Monday, 22 September 2008

Napalm sticks to kids

There has been a fascinating and lengthy brawl going on over in Blairdom today. I have not seen that many posts since Tim moved to the dark side.

I would like to toss in my two cents worth over there, but it appears there are two Vietnam Vets going at it hammer and tongs, and I don't want to get caught in the crossfire.

I burst out laughing when I read this comment from Richard Sharpe:

I spent the early years of my career re-fighting the war in Vietnam, albeit in places like Shoalwater Bay, Canungra and High Range. This is a new war. Whilst we are very proud of the achievements of the ATF in Phuoc Tuy, don’t make the mistake of re-fighting Vietnam in the 21st Century.

Yep, did that too, except I was doing it at Northam, Bindoon and Nannup. Funny how the Vietnam War was over in 1975, and I was still re-fighting it in 1985. We even had an enemy dressed in black pyjamas and wearing conical hats, running around yelling things like "Di-di mow" and "chicken chow-mein" as they shot at us at oh-dark-hundred.

I think I can understand why Burke has been brought in by the DS (Directing Staff). He'd give a talk, then one of the DS would march in and yell something like this at the cadets:

"Right you lot, that's enough listening to yellow pooftas for one day. Bayonet practice starts in 5 minutes. The last one of you to have their sorry carcass on the parade ground will be the target. I'm sure most of you will feel like killing something after listening to that idiot crap on for an hour."

When I signed up, I told the recruiter all sorts of rubbish about why I wanted to join. Being patriotic and wanting to do your duty was not the done thing to say, so I waffled some dribble about why I was joining.... but the fact was, I knew what it was all about and why I wanted to do it. I like our country. No, fuck it - I love it. And I was happy to kill any bastard that wanted to mess with us.

As for understanding the enemy, and why they fought, I was all for that too. If it helped me blat them in a more efficient manner, then I wanted to know. You could put 10 Harvard professors in a room and have them lecture me all day on why they think it's evil for us to kill our enemies, but at the end of such a session, I'd still walk outside and happily pick up that big lump of machine gun and march to the sound of the guns. That's because when I joined, I'd been indoctrinated by 16 years of the modern equivalent of God, King and Country. A few hours of lectures by some twat with a bent for post-modernism and stalinist deconstruction would be unlikely to undermine such firm foundations.

As for the question of whether it is a good thing or not for ADFA cadets to be lectured to by this guy, I suspect that their only concern (like all students) would be whether they would be tested on it or not. I had to put up with an enormous amount of lefty shit from lecturers when I was at uni. I wrote papers that made them happy, but I didn't believe a word of it. If they were happy, I got a good mark, and I didn't give a shit about what they were teaching - in the end, it would give me a degree that would start me on a good career path. I just kept my head down and regurgitated their crap.

You may think that's a terrible attitude to take, but I look at it this way. During my infantry training, I had to crawl through a fair bit of mud. But at the end of the training, I went home, washed it off, had a beer and fell asleep in my armchair; happy, clean and content. Some of the units that I studied were like that - I crawled through crap, but at the end of the semester, I washed it out of mind and stepped back onto the path I was travelling along. Crawling through intellectual crap should bother a soldier less than crawling through a spot of mud. If you are confident in your moral positions, it washes off more easily than mud.

Anyway, as I said, I had to put up with some loonie-lefty lecturers from time to time. I occasionally had to tell them that I would be away for two weeks due to an exercise, and that was enough to utterly horrify them. When they suddenly understood that the bloke they had been tutoring for some months was in fact a closet baby killer, some became a little unhinged. Have you ever seen someone back away, their arms flailing, like they've just opened a envelope full of anthrax? I saw that, and whilst I was a bit taken aback at the time and didn't know how to react, it makes me grin today to think that a few simple words could have such a tremendous impact. I even had one bloke (shorts, sandals, long socks, beard) try and talk me into resigning from the Reserves. Fat chance of that working. He spent the rest of the year either scowling at me or ignoring me.

And let me just dispense with this notion that the Army turns soft, innocent recruits into killers. The Army simply helps the process along. I reckon that inside most modern men, there is a Spartan waiting to leap out and poke some bastard in the guts with a pointy stick. People of a certain age may remember the film that made Richard Gere's career - An Officer and a Gentleman. Some may even recall some of the cadences that the cadets chanted as they ran:

Eighteen kids in a No Fire Zone,
Rooks under arms and going home,
Last in line goes home alone,
Napalm sticks to kids.
My platoon actually got in trouble for singing stuff like this - but only because the Major who heard us thought we were becoming "too American". The killing and the maiming and the burning was fine by him, but copying the Yanks was not. I can understand that - I joined the Australian Army, not the Marines. But no one was teaching us cool Australian marching songs, so we copied the only ones we had. Yes, I actually knew the words to that song by heart once. We knew that if had to go to war, we had to be the meanest, nastiest, most killing-est bunch of bastards on the battlefield, and we did what we had to do to mentally and physically prepare ourselves for that time. If we thought our instructors were being a bit soft in that area, we picked up anything that would help to develop that mental shield.

I wish Burke could go back in time to visit our Regiment around 1988. He could have given his talk, and then we'd retire to the boozer and entertain him by singing songs like the above.

As for this dribble:

"students should try to understand terrorists rather than fight them"

Let me just say this about the fellows that I served with. I can't speak for the Army of today, but the Army that I served in was not full of pseudo-intellectuals pondering the next wankfest where they might score a speaking engagement (and I served in a University Regiment which was about 80% Arts students). We were a very well educated set of grunts, but we didn't philosophise much about why we were there or what we were doing.

We didn't need some moral imperative to fight - if the government told us to go do something, we would have done it - no questions asked (except maybe some queries about allowances and tax free status). The only term that I can think of to describe those guys is that you would not insert them into a battlefield, you would unleash them. Think about the battle scene in Braveheart, then put those Scotsmen in DPCU's and add modern firearms (and yes, we were fond of chucking brown-eyes as well). Unleashed is probably putting it a bit mildly. Those that volunteer to serve are self-selected from what I would term the rugby end of the masculinity spectrum, rather than the Burke-badminton end.

As a closer, this bloke is spot on.

PS - I have figured out why Burke is there. It's to uncover the softcocks. If any meat head gets taken in by his views, they get ejected faster than a streaker at the cricket.


bruce said...

Yeah BB, but what about higher-ups? (Excuse my ignorance of exact protocol).

I'm gonna name names, 2 very different cases: D'Hage was, what, in charge of the lot? Turns out he was an early 'troofer'.

And, whatsisname, Tindale. Recent commander turned against our govt while men still in action - sounded treasonous to me.

It's poison, and people like Burke are spreading it.

Boy on a bike said...

Funnily enough, a few of my mates became officers, and I have met quite a few other officers through them.

They all came issued with a bog standard, well screwed on head. Stuff like this would run off them like water off a duck's back.

I guess D'Hage ended up being posted to the media section for a good reason - he was probably bloody useless up at the pointy end.

The odd idiot always gets through. Maybe they are using Burke to screen out all the future idiots like Tindale?

Pedro the Ignorant said...

Adrian D'Hage was awarded an MC in Vietnam, for which I have the greatest respect.
He has, however, gone completely batshit crazy in his senior years.

bruce said...

It's reassuring to hear this from insiders, we Joe Publics get distorted impressions that things may be going to pieces.

I just read Burk's resume, I was on academic path like him but left it because of memory probs. I take it back, he's no threat.

The guys a screamer, no solid young recruit would take his stuff seriously. Unlike real serious fact-based analysis, his class would be easy because you just make half of it up. And it has perhaps an added unintended use of being psy-ops preparation, since Burk's views consist of the type of propaganda that, say Sen McCain was exposed to in Hanoi. So yeah, let the kids learn to argue their way through this BS. They will indeed get to know enemy's way of persuasion.

Only thing gets me is that taxpayers are funding Burke. You know 30-40 years ago Australia had real scholars, whose every sentence was like a brick in a wall of a solid argument based on facts. Now it's all 'panic' and 'anxiety' and empty rhetoric. I actually like the old Marxists, their books were well written and rewarding even if you disagree with them. These new 'scholars' are just performance artistes, churning out vacuous babble like howler monkeys.

Boy on a bike said...

Oops, didn't do me research on D'hage. Didn't know he had an MC. I unreservedly withdraw all comments about him being unsuited to the pointy end.

Richard Sharpe said...

It was the early 90s and we were still getting probed (I use that term advisedly, I don't want to give the impression there were aliens involved) at night by blokes yelling all the cliche VC war chants. Even after NVG became standard, some dinosaurs still couldn't get it out of their heads. If some clown wants to approach my position, fire off a few shots in the hope of locating my guns, he's more than welcome. He won't see the little green dot on his forehead. He also won't find the guns.

I had the same dramas at uni. I once had a stand up screaming match with a tutor who ended up just panting and pointing, saying "You're one of them!".

I have a post about Burke at Sharpe's Sortie, have a look.

bruce said...

When Tony Abbott was at Sydney Uni, his teachers used to call him, 'the Fascist'.

Boy on a bike said...

Or "the mad monk".