(To read the entire "War is War” series, please click here.)
Before we coined the term “war is war”-iors, we were writing about “war is war”-iors. In the second part of our “War is War is Film” post, we want to revisit the movie characters we’ve discussed before, looking at them as "war is war"-iors.
We’ve written about A Few Good Men before, because, like other great films, it asks tough questions, like the “The "Have You Been There" Argument” and whether, in real life, officers ever get charged with war crimes.
But Colonel Jessup is also a “war is war”-ior. He does what it takes to keep this country safe, and he doesn’t want politicians or non-warriors to question his methods. Famously, he monologues:
“Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg?...I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand to post.”
Aldo Raine, in an opening monologue and the trailer of Inglorious Basterds, (We’ve written about him before here and here.) explains exactly why he plans to commit war crimes and torture Germans:
“We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are. And they will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us. And the German won't not be able to help themselves but to imagine the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, and our boot heels, and the edge of our knives. And the German will be sickened by us, and the German will talk about us, and the German will fear us. And when the German closes their eyes at night and they're tortured by their subconscious for the evil they have done, it will be with thoughts of us they are tortured with.”
In the hypothetical book, War is War, Aldo Raine would write the introduction.
In one of our first On Violence posts, we wrote about Gabriel--the character from Swordfish, not the angel--who eloquently sums up a process for defeating terrorism:
“Someone must bring their war to them. They bomb a church, we bomb ten. They hijack a plane, we take out an airport. They execute American tourists, we tactically nuke an entire city. Our job is to make terrorism so horrific that it becomes unthinkable to attack Americans.”
Michael C wanted to chime in: “I would call Gabriel’s solution to the war on terror, ‘the Hatfield and McCoy logic of waging wars’. As we’ve written before, violence begets violence. Gabriel should, more accurately, say, “They bomb a church, we bomb ten, and they bomb a hundred in response. We bomb a thousand back. Someday, one side will run out of churches.”
I’m guessing we’d have to move on to schools after that.
Do whatever it takes to win in war, especially counter-insurgencies, sayeth the “war is war”-ior. This quote by Colonel Matthieu--from the often-cited-on-On-V-due-to-its-own-excellence The Battle for Algiers--explains:
“Our duty is to win. Therefore to be precise, it is my turn to ask a question. Should France stay in Algeria? If your answer is still yes, then you must accept all the consequences."
Those “consequences” include torture, indefinite detention and all the other things that cause a population to turn against you.
As I wrote earlier, when I started trying to think of “war is war”-iors, I mostly planned to write about action heroes like John Rambo. (We’ve written about First Blood series before.) Rambo blames politicians for losing Vietnam, “But somebody wouldn't let us win!”
“Somebody wouldn’t let us win” is code for massacring villages, not following ROE/loosening ROE, or bombing the hell out of North Vietnam. Basically, “war is war”.
Finally, we wrote about this before, but thought we’d include the link to our previous post, “War is War is Starship Troopers”, which now has the embedded video.