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View Diary: Mercenaries, war, and my childhood (368 comments)

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  •  We mourn those (4.00)
    whom we have lost or with whom we have solidarity.  When we mourn collectively we mourn as part of a collective identity, we mourn those with whom we share some very important dimension.  Otherwise the mourning and the grief is a private affair.  

    The job these men had in Iraq was "private" (that's the meaning of privatization) meaning they weren't there on behalf of us as a nation they were there on behalf of their employers and the stockholders of their employers companies.  That means any mourning for these folks should also be "private".  They have no claim on my grief as anything shared or public in that matter.  I don't know about you but I identify with "ordinary folk" but I don't identity with war profiteers and mercenaries.  Their deaths are sad for their friends and relatives, but their deaths are also a part of the context of their employment and are foreseeable and private.

    I think its inappropriate for someone like me to "mourn" their death, and certainly disrespectful to the people who love them and to whom that mourning "belongs" emotionally.  All I can do is note with sadness how wide the wave of violence that the invasion triggered has spread.

    "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." -- Martin Vanbee

    by a gilas girl on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 04:14:59 PM PST

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    •  Regardless (none)
      if these 4 people were serving their country, their government, their corporation, or themselves, the larger point here is WHY they were killed, why they were brutalized, desecrated, and why we're discussing it rather than the other, numerous tragedies occurring in Iraq every day.

      They were killed for who they represented, namely us.  My anger and revulsion at the Bush administration and its policies would not be enough to save me in that situation.  At that moment, they represented America.  They represented the west.  They represented years and years of frustration with us, our policies, and our society.

      Was it disgusting?  Yes.  Was it unavoidable?  I don't know.  Should there be a response?  Yes, I feel.  But one thing that is important to keep in mind is that these people were killed because they were American, because they were in a place that hates America and because they were the victims of an enormous and disturbing lack of humanity towards another people.  Their military or non-military status is the least important aspect of this tragedy.

      As for the 5 U.S. soldiers killed yesterday as well, our thoughts should be with their families as well.  Our thoughts should be with the nearly 600 families who have suffered a loss due to this war.  Our thoughts should be with the thousands more who have been injured.  Our thoughts should be with the thousands of Iraqis who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and lost their lives, their families, and their homes due to this war.

      The horrible visual images on the front pages of newspapers and on television have charged this event more than many, many of the other deaths in Iraq, but really, we're always dealing with the same issue.

      by Emcee on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 04:44:38 PM PST

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      •  This is where I have to disagree (4.00)
        They were killed for who they represented, namely us.

        They WEREN'T there representing "us"; that's precisely the point and what makes it different, what MarKos' post helps to point out.  It is deeply inappropriate for us to claim they were representing "us" when they were there as private citizens of a private enterprise.  The distinction between public and private is more than semantic and more than a question of "who's paying for it" and more than a question of "who benefits".  This is the place where people who want privatization must be called upon to accept what it means, in all those instances.  They weren't there representing you or representing me they were there representing Blackwater.  I'm not Blackwater and I don't want to be.

        "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." -- Martin Vanbee

        by a gilas girl on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 04:59:51 PM PST

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        •  You are totally missing the point. (3.50)
          The point is that the people in Fallujah could not have cared less if these people worked for the army, for Blackwater, for Disney, or for Greenpeace ... they were AMERICANS.  They were representative of you and I and 270 million other Americans.

          To point out the insignificant (to me) difference between them being soldiers or contracted employees of an American company trivializes their deaths.  I'm not sure who signs your checks, but I am sure that if you were in the same place, you would have been killed as well ...

          In those 4 people, the Fallujah attackers saw all of us.  

          by Emcee on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 05:10:05 PM PST

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          •  How do you know? (none)
            You're assuming that Iraqis are as blinded to distinctions amongst opponents as, say, the denizens of LGF.

            That may be true, and once a mob goes into full riot mode, distinctions do tend to get lost... but then again, we have no real information about what Blackwater was up to. It may not have been nearly as innocent, or as unrelated to these four being attacked, as the press coverage makes it sound.

            Er, we'd really like you guys to go back to being a GOOD influence on us.

            by Canadian Reader on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 05:34:58 PM PST

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          •  I have a post farther down about that (4.00)
            I'd suggest that we don't know what the "people in Fallujah" thought, nor what the "people who participated" in this thought they were doing.  And the two are not the same.

            Unlike you, I do believe that the distinction is very important.

            It may be an insignificant difference to you, but you aren't somebody who's life may depend upon knowing the difference.  We here in the US have the luxury of allowing that difference to be "insignificant".  In other contexts it isn't.  Markos post offers but one example of how the privilege we have as citizens of the US works not only to give up material and protective advantages, but also advantages of "knowledge" there's just stuff we never have to think about, so from where we sit, its "insignificant".

            "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." -- Martin Vanbee

            by a gilas girl on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 05:43:51 PM PST

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          •  not missing, disagreeing w/the pt (none)
            I understand perfectly that that is what you think the point is, I just disagree.


            "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." -- Martin Vanbee

            by a gilas girl on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 06:54:55 PM PST

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          •  Juan Cole has a new slant (none)
            He has a new post up with the following:

            "There is increasing evidence that the brutal attack on the American security guards in Fallujah, and the desecration of their bodies, was the work of Islamists seeking vengeance for the Israeli murder of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Leaflets found at the scene said the operation was in the name of Yassin. al-Hayat reports in its Friday edition that responsibility for the attack has been taken by a group called Phalanges of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The group said the deaths were a "gift to the Palestinian people.""

            More at

            Whatever you can do or dream, begin it, for boldness has power, and genius, and magic in it. -Goethe

            by Mimikatz on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 07:06:31 PM PST

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            •  Thanks (4.00)
              this kind of information DOES make a difference, I believe. And I certainly trust Juan Cole as both a source and an analyst, so I gladly defer to his interpretations.

              I'll just say again the the tragedy is far broader than the death and even desecration of these 4 folk; perhaps the most nagging tragedy is the simplicity of it all: the wrong-headedness of policies rooted in violence, revenge and physical/military demonstrations of "strength" as a substitute for more humane means of solving problems of injustice.

              "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." -- Martin Vanbee

              by a gilas girl on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 07:12:08 PM PST

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          •  They didn't see "us" (4.00)
            anymore then we see them.  This is not ideological anti-American violence ala Bin Laden - these guys are resisting an occupation.  If they were being occupied by Norweigans it would have been Norweigans hanging off the bridge.

            And do we have to identify this invasion and occupation as "ours" and "American" ? This American didn't want it and dousn't want it.

            And thats where KOS disctinction becomes salient - the soldiers are ours - whereas we are fighting a political battle to determine how our soldiers are used or abused - we have no control over when the mercs will fight or for whom.

          •  It doesn't matter..... (none)
            what the Falluja attackers saw in these 4 men. I see in them war profiteers who's interest in Iraq is soley pecuniary. I am not obliged to consider them my representatives nor to feel any sympathy for them. As a member of the human race, I am obliged, and I do, feel sympathy for their families; no one should have to see the bodies of their loved ones desecrated in such a way. These guys should've thought of that possibility before signing up.
      •  Get the Count Right (none)
        As of today:
        1. American KIA's
        2. American WIA's
        If you can believe the stats, anyway.
    •  excellent post gilas (none)
      Their deaths are as tragic as anyone elses that has a job that puts them in harms way - but it is indeed a grief more of their family and friends. We shouldn't ever delude ourselves into thinking that (like our soldiers) they were serving our country.
    •  I think (none)
      you are right. They were there for their employers and the corporations. I feel their deaths are tragic. I was glad to hear a Muslim cleric speak out. All suffering is useless suffering. We need to love each other unconditionally. That is the way ... Hence my screen name, Ways and Means! All we are given is the way, the means, that is an end in and of itself. One of the best things Dean said was his favorite story from the bible was the book of Job. Everyone went, "what?" Job isn't a very American story, it is something we struggle to understand. Job worships the Lord for the sake of worshipping the Lord. In the new testament the story is told that Jesus goes into the wilderness for 40 days and is tempted by the devil. Satan shows Jesus all the riches of a great city, and says, "I can give you all this." Jesus says something that truly puzzled me for a great while: "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." What this means came to me over time. I do this so much, "if I only had the money I would do this or that." We do this collectively, "if we had a Democrat in the white house then." We are in a sense tempting the Lord. Easy to say no, just give, love ain't for keeping. The point is we need to love our enemies, even Bush. We need to cultivate compassion, which is work, and doing this work is life. I don't mean to sound pious. I am working on this very same thing every day, and, when I do slip into my old ways of thinking, it is becoming so obvious and comical.

      On a different note: I think the corporations should hire, equip and train their own militia. Why use my tax dollar? Our militia should simply stand at the ready to protect our borders from invasion. One if by land, two if by sea. Don't tread on me! Fire when you see the whites of their eyes.

      "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."

      "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."

      -Abraham Lincoln

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