Monday, November 16, 2015

Peacetime or Wartime?

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Percy Fitzwallace (John Amos): "I don't know who the world's leading expert on warfare is but any list of the top has got to include me and I can't tell when it's peacetime and wartime anymore."
Chief of Staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer): "Look, international law has always recognized certain protected persons who you couldn't attack. It's been this way since the Romans."
Fitz: "In peacetime. . . ."
McGarry: "I don't like where this conversation's going. . . ."
Fitz: "We killed Yamamoto. We shot down his plane."
McGarry: "We declared war. . . . I'm going to get back to the office."
Fitz: "We measure the success of a mission by two things: was it successful and how few civilians did we hurt. They measure success by how many. . . . You're talking to me about international laws. The laws of nature don't even apply here! I've been a soldier for 38 years and I've found an enemy I can kill."

"We Killed Yamamoto," The West Wing, (2002).

The cruise transfer bus dropped us off at Miami International Airport, where we would catch our flight home. We had returned to "The Grid" the day before, to check in with United Airlines. Shortly thereafter we discovered news reports about the carnage in Paris.

We strolled past the International concourses, on our way to board our flight. Two teams of uniformed ICE agents walked among the travelers, M-16s slung, plate carriers in place, black BDUs looking ominous. I felt better...and see them, here. It reminded me that the men and women with whom I serve represent the last line of defense, and the first to respond, when terror reaches our shores.

I feel anger every time I read an account of what happened. There is a sort of remorseless bitterness brewing just under the surface when I read accounts of young college students sitting with friends, sharing a meal, gunned down for no other reason than they represented a pointless statement made by men with hatred in their hearts for western values. I know that the perpetrators are cowards, and that they were killed in the gun battle.

Moments of silence have their places, and we should observe them solemnly. Solidarity symbols abound. They help us provide support, and join the millions of others in expressions of compassion for the victims, their friends and families. It is impressive how many people stand up when tragedy strikes.

I remember this feeling from 9/11. It is cold and calculating. We have weapons. The assholes who did this have self-identified in their announcement of responsibility. They have built an infrastructure in furtherance of their goals. The American military is the best in the world at breaking things and killing soldiers belonging to our enemies. We should let them.

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