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February 03, 2006

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Oliver

This is a very systematic thing. Look at British troops in Northern Ireland.

The US does care little for what you or I, for that matter, think about its military justice. The US military doesn't care at all. It does care a lot about enlistment and willingness of the troops to really fight and kill. People who really want to fight and kill are valuable and getting ever more valuable. Such people don't care that much about dying. They do care about being abandoned.
The bottom line is that if you don't want to be treated like a colony, don't sign treaties that allow it. Whether you can politically afford not to, is another question. Romania badly wanted to be in NATO.

Carlos

Oliver, this sort of verdict makes the military people I know more demoralized, not less.

And since this particular verdict has barely made a blip in the US media, I really doubt that it has helped enlistment here.

Carlos

Incidentally, Claudia, did you know that Klaus Mann (Thomas Mann's son) was a staff writer for Stars and Stripes?

Oliver

Which military men do you know? Which branch of service, which age, which rank?

Stefan

I think Oliver's right, from the military perspective.
However, besides Teo Peter's life and the idea of justice, this has to do with the US image around the world. And sadly, that's going south, one country at a time. Also, all this happens while the US embassy keeps preaching against the same practices in Romanian politics. They are perfectly right to do so, and I applaud them doing that, but it is hard not to observe the double standard and this makes their own message toothless.

Stefan

I think Oliver's right, from the military perspective.
However, besides Teo Peter's life and the idea of justice, this has to do with the US image around the world. And sadly, that's going south, one country at a time. Also, all this happens while the US embassy keeps preaching against the same practices in Romanian politics. They are perfectly right to do so, and I applaud them doing that, but it is hard not to observe the double standard and this makes their own message toothless.

claudia

Carlos - huh. No, I didn't know that. Interesting! Do you sometimes have this feeling that some parts of your world just suddenly fit together? Even if it's just at the very rims?

Anyhow. Oliver, I do and will not accept general criticism of US troops. Most of the enlisted and most of the officers are decent people trying to do their job. Every army has its share of black sheep and every army has the potential to go very, very wrong. It's the job of the administration and of the leaders to steer into the right direction and prevent horrible things from happening -- or to take the right measures when they happened.

Carlos - so it didn't make a blip in the US media, eh? I didn't expect it would. But think about it: an entire country feels insulted and slapped around, yet the nation causing this doesn't even know? That's sad, so sad.

Noel Maurer

Claudia: nothing at all about this. Nada.

Oliver: Carlos and I know in common a twenty-something O-1 (Army), two thirty-something former enlisted men (E-4 and E-5 respectively, also Army), and another thirty-something O-2 (Navy). There are probably others, of course.

Carlos

Jeez, Oliver. I've known people in the military all my life, starting with my great-grandfather, the World War One vet. My cousin Jeff was born in Germany, because my uncle was stationed there. My best friend in second grade went to the Air Force Academy. Half my dad's colleagues were reservists. In college, most of my non-field, non-Onion friends were military or from military families. An exgf's father was a light colonel at Fort Bragg.

And now, to turn the tables! What military people do you know, Oliver?

Oliver

I don't critize the US military in general. Most of its members are decent. But an army made up of only decent men will not work under war conditions. It needs some pragmatic and ruthless (not amoral) officers and some enlisted men who like mayhem. These men must be made accomodations for. In my personal oppinion the US military is lacking in the ruthlessness field rather than an indecent organization.
Were the military men you know ever in the field under war conditions?
That doesn't mean that this ruling necessarily was the best that could be made. It could be seen as bad for discipline. But generally the values of an organization devoted to killing must be different from other organizations.

Oliver

Practically all male family members until 1945.

Carlos

Oliver -- and I am near the point wondering if it's worthwhile to continue talking to you about this subject -- yes.

Again, I must ask: what military people have you known? Have you ever served in the military? How did you form your ideas of how a modern military should operate?

Carlos

Um. Crossed messages. Oliver, don't take this the wrong way, but I myself would not use the German army before 1945 as a role model for _anything_. Ever.

Oliver

Entirely understandable. However, the moral judgement must come after evaluation of efficiency, or the result will be incorrect.

The problem is, where else will you find experience in occupying large hostile territories? The other example I could come up with is the Boer War (maybe the late stage of the American Civil War). I don't like the conclusion, but I am not willing to ignore it for moral reasons. Rejecting it is another matter, but ignoring it is whishful thinking. The other option is to refrain from such occupations, but the US has decided otherwise.

Jussi Jalonen

We-ell, Oliver, I don't quite think that in this particular issue - i.e. peacetime stationing of American military forces in countries allied with the United States - it's particularly accurate to draw comparisons with "occupying large hostile territories". Perhaps I misread your statement.

Carlos, the pre-1945 Wehrmacht makes a decent model, provided that one focuses on the right comparisons. The behaviour of the German and Austrian troops that served in Finland during the Second World War was impeccable, always taking the wishes of the government and the population of this allied state very much in account. As the most famous example, the resident German military men never forgot to salute the superior Jewish officers of the Finnish army.

(When the Third Reich scores higher than the United States in the treatment of its allies, it's sort of telling. But this is probably getting too close to the Lex Godwinicus.)

Getting back to this particular case, it's certainly obvious that the rap goes to the American military hierarchy. Still, being the cynic that I am, I have to sort of agree with what Oliver said upthread. Why sign these sorts of treaties allowing the military forces of one great power a special extraterritorial status in the first place? Why this voluntary submission to potentially unfair treatment? Once again, I'm reminded of Augustin Ehrensvrd's testament.

As for my own military experience and connections with the armed forces, I'll leave those unmentioned, if you don't mind. I've never seen the point in flashing them around.


Cheers,
Jalonen

Bojan

"Why this voluntary submission to potentially unfair treatment?"

Economic reasons mostly, I think. Romania, like all eastern European countries, is in dire need of foreign investments. And foreign investors like it when their money is protected by NATO.

Carlos

Oliver, setting aside the deep philosophical divide -- in that the American military is explicitly under civilian control, and implicitly is to be under moral control -- I will note that the German armed forces *lost*, in possibly the most thorough-going defeat of a major power in the twentieth century.

If efficiency is truly your concern, perhaps it's not wise to emulate the biggest losers of the past century?

Oliver

Fistly, I don't want to imply that the US intends to occupy Romania.

Rather, occupation of large, hostile territories is the most likely new mission of the US military. It currently is and Iraq is probably not the last invasion.
The German defeat was against other armies in the field and in production of war materiel. This is not a real problem to the US military. But what after victory in the field? There's the deficiency.
If you want to look at the only clear cut modern victory against a guerilla, then you arrive at the Boer War. The conclusions are very similar.

claudia

Hm, I don't want to be a party pooper...

What?

Oh, all right, so I AM a party pooper.

Guys, I took great care with this post on the trial. And you take it and run away with it! Come back to me! Let's talk about the trial. Or something. Just NOT modern warfare, if you please. HdtD is not the right forum for this, OK?

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