Honor, Courage, Commitment…..Cowardice?

Two aspects of warfare that raise disturbing questions:

In the first video below, made by members of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines in Fallujah, Iraq, the emphasis is on the “Honor”, “Courage”, and “Commitment” of the great American heroes, who, with tanks, machine guns, white phosphorus, and all the modern weaponry of an advanced military power, take on the men, women, and children of Fallujah in what has now become widely recognized as yet another great American massacre* of innocents.

This clip ends with the quote from George S Patton:

“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I have no fear because I am the meanest motherfucker in the valley.”


The end credits contain what can only be assumed is a sarcastic and distasteful piece of text:

“And a very special thanks to the people of Fallujah for allowing us to film in your city”

I doubt those who remained alive in Fallujah had any choice in the matter.

I suppose when any American soldier prides himself on being “the meanest motherfucker in the valley”, his indoctrination is complete and he is ‘safe’ to be let loose in a foreign country, with no risk of him pausing to consider what exactly he is doing to its people.

The video is doubtless designed to appeal to the young, ultra-macho, would-be warrior champing at his bootlaces to catch a piece of the action while “enemy” still remain to be killed in Iraq. It will no doubt succeed in sending him scurrying to the recruiting center.

Were he to watch this second video, it might just send him scurrying back home to Mommy.


If America truly considers “the meanest motherfuckers in the valley” to be the embodiment of honor, courage, and commitment, then it is indeed, one very sick country.

As sick today as the Great Britain of one hundred years ago, when mental illness was callously labeled “cowardice”.

*My thanks to TOB for the New Statesman link.

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10 Replies to “Honor, Courage, Commitment…..Cowardice?”

  1. I will never forget that they chose to attack on Eid, the biggest holiday of the year, when the kids would just be sitting down to open their presents.

    Of course, if America had suffered any sort of similar attack on Christmas day, any perpetrators would have been labelled as inhuman monsters, devoid of any civilized feeling.

  2. NYM – I’ll join you. Make mine a double!

    TOB – Britain had its problems back in 1914-18, but at least we didn’t have a nuclear bomb. One wonders if America will ever give itself time to mature.

    Anan – I didn’t know that. Once again your input is invaluable. It’s right, any attack on Christmas Day – or Thanksgiving – would have been viewed as inhuman. Of course, given the ignorance of those in control, it’s likely they’d never heard of Eid. Though, if they had, it probably would have made no difference.

  3. I assume that the Marines who are risking maiming and potential death in Iraq do not have a lot of concern about what you do or do not consider in good taste. I think that this war is a mistake for my country and should be criticized, but I think that your characterization of US Marines as “champing at his bootlaces to catch a piece of the action” is really misplaced. These are boys, 18, 19, 20 years old who are put in a situation where (despite what you claim) people are attempting to kill them on a fairly regular basis. What exactly do you expect from them? They will exhibit bravado because they are young and scared and this is the defense mechanism that military training encourages in them. Judge the politicians all you want, but I don’t think you or I is qualified to pass judgment on the men and women who are in harm’s way.

    Also, you say “he is ’safe’ to be let loose in a foreign country, with no risk of him pausing to consider what exactly he is doing to its people,” are you serious?? At what time during an engagement do you expect all this self-reflection to occur? Point to one example of this kind of reflection by soldiers in a war zone in history.

    Sorry this rambled a bit, but I just wanted to put my 2 cents in with regards to your shock and dismay about the behavior of soldiers in a war.

  4. J Loftus – welcome to Sparrow Chat. All genuine views are welcome here, and yours are obviously genuine.

    Your main concern seem to be my negative criticism of the marines in the first video. I make no apology for it. First, I do not succumb to the American belief that its soldiers are ‘heroes’, fighting for right and homeland. Whatever their nationality, soldiering’s a job; a dirty job, but a job nevertheless. Every single one of us is responsible for our own actions. Anyone choosing to join the military makes that choice knowing they may be killed to satisfy the whims of politicians.

    You ask what I expect of them?

    I expect them to do their job to the best of their ability. I expect them to uphold the rules of combat, comply with the Geneva Conventions, and not needlessly, callously, and indifferently slaughter innocent civilians with impunity. I expect them not to degrade the populace they police to lower than animals. I expect them to not believe being American gives them the right to commit any atrocity they wish, and above all perhaps, I expect them to not enjoy killing. If I may paraphrase: I expect them to act like properly trained professionals and not a bunch of uneducated, morally inept cowhands let loose on some western shanty town at the end of a long cattle drive.

    America is an extremely moralistic nation. It paints its military as ‘heroes’ as a poor decorator uses thick paint to cover cracks in a wall.

    You ask for proof of self-reflection by soldiers? Read the letters home from soldiers on the Somme, or the Western Desert, or even from Iraq. Many are loaded with self-reflection. War is inevitably long periods of intense boredom interspersed with violent mayhem. Soldiers have plenty of time for self-reflection.

    Please note, such negative criticism is not of all soldiers in Iraq. I believe those who made the video above should be censured, though it was no doubt with the knowledge, and probable cooperation, of their officers. My objection was the portrayal of warfare as glamorous, macho, and glorious. Let’s leave that to Hollywood. The real thing is anything but.

    Vigilante – thank you, and you’re welcome.

  5. :>( I’m on dialup way out here, R.J. but I can imagine what was on the video having seen others of its ilk. You’d think we all could have learned from the horrors of Vietnam and Japan but nope, it goes on regardless, the slaughter of the innocents who just happened to be born in the wrong spot on the globe. But to glorify this? To attract recruits by showing these vidoes? This sets civilization so far backwards….and we are all complicit.

  6. fuck you i cant believe you idiots live in this country and have the balls to post such ugly stuff of the brave who serve this country… i hate all of you

  7. sera – perhaps you also hate the Iraqis who die defending their country against foreign invaders? You have too much hate in you. Try a little more love.

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