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"What It Is Like to Go to War", by Karl Marlantes--My Response

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Jerry Lobdill     Permalink
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I am not on board with some of the other things you have stated earlier in the book either, and this makes my discomfort more intense as I read this part of the book.


If it is true, as you claim, that humans have an innate savage nature that comes out when violence is demanded by leaders of nations, and that in truth all humans are endowed with the inner savage and get pleasure out of extreme violence that wreaks havoc and chaos and kills wantonly, and later, after returning to normal society, they say in reflection, "I loved it" and "I wish I could be there" when a new war is started",   then is it not likely that those who elect to make a career out of the military do it in hopes of more such opportunities? This is a frightening thought.


My experience suggests that you are wrong about this savage personality lurking inside of all human beings.   I think that military training is intended to short circuit the normal superego's messages and produce a wanton thrill killer mentality because that is the most expedient way to "git "er'done".   And to hell with the rampant PTSD that ensues when the warrior goes home.


Your thesis focuses on trying to eliminate the PTSD without addressing the criminality of elected leaders who have no moral scruples and are permitted to commit us to endless wars of no moral purpose.


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I think that you are right about what happens to contract warriors when the contract has been fulfilled and they return to civilian society. Many, maybe most, do return with PTSD. And when the war is perceived by society as an unjust war the returning warrior does not encounter a grateful nation.   Under the assumption that the President, an elected official, by definition can do no wrong it would be right to expect the nation always to be grateful to returning warriors.   But this assumption is wrong as history has proven.


It would be unfair to condemn the returning warriors for the atrocities they committed in the war, because they believed the cleverly concealed fact that the President may be wrong when they signed their military enlistment contract.   They were naïve and perceived their enlistment to be a noble sacrifice that, although it might get them killed, was proof of their patriotism.   That was the result of a wrong and cruelly fraudulent public policy based on "Father knows best."


This flaw in the design of our constitution needs to be corrected. The only justification for war is an obvious threat to our families, homes, and our sovereignty.   The present system does not prevent war for other reasons that usually are the result of sociopathic motives on the part of decision makers.

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While I don't disagree that your proposed program would assist returning warriors with their otherwise intractable cognitive dissonance, it preserves the systemic flaw that caused this trauma.


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I am a retired physicist and hold a B.S. in Ch. E. as well. I have been an environmental activist since the early 1970s. I have been a writer of opinion pieces and other essays since about 1995 and am a published author of history. I have (more...)

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