Hamster on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 06:19:34 PM EST

after Dailykos dies, the Democratic Underground and FreeRepublic servers burst into flames, their respective organizers mysteriously suffer nicotine poisoning-induced cardiac arrest, and the Marxist Education Center in Caimbridge, MA incinerates due to a natural gas explosion. I will cream my pants on that day, and I will give myself to society a la Jesus Christ, our LORD and savior.


Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

[ Parent ]
The worst thing (1.71 / 38) (#8)
by localroger on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 06:24:43 PM EST

...is that Kos is 100% right. I made almost exactly the same comment to a coworker Friday morning.

The dead guys were mercenaries. They were no more mainstream American than Ted Bundy. They were the kind of people who read Soldier of Fortune and get a boner over small arms with better range and more ammo. All right, I don't know that about them for sure but I've been known to gamble and I don't gamble unless I have the edge. So I'll gamble and say, these guys were most likely scumbags. It's possible I'm wrong, but I'm willing to bet I'm not.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min

Most of them are ex-soldiers (2.75 / 12) (#12)
by RyoCokey on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 06:38:52 PM EST

A relevant blog link. While we're making a list of people you'd laugh at if they were gunned down and their bodies dragged through the streets by terrorists, do the following also qualify?

Oil workers, restaurant staff, UN peacekeepers, football players, professional protestors, and farmers.

Just trying to figure out which professions are exceptable to treat as sub-human, that's all.



The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick
[
Parent ]
Clarification: (3.00 / 21) (#14)
by ninja rmg on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 06:49:12 PM EST

I'm sorry to say I'm not very familiar with those professions. Do any of them involve killing people for money?



[ Parent ]
yes - restaurant staff (nt) (3.00 / 7) (#30)
by speek on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 07:44:57 PM EST


--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Yes (1.70 / 10) (#41)
by godix on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 08:22:14 PM EST

Oil workers kill people by supporting with their labor companies that start wars.

Restaurant staff regularly poison their customers. Not on a daily basis of course, but every year there are quite a few fatalities from spoiled food.

UN peacekeepers kill people by being so damned incompetent at keeping the peace. To be fair they generally don't kill people for money, usually they do it for the sheer joy of being so collasally incompetent.

Football players encourage football fans. Fans of course are guilty of quite a few deaths, especially in countries like England.

Professional protestors barely need mentioning. Think pipe bombs. Think riots. Think mob action.

Farmers use those fucking pesticides that poison our drinking water.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]

First I thought you were joking, (2.40 / 10) (#45)
by ninja rmg on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 08:58:36 PM EST

But then I read your other comments in this article, and now I think you are serious in the following sense: You think that the argument that mercenaries, who by definition directly participate in armed combat and kill people for profit, carries no more moral weight than the absurd characterizations you offer above. That is to say, you equate directly killing people (with a gun, for example) for profit with somehow indirectly causing people's death in extremely farfetched situations in the course of fairly normal professional activity.

Your moral bankrupcy removes from this debate, I'm afraid.



[ Parent ]

First I thought you were trolling (none / 3) (#259)
by godix on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:10:13 PM EST

But then I remembered all your past actions and comments and now I think I was right. I think that the arguement that guards, who have not particpated directly in armed combat (except on the recieved end of it) and who haven't killed anyone are mercs is pure bullshit that carries no more weight than when you were wondering about mousewheels and SCO. That is to say, you equate standing around trying to protect people with directly killing people (with a gun for example). But by all means, continue trolling. Nothing as trivial as reality would remove you from any debate, I'm afraid.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]
What do you mean (none / 3) (#287)
by ninja rmg on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 09:48:35 PM EST

The "received end of it"? Obviously you could not possibly mean they don't shoot back, so you must think it is self defense. That's probably true on some level, but what is the context? The context is: They willingly put themselves in that position for pay, fully aware that they'd be attacked and respond by killing the attacker (and quite possibly bystanders). What kind of person does that? Everyone seems to know the answer except you.

Also, a note on your response: Don't be a nerd. The echo-style response is not just old, but thoroughly lame when it started. Your mousewheel thing is a bit sad as well. The guy who did that stuff passed the rmg legacy to me a long time ago -- like five months or so.



[ Parent ]

No, in such a manner, they are similiar (1.40 / 5) (#172)
by RyoCokey on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:58:27 PM EST

...to the people killed in Fallujah. They were security guards, not hired killers. By your logic, every mall security guard is a mercenary. Hell, if I gun down a mugger I guess I am too.

I dunno what's sadder, the fact I just replied to a troll, or the fact 13 people thought your response was somehow magicaliciously insightful.



The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick
[
Parent ]
Your analogy (none / 3) (#226)
by ninja rmg on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:23:34 PM EST

Let's be perfectly clear here: Your analogy is just that, and a faulty one. These are not the security guards you see in a mall and you know that. Security guards sign on knowing (i.e. the chance of such a thing is extremely small) they won't have to kill anyone. These guys signed on knowing they would be killing people. That is a huge distinction.

The fact is you just don't have a cogent argument. That's why people modded up the parent.



[ Parent ]

Not technically mercenaries (3.00 / 5) (#19)
by jongleur on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 07:20:45 PM EST

at least according to the UN. In something like 6 out of 7 ways they are, but, as citizens of the US, they're not mercenaries.

article on warblogging.
--
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]

rofl... (3.00 / 7) (#34)
by pb on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 07:58:46 PM EST

I guess they weren't mercenaries in one sense--that they weren't working for a foreign army--but actually that's only the second definition; the term is more commonly used to refer to the fact that they're working for money, as opposed to being in an official military. (in fact, that's where the root of the word comes from as well)

So I think it's perfectly fine to call them mercenaries, regardless of the official UN definition, (which nearly comes to the same conclusion, incidentally) but as your link points out, they are at the least illegal combatants, which isn't much better, at least in my opinion. :)
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

Maybe according to the UN, but not the US (3.00 / 5) (#102)
by Perpetual Newbie on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:48:05 AM EST

The US never ratified additional protocol I. The warblogging link is wrong when it refers to "Article 47 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions"; that article has nothing to do with mercenaries, they mean article 47 of the 1977 protocol I additional to the 1949 convention.



[ Parent ]
They were ex-special forces... (1.52 / 21) (#20)
by the highwayman on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 07:22:32 PM EST

...and comments such as yours really make me despise leftist as sub-human scum. Most of these mercenaries are in Iraq to provide security for Iraqis or contractors trying to repair the infastructure in Iraq. If it were up to me, I'd withdraw American troops and let Iraq sink or swim by itself.

[ Parent ]
"Ex?" (2.80 / 15) (#21)
by localroger on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 07:25:57 PM EST

If they were "ex" military what the hell were they doing in a war hotspot? Oh that's right they must not be all that "ex" after all. Except that, being "private" now they don't have to worry about all those annoying rules that govern actual combatants.

As for "being there to provide security," I have to wonder why the people they were there to "protect" weren't also being strung up by the locals. Maybe it's because they weren't actually "protecting" anybody, eh? Again I'm not sure but it's a smart guess. My money's on the table.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

May be it has to do with the new Pentagon policies (2.87 / 8) (#28)
by mami on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 07:37:27 PM EST

to outsource and privatize as many tasks from the regular armed forces as possible.

You may get a lot of "ex"-specialists in jobs, where they can end up being called and judged "mercenaries", because their tasks were outsourced and privatized away from the regular army. Rumsfeld knows what he is doing, obviously, all of it in the name of the freedom, for the freedom and by the freedom.  

If those "outsourcing" and privatizing policies are done, because those people haven't to comply with the "Geneva conventions" and other regulations binding for regular armed forces servicemen, then ... "Gute Nacht, Marie".

[ Parent ]

Well, of course. (none / 2) (#338)
by Kasreyn on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 03:22:34 AM EST

Because every outsourced casualty is one more casualty you can blandly pretend to the American public never happened.

I know about the air force base blackout, but there IS at least a vague trickle about the American cost in blood making it onto the news networks. However, I can see no reason why the Pentagon would feel compelled to mention the blood of merceneries that it's spilling (on the taxpayer dime, no less).

A great PR move all around, wouldn't you say?


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Yes, ex (none / 2) (#106)
by mayo on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:21:07 AM EST

At least in terms of still working for the US government. See this interesting NY Times article on the subject: Big Pay Luring Military's Elite to Private Jobs (NY Times free signup required).

Here's the introduction to the article:
Senior American commanders and Pentagon officials are warning of an exodus of the military's most seasoned members of Special Operations to higher-paying civilian security jobs in places like Baghdad and Kabul, just as they are playing an increasingly pivotal role in combating terror and helping conduct nation-building operations worldwide.

Senior enlisted members of the Army Green Berets or Navy Seals with 20 years or more experience now earn about $50,000 in base pay, and can retire with a $23,000 pension. But private security companies, whose services are in growing demand in Iraq and Afghanistan, are offering salaries of $100,000 to nearly $200,000 a year to the most experienced of them.
So yes, ex-military.

[ Parent ]
extremists (none / 2) (#222)
by flippy on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:54:19 PM EST

Its the 1% of the population (or the 1% of liberals) with attitudes like this that ruin it for the other 99% of us.  You've become an extremist.  Do the math.  The reason why many people disagree with you is because you are holding an extreme position.

I chose to only comment to you directly instead of the 3 or 4 other extremists here because I respect your prose.  I love reading your stuff.  Its a shame because you have become an extremists in mine eyes.

Flippy

[ Parent ]

Sorry you feel that way (none / 3) (#253)
by localroger on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 06:52:26 PM EST

It was late and I was tired when I posted the parent comment, but like Kos I'm gonna stick by it.

I don't regard it as "extremist" to suggest that people who have deliberately accepted a large amount of money to go to a dangerous place where they know people will shoot at them and there is a good chance they will be asked to shoot back, without the legal or logistical protection of a military organization, might not be the kind of people worth eulogizing at great length.

What the people of Fallujah did was horrible, but war in general is horrible. That's why sensible people who have the ability stay away from wars.

I have great respect and sympathy for the Iraqis who are simply trying to live through this maelstrom we caused. I'm not particularly happy about the ones shooting at us and pulling stunts like the Fallujah Body Drag, but it would be stupid to pretend they did this in a vacuum.

I have great respect for people in the military, because they're doing an important job that needs to be done, they're getting paid shit and they're getting shot at while they do it. Most of them do not want to be shot at and didn't join the Army to masturbate with their guns -- they're just trying to make their way in a world of limited opportunity.

I do not have much respect for people who deliberately go to war zones because they think war is sexy. This doesn't mean I think they deserve the fate of the Fallujah mercenaries, but let's be realistic. What the fuck do you expect to happen when you go to a place like that?

You might recall that Rite of Passage was about people just like this -- people who don't need to go to war, but do it anyway because they're getting something personal out of it. I don't think it's "extreme" to suggest that we shouldn't be tearfully mourning such people as if their innocent lives were ripped asunder in a totally inexplicable moment of chaos.

Why were they in Iraq? There is a short list of believable reasons. Money's at the top, but I also have to believe that these were the type of people who like a nice war, who like the sense of action and the possibility that things might go over the top. These were guys who had already served their country, but went back for more without the backing of their country.

These were not the good guys. They might not be the bad guys, but at the very least they were daredevils who for money or thrill went where they didn't need to be, and the worst happened. Well shit happens. It's not extreme to suggest that people like that should deal with it.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

Dead is Dead (none / 2) (#366)
by flippy on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 11:10:50 AM EST

You are assuming much about the people who have been murdered.  Too much.  I dont pretend to know anything about them, in fact the only things I know are that 1, they MAY have been an advance party for the UN food program (security), and 2. They were dragged through the streets and hung from a bridge by a mob. (they may very well have been CIA or other govt agency)

"These were not the good guys"  
How do you know? Seriously.  I know nothing other than whats being reported.  

Thats it.  Thats all I know.  It seems like you are basing your opinion on facts not yet known, or in evidence.  We can get into a heated debate about what their real purpose was but it would be pointless because we don't know, And now they are dead.

Tragic on too many levels.

Flippy

[ Parent ]

Partially correct (2.25 / 4) (#426)
by localroger on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:40:23 PM EST

in fact the only things I know are that 1, they MAY have been an advance party for the UN food program (security), and 2. They were dragged through the streets and hung from a bridge by a mob.

Yes. I know a little more than that. I know that they were employed by Blackwater Security.

It is known that their assignment was to provide security for a catering company whose name I can't find right now, and while it is possible that they were under contract to provide humanitarian aid at the moment it seems considerably more likely that they were under contract to supply the US Army.

Blackwater has toned down their site in the last 24 hours, making the hyper-aggressive claw logo a bit smaller, but they're very clear about the kind of people they're looking for. You do not advertise for someone with "sniper / counter-sniper" or "structure penetration" experience if you want them to sit outside the U-STOR-IT at 3:00 AM playing pinochle.

I am on an eclectic range of mailing lists :-) and I get a lot of adverts targeted to the kind of people who would go to work for Blackwater. Their pro shop is a bit toned down from a lot of the hawkers selling these guys the tools of their trade, but you can get the idea.

Blackwater advertised for people who were willing to face death, and so they did. As for the body desecration, I am reminded of this entry in the rotten dot com faq:

Q.. How do you think someone would feel if their dead body was posted up on the internet? A. I would think they feel nothing, what with being dead and all.
And so with the dead mercenaries; they were being paid very well to face death, and by all accounts they did some very stupid things that led to their deaths, and I'd agree there is no such thing as a good death; being sniped cleanly from half a mile away does not sound much better to me than being dragged through town and dismembered, what with being dead and all that.

So I think you are under-reading the community these men were clearly members of, and over-reading the manner in which they met the demise they went in knowing was a possibility. When we put every wounded soldier who comes back missing a limb and every flag-draped coffin and every Iraqi hit by an errant bomb on the TV, then it will be these guys' turn.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

Just Curious (none / 1) (#487)
by flippy on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 02:03:54 PM EST

A what point (in your view) do you feel that someone stops being human and becomes cattle in a rendering plant?

I still don't agree with you, however I thank you for your comments.

Flippy


[ Parent ]

Answer (2.50 / 4) (#505)
by localroger on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 07:33:25 PM EST

A what point (in your view) do you feel that someone stops being human and becomes cattle in a rendering plant?

When they themselves have chosen to build and work in a rendering plant. (Actually I think the word you want is "slaughterhouse," a rendering plant is something a bit different and usually only waste parts of well-dead animals end up there.)

To understand me, think first of the late Mike Royko. Royko was one of the biggest anti-gun politickers around; he used to hand out "gun owner of the year" awards to people who did dumb things like grabbing the pistol beneath their pillow and shooting themselves in their sleep, etc. Then, one day, Royko got mugged. After staring down the barrel of somene else's gun, he came to see the value of having one of his own, and his columns on the subject changed markedly.

I still don't own a gun myself, but I have familiarized myself to a certain extent with the dogs of war -- not their masters, but the pooches salivating on the front lines. And one thing I can tell you is that certain dogs will simply kill you if you don't kill them first. I don't sit around fantasizing about doing that. But neither do I fantasize that by singing Kum Ba Ya and sticking daisies in their rifles I will turn them around to my way of thinking.

I used to think more like you do than I do now, so I understand your point of view; thanks for listening civilly.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

Is the shopping mall security guard a mercenary? (2.53 / 15) (#51)
by Patrick Bateman on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 09:12:18 PM EST

Because these guys weren't assaulting military objectives, they were providing security for food shipments in Fallujah.

---
I have to return some videotapes.
[ Parent ]

when the shopping mall is in Iraq (2.50 / 6) (#60)
by llimllib on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:16:41 PM EST

and the guard's american, then yes.

Peace.
[ Parent ]
So, feeding the hungry is a fascist crime now? (2.14 / 7) (#77)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 11:02:38 PM EST

Sweet.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]
your logic is a bit off (none / 3) (#107)
by llimllib on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:53:26 AM EST

I never claimed any such thing. If you're a professional soldier who's not in the army, you fit my definition of a mercenary. I don't see why these people were there. I don't claim that there's no good reason; there might be, but I don't see it. I don't agree with the position that their lives are worthless, or have any evidence that they were committing crimes. Perhaps they were good guys helping to feed the hungry, but I still think they were mercenaries.

Peace.
[ Parent ]
*My* logic is a bit off? (none / 3) (#149)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:14:45 AM EST

These "mercenaries", as you insist on calling them, were there to protect the people distributing food to the Iraqis. They were the advance unit of a food convoy.

So, since when is humanitarian aid delivered by "mercenaries"?

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

negative connotation (none / 3) (#153)
by llimllib on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:51:13 AM EST

There is indeed a negative connotation that comes along with the word "mercenary". This is unfortunate, but I still feel that it's the best word to describe what these people are.

They are "contractors" with licenses to kill, hired by our government to fight a war in a foreign land (clearly, delivering food is fighting a war in Iraq). They have an odd combination of freedom from international law and yet reliance on our military for their orders. This makes them, in my book, mercenaries. I'm not trying to impugn their motives or claim that this makes them evil, I'm just saying that these guys are professional soldiers of fortune.

Peace.
[ Parent ]

Mercenary behavior (2.25 / 4) (#160)
by Patrick Bateman on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:59:31 AM EST

If Iraqi insurgents approached these private contractors and offered them more money, do you think they'd switch sides? If not, why not?

---
I have to return some videotapes.
[ Parent ]

damned if I know (none / 2) (#162)
by llimllib on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:10:12 PM EST

The better question is, if England approached them with more money, and asked them to work towards their specific goals, would they take it?

I don't have enough information to make an intelligent decision, but I'd lean towards yes.

Peace.
[ Parent ]

Why is that a better question? (none / 2) (#167)
by Patrick Bateman on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:29:15 PM EST

The US isn't engaged in combat operations against the UK, so your question is worse, not better, than mine. And if you don't already know the answer to my question, then you're a fool.

---
I have to return some videotapes.
[ Parent ]

you don't say? (none / 2) (#228)
by llimllib on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:35:43 PM EST

I'm well aware that the United States is not involved in combat against the British. The point is, these guys probably don't like their enemies (the Iraqis right now). Most people don't. They probably wouldn't work for them. A willingness to work for your enemies is not involved in the definition of a mercenary; at least not in the definition that I'm working from.

As such, it is better to ask yourself whether these soldiers would fight for England if they were paid the right price. If so, then they would quite willingly be, to quote webster:

One who is hired; a hireling; especially, a soldier hired into foreign service.
Their desire, or lack thereof, to fight as an Iraqi has less than nothing to do with whether these people are mercenaries or not.

Peace.
[ Parent ]
No (3.00 / 4) (#204)
by atarola on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:42:53 PM EST

Just because they are mercs does not mean that they will automatically jump ship when offered cash. They still are under contract you know.

Cheers,
atarola


"Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live"
-- John F. Woods
[ Parent ]
So what you're saying... (none / 1) (#208)
by Patrick Bateman on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:55:52 PM EST

... is that if their contracts were about to expire, these security contractors *would* consider working for the Iraqi insurgents (if the price was right)?

---
I have to return some videotapes.
[ Parent ]

Doesn't follow (none / 3) (#210)
by kmcrober on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:13:56 PM EST

Even if we simplified it to the "Mercenaries are motivated purely by profit" level, your assumptions (or, more accurately, the presumptions you're trying to pin on atarola) don't follow.

There are going to be a number of other significant factors in their "hiring" decisions.  Do I even have to list them?  Desire to be on the winning team, language difficulties, trustworthiness of employers, payment security, salary, equipment, criminal liability in their home country, blah blah blah.  

But of course we can't and shouldn't reduce the "mercenary" label to such a simplistic level.  It's perfectly reasonable to assume that a mercenary, someone fighting for money outside the legal framework of a national armed service, can have other motivations than just payment.  It doesn't mean that they aren't mercenaries, or that their motives are above reproach.

[ Parent ]

Missing the point... (2.00 / 4) (#220)
by Patrick Bateman on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:35:25 PM EST

It's perfectly reasonable to assume that a mercenary, someone fighting for money outside the legal framework of a national armed service, can have other motivations than just payment.
(Emphasis mine - PB)

Were these men fighting a war? Let's suppose that Sean Penn, during his visit to Iraq, hired an ex-Navy SEAL to be in charge of his security. Would that security man be a mercenary, or a bodyguard? These private contractors weren't mercenaries because they didn't engage in military activities. While they had to coordinate their activities with the occupying power, they weren't working for the military. They were providing security for the humanitarian efforts in the area.

---
I have to return some videotapes.
[ Parent ]

Still doesn't track. (3.00 / 4) (#243)
by kmcrober on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 05:49:16 PM EST

Neither your hypothetical nor your assumptions make any sense.

The bodyguards you imagine escorting a VIP into Iraq might not be mercenaries; their role isn't military, and it's a short-term jaunt into a combat zone.  The military aspects of their employment are incidental, rather than essential.

The men in question were serving in a military role in a combat zone, as part of a long-term contract.  The military role they were asked to fulfill isn't tangential to or a consequence of their day job, it is their day job.  

Providing security in a war zone is a military function, and a soldier doing so pursuant to the orders of a private contractor is a mercenary in my book.

[ Parent ]

Because it would be treason (none / 1) (#320)
by snatmandu on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:56:59 AM EST

Likewise, if the American who hired the contractor offered them money to rape little girls, it would be consistent for them to decline based on their moral aversion to raping little girls.

If the Farkistanians showed up, and offered to double the pay if they'd quit Iraq and go put down the rebellion in Farkistan, they might very well do it.

[ Parent ]

You're misanalysing this. (none / 2) (#457)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 02:25:42 AM EST

The mercenaries are employees of Blackwater Security Consulting, a branch of Blackwater USA. The US Government isn't paying these mercenaries individually; they pay the company.

Blackwater USA's page says the following:


Our clients include federal law enforcement agencies, the Department of Defense, Department of State, and Department of Transportation, local and state entities from around the country, multi-national corporations, and friendly nations from all over the globe.

So the answer to your question is: the company is based in the USA, and under USA laws, they may not hire out their services to the Iraquis. They, however, provide services to private entities and foreign government, too. (I don't know what services they've provided to who, though, but it should be possible to dig it up with some work.)

--em
[ Parent ]

Damn, You're Everywhere (none / 1) (#272)
by snatmandu on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:47:03 PM EST

You're all over this thread with this talk of feeding poor Iraqis.

What NGO was it?  Links?

[ Parent ]

I was wrong about that. (none / 1) (#299)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:04:57 PM EST

After I posted that statement, I found out that they were delivering food to troops, not Iraqis.

I heard "food convoy" and drew the wrong conclusion.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

Glad to help (none / 1) (#309)
by snatmandu on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:51:19 PM EST

Thanks for the reply.  Sorry for answering a bunch of your posts.  

As I read some more today, I noticed that there's a lot of "food convoy" mentions and few about the recipients.  I guess the "liberal media" strikes again, eh?

[ Parent ]

They weren't delivering puppies for orphans? (3.00 / 8) (#156)
by decaf_dude on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:30:51 AM EST

Please find one (1) news report on what happened to the alleged food shipments, or one (1) photo of the food shipment convoy they were allegedly securing.

Fact of the matter is, I've seen the Fallujah footage from several sources and all I could ever see is one Mitsubishi Pajero (red, IIRC) on fire. IMHO, those guys had as much to do with securing a food shipment as all those Cultural Attachés in embassies worldwide have to do with culture.


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
No Government (none / 2) (#270)
by snatmandu on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:37:56 PM EST

There is no government in fallujah.  If you go into a lawless place with a bunch of guns, you're probably going to have to fight.  

According the the article I read, they were protecting food shipments for troops.  They were acting in a military capacity.  They were persuing a military objective:  protecting a military supply line.

[ Parent ]

No, shopping mall guards are national heroes (none / 0) (#536)
by JayGarner on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 12:06:54 AM EST

Well, they will be if terrorists hit a major American city's mall, for a few weeks. Then everyone will go back to not giving a rat's ass about them again, like they did with policeman and firefighters.

[ Parent ]
They may have been scumbags. They may not. (2.66 / 12) (#157)
by Russell Dovey on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:31:59 AM EST

They were working for a food aid organisation. NGOs in Iraq have to be protected somehow, and who's going to do it, if not mercenaries? The US Army?

Also, I don't particularly care who they were; they didn't deserve to get bombed, burned, beaten, mutilated, and hung on a bridge.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Name That NGO! (2.75 / 4) (#269)
by snatmandu on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:35:36 PM EST

What food aid?  They were protecting food for "troops" according the washington post.  Link in another comment by me today...


[ Parent ]
You might want to cool it. (2.60 / 10) (#191)
by fn0rd on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:59:34 PM EST

You might be right, but antagonizing murder fetishists when your online persona is not so far removed from you actual one may not be the world's smartest behavior.

I'm just sayin', is all.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Didn't Rusty have something to do with that site? (1.88 / 25) (#16)
by SIGNOR SPAGHETTI on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 07:03:25 PM EST

What a jinx. Listen to me, all of you: escape while you can. Leave K5. Go.

--
Stop dreaming and finish your spaghetti.

Rusty's link to DailyKos... (none / 0) (#69)
by Patrick Bateman on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:38:12 PM EST

... is at least as strong as Prescott Bush's link to Nazi Germany. Think about it.

---
I have to return some videotapes.
[ Parent ]

And how strong was Prescott Bush's link (none / 0) (#97)
by mami on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:24:21 AM EST

to Nazi Germany? I have thought about it a loooong time and still haven't found the true answer. Tell me about it.


[ Parent ]
Here is a link... (none / 0) (#100)
by Patrick Bateman on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:36:22 AM EST

to a fair and balanced overview of the relationship.

---
I have to return some videotapes.
[ Parent ]

well, if I hear fair and balanced I usually lose (none / 0) (#140)
by mami on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 08:39:07 AM EST

my conscience, faint and fall flatly on my face.

If I would take the headline of your link and would apply it to anyone who directs a bank these days, I guess we won't find a director of a bank anymore, who hasn't funded in one way or another, an "evil dictator".

The question is, are there more evil dictators around these days, or are the banks just more evil than they were in the old days. Tell me about it.

[ Parent ]

I'd like to take this opportunity (1.66 / 24) (#17)
by ninja rmg on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 07:06:18 PM EST

To welcome Kos to the band of brothers that is the fringe left blogging scene!

He, his site, and its users formerly enjoyed a prominent position in mainstream liberal internet discourse. With this latest news, though, they will join the ranks of the fringe left, along with Slashdot and our very own Kuro5hin.org. They are entering a world where corporations are the ultimate evil, Bush is a murderer, and communism is not a dirty word.

I say again, welcome aboard!



aahh the damage of a simple troll (1.33 / 6) (#32)
by Wah on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 07:52:10 PM EST

how exquisite.
--
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
Any
[ Parent ]
Controversy? (1.23 / 26) (#18)
by Penrod Pooch on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 07:06:56 PM EST

What's so controversial about calling a spade a spade?  They were professional killers, and I for one applaud their demise.

This message brought to you by... (2.30 / 13) (#75)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 11:00:23 PM EST

the people who are supposed to be all about progressive civil rights and human dignity.

this also helps explain how liberalism always seems to turn into fascism.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

wow (1.33 / 6) (#200)
by Penrod Pooch on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:34:22 PM EST

a clown talking about human dignity. kinda like a a nazi talking about racial equality.

[ Parent ]
Bogus (2.25 / 4) (#268)
by snatmandu on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:33:34 PM EST

Progressives might value human life, but we're not shredding tears for the 9/11 hijackers.  

[ Parent ]
stupid (2.84 / 26) (#23)
by reklaw on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 07:28:29 PM EST

Do even bloggers have to toe the party line now?

"They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them."

There's nothing wrong with this statement -- at least I don't think there is. Lots of people wouldn't think there is. I've never liked Kos (the site is an LGF-style one-opinion circlejerk), but this manufactured controversy seems to be like an attempt to make him look bad by people who've never liked him anyway.
-

um, yeah. (2.50 / 10) (#118)
by guyjin on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:52:07 AM EST

"Do even bloggers have to toe the party line now?"

If they're looking for support for the party, um, yeah.

-- 散弾銃でおうがいして ください
[ Parent ]

I think (2.80 / 10) (#129)
by toulouse on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 05:33:46 AM EST

the main problem, and what people are in denial about, or overlooking, is this section here:

They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.

See the general problem for the political high priests? If it becomes legitimate to pour scorn and disdain on, or show no sympathy towards, those who are waging war for profit, then it kind of widens the playing field, huh?


--
'My god...it's full of blogs.' - ktakki
--


[ Parent ]
question (2.64 / 14) (#31)
by mami on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 07:45:04 PM EST

What's a mercenary these days?

If this article is to be believed (2.15 / 13) (#38)
by godix on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 08:12:27 PM EST

Every security guard in the world is apperently a mercenary. Clearly any claims that workers in a dangerous area need guards is just a lie by Bush's neo-nazi revial movement. It's even worse than this article claims though, mercenaries are being employeed by the thousands right here in the USA! Why just today I saw an 80 year old merc at the mall who was obviously there for no reason other than to kill every shopper around.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]
Is US mainland already a combat zone? (2.80 / 5) (#151)
by nkyad on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:33:57 AM EST

In the "War on Terrorism" sense it obviously is, but is it a combat zone akin to the Iraq, Kosovo or Sudan? I don't think so.

You are trying to let a technicality gets on the way of the truth, something "cons" of every stripe heartly despise when it is done in a court of law. You can't really have "security guards" on a non-pacified occupation zone. On the lucky side, fifth years-old Joe, the good old run-of the mill morning shift security guard at your favourite local mall, would last perhaps a week in a place like this.

Private or public, the people killed in Falluja were soldiers, with good combat trainning and a perfect knowledge they were in the middle of a war. They also probably knew they shouldn't be there.

Now, is it an excuse for what happened to them? I don't think so, even if they were enemy combatants in the eyes of the Fajulla people (and there is a point to be made that, in the eyes of the Iraq people, all these so-called security guards can well be considered "unlawful enemy combatants" in the sad Guantanamo sense, but that is another discussion enterely). Desacrating enemy bodies is  quite a savage behaviour that leads even more bloodshed from part to part.

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
Why not? (none / 3) (#242)
by Wateshay on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 05:36:46 PM EST

Why can't you have security guards in the middle of a war zone. If the U.S. were to suddenly be invaded by Canada, would Joe cease to be a security guard and suddenly be classified as a soldier? How about if he had formerly been a Navy Seal? If these guys were fighting alongside American troops as an offensive capacity, then I'd say they were mercenaries. Guarding humanitarian effors sure seems like a security job, though.


"If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for everyone else."


[ Parent ]
That doesn't really track... (none / 3) (#245)
by kmcrober on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 05:52:28 PM EST

Given the nature of combat in Iraq right now, your Canadian example is off-target.  If the mall security cop was guarding stores against Canadian regular or irregular combatants, then yes, he would be a mercenary.  It would be a military role.  If he was simply fulfilling a standard security role it would be more nebulous, but as his job - or the expectations of that job - trend more into military affairs, the job becomes more and more mercenary in character.  These guys weren't standing around the food court looking for shoplifters, they were actively prepared to employ and defend against the committed application of deadly force.

[ Parent ]
Fighting alongside... (none / 3) (#247)
by nkyad on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 06:05:31 PM EST

If an occupation force invades a country, guarding the infra-structure, the civilian occupation personnel and the suply lines in the said country are military tasks, not a civilian ones. If Canada occupied th US, the private guards protecting the Canadian pro-consul office at the White House and the guards protecting the food shipments for the Canadian Occupation Army would certainly be called mercenaries - not to mention they would be fair game for any resistance force out there. The people killed in Falluja weren't there to prevent teenagers from using their skateboards in Fajulla's mall premisses...

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
You have an odd definition of soldiers (2.20 / 5) (#256)
by godix on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:02:30 PM EST

Four men who didn't kill any Iraqis during their stay, not even in self defense when an angry mob came to lynch them, are not soldiers. They aren't unlawful enemy combatants either, to be a combatant you actually have to take a part in combat (other than the victim I mean). They aren't mercenaries, mercs are paid to kill not to stand around guarding people. Those four people were security guards there to protect other non-combatant civilians from exactly the type of thing that happened. They were civilians and you've choose to defend the position of people who celebrate when civilians are killed and mutilated. If the only way you can salvage your self respect after joining morally bankrupt people like that is to lie about what the civilians were and pretend everyone else is hung up on technicalities then that's your concern but please, spare me your shit, I didn't believe those lies the first time around and I'm not going to now.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]
Yeah (2.20 / 5) (#319)
by snatmandu on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:52:08 AM EST

Four ex spec-ops guys get ambushed.  They're such nice guys they decide not to shoot back, and just take their lumps.  'Cause, hey, they're not soldiers or mercenaries, they're security guards.  Wanna buy a bridge?  

How do you know they didn't kill anybody?  I don't think blackwater pays these guys all that dough just to stand around with an mp5 and look mean.  They're not fucking actors, they're trained killers.  Their #1 qualification for the job is that they're trained soldiers.  Not cops.  Not security guards.  Soldiers.

Mercs are paid to do whatever it is their employer pays them for.  In this case, it was guarding a convoy of food destined for US Troops, according to a blackwater spokesperson (see wash times article, linked elsewhere in this thread by me and others). From what I understand, it's pretty much accepted protocol in war to sabotage and disrupt the enemy's supply line.

In fact, if you're an angry Iraqi, it's easy to rationalize this, because every "security guard" you see is standing in for a soldier, so that soldier can go oppress you and still have something to eat when he gets back to base.

Furthermore, how the hell is an average Iraqi supposed to tell the difference between White Guy With Gun and Fatigues #1 (Maybe a private in the US Army) and White Guy With Gun and Fatigues #2 (A "Security Guard" employed by Blackwater USA)?

Finally, this is the obligatory there's-no-good-reason-to-mutilate corpses line.  There really isn't.  But it's not like it hasn't been done by some US soldiers in every, or nearly every, war the US has fought.  Don't let the cries of "savages" dull any compassion you might have for the People of Iraq as a whole.

[ Parent ]

Food (none / 2) (#323)
by rusty on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:10:34 AM EST

Not for US troops. It was for a company called "Regency Hotel and Hospitality" or some such spook nonsense.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Who were they supplying food for? (3.00 / 4) (#328)
by snatmandu on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:21:24 AM EST

The only quote I've seen about this was in the washington post, and attributed to "A Blackwater Spokesperon".  It was food for "troops".

Regency is contracted by the pentagon to supply the troops with food.  These mercenaries/security whatever were there to provide "security" for that (troop destined) food.

That's just what I heard, but I've asked around in this thread a few times for any other cites that contradict it and none have turned up.

Since it's you, I'll dig up the link again:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A43364-2004Apr1.html">
A Blackwater spokesman said the men were guarding a convoy on its way to deliver food to troops under a subcontract to a company named Regency Hotel and Hospitality.


[ Parent ]

You are right (none / 3) (#329)
by rusty on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:29:55 AM EST

And I have no backup to demonstrate otherwise. It seems I had my facts wrong. Sorry about that.

In an attempt to take this embarrassment in a more productive direction, look who's already getting positive spin...

This kind of story is deeply creepy to me. Not so much because of the immediate issues in Iraq, but because of what it says about the US military. What happens when military action is necessary, and Blackwater Security and DynCorp decide now's the time to hold out for higher pay? What happens when business is slow and they call up some Senators and mention that "Gee whiz, with times so tough like this, unless something is done that next time you need us we just might not be there..."

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Definately Creepy (none / 2) (#331)
by snatmandu on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:55:14 AM EST

Thanks for the link.  Hadn't seen that article.

I share your fears about the privatization of the military as well.  Also, these guys are not subject to the rules our soldiers are, and lack oversight, from what I can see.

Furthermore, using private armies allows the government to omit certain casualty statistics.  I wonder how many Blackwater guys have died in Iraq so far?

[ Parent ]

Please, spare me the shit (none / 3) (#333)
by godix on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 02:18:04 AM EST

God, it's like the arguements of Clintons definition of the word 'is' or the arguements on if ketchup is a veggie or not with Reagan. What is it about fringe wackos that makes them feel the need to totally redefine words? It's not like if you admit they weren't mercs in any normal sense of the word that you have to quit dancing on their graves or anything. You can continue gloating over their death without trying to make them sound like satan incarnated ya know.


Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]
You Misunderstand (2.80 / 5) (#346)
by snatmandu on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:52:51 AM EST

I'm not dancing on anyone's graves.  I just gave up typing out the obligatory disclaimers hours ago.  You weren't wrong to perceive passion in my post, but you seem mistaken about it's origin.  I was arguing passionately because this thread was full of totally off-base posts that seemed to be feeding on the "American Civilians" angle.

I'm also seriously concerned about the implications of these quasi-military personell.  This is part of a policy that Rumsfeld has championed, and I think it's foolish.  Look at this article from TIME:

When Private Armies Take The Front Lines

It's generally pro-private-military, but it describes some real shortcomings (mostly the lack of logistical support).  It also points out that it might be a strategy to avoid bothering the public.  

Most interesting to me in the context of so many "security guard" posts in this thread, is this gem (from the article cited above):

It's still unclear whether the four Blackwater employees found themselves in Fallujah inadvertently or were on a mission gone awry. Even by Pentagon standards, military officials were fuzzy about the exact nature of the Blackwater mission; several officers privately disputed the idea that the team was escorting a food convoy. Another officer would say only the detail was escorting a shipment of "goods."

Which casts doubt on the Blackwater Rep's statement in the Wash Post.  

And I had to post that link nearly half a dozen times in this thread to refute the "They were protecting humanitarian aid being transported by an NGO to war-ravaged Iraqis"

I was just passionately incredulous at the downright weak posts I'd been reading through.  The post you responded to came at the end of an hour of getting all pumped :-)

[ Parent ]

Ok I appologize (2.25 / 4) (#384)
by godix on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:01:06 PM EST

You're right, nothing in your post was dancing on their graves. I'm sorry I accused you of that, after reading tons of posts by people who are celebrating these deaths I had just assumed you were also since you're using the same arguements. Regardless I shouldn't have judged you by the company you keep, after all I'm currently keeping company with the same freaks.

As for what these people were, they aren't mercenaries in either the common or technical definition. The common definition calls up images of a rambo like character sneaking around cutting sentries throats, planting explosives, blowing up enemy bases, collecting some money, then doing the exact same thing the next day for the other side because they pay more. Hopefully I don't have to spend time pointing out why these four people weren't mercs in the common sense of the word.

The technical definition of mercenary has two parts. The first part is 'Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain'. Neither of us can say if that's true or not, we just don't know enough about them. I can think of several easy explanations of why it might not be true though. Perhaps they were motivated by adventure. Perhaps they thought what was going on in Iraq is a good thing and they wanted to help. Perhaps they didn't like the invasion or Bush but thought that was no reason to not help the troops. And of course, perhaps they were in it for the 30K a year. However we don't know, so it's incredible unkind to assume it was all about the money.

The second part of the technical definition is '  Hired for service in a foreign army.' They don't fit this one either. They were Americans, they didn't join a foreign army. At best this would make them contractors instead of mercs. However they weren't hired by an army, they were hired by a private company. Sure the company deals with the army but then again, so does Lockheed Martin and last I heard no one was calling an aerospace engineer working there a 'mercenary'.

You found some unnamed sources who claim there might be some vauge undefined things going on here more than food. That's nice. I can find some NAMED sources who are able to give specifics on how Elvis is still alive, where the government is hiding alien corpses, how Vince Foster was murdered, or what a great morally upstanding guy Michael Jackson is. Unsubstanciated claims don't impress me much anymore.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]

A privately paid soldier. (3.00 / 8) (#112)
by kmcrober on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:32:02 AM EST

There are a number of technical definitions, including some in international law that these fellows might or might not have met.  In common parlayance, a mercenary is a soldier hired to serve in an actual foreign army.  An American hired to serve in the Canadian military, for example.  Technically, these guys weren't serving in an army.  In more common parlance, a mercenary is any private soldier, whether or not (or perhaps especially if not) they serve in a national military.  The broadest, and perhaps most apt, definition is anyone motivated by profit.  These guys seem to be in the "blood and treasure" business, so I'd say it's a fair label.  But not a legally accurate one, for the very narrow purposes in which a legal definition matters here.

Godix's rant is, unsurprisingly, as shallow and uninformative as most politicized dogmatic drivel.  These guy weren't mall security guards.  They were armed troops serving in a foreign combat zone.  Leaving the manner of their deaths entirely aside, these people were mercenary in most senses of the word.  Whether their duties were outsourced by the government or contracted by private corporations, they fought for money, and they did it outside the legal framework of our national armed services.

[ Parent ]

well, if the motive to go to Iraq's war zone (none / 2) (#139)
by mami on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 08:34:15 AM EST

is money, a lot of private contractors (and missionaries) do so. So where is the line between a privately hired gun man (ie mercenary in the old sense) and a privately hired expert, who happens to protect himself with a weapon... ?

[ Parent ]
Intent? (2.50 / 4) (#206)
by kmcrober on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:45:50 PM EST

One goes to fight, and another goes to do a nonviolent job and is pressed into fighting by circumstances?  I would go so far as to characterize a construction or services contractor who packs a pistol and goes out of his way to pick a fight as a mercenary.  (Not saying that's what contractors in Iraq are doing, just sketching the outline of my understanding of "mercenary.")

[ Parent ]
security guard (none / 2) (#365)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 10:54:40 AM EST

Good definition. These guys were security guards, not hired guns.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
They were fighters, paid to fight... (none / 3) (#372)
by kmcrober on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 11:57:57 AM EST

Doesn't that make them hired guns?  I mean, "mercenary" has some technical baggage that might make it an arguable label, but hired guns?  That seems pretty spot-on.  These guys weren't construction workers or rent-a-cops; they were soldiers in a private force.

[ Parent ]
show me (none / 3) (#380)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:12:21 PM EST

Please back up that claim.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
I actually don't care (2.50 / 6) (#382)
by kmcrober on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:41:28 PM EST

enough to get into an evidence thing; I'm trying to make my position clear, not necessarily to persuade anyone else.  But this is what persuaded me.  It's the company's web site and mission statement.  They're explicitly all about security, and the forceful protection thereof.

The company hires ex-Special Forces guys "to provide the client with veteran military, intelligence and law enforcement professionals with demonstrated field operations performance tempered with mature experience in both foreign and domestic requirements."  (emphasis mine)

My take is that even if all they were doing was law enforcement or convoy security, they were mercenaries.  They were in a war zone, armed and prepared to engage an enemy with deadly force.  

NB, first that doesn't necessarily rise to the most common legal definition of "mercenary," and that I'm not ascribing any overwhelming moral weight to the status.  It's purely a semantic thing for me at this level.

[ Parent ]

ok, then... (none / 3) (#387)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:25:45 PM EST

If all they were doing was law enforcement or convoy security, why is it acceptable to hold their brutal murder and mutilation in such shameless disregard?

My point is that we don't know for sure what they were doing, so we can't just assume that they were bloodthirsty hired guns out to murder and pillage, especially since there's a good chance that that's NOT what they were there for. Since we can't assume malice, we shouldn't, and in all civility we musn't suspend our humanity by making such statements as "screw them."

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

I'm not assuming malice. (2.40 / 5) (#397)
by kmcrober on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 02:36:55 PM EST

Again, I'm only splitting semantic hairs when I call them mercenaries - I'm not ascribing moral weight to that term (in this immediate instance, anyway) or using it to justify what happened to them.  I wouldn't disregard the manner of their deaths or the treatment of their bodies even if they were out-and-out mercenaries by the most technical and stringent definitions.

I think Kos' statements were juvenile, but not utterly beyond the pale.  If he pays a price in political ostracism, well, them's the breaks.  I think he was far more compassionate and reasonable than (roughly) comparable right-wing mouthpieces, such as Ann Coulter, Jerry Falwell, or Adam Yoshida, all of whom have openly lusted after the deaths of their (civil) enemies.

But that's neither here nor there, and to my mind doesn't have any relationship to the very narrow, very silly, and very pointless question of whether these fellows were "mercenaries" in a lay sense of the word.  I think they were, but I don't think it matters.

[ Parent ]

A mercenary... (none / 3) (#249)
by Patrick Bateman on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 06:27:42 PM EST

... is a blood-thirsty bogeyman who's in it for the money.

---
I have to return some videotapes.
[ Parent ]

This is what kos gets (1.38 / 21) (#35)
by Wah on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 08:01:03 PM EST

for trolling.

Seriously.  He puts all you local punks to shame.

The worst part is they kerry blog reaction to this.  That thread is a shame.  I'm on the "vote Kerry and start a new party the next day" ticket.

And if kos wants, there's got be a way he can spin this into another full time gig or two.  
--
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
Any

He's not a troll you cock (1.52 / 21) (#39)
by Hide The Hamster on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 08:12:32 PM EST

He's a circle-jerking political douche like you.


Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

[ Parent ]
I know what he is (none / 3) (#43)
by Wah on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 08:42:34 PM EST

but that post was exactly that.  A textbook example.  Inflammatory as all get out and pretty much the opposite of what he meant.  Said so himself in the 'apology'.

You got to be on the look-out when people actually give a shit what you say.  For you, there's no need to worry.

As someone else mentioned, he should wake up to the fact that he just made the same kind of political mistake that he usually calls out others for.  He's on the other end of the spectrum now, and mighty want to take that into account.

There reaches a point when appearances count, as many more people will be exposed to those that what actually happens.  He can't act like a fucktard and expect to treated with respect.

Take a note.
--
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
Any
[ Parent ]

again, he's not a troll you cock (1.42 / 14) (#44)
by Hide The Hamster on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 08:52:46 PM EST

He's a circle-jerking political dipshit. He wouldn't be a serious "blog" douchebag if he were a troll. It wasn't his intent to rouse a big upset against himself. He's just a giant choad.


Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

[ Parent ]
last time (none / 3) (#46)
by Wah on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 09:01:20 PM EST

and then you can say what you want.  I'm not saying he is, or that's all he does.

However, that post, in and of itself, is a good example of a troll. The resulting contraversy is a good indication of that.

Limbaugh/O'Reilly, et. al. live for this kind of stuff, where they get everyone riled up and then say, "Hey, that's not what I meant".

YHBT.

HAND.

The line is just blurring between internet and mass media.
--
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
Any
[ Parent ]

Trolling, (1.70 / 10) (#47)
by Hide The Hamster on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 09:05:24 PM EST

is the intended arousal of angry bites for amusement and occasionally reputation. Not accidental slip-ups that make your business lose sponsors. Hence, it is not the "perfect example of a troll" if it was accidental.


Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

[ Parent ]
nope (none / 3) (#48)
by Wah on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 09:07:41 PM EST

that's what amatuers do.  When they do it for a hobyy.

The pros get paid.  Kos won't lose money on this deal, not if he plays his cards right.
--
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
Any
[ Parent ]

Ha ha, yeah right. (2.50 / 6) (#49)
by Hide The Hamster on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 09:08:26 PM EST

Perfect example of all this: losing his biggest sponsor. "Getting paid" indeed.


Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

[ Parent ]
fucktard (none / 1) (#194)
by Wah on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:16:12 PM EST

follow your talent.

Doors you didn't even see will open if you stay true to that.
--
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
Any
[ Parent ]

There is no such thing (none / 2) (#72)
by ninja rmg on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:42:53 PM EST

As a professional troll, delusional biters' testamony notwithstanding.



[ Parent ]
hah (none / 0) (#165)
by Wah on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:20:05 PM EST

watch Savage, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Stern, etc. They exist to enflame those who disagree and get them to listen and call in.  

It's a ratings game, just like it is for you weenies.
--
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
Any
[ Parent ]

There's an important difference: (2.20 / 5) (#225)
by ninja rmg on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:14:34 PM EST

Those guys are not a bunch of fucking nerds posting on the internet. It's so sad the way geeks try to extend their narrow little world and the trappings and interpretations therein to the world at large.

The inability to see distinctions is the mark of a dull mind.



[ Parent ]

a seashell is not a galaxy (none / 2) (#238)
by Wah on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 05:01:05 PM EST

but I'll be damned if they don't look the same, and aren't governed by the same relationship of internal forces.

You are correct though, they are not fucking nerds posting on the internet, they are fucking nerds posting on the TV.  

Converge my son, and you'll see the light.  What you do with simple keypresses, they do with producers and directors.

This story is a damn fine example of that convergence, IMDO, ya ft.
--
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
Any
[ Parent ]

"the intended arousal of angry bites" (none / 0) (#91)
by mcc on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:10:38 AM EST

Such as the clearly impassioned and angry bite he has just extracted from you?

[ Parent ]
In other words (none / 2) (#90)
by mcc on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:07:28 AM EST

He's not just a troll, he's better at it than you are, and it pisses you off.

[ Parent ]
I'm not a troll you tit, never claimed to be. (1.00 / 4) (#95)
by Hide The Hamster on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:23:12 AM EST

Get some observational skills.


Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

[ Parent ]
Response - (none / 0) (#332)
by Disevidence on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 02:03:07 AM EST

Just because you don't think you're a troll, doesn't mean that someone else cannot believe you are a troll.

I, personally, don't believe your a troll. I do, however, believe you're a moron with too much free time.

[ Parent ]

Does this suprise anyone? (1.92 / 27) (#36)
by godix on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 08:01:35 PM EST

Idiot makes stupid comment that proves he's really just some asshole who's so caught up in his idealogical hatred that it colors everything he sees in the news. Politicans move to distance themselves from that to asshole. More assholes come out of the woodwork whine 'Why should we care that 4 people were killed then their bodies mutilated? They weren't lefties and if they aren't lefties then it's not like they're human or deserve compassion or anything like that.' Isn't it nice to know that diehard Bush haters are the type of people who respond to deaths with "I for one applaud their demise"? No wonder the word 'liberal' is now synonymous with 'stupid whining hypocritical bastard'.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

Heh, cute (1.14 / 14) (#42)
by godix on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 08:25:07 PM EST

Downvote the guy who is disgusted by people rejoycing in death but leave the people rejoycing in death alone. Interesting how K5ers seem intent on proving my point about what the word liberal means.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]
I'll just leave my sig here then <nt> (2.75 / 4) (#68)
by GenerationY on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:36:26 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Very appropriate. (none / 0) (#274)
by kmcrober on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:54:20 PM EST

You know, every time I see you post, I mean to google Dead Air or just ask about that sig.  I love it.  I'm a huge Banks fan, but I have no idea what Dead Air is.  Nor have I ever read any political commentary from him (except what's worked into his novels, I guess.)  Care to enlighten me?

[ Parent ]
Dead Air (none / 0) (#297)
by GenerationY on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:48:59 PM EST

Is actually a novel of his, and the main protagonist is a left-wing shock-jock called Ken Nott. It set around the time of 9/11 (I guess theres an obvious pun therefore in the title). I don't think its his best book by a long chalk and indeed, many people have criticised it specifically as when Ken Nott opens his mouth, behind the ventriloquism, you can hear the author booming away. He should get an account here and get it out of his system perhaps! Still, I found it quite an eloquent comment.

Perhaps it is a little unfair in some ways; its just a little surprising at first when you hear the word "liberal" used the way it often is in American discourse. It doesn't really carry the same connotations here in the UK. This is possibly why Europeans suspect Americans of being more right-wing than they actually are.

Oh, and I met him (Iain Banks) once and he was great fun, and notably very kind to me considering at the time I was an annoying fan boy of the first order (this was about 9 or 10 years ago now). Answered all my stupid questions and gave me directions to a curry house in Glasgow.

If you know him more as a Sci-Fi writer I would recommend his mainstream fiction from the stunning "Wasp Factory" up to "The Crow Road", but after that quality has sadly taken a little bit of a nosedive IMHO. "The Business" was notably very weak indeed. I'm hopeful of better things next time though, and I certainly have no worries as regards the sci-fi.

http://www.iainbanks.net/fiction.htm

[ Parent ]

I've only read his science fiction (none / 1) (#310)
by kmcrober on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:59:21 PM EST

I went so far as to pick up a copy of The Wasp Factory, but never got around to reading it.  Just another book on the list of things to read when, if, I have the time.

I actually don't think that "liberal" is given a negative connotation in mainstream discourse.  There's a very self-conscious approach from the relatively far right to make it a pejorative; see, for example, the strident attempts by right wing media to label Kerry a "liberal" and call it a criticism.  I think it must have a lot of currency in conservative dialogue, to distinguish the liberal left from the moderate left, but it's not taken as anything more than a descriptive label by most people.  

[ Parent ]

Its a matter of degree i think<nt> (none / 0) (#316)
by GenerationY on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:28:46 AM EST



[ Parent ]
rejoycing -> rejoicing (2.20 / 5) (#73)
by llimllib on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:46:39 PM EST

sorry, that annoyed me

Peace.
[ Parent ]
How childish. (2.55 / 9) (#109)
by kmcrober on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:16:24 AM EST

People didn't vote you down because they're death fetishists.  You were voted down because you posted a petulant whine.  Even on the internet, squealing gibberish like "the word 'liberal' is now synonymous with 'stupid whining hypocritical bastard'" makes people wince in pity and move on.

[ Parent ]
It is a terrible thing what happened. (2.57 / 7) (#101)
by SIGNOR SPAGHETTI on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:40:52 AM EST

It's exactly like when the animal tamer at the circus gets mauled by the dancing bear or the tiger or the shitzus - how can something like that happen - the bear or the tiger or the shitzus have to be shot in the heart, for the sake of democracy, and their heads cut off and their brains scanned by a resonating nuclear magnetoscope, and so you have to feel sorry for Mr. Bear (or the tiger or the yappy little shit hounds) because his mother loved him. Now an angry mob from LGF is buying tickets to Iraq where they'll take their revenge on the bears and the tigers and the poodles, and I don't think Kos and his tinkerbell friends are going to stand in their way at the airport, on account of their frightened liberal constitutions, so it's a giant mess. Will civilization survive? I don't know. Maybe rmg is right.

--
Stop dreaming and finish your spaghetti.
[ Parent ]

I know little about this site (2.92 / 13) (#40)
by melia on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 08:12:53 PM EST

Instapundit et al. should realize that this anti-Kos campaign they are mounting is ridiculous and obviously partisan. Making a single callous comment is not reason for being ostracized by the entire world.

Well, as I read again in your links, it's not about ethics, it's about strategy. This guy has chosen to enter the big game of politics and he's become very public - maybe he doesn't realise that, but it's true. We all know how dirty politics is. Maybe it's his own fault.

Of course, since it's strategy, it's reasonable that his thousands of dollars worth of advertising should be pulled from his site. You should remember that Rusty et al are as close to "editors" as scoop sites have - and it seems that the "Daily Kos" has much closer ties to the views of its owner than K5.
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong

Of course it's his own fault! (none / 0) (#576)
by RandomLiegh on Sat Apr 24, 2004 at 02:39:29 PM EST

If you willingly choose to enter the world of politics; you deserve whatever you get.

---
Thought of the week: There is no thought this week.
---
[ Parent ]
A Well Written Article About A Piece of Crap (2.42 / 33) (#50)
by thelizman on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 09:08:52 PM EST

For starters, there is a huge difference between "Security" and "Mercenaries". Failing to understand the differences doesn't make someone clever, insightful, or intellectually high minded. It makes them an ignorant ass. If it helps, mercenaries are contract fighters whose job it is to identify, close with, and destroy enemy equipment and personnel. Security Forces are paid to identify threats to equipment and personnel and either avoid them or neutralize them when encountered.

Secondly, if a person says something which is reprehensible, the only defense is a heartfelt apology. These people were human beings. What happenned to them would otherwise be known as a war-crime if the thugs who did this were anything approaching a State sponsored fighting force.

Also, this Zúniga troll neatly forgets the fact that these four men were advanced route security for a convoy bringing humanitarian relief supplies to Falluja.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
What if the security forces were given (1.16 / 6) (#55)
by JChen on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 09:40:13 PM EST

a mission to go and preemptively strike a suspected terrorist hideout? What will they be considered then?

I find it interesting to note the game Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries, in which you are contracted by various employers to both escort convoys, protect civilians and officials, and also to lead assaults on military installations and assassinate foreign dignataries. Instead of playing around with vocabulary words, why don't we just say that these men were soldiers of fortune?

Let us do as we say.
[ Parent ]

Mechwarrior? (2.63 / 11) (#215)
by epburn on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:25:57 PM EST

Are we seriously relying on a computer game to make arguments about real world job descriptions? I know the guys were in a vehicle when they were killed, but I don't remember reading they were in a walking tank.

Should we evaluate the war on terror with posts like "Yeah, but this one time in Counterstrike..."?

[ Parent ]
LOL! (2.00 / 6) (#233)
by thelizman on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:42:10 PM EST

It's funny how many times people base their viewpoints on their contextual understanding of a word, not on the actual definitions. But then, it's frustrating the extent to which they'll argue in order to avoid reevaluating their viewpoints (pray tell admit being wrong?).
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Cha-ching! (none / 3) (#232)
by thelizman on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:40:16 PM EST

Well, then they'd be "closing with and destroying enemy equipment and personnel" wouldn't they? And then they'd be mercenaries eh? Was my definition unclear about that?
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
that's not what a mercenary does (2.86 / 15) (#62)
by Delirium on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:23:32 PM EST

A mercenary is not specifically a contract fighter hired to destroy enemy equipment and personnel. By longstanding usage in the English language, a mercenary is simply a soldier who works as a private contractor instead of as part of a regular army. Soldiers do a variety of things: they sometimes undertake offensive missions and they sometimes fight defensively. A mercenary who is taking on the role of a soldier fighting defensively is still a mercenary.

A security guard, by contrast, provides civilian security in an area that is not a warzone or occupied territory, typically in the same country in which he lives (the guy outside your local mall is a security guard).

[ Parent ]

Look up "soldier" (1.75 / 8) (#230)
by thelizman on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:38:59 PM EST

The job description is the same (believe me, they make you memorize it and recite it when accosted by an NCO). The difference is that soldiers are enlisted and deemed as property, while mercs can quite any time they feel like it.
A security guard, by contrast, provides civilian security in an area that is not a warzone or occupied territory,
These were civilians working for a private company guarding humanitarian supplies being transported by a NGO in aarea which was not a warzone nor was it occupied at the time. So how much further would you like to refine your personal definition to justify your tacit support of this brutality?
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
I call bullshit (2.66 / 9) (#260)
by snatmandu on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:10:56 PM EST

You wrote:

These were civilians working for a private company guarding humanitarian supplies being transported by a NGO in aarea which was not a warzone nor was it occupied at the time.

They were not protecting "humanitarian supplies trasnported by an NGO".  They were protecting military supplies (food for Soldiers) being transported by a private contractor.  According to this Washington Post article:

A Blackwater spokesman said the men were guarding a convoy on its way to deliver food to troops under a subcontract to a company named Regency Hotel and Hospitality.

So they went into a lawless area -- which you could call a warzone, since there is no functioning government.  They were acting as part of the supply chain for the US Military.  They came armed.  

Basically, they were enemy combatants, in the eyes of Iraqis.

Mutilating corpses is always wrong.  But whining about how these four were innocent rent-a-cops is bogus.  Spewing things like "NGO" and "humanitiarian" doesn't make it so.

[ Parent ]

Your Facts are Wrong (1.50 / 6) (#493)
by thelizman on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:14:15 PM EST

I don't blame you, I blame your shitty sources. "The four victims of that attack, according to Blackwater spokesman Chris Bertelli, were escorting trucks carrying either food or kitchen equipment for Regency Hotel and Hospitality. Regency is a subcontractor to Eurest Support Services (ESS), a division of the Compass Group, the world's largest food service company", (Source:Washington Post). The Army has its own trucking and traffic infrastructure to support itself, it doesn't need to pay anyone $1,000 a day to do that. You can stop being KOS's mouth piece anytime now.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
You did read all of it didn't you? (2.16 / 6) (#498)
by tonedevil on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:47:11 PM EST

The four victims of that attack, according to Blackwater spokesman Chris Bertelli, were escorting trucks carrying either food or kitchen equipment for Regency Hotel and Hospitality. Regency is a subcontractor to Eurest Support Services (ESS), a division of the Compass Group, the world's largest food service company. ESS provides food services to more than a dozen U.S. military dining facilities in Iraq, according to news accounts.

I am sure the Army has it's own trucks and infrastructure, but they also apparently hire ESS for food as well. Every account I have read is ambiguous as hell, <sarcasam>for some reason these Blackwater guys don't want to give out a lot of info.</sarcasam>

[ Parent ]

Non Sequiter (none / 2) (#510)
by thelizman on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:09:32 AM EST

It does not say that the convoy was for the military. Why does this simple fact keep escaping you? What is your agenda?
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
What was the convoy for? (none / 1) (#514)
by tonedevil on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:20:15 AM EST

As I mentioned the article is ambiguous, it is not that big a step to infer they were delivering food to the military, but it is not explicit. Why do you need the Blackwater USA consultants to be without military ties? The firefight they were in a few days later seems to blur the line to the point of nonexistance.

[ Parent ]
The Fallujah Regency Hotel (none / 3) (#516)
by rusty on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:38:47 AM EST

Relax, in middle-eastern splendor, at the Fallujah Regency Hotel! Bask in the warm desert sun after your complimentary continental breakfast. Breathe easy behind our four foot thick kevlar-impregnated outer walls, and let the worries and AK-47 rounds of your daily life slip away...

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Just Admit Your Agenda? (none / 0) (#524)
by thelizman on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 11:40:21 AM EST

Why do you need the Blackwater USA consultants to be without military ties?
Who said I did? What is your agenda, anyway?
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Agenda (none / 1) (#528)
by tonedevil on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 01:57:22 PM EST

I have no agenda, any more than you. In your comments about the "consultants" you have been very strident in your insistence that they were not guarding food for the military, that the convoy they were protecting was for humanitarian purpose, and that they are not like military but more like security guards. I still ask what is the difference, if they were mercenaries or security guards, dead is dead. They knew the job was dangerous when they took it, their deaths are a sad event for those close to them, and it isn't hard to see why there is an outcry over the comment on KOS. Keeping all that in mind, there is a very thin line that they walked or even crossed between being a "private citizen" in a war torn country and being a "mercenary" in a war zone and those who side with them being mercenary are not just stubbornly trying to push some agenda.

[ Parent ]
The thin line (none / 1) (#531)
by thelizman on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 07:02:10 PM EST

...there is a very thin line that they walked or even crossed between being a "private citizen" in a war torn country and being a "mercenary" in a war zone and those who side with them being mercenary are not just stubbornly trying to push some agenda.
That's not even accurate at all. I said this earlier - failing to understand the difference doesn't make you somehow insightful. Being a private security worker is miles apart from being a professional soldier. More to the point, there is a clear and obvious agenda being pushed by people who want nothing more than to label the slain Blackwater consultants as "mercenaries". The negative connotation of what a merc is makes it easy to dismiss thier deaths as inconsequential, just as ignoring the fact that the convoy was a civilian aid shipment makes it less controversial an act. What sounds worse to the average person - a group of rebels part of an uprising against occupation forces attacking and killing mercenaries guarding a military supply convoy, or a savage attack by petty islamofascist thugs on a humanitarian shipment bound for the people of Fallujah? There's a blatent and obvious agenda, and it gets terribly annoying when I have to point out the obvious.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
You win (none / 1) (#537)
by tonedevil on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 12:10:30 AM EST

They aren't mercenaries, I won't even start with guns-for-hire. You seem comfortable with security guards so security guards it is.

These security gurards seem to be a bit of a problem, here is why I think so: question one, who are these armed men, in a country at war who don't wear a uniform? Question two, are they responsible to some authority apart from the food service company that hired them?

There was an incident involving Blackwater USA security guards and Iraqi militia. They are different Blackwater USA security guards, who sure are acting like and fighting along side regular army, but they aren't regular army, they are armed private citizens. If they are taken prisoner under those conditions what is it that would differentiate them from the prisoners being held by the USA in camp x-ray at Guantanamo Bay?

No I don't care what you want to call them, four horrific deaths are certainly compellingly sad but that doesn't mean thier presence should be not subject to scrutiny.

PS You don't have any idea whether or not those guys were guarding humanatarian supplies or military rations or even militarty ammunition. If you do, then prove it.

[ Parent ]

Guys in Hats With Guns (none / 0) (#541)
by thelizman on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 12:58:25 PM EST

question one, who are these armed men, in a country at war who don't wear a uniform? Question two, are they responsible to some authority apart from the food service company that hired them?
I don't think that these questions have gone unanswered. They (the "armed men" are contract workers for a private company (Blackwater Security) who were hired by the Coalition Provisional Authority to guard civilian reconstruction equipment and personnel.
There was an incident involving Blackwater USA security guards and Iraqi militia. They are different Blackwater USA security guards, who sure are acting like and fighting along side regular army, but they aren't regular army, they are armed private citizens.
The incident of which you speak certainly encroaches on the line from security personnel to mercs. However, considering the situation - that civilian coalition personnel, then Blackwater was technically justified in engaging hostile forces. Moreover, they were morally justified - there were US soldiers and civilians under attack, and in distant danger of being overrun. Any decent person would find it unconcienable that Blackwaters personnel would sit idly by because it wasn't their job to get involved.
If they are taken prisoner under those conditions what is it that would differentiate them from the prisoners being held by the USA in camp x-ray at Guantanamo Bay?
The difference are really minor, except the camp X-Ray prisoners are getting humane treatment, whereas the insurgents in Iraq have already demonstrated their lack of respect for human life.
No I don't care what you want to call them, four horrific deaths are certainly compellingly sad but that doesn't mean thier presence should be not subject to scrutiny.
Certainly no argument there.
PS You don't have any idea whether or not those guys were guarding humanatarian supplies or military rations or even militarty ammunition. If you do, then prove it.
Sorry bud, but that's not how it works. Since it has been widely reported that they were guarding humanitarian supplies, the burden of proof is not with me. I've seen one person assert that they were military supplies, and when confronted with the facts, they couldn't back it up. The fact of the matter is that Blackwater does not guard military supply convoys in Iraq - they guard civilian assetts of the CPA. The company transporting the supplies was civilian. The supplies were bound for Najaf, which wasn't even occupied by US forces at the time. There is absolutely no logical reason to believe the supplies were of a military nature. That belief is someones agenda.

Incidentally, you needled the point that they "dont' wear uniforms". This isn't uncommon for security personnel in hostile environments. In fact, in countries like Yemen, the Marines who pull embassy duty do not wear uniforms, nor do they cut their hair or shave. Special Forces typically maintain civilian profiles. If you look at some of the AP photography, you'll often have no trouble spotting the SOCCOM (Special Forces) Operator assigned to front-line units - he's the guy that looks like the bass fisherman surrounded by soldiers. You'll even occasionally see them wielding AK's instead of an M4/M16/CAR15. Wearing a uniform makes you a target, and if you're not a soldier in a military unit, it makes little sense.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Widely Reported (none / 0) (#547)
by tonedevil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 04:11:51 AM EST

This is what is widely reported. Please pay special attention to paragraph four and think again.

[ Parent ]
You Believe Everything You Read? (none / 1) (#551)
by thelizman on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:47:57 PM EST

The article states "A Blackwater spokesman said the men were guarding a convoy on its way to deliver food to troops under a subcontract to a company named Regency Hotel and Hospitality."

This is in contrast to the same papers statement from a week ago that "The four victims of that attack, according to Blackwater spokesman Chris Bertelli, were escorting trucks carrying either food or kitchen equipment for Regency Hotel and Hospitality."

Now suddenly it was for the troops? Or is this an assumption unsupported by the facts. The fact is Mary Pat Flaherty (cowriter of the second story) is a known activist-journalist who spins stories towards progressive viewpoints. But the real question is, how long did you search before you found one article - which does not make it "widely reported" - supporting the assertion that this was a military supply convoy?
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
what? (2.50 / 4) (#273)
by Delirium on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:47:27 PM EST

How is Iraq not an occupied area? It's under US occupation, and the US itself even describes the situation as such (at least until the planned handover on June 30).

And has been pointed out, these contractors were guarding the supply lines for an army, not food for an NGO. Supply lines are a legitimate and frequent target of attack during wars.

[ Parent ]

Facts vs Disinformation (none / 2) (#492)
by thelizman on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:01:29 PM EST

The US Military had not been occupying Najaf or the surrounding areas prior to that attack. So it was not an occupied area. Try to keep within the scope of the conversation, will ya?
And has been pointed out, these contractors were guarding the supply lines for an army, not food for an NGO.
Whoever "pointed this out" is full of shit. Those civilian contractors were guarding a shipment of food and cooking supplies headed to Najaf, being transported by a company under contract from the Coalition Provisional Authority. Reference: 1, 2, 3. Since no US military fighting force was in or around Najaf, it's kind of hard to consider it an "army supply line".
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
How is it not an occupied area? (none / 3) (#506)
by Delirium on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 11:22:36 PM EST

You yourself just said they were contracted by the Coalition Provisional Authority, a foreign occupying government.

[ Parent ]
And Your Point Is? (none / 3) (#511)
by thelizman on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:10:37 AM EST

So? That doesn't make it occupied. By your ambiguous redefinition of that word, every country in which the US has an embassy becomes "occupied".
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
No (none / 0) (#519)
by Delirium on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:06:02 PM EST

Only countries in which the US serves as the central government and highest authority in the country (excluding the US itself). Typically the US Embassy in a country does not actually run the country.

[ Parent ]
Please Mr. Lizman... (2.00 / 5) (#408)
by tonedevil on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:36:54 PM EST

tell us what humanitarian organization they were securing.

[ Parent ]
What? (none / 3) (#491)
by thelizman on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 03:56:26 PM EST

I never said it was a "humanitarian organization". I said it was a "NGO". The company has not been identified by the Coalition Provisional Authority, but there are 26 private companies providing transportation services for CPA in Iraq. The security workers were contracted by Blackwater Securities of Moylock, NC.

If you're looking for attacks against HOs, you're going to have a problem. They all pulled out after the terrorists bombed the UNICEF HQ and killed Red Cross workers in attacks late last year.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Reread your comment. (none / 3) (#495)
by tonedevil on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:28:48 PM EST

Well this part at least:

These were civilians working for a private company guarding humanitarian supplies being transported by a NGO in aarea which was not a warzone nor was it occupied at the time.

Sorry I used the term, "Humanitarian Organization" since that would be who would be transporting "humanitarian supplies".

[ Parent ]

Making Assumptions (none / 2) (#512)
by thelizman on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:12:55 AM EST

Sorry I used the term, "Humanitarian Organization" since that would be who would be transporting "humanitarian supplies".
Most HOs rely on private commercial contracters to transport goods at reduced fees. It's very rare that you could make such an assumption as you have and be correct.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
You're very good at... (none / 2) (#515)
by tonedevil on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:32:04 AM EST

making assumptions youself. I will admit it could have been humanatarian, but it seems from the reports that it could just as easy be food for the troops.

Now my question for you is, what difference does it make?

[ Parent ]

So... (2.66 / 6) (#223)
by JahToasted on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:55:53 PM EST

If I'm being paid to defend some tinpot dictator's presidential palace against a popular revolt, I am NOT a mercenary? Interesting that that sort of work is the bread and butter of mercenaries around the world. Sorry I meant to say Security Guards. Security Guards. Right.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]
Well now... (none / 3) (#229)
by thelizman on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:36:17 PM EST

...if you're not doing it on a contract basis, then you're not a mercenary are ya sparky?
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Then (none / 3) (#399)
by JahToasted on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 03:03:43 PM EST

Why are these guys refered to as "contractors" all the time if they weren't working on a contract basis?
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]
You Have Reading Comprehension Issues (none / 3) (#494)
by thelizman on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:15:45 PM EST

I'm not inclined to restate the entire thread because you can't remember a complete sentence beyond a single post.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Need to Back Up A Step (2.40 / 5) (#322)
by czolgosz on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:10:09 AM EST

These people were human beings. What happenned to them would otherwise be known as a war-crime if the thugs who did this were anything approaching a State sponsored fighting force.
Osama Binladen is a human being too. Human beings are capable of committing brutal, contemptible acts for the basest of motives. I'm not badmouthing these guys, I don't know why they went to Iraq. And frankly, a lot of people do bad things for what they consider to be noble reasons. The human capacity for self-deception and hypocrisy is nearly infinite. One thing I do know is that Blackwater's an odd firm to work for if your goal is to be a humanitarian. Medecins Sans Frontieres might be a more credible choice.

And let's not forget the bigger picture: the US should not have gone into Iraq, the reasons the US are there are immoral, and those who voluntarily support the venture are accessories to a crime against humanity several orders of magnitude greater than the mutilation of four bodies. The uniformed military are more constrained in their capacity to refuse so I don't judge them as harshly. The civilian contractors are there entirely of their own free will, in a place where they are unwelcome, supporting a criminal enterprise that was conceived entirely out of greed and lust for power and has led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians, not to mention the military casualties whose patriotism and sense of duty have been so cynically abused.

It's a tragedy when anyone is killed, and when anyone is treated so foully after their deaths. But the blame rests with the people who started the war and created the opportunity that these guys sought to exploit. And if they hadn't set foot in Iraq, this would not have happened to them. Choices have consequences.


Why should I let the toad work squat on my life? --Larkin
[ Parent ]
Slight correction (none / 2) (#469)
by bob6 on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 10:56:39 AM EST

the fact that these four men were advanced route security for a convoy bringing humanitarian relief supplies to Falluja
No they weren't. This story and the comments contain a lot of links to press articles from a wide variety of political bias and none mentions a humanitarian mission.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
The left. (1.42 / 21) (#52)
by /dev/trash on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 09:17:43 PM EST

I find it funny that whenthe left gets caught doing something bad, they have two reponses.
  1.  It's ALL the Conservatives fault I did the bad thing.
  2.  I'm losing sponsers?  Well yeah but I have 4 MORE to replace those, so it's no big deal.


---
Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
'bout time they learned from the right (en-tea) (none / 2) (#192)
by ceejayoz on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:11:39 PM EST



[ Parent ]
I don't see the political dimension (2.58 / 12) (#53)
by GenerationY on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 09:28:37 PM EST

There is nothing particularly "leftist" about Kos's comments other than it was Kos who made them. A stupid comment is a stupid comment whomever makes it. In fact a rabid tin-hat wearing left winger would be equally as likely to point out the way in which a corporation has effectively led to the deaths of four men who wouldn't have been there but for the nature of capitalism etc etc. Not that I think that incidentally, but like I say, this isn't really to do with political leanings.

Having a bit of respect for human life and not shooting your mouth off when you have some degree of responsibility should be something that people of all political persuasions are capable of.


You don't see the slant? (3.00 / 6) (#59)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:14:24 PM EST

Kos insulted the dead men because he doesn't believe in the war in Iraq. That's inherent in his politics.

A right winger would never have insulted those particular men in that particular situation. That doesn't mean right wingers can't say similarly stupid things - Coulter's wish that the NYT editorial staff had been in the Twin Towers when the planes hit comes to mind - but Kos' remark was fundamentally political in nature.

I agree that stupidity is stupidity no matter who does it, but you're in denial if you don't see the political echos in this.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

I suppose so. (none / 3) (#64)
by GenerationY on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:28:56 PM EST

But equally I'd of thought exaggerating any tragedy that happens in Iraq would be more effective as part of an anti-war position. Then again I'm not making cash as a web raconteur so what do I know.

[ Parent ]
some-thing/no-thing, life/death, awake/dreaming (none / 1) (#466)
by banffbug on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 10:12:04 AM EST

Left, right, i'm so confused, remind me again which one belongs to whom. Once i figure out which one is me, I then know the other is definantly not me, right? ahem, correct?

Why not take a person's coments at face value, without filtering it's message with your on/off indicator? Seriously, if someone* didn't tell you if a remark be republican or democrat, or at least some text beside his name on screen indicating his preferance, you'd lose all sense of direction, spiral down, and fall into the bermuda triangle.

*most likely yourself

note: an emotionalily inspired rant not neccessaraly directed at you, or you alone; i simply became fed up with this arcane classification while reading your post.

[ Parent ]

This reminds me (2.20 / 10) (#54)
by levesque on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 09:33:58 PM EST

Of the story about the US occupying force closing down a Iraq news paper for telling lies. At the time this seemed wrong to me knowing that a small but not irrelevant percentage of the military is capable and probably responsible for the kinds of things the paper was accusing the military of doing. In the context of this story I am even more worried about bad things actually going on as a result of the occupying force's tactics.

Denying this and closing down the paper, in my view, only fuels the hatred of Iraq residents toward US tactics. The paper may have been exaggerating but, again, in my view, cover-ups most likely contribute to an escalation of violence on both sides. I am assuming that civilization through obfuscation of dissent is no longer a viable option, nor desirable in todays world and at minimum one should move toward, if not totally, more civilized and transparent policies.

yes, that story led to this one (2.60 / 5) (#170)
by Wah on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:33:06 PM EST

BAGHDAD, April 4--Seven U.S. soldiers died on Sunday in combat with militia members of the Iraqi resistance in Sadr City near Baghdad, according to the spokesman for the occupation forces, AP reports.

At least a further 24 U.S. soldiers were injured, according to a military press release. The U.S. armed forces stated that the clashes began when militia members took over police stations and government buildings in Sadr, a predominantly Shiite city located east of the capital.

Shutting down the paper was one of the straws that sent Al-Sadr from protestor to insurgent.
Al-Sadr and his supporters were responsible Sunday for some of the worst violence since the ouster of Saddam Hussein. Al-Sadr is suspected of killing a rival cleric in front of a holy site.

Supporters of al-Sadr have been rioting in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. The fighting has killed at least 52 Iraqis, eight U.S. troops and a Salvadoran soldier.

"With Sadr, this is one person who doesn't want democracy to flourish, he wants to use force," Bush said.

Becuase we all know how force and democracy don't mix
Reports from Baghdad say U.S. forces have launched a helicopter strike against militiamen who follow a Shi'ite cleric branded as an outlaw by the U.S. administrator in Iraq. Fighting between coalition forces and the Shiite militias has killed nearly 80 people since Sunday.
Witnesses said Apache helicopters opened fire on the private militias of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a day after deadly fighting broke out between rioting Shi'ite demonstrators and coalition forces. The new clashes erupted after supporters of the Shiite cleric seized control of at least one government building. On Sunday, the outspoken critic of the U.S. occupation of Iraq called for his followers to stop demonstrating and terrorize the enemy.
From today.
--
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
Any
[ Parent ]
Interesting spin. (2.31 / 16) (#57)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:04:19 PM EST

The mainstream press referred to the 4 as "security guards" but you call them "mercenaries".

Care to explain the difference?

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong

Why does there need to be a difference? (nt) (1.60 / 5) (#58)
by mcc on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:10:21 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Because "security guards" are (2.90 / 11) (#63)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:24:45 PM EST

nice guys who keep kids from shoplifting. "Mercenaries" are evil men who commit atrocities for money.

Sure, in a dictionary "security guard" and "mercenary" may have similar meanings, but in the real world those two words create very different contexts.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

Oh, come on. (2.80 / 5) (#345)
by Kwil on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:34:32 AM EST

Given their employers?

They're mercenaries.  

They are men specifically trained for combat, in a combat zone, with a good chance of actually having to engage in combat, hired by a private company who specifically contracts out people with these kind of skills for these kind of situations.

You find me a mall cop who meets those criteria.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
it's a gray area (3.00 / 6) (#61)
by Delirium on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:19:40 PM EST

Officially they're security guards. In practice, they look an awfully lot like mercenaries: they're providing security for operations being carried out in something that looks very much like a war zone (alternately, an occupied country), which is typically the job of soldiers. And they're doing work very similar to the work the US soldiers there are doing, and are even coordinated through the same command (the US military tells them where to go and what to protect).

[ Parent ]
Good points but, as I understand it (2.75 / 8) (#65)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:29:57 PM EST

real mercenaries would be hired by, and answer to, the regular military in the area. They would also be deployed as regular soldiers - suppressing resistance, attacking bases, etc..

My understanding is that these men were hired as to protect the persons and property of a group of civilian contractors, and answered to those contractors, not the US Army.

The main reason I raise the point is that the word "mercenary" is loaded with all sorts of emotional overtones - it creates the image of a morally dubious violent felon, while "security guard" creates the image of "Deputy Dawg" chasing kids out of the local arcade.

Neither portrait is probably accurate, but which one is used reveals a lot about the speaker.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

I disagree (2.50 / 4) (#80)
by blakdogg on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 11:20:11 PM EST

These guys were mercenaries, a mercenary is basically a private soldier, or someone motivated by greed. These guys would fall under the first definition. And I think the term mercenary would be accurate.

The negative image surrounding the word is truly unfortunate.


Woe be onto the United Nations, there nothing but a front.
[ Parent ]

Profit, not greed (none / 2) (#174)
by lugumbashi on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:05:13 PM EST

There is a big difference. Actually I would guess that most regular soldiers in Iraq joined up because they wanted a good job, not because they especially wanted to defend their country.

But you are right, they were mercenaries. However I don't think anyone deserves that fate.
-"Guinness thaw tool in jew me dinner ouzel?"
[ Parent ]

Good Job ? (none / 1) (#307)
by blakdogg on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:45:07 PM EST


 Actually I would guess that most regular soldiers in Iraq joined up because they wanted a good job, not because they especially wanted to defend their country

I hope not, and being in the infantry is not a good job. Even before the risk of war is factored in.

Woe be onto the United Nations, there nothing but a front.
[ Parent ]

Goddamn it. (none / 1) (#177)
by SPYvSPY on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:17:04 PM EST

Why would you conclude that these men were motivated by a greed and not a sense of duty? Have you confirmed that they would have been able to enlist in the regular military if they had wanted to? In fact, they would not have been able to do so. It is equally (if not more than) probable that these men were working for Blackwater because it was their only way of getting involved in the effort to save Iraq from itself.
------------------------------------------------

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

All 4 were retired military. (none / 1) (#182)
by ti dave on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:39:10 PM EST

Have you confirmed that they would have been able to enlist in the regular military if they had wanted to? In fact, they would not have been able to do so.

They had already done their time in the service. That's the type that Blackwater hires, exclusively.
Don't have a DD214? They don't want to hear from you.

"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
Yeah. (none / 0) (#187)
by SPYvSPY on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:49:48 PM EST

I meant re-enlist, which I understood that every one of these guys would have done if they could have.
------------------------------------------------

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

Which leaves one to conjecture ... (none / 0) (#213)
by big fat idiot on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:23:44 PM EST

... if military service was so important to them, why did they opt out in the first place?

[ Parent ]
An Easy One (none / 0) (#236)
by virg on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:54:39 PM EST

> if military service was so important to them, why did they opt out in the first place?

Perhaps when they retired, none of them expected to see active duty in a theater of operations, and when the Iraqi theater became a reality, they got in by the only means available to them.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Perhaps stupid heartless rich bastards (none / 0) (#279)
by big fat idiot on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 09:05:15 PM EST

But I'm disinclined to to much stock in that idea without some sort of testimonial to the effect that this is what happened.

[ Parent ]
My apologies for the subject line (none / 0) (#280)
by big fat idiot on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 09:06:24 PM EST

I didn't notice until after I had posted that my browser's autocomplete feature had put in more words than 'perhaps'

[ Parent ]
First definition (none / 0) (#304)
by blakdogg on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:29:50 PM EST

The first definition would be private soldier. I merely stated that I believe there are private soldiers.
Woe be onto the United Nations, there nothing but a front.
[ Parent ]
I'll field this. (2.88 / 25) (#66)
by ninja rmg on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:33:44 PM EST

You see, a spade is a spade, but sometimes calling a spade is anti-American.

In this case, calling someone who is paid to carry and use weapons in armed conflict and is not part of an official military organization a mercenary casts America in a rather dim light. I think everyone (except the real right wing crazies) can agree that hiring mercenaries is a pretty shady practice for a couple of reasons. For one, the idea of going to war explicitly for profit is morally perverse, and to support such people (very directly) is equally so. For another, they (apparently) are somehow exempt from international law regarding warcrimes and more generally, their actions are somehow less directly tied to American leaders per se, so it could be seen as an attempt to dodge accountability. Obviously, most Americans would find the idea of the government employing mercenaries rather unsettling.

With these things in mind, the word "contractor" is preferable -- after all, a construction worker is a contractor too. That's what it was when I first heard it. Now it's "security guard." When you hear "security gaurd," you think of the octogenarian from the mall godix talks about, but in a warzone, there just isn't room for people like that. Instead, you have the guy who reads Soldier of Fortune that localroger describes. He's not a retired police officer. He's the guy who owns the military surplus store on the Simpsons.

These are certainly not fine distinctions. They're distinctions CNN invents so the military doesn't revoke their embedded reporting contracts. But here, we are not CNN and we don't have contracts to defend, so we might as well call a spade a spade, even if some people find it shocking.



[ Parent ]

Silly you... (2.28 / 7) (#86)
by the highwayman on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 11:44:38 PM EST

...all war is profitable for someone. You decry the man on the street with the gun merely because he is the most visible. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and countless other companies find any war exponentially more profitable than peace. Not to mention nations go to war precisely for "profit" albeit they do not necessarily measure profit in dollars and cents only. Nations as not as vulgar as individuals.

International law is something the United States of America wipes its ass with and rightfully so since there is no such thing. When you show me a court system above nation-states with a means to enforce such law (and sorry but moral force is another word for weakness) than I will start believing in it. As it stands, international law is little more than victor's justice (and I have little problem with that) and so long as America has the biggest guns on the block, it gets to do whatever it wants.

I don't feel sorry for the mercenaries since they were doing their job -- they knew the risks and reaped the rewards up until the moment they were killed. If anything, I respect them much more than the 99.999% of people online who are confirmed pussies.

[ Parent ]

that makes you (2.60 / 5) (#94)
by mami on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:20:37 AM EST

the lonely 0.0001% respected online person, who is not a pussy?

I would suggest you go offline, because there you might get much more respect than just meager 0.0001% and people would have no difficulty to get the proof that you are anything but a pussy.

[ Parent ]

Um ... ..... Okay .... (2.40 / 5) (#103)
by ninja rmg on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:51:15 AM EST

.... And you are ... ?



[ Parent ]
someone much more important... (none / 2) (#134)
by the highwayman on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 08:03:48 AM EST

...and informed than you.

[ Parent ]
It warms my heart (2.50 / 6) (#113)
by kmcrober on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:38:18 AM EST

to see "Might Makes Right" made the basis of our foreign policy.  Perhaps we can amend it into the Constitution; it can replace the rather out-dated passages mandating adherence to treaty law.

[ Parent ]
It is mere observation... (none / 2) (#133)
by the highwayman on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 08:02:58 AM EST

...of the way the real world has functioned since the day man placed his cursed foot in it. If you prefer to stick your head in the sand and dream that the world is otherwise, well enjoy. All politics is about power... sometimes it is military power nakedly and savagely used, sometimes it is economic power but the key point to never forget is that it is always power. Might may not always be right but it always determines what will happen.

[ Parent ]
addendum (none / 1) (#188)
by WetherMan on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:53:26 PM EST

it should be clarified that power politics is simply a framework for understanding international relations.  power is a neutral term, with neither good nor bad conotations.  the way in which power is used by an actor determines this.
---
fluorescent lights make me look like old hot dogs
[ Parent ]
That's very simplistic. (none / 3) (#207)
by kmcrober on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:55:32 PM EST

You're proposing a very simplified Grotean scheme.  The problem is that it doesn't work.  WHY it doesn't accurately describe the world is open to discussion, but in real life not all international conflicts are solved by force or the use of force, even those that could be ironed out that way if the parties chose to.  Maybe because force is too expensive, maybe because the price of expending power is eventually diminished sovereignty, maybe because people are smart enough to negotiate for multilateral solutions.

Look at relatively recent international initiatives like KEDO or the ICC.  Relatively powerless states can exert significant influence on international affairs through negotiation and diplomacy.  Maybe that's just a different sort of power, but even then, if we redefine "might" to include diplomatic sway then we've pretty much edged away from your "cursed" humanity social darwinism.

I'm not downplaying the role of naked military or economic power in international affairs, even (or especially) in diplomatic initiatives, but it's just no longer practical to pretend that it's the only measure of potency or significance on the international level.

[ Parent ]

that's basically all you can expect from (none / 2) (#240)
by Battle Troll on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 05:20:57 PM EST

The g**ks. They don't like to think too hard unless it's about naked underage Japanese girls or Lunix.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
You're just jealous... (none / 1) (#283)
by nyet on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 09:27:58 PM EST

... that geeks aren't asked to lift really heavy things.

[ Parent ]
the heaviest thing I lift (none / 1) (#353)
by Battle Troll on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 09:32:41 AM EST

Is my wallet.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
might has always equalled right (none / 3) (#291)
by adimovk5 on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:19:36 PM EST

Your treaty law is backed by "might makes right" as much as any other action is.

It is the way of human beings. We enforce our beliefs by force of arms. Some believe in individual freedom and responsibilty. Some believe in socialism and group benefit. Either way people seek to gather enough power to force their views on the world around them.

Whether you are ridding the world of Hitler or protecting your home, you are using "might" to make what you think is "right" a reality. The difference is a matter of degrees. The only argument is over how far to extend the use of force. Does it extend only over your personal goods? Do you include your family? How big is your family? Does it include your cousins? Your town? Do you protect your neighborhood? Your state? Your nation? Your race? Your religion? Your culture?

It is only a matter of degrees and every person makes a decision about where the battle lines are drawn.

It is hypocrisy to claim might does not make right when you are protected by a shield of police and soldiers who defend you by force of arms. These men use force to defend you from those who have differing views on life and property. They defend you from harm using their collective might.

Without them your life would be worth only what the villians around you decided it was worth. Your property would belong to you only until someone decided it should be theirs.



[ Parent ]

Armchair philosophy (none / 1) (#378)
by kmcrober on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:11:20 PM EST

Never sounds as deep when you say it out loud.  Blah blah, might is the ultimate cornerstone of all society, blah blah.  OK, I'll stipulate that in the end, a strong person or nation can use their strength to influence affairs.  But that's a truism, and pointless.  It's also an overly shallow analysis.  The reality is that people deal with all levels of conflict, from potential violence to economic concerns to rights issues, with dialogue and negotiation.  Not always, but often enough that "might makes right" is an infantile analysis.  Violent conflict is a less-than-zero-sum-game in most instances, whereas complex actors negotiate to improve the expected value of interaction for all involved parties.

The original poster's point was:

When you show me a court system above nation-states with a means to enforce such law (and sorry but moral force is another word for weakness) than I will start believing in it. As it stands, international law is little more than victor's justice (and I have little problem with that) and so long as America has the biggest guns on the block, it gets to do whatever it wants.

This is moronic.  Adjudicative bodies "above" nation states, either formal courts like the ICJ or ICTY or pseduo-legislative entities like the UN's GA, often enforce their actions through non-violent means.  Noncompliance is an expensive and diplomatically draining option; it limits an actor's options down the road.  As both a cause and a result of this, high level diplomacy is used much more often today than force to resolve even the most difficult conflicts.  KEDO and the subsequent negotiations with North Korea are a good example.

The (too) easy response is, of course, "Your treaty law is backed by "might makes right" as much as any other action is."  Like I said, that's a truism.  Someone can always break the system.  But international cooperative behavior isn't a zero-sum game, and turning over the chessboard costs all players more in the long run than playing relatively nicely.

Even if we abandon all moral calculations and evaluate strategies purely on sovereign benefit, might doesn't make "right".  It disrupts the more beneficial, more ethical, and more profitable peacable and diplomatic intercourse between actors.

[ Parent ]

One of the best replies ever Ninja. (none / 1) (#341)
by Wulfius on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:13:04 AM EST

RESPECT! As an aside, it was made very, very clear to me why the Americans have a major PR problem on this planet. One of the viewer comments on FOXNEWS (And I use the word 'news' very losely in this context). Words to the effect; "The correct response to teach the locals respect in Falajah would be to use a 2000 pounder into the crowd." Even assuming that the person is a redneck hick and has never seen what high explosive does to a large crowd of people is no excuse. Comments like this merely serve to antagonise the rest of this planet. But then again did not Bush repeat Stalin when he said; "You are either with us or against us."

---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]
One of the best replies ever Ninja. (none / 3) (#342)
by Wulfius on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:13:32 AM EST

RESPECT!

As an aside, it was made very, very clear to me
why the Americans have a major PR problem on this planet.

One of the viewer comments on FOXNEWS (And I use the word 'news' very losely in this context).

Words to the effect; "The correct response to teach the locals respect in Falajah would be to use a 2000 pounder into the crowd."

Even assuming that the person is a redneck hick and has never seen what high explosive does to a large crowd of people is no excuse.

Comments like this merely serve to antagonise the rest of this planet.

But then again did not Bush repeat Stalin when he said; "You are either with us or against us."


---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]

And if Coulter had made a similar remark (2.61 / 21) (#67)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:35:53 PM EST

The left would be screaming for her head on a stick.

Oh, wait. She did. And they do.

So, what you're telling me is that Kos made a stupid, callous remark and rather than apologize he rationalized and now your asserting that people's response to his vulgarity is somehow a political ploy.

Sweet.

I will not support Kos after this, and it has nothing to do with my party affiliation. It has to do with my moral affiliation.

By the way, I don't read Coulter any more, either, so I suppose that's another way they're on equal footing.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong

That's been the typical comparison (2.54 / 11) (#70)
by proles on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:40:07 PM EST

But it's flawed. For one thing, Coulter makes comments that are arguably even more insensitive, and she makes them on a regular basis, and she essentially never apologizes or even half-apologizes like Kos did. For another thing, dare I say Kos's statement, while insensitive, was understandable. Coulter's statements just seem irrational.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]
I was with you right up to those last sentences. (2.33 / 9) (#74)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:47:04 PM EST

The fact that you sympathize with Kos doesn't excuse his behavior, nor does the fact that you disagree with Coulter make her irrational.

Vulgarity is vulgarity, and Kos remarks were vulgar in a deep way that goes far beyond simple profanity or obscenity. Rationalizing it because you like Kos doesn't make it go away. Rather, it reveals a lack of integrity which undermines the very positions you hope people like me will support.

To wit, why should I tolerate Kos anymore than I tolerate Coulter? Why should I listen to people who endorse the slaughter of Americans, as opposed to people who endorse the slaughter of Iraqis? Last time I checked, I pretty much built my life around the idea that all lives have value.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

This isn't about vulgarity (2.50 / 4) (#79)
by proles on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 11:09:08 PM EST

Firstly, regarding Coulter I'm not calling her irrational because I disagree with her: I disagree with her because I feel she is irrational. I know that might seem trite, but it's an important distinction. Now regarding vulgarity, that seems to be an odd term to describe what Kos said. Insensitive, callous, stupid, angry: those would all be applicable. At least, that's the way it seems to me. What I meant by saying Kos's statement was at least understandable is that it has at least some understandable basis: they were mercenaries, and furthermore he apparently had some bad childhood experiences with mercenaries. So, while I don't agree with what he said I'm not particularly surprised by it. This is by no means an excuse and it is not meant to be, but to me it does make it one step better than Coulter, who seems to have no reasonable basis whatsoever for many of her statements.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]
I suppose we will have to differ. (none / 3) (#85)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 11:43:09 PM EST

But, since you seem to be unsure of the term:

vulgar - in particular, definition #1.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

I'm aware of the definition (2.40 / 5) (#87)
by proles on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 11:45:54 PM EST

I just don't think "indecent" is the best way to define what Kos did.  I already gave the words I feel are applicable (insensitive, callous, stupid, etc.).

Besides that though, I'm fine with agreeing to disagree.  Or somesuch.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]

what a hoax (1.14 / 7) (#92)
by mami on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:14:17 AM EST

I think you got trolled by this porky chop stick or whatever his nicky name is.

There is no doubt that kos is in no way indecent and there is no doubt that Coulter is all the way and on purpose for the sake of monetary profit and lust for media coverage a witch-hunting, evil-speaking, hate-inciting "completely irrelevant person".

Basically media-lusty, money-grabbing, pathological liars, all the way through.

Kos is a harmless teddybear against all these guys and girls.

[ Parent ]

Sorry, I think 'indecent' is perfectly apt (2.00 / 7) (#93)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:19:17 AM EST

As in "no decent person endorses homicide".

And, despite mami's claims, I never troll.

LoL. We really are arguing about minutia. Yes, I agree that your word choices are valid - nearly synonymous with my own. I also suppose that my arguing about the proper words to describe homicide is, itself, a bit vulgar.

Ah, well.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

Misreading (2.57 / 7) (#282)
by rusty on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 09:20:31 PM EST

Kos was not endorsing murder. This is the most common (and heavily promoted) misreading of his comment.

His point was that in a week when four private mercenaries were killed and five US Marines were killed, who got all the press and bleeding-heart symathy? The mercs. His infamous "screw them" was not meant to say "they deserved to die," and by no means that they deserved the postmortem abuse they got, but that his sympathy did not primarily lie with well-paid private mercenaries who put themselves in harm's way for good money, but rather with the US soldiers who were put in harm's way by an irresponsible administration. Those guys are there serving their country (that's us!) for nothing but honor and pennies. And when they die, there are no names, there are no pictures. They're just more steadily mounting numbers.

He said it badly, but I agree with him 100%. I feel for the families of those four mercenaries. No one deserves that, and I have no doubt they were doing the best they could. But I feel much more for the people who serve in uniform. Their unnecessary deaths are the ones that deserve our outrage.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

They weren't mercenaries (1.12 / 8) (#284)
by Patrick Bateman on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 09:36:48 PM EST

Why keep repeating the big lie?

---
I have to return some videotapes.
[ Parent ]

What do you want to call them? (2.83 / 6) (#337)
by tonedevil on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 03:09:12 AM EST

Armed Consultants?

[ Parent ]
nah (2.40 / 5) (#164)
by Wah on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:18:10 PM EST

the best comparison is Little Green Footballs, which regularly glories in death and destruction.  That's o.k. though, because the dead and destructed they laugh at are 'slopeydopes and paleostinians', which are much less that 3/5th of an American or an Isreali, so it's o.k. to laught at their deaths, and remark how their culture glorifies slaughter.

Coulter latest, "9/11 Commions?! Who needs one, it's Clinton's fault", is pretty standard fare, and doesn't come close to your average day on LGF.
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[ Parent ]

hmmm... (none / 2) (#190)
by SPYvSPY on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:57:45 PM EST

Are you referring to the comments at LGF or the stories? Sure, the comments are a bunch of rah-rah, macho keyboard jockies, but the stories do a pretty good job of portraying the obscene, deluded, death cult that pervades modern Islamic culture. I guess I would make that distinction.
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[ Parent ]

the stories (none / 3) (#193)
by Wah on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:13:12 PM EST

breed the comments.  

The stories do a great job of portaying an  obscene, deluded, death cult, that is modern Islamic culture.  They spend no time looking for or promoting the opposite.

Because, don't you know, all Muslims worship death.  I read it on LGF.  They also all want to drive the Jews into the sea, and eat American babies. They are almost as bad as 'librull's.

That site is absolutely disgusting, and is probably one the most racist sites on the Net.  You'll get banned if you try and argue that there might be a peaceful Muslim on this planet. The fact that genocidal comments are encouraged drops it even lower.

Nary a day without hate is not a good example of a media outlet, IMHO.
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[ Parent ]

OK (none / 2) (#197)
by SPYvSPY on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:24:18 PM EST

I hardly align myself with the rabid on either end of the spectrum, but counterpoint can be valuable. If you want the standard "babies got hit by Israeli missiles today" coverage, it's everywhere. I find it helpful to have a perspective that debunks the Arab meme-propogation that is at the root of today's problems in the Middle East. I don't like their tone. I don't like their constituents. But I do like their unwillingness to tolerate blatant stupidity, deflection and half-stepping in the name of cultural sensitivies that just aren't worth people's lives.
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[ Parent ]

yes (none / 2) (#250)
by Wah on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 06:29:42 PM EST

But I do like their unwillingness to tolerate blatant stupidity, deflection and half-stepping in the name of cultural sensitivies that just aren't worth people's lives.

There are a number of very intelligent, well learned people over there (as you'll find an any large crowd).  Unfortunatly, and I've mentioned this to Chuck over there to no avail, the flat comments makes them appear to be a band of raging nutcases.  There is no systematic effort to promote the good posters, and put down the crap.

So they do end up tolerating blatant stupidity, but it's just stupidity from their own end of the political spectrum.  People wandering by respond to those unmoderated idiots, and the conversation crumbles.

And the idiots find refuge.
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[ Parent ]

Not really (none / 1) (#198)
by SPYvSPY on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:28:10 PM EST

You'll get banned if you try and argue that there might be a peaceful Muslim on this planet. The fact that genocidal comments are encouraged drops it even lower.

I've seen them give credit where credit is due. They regularly link to that dentist-blogger in Iraq and acknowledge handshakes from the Muslim community. Their frustration with the moderate Muslims does tend to boil over, but I think they're onto the proper fulcrum for the proper lever.
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[ Parent ]

yea, great stuff (none / 2) (#209)
by Wah on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:13:16 PM EST

here's one from the dentist
It's scenes like these that make me sometimes wonder to myself if Saddam wasn't justified in assassinating all those clerics. Get that new Mukhabarat working.
talking about Al-Sadr.

What's funny reading those kinds of threads now is how theses folks are talking about getting really tough on the Iraqis....now that the only reason we have left for invasion is the well-being...of those Iraqis.

Saving them from Saddam.  And now you'll see more and more wingers side with Saddam-style tactics to keep the peace.  Ya know, to develop Democracy.
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[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 1) (#327)
by SPYvSPY on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:18:49 AM EST

Sadr isn't exactly promoting democratic values. He's about as helpful to democracy as Arafat was. Of course, I would advocate lynching Pat Robertson or Ralph Reed, too, so I might not be the best person to discuss this with.
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[ Parent ]

I should also say (2.50 / 4) (#214)
by Wah on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:24:51 PM EST

that selectively quoting someone makes it very easy to paint them into any corner you wish.

So now that we're back on topic, let me say that 'the dentist' has written some amazing stuff, but he's a pretty hardliner, at least from the variety of iraqi blogs I've been reading. Note how they didn't post this.

Let me make it very clear right now that I am not a supporter of Al-Sadr. I do not like clerics who want to turn Iraq into the next Iran or Saudi Arabia or Kuwait... but it makes me really, really angry to see these demonstrations greeted with bullets and tanks by the troops. Why allow demonstrations if you're going to shoot at the people? The demonstrators were unarmed but angry- Al-Sadr's newspaper was shut down recently by Bremer and Co. and his deputy is said to have been detained by the Spaniards down south (although the Spanish troops are denying it). His followers are outraged, and believe me- he has a healthy number of followers. His father was practically revered by some of the Shi'a and he apparently has inherited their respect.

Today Bremer also announced the fact that we now have an official 'Ministry of Defense'. The irony of the situation wasn't lost on Iraqis- the head of the occupation announcing a "Ministry of Defense". To defend against what? Occupation? Ha, ha... or maybe it's to secure the borders from unwelcome foreigners carrying guns and riding tanks? Or perhaps the Ministry of Defense should be more concerned with the extremists coming in from neighboring countries and taking over (but no- Bremer deals with them on the Puppet Council)... so many things to do for a Ministry of Defense.

For the curious...

You can pick up a typical LGF thread here.  Listen to Moses.  Note Charles' smart-ass stirring the pot, as per.

Day in, day out.  The same hate.
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[ Parent ]

Agreed. (none / 3) (#235)
by SPYvSPY on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:44:40 PM EST

I agree that the commentary is almost totally without redeeming quality. I do find the user "justdanny" interesting--his irc dialogues with Iraqis raise an interesting question: how can one harness the power of point-to-point communications to fight the misinformation on bothe sides of the globe. I'd rather get my news from some kid in Iraq than from CNN, the BBC or LGF.
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[ Parent ]

And if the left had screamed for her head (2.90 / 20) (#89)
by mcc on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:04:46 AM EST

The "right" would have tsktsked and gone on about how easily offended the "left" is, and then gone on to denounce "political correctness", an evil "liberal" invention whereby persons who state things which, by someone arbitrary's value standards, are of questionable taste and decency, are publically smeared and ostracised.

Politics is one big hypocritical circle jerk. Everyone knows this. We just all often tend to conveniently forget this whenever a moment comes that we can temporarily make it seem that "the other side" is being more hypocritical than we are.

In the meantime: I can't speak for anyone else, but: I don't care Coulter does things like publically call for the murder of the New York Times staff and anyone else she deems "liberal". These are opinions; she has a right to them, even if they're insane. The worst I will personally do from this is try to point out that Coulter is not a good source to be looking for for reasonable or well-founded opinions. From this viewpoint, your anology between Mr. Kos and Coulter breaks down. Coulter's opinions are her product; she is currently a public figure based on the strength of her op-ed. If Coulter holds poor opinions, she puts out a poor product. Mr. Kos's opinions, however, are not his product. His product is a political news, discussion and activism site of which he happens to be a member of the editorial staff. If he has some poor opinions, it is possible it will reflect poorly on his product-- as said site may publish material he has written from time to time, and said opinions may color his editorial choices. However, we cannot make the immediate logical jump from attacking Mr. Kos' words to attacking his product.

And this is, personally, what I find the most strange about this entire thing. It is, in general, not Mr. Kos or his comments being attacked. It is DailyKos itself. Almost as if persons were not so much interested in Mr. Kos' comments themselves, but had been wanting to find some excuse to bash or belittle DailyKos, and some "politically incorrect" comments made by the founder offered just that opportunity. Much like, say, a submitted (but rejected) moveon.org ad which compared Bush to Hitler provided a convenient excuse to bash and belittle moveon. From this perspective, it begins to be very easy to look at the attacks on DailyKos as part of a strange double standard which seems almost constructed to discourage grass-roots activism by the self-proclaimed "left" from being effective: "left-wing" grass-roots activism must be absolutely saintly and never resort to invective or anything of that sort or be cut off entirely from "mainstream" political campaigns such as that run by John Kerry; "right-wing" grass-roots activism campaigns may do absolutely whatsoever it likes, without it publically reflecting badly on anyone except the campaign itself (so long as they don't cross a line which lingers somewhere around "running a university at which interracial dating is banned"). And overall, I would say that this is, in fact, a somewhat reasonable way to look at the situation: that Mr. Kos is at the moment simply the victim of a double standard which either intentionally or unintentionally is acting to discourage organization among the grass roots of the so-called "liberals". And I would say this is somewhat sad, as I would say there is a bit of a political imbalance caused by the fact that "left-wing" grass-roots activism in this country is, by and large, horrendously poorly organized at the moment. Feel free, of course, to reject this entire train of reasoning if you wish.

As for Coulter, yeah, she is on my "persons to bash" list. However, personally, what I care about with her is that she has little or no journalistic integrity and routinely and demonstratably presents opinions, poor research and fabrications as fact, then refuses to back down with confronted with contrary evidence. This is why I, personally, hold up Coulter as a demonstration as what is wrong with the self-proclaimed "right". If you can show me that Mr. Kos has been engaging in poor journalism of a similar scale, I will begin to consider him a problem as well. However, as of yet, I have seen Mr. Kos do nothing but publically present opinion, stated as opinion. Of course, I don't read DailyKos, so I haven't been paying too much attention.

---
Aside from that, the absurd meta-wankery of k5er-quoting sigs probably takes the cake. Especially when the quote itself is about k5. -- tsubame
[ Parent ]

double standard (none / 3) (#303)
by adimovk5 on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:28:10 PM EST

"left-wing" grass-roots activism must be absolutely saintly and never resort to invective or anything of that sort or be cut off entirely from "mainstream" political campaigns such as that run by John Kerry; "right-wing" grass-roots activism campaigns may do absolutely whatsoever it likes, without it publically reflecting badly on anyone except the campaign itself

There is only a double standard if you assume the "right" is a single group, unified in purpose. Instead it is a label for people with a wide range of opinions, intellects, and actions.

One person on the "right" can condemn an action on the "left" while another on the "right" is guilty of the same action. One person on the "left" can condemn an action on the "right" while another on the "left" is guilty of the same action. It is only a double standard if it's the same person or organization that both performs the act and condemns others for acting the same.

The act itself is right or wrong on its own, regardless of who condemns it.



[ Parent ]

Congrats... (2.25 / 4) (#176)
by SPYvSPY on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:08:27 PM EST

...you've uncovered the One Real Truth: the left eschews honesty in deference to ideology as readily as the right. QED. EOF. Next!
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[ Parent ]

no no here's the one real truth. (none / 3) (#251)
by Work on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 06:29:53 PM EST

There is no right, nor left. Just a bunch of loud obnoxious assholes who will readily sacrifice their false 'moral' pretenses in order to demonstrate that fact.

left..right..two sides of the same coin.

[ Parent ]

no left no right (none / 2) (#285)
by adimovk5 on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 09:40:38 PM EST

I agree. I've learned that the people on the "right" want to take away my personal freedom. The people on the "left" want to take away my economic freedom. When they get together they agree can agree on one thing: They are smarter than I am and it would be best if they spent my money for me.

[ Parent ]
heh... (none / 2) (#290)
by Work on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:16:48 PM EST

sometimes they switch. the 'left' would like to take away some freedoms (right to own a firearm) while many in the 'right' would like to preserve that.

It just depends on what your idea of 'freedom' is.

Some would say this obviously leads to the conclusion that everything is a right and should be left untouched (thus forming the basis of libertarianism), however this would be equally foolish as we'd like to preserve the right to not have someone else's right cause problems for them. Pollution controls come to mind.

The careful balance of the right to throw a punch until it meets my nose. But how big is my nose and who does it affect?

[ Parent ]

-1, blog wankery of the highest order (1.88 / 26) (#71)
by polish surprise on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 10:41:02 PM EST


--
Controversy is my middle name.

good lord (none / 1) (#76)
by regeya on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 11:00:52 PM EST

I actually agree with polish surprise for once!

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Screw the "mercanaries"? (2.33 / 12) (#78)
by pyramid termite on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 11:02:42 PM EST

OK - and screw the raging mob, screw Kos, screw all the bloggers, screw you for bringing it up, screw y'all for commenting, and screw me, too.

Conclusion - we're ALL screwed.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
Ha! But I didn't comment! -nt- (none / 3) (#199)
by mold on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:31:55 PM EST



---
Beware of peanuts! There's a 0.00001% peanut fatality rate in the USA alone! You could be next!
[ Parent ]
The Kos story is intresting... (2.95 / 24) (#81)
by FuriousXGeorge on Sun Apr 04, 2004 at 11:25:41 PM EST

Because it was a real new type of moment for the "blogospehere." (god I hate that word)  

Kos suddenly realized that he can't get away with saying anything crazy just because he is running a blog.  

This type of advertiser assault has been done many times by the left and the right...against mainstream sources.  

Has anyone ever seen this type of pile on against blog advertisers?

Now, this is not the same as a mainstream assault, because Kos can easily go on without advertisers, unlike a mainstream source.  He can do a half apology because his job is not dependent on advertisers.

But I never even realized this type of thing could happen online...and I don't like it.

Frankly, Atrios (atrios.blogspot.com) has it right.  He is no longer taking advertising from politicians.  

Is there any point to having a blog where you can say whatever the fark you want if all the people you support get hurt by advertising with you? No.

The short and sweet mainstream honeymoon with blogs is over, and that is good.

--
-- FIELDISM NOW!

Totally agree (none / 3) (#467)
by danmermel on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 10:21:26 AM EST

It all works the same in mainstream media. As the awareness of your brand grows, the response to what you do grows accordingly. Saying that Bush is a tosser in the Halifax Bugle does not have the same effect as saying it in a NYT editorial.

Most blogs are full of self-referential nonsense. But those who make it above that primoridal sludge start having to behave in different ways.

So Kos is a victim of his own success. Good for him. Or bad?

[ Parent ]

Look at the replies. (2.64 / 17) (#99)
by GenerationY on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:29:49 AM EST

And in any case, Daily Kos is much more than a single person. Condemning the entire site based on his comment would be akin to condemning the entire K5 community based on something rusty said: even though he's in charge, he's not representative of everyone else here.

Its no so much the original statement or the "clarification"; look at the fawning ego-stroking sycophants and their replies. Its deeply sickening. The original comment should have been dealt with by a simple "I was being a complete idiot and I feel ashamed" not a load of arrogant ranting followed by a specious appeal to sympathy. This chap is certainly not the political operator they hold him to be.

I have to question what sort of people these are not to call him on it in no uncertain terms. Kos may not represent his readership, but since they were given a chance to represent themselves, they've blown it as far as I'm concerned.

Decency? (2.61 / 13) (#104)
by cestmoi on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:06:34 AM EST

The truly appalling thing about the "screw them" comment is that it shows a total lack of decency. Hell, even the Iraqi's in Fallouja were embarrased by the treatment the corpses got.

Those coming to Kos' defense remind me of the John Birchers in the 60's. His defenders could easily adapt "my country, right or wrong" as their rallying cry.

Bottom line, Kos screwed up and has yet to come up with a non-equivocating apology. That says to me that he stands by his original comment.

Why do the corpses care about their treatment? (1.40 / 5) (#108)
by handslikesnakes on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:55:41 AM EST

I can't imagine a corpse's fate is of big importance to itself.



[ Parent ]
maybe you know? (none / 1) (#110)
by khallow on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:29:06 AM EST

Since you were the one to ask the question, or indeed make any statement on the matter, then perhaps you could enlighten the rest of us? Here's some help. A lot of precorpses have concerns about their postcorpse handling.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Personally.. (none / 3) (#344)
by Kwil on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:17:02 AM EST

..I'd tend to suggest those precorpses were being silly.

I mean, even if there is an afterlife, there's very few religions that suggest your physical body has anything to do with it. So why the fuss?

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Silly or not, it's common (2.60 / 5) (#357)
by SnowDogAPB on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 10:06:39 AM EST

I think people praying is "silly" too, but I kind of accept that people tend to do it now and then.

Not everyone thinks of a dead body as a discarded vessel, and to assume that their concern is invalid because it is illogical is to dismiss the close held beliefs of billions of people.

Take a look around at the taboos and legal ramifications of corpse mutilation and/or necrophilia.  It's not like this is some never-before-heard-of minority saying, "Protect the corpses!"


[ Parent ]

If you think that Kos's comments lacked decency .. (none / 1) (#530)
by jbuck on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 03:33:00 PM EST

... then what about the comments that can be found all over the right-wing blogosphere advocating the killing of every single person in Fallujah, or similar atrocities? Kos spoke ill of the dead, but he didn't advocate the slaughter of innocents.

[ Parent ]
Tempest in a Teapot (1.85 / 34) (#105)
by Peahippo on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:08:01 AM EST

This is simple to handle:

If you show your face in a nation that your country bombed to bits, then you can only expect to catch some bullets and have your body dragged or propped up somewhere.

What, you don't fucking like that? Boo hoo. You might get a better response to your presence if you'd learn not to bomb other nations.

Markos had it exactly correct: "Screw them." Screw them right in their fucking asses. Stay out of Iraq ... you bombed it and invaded it for no valid reason.


Damn straight (2.25 / 4) (#111)
by polish surprise on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:31:03 AM EST

Let's round up Afghanis, Saudis and Iraqis here in the US and shoot the fuckers. Wanna bet they'll fly more airplanes into buildings after we make examples of people here?

--
Controversy is my middle name.
[ Parent ]

Decency? (none / 2) (#205)
by cestmoi on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:45:45 PM EST

The truly appalling thing about Kos' "screw them" comment and your defense is that it shows a total lack of decency. Hell, even the Iraqi's in Fallouja were embarrased by the treatment the corpses got. And the Iraqi's didn't even countenance screwing them right in their fucking asses.

Your coming to Kos' defense reminds me of the John Birchers in the 60's. You could easily adapt "my country, right or wrong" as your rallying cry. Blind partisanship does neither side any good.

Bottom line, Kos screwed up and has yet to come up with a non-equivocating apology. That says to me that he stands by his original comment.

What's clear to me is Sadam's supporters cheered what happened. Your comments make it clear you support a fascist over freedom. Way to go.

[ Parent ]

Since when is war decent? (none / 2) (#276)
by Vesperto on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 08:21:44 PM EST

And since when is Sadam more of a fascist than, oh, let's say Bush? Of course it's never easy to spot what you don't wanna see, huh?
___________________________________
Be well, misbehave.
[ Parent ]
Since when? (none / 1) (#317)
by cestmoi on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:38:13 AM EST

And since when is Sadam more of a fascist than, oh, let's say Bush?
    When did Bush
  • Gas a town full of women and children?
  • Build palace after palace while Americans starved?
  • Pillage a neighboring country?
  • Wage an 8 year war against his other neighbor, fight to a draw and declare a victory?
  • Drain a marshland just so he could kill the people who lived there?
  • Look the other way as his sons raped any woman they felt like?
  • Look the other way when his sons maimed or murdered whomever they felt like?
There's a huge difference between the two men.

[ Parent ]
Ever Look in the Mirror? (1.75 / 4) (#330)
by Peahippo on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:33:09 AM EST

Are you really this unable to think critically?

Bush was handed national power in Jan 2001, and within 2 years he had started 2 ongoing wars in the Middle East, one front of which was created specifically to pillage a country for its oil. The flight of capital from America -- and overall hypercapitalistic cronyism -- is bringing it to Third-World status, which is a necessary prelude to all the killing, burning and raping that you allude to. And Bush is only just getting started.

It's said that treason is just a matter of dates. Along the same lines, Bush has some fascist years to get under his belt to get to Hussein's level.

The sad thing is that you know all this. But like any dittohead, you deny it vehemently to cover your cowardly support of the murderous American military. Eat shit, chickenhawk. One day, your son will come home in a body bag and you'll have to ruminate on what your cowardly spite has cost you.


[ Parent ]
Ever Heard of a "Metaphor"? (1.50 / 6) (#313)
by Peahippo on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:14:14 AM EST

Fuck you.

It sure is funny to see the chickenhawks come out as complete fucking humanitarians once their mercs take a hit. What about the 10000+ Iraqi dead from the Imperial invasion of that innocent country?

The mercs are going to catch all the bullets and bombs they got coming, since (AND I QUOTE):

Bombing people is a poor way to convince them not to bomb people.

Chew on that awhile, fucker. Ain't freedom of speech a bitch? And how's your job doing so far this year (or is that another goddamn non-issue with you chickenhawks)?

P.S. Fuck the mercs. Fuck them up right up their stupid asses.


[ Parent ]
You proved my point (1.25 / 4) (#318)
by cestmoi on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:43:11 AM EST

Revel in your freedom of speech young foolish boy - men like those mercernaries you so casually deride died so you could have it.

But you proved my point, you simply lack any common decency.

[ Parent ]

Back for More, Eh? (2.50 / 6) (#325)
by Peahippo on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:17:05 AM EST

You haven't proven fuck-all except your own depressing level of stupidity.

Those mercs have nothing to do with my freedom and you goddamned well know it. They are killing and dying for the profit margins of the corporations being handed contracts by the cronyism running rampant in the US government. They have nothing to do with me at all.

My freedom is secured by my OWN armament, wielded by ME. If put to the test, I'll get the killing done myself in an act of TRUE and REAL self defense ... unlike a cowardly fuck like yourself.

Speaking of killing, with all that killing in Iraq BY YOUR OWN FUCKING GOVERNMENT, and you don't even have the brains to be embarrassed by the hypocrisy of lecturing me about Human decency. Like I said, it sure is pathetic to hear some chickenhawk squawk humanitarian when his killers catch some bullets.

Go read Smedley Butler's "War is a Racket" and try to become educated (or honest) for a change.

P.S. To motherfucking hell with those mercenaries. They got what they deserved.


[ Parent ]
Common decency not so common after all (none / 3) (#356)
by SnowDogAPB on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 09:58:12 AM EST

If you can look a woman in the eye and say "Your son deserved to be burned to death and torn literally to pieces in a celebration of hate" you are a colder man than any I have met.

If you can look at a 3 year-old girl with pigtails and an easter dress on asking, "When is Daddy coming home" and say "Fuck your daddy in the ass, he got what he deserved.  Here's a picture of it, little girl," then I question whether you are even the same species as the rest of us.

Show some restraint.  You and I may well be able to understand the mob mentality that caused these events, and we may even agree that those men had no right to be there.  But those men are dead now, and their loved ones will forever remember the images of their burning corpses surrounded by a cheering mob looking to tear them apart.

Two wrongs do not make a right.


[ Parent ]

Liberal! (none / 2) (#368)
by Gully Foyle on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 11:27:09 AM EST

Why do you hate America so much?

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

So much hypocrisy, so little time ... (2.40 / 5) (#435)
by Peahippo on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 09:51:04 PM EST

If you can look a woman in the eye and say "Your son deserved to be burned to death and torn literally to pieces in a celebration of hate" you are a colder man than any I have met.

And yet, thousands of women have had their husbands, brothers and sons ripped apart by American weapons. You seem okay with that, and with the actions of the murderers in American uniforms who killed them. Ever hear of Vietnam? About 40 years ago? Ring any bells? No, I guess not.

Analysis is a cold thing. Get used to it.

If you can look at a 3 year-old girl with pigtails and an easter dress on asking, "When is Daddy coming home" and say "Fuck your daddy in the ass, he got what he deserved. Here's a picture of it, little girl," then I question whether you are even the same species as the rest of us.

I didn't go to Iraq, and despise the cowards who did (regardless of their family arrangements back in no-bombs-falling-on-my-head land (a.k.a. America)). You are correct: I am not like the rest of you chickenhawk fuckers. I actually have sympathy with people BEFORE I attempt to bomb them ... and then another difference arises: I don't fucking bomb them.

And whaddaya know ... I also don't grab a rifle and parade myself around their shattered country (note: THEIR country, not MY country) expecting to be treated well ... or even humanely.

If this is what it means to not be your species, then I'd much prefer to be a Baboon, since your HomoSapiens-ness sucks vicious fucking wad.

Look, retard: You don't reward murderers and assorted psychotic killers (as are any men who drop 1000LB bombs on neighborhoods) with sympathy. Those mercs -- being associated with the Imperial invasion -- got exactly what they deserved. Little girls in pigtails should understand EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING when their daddies march off to foreign lands to kill "sand niggers" for sport. Too bad little girls don't know enough to ask "Why did my daddy kill people today?" and "Why is that Iraqi child's head missing?".

Face it, Roscoe: You backed the wrong horse. You chose emotional patriotism over logical Humanism. You are the "good man" whose intentions are paving the road to hell at a record pace. "Good mercenaries" is an exact contradiction of terms; so when you pretend to have a shred of decency, that kind of thing is just intellectually insulting to those of use capable of critical thought.

P.S. I'm sure a nearby university to you offers a course in "critical thinking". You appear to need some instruction, so go sign up for one.


[ Parent ]
Mercenaries (2.36 / 11) (#114)
by Haunting Koan on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:55:58 AM EST

"Do you know the first thing your father will say to you?"
"No, Morris; please tell me."
"He will tell you that I am mercenary."
"Mercenary!"
"It's a big word, but it means low things..."

Repeat after me... (1.27 / 11) (#115)
by NaCh0 on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:04:45 AM EST

NaCh0, you were right.

I'm too lazy to look back for the first story that mentioned Kos. But I'm sure that I called him either a kook or a nut. Either way, both apply.

--
K5: Your daily dose of socialism.

American this, (2.60 / 23) (#116)
by JOCKS on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:34:12 AM EST

American that. Why does the author (and the mainstream press) go to so much trouble to idenfiy the dead as Americans? Would Markos' comment somehow have shown less regard for the lives of human beings if they had been English, German, or even Russian?

Perhaps it is not a problem with the press, but rather the public. Would this have even been news had the dead in question not happened to be born in that country? The American attitude for anything that does not directly affect them disgusts me, and has earned this article a hearty -1, Fuck America.

All we can hope for is that global warming will give back to the sea what the arrogant Dutch stole in the first place. -lucius

UK news is same... (none / 2) (#117)
by noogie on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:48:39 AM EST

get things like "Briton dead in spanish bus crash - a british man died today in a bus crash blah blah. 3 spaniars were also killed." or something like that.


*** ANONYMIZED BY THE EVIL KUROFIVEHIN MILITARY JUNTA ***
[ Parent ]
I realise that, (none / 2) (#120)
by JOCKS on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:54:09 AM EST

hell, if a New Zealander does anything overseas I hear about it on the news for weeks. My point was that it seems he has been called out for his comment because he said "screw them" in regard to American mercenaries. If he had shown the same disregard for British fighters, would he have had his funding pulled and ad revenue lost?

All we can hope for is that global warming will give back to the sea what the arrogant Dutch stole in the first place. -lucius
[ Parent ]

British advertisers might (none / 3) (#132)
by The Turd Report on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:40:13 AM EST

If he had shown the same disregard for British fighters, would he have had his funding pulled and ad revenue lost?

British advertisers and brits that give money would do the same.

[ Parent ]

Yeah (none / 2) (#212)
by epburn on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:20:11 PM EST

Like the man said, British advertisers can do the same thing. Not to mention that the majority of people complaining about it appear to be American. So that would Americans griping at other Americans. Which is the same thing you admitted your own media outlets do.

Being fairly indifferent to the blog scene, I do not know tacitus's nationality. But Instapundit written by an American. Hard to find a problem with an overly American focus on an American debate between two American pundits on American troops and contracters.

Everyone can have a say in it, but this is a rather bizarre complaint.

[ Parent ]
... but this is different. (none / 2) (#348)
by 4ntifa on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:13:34 AM EST

Even here in Finland, accidents in country X are much more widely publicized (sp?) if Finns were involved. It seems to be a universal thing - people are more interested, when people of their own race and culture are involved. I think this is plain wrong, but that's just the way it is.

I think that especially when reporting on wars, the casualties and suffering should be reported more even-handedly. Otherwise, people get a way too sanitized view of the war, which in turn affects their political views - typically exactly what the government wants. During the campaign in Afghanistan, the US government went as far as advicing the press not to "concentrate too much" on Afghan casualties and hardship. I couldn't find a direct source, but Condoleeza Rice did give "advice" to the media regarding airing of Bin Laden tapes and attention drawn to civilian casualties. Check out this FAIR article.


-=- 4ntifa -=-
[ Parent ]
I agree with your sentiment (none / 3) (#121)
by proles on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:19:08 AM EST

And assure you that your "hearty -1, Fuck America" is misplaced. In fact, it was for exactly the reasons you say that I myself write entries like this one on my own homepage.

That said, I simply said they were dead Americans to make it clear and understandable. If I talk about just four people who died in Falluja then folks may or may not know what I'm talking about. When I clarify that they were Americans, and clarify further that they were mercenaries, my subject becomes much clearer.

I was not doing it in an attempt to distinguish them specifically or to try to imply that their lives were more valuable, and I'm sorry if that was the message you got. I realize and agree with you that mainstream media has an undue focus on "American lives" and not enough regard for those of anybody else. That said, that was not the intent of my particular verbiage, which was solely used for clarity.


If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]
And how about dead Iraqis? (2.83 / 12) (#128)
by flo on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 05:14:53 AM EST

Whenever an American source talks about casualties in Iraq ("OMG we lost 600 of our boys in there, what a terrible war!"), they're only ever interested in dead Americans. Or, on rare occasions, dead Brits, Spaniards, Italians or other westerners.

The American press is completely ignoring all the Iraqi dead, both civilian and military. It's as if they're somehow considered subhuman.

I've mentioned this before, but it pisses me off from scratch every time.
---------
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
on one of the yelling sunday morning programs... (2.80 / 5) (#203)
by Wah on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:41:00 PM EST

..they did show a number for Iraqi civilian dead.

The number they used was around 13,000. But generally, the joke is still valid.

President Bush and Colin Powell are sitting in a bar. A guy walks in and asks the bartender, "Isn't that Bush and Powell sitting over there?"

The bartender says, "Yep, that's them." So the guy walks over and says, "Wow, this is a real honour. What are you guys doing here?" Bush says, "We're planning WW III."

And the guy says, "Really? What's going to happen?"

Bush says, "Well, we're going to kill 140 million Iraqis and one blonde with big breasts."

The guy exclaimed, "A blonde with big breasts? Why kill a blonde with big breasts?"

Bush turns to Powell, punches him on the shoulder and says, "See smart ass, I told you no one would worry about the 140 million Iraqis!"


--
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
Any
[ Parent ]
Read more than the headlines... (none / 2) (#221)
by epburn on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:41:54 PM EST

and you'll notice that they do include Iraqi deaths. The Times generally puts dead and injured statistics for the day in the graph immediately below the U.S. fatalities.

[ Parent ]
*Even* Russian? Seems the press isn't alone... /nt (none / 1) (#218)
by gilrain on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:29:16 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Some things: (none / 2) (#277)
by Vesperto on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 08:36:31 PM EST

  1. less regard for the lives of human beings? Do mercenaries (or US soldiers for that matter) show any regard for the lives of other human beings, military or (sometimes even) civilian? Did you ever believe in the "liberate Iraq" crap?
  2. or even Russian? don't tell me, russians are commie bastards, right?
  3. The American attitude for anything that does not directly affect them disgusts me It's always been like that and unless they suffer from mass 9/11s i doubt they'll ever change.

___________________________________
Be well, misbehave.
[ Parent ]
all ideologues, listen up (2.30 / 26) (#119)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:52:13 AM EST

when the day comes when you get so buried and convoluted in the stink of your ideology, whether from the the left or the right, that you say something, or do something, that wouldn't pass the bullshit test of your average 8 year old, then the bell has finally tolled for you: welcome to burnoutville, crackpot alley, where black is white and white is black and senseless murder ceases to shock and amaze you

you have become an embarassment to everyone else who works for your agenda, you will be thrust aside, you are now a liability, you are no longer a benefactor

all ideologues, of every stripe: come up for oxygen every now and then, do a self-bullshit test on the words you say, watch out when you find yourself flunking your own "duh!" common sense interal safety checks

when you find that the words the 28 year old you is saying would probably mortify the 14 year old you, you have crossed a line you probably don't want to cross


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Does that include (1.80 / 5) (#122)
by brain in a jar on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:22:39 AM EST

statements such as "I love this woman deeply".

I'm sure it would have mortified my fourteen year old self to utter this one.

Watch that generalizing, it can get out of hand if you don't keep an eye on it ;0)


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

thanks fuck (1.66 / 6) (#124)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:26:39 AM EST

for changing the context of my comment and acting all smug and condescending when you are the one apparently who can't "keep an eye on it"

it being

THE FUCKING SUBJECT MATTER ASSHOLE

toodles

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Attn. (none / 1) (#135)
by Fredrick Doulton on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 08:04:27 AM EST

I love this woman deeply.

Bush/Cheney 2004! - "Because we've still got more people to kill"
[ Parent ]

RIGHT ON (none / 0) (#185)
by Perianwyr on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:47:13 PM EST

And she, as well, loves my cock. Deeply. How delectable.

[ Parent ]
Death to all fanatics!!!! (2.57 / 7) (#127)
by flo on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 05:05:54 AM EST

We absolutely and utterly cannot tolerate the slightest shade of intolerance on this site!
---------
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
care to explain in a few (1.40 / 5) (#152)
by vivelame on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:44:39 AM EST

words how the killing of 4 mercenaries was "senseless murder"?
it makes a lot of sense to me...


--
Jonathan Simon: "When the autopsy of our democracy is performed, it is my belief that media silence will be given as the primary cause of death."
[ Parent ]
4 mercenaries? (1.70 / 10) (#154)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:00:38 AM EST

no, 4 soldiers, 4 cornfed young idealistic men who out of economic need or mistaken romanticism believed the armed forces was the way for them, and through world forces beyond their control, were vivisected by a mob who doesn't hate them, but a foreign power they mistakenly represent

so, you vivelame, can consider yourself someone who in the name of propaganda, has forgotten why you have gone down the road you have gone down in the first place: because you care about the world (do you?)

anyone who sees bloody death doesn't like it, except armchair assholes like yourself, who, far removed from the reality of war and death, believe their comfort and protection and solitude from the real world and the real suffering that goes on in it allows them to say smarmy little cutesy "look at me i'm so cool" smirk fucktard stuff like you just said

nothing interesting in you vivelame, except the same old tired childish tendency of rich upper middle class fucks from the west like you to put your foot where your mouth is because you, essentially, no nothing of the world

so toodles you useless fuck, i expect nothing from you except the same tired spoiled nonsense ;-)

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

ok, let's do this (2.00 / 7) (#158)
by vivelame on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:36:04 AM EST

point by point.
  1. the 4 fallujah casualties were mercenaries. They were former military guys, with even a former SEAL. They worked for a private security firm, and earned a hefty pay for this job. They didn't re-enlist in order to fight for their country in Iraq, they went the private way. In the end, they were in Iraq by their own choice, and they went there armed and ready to kill. They died.. tough luck.
  2. i'm not willing to go into the grisly details of their untimely death, but i'd just point that your choice of words is a little bit "over the top". If you take a long hard look at "vivisected", you'll notice that there's "vivi" in there. You know what it means?  it basically means "cut alive". As far as i know, the 4 mercenaries weren't alive when they were dismembered. Before you jump on this, no, it doesn't mean that it was a very nice thing to do to them, but it's still not quite the same as what you imply.
But let's set this aside. The US reaction seems to be along the lines of "Oh my God! they desecrated the bodies!!". Well, if you're christian, you should remember that, well, dying a martyr  is a good thing(tm) and that you shouldn't blame the killers! They did God's work. On the Other Hand, If you don't believe in a Supreme Being (tm), then the body of someone, once that someone is dead, carries no special meaning (other than sentimental, say). So, why be upset? If your X-ian, well, you have 4 brand new martyrs. If you're not, well, playing with meat made some people in Fallujah very happy, so why be so upset about it?

(about your ad hominem attacks: i ceased to care about the world in its present form a few years ago. Maybe after a nuclear holocaust or something, will people be really able to control themselves and refrain from the urge to kill their neighbors. Until then, as far as i'm concerned, they can all go to hell screaming, starting with soldiers, mercenaries and such)

Until that day, don't forget to vote Bush, because, you know, everything else would be appeasing terrorists!


--
Jonathan Simon: "When the autopsy of our democracy is performed, it is my belief that media silence will be given as the primary cause of death."
[ Parent ]

i hate bush (2.00 / 7) (#159)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:43:40 AM EST

and i hate the senseless killing of any human being, especially in this matter

the same way i hate men who would otherwise be doctors and lawyers becoming suicide bombers

why? not because i am an american, because i am human being

the way you casually talk about death and dying and with humor means you are closer to the people you hate than i ever will be

never, ever talk about senseless killing with a casual attitude or humor

at the very least, you lose your credibility on the subject matter, at the most, you prove you are a greater asshole than bush ever could hope to be

so "let's do this"? let's do what? prove i care more about human beings than you? prove what a heartless asshole you are?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

you conveniently forget (none / 3) (#161)
by vivelame on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:04:03 PM EST

the support you lent to Iraq's invasion.
You can't support that while saying "but i value human life!" with a straight face.
I mourn civilian deaths.
The (para)militaries/terrorists/guerillas/various (un)paid killers can all die in one giant conflagration, i don't give a shit.


--
Jonathan Simon: "When the autopsy of our democracy is performed, it is my belief that media silence will be given as the primary cause of death."
[ Parent ]
i support the iraq invasion (1.75 / 8) (#163)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:17:21 PM EST

because i care about suffering in the world

we should also invade north korea

we should also invade myanmar

we should invade, and correct, all of us, every country in the world, any country where it's peoples are under the boot of tyranny for decades without any hope of release form the grasp of truly evil men who care more about their egos than putting food in the bellies of their citizens

do you disagree? do you like what is going on in north korea and myanmar? did you like saddam hussein?

a conscience is a heavy thing, to care about your fellow human beings, it is easy for someone like yourself to put down your conscience, to let it go, and invent excuses to stop caring about your fellow human beings

your words in your posts above speak of a cavalier attitude towards human death and suffering

your crocodile tears are false, you are part of the problem, not the solution

inventing excuses not to care about other people in the world, probably because they are not part of your ethnic group or your little sheltered world

"why should i care?" "why should i get involved?"

indeed, questions asked by those who think of nothing but themselves


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

i don't care. (none / 1) (#166)
by vivelame on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:24:18 PM EST

does it mean that you don't care about me? That would, you know, smell of hypocrisy..

--
Jonathan Simon: "When the autopsy of our democracy is performed, it is my belief that media silence will be given as the primary cause of death."
[ Parent ]
hypocrisy (1.40 / 5) (#169)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:32:36 PM EST

is defined as saying one thing, and doing another, or contradicting what you said previously

what is the hypocrisy of caring about human beings by removing those who impede their happiness and prosperity as a whole?

there is intolerance, and then there is intolerance of intolerance

the former is a mortal sin, the latter is the path to sainthood, to fight for those who have no one who fights for them against those who would keep them weak and poor

there is good and evil in this world, there is evil men in this world, know that child, and maybe you will find morality and a conscience some day, instead of your aimless upper middle class vapid western existence caring about petty little things and caring about nothing but the vapid emptiness of your little insignificant life and reality shows on tv

the path to true greatness is to care about other people- not just those in your family or your ethnic group, but in the entire world

work for the poor, work for the weak, and fight for their rights to prosper, see the world outside your little cloistered protected life, know meaning in your life


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

ah, there you are! (none / 0) (#180)
by vivelame on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:30:54 PM EST

i knew you secretly agreed with me!
it's just that, you know, you're not thorough enough.
what is the hypocrisy of caring about human beings by removing those who impede their happiness and prosperity as a whole?

I couldn't agree more.
It seems that we disagree on who impede their happiness and prosperity. I contend that every potential and actual killer, murderers, soldiers, mercenaries, terrorists, guerillas, and so on, are on this list, while you think only saddam or the myanmar generals are to be dealt with.
Did you hear me cry when Saddam Hussein was captured? i didn't. Will you hear me agonise over the 4 mercenaries killing? Nope, their way of life show that they weren't especially tender people (side note: "they did that job to help people" my ass. If you want to help people, be a doctor, not a trained killer.. That job is for people who get their kicks killing other people), so basically it was "brute on brute" killing.
When Saddam was captured, did you cheer, or did you feel down? My guess is you were happy he was taken. Well, it's exactly the same here.


--
Jonathan Simon: "When the autopsy of our democracy is performed, it is my belief that media silence will be given as the primary cause of death."
[ Parent ]
ah, sweet innocent idealism (1.20 / 5) (#181)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:37:41 PM EST

as long as human beings have a range of beliefs (read, forever), and as long as they have a passion in their beliefs strong enough to go to deadly force (read, forever), there will be war

do you deny this?

do i like war? no

war is evil, despicable, loathsome

do i accept it? yes

i have made peace with it's inevitability... your resistance to it is nothing wise, just the growing pains of a child coming to grips with reality

the difference between you and i?

i am a realist, you are an idealist on the role of soldiers and war in this world we live

that difference means my thoughts have weight about world problems, while you live in a fantasy land of denial

human nature is good, bad, and ugly, learn that, child, and maybe someday you will have something positive to contribute

in this world, you wage war to win peace

you abort fetuses to save children

you support gay marriage to strengthen family values

a few observations that on the surface, are contradictory, but with true wisdom, true knowledge of basic human nature, become fact

grow up child

develop a real conscience

stop playing at the game of innocence about true human nature, however wonderful or unfortunate therein


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Coming soon from Time-Life Music... (2.85 / 7) (#326)
by fenix down on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:17:21 AM EST

all idealogues listen up, the spoken word album featuring 13 selections by circletimessquare, as performed by William Shatner.  Only in this fine collection from the Time-Life libraries will you hear hits like:
i hate bush
i... hate bush
i hate... bush
especially in this matter
why?
the way you casually
talk about death and dying
never, ever talk
you are closer to the people you hate
than i ever will be
because i am human being...
And who can forget:
you don't know me
i am not an american
i am not
i don't care about america
america is just a tool
a tool
use your mind
i am a human being...
And the post Rolling Stone called, "a psychadelic pop-punk hitz!!111 LOL!^_^'1":
yes you did
do you disagree?
do you disagree?
do you disagree?
do you disagree?
do you disagree?
do you disagree?
do you disagree?
because i am a human being...
And that shitty one we stuck on because Shatner got smashed before we could finish recording:
i support the iraq invasion
because i care about suffering
in the world
we should also invade myanmar
do you like what is going on in myanmar?
did you like saddam hussein?
your crocodile tears are false
you are part of the problem
not the solution
human beings
human beings
humanbeingshumanbeingshumanbeings.
Buynow call1800-555-SHAT rushdeliveryavailable quantitiesarelimited maycauseseizureandblindnessinchildrenunder12.

[ Parent ]
funny, but you're not original (none / 2) (#360)
by circletimessquare on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 10:44:42 AM EST

too bad you are stealing an old idea, that i in fact introduced to this site ;-)

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/4/11/23951/8497

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I'm sorry, what? (2.00 / 4) (#171)
by bakuretsu on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:52:22 PM EST

"Correct" every country in the world? Do you have your wires crossed?

How can you value all human life on the one hand, and yet on the other hand, devalue the lives of those responsible for tyranny? In stating this, you have conceded that it is possible to draw a line at which life becomes less valuable, or at which point it is acceptable to murder.

Bombing Iraq to "liberate" its people from Saddam Hussein is no less murder than what occurred in Falluja. Perhaps you and your nemesis vivelame draw the line in different places; you draw it where there is tyranny over a people, and vivelame draws it where private parties are paid to perform violence by a military.

Your attitude toward the suffering and murder of thousands of Iraqis (and potentially thousands of citizens of North Korea and Myanmar) is equally cavalier and disgusting.

At which point must America assert its morality on the world? At which point does it become necessary to carry out these murders? At which point does it become "right" to kill?

The families of those men will weep for their loss. It's too bad they couldn't talk them out of going. Screw them.

-- Airborne
    aka Bakuretsu
    The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
[ Parent ]

you don't know me (1.71 / 7) (#178)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:17:31 PM EST

i am not an american

i am a human being

you continue to assert your understanding of the world in terms of ethnicities and vulgar nationalist religions, i will have no part of it, i see no division between myself, an african, an asian, an indian, anyone in this world is equal to me

i care about human beings

because i am a human being

i don't care about america, i don't care about iraq, i care about those who suffer under the foot of tyranny

america is just a tool, an idea, a means to an end: pandemocracy

you can defend the rights of the likes of the military junta in myanmar to exist, of north korea' kim jung il, but not stand between those who fight such evil men and those who wish the citizens of those countries to be free

how do you inflate this desire to "every country in the world?" do you not see the conditions of iraq, north korea, myanmar to be different from those in india, jordan, russia?

use your mind, develop a conscience, care about those who suffer, lift eyes away from your little inward upper middle class rich western existence of careless and pointless existence

do not misrepresent me, do not misunderstand me by assuming the fascist megalomaniacal desires of those i oppose are my own

i desire freedom for all by fighting those who take it, and somehow, in your mind, i am the same as a tyrant?

how in your mind has the fight for freedom and democracy become synonymous with the very fascism it fights?

how very far away from are from real suffering in this world and the fight against it?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

No indeed. (none / 2) (#195)
by bakuretsu on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:18:44 PM EST

I did not assert that you are a tyrant.

-- Airborne
    aka Bakuretsu
    The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
[ Parent ]
yes you did (1.85 / 7) (#202)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:38:21 PM EST

"Correct" every country in the world? Do you have your wires crossed?

this is an accusation of tyranny: that i propose world domination

i'm not the one who invaded kuwait

myanmar and north korea are rather explicit examples of tyranny

do you disagree?

the military junta in mynmar and the cult of personality kleptocracy in north korea are egregious beyond all other measurements of world governments

do you disagree?

there is near universal condemnation of these regimes in the world

do you disagree?

the people of those two countries would be far better off with their current governments gone, governments that care nothing for their people, who build nukes while their people eat leaves, who grow rich off of the drug trade while their people are shot for simple protesting

do you disagree?

so where the fuck did you pull "Correct" every country in the world? Do you have your wires crossed? from?

you suffer from hyperbole in the least, and you certainly do not know me or what i am about

i fight tyranny, do not confuse me with any other

saddam hussein was a tyrant, and anyone who removed him, including idiot boy bush, for whatever reason, even reasons of the darkest sarcastic liberal dreams (simple blood for oil), did the world and iraqis a favor

why?

because the suffering of the iraq invasion is orders of magnitude less than the continuing suffering of the iraqi people under the yoke of saddam and his sons and their violent grip in that country for decades to come

so is it with myanmar and north korea

but no one has the backbone to do anything about it

invading north korea would create much much suffering on the korean penninsula, i know that

but it is my assertion that whatever that amount suffering would be, it would be far, far less than the continuing ongoing suffering that the north korean people would suffer for decades to come under the yoke of that despot kim il jong

i don't expect he will be forcefully pushed out by anyone in the world... russia, china, south korea, japan, and the us will simply wait and dither and do nothing, until something with a nuclear signature is felt in tokyo or los angeles

but then again, i am sad at how spineless and self-interested people are in this world

it is not until the suffering reaches their doorstep that some people act, when they could have prevented so much suffering by confronting it when it is clearly egregious, such as with north korea and myanmar

but we never learn: hitler could have been stopped years before wwii, but while the west dithered and doubted, more suffering came to pass than had to pass

and so it is with north korea, myanmar, and iraq

why do i care?

because i am a human being

because i actually, really believe in the fight to make the lives of the people under despotic regimers better


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

pandemocracy? (2.50 / 4) (#460)
by bradasch on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 08:18:01 AM EST

america is just a tool, an idea, a means to an end: pandemocracy

sorry, but pandemocracy is, in your own words, utopia for ideologues

and this idea of america being a tool for anything other than self-interest is completely detached from any notion of reality

[ Parent ]
someone acts in their own self-interest (none / 2) (#502)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 06:59:09 PM EST

and actually makes everyone around them richer

is that possible

well, the basic notion of capitalism si exactly that, and it seems to be working just fine enriching your life, right?

same with democracy- if the us, regardless of whatever baseless desire it has, winds up turning every poor, tyrannical inward country in the world into democracy, who loses exactly?

i sincerely believe that

look at the end result, not the intentions

the idea may fester in your childish naive idealistic mind

but we're talking about the real world here

and that's how it works

childish naive idealism about human nature leads to fiascos like communism- where an economy can somehow be controlled by a central govt... can ideology and morality in geopolitics be controlled from some central authority?

i don't think so

so let ugly america in it's energy sucking desires forcefully convert the world to democracy along the way

i don't even believe that this is america's stated purpose and real aim, but if this paradigm of understanding works for you to understand what is really going on in the world right now, so be it ;-)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

childish naive idealistic mind (none / 2) (#509)
by bradasch on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:12:43 AM EST

i wish you were right

really

but you say my childish naive idealism is preventing me from looking at the results

what results?

ugly america is not converting any country in a democracy, never did

it's naive to think america is making "everyone around them richer"

capitalism, in theory, is as utopic as communism, don't you see?

same with democracy- if the us, regardless of whatever baseless desire it has, winds up turning every poor, tyrannical inward country in the world into democracy, who loses exactly?

oh my. of course i would love that, and of course nobody would lose, but, try to look outside your narrow self-centered miopic mind. that has not happened anywhere. give me an example of a poor country benefiting from an american military action.

as always, you criticise ideologues but spurt out nothing but silly utopic childish ideology in your comments.

in the real world, iraq is in a power vacuum, civilians casualties increasing every day

in the real world, afghanistan is nowhere better too

in the real world, america is pushing an outrageous agenda in foreign politics and still americans don't care

in the real world, terrorism is growing, and americas response to that was bombing iraq and criticising the spanish people for "capitulating terrorism"

is that your real world too?

[ Parent ]
japan, germany, philippines, marshall plan... (none / 1) (#521)
by circletimessquare on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:24:22 PM EST

everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
a little nitpicking, but you know.. (none / 0) (#525)
by vivelame on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 12:17:00 PM EST

germany was already a democracy before the US came around.
As of Phillipines, the results are dubious at best, and let's not even talk about japan.

--
Jonathan Simon: "When the autopsy of our democracy is performed, it is my belief that media silence will be given as the primary cause of death."
[ Parent ]
are you just dense vivelame? (none / 0) (#573)
by partykidd on Fri Apr 16, 2004 at 07:02:54 AM EST

the 4 fallujah casualties were mercenaries
No they weren't. They were security. You even admitted as much yourself: "They worked for a private security firm".
They were former military guys, with even a former SEAL.
So what? My dad is a former U.S. Marine. I guess if he ever gets a job in security he'll become a "mercenary" by your definition.
The US reaction seems to be along the lines of "Oh my God! they desecrated the bodies!!".
And with good reason. It shows us yet again that we're dealing with animals here.
Well, if you're christian, you should remember that, well, dying a martyr is a good thing(tm) and that you shouldn't blame the killers! They did God's work. On the Other Hand, If you don't believe in a Supreme Being (tm), then the body of someone, once that someone is dead, carries no special meaning (other than sentimental, say). So, why be upset? If your X-ian, well, you have 4 brand new martyrs. If you're not, well, playing with meat made some people in Fallujah very happy, so why be so upset about it?
Now you're just being an ass. But you're French so I guess it's second nature. (How does it feel?)
(about your ad hominem attacks: i ceased to care about the world in its present form a few years ago. Maybe after a nuclear holocaust or something, will people be really able to control themselves and refrain from the urge to kill their neighbors. Until then, as far as i'm concerned, they can all go to hell screaming, starting with soldiers, mercenaries and such)
Well, being a French man I can see how you would come to view soldiers as useless and Hell bound.
Until that day, don't forget to vote Bush, because, you know, everything else would be appeasing terrorists!
Not only the terrorists, but the French. Funny how they're on the same side, eh?

Don't bitch at me. You asked for it you spineless French pussy.

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle


[ Parent ]

I guess (2.90 / 10) (#183)
by CENGEL3 on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:40:37 PM EST

I guess you would call the local Wells Fargo driver or the security guard at your local bank a "mercenary" too?

There is a difference between being hired to fight a war for profit and being hired to protect persons or property. If you can't see the distinction then I think you have a real problem.

There IS a legitimate role for private individuals to provide security for individuals or property at risk. It's something that happens alot in this country and many others across the globe. Celebraties, politicians, essentialy any private individual that would face an unusual risk of attack depend upon these type of services.
It's not the government or the polices responsibility to do that sort of thing...and you wouldn't want it to be. You wouldn't want your tax dollars paying for a 24 hour personal bodyguard for Madonna or DeBeers vaults... that would be a misuse of public funds. They are not entiteled to any greater protection then any other private individual or individuals property. Yet there is no doubt that Madonna and DeBeers are at a vastly greater risk then John Smith and the garrage where he keeps his chevette.  Protecting them falls to private security proffesionals who operate within the law to keep thier charges safe.

This is even more true in Iraq or other places around the world where there is a much greater level of violence and lawlessness and government resources are stretched thin. Your labeling these individuals "mercenaries" is nothing more then a thin attempt to demonize them and excuse thier murder.

Yes, these individuals are cognizant of the risk such jobs entail and they accept it. That does not mean, however, that murdering them becomes acceptable.... any more then the murder of a night security guard at a warehouse in Buffalo.

[ Parent ]

thank you oh light of reason (nt) (none / 3) (#189)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:56:21 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
my guess (1.40 / 5) (#340)
by caridon20 on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:00:23 AM EST

There is a great difference betwen a security guard in a stable country where the norm is rule by law.

And a armed guard serving the OCUPATION force in an invaded country where there is dayly ressistance.

The job of securing suplies (humanitarian or other) in a warzone has in recent history (1900-) been the job of a ARMY  not private company.

The closest thing these people are is Mercenaries.
their company hires solder skills to ANYONE that needs it. They have more "nation" customers than the USA  

My oppinion is that we either need a new word for this thing or we need to expand the definnition of mercenary to include "private soldiers hired by gouverments,nations or other orgganisations or persons to perform duties normaly performed by an army/navy/airforce."

The term Mercenary is very aplicable here and if these persons are killed we should NOT refer to them as civilians !

/C
Dissent is NOT Treason Quis custodiet ipsos custodes
[ Parent ]

hay caramba (none / 3) (#361)
by circletimessquare on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 10:46:04 AM EST

death is bad

wiggle your way around that one

jeez

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Bad for whom? (none / 2) (#403)
by tonedevil on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 03:53:34 PM EST

If I am about to blowup a class of kindergarteners, is my death "bad"?

[ Parent ]
yes, it is, but unavoidable (none / 3) (#405)
by circletimessquare on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:14:35 PM EST

all death is bad, but some is necessary, such as your example

the problem with this whole Kos controversy raging in this article is people finding delight in these 4 guy's brutal killing, or professing not to care

therefore, such people are drowning in their ideology/ propaganda: when your politics overwhelms your basic sensibilities about human death and atrocities, you have ceased to become relevant in the debate, and you are accountable for your lack of basic human sympathy and morality

so, for example, when a serial killing psychopath gets electrocuted for his crimes, it is sad: what a waste of human life, his victims, and himself

morality and justice and sympathy: when your politics breaks these boundaries, your skirting with disaster... you have now beomce part of the problem, not the solution, to any problem/ solution you can conceive of

frankly, these are all rudimentary concepts, and i find anyone who has problems with these concepts laughable or very troubling


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Some points (none / 1) (#475)
by CENGEL3 on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:18:49 PM EST

Wordnet Definition:

Mercenary - [n]  a person hired to fight for another country than their own

"Fighting" is not protecting food, fixing cars, making maps or providing medical attention, etc.

Oxford Definition:

Mercenary - a professional soldier serving a foreign power

Now this definition COULD fit these individuals.... but it also fits the Swiss Guard who protect the Vatican, foreign astronauts on loan to NASA and medics working in a U.N. aid station.

Lets not mince words. "Mercenary" in modern usage has become a politicaly loaded term with a very negative conotation. It was specificly chosen by the author and KOS to demonize these individuals. It's usage, as such, was EXTREMELY DECEPTIVE and they knew it would be. The impression that would be instilled in most people by describing these individuals simply as "mercenaries" is ENTIRELY DIFFERENT from that which would be instilled if one described the activity which they were actualy engaged in (performing advanced security for a convoy of food and medicine to be distributed to the civilian populace). You know that and so did the Author and KOS.

It would be no different then calling a police officer a "gunman" or describing a doctor performing an operation as "a masked individual wounding an unconcious person with a knife". While technicaly true it is clear that such language is calculated to present a false and biased impression. I am quite well aware that the use of such language games has become quite prevelant in recent years, especialy in the media, on the internet and in politics but that does NOT make it acceptable and I will call people on it when I see them engaged in it.

Furthermore, you should be well aware that it is NOT part of the traditional role of the Army to safeguard supplies which are owned by Non-Millitary organizations and which are destined for civilian purposes. The Millitarys only traditional responsibilities in regards supplies have been securing those destined for it's OWN use. It is only VERY RECENTLY and in ISOLATED instances that the millitary has become responsible for securing supplies owned by civilian organizations and destined for civilian use. That role has also turned into very problematic situations for the millitary on numerous occasions (i.e. U.N. Peacekeepers in Somalia).

Furthermore lets not play games here with abstractions. These supplies were specificly food and medicine destined as humanitarian relief for the civilian populace ( I don't even know who the organization distributing them was, do you?). You are relying on abstraction because you know the detailed facts of the case would weaken your arguement. Anytime you must obscure details in order to support your case... you are engaged in something you shouldn't be.

[ Parent ]

The Washington Post seems to have an idea. (none / 0) (#499)
by tonedevil on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 06:09:15 PM EST

ESS provides food services to more than a dozen U.S. military dining facilities in Iraq, according to news accounts.

It is my understanding the consultants were consulting with ESS. And did you see the consulting Blackwater USA was doing just a few days later. I certainly don't see how those guys could be confused with mercinaries, no way.

[ Parent ]

Ya, true. (2.25 / 4) (#425)
by Kiyooka on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:39:16 PM EST

The greatest and most accurate moral compass is to view the situation with compassion and an honest outlook of the world, which children certainly have. Most people have become slaves to their ideology, rather than the other way around. This goes for politics and it's ugly sister, religion. Everything should be a vehicle for peace, harmony and the well-being of all.

[ Parent ]
you're right, but i'd like to add an addendum (1.75 / 4) (#432)
by circletimessquare on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 07:06:55 PM EST

and my addendum may be inflammatory to some:

the current ideological war of our time is not between the peaceniks and the hawks, it is between democracy and tyranny: north korea, myanmar, etc./ 13th century theocracy: al qaeda, jihadists, etc.

the peaceniks are sort of obstructionist friction, on the sidelines, the clashes between the hawks and them in online blogs, talking heads on news channels, etc., is the sideshow, not the main story

obviously, there will be howling at this statement, but let me defend those words as simply and as clearly as possible:

you have to fight for your beliefs in this world, you have to cast your chips into one of the two sides to a conflict... standing on the sidelines doesn't seem to me to be an option for someone who cares about suffering in the world... inventing exucses, to me, to do nothing seems to me to be without conscience, without care or concern for your fellow human being

mankind always has a range of beliefs and ideologies, and always will have such, and mankind will always be passionate enough in these beliefs to move the conflict to deadly force... so war, however, hateful, seems inevitable, and therefore, you either accept it, or you are stuck in naive denial, so it seems to me

choosing not to fight in the conflict is an option, it always was, it always will be... but it's not the main story, as there has always been those who choose not to fight throughout history

you don't notice them much of them in the historical record though because the story of any historical epoch: the cold war, wwii, wwi, colonial era, etc... has always been the story of the conflict of two ideologies, and the spoils of victory always goes to whomever wins the conflict, never to those who chose not to fight

so it seems to me that the rich spoiled children of the west should cast their lot in with the rights of iraqis to enjoy the fruits of democracy which raised them into the priveledged existence they live, but it does not surprise me, just depresses me, at how much resistance to join the conflict of our era that there is

it takes something like september 11th for many to wake up and see that the conflict really exists, and they really have to do something about it, as their peace and prosperity is and will continue to be threatened, and won't go away on its own, and in fact will fester and breed without intervention

and now the key observation: the difference between me and the ideologies of al qaeda and jihadists and egomaniacal tyrants is that i respect the rights of those who will not join the good fight, because i fight for their right to speak against me... those who invent excuses not to fight are risking a world that their grandchildren won't have the same peace and prosperity and rights they enjoy, that someone else will secure them for them

it is just a shame to me that they do not see the urgent need to fight those who would give them no rights at all, and continue to take away the rights of their fellow human beings

all i say is this: care for your fellow human beings, in myanmar, north korea, iraq

standing down in disgust at the ugliness of war does not make it go away, it just holds back the day until you have to fight, and then, the stakes are higher and the conflict is closer to your door

this is the lesson of the west's dithering and ignoring in the face of hitler before wwii

please don't relive history peaceniks, i know that you're resistance to the iraqi invasion and occupation stems from your hatred of war, and that is noble... but it is also naive... war is inevitable: don't embolden those who would destroy you and take away the rights of your grandchildren

fight the good fight, inventing reasons not to fight is lacking a conscience, lacking the capacity to are for your fellow human being in downtrodden countries

the stink of evil men will have to be confronted, if not now, then in the future

the difference is, in the future, the stink might be more

please join the good fight of the rights of living in a rich western democracy, and fight for the rights of others outside the west to enjoy what you enjoy, because they are your fellow human beings, and they deserve it

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

First of all... (2.86 / 15) (#123)
by Elendale on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:26:21 AM EST

It's absolutely within Kos's advertisers' rights to pull their adverts. However, i think Kos is getting... well... essentially beaten up by some other weblogs from both sides of the political spectrum. For example, Fried Man goes so far as to describe his own action in the whole Kos "scandal" as a "jihad"- pretty strong language, if you ask me. Fried Man is also, potentially, the active player in "alerting" Kos's sponsors to the controversy. Tacitus, too, has gone way off the deep end in my opinion. He has, as of yet, been unable to explain precisely why Kos's comments are deserving of the kind of criticism that Tacitus, Fried Man, and others have been piling onto Kos. Despite all his calls for it, i don't think Tacitus would have been satisfied if Kos had actually apologized either...
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


Regarding the poll (2.60 / 5) (#125)
by proles on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:29:59 AM EST

As I agreed earlier in response to somebody's editorial comment, it's certainly within the rights of the advertisers and the linkers to do whatever they want. But the question isn't whether it's within their rights, but whether it *is* right. That is, is it an action that you approve of, is it something you would do in their position.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]
Kos (1.80 / 5) (#173)
by kurioszyn on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:02:54 PM EST

Right ?
Majority of them were probably outraged by this comment - on the other hand it doesn't really matter.

This is about advertising.
They simply thought that being associated with this sort of stuff would expose them to attacks from the right and, what's worse, would leave them in a completely indefensible position (imagine trying to explain rationality of a comment like this to an average American.)

[ Parent ]

If I recall (none / 3) (#239)
by Wah on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 05:13:19 PM EST

one of the things that Fried dude asked people to do was act like they were outraged Democrats in their emails.  The Kerry campaign's lack of internet knowledge is what burned them.  

Then the stampeed started.  Even on threads where people point out that he apologized (and is in fact a veteran with hands-on personal  experience with mercs) and clarfied his statements, there were others later who just kept fanning the flames, promising to make him pay.

Mob behaviour on the Net, it's a blast.
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The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
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[ Parent ]

Yes it is (none / 3) (#262)
by godix on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:21:25 PM EST

Mob behaviour on the Net, it's a blast.

You mean like the massive attempt to redefine security guards who didn't take part in combat as 'mercanaries'? Or the repeated attempts to claim Kos appologized when he never appologized, just elaborated on what he meant? Or the attempts to defense people who distort reality like this? Yeah, I gotta agree, mob behaviour on the net is a blast.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]
"Contractor" vs. "Mercenary" (2.50 / 4) (#347)
by Elendale on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:11:33 AM EST

If you are a private soldier contracted by a government in wartime: you are a mercenary. It isn't the attempts to re-define "security guard" as "mercenary", but rather the other way around. Now, "mercenary" has a bunch of really negative implications- not the least of which that mercenaries tend to be involved in some of the worst of atrocities- which is probably the root of the US government's hesitance to call these people mercenaries, but that's really what they are.

You are, however, correct that Kos never technically apologized.


---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
o.k. (none / 1) (#350)
by Wah on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 08:25:36 AM EST

You mean like the massive attempt to redefine security guards who didn't take part in combat as 'mercanaries'?

all right, if that's true, can you tell me why these particulr security consultants were in a hot-spot that had been massively targeted by the actual military the previous week?

That's what doesn't make much sense.  Why were they in this particular area?  Their company doesn't seem to be saying why, maybe you know.
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[ Parent ]

Right vs. Rights (none / 1) (#349)
by Elendale on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:21:25 AM EST

I'm not really sure whether i'd say it was ethically fine for the advertisers to pull their ads or not- but it seems to me that if they can pull their ads just fine for no reason then pulling their ads for a pretty weak one can't be too bad. Fried Man and his crew, however, are pretty clearly out of control.
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
What's the big deal? (2.00 / 9) (#130)
by handslikesnakes on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 06:26:37 AM EST

So he said "screw them".
If he had said the same thing while they were alive, it wouldn't have been an issue.

Why the ridiculous taboo on speaking ill of the dead?



It's not about 'speaking ill of the dead' (2.50 / 8) (#131)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 06:32:10 AM EST

it's about endorsing murder.

It's about respecting life.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

I don't get it (2.85 / 7) (#136)
by vadim on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 08:20:48 AM EST

Seriously, I don't get the way people think these days.

I mean, if I go as a mercenary (basically a paid killer) to a country, I wouldn't expect to be welcome with open arms.

Sure I'd appreciate being killed in some nicer way that that, but the fact would remain: I'd be in somebody else's territory against their will. What the heck is there to expect in these conditions?

A mercenary isn't even a soldier or a guard. It's some guy who voluntarily went there for lots of $$$. That money's precisely being paid for the risk. I am definitely concerned about the lives people who are forced to go to war against their will, ordered to fight to death by braindead politicians. But people who joined on their own will for money? As Kos said, screw them.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

If I accept a job to protect people (2.25 / 4) (#147)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:10:21 AM EST

as a security guard in a dangerous area, I don't expect to be called a "mercenary" and mocked for it.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]
That makes no sense (2.60 / 5) (#150)
by vadim on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:28:56 AM EST

If you're going to accept a job you have to accept whatever that job involves as well. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

If you serve as a soldier, hired by a foreign army then you're a mercenary, whether you like the word or not
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

So, which of these men had been hired (none / 2) (#184)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:46:55 PM EST

by the US Army?

Go on, I'm waiting.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

You can stop waiting (none / 3) (#244)
by The Jews on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 05:51:26 PM EST

They were hired by Blackwater Security, which was hired by the US Army. I hope that answers a question you could've answered yourself with about 3 seconds of research.

You call these bagels?
[ Parent ]
Bzzt. wrong. (1.75 / 4) (#252)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 06:44:04 PM EST

Pity those 3 seconds didn't seem to help you.

From the Washington Post: A Blackwater spokesman said the men were guarding a convoy on its way to deliver food to under a subcontract to a company named Regency Hotel and Hospitality.

If they were hired by the Army it was at at least 3 levels of remove.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

Lying By Omission? (3.00 / 6) (#263)
by snatmandu on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:21:49 PM EST

Funny how you left a word out of your quote.  It goes between "to" and "under"

The word is "troops"

They were acting as part of the supply chain for US Troops.  

Too bad you missed the "to" when you doctored the quote.  Otherwise, I might not have looked it up, and assumed the food was "humanitarian" like I've heard others claim.

[ Parent ]

Not deliberately. Possibly freudian, but... (none / 0) (#293)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:21:19 PM EST

not deliberate. I honestly don't know how I did that.

As I mentioned in my other reply I did think it was humanitarian aid until I read the Post article.

Thanks for catching that.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

Nice try (none / 2) (#286)
by kjb on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 09:45:53 PM EST

with the doctored quote.

The unedited Washington Post article is here.

--
Now watch this drive.
[ Parent ]

Whoops. Yeah, that was quite a slip. (none / 1) (#292)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:19:54 PM EST

Hrm. Believe it or not, I didn't mean to do that.

I did think they were delivering humanitarian aid until I read that article, but that's why I said they were hired at 3 degrees removed - the Army hired the food company, which hired the security company, which hired the guards.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

Fair enough (none / 0) (#381)
by kjb on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:20:44 PM EST


--
Now watch this drive.
[ Parent ]

BTW - thanks for the link. (none / 1) (#294)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:22:02 PM EST

Since I can't go back and edit the post, your correction will have to stand.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]
Don't endorse murder, but support our troops(nt) (none / 2) (#141)
by Morkney on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 08:52:13 AM EST

nt

[ Parent ]
Eh. They weren't our troops (none / 2) (#148)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:11:11 AM EST

and to be honest, I don't support the killing of Iraqis, either.

I suppose I'm becoming a Quaker in my old age.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

Have it your way. (none / 3) (#308)
by handslikesnakes on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:45:22 PM EST

Still, why does being brutally murdered excuse somebody from criticism?



[ Parent ]
shameless disregard for human life [nt] (2.40 / 5) (#336)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 02:31:49 AM EST



---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
And he has no shame, which has hurt his website. (1.50 / 14) (#137)
by Paulsweblog on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 08:28:43 AM EST

Some people don't grow up.

--
Blood for blood and death for death.

Hey (2.62 / 24) (#168)
by wji on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 12:31:21 PM EST

Wasn't there some kind of a controversy in recent memory about "enemy combatants", you know, people who fight in wars but aren't members of any army, don't wear uniforms, don't follow a chain of command, that kind of thing? Nah, I must be crazy.

It's really too bad Kos won't stick by his comment, but as all Democrats know, it's more important to keep to the mainstream's definition of acceptable politics than to tell the truth.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.

he did stick by his comment (2.00 / 4) (#196)
by Wah on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:19:25 PM EST

he explained what he meant, he didn't change the opinion.  He merely expounded upon it.

but as all Democrats know,

Beep Beep

Bullshit alarm.
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[ Parent ]

Operative word (1.50 / 4) (#216)
by bobpence on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:26:45 PM EST

"Fight." The Blackwater contractors were not there to fight, they were there to defend the humanitarian supplies from those who would steal it. Likewise reporters in Iraq and Afghanistan usually hire security. Please tell us if you here of any such "mercenaries" leading attacks or even keeping up a firefight while they have the ability to disengage.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 3) (#217)
by wji on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:28:35 PM EST

They were there to defend humanitarian supplies. How do we know? Because they said so! What more could we ask for?

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
defend... (none / 3) (#234)
by Run4YourLives on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:43:21 PM EST

How do they "defend"...by sticking out their tongues?

Defending and Attacking are both variants of fighting. If they weren't there to fight, they shouldn't have brought weapons.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

yes, defend (none / 2) (#241)
by Wateshay on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 05:32:27 PM EST

You're technically right, but I think you missed the spirit of the post.

They weren't there to lead attacks, or instigate violence. They were there to protect people who weren't otherwise capable of protecting themselves from the already existing violence in the area. Are you really arguing that all humanitarian workers should take U.S. soldiers with them wherever they go (or go around defenseless, or go home)? Those four guys may have been in it solely for the money, or they may have truly believed in what they were doing. We'll never know. Regardless, I'd say the job they were doing was a lot less ethically questionable than the job the American soldiers in Iraq are doing. I personally may feel they're both ethical, and you may feel neither are ethical, but I'd really like to see a good argument that makes defending humanitarian efforts less ethical than invading and occupying a country.


"If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for everyone else."


[ Parent ]
ethics aren't the question (2.80 / 5) (#267)
by Run4YourLives on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:28:28 PM EST

They were there to protect people who weren't otherwise capable of protecting themselves from the already existing violence in the area.

First of all, there is no solid evidence to support that. They weren't defending anyone but themselves at the time of the attack.

Are you really arguing that all humanitarian workers should take U.S. soldiers with them wherever they go

Well most of the time they take UN sponsered troops, (or indeed, no one at all) but we won't go there.

The Blackwater contractors were...there to defend the humanitarian supplies from those who would steal it.

Or, in other words, they're there to fight to protect their own interests, or the interests of those who have hired them. I'm not questioning the ethics of that. I'm simply pointing out that everyone who fires a weapon in Iraq (as in any war) is on equal ethical grounds: that being their own self interests.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Humanitarians? that's not proved (2.83 / 12) (#275)
by johnny on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 08:03:26 PM EST

Let's put the Blackwater rangers incommunicado in Guantanamo for three or four years and then maybe give them a chance to make their case before a tribunal.

Without a lawyer.

Or maybe not three or four years. Maybe let's hold them until "the war on terror" is over. Five years? Ten years? Who knows?

Let's see

  • Afghanistan: Afghans, not organized into any coherent military, wearing the only clothes they own, take up arms against the army of a country from 5,000 miles away -- they must be "enemy combatants!"
  • Iraq: Blackwater Security personel, Americans in a war zone, not in uniform, not responsible to controling legal authority, carrying weapons, 5,000 miles from home -- must be humanitarian workers!

Mind you, my leftwing credentials are well established here on k5, but I'm also on record as having (reluctantly) supported the (botched, mismanaged, fucked up) war in Afghanistan, which was ostensibly fought to depose the Taliban, bring order and stability to Afghanistan and destroy al Queida.

(Although who knows why the hell that war was actually fought. Because if deposing the Taliban, bringing order and stability to Afghanistan and destroying al Queida was its real aim, then the most powerful military force in the history of humankind is a pathetic joke. I don't believe that, and must therefore conclude that the political commanders of said military were either (a)obscenely incompetent or (b) treasonously dishonest about their true aims, and I really don't give a rat's ass which one it was.)

Anyway, I do find it hard to credit the idea that some Afghan who takes up a gun and shoots at Americans (who are, for the love of Mike, invading his country), is a nefarious "enemy combatant", while Blackstone Security -- who appear to me to be nothing more or less than a private army (regardless if they're on the good or bad side)-- is somehow not a "combatant" because their hearts are pure.

So I think wji's remark is on the money. I am bothered by Gitmo, and I am bothered by the outsourcing of USian security responsibilities to private, profit-driven entities.

I don't condone murder, and I'm certainly disgusted by the desecration of the corpses in Falluja.

But let's say the situation were reversed. Let's say that the Iraqi Army were patrolling the streets of Somerville, Massachusetts. Let's say I supported them, because--despite my having no job and having lived in a crime-infested slum of a war zone for a year -- I believed that my country had been been irredeemably fucked up, and that yielding full control of America's wealth and political future to Iraqi benevolence was the only hope for my children. So despite feeling humiliated by the need to have Iraqi soldiers controlling my country, let's say that as a patriotic American I felt OK about submitting myself to Iraqi authority.

Even assuming all that, I probably would have found the idea of highly paid Iraqi mercenaries armed to the teeth touring around Somerville in big SUVs a bit much to take. I probably would have shot an rpg at them just to tell them to stay the fuck out of my neighborhood.

yr frn,
jrs
Get your free download of prizewinning novels Acts of the Apostles and Che
[ Parent ]

Wrong operative word (none / 2) (#300)
by wombat68 on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:10:25 PM EST

The correct operative word is "enemy". As long as you don't fall into that category, you can do whatever you like, for whomever you like.

[ Parent ]
Mercenaries. (1.54 / 11) (#175)
by SPYvSPY on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:05:17 PM EST

Yeah, haul out the dictionary, if you must. But take note that every single one of those guys that were whacked in Falluja would have enlisted for government pay if they had been allowed.

And by the way, this complaint about the pay that they were getting is absurd. Soldiers have always been paid too little, whereas coders and lawyers and CMF-founders have been paid too much. Why? It's a question of honor, which some have got and others have not.
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Really. (3.00 / 9) (#186)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:48:41 PM EST

But take note that every single one of those guys that were whacked in Falluja would have enlisted for government pay if they had been allowed.

And where did you pull that factoid from?

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

Au contraire (none / 1) (#211)
by kmcrober on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 03:18:47 PM EST

Lawyers can never be paid enough.  Never.  The mark of grand civilization is enormously high compensation for the beneficent work done by noble lawyers, in exchange for a twenty hour work week.  We're almost there; we just have to stop working as hard.

[ Parent ]
Are you a law student? (none / 0) (#351)
by SPYvSPY on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 09:23:36 AM EST

If so, you don't know jack shit. (IAAL, BTW)
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[ Parent ]

Buddy, (none / 1) (#383)
by kmcrober on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:47:35 PM EST

All I know is that I need a job.  Preferably one with enormous compensation and a twenty-hour week.  It's got to be out there somewhere, right?

Actually, I'm looking at going to a DA's office in Texas.  A year of misdemeanor prosecutions before I'd get any interesting cases, but the ADAs I've met really seem to love the work.  And everyone's off by five!  It's literally less than half the money a firm would pay, but it's also half the hours and twice the fun.  I tried the firm stuff as a summer associate and hated it.  Absolutely hated it.  Didn't like the environment, the clients, the work...  Blah.

The only problem is that the DA's offices don't make their hiring decisions until after the bar... so I'm looking at a few months of unemployment.  But I guess that's no different than millions of other Americans in the Bush America.

[ Parent ]

Oh (none / 0) (#422)
by SPYvSPY on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:21:31 PM EST

Despite the enormous sympathy I have for you in the grueling post-law school job search, you *did* slam lawyers (even if in jest). I'm guessing that your few months as a summer at a law firm did not teach you jack shit about being a practicing lawyer. Depending on the firm, you were probably wined and dined and given asinine late-night make-work projects. Anyway, I'm a little defensive since I walk the walk and have to listen to a lot a bullshit talk.
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[ Parent ]

It's not a question of honor . . . (none / 1) (#302)
by hardburn on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:19:21 PM EST

. . . it's a question of capitalism.

Just doing my part to make sure that those who cry support for capitalism have some clue as to what they are supporting.


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


[ Parent ]
Article about the mercs (none / 2) (#324)
by rusty on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:16:47 AM EST

In the March Esquire:
As Dave Smith, a former British soldier who has worked as a contractor all over the world (including, for a time, in Liberia, for the now-deposed war-criminal president Charles Taylor), put it: "The difference between a contractor and a military guy is I'm getting paid five times as much and I can tell you to get fucked if I don't want to do it." For a certain sort of person, it's a great gig.
It's a very good article.


____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Because there are quotas at all levels of military (none / 0) (#352)
by SPYvSPY on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 09:26:41 AM EST

You can't just re-enlist if you want to. BTW, Rusty's circumstantial (i.e., immaterial) citation proves nothing about these four men.
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[ Parent ]

Oh! (none / 1) (#371)
by SPYvSPY on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 11:49:41 AM EST

A logical fallacy! Very high-brow. Why not just say I'm wrong? Not meeting your RDA of condescending verbosity?

Anyway, I'm not wrong. The fact that they would re-enlist if they could is relevant. It may not be true (since the source for that information is the eulogizing going on in the news), but it might be true, which is enough to demonstrate that the opposite might not be true. In other words, you have no more basis to assume that they were greedy and ripping off taxpayers than I do to assume that they weren't.
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[ Parent ]

Now this.... (none / 1) (#420)
by SPYvSPY on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:14:38 PM EST

No it's not. Not at all. Maybe Timothy McVeigh would have been a marvellous store manager, if he was hired. But he was not - he became a terrorist. He was judged and sentenced as such. Same for the mercenaries ; maybe they could have been marvellous CEO, priests, or soldiers - but they were not soldiers, and they choosed to be mercenaries. They are despised as such.

OK, I understand what you mean by a logical fallacy now. Thanks for demonstrating!
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[ Parent ]

+1, Genius (none / 2) (#471)
by SPYvSPY on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 11:11:37 AM EST

Nothing like solid logic to drive a point into academic oblivion. Way to remain irrelevant!
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[ Parent ]

It may not be germane... (1.90 / 11) (#179)
by mister slim on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 01:28:14 PM EST

But I would like to light afire, pull through the streets, hang from bridges and otherwise defile the Democratic and Republican parties.
Anyway, possibly off-topic.
__

"Fucking sheep, the lot of you. Yeah, and your little dogs too." -Rogerborg

Innaccurate (2.60 / 10) (#201)
by avdi on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 02:35:19 PM EST

Instapundit has not mounted a delinking campaign; to the contrary, Glenn has said he thinks de-linking is silly and he hopes Kos continues blogging. For heaven's sake at least read the sites you criticize.

--
Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir
I've read that post (none / 2) (#224)
by proles on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:10:26 PM EST

And that misses the point. Instapundit may not have called for delinking specifically, but he has obviously been one of the most if not the most influential blogger condemning Kos. Whether or not he specifically called for delinking is a technicality.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]
Are you now, or have you ever been, a delinker? (none / 3) (#295)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:25:55 PM EST

Nothing like guilt by association. Nothing like holding your guy up to one standard and his opponents to another.

You want us to give your guy a pass for something he said, but you want us to blame Instapundit for something he never did.

Nice.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

Irony (none / 3) (#312)
by proles on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:14:10 AM EST

Seeing as how the exact reasoning of Instapundit and Tacitus is guilty by assocation: Kos said something bad, therefore the whole site must be condemned.

In any case, what I'm suggesting is not actually guilt by assocation, but guilt by what somebody is actually doing: Instapundit is arguably the most powerful blog backing the "anti-Kos" movement at the moment.  Hence, it seems fair to identify him as such, whether or not he specifically advocated delinking or other practices.  The fact of the matter is he utilized his own influence to try to condemn and hurt Kos, and since his influence is considerably larger than any of the other folks who have condemned Kos, it seems fair to call him a central figure of the issue.

And furthermore, I just realized something I should have realized earlier: the great-grandparent of this post attacks me for doing something I never did, namely asserting that Instapundit is mounting a delinking campaign.  I said that Instapundit is part of a movement mounting an anti-Kos campaign, and I said identified parts of that campaign that are attempting to achieve delinking, but nowhere did I say that Instapundit pushed for delinking.  As such, it seems everything I said was hunky dory.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]

Simply Wrong (none / 2) (#362)
by avdi on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 10:47:26 AM EST

I've re-read the recent Kos posts on Instapundit.  In no way does he ever promote the shutting down of Kos or encourage de-linking.  He expressed dissaproval of the "screw them" post, and published links to the ensuing back-and-forth, as he often does.   He maintained throughout his longtime support for Kos as a blogger, and expresses his wishes that Kos will keep blogging.  He was quite specific about being opposed to the sentiments in that single post, not to the blog as a whole.  In no way can this possibly be construed as being part of an "anti-Kos" campaign, unless simply disagreeing publicly with Kos makes a person anti-Kos.

For reference, the posts are here:
http://www.instapundit.com/archives/014860.php
http://www.instapundit.com/archives/014877.php

--
Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir
[ Parent ]

Publicly and prominently condemning Kos... (none / 2) (#373)
by proles on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:04:50 PM EST

...seems to count as being part of the "anti-Kos" campaign, and that's certainly what Instapundit has done. While he has not called for specific punishment, he has certainly lit the anti-Kos torch, and as I said due to the power of his own blog it seems worthy of note.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]
Those who write publicly... (none / 3) (#394)
by avdi on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 02:23:55 PM EST

...risk public condemnation.  It's part and parcel to public discourse.  If someone says something inflammatory in a public forum, they can expect it to draw fire.  It's irrelevent who initially publicizes the inflammatory comment.  Nobody blames the New York Times for public condemnation when some public figure makes a stupid comment and the Times editorializes about it.

There's a huge difference between saying "I'm against you and all that you stand for", and saying "I like you but I disagree with what you just said".   The former can reasonably be called "anti-".  The latter is simply disagreement.  Public discourse has hit a sad state if anyone who disagrees, disaproves, or draws attention is seen as being a part of an "anti-X campaign".

--
Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir
[ Parent ]

Ummm (none / 1) (#398)
by proles on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 02:41:10 PM EST

Now you're distracting the topic. I'm not saying Instapundit shouldn't be allowed to do what he's doing, and I'm not saying that Kos should be immune to criticism. I'm just saying I feel that the anti-Kos movement Instapundit is part of is an overreaction. Please stop attacking poor defenseless straw men.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]
Having read many of the comments on Kos (none / 3) (#364)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 10:48:16 AM EST

about this process, I think I agree with the delinkers. The attitudes displayed by the posters were, if anything, worse than the original comment.

So, yeah, I'd endorse anyone who chose to distance themselves from that entire site.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

I still don't see the "distancing themselves (none / 1) (#375)
by proles on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:07:36 PM EST

Seriously. There are "wackos" on essentially every major online discussion site. Think about it. But in reality, you're defined (or should be defined) by who you are, and not by somebody else. Even though, as I said, Daily Kos is largely echochambery and so forth, it's still worth visiting as there are often interesting stories and good poll info for following the status of elections around the country.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]
You seem not to understand (1.80 / 21) (#237)
by trhurler on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 04:59:20 PM EST

The situation is simple. A Democrat said out loud what all of them were thinking, but knew would not be acceptable to say out loud. Therefore, he must be vilified. This isn't about emotion vs rationalism or whatever - it is about Democrats distancing themselves from an open statement of their beliefs because those beliefs are not electable. Now, of course, were these four the well paid leaders of some charitable foundation, their money motive would never be questioned, and they would be deemed martyrs to the glorious lefty cause, but since they were security forces trying to keep some semblence of order, they are akin to fascists, except with shoddier motives. At least, that's the implicit reasoning of a Democrat:)

The whole thing is intensely amusing to me. Watch the Democrats dance as they try to avoid anyone, including other Democrats, realizing what a bunch of shitpiles they really are.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

More an American thing than a Democrat thing... (none / 3) (#255)
by ghjm on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:01:41 PM EST

because either way, this is just another opportunity to make political hay. Either way, it's an excuse for wild hand-waving and extreme interpretations of the events. Nobody cares what happened to the dead people, but it's a great photo op and a perfect talking point to advance your agenda, right?

Also, it's not as if Republicans haven't occasionally taken action to distance themselves from core beliefs that happened to turn out as unelectable.

I think the problem is that the issues are way too complex and multi-faceted, and the points of view are too diverse, for a two-party system to have a hope in hell of representing anything better than a hopelessly Bowdlerized version of what anyone actually believes in. It's as if RMS had to vote for Microsoft or Apple.

I say we need a few decades of fragile coalition governments in the U.S., as per (parts of) Europe. I think it would do us a lot of good.

-Graham

[ Parent ]

why should he apologise? (2.20 / 15) (#246)
by crazycanuck on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 06:02:41 PM EST

his opinions offend you?

good! stop with the fucking sheep groupthink.

such a profound statement. (none / 1) (#390)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:39:41 PM EST

Perhaps his opinion offends because it violates a fundamental tenet of civil humanity: respect for human life.

Thank you though, you've truely proven your itellectual independence by cheaply referencing the most quoted novel on societal control and authoritarianism.

Please, if you're going to challange someone's values, do it well.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

you talk about respect for human life? (none / 2) (#428)
by crazycanuck on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:48:03 PM EST

these mercenaries are in Iraq profiting from the suffering of the Iraqi people and you dare talk about respect for human life?

[ Parent ]
depends on how you look at the war (none / 1) (#438)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 10:50:49 PM EST

And thus we discover the crux of the matter.

If one believes that the US is there primarily to pillage and profit, then sure, let 'em fry.

However, if you believe that the US' cause is largely benevolent (if self-serving), then for god's sake show some compassion when some of the people working to support the effort are killed.

I've said this here before, but I believe that the US's cause in Iraq is both self-serving and benevolent. Self-serving in that through the liberalization (economic ans social liberalization) of Iraq, the US will gain allies and influence in the region. Benevolent because, inherent to the process, the people of Iraq are gaining freedom and eventually stability and wealth. Sure US companies will make some money off the process, but that's the nature of a market economy. Somebody always makes money. The end goal of it all, however, is good.

The four men were security workers in this effort. They weren't there to take anything from Iraq or to profit from killing Iraqis, they were there to protect Americans and their stuff. People and things that are there to, in the big picture, help Iraq.

Because of the war, Iraq has a chance of a better future that it wouldn't have had otherwise. Ya know, it's amazing how quickly everyone has forgotten about the 6,000 children who were dying under Saddam. And don't say that the suffering was the US' doing. Even under the Oil-for-food program to help Iraq civilians, we now find, unsuprisingly, that very little of the money Saddam's government earned under that program actually made it to civilians.

By the way, Iraqis tried to rebel against Saddam's government several times and were brutally put down each time. The only solution was foreign intervention... unless you propose that the UN should have just lifted the sanctions and let Saddam do what he wants, like attack Iran or Kuwait perhaps?

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

those 6000 children (none / 0) (#441)
by crazycanuck on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 11:36:33 PM EST

were dieing because of UN sanctions supported by the west. in big part thanks to the US

[ Parent ]
um (none / 0) (#444)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 11:58:59 PM EST

Do you think that Saddam had nothing to do with it? Do you think that had he never invaded Kuwait, the west would have imposed sanctions on the country?

Or should the UN have just lifted the sanctions, regardless of the actions of Iraq's government? Do you think that Saddam wouldn't have tried to attack another country somewhere down the road? And after lifting the sanctions, when some other nation in the world did something bad, how much influence would the UN then have to stop it?

The UN, to its credit, recognized the humanitarian problem and TRIED to help the civilians in Iraq through the oil-for-food program. That effort failed, as none of the money actually got to the people who needed it. That, again, was Saddam's government's doing.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

replace saddam with bush (none / 0) (#462)
by crazycanuck on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:10:57 AM EST

isn't it funny how you condemn the invasion of a sovereign country by one dictator while supporting another?

where are the weapons?

[ Parent ]

Originally, yes (none / 0) (#470)
by Gully Foyle on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 11:06:24 AM EST

The oil for food program should have stopped that, but didn't. Rather than spending the money on stuff he was allowed, Hussein left much of it in the bank. The rest he spent on feeding his armies. Yes, certain medicines weren't allowed, but the starvation should have stopped.

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

should have, but didn't (none / 0) (#572)
by emmons on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 12:59:20 AM EST

Which left us with three options.

We could have lifted the sanctions.
This is obviously (or should be) a bad idea, because it would be a big sign to the world that the UN doesn't really mean what it says when it threatens something. It's difficult to police a group when you don't actually enforce your rules, after all.

We could have continued with the Oil-for-food program, even though it was doing little good aside from lining Saddam's and some of his friends' (including, as it turns out, people at the UN) bank accounts and keeping his army at least somewhat fed.

Or, we could have removed Saddam from power.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

Groupthink (none / 0) (#431)
by Mr Badger on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 06:55:32 PM EST

Groupthink is not from Orwell's "1984," though it does sound like a bit of Orwellian newspeak. It was a term popularized by communication researcher Irving Janis in the late 1970s.

[ Parent ]
oops (none / 1) (#436)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 09:53:18 PM EST

My bad. From my brief google search it seems to be a fairly common mistake too. Sorry 'bout that.

However, just the same, if you have something of substance to say, by all means say it. Silly insults like that was are, well, silly.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

silly insults? (none / 0) (#478)
by crazycanuck on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:29:45 PM EST

I did have something to say, and I didn't insult anybody. if you feel insulted, that's your problem since I never addressed you in particular and before your reply I wasn't even aware of your existance.

if my mentioning of "sheep groupthink" offends you, perhaps it is because you yourself believe you're one of the sheep. and who am I to disagree?

and about having something of substance to say ...(pot calling kettle black?)

how about you explain exactly why he should apologise. Is he not allowed to have a personal opinion? is he not allowed to have an opinion that is different than other people's? is he not allowed to express his opinion?
do you believe all people should think the same way and those that disagree with you should be silenced?

please, explain to me exactly why you believe Kos should be crucified for daring to think differently .

[ Parent ]

also (none / 1) (#479)
by crazycanuck on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:39:10 PM EST

learn how to read properly.

your brief google search should have told you immediately where the term came from, since the first search result clearly states the term was coined by Irving Janis.
http://www.google.ca/search?q=groupthink&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en& ;meta=

now, let's see what this page has to say about "groupthink"

Conditions  
Groupthink occurs when groups are highly cohesive and when they are under considerable pressure to make a quality decision.  

Negative outcomes  
Some negative outcomes of groupthink include:
-Examining few alternatives
-Not being critical of each other's ideas
-Not examining early alternatives
-Not seeking expert opinion
-Being highly selective in gathering information
-Not having contingency plans

Symptoms
Some symptoms of groupthink are:
-Having an illusion of invulnerability
-Rationalizing poor decisions
-Believing in the group's morality
-Sharing stereotypes which guide the decision
-Exercising direct pressure on others
-Not expressing your true feelings
-Maintaining an illusion of unanimity
-Using mindguards to protect the group from negative information

let's see... these people are exercising direct pressure on others (this whole "controversy") in order to silence someone who is critical of their decisions, definitely using "mindguards" to protect themselves from negative information, and definitely being selective in gathering information and not being critical of each other's ideas.

so, IMHO, this situation fits the groupthink definition quite well.

therefore please explain to me why my mention of "groupthink" is a "silly insult".

[ Parent ]

Thinking About Groupthink (none / 2) (#523)
by Mr Badger on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 09:57:56 AM EST

Though I'm not expert on group dynamics, and my opinions here should be taken with a grain of salt, I do not believe the term "groupthink" is properly applied as explanation of why kos' comments offended some readers, nor does it explain why individuals would post comments making their objections a matter of record.

Groupthink is, by definition, a product of a highly cohesive group working under pressure to produce a quality decision. You can break this definition down and I believe you'll see why individuals reactions, as posted on K5, cannot be the work of groupthink.

First, groupthink - and I know this sounds like I'm stating the obvious here, but it bears saying - can only happen in groups. Furthermore, it must happen in a very specific kind of group: the cohesive group. The postings of an individual cannot be the product of groupthink.

Second, the "pressure" here is of a specific kind - it is pressure applied to the cohesive group, applied for the reason of making the group produce a quality decision. You state that the group, offended individuals, is applying pressure to others. This is something else, censorship or public coercion perhaps, but it isn't the pressure described by the groupthink theory. I don't believe K5 posters are under pressure to post. You could easily be offended or agree completely with kos' comment, and decide not to post. The idea that the individual K5 posters are under pressure to produce statements is, I think, an unreasonable assumption.

Finally, groupthink occurs when the group is being forced to make a "quality decision." This means that the group is deciding on a matter where (1) the decision produced can be measured for quality (in a factual matter, for example, the decision could be measured against the "right answer" and gauged for quality) and (2) there are stakes involved, the decision must have some impact, result, or desired outcome important to all the members of the group. You could make the argument that ratings reflect the quality of a comment and comments are measured by a sort of metric, though I don't believe the stakes are high enough to truly make this an issue that falls under groupthink criteria. Ratings rise and fall. The worst that can happen is you get booted off a free Web site. Groupthink only kicks in when the group is making a decision they, collectively, feel is important. This is not, I feel, the case with K5 postings.

Not that this whole story doesn't have an aspect of groupthink about it. The actions of advertisers and the Kerry campaign are more likely candidates for groupthink analysis. I suspect any decisions made by these parties were made by committees. These committees are most likely unified in outlook and aim (elect Kerry, promote our product or service). They also, as members of these parties, probably feel their aims are important (make money, elect a candidate) and feel pressure not to fail at these tasks. Not being privy to the decision making processes of these groups, I can do no more than speculate.


[ Parent ]

Social Software Problem (2.65 / 20) (#248)
by fraying on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 06:23:43 PM EST

[Reposted from my site.]

This story is really about social software.

Markos' original comment did not appear as a story on the main page of Daily Kos. It didn't even appear as an entry in Markos' Diary. It was posted in response to a Diary entry by another user altogether.

Daily Kos user "gregonthe28th" posted a Diary entry on Thursday April 1 about seeing the photos of charred corpses on the cover of the local paper. The Diary entry said: "Now I'm not squeamish about the realities of war. But I find this over the line. I assume the logic is that because they were 'civilians' or 'contractors' it's ok...it's not like they are soldiers. except these are soldiers. they may be a private army, but they are fighting the same war."

It was this to which Markos was responding. Markos grew up in El Salvador and knows a little something about living in a war zone. In his clarification post, he said, "I was 8 years old, and I remember stepping over a dead body, warm blood flowing from a fresh wound. Dodging bullets while at market."

Forgive me for playing armchair psychologist, but I don't think it's a huge leap to say that Markos has some residual anger. Who wouldn't? So when he read that those dead bodies were not soldiers but "American contractors," he saw the same war mercenaries from his youth and posted hastily, without even stopping to spellcheck.

His comment was harsh, sure. Casual conversation can often be outlandish. But that's just the point: This is casual conversation. This was a comment in a Diary thread. It's inappropriate to take the comment out of context and hold it to the same standards as a front page story. But that's just what happened.

I can relate. I speak at a lot of conferences about web design and virtual community. And up there at the podium, I know what I'm saying is being held to a high standard. So if you asked me about, say, Friendster, I might say that it's taking on an interesting problem, but not 100% successful. I might offer a critique and list some things I think they should work on.

Later, at the party, when we both have drinks in our hands, if you asked me again, I might tell you how I was sick of those damn invites and how I heard that a friend of mine once put the founder of Friendster in a headlock at a party. And then we'd laugh and laugh.

Context, as always, is everything.

Did Markos say something impolitic? Sure. But it's not like he made a speech. What he did is more like Kerry forgetting his mic is on and saying the the right is "the most crooked, lying group of people I've ever seen." Or Bush saying "There's Adam Clymer, major league asshole" into a forgotten mic. These are off the cuff comments, intended for one audience and accidentally brought to a larger one.

For Markos' foes to take this comment out of context and email it to his advertisers is just dirty pool. They know the social difference between a comment in a Diary and a front page story post. But it's safe to say that the advertisers who pulled their ads didn't.

As for the Kerry campaign bloggers, their public de-linking reeks of political opportunism or blogging naivete or both. It did nothing but fan the flames and create a fake issue that they could use to look tough. To me at least, the whole thing makes them look like bush league bloggers.

But the real problem is communicating the right context next time around. I'm a designer, so I see design solutions here. It would help if the visual/information design of Daily Kos' Diaries made the social structure more clear. Diaries don't read like newspapers, so they shouldn't look like newspapers. (This criticism could be applied to Kuro5hin as well, and would suggest some tweaks to the overall Scoop system.) If the visual design of the Diary pages made it more clear that this is not the newsroom, it would be easier to take Markos' comments there as different from his more serious front page posts.

As for Markos, I offer my most bittersweet congratulations. You've reached the big league, where the sharks are waiting for any statement, in any context, they can take and run with. It shows just how much your influence has grown. I wouldn't trade places with you for anything.

John Lennon once said (2.77 / 9) (#254)
by johnny on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:00:48 PM EST

if I remember correctly, "I not accountable for everything I've said." This comment was met with some dirision until he followed up with, "are you accountable for everything you've said?"

His point was that because he was Beatle, his every word was written down and scrutinized. But he refused to yield his human right to speak off the cuff, to contradict himself, to be a jackass, even.

As far as I know, the only institution that has resolved this issue is the Papacy, which allows the Pope to speak "Ex Cathedra" when he is officially putting on his Pope hat & invoking the infalibility escalator clause.

yr frn,
jrs
Get your free download of prizewinning novels Acts of the Apostles and Che
[ Parent ]

No it's not (none / 3) (#264)
by melia on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 07:24:49 PM EST

What he did is more like Kerry forgetting his mic is on and saying the the right is "the most crooked, lying group of people I've ever seen." Or Bush saying "There's Adam Clymer, major league asshole" into a forgotten mic. These are off the cuff comments, intended for one audience and accidentally brought to a larger one.

Err, no, it's not - it's more like Kerry or Bush forgetting their mic is on and saying "I feel nothing over the death of..." etc. etc., in which case they would face just as much pressure as this Kos guy. (Well, more - i'm speaking relative to their importance)


Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]

What would you change? (2.50 / 4) (#288)
by rusty on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 09:53:58 PM EST

Thanks for posting that here. It's an interesting angle to look at it from. I think your take on the Kerry blog reaction is right-on, and I think it basically is because they are bush league (anti-bush league? ow.) bloggers. I disagree that a design change would have much effect on the organized character assassination attempt that's still going on, but it may make it easier for the politically timid to laugh it off instead of feeling pressured to distance themselves from all of the dailykos.

I would really like to hear your design ideas for making it more clear that diaries are "bar chat" and distinct from the news portion of the site. I do think it would be useful.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Template flexability (2.50 / 4) (#296)
by fraying on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 10:38:23 PM EST

Thanks, Rusty! It's an interesting idea: What are the visual signifiers for "casual conversation"?

I haven't worked with Scoop directly, so forgive my ignorance. Can it be set up to use a different set of templates for the Diary index page and Diary entries? If so, well, there are many possibilities. I'd start by making the username more prominent than the site branding. In a Diary, is the user that gets top billing. Then go from there....

[ Parent ]

Sure (none / 2) (#315)
by rusty on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:26:03 AM EST

It's pretty flexible. Some would say that we've traded ease-of-use for flexibility, and yes, I'd probably agree with them. But yeah, it's entirely possible to make diaries look completely different.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Be very careful. (2.75 / 4) (#305)
by GenerationY on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:42:17 PM EST

I see what you are getting at, but I'm not sure that what you propose is necessarily beneficial.

I can't share you analysis of the situation: The failure here was not that the readers misunderstood the context, it was that the author misunderstood the nature of the medium itself. You proposal, at least in my reading, would only compound the likelihood of someone in Kos' position making the same mistake twice.

Why do I say this? Well it boils down to a legal fact and the nature of the medium itself. There is no such thing as a casual conversation on the internet. You are legally culpable for all that you write in the event it is considered to cause harm and/or to represent a falsehood. Its sad, but at least at the present time its the way things are (Slashdot are running an interview with an attorney just now wherein he points this out). Especially post-Google (but even before in truth) whatever you write, particularly in a blog or similar, may acquire an archival status you have no control over. It doesn't really matter how the site is designed, its those two facts that do the damage: legal accountability and the persistence of information. The longevity also means your random mutterings could face a world-wide audience. Even more worrying there is no knowing if your non-textual cues to context will be retained or not. Kos' were quickly stripped as his words were cut and pasted and very few people have pointed out what you have about this.

The scheme you suggest strikes me as potentially misleading to authors, allowing them a false sense of security. Context is in any case a slippery thing at best and often in the eye of the beholder. How many bar fights have begun because of a joke that seemed OK (in context) to the person who uttered it? I guess this stems from the very basic netiquette advice given to first time email users: make sure you aren't sending in haste, and remember the reader may take offence unless you are very clear in what you say.

Perhaps the design consideration shouldn't be to persuade the reader that what they are seeing shouldn't be taken too seriously. Perhaps it should be to impose upon the author the fact their comments could have a wider audience and a longer persistance than they may have anticipated?

[I'd be interested if you could reply to this. I mean it when I say I think this a very interesting area.]

[ Parent ]

I was thinking this too, but... (none / 3) (#321)
by rusty on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:08:22 AM EST

One of the key points about the casual conversation is its ephemeral nature. With the net the way it is right now, that's basically impossible to provide. Even ephemeralia like IM and IRC are easily (and frequently) logged.

The only way to truly reproduce the casual conversation online is to have strict access control of who can view and participate in a conversation, and to make it permanently dissolve over time. Even that is subject to recording by any of the participants, but so is real life, so it's not any worse. Someone with a motive to cause trouble will find a way. But you make a good point about design changes being dangerous by giving a sense of that which isn't backed up by reality.

However, I don't think you're addressing the whole idea here. I think Derek's point was more about the casual reader's interpretation of what they see on the screen. I think a big part of it was trying to make it clear that anything you read in this place should be taken with a big grain of salt, and not interpreted as a pronouncement cast in stone. It's not about legal liability, but about impact on a general audience -- political liability, in this case. In that light, there could be a benefit to a more informal presentation style.

For example, when a candidate is caught in a moment they thought was off-mic saying something unpleasant, it can cause a big scandal, but it pretty much never takes down a career. When a candidate has an Ed Muskie (or a Trent Lott) moment in the full knowlege that the cameras are rolling, that is the kind of thing that ruins careers.

The key difference isn't what they say, but the context in which it is said. People give greater latitude to things that weren't meant to be public. God knows we all say things in private we wouldn't say on TV. The problem Derek's pointing out is that on dKos, if you're not already a reader, how could you possibly know what's "off-mic?"

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Its a tricky one (2.75 / 4) (#339)
by GenerationY on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 03:50:04 AM EST

because I don't believe you are ever "off mic" when online, particularly as regards blogs. I don't say that casually, I think its quite a profound idea to fully get one's head around.

Certainly aids to navigation are no bad thing and the point about the casual reader being informed as to the nature of the content is entirely reasonable. I don't know about design itself, but I'd suggest that if a comment is supposed to be "throw away" a step in the right direction would be making sure it really does get thrown away after a brief period of time; something needs to be done so that the information has a very real lowering in status as compared to the main body of the site. This is something that, say, using a whacky font won't achieve alone. There needs to be a plausability to the decision process as to where one places a comment.

I still however suspect the danger remains. I think the deep, deep, underlying problem is that in real life context is established through a sort of negotiation between all involved. Online we don't have anything like the level of interactivity to permit this. Its going to be pretty tricky to ensure that 3rd parties rolling up for a quick browse really do get what is going on. I know it sounds like this can be fixed with a different page design for personal comments, maybe a disclaimer, and indeed to an extent it can, but engendering a subtle understanding in a random punter is a fiendishly difficult problem to get right. We are talking about quite a complicated state of mind to establish: this is serious, that part is not, even though the may ostensibly appear similar. Particularly because we are talking about the impression the reader goes away with, not the real liabilities that the author faces (which is to say a legalistic "well he did post it to the personal comments section, you shouldn't read that bit if you are easily offended" may get one out of pseudo-legal hotwater but it doesn't necessarily fix the problem of the impression formed should the reader not understand whats going on). Certainly there are some interesting suggestions for improvement, by my more pessimistic side wonders if this is a tractable goal and given the risks...its like, I don't care what automatic system that gun has for not misfiring, wouldn't it be better to leave the safety on anyway? I can see this is one I'm probably going to mull over a bit I think.

[ Parent ]

related to k5's problems (none / 3) (#379)
by phred on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:12:08 PM EST

These sites are so wrapped up in their "founders" that they lose the functionality of collaberative media sites. For instance, k5 is irrecoverably broke because of rusty's inability to let the site be what it becomes. The same with kos, this comment in question would be nothing without the authors name attached to it.

Look at slashdot as a contrast. There is a perception of much less participation by the administrators in the actual discussion and, while they do have editorial powers on whats posted, the impression users get is that the users themselves are the mob.

[ Parent ]

Unless you use your real name, it's moot (none / 1) (#517)
by RyoCokey on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 04:43:55 PM EST

IP logs are useless over any real length of time, simply because even if you keep records of a poster's IP with their comments, the ISP records tieing that person to the comment will be gone in a year at most. That's assuming you can even definitely tie a person to an IP address, which is unlikely in most workplaces (my computer is shared with over 20 people.)

It's unlikely that anyone posting on Kuro5hin using a pseudoname will be identifiable in a couple of years, unless it's via personal information they posted about themselves.



The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick
[
Parent ]
IP logs? (2.50 / 2) (#518)
by rusty on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 04:52:18 PM EST

I wasn't saying anything about IP logs. Since you brought it up though, IP logs are one way you can identify someone online. Even if they're gone in a year, someone with motivation (and means) to figure out who you are has a year to track it down and hang on to it. Seems like plenty of time.

However, it's usually much, much easier than wangling IP logs from an ISP. Very few people go to any effort to hide who they are to begin with. And those who do mantain pseudonymity inevitably say something that can be traced back to them sooner or later.

But the point I was making was that bar chatter dissolves from any retreivable record literally the instant you say it. Online chatter dissolves, at the earliest, some number of months after you've said it, if it ever dissolves at all. And the only safe assumption right now is that anything you put on the internet will be there and accessable forever, and can probably be traced back to you personally in some way.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Uh Oh! I'm in real trouble! (none / 0) (#527)
by rustv on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 01:18:25 PM EST

Peace,
-GWB

____
"Don't tase me, bro." --Andrew Meyer
[ Parent ]
the comment was awful (2.00 / 11) (#278)
by klamath on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 08:45:29 PM EST

Additionally, these mercenaries make a good deal of money for their work: they are highly paid due to the danger they face. So they are doing it for the money, it would seem, whereas an actual soldier is paid considerably less and is presumably doing it to serve their country.
These mercenies were all retired American Special Forces (it is quite common for soldiers who retire from active duty to join a security company -- I'm not military, but that's my understanding anyway). What does it matter if they were killed and lynched a few years after retiring from the Forces, rather than before? They were all still loyal soldiers for their country, working to improve Iraq, and utterly innocent of any provocation for the barbarous crime that was committed against them.

More importantly, they were Americans, and human beings -- does it really matter whether they were in the proper American army or not?

I think it's ridiculous that leftists are now attacking mercenies in a transparent attempt to justify an obviously inappropriate comment from a misguided "pundit". Talk about partisan politics!

Kos simply did something that we have likely all done from time to time: he made a comment online that was based more in emotion than rationality.
Don't be silly -- Kos is a pundit, like any other. When you and I make statements, we generally don't do them in front of an audience of hundreds of thousands of people, like Kos does. He reaps the benefits of that audience, like the ability to reach many people and advertising income, but he must also bear some responsibility: his remarks are now much more public and likely to be discussed than if he were less prominent. To suggest that Kos should still get the audience that he does but not be subject to open criticism and debate is ludicrous.
Even if he was completely unrepentant it is not right to totally pigeonhole somebody based on a single comment.
Consider the case of Trent Lott. An otherwise well-respected and influential politician makes one inappropriate public comment, and look at the political consequences he has suffered as a result. Both Lott and Kos are public figures -- relatively speaking, the treatment Kos has suffered so far is pretty insignificant (and I would content that Kos' comment was at least as offensive as Lott's, probably more so).
And in any case, Daily Kos is much more than a single person. Condemning the entire site based on his comment would be akin to condemning the entire K5 community based on something rusty said: even though he's in charge, he's not representative of everyone else here.
Do you have the slightest idea what you're talking about? As far as I know, Daily Kos is an individual web log -- Kos is the only author that regularly writes entries on it. People visit the site to read what Kos has to say. While there are probably other people involved with the administrative side of running the site, it doesn't seem unreasonable to condemn the site for the actions of its proprietor and sole content-author.
Instapundit et al. should realize that this anti-Kos campaign they are mounting is ridiculous and obviously partisan.
On the contrary, it is your flimsy attempt to whitewash Kos that is "ridiculous and obviously partisan". Won't you just admit that Kos' words were deeply offensive, distance yourself from them, and move on?

Alright, I'll bite (2.90 / 10) (#306)
by proles on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:44:22 PM EST

These mercenies were all retired American Special Forces (it is quite common for soldiers who retire from active duty to join a security company -- I'm not military, but that's my understanding anyway). What does it matter if they were killed and lynched a few years after retiring from the Forces, rather than before? They were all still loyal soldiers for their country, working to improve Iraq, and utterly innocent of any provocation for the barbarous crime that was committed against them.

There are many many implicit assumptions in what you just said. Defining the entire concept of guilt and innocence in a war situation is incredibly difficult to begin with, suffice it to say it's a much more complicated situation than you give it credit. Then again, you're probably assuming the war is "justified" itself to begin with, whatever that means. But one thing that is clear is that the hate and the violence is flowing both ways right now, and it's quite doubtful that these men were purely "innocent." This is not to say I approve of their deaths, but your efforts to decorate them with halos are hyperbole at best.

More importantly, they were Americans, and human beings -- does it really matter whether they were in the proper American army or not?

Why italicize Americans? Seriously, why? The human beings yes, but in any case this is irrelevant as nowhere am I trying to justify their death or approve of Kos's comments. I did say that it does seem to me that the death of a mercenary isn't as selfless as the death of a soldier, and I will stand by that: a soldier is serving their country, a mercenary is serving themselves. This isn't to say that a mercenary should be spited, they've simply chosen a line of work that has high pay and high risk and that was their choice. Soldiers get low pay, high risk, but are presumably doing it out of a spirit of service for their country, and as such yes, they do seem a bit more selfless than mercenaries, just like somebody who is a volunteer is more selfless than somebody who has a job.

I think it's ridiculous that leftists are now attacking mercenies in a transparent attempt to justify an obviously inappropriate comment from a misguided "pundit". Talk about partisan politics!

I think it's ridiculous that there are still people out there who pigeonhole all "leftists" (or all "rightists" or "anythingelse-ists" for that matter). Turn off the Limbaugh.

And "attacking mercenaries"? How is describing the technicalities of their job (they get paid a lot of money for doing risky stuff) an "attack"? Get your bearings straight.

Lastly, regarding the "pundit" and the "partisan politics": I'm forced to suggest that you reread what I actually wrote. I agreed that Kos's comments were callous: I simply feel that this campaign is an overreaction. He said something emotional and irrational online. We've all done that. It's not a high crime. And furthermore, my reasoning is actually not partisan at all: I explicitly avoid calling "right-wing conspiracy", and I provide substantive arguments to support my assertions.

Don't be silly -- Kos is a pundit, like any other. When you and I make statements, we generally don't do them in front of an audience of hundreds of thousands of people, like Kos does. He reaps the benefits of that audience, like the ability to reach many people and advertising income, but he must also bear some responsibility: his remarks are now much more public and likely to be discussed than if he were less prominent. To suggest that Kos should still get the audience that he does but not be subject to open criticism and debate is ludicrous.

Kos's comment was just that: a comment. This was not a frontpage post on his page. And as somebody who frequents Daily Kos, I can tell you that Kos's actual comments are probably not terribly more read than anybody else's comments. Maybe by a bit, but not by such a ridiculous margin as you suggest.

And furthermore, nowhere was it suggested that Kos should not be subject to open criticism and debate. Again, reread what I actually said: I said the campaign against him is an overreaction. Might I add that the campaign against him is hardly a call for "open criticism and debate": it's a straight up boycott, advertiser-revoking, delinking piledrive.

Consider the case of Trent Lott. An otherwise well-respected and influential politician makes one inappropriate public comment, and look at the political consequences he has suffered as a result. Both Lott and Kos are public figures -- relatively speaking, the treatment Kos has suffered so far is pretty insignificant (and I would content that Kos' comment was at least as offensive as Lott's, probably more so).

And guess what? While I disagree with Lott's politics, I actually don't agree with what happened to him. I would suggest that his comment was more offensive than Kos's by a healthy margin though, as at least there are reasons why Kos's comment is understandable, as I've described elsewhere.

But the point of my writeup was not to talk about how things actually are, but how things should be. Call me an optimist or somesuch: I realize that politics is a dirty game and players often get screwed over for the wrong reasons. Still, I feel the impetus to call attention to such situations and decry the injustices. Pointing from one injustice (the campaign against Kos) to another (what happened to Lott) doesn't justify either of them.

Do you have the slightest idea what you're talking about? As far as I know, Daily Kos is an individual web log -- Kos is the only author that regularly writes entries on it. People visit the site to read what Kos has to say. While there are probably other people involved with the administrative side of running the site, it doesn't seem unreasonable to condemn the site for the actions of its proprietor and sole content-author.

Then as far as I know, you're an arrogant, dogmatic, prejudging individual who likes slinging around ad hominem without properly researching the issue. Daily Kos is a huge community with many frontpage editors besides Kos himself, and there's also the diaries section going all the time with tons of action that isn't directly related to Kos in the least. So get your facts straight before you accuse me of not having the "slightest idea of what I'm talking about": I'm a regular over at Daily Kos, and I most definitely *do* know what I'm talking about on this particular issue.

On the contrary, it is your flimsy attempt to whitewash Kos that is "ridiculous and obviously partisan". Won't you just admit that Kos' words were deeply offensive, distance yourself from them, and move on?

Hrmmm. Again, I'm forced to suggest you reread my original writeup. I'm whitewashing nothing: if you'll notice, I tried to provide the reasoning and sources for both "sides" of the argument. Further, I have admitted that Kos's words were inappropriate, callous, insensitive, and stupid. "Deeply offensive", though, is a little bit much, and methinks you use the term because you're still thinking "ra ra America" or somesuch and not looking at this with an even vaguely objective perspective.

It is a tragedy that four human beings died in Falluja, but this entire administration is implicitly saying "Screw them" to the 10,000+ Iraqi civilians and who knows how many Iraqi soldiers (yes they're human beings too) who have died. Ever think about that?

What Kos said was not right and was not something I agree with, and I feel that I have made that adequately clear. But it does not mandate "distancing myself" from him, they were obviously comments made in anger (did you read the link to his clarification?) and he is still a fine human being.


If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]
But Trent Lott was a douche WAY before that! (2.00 / 5) (#311)
by fenix down on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:11:13 AM EST

The whole point of these mercenies being there is that they're NOT the army.  They don't wear uniforms, they can use Geneva-banned bullets, they are not acting as agents of any nation.  They may be loyal Americans, but they've chosen to leave the army and go to work for Blackwater.  Their client at the moment is the United States, but they could just as easily be training the Columbian army or guarding a gold mine in Zimbabwae.  I'm sure these guys had slightly more personal investment in their work than their employers, but it's dangerous to run around blurring the line between military and mercenary.  They ultimately serve the interests of Blackwater USA, not the United States, not you or I.  You don't owe them the respect you owe the military, nor do they generally deserve it.

I know you're not talking to me, but I don't see why anybody needs to distance themselves from anything Kos says.  You disagree with some of it, you agree with some of it, you find some of it deeply offensive.  Distancing is for politicians who agree with something but know it'll hurt them politically, like, say, Trent Lott and hating black people.

[ Parent ]

Interesting way to look at people. (1.60 / 5) (#423)
by Kiyooka on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:25:54 PM EST

More importantly, they were Americans, and human beings -- does it really matter whether they were in the proper American army or not?

Why do you think it's more important that they are "Americans", regardless of whether they were in the proper American army or not? You almost included "human beings" as an afterthought.


Also, in the US you have that barbarous practise called "conscription", which means your leaders have the right to order you to your death (such Freedom, America!). But these mercenaries were hired. In other words, they could have stayed at home, but chose from their own free will to travel abroad and kill people and risk death for money. They were not "Defenders of Democracy" or "Fighters for Freedom". If they die, it's unfortunate, but not surprising, given the nature of their "work". They chose to risk their lives for money. Some of them ended up dying. So yes, screw them. Who cares?

I'll tell you who cares: mostly right-wing Americans, because right-wingers don't have reason or an honest look at the world or themselves; all they have is a book to explain the whole wide world and all this complicated universe, a lack of thinking, but lots and lots of well-contained ferver which is properly directed towards ***American Patriotism***(glory be almighty!) and ***Religious Fundamentalism***. Hence, the frothing at the mouth of bible-thumping right-wingers at Kos.



[ Parent ]
Conscription (none / 3) (#484)
by CENGEL3 on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:42:07 PM EST

The U.S. hasn't had a conscripted millitary since Vietnam. All people currently in the U.S. millitary (including ALL serving in Iraq) are volunteers. People volunteer to join the millitary for a variety of reasons, including economic ones.

Furthermore these individuals were NOT hired to kill people. They were, in this case, hired to protect a convoy of food and medicine which was to be distributed to the civilian populace.

As for right-wing americans having no real understanding of the complexity of the world .... I suggest you take a good hard look in the mirror.  I happen to be a "right-wing american" and my entire family (who are also "right-wing americans") happen to have origionated from behind the Iron Curtain, survived German and Soviet occupations and have had more experience with the complexities of the world then you can possibly imagine.

In short, I think you have your head firmly implanted up your arse. However as you put it in your own words, "screw you, who cares?".

[ Parent ]

however (none / 0) (#549)
by sic on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:39:37 PM EST

None of what you said changes the fact that the US government can reinstate the draft. And despite the fact that neither the mercenaries nor US soldiers are hired to kill people, they both do exactly that, and quite often in certain situations. War profiteering, whether it be by Dick Cheney and Halliburton or by ex special forces mercenaries is morally repugnant. Now explain to me again why the US, its army and now its war profiteering oil companies mercenary armies are in Iraq in the first place?

[ Parent ]
hmmm (none / 2) (#281)
by tiamat on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 09:12:54 PM EST

to my eyes the comment seems to have been taken out of context by most.

that said, it is pretty offensive, but not it's also not wrong in any important way.

yawn (1.16 / 6) (#289)
by Shren on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 09:54:45 PM EST

Unless you're looking for mud to throw, this is a non-story.

choice (2.40 / 5) (#298)
by darkseer on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:02:46 PM EST

It is a free country where you face the consequences of your speech. It is not a question of weather it is right or wrong, it is a quetion of other peoples want to be associated with him after this type of behavior. Some will some won't, that is the beauty of choice. If I say all spammers should go to hell, spammers have the right not to associate themselves with me.

Yes but... (none / 3) (#301)
by proles on Mon Apr 05, 2004 at 11:18:35 PM EST

...it's pretty obvious that some folks are doing their damnedest to pressure anybody advertising on or linking to Kos via this whole "guilt by assocation" thing (which is incredibly shifty reasoning in the first place might I add). I'm not asking whether or not people should be allowed to freely choose their assocations, I'm asking whether it is right to actually ostracize Kos over this incident. There's a difference.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]
Wow (1.42 / 7) (#483)
by CENGEL3 on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:16:54 PM EST

You mean people DON'T actualy have the right to decide which products they purchase based upon the public statements and social values and they DON'T have a right to let that fact be publicly known... even to the producers bussiness partners.

Lefties seem to think that the right to boycott should be reserved exclusively to them. Clue, it's not.

If people had the right to pressure MLB over John Rockers comments or divest in companies doing bussiness in South Africa, then they have the right to tell KOS advertisers they won't have anything to do with them as long as they continue to advertise.

Your worldview might not see anything particulary objectionable about KOS's statement.... but there are plenty of people who happen to disagree with  that position and they have every right to make that disagreement known.

That's another thing I really hate about lefties. They think no-one is allowed to have or express a worldview that is different from thiers. God forbid people should have honest disagreements!

[ Parent ]

Ummm no, not at all (none / 3) (#496)
by proles on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:42:11 PM EST

You mean people DON'T actualy have the right to decide which products they purchase based upon the public statements and social values and they DON'T have a right to let that fact be publicly known... even to the producers bussiness partners.

Reread my comment, and stop attacking poor defenseless strawmen. I'm not saying they don't have the right: I'm asking whether or not it is right. Two different usages of the term "right".

In fact, if you bothered to think for a moment you'd realize that my very act of creating this writeup and submitting it to Kuro5hin means I believe in free and open discussion regarding this topic. I'm not trying to censor anybody.

The rest of your post seems to just be generalizing drivel condemning all "lefties", making inane insults and so forth. So, I'll leave it be.


If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]
Oh PS (none / 2) (#497)
by proles on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:44:30 PM EST

One more thing I should respond to, though, and that is your accusation about my "worldview." If you think that I don't see anything wrong with Kos's statement then I suggest you reread my actual writeup (or possibly read it for the first time). I clearly stated disagreement with his statement: I simply said the campaign against him is an overreaction. So please, get your criticism of me correct: there's certainly enough wrong with me to go around, no need to make stuff up.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]
mercenaries? (2.38 / 13) (#334)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 02:23:09 AM EST

Webster's:
"a soldier hired into foreign service"

American Heritage:
"Hired for service in a foreign army."

WordNet:
"a person hired to fight for another country than their own"

Now, considering that the war was waged by the US, and these people were Americans, I don't see how the term mercenary applies. Furthermore, these people were there for security, for civilian defense. They weren't there to go out and do battle with Iraqis, they were there to keep people from killing American civilians and stealing their stuff. They are no more mercantile than the rent-a-cops that drive around in armored trucks that carry money to ATMs.

This isn't to say that I don't understand why people are using the term. Some people hate this war and the current administration so much that they will distort the truth and spread FUD about anything having to do with them. Using a term with such negative connotations helps them to that end, and in this case makes their disregard for such horrific deaths look excusable.

My god people, where's your sense of humanity?

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

Soldiers != Mercenaries (2.83 / 6) (#343)
by deadcow on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:13:50 AM EST

Connotatively speaking, a mercenary is someone who is paid to fight a war. It's a normal English use of the word.

Additionally, you left the first definition out of the Webster's :

"One that serves merely for wages," i.e. someone who is out there fighting only for the money, and not for a higher cause, like American soldiers.

The use of the term in this particular instance is as a noun, as well--though merchantilism is implied by the speaker, it's not a part of the use of the word "mercenary."

In conclusion, you don't understand why people are using the term.

[ Parent ]

If someone from the ghetto (2.25 / 4) (#355)
by Kax on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 09:54:03 AM EST

joins up with the military as a way to earn a living, does that make him a mercenary?

What about to get college tuition?

What if someone wouldn't sign up for the military if the compensation was only food and board, and no money?

[ Parent ]

They are *all* mercenaries now... (1.75 / 4) (#433)
by cdguru on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 09:20:28 PM EST

We have no more "draft". We have no people volunteering to be in the US Army. We have an army of people that see the military either as the employer of last resort or as a valid occupation. Nobody is in the army today because they want to be part of a vast patriotic movement to defend the US from agressors.

Therefore, I submit to you that all US forces by this definition "mercenaries".

[ Parent ]

when (none / 3) (#439)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 10:54:43 PM EST

When in the history of the world has the average person who joined an army really truely wanted to do so?

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
re: hey are *all* mercenaries now... (2.00 / 4) (#442)
by kjb on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 11:41:01 PM EST

Nobody is in the army today because they want to be part of a vast patriotic movement to defend the US from agressors.

Wow, you have absolutely amazing psychic powers.  You can read the mind of every single person in the US military!

--
Now watch this drive.
[ Parent ]

No (none / 2) (#476)
by blakdogg on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:19:05 PM EST

Generally speaking mercenaries cannot be members of an army that is a party in the conflict. So your hypothetical person would not be considered a mercenary.
Woe be onto the United Nations, there nothing but a front.
[ Parent ]
security guards (none / 2) (#367)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 11:14:55 AM EST

Let me remind you that these people weren't out to fight, they were security guards. They are not paid to fight a war, they are paid to work as body guards or security guards for civilians and civilian businesses. They are no more hired guns than are the guys who guard the armored trucks that bring money to an ATM.

Thank you for bringing up Webster's, though. Let me show the first definition from the Unabridged version:

"acting for reward; serving for pay; paid; hired; hireling; venal; as, mercenary soldiers."

This is the most common use of the term. The term is always used with the connotation of the mercenary soldier, but to use it in this case we must persume to know the people's motivation for their work. I'm not so presumptuous as to claim that I know that, are you?

I'm not sure how you conclude that I don't understand why people are using the term, but I grant you that I might be wrong. Please do enlighten me: why are some people using the term "mercenary" instead of the more accurate and benign "security guards?"

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

sorry (1.75 / 4) (#393)
by Wah on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 02:13:18 PM EST

They are no more hired guns than are the guys who guard the armored trucks that bring money to an ATM.

Yes they are.  They are about 25x/per hour more hired guns than the guys who guard the armored ATM trucks.  That's like saying visible light has the same wavelength as a human hair.

why are some people using the term "mercenary" instead of the more accurate and benign "security guards?"

Because "security guards" don't get paid $1,000/day to deliver supplies to Falluja, Iraq.  They get paid $8/hr to keep terrorists out of your local mall.
--
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[ Parent ]

oh I see (none / 3) (#401)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 03:45:02 PM EST

So, the more money one makes the less human he becomes? Gotcha.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
when one is being paid to fight with a gun... (2.00 / 4) (#404)
by Wah on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:09:48 PM EST

..in a foreign land, yes.

Well, that is, if you consider a mercenary less human than a security guard.  Personally I don't, and don't really see how such a conclusion can be drawn.

I'm not sure how pussyfooting around the terms, and playing Political Correctness, does anyone any good, however.

"Security Guard" is taken as a term, and it doesn't mean someone who 'fought off an Iraqi advance.'
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[ Parent ]

additionally (none / 2) (#416)
by phred on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:08:04 PM EST

I'd hazard a guess that the level of pay was determined partly by the implied risk of their assignment.

[ Parent ]
ok (none / 2) (#418)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:10:25 PM EST

I don't consider a mercenary any less human than a security guard either, but I would have less empathy toward the death of a mercenary of the strict meaning of the term. A category that the four in question don't fall into in my book.

Either way, whatever you call them, my point is that to publicly ridicule them after their death and mutilation and by doing so, implying that they got what they deserved, goes against civilized society's fundamental tenet of respect for all human life and thus cannot be accepted. Do you not agree?

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In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

curious question (2.50 / 4) (#446)
by Wah on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:01:59 AM EST

Either way, whatever you call them, my point is that to publicly ridicule them after their death and mutilation and by doing so, implying that they got what they deserved, goes against civilized society's fundamental tenet of respect for all human life and thus cannot be accepted.  Do you not agree?

That's not a question looking for an answer, it's a question providing one.

Doesn't war itself go against civilized society's fundamental tenet's of respect for all human life?  If one knowingly puts oneself in such a situation, does that action itself not also go against such tenets?  And doing so for personal profit doubly so?  Yes, there may very well be other, stronger reasons for their presense, but these are undeniable.

Umm, and why are poeple so mad are kos when Colin Powell is running around saying, "Um, yeah, I misled the U.N.".    You remember why those 'four in question' are there in the first place, right?  

Yes, it is absolutely fucking' vicious to cut apart someone with a shovel.  No one is questioning that.  Yes, what markos said was completely innapropriate, when taken out of the original context and paraded around alone as 'public ridicule' (it was 'private conversation', or at least that's what I usually put in a 'diary'.  Live and learn.)  But that one quote doesn't imply that kos thinks all such individuals should be hacked apart with digging implements.   If he did, there would probably be a post to that effect on his website today.  There is not.

When you say, 'implying they got what they deserved', I think you are giving the comment far too much weight, and your entire anger rests on that implication.  No one is arguing that but the strawman you want to burn down.  Burn away, but don't forget the point that kos makes day in and day out, in his opinion those four should never have even been there.  One administration is ultimately responsible for their deaths, and it's not the one at Daily Kos.

Yes, what he said was cold.  But it's no worse than the mutterings of others less honests about their own hard-earned biases.
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[ Parent ]

indeed (none / 3) (#448)
by emmons on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:22:15 AM EST

Colin Powell is an entirely different topic. I don't like the administration's deception any more than you do. Further, it's irrelevant to this current debate.

That's not a question looking for an answer, it's a question providing one.

No it's not, it's just that few people would be willing to answer no. I wrote it in the hope that it would spark a somewhat more fundamental debate. It has, thank you.

'implying they got what they deserved'

Well, if they didn't get what they deserved.. if they didn't deserve to die, then why is it at all permissible to say "fuck 'em" in regards to their deaths?

Yes, what he said was cold.  But it's no worse than the mutterings of others less honest about their own hard-earned biases.

And people point those out as well, rightfully so. None are excusable.

I hope that you don't think that I'm being dishonest about my bias. From my other posts, it should be quite clear.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

I think you are quite honest (1.75 / 4) (#461)
by Wah on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 08:39:04 AM EST

but I truly think this is a mountain and a molehill moment.

I have a number of friends who work with immigrants and other people on the fringes of actual society.  If I selectively quoted from their frustrated muttering, I could paint them as the biggest assholes in the world and it would be a full, complete, and totally wrong picture of them.

And people point those out as well, rightfully so. None are excusable.

No, it's not rightfully so.  Spending a week attacking a guy for an offhand comment, while ignoring the fact that the entire reason for this particular war has fallen to shreds speaks to  larger disconnect from reality.

I don't think it is irrelevant, as the deception on the part of the administration had an unmistakable part in the original act in question.  

More of a 'mote/beam' thing, IMHO.

Spending all day making personal attacks for a comment IN A DIARY, and completely avoiding the larger issue is NOT worthwhile politcal discourse.  
--
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
Any
[ Parent ]

good point (none / 2) (#468)
by emmons on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 10:23:04 AM EST

But it's still fun to argue over. :)

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-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
Security Guards == Mercenaries, yes (none / 3) (#402)
by deadcow on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 03:53:31 PM EST

Security guards at the mall are also mercenaries, in the denotative sense--They do work for pay largely without a sense of a higher duty (Rent-A-Cops work for anyone...). The difference is, however, that these mercenaries in Iraq expect to kill and be killed, and it's safe to assume that at least a part of their assumption of this risk is for the enourmous compensation that they recieve. If they were in Iraq purely because of the American cause, they could just join the army. I'm not judging them in the sense that they're evil or anything like that--I'm just saying that the use of the word mercenary was more appropiate in this circumstance. "Security Guards" might also be appropiate, but that use ignores the high rate of compensation that "mercenaries" typically receive, as in this case.

[ Parent ]
ok (none / 2) (#409)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:42:17 PM EST

So then how it is acceptable to publicly ridicule them after their deaths and mutilations, implying that they got what they deserved?

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-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
Not my comment (none / 1) (#507)
by deadcow on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 04:40:11 AM EST

I was just objecting to your use of dictionary definitions to object to the author's use of "mercenary," which was appropiate. Opinions on the subject matter are another matter entirely; My point was that you should not appeal to partial dictionary definitions to lend weight to your argument, but logical thought.

[ Parent ]
I'm a mercenary! (none / 3) (#485)
by Cro Magnon on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:53:06 PM EST

I work for pay largely without a sense of a higher duty. Okay, I don't carry a gun or other weapon, and I'm not in a war zone (well, in my neighborhood, maybe I am), but if I wasn't getting paid, I wouldn't be working here. Does that negativly impact your opinion of me?
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Common Sense (none / 1) (#508)
by deadcow on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 04:45:30 AM EST

My opinion of mercenaries in general is neither positive nor negative. I'm merely objecting to a false characterization of the term "mercenary." In specific instances, such as your own job in a poor area, I would have to have more evidence before making a moral judgement.

Also, "mercenary" typically refers to people involved in fighting wars. Security guards are less common objects of the term, and people who don't carry weapons are probably the rarest objects of the term, though I suppose it's technically correct. (Can I add the word "Duh" to this comment without sounding mean?)

[ Parent ]

YOU HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA (none / 2) (#411)
by sllort on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:58:53 PM EST

You have no idea what their orders were. You have no idea what their armament was. You have no idea who these men were - doctors, or ex-military snipers. You have no idea why four men were driving around in a hostile city unescorted. You have no idea whether they were there to deliver food or whether they were carrying 50 cal sniper rifles for targetted assassination. No one in the media knows either. YOU HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA. Did the mob manage to interrogate them and torture their orders out of them on camera and then publish them on Al-Jazeera? NO. Did any of the pictures provided show what weapons were snatched up from their vehicle? NO.

Who, exactly, is fighting for a foreign army, American contractors fighting for the security forces of a fledgling Iraqi democracy, or Iraqi police fighting for the American army? THERE ARE NITS IN YOUR HAIR!
--
Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
[ Parent ]

exactly (none / 3) (#421)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:17:46 PM EST

So we can't assume that they were evil bloodthirsty monsters out to kill poor Iraqi and worthy of our contempt, can we?

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-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
We can assume... (none / 3) (#424)
by tonedevil on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:38:14 PM EST

they were armed men working for a "Security Company" that hires former special forces soldiers.

[ Parent ]
So do (none / 2) (#450)
by emmons on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:32:25 AM EST

your local police.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
I Concur! (none / 3) (#427)
by sllort on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:41:12 PM EST

You and everyone else claiming exclusive knowledge of these men's purpose, training, identity and mission are fucking retards.
--
Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
[ Parent ]
Fine. (1.60 / 5) (#391)
by flo on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:40:16 PM EST

Do you prefer the term "rent-a-thugs" to mercenaries? 'Cause that's what they were. Screw 'em, I say.
---------
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
thugs? (none / 2) (#445)
by emmons on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:01:44 AM EST

How are they thugs?

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
They are thugs (none / 3) (#474)
by flo on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:09:08 PM EST

They are armed civilians in a war zone. They are there, on $1000/day wages to protect some company doing business in Iraq. This business may or may not be good for Iraq, but it is business, i.e. for-profit. These businesses prefer hiring civilians (i.e. rent-a-thugs) because they are not held to the same (supposedly higher) standards as regular soldiers. So ask yourself this question: what kind of person applies for this sort of job?

And as to the wanker who modded my previous comment zero, please explain in what way that comment was spam, or otherwise content-free. If you disagree with my opinion, reply (if you have balls), or mod "1" (if you don't).
---------
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
Do you know what they were doing? (none / 2) (#480)
by CENGEL3 on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:48:48 PM EST

They were providing advanced security (i.e. scouting a route) for a convoy of food and medicine which was earmarked for distribution to the civillian populace of the region.

Damn those "thugs", how dare they help some-one GIVE food and medicine away to civilians in need!

[ Parent ]

I concede (1.75 / 4) (#482)
by flo on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:09:14 PM EST

I admit that I don't know exactly what company they were working for. I'll take your word on this food-distribution thing, which I agree is useful. Though I strongly doubt that the rent-a-guards (happy?) were primarily motivated by a desire to do good in the world, rather than quick profit, I have no way of knowing this for sure, so it is only proper to give them the benefit of the doubt. I therefor apologize for calling them thugs.
---------
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
Important to note (2.25 / 4) (#490)
by CENGEL3 on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 03:33:11 PM EST

I am only basing this off second hand statements and reports that I have read mylself. I don't happen to know whether it is factualy true that they were merely providing security for a humanitarian food convoy. So you MAY actualy have been right.

The point is (without more solid information) we are ALL making assumptions here. I just don't like seeing people demonized (particular people that have been brutaly slain) when the actual information regarding thier situation is so sketchy and bound to be a far more complex issue then most of the positions put forward here.

[ Parent ]

... I just wonder (none / 0) (#554)
by wastl on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:47:42 PM EST

... why the convoy was not escorted by the military instead, if it has humanitarian motivations.

I think it is very strange to hire mercenaries for 30000$/month, when you can get soldiers for $30000/year.

Sebastian

[ Parent ]

Your worldview is sick. (2.77 / 9) (#417)
by Kiyooka on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:08:21 PM EST

5 dead mercenaries is terrible.  But only because they're American with a capital fucking "A".

Tens of thousands of firebombed civilians (mothers, dads, sisters, brothers, all of them) don't matter, because they're "3rd world others/miscellaneous", with a giant "3".

"Some people hate this war and the current administration so much that they will distort the truth and spread FUD about anything having to do with them."

Some people are so complacent about this war and the current administration that they will refuse to accept truths pointed out and try to pacify anyone who gets worked up.

"Using a term with such negative connotations helps them to that end, and in this case makes their disregard for such horrific deaths look excusable."

Terms such as "Axis of Evil" and "Fundamentalists" make the entire "war" and the horrific deaths of thousands of Iraqis excusable, because it makes it seem like nobody's really dying, just "3rd world non-Americans/misc.".

Then again, who am I to say anything?  I'm just an "un-American" "conspiracy theorist".

[ Parent ]

no no (none / 1) (#443)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 11:47:15 PM EST

All of your points are valid and justified, except that I don't think you understand my worldview. I completely understand why people are against the war. War is ugly. Regrettably, people on both sides die.

But you see, I believe that the purpose of the war is to spread western ideas of freedom and democracy to Iraq and the Middle East. A pretentious endeavor, yes, but not one without merit. You probably think it to be a silly or naive idea, but hear me out for a moment.

Why else would we have gone to war? I don't believe the WMD argument, I think that was an excuse. For oil then? If we were there to steal the oil, we'd be doing it already. Plus, it would be a terrible investment. We've spent too much money on the war already for there to be much profit in it, not to mention the billions of dollars we'll spend in the future. Further, if we were there for the oil, why would we waste the time and effort of trying to rebuild the nation's government and infrastructure? Why wouldn't we just guard the oilfields and give the proverbial middle finger to the rest of the country?

On the other hand, having a democratic Iraq in the region does the US an enormous amount of good by eventually influencing the rest of the region to become more friendly and peaceful toward the US. While perhaps largely self-serving, it's good for both us and the people of Iraq. Not only do they not have to live under the UN sanctions that were a result of Saddam's 1991 invasion of Kuwait, they also get a measure of freedom and, in time, prosperity previously unknown to that part of the world. In my mind, this overshadows the regrettable loss of life that came from the war itself.

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-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

"He tried to kill my daddy"/ NT (none / 1) (#447)
by kurthr on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:04:22 AM EST



[ Parent ]
you give Bush too much credit (none / 1) (#449)
by emmons on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:30:30 AM EST

Do you honestly think that Bush could have convinced the entire administration to go to war for that reason? Bush can give orders all he wants, but if nobody else supports it, it ain't gonna happen. Bush wouldn't be smart enough to talk people into it.

Do you think that the rest of the administration would have decided to go to war because Saddam tried to kill Bush's father? They may not be the brightest people on earth, but they aren't that dumb.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

You've got a point (none / 2) (#542)
by kurthr on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 03:08:35 PM EST

You've got a point, but I think that Bush was one of the most important people who needed to be convinced. Wolfowitz and Chalabi had already convinced Rumsfeld and Cheyney. There may have been economic interests involved, but everyone needs to rationalize a decision. The VP/Def. Sec. needed to believe that the Iraqis were going to welcome us with open arms and be glad when we sold their oil.

My supposition is that the buck actually stops with the president, and that Condi/Colin really needed some convincing on all this. Bush didn't need much convincing, because he saw both profit, and revenge. Ulterior motives in politicians are bad, and when they lead to blindly made bad decisions that cost the US power, prestige, and people, they are the worst.

Even I will say that getting large military bases out of the Saudi holy land, and maintaining control over the Persian Gulf are in the national interest. I just don't think we went about it in a very prudent manner. Our leaders views were clouded by their own personal interests and dreams, and now we'll collectively pay the price for it. They used information that they new was false to convince the press, public, and then the congress. What disturbs me is that you find this acceptable.

I can't understand how you thought that the invasion was going to help democracy and freedom in the middle east, much less, that it was the best of all possible choices for advancing this goal. It seems to have much more to do with protecting Israel from threat. Do you still think it was a bright idea? What would it take to convince you otherwise, or is it just that this is the best of all possible worlds.

[ Parent ]

Your assessment is scary... (none / 1) (#546)
by rogun on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:15:15 AM EST

What's truly scary is that you can justify the reasons you give for going to war, which are only partially true, at best. You've been force-fed nationalism for so long that you actually justify forcing your views upon the rest of the world. That is the problem - not the answer.

[ Parent ]
Cognitive dissonance (none / 2) (#548)
by sic on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:05:23 PM EST

I often wonder if it is really just obtuseness or if cognitive dissonance is pathological.

If we were there to steal the oil, we'd be doing it already. Plus, it would be a terrible investment. We've spent too much money on the war already for there to be much profit in it, not to mention the billions of dollars we'll spend in the future.

The US, or to be more precise, US oil companies (namely Halliburton) is already stealing the oil. What you fail to understand is that the roughly 150 billion dollars spent thus far on this war is paid for by the tax payers, regular working people, while the benefits go to a a very small portion of ultra rich people in these war profiteering companies (Dick Cheney,Vice President, became chairman and CEO of Halliburton in 1995; he retired from the company during the 2000 U.S. presidential election campaign, and was awarded a severance package worth $20 million, which he is still currently receiving. Coincidence?)

So you see it is actually an excellent investment for those who actually see a profit. It cost them 0$, while it will cost the American people at the very least 150 bn $ and ?? lives.

[ Parent ]

why yes (none / 0) (#568)
by emmons on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 03:03:14 PM EST

You see, I am exceedingly stupid. I have never considered any other ideas about the war, nor have I ever questioned what the President has told me. I am a lemming, completely unable to think for myself. In fact, I have absolutely no good reason to think the things I do.

That's what you wanted to hear, right? I imagine that you are unable to fathom that someone could believe differently than you for any other reason than pure, narrow minded stupidity.

And people wonder why politics is so ugly.

---
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-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

prosperity (none / 1) (#553)
by wastl on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:40:18 PM EST

[...] prosperity previously unknown to that part of the world.

You have probably never been to Saudi-Arabia, United Emirates, or even Iran. They are definately not poor countries. The people there are rich by all measures, except, perhaps, freedom.

You should never forget that the Iraqi people are actually this poor because they suffered a decade of UN sanctions. Such sanctions can transform the richest countries of the world into a 3rd world country. If you e.g. would sanction Japan, it would also be dead in 10 years: no oil, no uranium, no exports of electronics.

So I'd assume that many Iraqis actually give the fault for their poverty to the western countries.

Sebastian

[ Parent ]

they could (none / 0) (#570)
by emmons on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 12:41:24 AM EST

So I'd assume that many Iraqis actually give the fault for their poverty to the western countries.

They could, but it would be misplaced.

There are international rules and laws that countries have to abide by. Failing to do so results in, among other things, sanctions. Iraq broke several of those laws by attacking Kuwait. After being driven out of Kuwait, the UN put provisions in the armistice for sanctions to ensure that the country would abide by the armistice agreement. Iraq did not, so the sanctions stuck.

Iraqis could fault the evil West all they want, but their own government was to blame.

And yes, I am quite aware of the effects of embargos, but thank you for reminding me in case I had forgotten.

You have probably never been to Saudi-Arabia, United Emirates, or even Iran.

Nope, but thanks for pointing that out as if it matters. I do hope to go to the UAE some day.

Saudi-Arabia's per capita GDP: $11,400
Kuwait isn't doing badly at $17,500

It's interesting that you mention the UAE. It has a per capita GDP of $22,100, quite good, even by Western standards. But that's not why it's so interesting to me; it's interesting to me because the UAE happens to have the most democratic government in the region aside from Israel.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

Your beleifs... (none / 0) (#565)
by liftarn on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 06:19:53 AM EST

But you see, I believe that the purpose of the war is to spread western ideas of freedom and democracy to Iraq and the Middle East. You are ofcourse free to hold that belief, but it would be very naive of you. Keep in mind that Saddam was supported by USA as long as he was pro-USA.

[ Parent ]
indeed (none / 0) (#571)
by emmons on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 12:52:27 AM EST

Because it was in our best interest at the time. We were fighting a cold war against the USSR and in doing so trying to stop the worldwide spread of Communism.

Pray tell, what are we fighting against these days? It wouldn't be Islamic Radicalism, would it? The type that tends to spring up in the most radical of Islamic states and tends to dissipate in even somewhat democratic and prosperous ones? How does the spreading of the principals of freedom and democracy not help us toward our goal of eradicating Islamic Radicalism?

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

god? (none / 3) (#434)
by inerte on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 09:22:00 PM EST

Shouldn't it be God? You are using the wrong term. I've assumed that since you have used singular forms of expressions (my / god) but at the same time you have put me into your question (people), your god is the same as my God.

This isn't to say that I don't understand why you have used the term. Some people don't believe in God or in the church so much that they will distort the truth and spread FUD about anything having to do with them. Using a term with such negative connotations helps them to that end, and in this case makes their disregard for such horrific arguments look excusable.

--
Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
[ Parent ]

nice. (none / 1) (#440)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 11:00:13 PM EST

Thanks, you made me laugh. :)

Seriously though, I left it lowercase on purpose because I refer to the concept of natural law. Some people take it to mean their deity of choice, some people don't. Some people use "my God," as a standard interjection, kinda like "Damn," or "Geez,." Take it as you will.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

They are mercenaries by your definition (2.00 / 4) (#473)
by crunchycookies on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 11:43:29 AM EST

Webster's: "a soldier hired into foreign service"

American Heritage: "Hired for service in a foreign army."

WordNet: "a person hired to fight for another country than their own"

Are they Iraqi? Are they fighting for Iraq? Do the Iraqi's want them there? Of course not! They are fighting for George Bush. They are foreigners fighting with the foreign invaders. They are mercenaries by any definition.



[ Parent ]

Mercenaries is the correct term... (none / 1) (#545)
by rogun on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:03:45 AM EST

From my understanding, you don't believe the term mercenary is correct because they're working for the US Government. I think you're wrong in your interpretation of the word, however, it doesn't matter, because Blackwater does provide mercenary services for other nations as well. They're website currently boasts the opening of two new offices, in Baghdad and Kuwait City. Do you believe these offices were opened to merely provide support for American efforts?

[ Parent ]
Excuse me? (1.77 / 9) (#354)
by 87C751 on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 09:48:27 AM EST

Kos simply did something that we have likely all done from time to time: he made a comment online that was based more in emotion than rationality.
And you know this because...? Sorry, proles, but you're talking out of your (or someone's) ass. Kos is exactly right about the situation.

Leaving aside the argument over whether these dead guys were mercs or merely contractors, the fact remains that they knew the job was dangerous when they took it. They were not patriotically following orders. They were on the clock and pulling danger pay. Screw them!

Just like somebody said downthread, I'd love to see the US simply pull out of Iraq and let the jackals fight over it. There is absolutely no honorable exit strategy from this tarpit, so let's cut our losses. Ideally, we should also vote GWB out and offer him up for prosecution for starting the whole Iraq mess.

My ranting place.

sure (none / 3) (#369)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 11:28:42 AM EST

Nearly everyone who opposes the war does so because they claim to care about all of the lives lost in the war, both American/British/et.al. and Iraqi.

So, good. Let's prevent more lost lives by leaving the country and letting it plunge into a bloody civil war. That would certainly keep everyone alive and healthy, wouldn't it?

Well, at least no more Americans would be killed, and that's the important thing. Iraqi lives don't mean anything anyway, right?

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

what we're all forgetting (none / 3) (#374)
by phred on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:06:15 PM EST

It was better over there with Saddam in power.

[ Parent ]
that may be (none / 2) (#386)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:10:13 PM EST

But it's irrelevant now.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
this is true (none / 1) (#388)
by phred on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:29:09 PM EST

very true.

I like anybody else want a good conclusion over there. My preferences would be for the US to be uninvested of its ownership of Iraq's future and has been my primary gripe. If the US had gone with more international support, the US would not be so strongly entangled with every little failure in Iraq.

I'm mystified as to why the closest neighbors didn't have real input into this entire affair, as they had the most to win or lose.

[ Parent ]

they ain't democracies (none / 1) (#392)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:52:50 PM EST

Iraq's neighbors probably want nothing to do with it because the only way the US would let them is by first accepting a vision of western democracy for the country. Problem is, none of Iraq's Arab neighbors are democracies themselves.

It would be like expecting the US to help set up a communist state in Mexico.

I'm all for more international support to take over managing the country, but in the absensce of that we can't just leave. If we want to do this right, someone is going to have to be there for the long haul. Problem is, nobody else wants to be there right now either.

There may be more support if the UN were in charge, but the UN doesn't have the greatest track record when it comes to building democracies either. Perhaps, though, there will be a very strong Security Council resolution in support of the interim government after the handover of power and that will bring more help and UN and/or NATO leadership with a clear mandate and vision. We can only hope.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

comments (none / 0) (#395)
by phred on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 02:27:28 PM EST

I'm all for more international support to take over managing the country, but in the absensce of that we can't just leave. If we want to do this right, someone is going to have to be there for the long haul. Problem is, nobody else wants to be there right now either.

True. A real downside would be continued medium to large scale anti American sentiment and activities even after the handover of power, whatever thats going to look like. The way the US went in, none of the focus is on the real lousy regime that was in place before, its all the evil nasty Americans now.

There may be more support if the UN were in charge, but the UN doesn't have the greatest track record when it comes to building democracies either. Perhaps, though, there will be a very strong Security Council resolution in support of the interim government after the handover of power and that will bring more help and UN and/or NATO leadership with a clear mandate and vision. We can only hope.

I'm sure the UN isn't very popular either, and might be seen as merely US puppets. Additionally, the Security Council has permanent members, with at least 2 of those not having great credentials in Iraq right now.

One things for sure, it'll be an interesting fall season.

[ Parent ]

more comments (none / 1) (#413)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:01:32 PM EST

The way the US went in, none of the focus is on the real lousy regime that was in place before, its all the evil nasty Americans now.

It's too bad that all we see in the media is the nasty stuff. I live nearby an Army base that handles a fair amount of troop rotations (Fort McCoy in Wisconsin). I've talked to quite a few guys who just got back who weren't in the Bagdad/Faluja area, as well as some who were. It seems that most of the the country is stable and fairly happy that the US came, as they're better off now than before the war.

Regarding Bagdad, what I've heard from these guys is that the problems are 3-fold. First, there's a lot of high-ranking Baath party officials and Republican Guard who were mightily pissed off at first. They caused problems but aren't much of a threat anymore. Second, there's a fair number of foreign fighters who have come to Bagdad to cause trouble for the US. Third, under Saddam, Bagdad was favored over the rest of the country. Other cities would go without food or power so those resources could be diverted to Bagdad. Things are more equal now and on the whole are better, but relative to its former favored status, Bagdad still isn't as well off.

The problems in Faluja are very similar, except that the Baath loyalists are more loyal and more plentiful and haven't given up yet. Conditions in the city suck worse than Bagdad because, well, whenever anyone tries to work in the city they get shot at. Then people at home call them mercenaries who get what they deserve. Others defend the people that say that kind of thing. It's sick.

I saw a photo a while ago of an APC in Faluja that had "We build, you destroy." written on the side. Exactly.

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In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

The Iraqis don't think so (nt). (none / 1) (#481)
by CENGEL3 on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:59:49 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Not really. (3.00 / 5) (#376)
by Znork on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:08:57 PM EST

I regard the lives lost in the war as a cost that can be acceptable if, in the long run, the result is a better, safer, more free and democratic mideast.

Of course, all history says there's a snowballs chance in hell of military intervention improving things. No country that has not already been through a democratization process (which takes generations) has ever been turned into a stable democracy by force. It will make things worse, over both short and long term.

"So, good. Let's prevent more lost lives by leaving the country and letting it plunge into a bloody civil war."

It's pointless. The world already lost the day the Bush administration decided to poke the anthill. Iraq is going to plunge into a bloody civil war wether the US is there or not.

Then the chaos and anarchy will probably be replaced with a dictatorship of fanatic religious extremists that make the Taliban look like a libertarian picnic gathering, as a reaction to the chaos, the triggers for the chaos and on the grounds of being the strongest unifying stabilizing factor available.

And we get stuck with even more horror in the mideast, exporting terror to the west, and we're worse off than when we started.

But then again, that outcome was predictable from the beginning, except by a small group of wannabe quasi intellectual freaks who've been doing too many drugs in college and who happen to be in control of the US administration.

But I guess they'll be rewarded with positions on the boards of directors of large corporations, playing golf and holding lectures.

After all, killing thousands or tens of thousands of people out of sheer stupidity isnt a crime if you do it as your pet geopolitical and sociological experiment. As long as you're elected or appointed you dont have to take any form of personal responsibilty for your actions.

[ Parent ]

democratization (none / 2) (#385)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:08:17 PM EST

"No country that has not already been through a democratization process (which takes generations) has ever been turned into a stable democracy by force."

I believe the Japanese would disagree, as would South Korea. Italy and Austria didn't have much choice in the matter either. Also, Germany, though it experienced a brief stint of weak democracy 20 years earlier, was quite successfully forced to become democratic after the fall of Nazism. Keep in mind that Hitler and his government weren't exacly unpopular when they were in power.

El Salvador is another good example, as is Panama.

That's not to say that it always works. The Sovient Union managed a few times to use its influence to make several nations communist after the US had interveined. There are other examples of botched attempts, all of which are a result of the US prematurely deciding that its work is done and leaving. Remember, the US didn't let Germany or Japan have sovereignty for about 7 years, and we maintain a military presence in those countries to this day (though now for other reasons).

Here's an interesting read on the subject.

So, you propose that we leave Iraq immediatly. You propose that we do to Iraq exactly what condemned other nations to fail. Great idea. It is not inevitable that Iraq plunges into civil war, such things are preventable. The US is in control of the country right now and has the power to stop it from happening. Do you propose that we ignore the chance and not even try, even if it could save hundreds of thousands of lives? It doesn't matter that we shouldn't have gotten into the mess in the first place, we're there now.

You sound like you WANT to see the US fail.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

Democratization. (none / 3) (#396)
by Znork on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 02:34:32 PM EST

If you take a look at Japan, it had also already gone through the process. It wasnt far behind europe and the US in the 1900's to mid 1920's. The military took charge, and just like in Germany it was undemocratic for a short period.

Panama is another example of on-off democracy for quite some time. If you want to argue the success of military intervention in Panama, which one are you speaking of? There have been many the last century, as well as elections, overthrows, assassinations, more elections, more military interventions, then more elections.

The fundamental institutions of democracy and the social evolution that has taken place are not easily dismantled in a decade. That's what makes Japan and Germany successful examples of the _restoration_ of democracy. But while they are not easily torn down, neither are they trivially rebuilt.

Democracy requires everything from education, to freedom of speech, to political parties, to people who want to work for, and in, the parties, a spirit of cooperation, trust, caring and more. It requires involvement. It requires law, structure, a certain level of social justice, etc, and it requires respect for, and from, society as a whole. This is not built in a year or two. It takes generations.

I'll give you this tho; as Iraq was a socialist dictatorship it was actually one of the most hopeful targets in the mideast, as it actually did have some form of social structure. What will screw it up is the ethnic issues.

"So, you propose that we leave Iraq immediatly. You propose that we do to Iraq exactly what condemned other nations to fail."

I dont propose you do anything. It doesnt matter. It was a lost cause from the beginning, and it's not fixable anymore.

I propose you never started the war in the first place, concentrating on fostering democracy from the outside. Think of how much you could have done to encourage democracy for the money spent on the war? But it's far too late for that now.

Maybe you can prevent a civil war if you can dedicate a full scale occupation force for the next fifty years, and engage the resources and commit to a full scale social system ranging from education, police and healthcare. Send tens of thousands of teachers, policemen, healtcare workers to help and educate their Iraqi counterparts. Give them resources on local level, and democratic rights on local levels, slowly building to national level, engaging the population all the way through it.

But you know as well as I do that's not going to happen. It would cost far too much.

"You sound like you WANT to see the US fail."

I dont WANT to see the US fail. I just dont think you have any option but to fail.

[ Parent ]

pessimism (none / 0) (#407)
by emmons on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:31:34 PM EST

Japan was hardly a democracy before World War II. In 1889 a constitution was form which established a parliamentary government but left it accountable to the emperor rather than to the people. Administrative power was centralized in a national bureaucracy which also ruled in the name of the emperor. (source)

Germany did not have anything that resembled a democracy until 1918, and that was not at all stable and led to the rise of Hitler to Chancellor in 1933.

There was no longstanding history of democracy in either country, but both countries were industrialized, with large, educated, middle classes. Suprise, Iraq is industrialized, with a large and educated middle class, which, like Japan and Germany, suffered terribly under the leadership of their respective dictators.

That's not to say that stable democracies form overnight, they do take time. But they're not impossible to create. Otherwise, how would there be democracy anywhere in the world?

"It was a lost cause from the beginning, and it's not fixable anymore. I propose you never started the war in the first place"

Well that's a pretty stupid proposal, don't you think?

Iraq will stabilize in time, but like you said, these things take time. It may get worse before it gets better, but it won't get as bad as you think. The Bush administration knows that we will be in Iraq for a very long time, and has shown that it doesn't mind spending the money required to be there. The American people, for the most part, know that failure in Iraq is not an option. Don't be so pessimistic.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

In context... (none / 2) (#429)
by Znork on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 06:13:27 PM EST

"Japan was hardly a democracy before World War II. In 1889 a constitution was form which established a parliamentary government but left it accountable to the emperor rather than to the people."

Which you have to put into the context of the period. Remember, before the 1920's we were all cheerfully opressing more than half our own population, which is something we'd consider rather undemocratic today. It's a process, not something happening overnight, and as far as that process went at the time, both Germany and Japan were fairly far along.

"But they're not impossible to create. Otherwise, how would there be democracy anywhere in the world?"

Yes, how would there? The Greek most certainly did not invade us all and make us democracies at spear point.

We need to take a closer look at how democracy evolved in our own countries and use that as a foundation to speed the process along.

I mean, think yourself back to the 1910's, and say an army of high-tech amazon women had invaded the US, killed off your leaders and bombed you to pieces, demanding you implement democracy and equality for women. Do you think it would have sped up or slowed down the process?

"Well that's a pretty stupid proposal, don't you think?"

Indeed. That's the thing about monumental mistakes like this, they cant be undone. Which is why I think it's time to, as an evolution of democracy, implement a certain level of personal responsibility for our elected leaders to make them less likely to engage in massively terminal abject stupidity.

"The Bush administration knows that we will be in Iraq for a very long time, and has shown that it doesn't mind spending the money required to be there."

But the Bush administration wont be around for the timescale it takes to establish a democracy. Some of the members of the Bush administration might not mind spending the money, but how much money will they get approval to spend? Will the US population be willing to accept a tax raise to foster democracy in Iraq?

[ Parent ]

Right (none / 0) (#451)
by emmons on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:51:58 AM EST

Democracies take a while to stabilize, and a long time to mature. The process can be speed up through education, but it still takes time.

If the US sticks around in Iraq for a long time, do you think that it's possible for democracy to take root there?

Do you think it would have sped up or slowed down the process?

Depends on where I was at beforehand. If I were in the US in 1910, which already had a stable democracy at the time, then it would probably be detrimental. For one thing, I'd be pretty pissed off because I happened to like my elected leaders. On the other, women would get their rights a few years earlier than they would have otherwise.

If, on the other hand, I was living in a brutal dictatorship that was demonstrably impervious to domestic attemps of being overthrown, then it would most decidedly speed the process along. After all, anything is faster than nothing. While I might resent my new temporary high tech amazon women rulers, I'd probably be happy that I'm able to say so in public without being tortured and killed. After a while I'd probably be pretty pleased about the improvements to my country's infractructure that they made, and as long as they aren't in charge for longer than is necessary, I would probably end up quite happy with it all.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

Sticking around (none / 1) (#539)
by Znork on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 06:09:14 AM EST

"If the US sticks around in Iraq for a long time, do you think that it's possible for democracy to take root there?"

If the US had enough manpower and resources to pacify the country, perhaps. The US doesnt, not by several orders of magnitude. Launching strike teams and shooting guerillas isnt pacifying. You need the order of manpower where you can stop violence without actually killing anyone, and remanding them to a justice system instead.

From a perception point of view there's a vast difference. Striking at enemies just creates more enemies, creating the appearance of injustice and lack of control. This is deterimental to stablizing the country.

That would mean you'd need about 1-5 million soldiers and/or police (1 per 10-50 people). And training in language and legal enforcement. That would mean the draft and massive tax raise in the US. It just isnt going to happen.

The basic problem is that the US has removed the only organization capable of controlling the country. While Iraq had some positive elementes conductive to democracy, they've been severly damaged by the decade of sanctions. Further, the last decades enforced zones and support of certain elements (right or wrong) has also deepened the social separation in the country. The very measures aimed at destabilizing Saddams regime now work against stablizing the country. The ethnic and clan loyalties are greater than the loyalty to the state itself, and understandably so, as the state hasnt exactly been worthy of any loyalty.

This makes it very difficult to rebuild an internal peacekeeping force, as many potential members basically cannot be trusted.

But in the long run, I'm confident that democracy will develop in Iraq and the mideast. I dont think the war will end up having sped it up, simply because there's nowhere near the resources and dedication needed being applied.

But either way, tyrants dont last forever. Old age will kill them, and eventually the powers that remain figure out that it's safer and more comfortable for all involved to resolve differences according to rules and cooperation rather than fighting it out.

[ Parent ]

Re: pessimism (none / 1) (#552)
by wastl on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:23:34 PM EST

Germany did not have anything that resembled a democracy until 1918, and that was not at all stable and led to the rise of Hitler to Chancellor in 1933.

Right, it did not. However, democratic ideas had been long established in Germany (e.g. the revolutions in 1831 and 1848) and many of the philosophers and writers that are important for today's European democracies were German (e.g. Schiller). That is in no way comparable to Iraq, which is a Muslim country that did not go through the process of enlightenment and secularisation that Germany did. The middle-class might be educated in terms of things like mathematics, engineering or languages, but they do not share the same cultural traditions that were present in 1945 Germany.

It might also be important that Germany actually went through 6 years of a very cruel war, whereas the war in Iraq only took something like a month or so. The people of Germany were completely fed up with their government, the country was completely destroyed and needed complete rebuilding. In addition, the people of Germany accepted that the war was more or less their own fault, while the Iraqis certainly cannot be considered responsible for the US intervention (not even Saddam could have avoided it last year). In such a situation it is IMHO much easier to establish democracy than after a war that didn't really touch the people for long.

Sebastian

[ Parent ]

That's correct, as far as it goes (none / 0) (#389)
by 87C751 on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 01:29:35 PM EST

So, good. Let's prevent more lost lives by leaving the country and letting it plunge into a bloody civil war.
I said nothing about preventing further loss of life. And I believe that, in the view of GWB & Co., Iraqui lives do in fact mean nothing. It's way too late to avoid this civil war (that some would say we incited by our very invasion), but we can avoid further American casualties by dropping Iraq where it stands. Other casualties are no longer under our control.

My ranting place.
[ Parent ]

this civil war? (none / 0) (#452)
by emmons on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:58:42 AM EST

I guess I missed it, when did civil war start? I haven't heard of any armed militias of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds are waging war against each other... could you show me some proof of widespread armed conflict between ethnic groups in the country?

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In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
No, it was an emotional comment (none / 0) (#377)
by proles on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 12:11:14 PM EST

Even Kos admitted it himself in his clarification.  Hence all accusations of ass-talking aside, I seem to be saying something that Kos himself (the original commenter) would agree about his own comment.

I didn't say Kos was entirely wrong: in fact, if you recall I have an entire paragraph dedicated to the many elements of truth in Kos's statement.  But I do feel that it was a callous and insensitive statement, even given that they were mercenaries.  They were still human beings, and I cannot condone saying "screw them" regarding the death of any human being.  A life is a life, and maybe I'm just a bleeding heart liberal optimist but I'd like to think there is a better way than death when it comes to dealing with "scumbags" and so forth.  And even when death *is* necessary (typical example of Hitler or something), it should be approached gravely and not mocked or rejoiced.

At least, that's the way I see it.  Fundamental respect for human life or somesuch...
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]

Don't be naive! (none / 3) (#412)
by Kiyooka on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:59:38 PM EST

Sorry, I don't mean to sound patronizing, but come the fuck on, man!  I know this has been said to fucking death and back, but ***the US is not in the middle east for humanitarian reasons***.  Obviously, it's for POWER.  This talk about being there to protect "freedom and democracy" is bullshit.  The US is sucking up to communist China, fer fuck's sakes!  Why?  Because China is rapidly becoming very powerful.

So why is the Middle East a target?  All of North America, Australia, and Europe are largely influenced by US culture (read: converter).  The middle east is still anti-American, so they go in there, and etc. etc. etc.  Don't you find it odd that of all things after the war, they immediately set up a radio station "for Iraqi youth", playing Britney, Eminem, and other US shit?

The fight used to be about arms.  That called for tactics.  Now that we all have nukes, the fight is about positioning:  who can make themselves look right to the world while doing wrong?

Right/Wrong are determined by your worldview, and so the culture wars have begun (have begun long ago! we've only just realized it).

[ Parent ]

Why the big fuss? Screw that little website. (2.55 / 20) (#359)
by Anonymous Hiro on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 10:20:39 AM EST

Why the big fuss over what one little website says? At least he's been relatively honest.

There should be bigger fuss over what Bush has said and has been saying.

Screw that little website.

And don't start on the Democrat vs Republican thing. I don't give a damn about that (I'm not a US citizen).

I give a damn about an unrepentant liar being the leader of the world's most powerful nation, coz that certainly does affect the rest of the world.

The US citizens have been deceived, and lies have been told to the rest of the world. Don't tell me almost everyone has forgotten all that talk about WMD. All the attempts to link Osama and Saddam just to justify the war (he succeeded in linking the two for dumb US Americans, which is what counts for him).

It is likely those mercenaries wouldn't have been in Iraq without all that deceit.

This and all the other smoke they're blowing is just a distraction from the main issue. The problem is not in Iraq ( nor was it ever Saddam). After all, there is very little Iraq can really do if the US really wants to turn the thumbscrews.

The real problem is in the USA.

The most powerful nation in the world, being easily fooled into going to war on false pretexts or near-criminally poor intelligence is a big problem.

The most powerful nation spending billions on picking leaders in Iraq, but using shoddy e-voting systems (shoddy to the point of _treason) to pick its leaders, is a big problem. More votes than voters. Negative vote totals. Even banana republics do better. Heck even Saddam's elections didn't have more votes than voters.

And stupid US politicians and people get worked up over some stupid little website/blogger being insensitive.

Isn't it insensitive for someone to deceive millions of people, start a war and refuse to even apologize? All he has done is make a video of vainly looking for WMD in the whitehouse and laugh everything off. Even if he did not intentionally nor maliciously deceive, an apology is still necessary (not necessarily sufficient, but the lack of an apology sure is telling). By allowing him to get away with all that the US people are condoning his actions.

The US goes to war against a muslim nation based on lies, and then the US citizens go "oh whatever, nevermind it's ok in the end". Though the rest of the world definitely won't be happy when some crazy idiot blows up more US stuff/people, the US people are near asking for it. The crazier muslims don't see things your way ok? Heck even we have difficulty seeing things your way at the moment. Don't forget it's usually the crazy ones who blow stuff up.

Seems too many people have attention spans of a goldfish or something. And zero sense of priority. Sheesh.

Well said. (2.88 / 9) (#410)
by Kiyooka on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 04:49:16 PM EST

The greatest danger to the world is not fundamentalists in the middle east nor fundamentalists in the west (right-wing repubs).  It's the public's lack of consciousness and realization of self-agency.  People don't see "The News" as a summary of what's happening around you anymore; they see it as a soap opera to tune into in order to have something to talk about and feel connected with others.

Most Americans feel that Thinking about politics and questioning the actions of your leaders is to be "UnAmerican", "a conspiracy theorist", and to attack "the American Dream".  Yet, the most critical point of all of this is:  nobody can define what it means to be "American" or what the "American Dream" is.  I would argue it's a social instrument rather than a culture.  I'm sure you all know the quote about patriotism being the tactic of scoundrels, and I totally agree.  Patriotism just means loving your country above others, but a country isn't even a person, it's a political entity, and love (read: allegiance) to a political entity only serves those in power.

It's also worrying how important "being an American" is to Americans.  They focus so much on their political status that they ignore other aspects of personal development, like critical thinking.  If you start criticizing American patriotism, they feel you're attacking the very heart of their life and identity, so they close their minds and argue and ignore logic and reason while trying to sound logical and reasonable.  They've already decided what they want the outcome of the argument to be without thinking about it, and if you prove them wrong, they resort to "whatever, we're the most powerful country in the world, so whatever".

Geez guys, fuck countries, we're all people, so let's all do what's good for people, not some dumb fucking flag, no matter what's painted on it.  The best flag is a blank one.

[ Parent ]

I agree (2.50 / 4) (#414)
by phred on Tue Apr 06, 2004 at 05:04:07 PM EST

I all too often see the likes of "its unpatriotic to critisize a wartime president", unfortunately that implies that a president can ensure reelection by waging war.

Even more, America in general has little taste for any implied world citizenship, its the US or nothing. Pity the planet's ecosystem doesn't really recognise borders.

Anyways, political discourse has reached pretty pathetic lows, who knows whos fault that is, probably worth some thought in itself.

[ Parent ]

Might makes right? (none / 0) (#564)
by liftarn on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 05:37:26 AM EST

A feind remarked that in the USA there is a beleif that "might makes right" and in Europe it is (probably due to first hand experience) there is a feeling that "might makes wrong".

[ Parent ]
Not a "little" website (none / 1) (#529)
by jbuck on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 03:28:44 PM EST

According to several measurements, DailyKos is the second-most-read blog on the net; only Instapundit gets more traffic.

[ Parent ]
Doh (none / 1) (#538)
by Anonymous Hiro on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 05:16:03 AM EST

According to several measurements George "Dubya" Bush is leader of the most powerful nation in the world. Some may argue that the most powerful nation is Israel, but skip that for now.

I wonder if you really understood the rest of my post or even read it.

Oh well, nevermind. I probably rank 5,000,000,000+ in the world's people importance scale. Let me keep the delusion of being a bit more important than at least a billion other living people.

[ Parent ]

right wing blogs bashing dailykos is hardly news (3.00 / 8) (#453)
by Shren on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:55:49 AM EST

So, Instapundit, Tacitus, and many other sites have condemned the comment. Some advertisers have taken their ads off the site, the Kerry campaign took down their link to Daily Kos, and people have generally said "rabble rabble rabble." Tacitus and others have even suggested that Daily Kos should no longer raise money for the Democrats.

This paragraph would have a bit more power if you cited a site or two from kos' side of the left/right spectrum. Right wing blogs bash dailykos? That's news? Every time something vaguely unpatriotic passes kos' front page the right wing blogs pretend they are mockrakers ectrodionaire and pump it up. That's not a story, it's the standard order of buisness.

True (none / 1) (#454)
by proles on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 02:02:44 AM EST

And my one regret looking back over my writeup is that I didn't explicitly mention that all those sites were right-leaning when I listed them.  Granted it'd be obvious enough to anybody who actually bothers to visit them, but I guess I didn't mention it because I frequent these sorts of sites often enough that it seems as if it's practically common knowledge.

In any case good point, I agree entirely.  Although it should be noted that this time it wasn't even on Kos's frontpage: it was a casual comment in a diary.  If the rightist blogs hadn't grabbed it and ran with it then it likely would have come and gone with hardly any hubbub, probably only a few hundred people would have seen it...

Oh, and while it's unsurprising that they chose to bash Kos, I still think it's an interesting story, both to discuss the dynamics of politics these days (e.g. the fact that a "blog" can be somewhat important these days raising money and such) and the actual situation in Iraq itself (e.g. the whole mercenary hubbub).
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]

this is a political campaign. (3.00 / 5) (#456)
by Shren on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 02:12:33 AM EST

People grab things and run with them. It is the thing to do. Skim a political blog. Half of it is "ra ra ra" posts and the other half is people maniaically running with things. It's like a thousand people tying string to things, with the desperate hope that the thing they just tied a string to is a kite.

*tie* *tie* *tie* *run* *run* *run* *run* *crash* *thump* *thump* "Whoops, that's not a kite, it's a computer monitor." *tie* *tie* *tie* *run* *run* *run* *run* MEOW! "Whoops, that's a cat." *tie* *tie* *tie*

If you take out all of the kiting, cheering, and experimental mud flinging, there's nothing left. All you'd have left is two guys (one a president, the other a presidential hopeful) trying to convince us that they have the same stance on the issues that we do. We fling mud out of boredom.

[ Parent ]

Again I largely agree (none / 0) (#458)
by proles on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 02:39:54 AM EST

But I'm just a bit more of an optimist than you are I suppose: I feel there is some substantive discussion that goes on occasionally, and I feel there are things to be gained in the political realm.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]
the least of which (none / 0) (#540)
by Wah on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:18:21 AM EST

I feel there is some substantive discussion that goes on occasionally, and I feel there are things to be gained in the political realm.

As we are all dying and new models are replacing us, it's a good idea to pass on our best ideas.  The dialectic is a good way to do so.  Or at least lay them on the table and let others pick up the best pieces.
--
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
Any
[ Parent ]

they're not discussing philosophy (none / 1) (#555)
by Shren on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 03:51:28 AM EST

They're being junior propagandeers, looking for dirty bits that will boost thier canidate (the man who has convinced them that he shares thier opinions) to the elected throne of power.

If people were actually discussing ideas instead of dirt, then they'd be happy to share discussion with those of all political stripes. Yet, go try that. They don't care for knowledge or wisdom, just the recirculation of mud and the development of conformance. The blogsphere is chopped politically and foreign ideas are unwelcome - even here, a supposedly non-political blog.

Consider, for instance, trhurler. He's fairly well spoken - certainly above average - and speaks from a well thought out, consistant point of view. Yet by and large he's treated like dirt. Why? You know why.

Anyone who thinks that there's truths hidden here, beyond the sociological lessons in the process itself, to be found by future generations had best hope that future generations have excellent data mining software - because 99% of this shit is shit. Reiteration of the common opinion by the bored ... the proverbial infinite monkies at work.

[ Parent ]

I dunno (none / 1) (#557)
by Wah on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 02:04:21 PM EST

If people were actually discussing ideas instead of dirt, then they'd be happy to share discussion with those of all political stripes. Yet, go try that.

I do and it works.  Often times I am able to insert new data into a discussion that changes the context. But, yes, one normally has to do so while dodging rhetorical bullets.  Sure, it rarely convinces the other arguer, but the readers are the ones you are going after.  Or at least that seems to often be the point of such grandstanding.

Anyone who thinks that there's truths hidden here, beyond the sociological lessons in the process itself, to be found by future generations had best hope that future generations have excellent data mining software - because 99% of this shit is shit.

So any truths outside of the truths you call lessons, are useless.  How exactly are you going to tune that data mining software without understanding the sociological lessons?

Also, there is the added advantage of knowing how an arugment will play out (as it did the last 30 times) and change the tone or the attack before reaching that point.  This is only possible with seeing how argument went wrong in the past, and adjusting it for the future.  This is tough to do without learning the lesson first.

Yes, I agree that the vast majority of political discusison is shit (and have some anthropic perception theories for why that is so often the case) and is in fact repetitive on the same lines, but remember that we are dealing with a pretty tough information load from which to form an opinion.   And even then, there often are two or more valid ways to look at the issues dealth with in modern nation-state politics.  They are just usually separated by varying degrees of rhetoric.

That's why people focus on the litte shit they are sure of.  

Yet by and large he's treated like dirt. Why? You know why

Umm, everyone gets treated like dirt here.  He gets it especially because he is well spoken, learned and still so often wrong.  It's tough to maintain a community where both sides are consistently representated, but then again, maybe that's one of the sociological lessons we need to learn, and find a way to work around.
--
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
Any
[ Parent ]

Treated like dirt? (none / 0) (#566)
by rusty on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 04:29:12 PM EST

I don't know where you get the idea that trhurler is treated like dirt. He's argued with frequently, but that's what he's here for. I always thought of him as pretty well-respected.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
That might be (none / 0) (#486)
by omghax on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 02:02:32 PM EST

the greatest commentary on political campaigning ever

I put the "LOL" in phiLOLigcal leadership - vote for OMGHAX for CMF president!
[ Parent ]
A couple of relevant stories. (2.66 / 6) (#459)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:49:29 AM EST

These are all pre-March 31:

US contractor recruits guards for Iraq in Chile [Guardian, March 5] Story about Blackwater USA (the company that employed the 4 persons killed in  Fallujah) hiring ex-spec ops in Chile, to send to Iraq. Mentions also Bosnians and Filipinos, though is sketchy on the details there. Additional claim: 10,000 private "security" personnel in Iraq by late 2003.

This one's gold: Greene County Native Providing Security For Americans In Iraq [Greeneville Sun, March 30] This is a hometown-looking article based on an interview with a Blackwater Security employee, published just one day before the massacre. The guy talks about Fallujah, even. Choice quotes:


Greene County native David Randolph isn't a soldier, but he's taking the same risks as U.S. soldiers and Marines in Iraq while he provides security for American contractors and high-ranking military officers.

...In carrying out their convoy-protection duties, Randolph said, Blackwater employees frequently engage in gunfire with insurgents, who attempt to use roadside bombs, which the military calls improvised explosive devices (IED), and other arms to destroy vehicles and kill as many Americans as possible.

Companies covet post-war rebuilding contracts [Toronto Star, March 22] Mentions Blackwater as "coveting" work in Haiti. This article also mentions the U.N. hiring "security" companies.

--em

insurgents !?! (none / 2) (#543)
by myyth on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:11:16 PM EST

insurgents ... funny how our press and our political leaders insist on describing people, in their own country, fighting off a bunch of foreign invaders, "insurgents". I would have thought a more accurate word for them would have been "patriots". Of course words like "insurgent" or "collateral damage" send the "right message" whereas words like "patriot" and "dead women and children", of course, send the "wrong message". I guess we'll just have to wait twenty or thirty years for someone like Robin Williams to do a sanitised look at the whole mess and make us feel sufficiently contrite for a few minutes ... that is, of course, if the rest of the world don't, finally, get their act together, and blow us all to hell in the mean time.

[ Parent ]
Check a dictionary (none / 0) (#556)
by CENGEL3 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 10:41:55 AM EST

Insurgent:

        - a person who takes part in an armed rebellion against the constituted authority (especially in the hope of improving conditions)

       - a member of an irregular armed force that fights a stronger force by sabotage and harassment

       - in opposition to a civil authority or government

[ Parent ]

mercenaries (none / 3) (#463)
by LKM on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:12:24 AM EST

Mercenaries are extremely dangerous, and I seriously don't know why they are being used. The problem here is that a democratic government needs to have a monopoly on force. The people give that monopoly to their government, and in return, the government protects them using military and police.

What happens now is that governments give this right to force to private companies. These companies are not controlled by the people (the way a democratic government is supposed to be - maybe not in the USA, where the people elect a "leader", but in other democratic countries). There's nothing that's keeping these companies from turning against the hand that feeds them if another hand feeds them more.

Guards (none / 0) (#465)
by GenerationY on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 10:10:07 AM EST

I know what you mean, but how is the reconstruction of Iraq to proceed without these individuals being involved? There isn't the manpower to guard everything in the country with US or European troops. I agree with you that in general that mercenaries are not ideal. But theres a practical question at stake here; its either 1. pull out of Iraq completely, 2. start conscripting people into the army, at cost to the taxpayer, for the soul reason that US private companies need protection, 3. or stick with mercanary forces in protection roles.

I'm not sure options 1 and 2 are better than 3 on balance.

[ Parent ]

US private companies need protection (none / 3) (#472)
by Meatbomb on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 11:17:28 AM EST

Why do we need US private companies there? I am sure there are plenty of unemployed Iraqis to rebuild the infrastructure, and they probably wouldn't need protection to go about their work.

_______________

Good News for Liberal Democracy!

[ Parent ]
Really? (2.80 / 5) (#477)
by CENGEL3 on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:25:43 PM EST

You do know how many Iraqi's employed in assisting the rebuilding of the infastructure have been targeted and killed or wounded by terrorist attack recently? It's beggining to outstrip the number of attacks against soldiers.

There are factions within Iraq who have a vested interest in maintaining anarchy, violence and misery among the populace. They do not scruple at only attacking soldiers or foreigners. They target anyone trying to help improve the conditions of the populace... even medical volunteers giving vaccines.

[ Parent ]

Iraqian companies didn't fund W Bush (none / 0) (#563)
by liftarn on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 05:20:27 AM EST

Yes, hiring Iraqian companies to do the reconstruction work would be both cheaper and easier, but then they didn't sponsor W Bush so they will not the get contracts.

[ Parent ]
Re: Guards (none / 1) (#513)
by LKM on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:30:41 AM EST

Maybe I shouldn't have been so broad. I accept that it should be possible for private persons to protect things. It should be possible to hire guards protecting your premises or your belongings, but these people should not have more rights than "normal" people (because they *are* normal people). They should not be allowed to attack, only to defend. Furthermore, I'm not sure if it should be okay for official entities to hire such people.

A bank should clearly be able to have guards (even armed guards) protecting their buildings, but I think it's bad if a government can hire private guards to protect their bildings - much less to actually attack enemies for them!

[ Parent ]

Another reason they're dangerous... (none / 0) (#544)
by rogun on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:50:10 AM EST

I once saw a statement from a Blackwater spokesman, which I interpreted as, Blackwater wished to provide mercenaries for countries around the world, when they needed soldiers, etc. Thus, they're services are not only for the USA. I find this worrisome. It would seem this could be interpreted as "state sponsored terrorism" and the USA would be held accountable. This is only one of a number of reasons why using hired mercenaries bothers me. Hired civilian engineers are one thing, but hired mercenaries is where I have a problem. The reasoning for hired mercenaries is obvious - governments are not held responsible. It is not a matter of lack of money or lack of soldiers. Mercenaries surely cost more money and, according to the Pentagon, our military isn't as strained for soldiers as is often portrayed.

[ Parent ]
One thing to note (1.75 / 4) (#489)
by CENGEL3 on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 03:23:35 PM EST

In a number of comments I have made in this thread I have stated that the individuals in question were performing advanced security for a humanitarian convoy. I want to make it CLEAR that I don't actualy know if this is factualy true. I am simply basing my comments upon other comments and reports which I have READ alledging this.
There have also been reports which conflict with that allegation. So my assumptions may be WRONG in this instance.

I don't know for a FACT what the heck these guys were actualy doing.....and I don't think anyone posting on the issue really does either.

I do happen to know that private organizations and individuals in Iraq DO engage the services of private security firms for protection. I also know that humanitarian organizations have, in other places, employed private armed guards for food and medical supplies which they distribute.

The only thing I take issue with is the blanket use of the word "mercenary" (with all the given negative conotation) to label ALL such activities and the cavalier attitude of "screw them" towards the brutal deaths of these individuals.

Unless definitive and non-conflicting information about what these guys were involved in is forthcoming then we are ALL making assumptions about the appropriateness of what they were doing.

I've been struggling with this, too. (none / 3) (#534)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 10:00:18 PM EST

A lot of articles on the killings imply that they were the advance guard for a humanitarian food run. One article in the Washington Post definitively states they were delivering food for troops, and names the company they worked for.

So, we either have a majority of the press spinning the story to make the Iraqis look stupid as well as brutal, which seems unlikely, or we have the Post spinning the story to make the attack look more reasonable, which also seems unlikely.

Because the Post named the company, I'm inclined to believe them - it's a verifiable fact - but it's still odd that the Post is the only one naming names.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

you are an ass (1.88 / 9) (#500)
by wakim1618 on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 06:35:44 PM EST

but I must admit the death of a mercenary doesn't seem as selfless as the death of a soldier to me.

So you care less about the death of a security guard or anyone whose income is related to the safety and security of others. How about the baggage screeners at the airports?

What if a mining securities analyst said, "well those miners died but then I don't feel so bad since they was being paid alot for uneducated brute labor."


If I wanted dumb people to love me, I'd start a cult.

You are presumptuous (2.40 / 5) (#503)
by proles on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 07:07:14 PM EST

I did not say I care less.  I said it seems less selfless.  A soldier is more of a volunteer whereas a mercenary freely chose their line of work.  They choose the high pay and the high risk, the soldier gets low pay and is out there on orders.  So yes, the soldier is more selfless, just I would be more selfless if I volunteered to help somebody than if I charged money for it.

Nowhere did I say I care less, nowhere did I say I agree with Kos's comments, and nowhere did I say their death was acceptable or otherwise good.  So please, only address what I actually say.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
[ Parent ]

they know the risks... (none / 2) (#520)
by araym on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:29:36 PM EST

If I were a mercenary getting paid $30,000/month (apparently the going rate for high end mercenaries in Iraq these days) to go into a war zone to protect someone who is probably a target for assassinations (otherwise why would I be there) I can have a very very high expectation of getting killed.

These mercenaries know exactly the risks they take, if I were to take that job (which I wouldn't obviously) I wouldn't expect sympathy from people.

They know what they're getting into.

-=-
SSM

[ Parent ]
re: they know the risks... (none / 2) (#522)
by dankbuddy on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 01:52:26 AM EST

These mercenaries know exactly the risks they take

Though that certainly does not make their lives any less valuable.

[ Parent ]
4 vs 500 (none / 1) (#550)
by vejeta on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:02:09 PM EST

Nor the 500 iraqi civilians that were killed in Fallujah during the bombardment and siege.

[ Parent ]
Let's not forget Iraqi soldiers. (none / 0) (#574)
by handslikesnakes on Sun Apr 18, 2004 at 02:03:32 PM EST

Because if American military deaths are equivalent to civilian deaths then so are Iraqi ones.

[ Parent ]
yes (none / 0) (#575)
by wakim1618 on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 05:11:13 PM EST

but most people say one thing and do another. I don't think either democrats or republicans care a whole lot about iraqi lives.

The fact is that nation building is hard and difficult. There are bad guys out there with guns. US soldiers hunkered down in bases to minimize US casualties doesn't help nation-building. If we valued Iraqi lives, it means putting our own lives in the line of fire - recall those firefighters and police officers who risked their lives on 9/11? I think that many Iraqis are fearful because they see the US soldiers as fearful. Well then, the bullies and baddies who are willing to divide people with violence are going to win.

Of course, I do not have a good answer to coercing young American men and women to risk their lives for my nation-building fetish.


If I wanted dumb people to love me, I'd start a cult.
[ Parent ]

Sheez (2.75 / 8) (#504)
by dennis on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 07:29:34 PM EST

Awful lot of debate on the precise definition of "mercenary." Fact is, these guys were paid a lot of money to carry weapons in a war zone. They knew the risk. Does that mean we should spit on their graves? No. Does it mean that I don't care about their deaths as much as I care about the weekly deaths of U.S. soldiers? Yes.

But when I first read the news about these four guys, the paper just identified them as "civilians." It didn't even mention they were armed. Now, I just scanned the front page so maybe deeper in the article it gave more detail...but lots of people just scan the front page, and the editors are well aware of that.

Another point lost in the shuffle (none / 0) (#526)
by Pop Top on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 01:11:20 PM EST

Blackwater officials are looking into whether the ambush was set up by men wearing uniforms of the coalition Iraqi forces.

Here's a British take on the situation. (none / 0) (#533)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 09:38:13 PM EST

I found it interesting.

Spectator

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong

Sex is sex, but mercenary is not a mercenary (2.00 / 2) (#558)
by decaf_dude on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 02:21:47 PM EST

It's funny how the very same people who attacked Clinton just a few short years ago for trying to get into semantics over a technical meaning of a word "sex" raise hell if you call a mercenary a mercenary (and not "private security contractors, consisting of ex-specops, deployed into a warzone to perform duties usually relegated to official armed forces"), or plan a plan (and not "series of actionable items"); the latter is a reference to Condi's testimony, for those who didn't recognize it.

--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


Yeah Yeah Yeah!!!! (none / 1) (#559)
by dflux2140 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 06:33:57 PM EST

Fuck em... I mean who cares if some 43 year old ex special forces gets killed; who cares if he had only been doing this to raise money to save his dairy farm that was in debt; who cares that he did it to provide food for his 2 daughters and wife; Who cares that he never wanted to be there in the first place. He was making a stellar 80,000 a year so yeah fuck him...

one more yeah (none / 1) (#560)
by vejeta on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:59:20 PM EST

This is a hard thing to show. These photographs shows some of the people killed in Fallujah this days. Oh.. Of course... Fuck'em because they didnt have a dairy farm to save. Falluja Siege. I hardly try to understand the ones who still believe the lies of our politics. War has always been disguised and made up in order to make us happy with them. After all of this years of History, if you still believe that this war - the same as the other wars which came before - was for humanitarian reasons, then the Fox News has caught you.

[ Parent ]
missed the point. (none / 1) (#567)
by dflux2140 on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 01:23:30 PM EST

The whole point of my post was that no matter what the circumstances no ones life is worth less than another Iraqi or American or anyone else for that matter. Just becuase this guy was a hired mrecenary doesnt make his death any less sad. Just as the fact that the deaths of Iraqi's should not be swept under the rug as it is.

[ Parent ]
Ok (none / 0) (#569)
by vejeta on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 09:58:09 PM EST

Explained as that, then I go along with you. Hope this nonsense stops as soon as possible.

[ Parent ]
Typical (none / 2) (#561)
by ThaboZ on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 04:35:27 AM EST

How typical american: block a site that says how it is. In fact we need more of these images because thats the only think the bloodsucking americans fascists understand..

murderers (none / 0) (#562)
by ThaboZ on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 05:05:22 AM EST

This weekend alone the fascist ocupation army killed at least 160 woman, 141 childeren and a lot of older non-combatants in the sieged City of Fallujah

[ Parent ]
The Kos Controversy | 576 comments (545 topical, 31 editorial, 11 hidden)
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