Over There

Going to war with the Yanks

A Canadian soldier:

On my second tour in Afghanistan in 2005, I didn’t work with U.S. forces as much as I did other NATO troops and I quickly realized that I missed the professionalism that the Americans bring to the table.

I always get the feeling that the demographic with the largest percentage of disrespect for US military personnel are US civilians. Non-US civilians probably have a better view of our troops, for the most part. Non-US military personnel (such as this Canadian) probably even more so.

As for the enemy we’re fighting these days, my guess is that the survivors have nothing but the utmost consideration for (and fear of) our fighting men and women. Why do so many Americans have such a low opinion of our uniformed personnel? (At least so many of the most vocal ones?)

Via Instapundit.


  1. Most Americans’ perspective on the military comes from popular culture, movies, TV, and the like. And ever since Vietnam, about the only two proper ways to portray the military are as 1) bloodthirsty and/or ignorant and uneducated war mongers, or 2) Victims and pawns of the greater Evil hands in the Generalship or back in Washington. Sometimes a combination of both. At least that has always been my impression. Combine that predisposition away from the military life with the indoctrination against American foreign policy aims that most kids will get in centers of higher learning and from many media megaphones, and people are just innately suspicious.

    Ever since Vietnam, the military has been on the PR defensive too, wary to open up to a film maker or documentarian lest the end product turn out to paint them in a negative light. I think partly because of this, the view from the armed forces isn’t reliably shown to the general public. And any time they do cooperate in a project, the charge of military propaganda will be throw around, so they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

    Media frenzies over the Abu Ghraibs and “Koran flushings” of the world, which never get corrected with the same volume and ferocity as the original charges, don’t help matters either.

    How will the next generation of film makers explain how the vicious/victim military of their visions turned Iraq around to become a relatively stable and prosperous place? How the U.S. military actually became a trusted and honest broker of power and peace in a country where no one trusted anyone. Will the story ever be told, or will they just leave it out of their narrative since it is inconvenient?

    Sorry for the long winded post, but your musings hit on something that has been bothering me for a long time. For every Michael Yon there seems to be ten Michael Moores, and the sacrifice our guys and girls are making just doesn’t seem to be appreciated. And that’s a damed national shame.

  2. “How will the next generation of film makers explain how the vicious/victim military of their visions turned Iraq around to become a relatively stable and prosperous place?”

    Unfortunately Nanderbus, if the next generation of film makers follow in the clueless, liberal ideology of their forefathers the Iraq/Afghanistan wars will not be remakes of Guadalcanal Diary or the Sands of Iwo Jima.

    Hollywood is only commited to what I call “The Sean Penn I’m gonna save the world from American Capitalist/Imperialist war mongers philosophy”.

    Funny, the scumbag has made millions of American dollars while slapping decent Americans faces.

    Go Figure.

  3. I just don’t meet that many people who openly disrespect our military. Work, church, and the gun club all have lots of Vets. I stopped watching MSM news years ago so I’m not sure how they report it.

  4. To be clear, I’m not saying that a majority of Americans openly disrespect our military. I don’t think that’s the case. But my impression is that x% of Americans DO, and that % is probably greater than the % of folks in other countries.

    I DO personally know a number of “soldiers are all stupid/jobless/brainwashed/slaves/pawns/babykillers” types. They make me sick. Sick enough to keep my distance lest the side effects of the illness strike me.

    I suspect that one side effect of that sickness is “punching people in their fucking faces”…

  5. I think the portrayal of US soldiers is better then it used to be. For example, the recent Transformers movie showed US soldiers as being extra-ordinarily courageous, resourceful, capable as well as getting along well with the locals in (Dubai?), and being good guys with loving families back home.

    Of course there’s still plenty of crap out there like the new doctor on greys anatomy who went off to Iraq and came back so changed that he’s afraid to see his family because he’s not the same man. But I do think we’re seeing more and better positive portrayals of US soldiers then we did 20 years ago. I am hopeful that this trend will continue.

  6. I don’t know — the Canadian civilians I know and have met (outside of the spouses of Canadian military, that is) have generally been even more clueless about their involvement in Afghanistan than the average American civilian I’ve met. It’s hardly a statistically valid sample, of course. One individual, who at least knew Canadians were fighting in Afghanistan, complained bitterly about how Canadians were doing all the heavy lifting there — until I pointed out that the US had deployed 20 times the troops and had taken significantly more casualties.

    The media’s perception of the military by and large isn’t even the average American’s perception — the media pays attention only to itself and perpetuates its own stereotypes.

    I’ve had far too much exposure to the average American, though. I was in recruiting prior to 9/11, where the average response to a person in uniform was indifference and about 25% were hostile — mostly in a passive-aggressive way though I was called “baby killer” once. I was certainly never thanked for my service, though I have been many times since 9/11.

    On the one hand, it’s nice to have some appreciation. On the other, it’s a shame that it took thousands of civilian lives to get people to wake up — and if I could regain those lives in trade for a return to a nation of ignorance I would. Better, almost, to be spat upon in a nation that is free to do the spitting, than to be respected in a nation that has had to learn that respect through fear and death.

  7. Nadnerbus, you are rather begging the question there, about what the US military can or will do along those lines. But I am afraid I will always compare the result with what Iraq was when I was a child there in the ’50s, the result of previous British efforts (I looked a lot of the details up later out of personal interest, including getting feedback from my late father and mother). The thing is, the low point that followed was itself the result of US policies deliberately or inadvertently undercutting British hegemony in the region, from Suez onwards, so even if everything turns out that way I wouldn’t count it as a plus for the USA because it would only be repairing what was damaged over all the previous decades. It might count as a plus for the military undoing the other parts of the US efforts, but that is no cause for celebration.

  8. My comments were only meant to focus on the military as an institution that serves the public, not necessarily the governments that have directed it. I make no defense of previous foreign policy decisions by past administrations. No argument that much of the world’s present shape bears the scars of previous U.S. ineptitude or worse, selfish manipulation. Nor do I think that present Iraq conflict is some sort of altruistic action from start to finish. But the military has on the whole acquitted itself well, even if it had forgot how to fight an insurgency despite a ten year one in Vietnam.

    Ask the average person on the street today what Iraq is like, and they will, I believe, still tell you about rampant car bombings, sectarian genocide, and Haditha/Abu Ghraib style military malfeasance. And much of Hollywood has spent a lot of time and money to make that the dominant narrative. And it still pisses me off.

    Speaking of โ€œThe Sean Penn Iโ€™m gonna save the world from American Capitalist/Imperialist war mongers philosophy,โ€ anyone remember Casualties of War, with him and Michael J Fox? Case in point of what I am talking about. Deranged sicko, or naive victim.

  9. As an anectodote for all you Sean Penn fans in the audience:

    I have a copy of an article from (some normally lame publication like Vanity Fair or GQ or something……I forget right now) that was written by one of their correspondents who was embedded with one of the first DynCorp/Kelly McCann subcontracted PSD teams to be assigned to Iraq during the initial “post combat ops” phase in ’04-’05. Pretty good story on how this correspondent’s eyes were opened on some of his assumptions about “contracting” and serious types of work where maiming or death are the likely result of OJT mistakes.

    More relevant to Penn fans…………was the portion of the article about how most contractor ops were totally free form (no rules) at the time. Senn Penn shows up in Baghdad for some liberal socialist purpose, at odds with what the military and supporting organizations were trying to achieve. Sean was greeted by a group of security contractor admirers (no military about right then) who freely expressed their regard for Mr. Penn and his entourage, his record of support for the US/military, and his presence in Baghdad! Too bleepin’ humorous! ๐Ÿ™‚

    As to the article/comments this thread is based on: I’ve said here before, and I’ll reaffirm it now. I worked out of Kandahar from Aug ’06 to May ’07 as PSD on two different programs. We interfaced heavily with local Canadian military forces in several different locations for different reasons. Without exception……….all of my experiences with them were productive, professional, and pleasant. Hat’s off to them, the Brits, Romanians, Aussies, and Dutch………….all of whom pulled more than their share while I was there. Good allies and friends!

  10. It’s unlikely that anyone will “learn” from that, in a corporate memory sense, because Eden came right out and told Eisenhower the likely consequences of undercutting the Anglo-French effort at Suez, and lo, so it came to pass (though not all at once). The thing is, Eisenhower fully understood and did it anyway for other reasons, and none of that understanding was handed down and acted upon (e.g., the Persian Gulf proper got out of hand when Carter crowded out the remaining British role there in the ’70s; all that is left is the residual in Oman, and that’s going now too).

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