May 24, 2010

Christopher Hitchens admits that he's one of "those men who were never really in battle and wished they had been."

His wife said that, back in 2006, adding: "There's a whole tough-guy, 'I am violent, I will use violence, I will take some of these people out before I die' talk, which is key to his psychology – I don't care what he says. I think it is partly to do with his upbringing."

He now says it's true: "Yeah. Yes. One of the things I've realised, writing the book, is that it has to be true."

What did he feel on September 11, 2001?
"[E]xhilaration. Because I thought, now we have a very clearly drawn confrontation between everything I hate and everything I love. There is something exhilarating about that. Because, OK, now I know what I'm doing."...

"Do I ask myself... do I think our civilisation is superior to theirs? Yes, I do. Do I think it's worth fighting for? Most certainly."...

"Guantánamo slightly threatened at one point to change my attitude towards capital punishment. I thought it would have been good if some of those people could have been taken out and shot. Yeah, put up against a wall. Lincoln would have done it. Of course, I would have been against it if they had. But that's how I felt."
And he still believes believes he was right about the war in Iraq: "Yes, absolutely. I was right and they were wrong, that's pretty much it in a nutshell."

His mother thought there was "one unforgivable sin." It was "to be boring." And, according to the author of the linked article, there's a connection between the avoidance of boredom and the indulgence in alcohol:
He can't really manage eye contact. Once noon arrives, though, he brightens up, proposing the first scotch of the day with one of those bluff jokes about rules for drinking so dear to saloon bar bores the world over....

It seems to me so evidently the case that Hitchens is an alcoholic that to say much more feels unnecessary. But for the record, he trots out all the usual self-serving, defensive evasions: "For me, an alcoholic is someone who can't hold his drink" or, "I'm not dependent, but I'd prefer not to be without it." The longest he has ever been was a dry weekend "in fucking Libya", and he claims he drinks only to make other people less boring. So, presumably, he doesn't drink when he's with Amis? "Er, yuh, I do."

I wouldn't say he's exactly boring himself when dry, but drink certainly makes him livelier company than the 10am sober version, and we pass a highly enjoyable few hours in a pub garden, during which he tries out successive renditions of a Shakespearean sonnet, Being Your Slave, What Should I Do But Tend, on the photographer [a beautiful woman, who, earlier, had expressed disbelief in the effectiveness of seducing women with poetry].
Now, doesn't that make you want to read his memoir? It's "Hitch 22."

72 comments:

MadisonMan said...
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Quayle said...

I'm a fan. Intellectual honesty is always appealing to me (which, I guess, explains why I look here every day) even if and when I don't agree with the conclusion.

Paul Snively said...

There is a ruthlessness to Christopher Hitchens. Mercifully, that ruthlessness is applied with a refreshingly even hand. When applied to himself, the results are, at turns, amusing, poignant, and inspiring.

jamboree said...
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jamboree said...

I give him a break on the alcohol. Even if he's technically alcohol dependent, if it's not a problem, it's not a problem.

I've dealt with an alcoholic before. it's more than just that they drink - no matter what AA and current psychological theory says. It's how they act when they drink. I used to be jealous of a friend whose dad was a "good alcoholic" as I thought of it. In other words, he drank a lot, but didn't get violent, didn't get psychotic, didn't start calling up his coworkers drunk to keep them on the phone for hours while destroying his career, etc.

GMay said...

@MadisonMan

Agreed. I was on active duty at the time and agree with him about the threat Islam poses, but "exhiliration" isn't a word that even came to mind that day.

JAL said...

No.

jamboree said...

Oddly, Hitch does bore me. (Sorry, Hitch.)

He's fat and he uses his big fat head and skill with words to rip people apart in an odd mumbling monotone. It gets boring after awhile. Yes, the fat part is relevant.

Roger J. said...
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Scrutineer said...

there was "one unforgivable sin." It was "to be boring."

That's an attitude I've long thought you shared with Hitchens, for good and ill.

jayne_cobb said...

That he possessed such a trait was obvious after his scuffle with the Syrian neo-nazis a while back.

Scott said...

Hitchens has integrity, which seems to be a rare quality in public intellectuals these days.

Bob said...

The Hitchens Corollary to Godwin's Law: If, in debate with Christopher Hitchens, you mention his drinking, Hitchens wins. There could be a very similar corollary about Rush Limbaugh and drug abuse.

Joe said...

Hitchens and INTEGRITY mentioned together...Well has ole' Chris apologized for being a Marxist and apologist for the USSR? Has good Chris owned up that his preferred political economy failed, and along it way produced a demographic, ecologic, spiritual, economic train wreck of epic proportions, wherever it has been attempted?

I've read one Hitchens work, Orwell Why He Mattered. To me it was obvious why Orwell mattered, Hitchens thought HE WAS the next Orwell! So by the Transitive Property of "Matters-ness" Hitchens Mattered, too.

danielle said...

I found this Guardian article to be the best I've seen on Hitchens. I think in the US he's given a lot of credibility based on our view of the British accent as sophisticated and since he's such a straight shooter (like Simon on AI); but I think anyone who has heard him knows that there was always something deeply off about him. This article was the best I've seen at bringing it our.

Roger J. said...

Thanks Danielle--dont often agree with your politics, but think your take on Hitchens is spot on. we colonials do seem to have this thing for drunken brits (and this would include Winston Churchill)

rcocean said...

I'm sure Hitchens is the life of the party. But it says something about American intellectuals that this fat,drunk, Englishman - who often forgets to bathe or wash - is taken seriously.

Hitchens certainly isn't boring, attacking Bob Hope and Mother Teresa, supporting the USSR and Dresden bombing, getting beat up by Arabs in Lebanon. Talking about bravery and courage, but always avoiding the true sacred cows & always reminding everyone that nobody loves Israel more than Hitch.

I doubt he's ever written anything that *truly* offended his liberal, Vanity-Fair/Nation/New Republic audience. Orwell he ain't.

TMink said...

There is nothing wrong with Hitch that Jesus would not fix. I pray for his conversion every time I hear his name mentioned. It is coming.

Trey

Synova said...

I think that it's possible that "exhilaration" is one of those words that we use in a particular way while ignoring other usages.

It works as the counter to despair or depression or being stunned. I believe that Bin Laden said something about the plan that our spirits would be entirely broken. What is the opposite of that? Instead of broken spirits perhaps energized or infused. Exhilaration might work in that context.

It does seem very odd because the proper thing to say is something else.

My own reaction was probably idiosyncratic. It was something like, thinking of the people who had done the attack and anyone remotely related to them, "My god, that was stupid!" I did not feel vulnerable, I felt large and powerful.

So maybe I can sympathize just a little with Hitchens.

But it will never be the proper thing to say.

Hm... now I'm remembering just after... people were talking a whole lot about what to do if in a situations such as the hijackings. It was very much "fight back" on an individual level, no matter who you were. And then someone posted this long thing about how awful it was to lie to grandma and tell her that she could make a difference... and that made me so mad. I was utterly livid that someone was insisting that grandma be made to feel helpless and weak.

I don't know... was it someone large and powerful and clueless? Or was it someone who was fearful and resented the efforts to instill a feeling of power in individuals?

Roger J. said...

I used to listen to the psychotic homeless in Seattle babble on street corners near Pike Place Market--I give Mr Hitchens the same degree of credibility.

Franklin said...

Hitch is great - yes he's an opinionated asshole, but surely the courage of his convictions makes up for that.

I don't agree with most of what he says, but at least he's not like the hacks writing opeds at the WaPo and to a lesser extent, the Times: he doesn't find it necessary to constantly triangulate his position to try to make it unassailable - to couch his opinion in the language of patriotism, environmentalism, or whatever -ism happens to be in vogue that week so as to short-circuit criticism about the position.

The name of his memoir - Hitch 22 - is however, admittedly awful.

ricpic said...

His mother thought there was one "unforgivable sin." It was "to be boring."

This may or may not be true on the personal level. It would make for an interesting debate. But on the public or political level it is great good fortune to be born in a boring place, which is what the United States was for most of its history. It is our great misfortune that, thanks to the hard left, America is no longer a boring place to live in.

Big Mike said...

I think that there is something genetically hard-wired inside the male of h. sapiens that asks us whether we'd be courageous if called upon.

I'm a Vietnam Era veteran, but unlike a certain Connecticut candidate for the US Senate I've never pretended that I saw combat (or was even in the combat theater). From talking to men who did see combat, I'm pretty happy not to have been in Viet Nam, thank you very much.

But, yes, we men -- most of us anyway -- do ask ourselves the question. Several years ago I had an opportunity to answer it, and was pleased to discover that yes, I personally can and will put myself into a dangerous position to protect someone weaker. We used to call that a routine part of being a man; I wonder if we still can?

Fred4Pres said...

I like Hitchens and do not find him boring. He is a good writer. I disagree with him often, but I like his writing generally. As for the alcohol, if he is good with it then so am I. Over drinking tends to bite most people in the ass, but he can figure that one out on his own. He seems to write very well a little juiced, I just hope he avoids killing anyone while driving.

Fred4Pres said...

Read Robert Leckie and Eugene Sledge's books on being in the Marines in the Pacific. Especially Sledge's book. It is better writing than All Quiet On The Western Front.

I have not been in combat. I can intellectually wonder how I would have been under fire. But for those who really faced serious combat for long periods of time, it is obviously a terrible burden and sacrifice (and these multiple tour veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan are equaling the sacrifices of Marines and Soliders in WWII). For those of us who have not been there, I think we can only thank and support those who have (regarless of your feelings about war in general). Especially with Memorial Day coming.

William said...

Surviving a brief exposure to mortal danger can be exhilirating and doubly so if you behave honorably. Chronic exposure, however, is debilitating and will eventually break the strongest man......I'm reading the Edmund Morris book on Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt survived his two hours of combat and considered it a bully experience. He thought of warfare as character building. President McKinley was at Antietam and other nasty battles of the Civil War. He was loathe to use his war making powers, and Roosevelt considered him irresolute. I'm with McKinley. Charge far enough up San Juan Hill and you reach the trenches of the Somme......

wild chicken said...

"We used to call that a routine part of being a man; I wonder if we still can?"

To paraphrase a line from Wise Blood, a man who has served honorably in the military does not need to justify himself. Likewise a woman who has raised children.

Beth said...

"I thought it would have been good if some of those people could have been taken out and shot. Yeah, put up against a wall. Lincoln would have done it. Of course, I would have been against it if they had. But that's how I felt."

More of that Friedmanesque, liberal autocracy.

Michael said...

"Exhiliration is an odd thing to feel on the death of 3000+ people."

Yet it is nothing more than human nature to feel vigor at the thought that dread of the worst can finally be replaced with active effort against it.

Michael said...

Find out what Hitch is drinking and send a case of it to the other commentators.

Big Mike said...

@Beth, would you agree with me that Hitch is dead wrong (as usual) in that Lincoln would not have taken "some of those people" out to be shot. He was pretty well known for exercising his executive powers of clemency.

rcocean said...

Like many of the Chattering classes, Hitchens is quite the tough guy. Whether its supporting the Iraq War "no matter the cost" or supporting the killing of thousands of innocents at Hiroshima or Dresden. In debating the bombing of Dresden, Hitchen's 'sophisticated' argument was they "they deserved it.' Of course, he is an atheist.

Alex said...

I'm sure the guys on Flight 91 didn't feel "exhilarated" at their opportunity to fight back. More like filled with horror and fear.

bagoh20 said...

He reminds me of a lot of people who needed 9/11 to see the true face of evil, but needed very little to forget it again afterward.

Beth said...

Big Mike, I will have to defer to your historical analysis, since I am not well-informed enough to make that call on Lincoln. My comment was on Hitchen's having a momentary fantasy that he dismisses intellectually - exactly what Freidman did in his "China for a day" musing.

Now, if you're going forward with a comparison, there's no comparison b/w China and Lincoln that comes out favorably to China.

I became an Independent in the first year of Clinton's first term for two reasons: Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and his reversal on a promise to revoke Most Favored Nation status from China. Being older and more jaded now, I can see where that promise was unrealistic, but at the time, it mattered to me.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I'm with Synova on this. Exhilarating might not be the right word. Maybe more like the adrenaline rush/feeling of both fear and alertness you get from being in or near a terrible accident. Somehow everything becomes sharper, clearer and time seems to slow down.

I remember feeling a lot of those things on that morning as I watched in horror the events at the Twin Towers and the gut punching feelings from the airplane crashes. My first thoughts were something on the line of "OMG this changes everything! We can never be the same again"

Trooper York said...

People who are exhilirated by a fight, have really been in a bad fight. It's not something you want to revisit if you have already had one. You do it if you have to but it is not something to look forward too. Jist sayn'

roesch-voltaire said...

Good point Rcocean the chattering class tends to be populate by chicken hawks who find war oh so exhilarating. But exposure to great risk can be exhilarating, and therefore I would have expected CH to join the combat troops like a Dexter Filkins, and give us a report from the front lines, instead of his war with the believers. Still I admire his call for a renewed Enlightenment, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, and his defense of Salman Rushdie. About his drinking time will tell.

Trooper York said...

The problem with getting in a "real fight" is that the other guy hits you back. It ain't like the movies. It hurts. You gotta do what you gotta do but don't fool yourself into thinking that it is a lot of fun. It hurts.

Trooper York said...

One of the few times Hollywood got it right.

Joe said...

.... the chattering class tends to be populate by chicken hawks who find war oh so exhilarating.

I tend to find populated by folks who like world class Environemntal Engineering Programs, and who really can't be bothered with anything as crass as war, but what do i know?

Ralph L said...

The first time I saw him on TV was on CSPAN's old 7am Journalists Roundtable about 15 years ago. He was hungover and unwashed, but he was there.

On on a later show, he said his mother committed suicide with her lover when he was at Oxford.

Churchill's reaction to Pearl Harbor (British forces were attacked the same day):
"To have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. Now at
this very moment I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death."

The Crack Emcee said...

I spoke with him for about 20 minutes one night - he bummed a smoke from me - great guy. Gave me an autographed copy of his Clinton pocket book, "No One Left To Lie To".

I don't agree with him on everything but, on most things, we see eye-to-eye pretty well. (Iraq, atheism, etc.) But we especially agree on the harsh-honesty bit: being just as hard on yourself as on others. Most people are cowards in that regard, wanting to either protect their image or the sensibilities of others, giving cover to all kinds of nonsense.

And finally, not everyone cowers at the thought of war, or fighting, or confrontation. I've protected many a woman from harm - wouldn't do it, today, but I used to step into the breech often - and exhilaration is exactly what's called for, at least as an opening gambit.

I definitely prefer whatever makes up that part of my (the male?) character than whatever produces backstabbing and betrayal.

MadisonMan said...

Exhilarating might not be the right word.

Given that Hitchens is a writer/communicator, choosing a not quite perfect word is pretty damning.

edutcher said...

Ralph's point about Winnie is on the money; Churchill had to worry about Britain's survival and the Japanese attack ensured that survival, albeit at great cost. The point is the Winnie, like TR, did not see a lot of action in his life and saw war as a giant movie.

What few people understand is that, and this is a point done better by others, that only a few are really geared for war. For most of us, civilization, dull as it may be, fits us just fine, but, understanding how it is the true soldiers - the guys in the Rangers, Special Forces, and SEAL Team - who do most of the work, makes the rest of us feel quite inadequate and more than a little guilty. The guys who go, but are scared to death the whole time, know, perhaps, what they did was their best, but it could have been better (you hear a lot of stories about how one officer, a couple of NCOs, and a handful of privates do most of the work in the bulk of combat units), so they minimize what the saw and did.

So we fantasize. And that includes Hitch.

Jason said...

I don't have a problem with the term "exhilaration," as Hitch uses it. It's fine.

As in, "There is nothing so exhilharating as being shot at without result."
--Winston Churchill, who was right. And a pretty good writer himself.

david7134 said...

From what I have read and heard of Hitchens, he really thinks that Islam is an evil that has to be confronted. Thus, 9/11 would have been the opportunity for the world to finally take off the gloves and get Medievil with these evil people. That is how I would interpert his statement. There may have been a personal sense of feeling that he would be involved in a larger conflict. I have been there and do not like the sensation but would not avoid it either.

The problem is that Hitchens did not foresee our modern ability to take such a horrible event and not use it to unify everone and take the necessary actions to eliminate this continualy threat to civilization as represented by Islam. Instead, some (Dems, liberals) decided to use the event to improve their political posture. As a result, we now have to replace our own government before we could ever proceed to make mankind safe and modern civilization can contine to exist.

I do feel like Hitchens that religion is an ultimate evil. Only Islam more so currently. As to his use of alcohol, big deal. Alcoholism is more a psychological problem than anything else and those that we truely identify as such are weak, ineffective individuals. Not individuals that simply drink at times we feel inappropriate.

jimbino said...

Of course Hitchens is right.

When I saw the twin towers collapse on TV at a friend's house in Rio de Janeiro, it was from a perspective far different from that of my fellow Americans. I hate to throw a cold bucket on the vociferous grieving here in the USA, but the fact is that many of my fellow Latins still harbor bitter memories of Operation Condor and other recent American interventions in the internal affairs of Latin countries that led to deaths and "disappearances" of tens of thousands of Latins. Not only Castro, but other heads of state like Kirchner, Bachelet, Morales, Lula, and Chavez have good reason to despise American policies. My experiences of Latins' sentiments on that September 11 day is well summed up by an insightful article that appeared in the German magazine Der Spiegel four days after the attack. I quote it here in full, with credit to the original in German:

The Mood turns against the Cowboy
“Stimmung gegen den Cowboy” Original in German -- http://www.spiegel.de/

The attack at the heart of the USA causes not only mourning and horror. In Latin America, one also senses secret Schadenfreude.

Actually, they had met for dinner. Then the eight Brazilian friends sat just like all the world before the TV and focused on the scenes of catastrophe in New York.

Two doctors, an entrepreneur, a professor and a journalist were there -- educated, friendly, sophisticated people from Rio de Janeiro -- two of them with children who study in Boston. Like anyone, they were full of sympathy for the victims. However, that sympathy expressly excluded the USA.

Maybe it was the pictures that reminded them of a trailer of “Independence Day” and satisfied the eyes more than the head: everything appears unreal, an alien attacks the earth -- the flame ripping up the tower, the dust that rages through the housing canyons of Manhattan and drives the people before it. Then come the politicians in their patriotic dress. By the time of the pep-rally speech by the president, the Brazilian friends had renamed the film they saw running there. It was now called, rather derogatorily, “Criminal Court.”

The doctor says that the Americans she knows are helpful and nice -- and ignorant with respect to foreign countries, “They simply assume that all world loves them.” And her husband adds, “Now they are amazed that it is not so.”

“Their politics is the problem,” the journalist offers while ex-Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger demands bombardment of Afghanistan, “Bush is an illiterate, and that makes him dangerous”. Murmur of agreement. It is all directed against TV-pictures that cause sympathy world-wide, but they brace themselves against the so-called solidarity.

“They thought they were invulnerable,” the entrepreneur says not without malice, “and then a dozen people enter the country and explode everything into the air.” After which the group, not without head-shaking admiration, discusses the perfect logistics of the assassins.

jimbino said...

---continued--

Nobody among the friends is Muslim. Islam is of no importance to them. They go to Hollywood-films, they like Frank Sinatra, they buy Häagen Dasz ice cream. However, it is almost as if those insane fanatics have articulated, in the most brutal way, the dark sentiment of resistance that lives in the breast of the cultivated Latin American.

“It is an attack on freedom,” says George W. Bush. “Nonsense,” the doctor says. “It is an attack on the USA.” And as Kissinger speaks -- the man who shares responsibility for dictatorships in Latin America -- nothing but disgust is registered in this cultivated group.

Just the day before, Kissinger was accused of participating in the murder of a Chilean general unwilling to take part in a coup d’etat. Many would like to see him stand trial before a court of law. Now he is a world-strategist, speaking of “wiping out” Evil -- not with one single stroke of vengeance, but with a “systematic attack.” The doctor says, “That means war.”

The longer they sit together before the TV, the more they share in their anti-Americanism. And in their fear they feel that, “one can only pray that Bush commit no egregious error.“

The Brazilian daily of the next morning continues the protest bluntly. “This attack,” a commentator writes in the Jornal do Brasil, “is not surprising.” Thereupon follows the list of political failures -- Washington has brazenly quit the Kyoto climate agreement, ignores the racism in its own country and intervenes in the cultures of other nations.

Even more heartless, another commentator, writes, “Pepper in the eye of another does no harm; it only burns only in one’s own.” The USA felt no sorrow for the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nor for the civilians in Vietnam. Nor for the victims of the dictatorships they supported in Latin America. There is even open schadenfreude: “This cowboy doesn't draw as quickly as he claims,” O Globo writes, “and he is vulnerable.”

And it’s not only the absolutely “americanized “ colossus of Brazil that manifests these sentiments. In numerous press commentaries in Latin America, “solidarity” is more often denied than confirmed. The invitation to participate in common mourning is refused.

In recent months, the new politics of the USA has reminded many folks of the old politics. The fact that Bush has recently filled key posts pertaining to his Latin American politics with old warriors from the Reagan-Contra Era has not escaped notice, but instead has aroused the old fears.

The day of the catastrophe has also revealed that it is not just about fanatical Palestinian women, who pass through the streets trilling, while their sons shoot volleys of ecstasy into the air. Not just about discussion forums on Chinese websites that find understanding for the perpetrators. It is about the “millions of people in the third world who are condemned to die under the American hegemony.”

No, the resentment against the USA exploits their darkest day as an occasion to give expression to long-suppressed sentiments -- and with it to counter the official rank-closing of the heads of state with the White House.

And so one thing becomes clear: Their fear in beholding an injured cowboy, who in vengeance might pull off a wild shot. “One thing is sure,” one of the eight friends says this evening, “the 21st Century has begun and things look bad for our children.”

MATTHIAS MATUSSEK

jeff said...

"Good point Rcocean the chattering class tends to be populate by chicken hawks who find war oh so exhilarating. "

Actually, its a stupid point. Its the "men cant have an opinion on abortion" type of argument. It says that unless you have fought in a war you MUST come down on pacifism no matter what. That only the military should decide things such as war. I dont think you really want to go that direction.

Doug Wright said...

Winnie was certainly no stranger to combat. He was part of what some called the last charge of British Calvary, became a war correspondent (who carried a revolver), captured by the Boers, then famously escaping from Boers, and then during WWI served in the trenches after serving as the minister for the Royal Navy. So, he well understood combat and might have even welcomed it.

Hitchens can say what he wishes but his statement reminds me of the peacetime soldier who boasts he’ll be a hero in battle; seldom works out that way.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It is about the “millions of people in the third world who are condemned to die under the American hegemony.”

Oh bullshit.

The next time anyone in the world is whining for help from the American hegemony to save their sorry asses from earthquakes, tsunamis, AIDs, malaria and famine, fanatical dictatorships....they can kiss my American ass.

Fen said...

The point is the Winnie, like TR, did not see a lot of action in his life and saw war as a giant movie.

By "winnie" do you mean Winston? Because he was involved in combat actions in three different campaigns.

,understanding how it is the true soldiers - the guys in the Rangers, Special Forces, and SEAL Team - who do most of the work

No. Your central point stands, but its the Marine Corps that does most of the work.

The Crack Emcee said...

Jimbino,

I, too, spent part of my time outside of the U.S., listening to the grievances of "cultured" others, and discovering they know less than I did about their own country, and/or American culture and policies (or what led to certain policies): they only know what they want to know, ignoring the rest. I also found I'm more sympathetic to harm than they are - probably because we don't have the taint of war over-laying our emotions, making us (naturally) cynical - except for liberals, of course. As a matter of fact, I'd say most Americans are. Thus, I'm with DBQ:

They can kiss my Red, White, and Blue ass.

Fen said...

Echo what Crack said.

this cultivated group

I was always amazed by the locals damning the US for our blindness and ignorance, while remaining oblivious to their own.

Guns Germs and Steel. Those that cant lead... whine.

Fen said...

Esp Brazil. Imagine a 20th century without an America. They'd be goose-stepping to Grosser Zapfenstreich.

edutcher said...

Winnie was what the Tommies called him.

Doug Wright said...

Winnie was certainly no stranger to combat. He was part of what some called the last charge of British Calvary, became a war correspondent (who carried a revolver), captured by the Boers, then famously escaping from Boers, and then during WWI served in the trenches after serving as the minister for the Royal Navy. So, he well understood combat and might have even welcomed it.

Taking part in one charge at Omdurman, basically British artillery against dervishes on horseback, does not make him Armstrong Custer or Joachim Murat. His experience in the Boer War was as a correspondent. His time as First Sea Lord was at Whitehall; the few months with the Scots Fusiliers were his longest stint in combat and aren't that much more than TR's go at the Spaniards.

Fen said...

No. Your central point stands, but its the Marine Corps that does most of the work.

Tell it to the 82nd Airborne, the Big Red One, First Cav, or Hell on Wheels. But you'd better duck afterwards.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
edutcher said...

Not sure what you're talking about, but I don't recall any Marines dropping into Sicily, Salerno, Normandy, Holland, New Guinea, Munsan-Ni, 'Nam, Grenada, or Panama. And they always brought their weapons.

ricpic said...

Troop - That Deadwood clip, when I first saw it, gave me nightmares for a week. I'm not kidding.

Please don't watch it, folks, if you're not the tough guy type. I'm serious.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

Yea, something about that Deadwood clip is deeply affecting. It is slow moving violence and not all that gory, but the realism is creepy.

edutcher said...

What unit in Iraq? I don't recall any Army units jumping in '91. An LZ is for heli-borne or glider units, not jumpers.

As to Grenada, not sure which TOE you mean. From what I've seen over the years, it's stayed pretty much the same.

Doug Wright said...

Fen, what edutcher said. My son was in W/2/5 out in San Mateo and elsewhere during the roaring late 1990s so I understand the USMC stuff, well deserved credit where it's due.

edutcher: Look at Winnie's India record, plus his experiences as a WC in the 2nd Boer War, He served in combat and that's much better than I ever had to do, thank God. So, my hat's off to that old guy.

Really, the Brits called 'em
"Winnie?" Holy smokes, how rude of 'em. ./snark off.

Having served with a whole of WWII and Korean vets during my beloved peacetime Cold War hitch, between conflicts, anyone who served in combat, even REMFs, deserves much credit.

OBTW: Our Top had two mustard stains on his jump wings, one MSgt had four, both guys with the 82nd during WWII. A whole bunch had a star on their CIB. They would have chuckled at Hitchen's comments. The 82nd has always been top of the line.

Synova said...

"Its the "men cant have an opinion on abortion" type of argument. It says that unless you have fought in a war you MUST come down on pacifism no matter what. That only the military should decide things such as war. I dont think you really want to go that direction."

Not an original suggestion or necessarily a bad one. But, yes, certainly a suggestion that anyone making a chicken-hawk argument isn't going to want to make.

Oh, though... that one actor in Britain... shoot... old guy, I think he played the Equalizer once upon a time? Maybe?.. IIRC he was just on record saying that disillusioned young men (gang members) should be conscripted for a smallish hitch of military training (not deployment) because of the way serving makes a person feel invested in the nation.

I don't know that I'm overly fond of conscription, but what sort of affect does universal service have on attitudes of young people in Israel or Switzerland?

In Starship Troopers service was voluntary and anyone who did volunteer had to be taken and given something to do, I think even handicapped people and others who were old or unhealthy had to be given some position of service (granted, they weren't overly worried about killing people in training in the book)... but a person didn't get to vote otherwise. No vote at all.

Mostly though... what on gods green earth could be found for everyone to do? Even in wartime our military percentage of the population is single digits.

Fen said...
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Saint Croix said...

Hitchens always stuck me as the type of atheist who is so anti-religion, that one day he'll just completely convert and go the other way. And the funny thing about Hitch is when he does, he will continually insist that he was right all along and he hasn't changed at all.

Saint Croix said...

The march of time certainly hasn't altered one thing about Hitchens, which is, alas, his unaccountable pleasure in word games of the most puerile variety. Page after page is devoted to the infinite hilarity derived by Amis, Rushdie, McEwan and Hitchens from substituting in the titles of well-known books, films and songs the word "dick" for "heart", or "fuck" for "love", or "cunt" for "man".

"Oh, I know," he chortles, when I bring this up. "Shameful." He surely can't still find these jokes funny, can he? "Oh yeah, I do. I sometimes wake up laughing at them. Yup. Never get bored of it." And this from a man who once wrote that women weren't funny.

"No, come on," he grins cheerfully, "you have to admit some of them [word games] are funny." Emphatically not. He giggles, looking boyishly delighted. "Sometimes I'm sitting on a plane and start laughing when I think of another. And then I email it to Martin."


I cannot believe this ass of a writer would not tell us a joke or three so we could judge for ourselves whether they are funny. No, they censor the jokes. And insist they are not funny. Pathetic.

The Crack Emcee said...

That Deadwood clip was no big deal for me - I've seen worse in real life. (I once held an asshole as my friend popped his eye out.) Y'all don't get out enough.

One of my friends went to Iraq as a photojournalist for Newsweek. He called me one night, saying the war was lost. I asked him who he was stationed with and he said the Army. I told him, if he wanted to know how the war was doing, go hang with the Marines - the Army was cannon fodder. He called me back about a month later, saying I was right: he switched to covering the Marines and all was well.

I don't know what it means exactly, regarding the debate here, but my money's on the Marines.

As far as Hitch and religion are concerned, if you're not a believer, he doesn't seem so extreme, just a truth-teller. (There's no "there" there - and you're happy killing others over it.) He likes cathedrals, as do I, and thoughtful conversation on the topic, just as I enjoy my talks with TraditionalGuy. It's being trapped with the fallout of beliefs that's beyond annoying. The fact believers won't leave people alone. That they kill and get away with it. Destroying lives, taking money, etc. - just for their own happiness and comfort.

In a just world, Hitch would be a national treasure.

Fen said...
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Fen said...

Deleted some posts. Regardless of how I feel, its not right for me to be bashing Army in front of civies.

Semper Fi

The Crack Emcee said...

Fen,

Good call.

Semper Fi.