Monday, September 03, 2007

The Frustrated Warrior Class and the Cultural Divide 
Glen Reynolds points to this truly outstanding article by Robert Kaplan.

I met Bud Day in September 2005 at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station where Navy flyers had lined up to buy his book, for which he had to take payments in cash. I thought it demeaning that he had to sell his book this way. It says something about the blind spots of a Manhattan-based publishing industry that Day had to go to what is essentially a vanity press. The publication of Coram's book is, therefore, a welcome event.

The relative obscurity of Day's autobiography and other books like it about Vietnam constitutes a lesser-known aspect of our civilian-military divide. The books to which I refer should be part of our recollection of Vietnam, but they generally aren't. They aren't so much stories that soldiers tell civilians as those that soldiers tell each other. Of course, there are exceptions: most famously James Webb's Fields of Fire (1978), a book that overlaps with this category and which, in fact, did become a bestseller. But there is a range of books of lesser literary merit, yet of equal historical worth, that either have small readerships or readerships consisting overwhelmingly of military personnel, active duty and retired. The authors of these lesser-known books include marines and Green Berets (Army Special Forces) who were involved in counterinsurgency operations. Their writing reveals a second divide—that between professional warriors and conventional, citizen soldiers—which is but another facet of the warrior's alienation from the civilian world. To explore this second divide, I must also bring into the discussion a French writer and a British soldier, whose legacies include not only Indochina, but Algeria and pre-World War II Palestine—scenes, too, of messy, irregular warfare. Thus, my notion of another Vietnam library goes beyond the subject at hand.

Reading habits are influenced by the people you meet. If I hadn't had the opportunity to embed with professional warriors, I would never have heard of some of these books. For example, I learned a great deal about Bud Day and Duty Honor Country from Air Force Captain Jeremiah Parvin of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, a young A-10 Warthog pilot with a "Misty" patch on his arm. The A-10 is essentially a flying Gatling gun. Its pilots hover low to the ground and loiter over the battlefield at great risk. Even as they disdain the rest of the Air Force, marines and Green Berets consider A-10 pilots true warriors. A-10 pilots feel the same bond toward combat infantry. It is a trait of professional warriors that they feel closer to those in other armed services who take similar risks than toward men and women in their own service who don't. Being in the military is not enough for these men: To earn their respect, you had to have joined in order to fight—not to better your career, or your station in life.

The article is difficult to exerpt. But among Kaplan's points is this: The stories that warriors tell that gain exposure through our mass media outlets are very different than the stories that warriors tell each other. Kaplan brings into stark relief the cultural divide between our mass media and our warrior class that has been the central theme of Countercolumn since this blog's inception in November of 2003.

Bud Day is a hero among warriors. A legend and a beloved figure, who continued to serve the military community for decades after his retirement.

But click here to read the treatment Bud Day gets in the pages of the Los Angeles Times, whos writer, Rosa Brooks, characterizes Day as "an unprincipled, right-wing extremist."

There is a reason that there are certain stories that warriors only tell each other.

If we tried to tell them to the likes of Brooks, we'd wind up wanting to bitch-slap them, instead.

Splash, out



I assume you've seen this?

...and this?

I have Robert Kaplan's "Imperial Grunts" and "Warrior Politics". Excellent stuff.

But click here to read the treatment Bud Day gets in the pages of the Los Angeles Times, whos writer, Rosa Brooks, characterizes Day as "an unprincipled, right-wing extremist."

Rosa Brooks (along with Jonathan Chait) is one of those unprincipled, left-wing extremists in journalism who has made me cancel subscriptions to newspapers.
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