Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 1 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend (1 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   4 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

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

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 6 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 2  
View Ratings | Rate It

Become a Fan
  (2 fans)
- Advertisement -

Quoting from "What It Is Like to Go To War", by Karl Marlantes, Kindle version:

(I set off quotations from the book using ~~~~ here due to formatting problems. Quotations are in plain text; my responses are in bold italic.)

~~~~ he removed his blindfold, and there, left accidentally on top of the toilet, was a fully loaded automatic rifle. His guard was the only guard around, just outside the door, unsuspecting. Waite walked out of the room and handed the rifle to the guard. In an interview after his release Waite said he had no doubt that he could have killed the guard and escaped. He handed the rifle to the guard because for years he had been telling his captors and other terrorists that violence was not the way to settle disputes, and that he wasn't on one side or the other of this particular dispute. If he killed this man to escape, he felt it would have devalued everything he stood for. He said, "Other than to protect someone, I could not use that weapon."

Is Terry Waite the warrior of the future or just crazy?

He is neither. He is a brave man. Not all brave people are warriors. But in that interview Waite helped define what a warrior is when he said he would not choose sides and would not use a weapon, i.e., violence, other than to protect someone.   In contrast to Waite, a warrior does choose sides. Choosing sides is the fundamental first choice that a warrior must make.[Emphasis added] Like Waite, a warrior is also willing to protect someone against violence, but Waite was talking about violence that is immediately being applied. The second fundamental choice of the warrior is to be willing to use violence to protect someone against even intended or implied violence. [Emphasis added] This second fundamental choice engenders an additional choice, which is accepting the risk of death and maiming that usually results from the decision to use violence against violence.   To become a warrior requires making these two fundamental choices and accepting the risks entailed.   Doing the above eliminates any need to use the adjective "ethical" in front of the noun "warrior." A warrior, by my definition, acts ethically. [Emphasis added]   Using violence other than to protect makes a person a bully or a murderer.


This is where you lose me, Karl.   It seems to me that when a man chooses to be a warrior he makes the choice when he enlists, and he forfeits the right to decide whether or not to participate in any future conflict.   This choice is the same choice a professional hit man makes as a made member of the Mafia.   The enlistee signs a contract to kill or be killed at the beck and call of the President of the US with no questions asked.   How is this ethical or moral?


- Advertisement -

The first decision, choosing sides, means taking on the warrior spirit. People who take on the warrior spirit become metaphorical warriors. They are like warriors in certain aspects, but they are not warriors. This choice is serious enough, often entailing commitments of great personal sacrifice. A prime example is a government or corporate whistle- blower. The second decision, however, choosing to use violence to protect someone else against actual and intended violence, a choice that usually also entails danger to the lives and psyches of the people who choose the violent path, moves one from being a metaphorical warrior to being a warrior in deed. Warriors are prepared to kill people.


Who decides that the killing is necessary "to protect someone else against actual and intended violence"?   Certainly the soldier does not make that decision. In our system it's not his job to decide. It's only his job to kill while risking being killed.   So is it moral to sign up for this? I don't see it.


We have seen deliberate lying to Americans by the President to justify and start a war.   The Iraq wars were about profit for the oil industry.   Saddam had nothing to do with 9-11.   We killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in that war and thousands of our warriors died.   The warriors never gave the morality issue a thought.   They went right to work without critical thought.   I see nothing moral about that.  

- Advertisement -


Because warriors make these two fundamental choices that Waite does not, warriors operate under a moral code that is grounded on different principles from Waite's. At the base of Terry Waite's moral philosophy is what I call Waite's dictum: "Violence is not the way to solve problems." But Waite himself said in the same interview that he would have used a weapon to protect someone. This is the warrior's dictum: "No violence except to protect someone from violence."


No. The dictum of the warrior is "Violence whenever and wherever the commander in chief demands it--without question."   There is nothing moral about that dictum.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6

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...)

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

"Small is Beautiful-Economics as if People Mattered"

Currency in Fiat Monetary Systems in General and the US Federal Reserve System in Particular

The looming crisis of the death of Windows XP

The Trouble With Cash--a World Awash in $100 Federal Reserve Notes

We have been transformed into a pathocracy--Political Ponerology, a must read

Dear PayPal


The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
3 people are discussing this page, with 4 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)
...Go to War (Subject line not long enough)I wante... by Jerry Lobdill on Sunday, Dec 25, 2011 at 11:07:59 AM
Obviously, Lobdill has seemingly never been in uni... by Michael Kavanaugh on Monday, Dec 26, 2011 at 1:41:47 AM
Are you the Michael Kavanaugh I found online who w... by Stuart Steinberg on Monday, Dec 26, 2011 at 9:08:31 PM
Dear Mr. Steinberg,I resent your arrogant comment.... by Jerry Lobdill on Tuesday, Dec 27, 2011 at 6:54:38 AM