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  •  Every death should be on the front page (2.70)
    Let the people see what war is like. This isn't an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush's folly.

    That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. 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.

    •  Amen (1.87)
      Four dead mercenaries. I should care?
      •  these are human beings (3.87)
        i repeat:  these are human beings.  don't be a sicko.

        this has nothing to do with US policy (which I agree is completely fucked).  

        they are our hired guns, and in that sense not so terribly different from the current US military, which is also a voluntary force.

        also, even if policy were relevant to the question, they were not there to oppress anyone -- they were there to facilitate the transition to democratic rule, which is a GOOD thing.

        Excess of insularity makes a Briton an Imperialist. -- G.B. Shaw

        by markymarx on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 12:21:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Given the evidence (2.75)
          They were there to facilitate the transition to capitalism, not democracy. At least that is what the CPA has been effective at doing so far. They've managed to privatize much of the businesses in Iraq. They've managed to shut down a lot of the unions.

          They've not, however, managed to advance the cause of democracy very much.

          •  partly true (none)
            but in their defense, they were pawns in a larger game they didn't design, just as our soldiers have been.

            and they were certainly TOLD they were there to facilitate the transition to democracy.

            also, hopefully, something resembling democracy will eventually emerge in iraq.  if and when it does, it will be counterfactual to claim they didn't help facilitate the transition.

            Excess of insularity makes a Briton an Imperialist. -- G.B. Shaw

            by markymarx on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 12:50:54 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Pawns (none)
              Pawns are soldiers who are obliged to follow their senior officer's orders, and who are also obliged to fulfill their term of service.

              Mercernaries--and security guards--are people who can quit at any time. They have a whole lot more choice about where they go and why they do it.

              •  you have a point (none)
                you have a point but they are pawns in the sense I meant it.  as opposed to politicians or CEOS that are calling the shots in this larger game.  

                And again, I'm not saying they're nice guys. I'm saying nobody deserves to be murdered and have their bodies mutilated and dragged behind a truck.

                i also think some of this discussion depends on how you think about other people's life choices and your own, and how judgemental or self-righteous you are.

                I try to be liberal-minded person and not too self-righteous. I'd rather not be terribly judgemental without knowing more about a person, and what their options were.

                what made someone decide to take up a life of crime, or work for Halliburton, or become a mercenary?  Would you or I have made the same decision if  you or I were in their exact shoes?  

                Again, we're talking about whether we care if someone blows them up and beats their burning corpses with a pipe....not whether we want to have dinner with them or not.

                Excess of insularity makes a Briton an Imperialist. -- G.B. Shaw

                by markymarx on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 02:45:35 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Pawns (4.00)
                  I guess, by calling them pawns, I feel like you're absolving them of any implication in empowering the Bush Administration to do what it is doing.

                  The US does what it does because millions of people every day act in ways that allow it do those things. Some are almost unnoticeable, like living their American consumer lifestyle with all the trappings without thinking of the consequences of that life. Some of these acts are small, like simply the disavowal of their responsibility to be informed citizens. Some of these acts are larger, like actively supporting the Republicans because it will help you get ahead in your job. Some are much greater--like voting in Congress to give the President the power to wage his adventures, or like working for pay to subdue an occupied people. But all of those acts, together, are what make it possible for the Administration to do things that many of us, on balance, find problematic.

                  •  you're right (none)
                    To simplify the differences here, you can either think about these issues moralistically or you can think about them politically.

                    I tend to focus a lot more on thinking about how power operates than on worrying about assigning blame to specific individuals.

                    But that doesn't I don't encourage people to see their own complicity with the world's problems  -- I sure do agree there. That's actually why I think showing the reality of war is so important.

                    However, we shouldn't be self-deluded into imagining that our own more "progressive" points of view occured because we are "better" people.

                    It's more likley that we're liberals because of our upbringings, experiences, opportunities and educations.  

                    So while like you I want people to feel a sense of complicity, I'd want to avoid being too judgemental.  Since I haven't walked in their shoes.

                    Excess of insularity makes a Briton an Imperialist. -- G.B. Shaw

                    by markymarx on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 03:28:18 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

        •  mostly right, MM but ... (3.66)
          Don't believe for a second this is about democratic rule. These guys were mercenary thugs working for a proto-fascist US regime.

          Nonetheless, these were human beings who bleed like us, feel pain like us and have people who love them and will grieve. Every loss of human life is a sorrow.


          Kos ... I am shocked and offended by your comment. If you really don't feel anything, maybe you need to get some help.

          •  agree, disagree (none)
            look I agree with you and KOS on the larger point -- the rise of private armies is a very disturbing phenom. these guys may not have been particularly nice fellers. I'd probably rather hang out with "the rock" than any given mercenary.

            but from a personal perspective, even if they're mercenaries, it doesn't mean they're not true believers just like many of our own soldiers.  so i fail to see a major necessary distinction there, except as it pertains to the policy of hiring such thugs in the first place.  so thugs for sure, but they are not CEOS or politicians -- they are pawns in a larger geopolitcal game.

            and ok sure, the Bush admin. operates like a proto-fascist regime in hiring them (and that's of course not all)

            however, hopefully, with pressure from the world community and the Iraqis themselves, something resembling democracy will eventually emerge in iraq.  the one good thing from all of this stupid shit.

            if and when it does, as I've said, it will be counterfactual to claim even these mercenaries didn't help facilitate the transition to democracy.

            Excess of insularity makes a Briton an Imperialist. -- G.B. Shaw

            by markymarx on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 02:23:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  the personal & the political (none)
              MM, I'm very impressed by your reasoning in your several postings here.

              Focusing on the powerful, and how to restrain them from evil, is crucial.  As for individuals, it's good to try to persuade the less powerful to avoid harmful actions and decisions, and showing care vs. judgment tends to work better on the personal level.  On the public level, judgment can be more effective.

              Hear it? The Oracle cries the demise of He-Who-Lies. And the rise... of civil America.

              by Civil Sibyl on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 06:09:51 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  curious (none)
                just came back to read your post...and first, thanks for the nice comment.   your own addition about judgement on the public level is thought-provoking, I need to give it some thought.

                question:  give me an example of how judgement is more effective on the public level?  

                the only thing I can think of is pretty lame.  I know you don't mean "three strikes and you're out" prison sentencing guidelines, for example, which fail to take into account anything about a person that would give a judge some leeway.

                you mean something more like a shame-culture.  as in ancient greece?  where bad behavior is shunned?

                Excess of insularity makes a Briton an Imperialist. -- G.B. Shaw

                by markymarx on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 12:39:37 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  judgmentalism vs. rapport (none)
                  No, I wasn't very clear at all, I guess.

                  I mean it's effective to be publicly judgmental against public institutions, public officials, corporations, non-profit leaders, etc.  In other words, to publically criticize them and pressure them.  It's especially effective when organized groups diseminate these judgments.  I think it's similar to what you were saying.

                  But on the individual level, persuasion works best when we try to establish some rapport, respect, and common ground with the person we seek to influence.  I'm a market researcher and management consultant, usually focused on issues of the environment, HIV, and social responsible business.  Persuading the individual leaders in companies and non-profits to improve their impacts requires mutual understanding and trust.  One of my colleagues played a similar role with Mayor Koch in NYC many years ago.

                  I love the many stories in Star Trek: The Next Generation, where they sometimes blast the enemy ship to ship (publically), but where Capt. Janeway tries to find the good in their opponents, establish trust, and work out a mutually beneficial solution wherever possible.

                  Boogie with the opponent if ya can, I say -- though some turn out to be iredeemable trolls that have to be blasted "off the island."

                  But your mention of shame culture is interesting.  That dynamic can certainly work in a community like dKos, if the person being shamed is someone who wants to be an accepted member, and if it's evident the community supports the shaming, and it's not just a flame fight.

                  Hmmm.  This makes me realize that community shaming utilizes elements of both judgment and rapport.

                  This is a fruitful conversation.

                  Hear it? The Oracle cries the demise of He-Who-Lies. And the rise... of civil America.

                  by Civil Sibyl on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 03:37:25 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  These are human beings... (none)
          that have chosen to kill, if necessary, for massive wads of cash.  Most mercs are there protecting oil wells and fuel convoys for Halliburton and the rest of the corporate elite.  Fat fuckers in gray suits drinking scotch, smoking cigars and planning the next war for oil.

          To me, mercs aren't much different from the engineers working at Lockheed Martin and Boeing on projects centered around how to kill more people more efficiently.

          Why do we see so much terror in certain regions?  Because fucking arms dealers are making their fucking killing implements available to fucking cretins that believe in a fucking cause enough to kill a bunch of innocents.

          Where are Palestinians getting the bomb making materials for thier suicide attacks?  Where are the IED's in Iraq coming from?  How 'bout the assault weapons and RPG's used in the atttacks in Fallujah?  This shit is manufactured and sold by, among others, American arms manufacturers and American arms dealers.

          Oh, and btw...  who do you think runs these guns, explosives and other death tools?  Fucking mercs.

      •  I care (4.00)
        While I agree the photos should be published, I care very much, and you should too.  The "mercenaries" by and large are Americans who never made much as US soldiers and were given a chance to make more for themselves and their families.

        I care about any and all senseless deaths, and I find your flippant attitude hard to comprehend.

        "No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." -- John Donne

        •  Mercenaries (4.00)
          It should be pointed out that the guy who recently died in Iraq, whose blog was posted on Kos' front page as a heartrending example of how sad the war is, was one of these "volunteers making money off the war."  I don't understand why his death "really hurt" and these four guys' deaths didn't, unless there's some further defining factor I didn't pick up from the media coverage yesterday.

          That said, I'm inclined to think there hasn't been enough "laying of bodies at the doorsteps" as Mathew Brady used to do.

          •  Why (4.00)
            The deaths of these four guys doesn't matter because we want to use them in a lame, misguided attempt to manipulate our enemies. No more. No less. Our hunger for the Perfect Storm has undermined our humanity, and now we're the assholes, too.
            •  exploitation (none)
              Theoria, thanks for getting at something we haven't come out and said yet (call a spade a spade). Having an image that everyone knows is shocking out on the front page is exploitation and it's interesting that both sides will probably try to exploit the image for some sort of gain. This tactic just didn't feel right somehow--I think you've gotten to what's bothering me. Anyway, if exploitation works I guess it's something to use, but let's look at it for what it is.

              Why am I so darn rational?

              by JMS on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 01:02:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  exploitation (4.00)
                Just printing the image is exploitation?  I don't agree.  It's news.  And yes, of course people are going to bring the images up in a political debate.  It seems to me the other option is to not show these images; thus nobody talks about them and yes, nobody uses them to try and make a point in a debate, and so we all just go merrily on our way and pretend the war isn't really hurting anybody.  I don't think politics is dirty and if the policies of our government are one of the direct causes of what happened in Fallujah then yes, we should all see the pictures and debate where we go from here.  (And no, for the benefit of LGF lurkers and whatnot, I'm not blaming America, I'm saying.. we're in there, we have to decide what we want to accomplish and how we will then get out, and we do have some influence on our government, so let's talk..)

                The right has been pushing this sort of approach on so many issues, it appears to me, and this disturbs me greatly - over and over again you hear them trying to shut down debate over an issue and not be held accountable for their actions by claiming it's sacred, it shouldn't be politicized, which is shorthand for: it shouldn't be discussed.  I've had enough.  I had a couple years of feeling shut out of the national debate because I was suspicious from the start of BushCo's approach to the war on terror, the war in Iraq, and yes, their refusal to talk about who is responsible for 9/11 and how the government failed to prevent it.  Yeah, it's going to make folks uncomfortable to really interrogate these issues but you know, for the sake of our democracy we just might have to push beyond the very narrow bounds of what is deemed acceptable discourse.

                Supporting the establishment of a cabinet-level Department of Civility.

                by daria g on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 04:01:23 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  I would give you a -10 if I could. (none)
        That is the most disgusting comment I have ever seen on this blog.

        "Only God, no other kings, let the mighty eagle soar." John Ashcroft

        by sam in new yoik on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 02:57:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I have the same belief about the death penalty (none)
      Show the executions on TV. Let everyone see what it is.

      Get your Bush/Cheney posters here!

      by jmelli on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 12:14:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Amen Again (none)
        Furthermore, bloodthirsty Americans would pay-per-view for executions, offsetting the astronomical cost of putting an inmate to death.
        •  Yeah, but... (none)
          If bloodthirsty Americans will actually pay to see it, what is the purpose of putting it on television? To drive up profiits? Don't pretend that we'll be teaching them about the realities of war by doing this. That is a bullshit argument. If you want to teach someone about the reality of war, you have to send them over there and let them get shot at, burned and dismembered. Take one child from every family and send them over there to dodge bullets... that may get through to someone. (When Bush reinstates the draft after his reelection, this thing will finally start to turn.)

          The scariest thing of all, as I went into in a post above, is that you are precisely right about pay-per-view. If we could "flip the switch" via remote, we'd do it.

          •  or (none)
            have the ppv-ers decide whether the person is executed or not by calling in. All sorts of gruesome possibilities emerge--but then again, it's sort of a high tech version of the thumbs up and down with the gladiators in the arena. I don't really see why we've expected to evolve in that way.

            Why am I so darn rational?

            by JMS on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 12:32:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  eieio (none)
            Some might pay to see it, but that's not the target audience in this case. There's people who will pay to see lots of disgusting things. And as far as the draft goes, I'm all for it. People need to feel a sense of reality when it comes to war and death.

            Get your Bush/Cheney posters here!

            by jmelli on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 12:42:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  At least (none)
            That would put an end to the huge hypocrisy of our societies. People should face the consequcens of their decisions and actions (or inactions).
            If they can't stomach seeing a guy on the electric chair, then why are they for the death penalty to begin with? After all, they claim it's both punishment and deterrence. And frankly, I fail to see how anyone would honestly believe death sentences are deterrent when nearly no one actually sees executions. But that's another can of worms.

            Ultimately, I have to agree with Kos. Sure, you can say mercenaries are a bit like soldiers, both volunteers. The key difference is that soldiers theoretically do that due to patriotism, to defend their country and families. they don't do that for money.

        •  In the olden days.... (none)
          I couldve wandered down to the town common and caught a couple of unfortunates in the stockades.  Or, if you prefer, public hangings.  And all for free!  But that was before cable.

          But in this post-Enlightenment age, I thought we were collectively moving beyond bodily punishment for transgressions.  Instead we mete out prison time and ankle monitors.  It's so unseemly to give bloodlust its due these days -- even spanking your kid is considered bad -- that to see barbarity touching Westerners, we are that much more shocked.  

    •  The Highway of Death... (none)

      all we hear is radio ga-ga

      by RonV on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 12:26:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  why not (none)
        just post the photo or skip the alert? Seems to be fine by a bunch of people here...

        Sorry...sarcasm not directed at you--I'm just irritated with how some of this thread is going.

        Why am I so darn rational?

        by JMS on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 12:28:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wow kos (4.00)
      My deference to your military service and the fact that I know you are a caring sensitive human being is the only reason why I am not giving you a troll rating on your own blog.  Yes, hired guns have a certain stench about them that ranks them below politicians on the slimy scale - but these people are still human beings and still Americans.  I think they deserve something less than a death by fire and their bodies being dragged through the street.  It is like when Dean said that if captured, OBL should be given a fair trial, like those guys in Nuremburg.  It is, you know, civilization.  Emotions are raw on this subject, but it is not like most of us didn't see this coming a year ago.  The cynical side of me says "What took so long?"

      "Après moi le déluge" - George W. Bush

      by RichM on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 12:52:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  thank you (3.50)
        my sentiments exactly.  regardless of what they were doing there, they were HUMAN BEINGS.  i do not understand how someone could just look at those pictures and take a "whatever" attitude.

        There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadilloes. - Jim Hightower

        by anna on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 01:35:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  i agree (none)
        but if this is supposedly an online community rather than a cult, nobody should be "above" the rating system.  

        with all due respect and many thanks to KOS for running this site, I gave it a "2" and felt pretty generous doing so.

        Excess of insularity makes a Briton an Imperialist. -- G.B. Shaw

        by markymarx on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 02:09:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  This is not every death (none)
      There's no doubt that there has been a real lack of coverage of the real costs of this war, the Iraqi and American dead, in their horror, and their grieving families.  Today's front pages do not ameliorate this.

      These particular deaths are being covered because of the atrociousness of the treatment of the corpses, and this treatment, not the deaths, is becoming the story for many Americans.  Check Billmon on this.  Check on the freepers.

      These pictures will be more successful in whipping up vengeful fervor than in documenting the tragedy of war.  In the media vacuum that currently prevails, these pictures should not be front page material.

      On a more prudish note, Kos, I'd like to see you revisit this issue in three or four years.  It's one thing to explain to a three-year-old death and suffering in the shape of a flag-draped coffin, a tearful mother, or even a dead body.  It's another to explain the jubilant celebration of dismemberment and desecration.

      Tits are much, much easier.

    •  the thread of humanity (none)
      They aren't in Iraq because... they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place.

      They may be.  It depends on their duties.  I read they were guarding a food shipment.  Does anyone here know what their other duties were?  Especially in their own minds they may have been trying to "rebuild Iraq."

      They took a calculated risk for pay, and lost.  Certainly they're not in the same category as US soldiers or Iraqi civilians who are killed there, but it's good to feel a bit of compassion for them and their families.

      On the other hand, it's a despicable policy for Bushco to use such paid mercenaries/guards.  They're using our taxes (or more accurately, debt) to circumvent the stress and limitations on our military that the assinine invasion has led to.

      One silver lining?  Will it become harder to recuit mercenaries?  Maybe.

      Hear it? The Oracle cries the demise of He-Who-Lies. And the rise... of civil America.

      by Civil Sibyl on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 06:43:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  screw them?! (none)

      I hope this is an April Fools' comment.
    •  RE: Disagree w/ Every death on the front page (3.50)

      Let the people see what war is like. This isn't an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush's folly.

      That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. 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.

      I'm shocked that any American can feel nothing about the violent deaths of other Americans.

      I don't think anyone outside their families can know 'why' these men were in Iraq.

      I hope on reflection you will realize that those killed are owned more than the epitaph of 'screw them'.

      I'm a loyal liberal Democrat and a Vietnam era veteran (in a non-fighting capacity), and I'm offended by your attitude.  This attitude will be quoted against other opponents of the Iraq war and Democrats in general.

      I do agree that the photos and accurate coverage of what is going on should be available to the electorate.

      I'm totally opposed to the government being allowed to employ military fighters or security personnel from private companies - regardless of possible economic savings.  This should be outlawed - this is more than a slippery slope, it is a danger to our republic.

      "pay any price, bear any burden"

      by JimPortlandOR on Thu Apr 01, 2004 at 09:55:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cry for the Iraqis... (2.16)
        Do you realize how pompous your words are?  Why should we feel so sad over the deaths of four people just because they happen to be Americans.  Who gives a shit?  How many Iraqis have died thanks to our idiotic war.  Those are the true victims.  None of those deaths matter apparently because they're not Americans.  

        And we wonder why the world hates us?

        Kerry Express 2004- Bridge Out Ahead!

        by Asak on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 02:56:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  mistake (none)
      In the struggle for the soul of our country there are those who know they are on the left, those who know they are on the right, and an unknowable slice who don't know where they are. The goal for the left is to win the sympathies of that middle slice without sacrificing one gram of the conviction and compassion that defines us as lefties. We can't win this thing by ourselves, we need to convince others to join us, and not by watering down the discourse and looking for some mushy middle or some select few topics to be right-wing about (cf. the many successful capital-punishment-loving democratic politicians). We need to bring them over to our side by being the best, most convincing, passionate, and persuasive lefties we can be.

      It's deeply troubling that some shady private paramilitary firm has operatives wandering unescorted around Iraq. There is definitely a story behind Blackwater that (a) would deeply embarass the Pentagon and (b) we will never ever know. Because of that, I'll venture that these 4 unfortunates will not even reach the American culture recognition threshold of Micheal Spann, the world's first canonized CIA goon.

      Having said that -- Kos, your comment works against the goal. These 4, whoever they are, were still people, just like the stone-throwing 14 year old Iraqi kid who gets shot by a Marine. Until we have some inkling of the story behind Blackwater, comments like "screw them" only serve to relocate the great wedge in our bipolar country a little closer to our side, when we'd rather be pushing it the other way.

    •  Way harsh (3.00)
      That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. 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.

      I gotta say, I think you're way over the line with that one.

    •  Get a job (none)
      With the way employment is looking in the U.S., I'm not sure "graduates of Chuckey-Deak High School" have a lot of better options than taking work as mercenaries in Iraq.  Just saying.
    •  I agree 100% (2.20)
      And all you bleeding hearts crying about the fact that these are "human beings", just give it a rest.  Tell that to the 10,000 Iraqis that are dead.  I can never shed a tear over any US casualties, knowing that we have absolutely no right to be there, knowing that the Iraqis have every right to try to throw us out (just as we would if they'd invaded us).  

      It doesn't make me happy that these mercs died, but at the same time the reason they were there was to fight and kill people.  Why should we get all wrought up over them when they were there for such an ignoble reason.  

      Kerry Express 2004- Bridge Out Ahead!

      by Asak on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 02:51:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  YEAH! (2.00)

        Hussein would have never killed 10,000 people, after all. I can't believe we're occupying his country and keeping him prisoner!!!!@&^!&^%!^%!!!

        I hope your self-righteousness helps you sleep at night, because it sure isn't helping anyone else in the world.

    •  Thanks to the WWW, praise be. (2.66)
      That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. 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.

      This has to be the most disgusting thing I've ever seen blogged, coming as it does from a former enlisted man.

      Band of brothers?  Comrade in arms?  Ring a bell, Kos?

      Display some adaptability

      by bdunbar on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 03:10:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Your remark deserves condemnation, Kos. (none)
      I'm completely shocked at what you just wrote, Kos. I don't even know what to say.

      I feel for every single person who dies over in Iraq that wasn't committing a crime. Many of these people are over there simply to provide security to people travelling in very dangerous areas.

      You need to rethink this position, and post-haste, because it casts a VERY bad light on you.

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