At first I couldn’t believe what I was reading. So I read it through one more time, just to make sure I wasn’t missing something. But I hadn’t missed anything. The article really was saying what I had thought. What am I talking about? I’m talking about this article which appeared in Canada’s National Post.
Canada is actually planning to court-martial its special forces commander in Iraq for an accident he had with his rifle. And what was the accident? The accidental discharge of one round from his rifle into a safe area. Unbelievable. Here is how he explains it:
While preparing to go to a forward trench position as I was arranging my equipment, I negligently discharged one bullet into a safe area while loading my assault rifle…As a soldier and as a special operations officer, the only acceptable standard of care with a weapon is error-free.
That’s it. That’s all that happened. No one was injured. No one was killed. He just accidentally discharged one round from his loaded rifle into a safe area. And because of this, he will now lose his career and most likely be drummed out of the services. It’s just incredible. What is even more incredible is the last sentence of his quote above: “the only acceptable standard of care with a weapon is error-free.”
Wrong. Your bloody job is not to be mistake-free. When any machinery or weapons are being handled, especially in a hostile-fire zone, mistakes are inevitable. They are going to happen. Am I saying that nothing at all should happen? No. But for something like this, the worst punishment the guy should receive should be a stern lecture from his CO to get his shit wired tight and un-fuck himself. Maybe even an adverse fitness report. But a court-martial? Are you kidding?
Do the Canadian authorities have any idea what they are doing to the morale and fighting spirit of their men with these kinds of prosecutions? Do they realize what the effect of all this will be? Or do they even care? Following on the heels of this pathetic story was another article that I couldn’t believe made it to print: “Does Every US Soldier Really Need To Know How To Fight?” How foolish of me to hold the antiquated notion that the purpose of an army is to fight. How outdated I am!
Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe this is a serious breach of good order and discipline. But I don’t think so. If we want to have militaries that can actually fight wars, we have to cultivate a spirit of masculinity and aggressiveness. We can’t so terrify our men that they are unwilling to take any risk for fear they will be punished. All that’s going to do is result in an Army or Marine Corps full of aseptic wimps and whiners. We used to call this the “zero-defect” mentality. This is the thinking that says: “Never take risks. Play it safe. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t make anyone look bad.”
And this mentality has permeated all tiers of our society. I see it everywhere. We’ve turned into a culture of chickenshits, of people afraid to do anything, a culture in which the highest ethic is to cover your own ass and mumble the party-line. And this culture is what’s going to get us defeated in the next major war. Because we will have spent so much time sanitizing our men that they won’t have the ability to defend themselves. This trend has been going on in the military for a long time, but in the past ten years or so it’s reached shocking levels. And no one wants to say anything. Because the generals and civilians at the top are too chickenshit to say anything.
Why should I risk my pension? Because it’s in your job description to have a set of balls, sir. You’re expected to stand up and fucking say something when you see things that are fucked up.
This weekend, I saw an interesting movie. It was called The Last Days (Los Ultimos Dias), a Spanish film from 2013. It was one of those apocalypse films. And the premise of this one was intriguing. The idea is that people around the world began to be afflicted with acute agoraphobia. That is, they were unable to leave their homes and go outside in the open air. If they did, they would suffer seizures and die. As a result, all modern society collapsed. The streets of Barcelona became totally deserted and overgrown with weeds. Complete and total collapse.
The movie doesn’t specifically give us the reasons for the outbreak of “The Panic” (as it was called). But they hint at the reason: the modern world had become too aseptic. Too clinical. Too filled with risk-averse people who were afraid to get their hands dirty. So people’s immunity systems began to collapse. People just began to feel overwhelmed with everything, and preferred to curl up into the fetal position and stay indoors.
It may sound farfetched. But sometimes science-fiction can tell us much about the mood of an era. Already, we read headlines about men in Japan and other countries who are literally afraid to leave their rooms. Afraid even to have sex with women. Afraid to engage with the world. Afraid to get in the arena and mix it up.
It’s clear that modern society (at least in the West) is determined to create a generation of neutered, aseptic chickenshits who are fearful of doing literally anything. And when this ethic takes hold, it will be our death-knell. Because you need to have people who are willing to put their asses on the line. And you need to reward those who take chances. Especially in war. Especially in conflict. Wars are not won by men who are afraid to touch their rifles for fear that they may accidentally discharge. It happens sometimes. And that’s just part of the game. Suck it up. And deal with it.
Meanwhile, in other part so the world outside the clinical, zero-defect, aseptic West, there are cultures with men who willingly take risks. Men who have nothing to lose and are not afraid to do whatever it takes. They laugh at your rules. They laugh at your weakness. And they are sharpening their knives.
All the technology and armaments in the world are of no use if the people controlling them are spineless, gutless chickenshits.