• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Ty Carter Awarded Medal of Honor

ty-carter-medal-of-honor-recipient

Army Staff Sergeant Ty Carter will be the fifth living recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Afghanistan-Iraq era.

Tacoma News Tribune (“White House Announces Medal Of Honor Recipient From JBLM“):

Staff Sgt. Ty  Michael Carter is about to become a household name. Because of his conspicuous gallantry on the battlefield in Afghanistan, he is one of the handful of living American soldiers to receive the nation’s highest military honor.

Now assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Carter insists the real honor belongs to the eight soldiers who did not make it home to see their families following the final attack on their position at Combat Outpost Keating on Oct. 3, 2009.

“I don’t think it’s for me,” he said in an exclusive interview with The News Tribune. “It’s for everybody in the unit who sacrificed and held their own, the soldiers that gave their lives for us to be here today. They and their families deserve it.”

The White House on Friday announced that Carter, 33, would become the fifth living military service member to receive a Medal of Honor from the Afghanistan-Iraq era. He’ll receive the medal at the White House on Aug. 26.

According to the Army narrative of the assault, Carter’s role stood among the many acts of heroism and sacrifice that day when he repeatedly exposed himself to intense enemy fire and pulled a badly wounded comrade to cover.

He will be he second soldier from the assault on Combat Outpost Keating to receive the medal. The first, former Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha, was awarded his at a White House ceremony in February.

I’m not sure it’s true that Carter will be a “household name,” at least not in the sense that Audie Murphy, Alvin York, and others from previous generations were. Still, the list of Medal of Honor recipients from the current era is short, indeed: Clinton Romesha, Dakota Meyer, Leroy Petry, Salvatore Giunta, Robert Miller, Jared Monti, Paul R. Smith, Michael Murphy, Jason Dunham, Ross McGinnis, Michael Monsoor, and now Carter.
medal-of-honor-recipients-iraq-afghanistan-wars
Interestingly, there’s only one commissioned officer on the list. More interestingly: only four recipients (Smith, Dunham, Moonsoor, and McGinnis) were recognized for heroism in Iraq and all of them received the award posthumously. Carter will be the eighth recipient from the much smaller Afghanistan war, the fifth to do so alive.  Seven of the thirteen, including all five of those who lived to receive the honor, have come since Barack Obama took office.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Jenos Idanian says:

    For a while, it seemed like the military had an unwritten policy that the MOH should not be awarded to a living recipient — especially in the Marine Corps. As you note, that has seemingly changed with the Obama administration. And I think it’s a good one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Greatest possible respect for this man.

    And I hope he does well transitioning back to peacetime. If not, if he should have difficulties dealing with what we have asked him to do, I’m sure he’ll be comforted by our traditional welcome home to heroes: a shopping cart in which to keep his belongings, a cardboard sign and a subway platform he can call home.

    I’m in Japan at the moment. There’s a lot to question or criticize about this country. But I can’t help but notice that they don’t warehouse their damaged people in alleyways. A significant proportion of the “crazy street people” you see in any metropolitan area are veterans. So while we are feeling a contact high from just knowing that such brave men exist, maybe take a minute to consider how we treat those who don’t manage to walk away unharmed after the trip to hell we booked them on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  3. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: I’m not even sure what to do about the problem but agree that it exists. The DoD and VA are doing much, much better at recognizing post-traumatic stress and providing services than was true even a decade ago. We’ve still got a long way to go, and it’s compounded by infrastructure problems in our delivery service.

    But the “crazy homeless” thing is mostly a separate issue. We decided as a society that we can’t force them into institutions unless they’re seriously a danger to themselves or others. But many of them are too messed up to actually take advantage of the programs that exist, which are themselves scattershot. There has to be some middle ground between rounding up vagrants and warehousing them at the Cuckoo’s Nest and having them out on the street hoping for the best.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. Rafer Janders says:

    But many of them are too messed up to actually take advantage of the programs that exist, which are themselves scattershot.

    Taking advantage of the scattershot programs that exist is extremely difficult for a sane, competent person with a home, a phone and an Internet connection. It’s damn near impossible if you’re actually in distress.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  5. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: Quite so. It’s a sticky problem and I don’t like any of the obvious solutions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. michael reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:

    I remember way back in what, the 70’s?, when this whole deinstitutionalization thing was all the rage thinking “This isn’t going to end well.” It’s a classic case of good intentions gone wrong.

    I keep the singles I get in the door storage of my car. It’s “hobo money” for when I drive through SF, get to a stop light and see some poor crazy dude (or meth addict) begging for cash. That’s just not the way for a superpower to be handling this. The fact that some of those men have gone where I didn’t, and done what I avoided, and suffered the consequences that I sidestepped. . . that’s hard to accept. War veterans should not be begging me for spare change. The world is fundamentally fwcked up when that happens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  7. PJ says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    And I think it’s a good one.

    Agree.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Woody says:

    Congratulations and thanks to Staff Sgt. Carter.

    As to our treatment of returning veterans, it’s always bothrered me that we can fund God-knows what so long as it’s produced by Northrup Grumman or General Dynamics, but we get downright picayune when it comes to pay and benefits for the enlisted men and women.

    I’m well aware of the political science behind why, but it chaps my hide when politicians publicly laud soldiers, but don’t back up their words with legislation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    @michael reynolds: I remember the late 60s and early 70,s when we decided to de-institutionalize the mentally ill. We lived on the edge of a huge urban wilderness park and it quickly filled up with camps of the people released. Many of them died – death during child birth was common. I was actually shot by one with a bow and arrow while jogging in the park. The city had to spend a lot of money to clean the park up and keep it clean. Good intentions gone awry indeed.
    The same applies to returning veterans. After WWII they were for the most part institutionalized – out of site and mind. A few took to the road on surplus military motorcycles – the origin of the Hell’s Angels, few realize this.
    I don’t have an answer to this problem but it is a problem indeed. Is it better to be homeless on the street than institutionalized? I for one don’t think so. It would cost the VA more but cost society less.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    When I first read of Staff Sergeant Carter’s award, I wasn’t going to comment lest I distract from his bravery. But, as you all seem to feel so free to unleash your progressive emotions, I will unleash a few of my obviously unprogressive ones.

    03 October 2009 being the operative date, it seems that it took all those well-educated and somewhat highly ranked brainiacs in the Pentagon more than three years to get this award figured out. Well, justice delayed is justice denied and no justice, no peace for the more equal.

    And I can’t help but wonder how many of those awardees’ names our Commander-in-Chief can remember and if he has noticed that they don’t much look like that son he doesn’t have.

    To use this man’s accomplishment as an opportunity to further undermine our now well-hollowed out military is something that is more than distasteful to me. And as my father was wont to say when one of my associates would disappoint him behaviorally, “Next time you see your parents, tell them I said they still have some work to do.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 10

  11. PJ says:

    @11B40:
    Go f*ck yourself.
    Atferwards, please jump of a bridge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  12. Doiubter4444 says:

    And I can’t help but wonder how many of those awardees’ names our Commander-in-Chief can remember and if he has noticed that they don’t much look like that son he doesn’t have.

    Are you actually implying that because there is no black MoH winner in the group… that what… blacks are cowards? or what? What do you even mean?

    And that it took 3 years for the Pentagon to get it out is somehow Obama’s fault? WTF?

    And in what way whay is he “furthering the hollowing out” of our military?

    Again what the F are you talking about?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  13. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @11B40: I’m going to take a slightly more civilized tack than the above.

    The Medal of Honor has — and should have — extremely high standards. And as such, it should be awarded only after the most careful consideration. If that means it takes time to award, then so be it. We should not cheapen it by handing it out casually.

    Further, it’s not like a promotion or a decision on medical treatment. The recipient is in no way diminished by the delay. And further, the fact that they are being considered for the award is hardly secret, and they get much of the respect they are due merely for being considered.

    So while I generally agree with your sentiment, your particular expression of it here and in this way is inappropriate.

    In brief, go F yourself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  14. 11B40 says:

    @Doiubter4444:

    Greetings, Doiubter4444:

    Accepting your gracious invitation, I will answer your first three paragraphs in your order.

    1) Actually, I was talking about the behavior of our President in an indirect, too subtle, almost Jesuitical way.

    2) I have a document in my possession, downloaded from Wikileakipoo, that authoritatively establishes that the aformentioned President, Barack Hussein Obama by name, is Commander-in-Chief of the US military which, I’m told includes a building aka the Pentagon.

    3) Now this one is even trickier than the previous two. Here I was referring to the commentators who felt it necessary to turn what might have been a celebratory occasion into a discussion of the pitfalls and downfalls of service in our near miraculous “all-volunteer” military. To twist the award of a medal of this caliber to a discussion of some of the difficulties some service members suffer as a result of or after their service seems to me to be a patent attempt to take some bloom of this all too important rose. Or, as I have heard said, “If you can’t say anything nice, perhaps it’s better to say nothing at all.”

    Oh, I almost forgot. As to your last paragraph, I promise to say nothing about it to your parents but only because you’re so much more inquisitive than your fellow traveller above, “PJ”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  15. 11B40 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Greetings, Jenos Idanian #13:

    In spite of your failure to extend an appropriately gracious invitation, I will respond.

    Your concern for the Medal of Honor is appropriate but shouldn’t extremely high standards require some level of administrative or investigatory alacrity or priority? I mean, it’s not like the Washington habituées have to catch a 30mph train to San Francisco, then swim the Pacific, cross the torturous jungles of Southeast Asia, and climb the Hindu Kush to get the interviews and answers they require. I’ve heard of all kinds of Jules Verne-esque telecommunications technologies whereby a sitting President, sitting in his cute little zip-up jacket, can watch military operations for which he is entitled to much credit by merely forgoing a round of golf or an evening’s basketball game. I realize that this is the age of Obama-Holder investigations wherein pipeline decisions take decades and the simplest ersatz civil rights investigation can take a handful of years, but, come on, why shouldn’t the military be called to explain their process now that the award has been made?

    As to your second paragraph argument, I don’t quite agree. Not too long ago, Senator Inouye of our President’s home state was awarded a MoH for actions during WW II. I’m not sure how much respect he received in the interim but the passing of all that time and his political career success made me wonder a bit about what was really going on with that award, if you get my drift. My intelligence tells me that not everyone who does something MoH-worthy even gets put in for it. That’s the way of the world. It’s a human system and that means it includes not only fallibility but manipulation. To declare the MoH process so sacrosanct as to be beyond question is more than a bit foolish, especially in this day and age. But, as a former altar boy, no matter how false the god, I appreciate a good genuflection.

    And on a personal note, I think it so nice that you and Doiubter4444 and PJ are all sharing the same dictionary.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  16. michael reynolds says:

    From Army Times:

    The number of homeless veterans in the U.S. has decreased by 17 percent since 2009 — but many of these men and women are put in apartments without furniture, paid utilities or even toilet paper, according to advocates.

    By law, the Veterans Affairs Department cannot provide furnishings, home goods or first and last month’s rent unless donated through an outside organization or nonprofit group. VA also is not allowed to solicit for money or accept donations.

    With the number of homeless veterans dropping from an estimated 300,000 in 2003 to about 62,000 in 2012, VA is heading in a positive direction, according to data from the Housing and Urban Development Department.

    But housing alone is not enough to get these veterans stabilized and permanently off the streets, said Lisa Pape, director of homeless programs at VA’s Veterans Health Administration.

    While the significant decline in homeless veterans is remarkable, Pape said, it’s marred by the inability to fill their rooms with necessities once they move in. Under the current restrictions, Pape said she can envision “this homeless veteran in his new apartment with a shopping cart in an empty room.”

    So James is right that things are improving, although 62,000 homeless vets – a small city’s worth of men and women – is still intolerable.

    As for 11B40, my strong impression is that most returning soldiers could do with less teary-eyed praise and more practical help. “Thank you for your service, here are your food stamps,” just cannot be the way we fulfill our end of the deal with returning vets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. sam says:

    @11B40

    I’m not sure how much respect he received in the interim but the passing of all that time and his political career success made me wonder a bit about what was really going on with that award, if you get my drift.

    I get your drift, and you should really research his record before you impugn the award. From the MOH citation:

    Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 21 April 1945, in the vicinity of San Terenzo, Italy. While attacking a defended ridge guarding an important road junction, Second Lieutenant Inouye skillfully directed his platoon through a hail of automatic weapon and small arms fire, in a swift enveloping movement that resulted in the capture of an artillery and mortar post and brought his men to within 40 yards of the hostile force. Emplaced in bunkers and rock formations, the enemy halted the advance with crossfire from three machine guns. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Second Lieutenant Inouye crawled up the treacherous slope to within five yards of the nearest machine gun and hurled two grenades, destroying the emplacement. Before the enemy could retaliate, he stood up and neutralized a second machine gun nest. Although wounded by a sniper’s bullet, he continued to engage other hostile positions at close range until an exploding grenade shattered his right arm. Despite the intense pain, he refused evacuation and continued to direct his platoon until enemy resistance was broken and his men were again deployed in defensive positions. In the attack, 25 enemy soldiers were killed and eight others captured. By his gallant, aggressive tactics and by his indomitable leadership, Second Lieutenant Inouye enabled his platoon to advance through formidable resistance, and was instrumental in the capture of the ridge. Second Lieutenant Inouye’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.[Source]

    You’re a disgusting little twerp of a man, if you are a man. BTW, exactly what branch did you serve in?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  18. 11B40 says:

    @sam:

    Greetings, sam:

    Actually, I think you got your drift, not mine.

    My original questioning had to do with the expedition with which MoH awards were being processed. I was using the Inouye example to bring to light what can happen when awards become untimely not the question of whether it was well earned. For an MoH award to pop up decades after the fact make me think about what brought it to the fore and are there similar cases out there which are not getting similar treatment.

    And, as you asked so politely, googling “11B40” will elucidate my own military service.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  19. Doiubter4444 says:

    Sorry for the massive typos – I hit post not preview – where oh where is the EDIT button?
    But Mr. 11B whatever, you get the point.
    And “piss off you pissant” was as much as my father ever swore, but I always liked the expression.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  20. michael reynolds says:

    From Wikipedia:

    Since 1979, 50 belated Medal of Honor decorations have been made to recognize actions from the Civil War to the Vietnam War.[136] The most recent of these occurred on April 11, 2013 when President Obama presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army chaplain Captain Emil Kapaun for his actions as a prisoner of war during the Korean war.[137] This follows other recent awardings to Army Sergeant Leslie H. Sabo, Jr. for conspicuous gallantry in action on May 10, 1970, near Se San, Cambodia, during the Vietnam War[138] and to Army Private First Class Henry Svehla and Army Private First Class Anthony T. Kahoʻohanohano for their heroic actions during the Korean War.[139]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. 11B40 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Greetings, michael reynolds;

    Thanks for the research. i would think that 50 belated awards in 30 some odd years might be a good enough reason for looking into what is going on with this process.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. sam says:

    @11B40:

    For an MoH award to pop up decades after the fact make me think about what brought it to the fore.

    Maybe we should instead think about why Inouye’s award may have been delayed/denied in the first place. Hmmm. Japanese-American, 1945. Get my drift?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. James Joyner says:

    @11B40: @michael reynolds: @sam:

    This isn’t actually that hard. In the early 1990s, we set up a commission to research African American soldiers who may have earned the Medal of Honor in our earlier wars but been denied it because of racism. This yielded several belated awards. Quickly, a follow-on commission was set up for Asians and Pacific Islanders. Inouye’s Distinguished Service Cross—already the second highest award the nation can bestow on a soldier—was upgraded as part of that process, along with several other of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team heroes.

    As an aside, I was offered a low level (GS-9) job to work on that project but turned it down because it involved paying to move myself across the country and automatically terminated upon completion of the project. It would have been an honor to serve but a hell of a professional and economic risk that I just wasn’t willing to take.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. 11B40 says:

    @James Joyner:

    Greetings, James Joyner:

    Thank you for that interesting bit of history.

    When I started down this long and winding road, my concern was the amount of time it took for Staff Sgt. Carter’s award to be investigated, 3 plus years by my calendar. That led my thought into how almost all human evaluative processes are vulnerable to fallibility or manipulation but that questioning seems to have rubbed too hard against what we have come to know as the “most open and transparent administration” in the history of history.

    Regrettably, I see the information as evidence of how the award system can be manipulated in the classical Orwellian “more equal” way. It would be acceptable to me to review World War ii or Korean War recommendations as an administrative process, but when, in this day and age, Joe GS-12 comes into a roomful of GS-9s and says “We going to review award recommendations for this or that protected sub-group because ‘RACISM’.” I think that a line has been improperly crossed. I can see, in my mind’s, a bright, young GS-9 thinking if that’s what Joe GS-12 wants well let me get to work. (And it’s hard for me not to foresee similar processes arriving in the future for our DADT and LBGT-XYZ victims.)

    So, I remain unswayed in spite of the extensive efforts of you and your commenters. There may well be a convincing explanation for why the subject process took so long. If so, it should be revealed in that “sunshine is the best disinfectant” kind of way. But our government is in the hands of an administration that is more than adept at manipulating those processes to its benefit and to hide its mal and non feasances. The amount of trust I have in it to handle a jewel like the MoH is quite minimal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  25. James Joyner says:

    @11B40: Two separate issues, really.

    First, the efforts to right wrongs and honor African American and Asian American heroes were both honorable and inherently political. I’ve got the same uneasiness about them that I do about going back and finding more Negro League players to put into the Baseball Hall of Fame. At some point, it’s apples and oranges and hard to make comparisons. In the specific case of Inouye, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross despite the anti-Japanese racism of the time, it doesn’t strike me as any stretch at all to think he was worthy of the Medal of Honor. But there’s a thumb on the scale in all these things.

    Second, in terms of modern awards, it’s actually the opposite problem at work. We’ve bureaucratized the hell out of the process to ensure that nobody who isn’t deserving “wins” the Medal of Honor. It’s become almost like sainthood. As a consequence, we’ve made it much harder for today’s heroes to be recognized than their WWII era forebears.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. 11B40 says:

    @James Joyner:

    Greetings, James Joyner:

    As to your “First”, thus my kind of “double blind” approach as opposed to the pre-designated group approach. If one is confident in one’s hypothesis, why not go more full tilt scientifically. Surely, somewhere out there, there a non “African American” non “Asian and Pacific Islander” someone whose award recommendation was mishandled, no?

    As to anti-Japanese and anti-Japanese American racisms, I understand that these and the A-bombings are the favored lessons of World War II’s Pacific Theater history though certainly not my own. My own non-Japanese-American father endured something akin to a four-year internment in camps on places like Saipan and Peleliu. As unpleasant as internment must have been (and I’m a “Room to Move” kind of guy) non-interment could also have had some unpleasant results as the bodies began to come home in bunches. As the anti-Japanese racism, it seems well earned to me by what their military did to so much of Asia. And I am not aware of any serious outbreaks of it during the multi-year occupation of the “home islands”. As to the A-bombings, I’m preparing myself for this year’s edition of the “Hiroshima and Nagasaki Grannies Still Grieving” report. No doubt and true to form, we will not be burdened with any extraneous information from the Nanking and Seoul grannies who will continue to remain unavailable for comment. My heart still gets warmed by recollection of my father’s take on the A-bombings. It went something like “The only thing wrong with the A-bombings was we only had two.”

    As to your “Second”, this type of assessment is why I was, way back in the beginning, concerned about the amount of time required to process the award. Drag them out from behind their bureaucratic desks and have them explain what, in fact, is going on with these awards. What I am seeing is a kind of analysis paralysis that serves the bureaucracy more than the country or its recommendees.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  27. michael reynolds says:

    @11B40:

    As the anti-Japanese racism, it seems well earned to me by what their military did to so much of Asia.

    And you would of course agree that what we did to the Native Americans (ethnic cleansing, genocide), African-Americans (slavery, Jim Crow) Filipinos (betrayal, occupation, torture, atrocities), Mexicans (trumped up war, seizure of millions of square miles) is useful to remember when judging our own position in the family of nations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  28. Darkwater says:

    If you want recent problems with the process, check into Captain Will Swenson, who fought beside Sgt Dakota Meyer, whose recommendation for the MoH has been ‘lost’ twice, necessitating a Congressional Inquiry. It was his unalloyed testimony about the lack of support during his battle that which was material to a subsequent investigation and reprimands. Perhaps the two are related? After all, the new system was supposed to eliminate these problems.

    Then there is Sgt Rafael Peralta, whose recommendation for a MoH was turned down by a pathologist on the panel who didn’t believe he was rational or able to sacrifice himself when he shielded his 8 fellow Marines from a grenade, despite testimony and evidence, including from another patholgist. He was instead awarded the Navy Cross (posthumously, of course) with a citation that specified that he did precisely that. The one ‘expert’ from thousands of miles away scuttled the MoH recommendation because he introduced an element of doubt (his own).

    Then there is SSG Alwyn Cashe, who died from extensive burns he sustained while rescuing his troops from a burning vehicle, returning several times, under fire. He only received a Silver Star. Why did Lt Brian Chontosh only receive a Navy Cross? The list goes on.

    As for the subsequent meme of comments about the vast number of homeless vets, I can’t count the number of such purported cases I’ve run into where the claimant was a fraud. For a real veteran, its fairly easy to ascertain that the story being spun is false. Are there real cases? Yes, of course, just as there are real cases of PTS (without labelling everyone with a full-blown ‘disorder’), but they are wildly out-numbered by the frauds who claim to be victims. Just as there are too many who falsely claim valor with fake medals or stories, there are those who are just as false with demands for sympathy, and they denigrate those who truly suffer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. michael reynolds says:

    @Darkwater:

    The numbers I cited were from HUD and VA. Some of those may well be frauds, but there’s a difference between those cited numbers and the many cases of phony vets we may meet on the streets.

    There’s a long history not of overstating the extent of post traumatic stress, but of understating it and denying it. It runs counter to the facile hero narratives that many seem to prefer. In a similar vein we tend to deny that Americans do sometimes desert or even switch sides, even in WW2. Just as we habitually deny that American soldiers commit atrocities – we always have, we always will.

    I dislike hagiography and prefer to hew closer to the truth. The truth is soldiers in war are put in impossible situations. Some thrive, some break, some are heroes, some are villains. Sometimes it can be impossible to draw a sharp line between the two.

    As citizens of a democracy, and therefore bearing much of the responsibility for any use of armed force, the American people should have a clearer idea what we’re asking and what we are likely to get. When we went into Iraq – a war I reluctantly supported – I told people I was supporting it even though I knew we’d kill innocent people, that we would unjustly make orphans and widows, and of course see many of our guys coming back in pieces, shattered in body and/or mind. And I knew that we would make all the right noises of support and still most veterans would be poorly cared for in the aftermath – it’s how we always handle wars.

    It’s a terrible thing to send men out to kill other men. I regret my support of the Iraq war, but I can’t pretend I didn’t know that it would result in crimes and atrocities as well as heroism, or that it would leave behind a residue of broken men we’d do too little to help. Thus always.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. Darkwater says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Numbers, as said before, can be counted as lies, damned lies, and statistics. Hewing to the truth can require a fairly substantial amount of homework.

    Take the current rash of stories about military or veteran suicides. Few compare apples to actual apples (instead of comparing the distinct cohort of military to the general population). Few stories will cite the fact that well over 1/3 of the suicides involve people who haven’t come close to combat; the majority involve people over the age of 50. Yet the take-away is supposed to be the link to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with rarely if ever considering that other factors could be involved.

    So it is with a number of the homeless vet stories. Other factors can easily be involved, and a psychological break which renders someone as part of the mentally unstable homeless doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the result of someone’s military experience. Many cases of mental instability, particularly schizophrenia and clinical depression, don’t manifest themselves until the mid- to late-20s, after someone has entered the military and tried to adapt to this very different culture. Just because they’ve changed dramatically doesn’t mean that it was the military that did it. It doesn’t even mean that it was the primary catalyst.

    War is hell, yes — believe me. But just as Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all others, the alternatives to war can often be worse. I didn’t involve myself with the politics of the situation other than as a mental exercise, because I was too busy just trying to accomplish the mission. Bad things happen, in peace and war, but just as I have a fairly realistic view of the consequences of that consuming enterprise, I have little time for those who incessently dwell in the negative, who keep pounding that minor chord until we damn well better sing along.

    So, have some Americans done bad things? Sure, and I’ve seen other cultures do far worse, but primarily I’ve seen us do some remarkable good. And I won’t join the ranks of the perpetual Cassandras who can see no good whatsoever in the remarkable feat of courage and tenacity that SSG Carter, and the countless others who have performed feats outside the view of the awards system (and who expect no special consideration, just as Sergeant Carter demurred), without trying to pull in some angle about what feet of clay this country has.

    We owe the truly injured our help and our gratitude, and not just empty knee-jerk phrases like “I support the soldier but not the war,” which tells us that what we are doing, at such great cost, is essentially meaningless or wrong. That’s a very smug way to cut our legs out from under us.

    Rather than constantly search for the imperfect, I prefer to celebrate SSG Carter’s remarkable accomplishment, done as he says as a symbol to what they all did.

    And while we’re on the subject, do you really believe that what the Japanese did in World War II was morally equivalent to even the worst of our history?

    As for the de-institutionalization of the mentally handicapped (or whatever today’s PC buzzword is), that can be lain directly on the doorstep of the ACLU, furthered by the states and local communities who refused to take up the burden.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Darkwater:

    Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’m more often derided as a warmonger than a peacenik. I come from a military family. My dad’s a lifer, 20 years, two tours in Vietnam. I grew up in places like Eglin and Belvoir. I don’t denigrate men like Sergeant Carter, they leave me moved and amazed and humbled.

    Is there a direct one-to-one causation between mental problems in veterans and their service? No, of course not. Is it a likely contributing cause in many cases? Obviously. And we have long erred on the side of ignoring combat stress related mental problems. In WW2 we trailed the British, for example, in acknowledging that this was a real issue, not cowardice. (The Brits who’d already been in the war for two years and had many times our experience in the earlier world war and thus might have been thought to know a few things.) There is no history of Americans being too quick to show compassion for men whose wounds are unseen.

    As for the historical/moral question of whether the Rape of Nanjing is the equivalent of the extermination of the American Indian or slavery, it’s a silly question. It’s like the Hitler vs. Stalin question, which carries with it the implication that one profound evil should be somewhat excused because some other evil was even greater. In the Indian wars did we line gatling guns up on high points across from Indian villages full of women and children and gun them down? Yes. Is that somehow less an atrocity because the Japanese bayonetted tens of thousands of Chinese?

    I understand the reluctance to adopt the 60’s era negativity toward all things military. I assure you that’s not where I’m coming from. I just like my picture of events to be complete. I don’t want my picture of events tainted either by hair shirt self-abnegation or by hagiography. I’m not some disenfranchised subject of a dictatorship with no say in what my army does, I’m a free citizen of a democracy and it’s important that I have a clear understanding. Democracy isn’t just a party line vote every 2-4 years, it’s a responsibility to understand within the limits of your ability, and to make the best available electoral choice. When a My Lai or Abu Ghraib happens it’s not just the responsibility of the soldiers involved, or their immediate commanders, that responsibility extends up the chain of command. That chain of command may extend only to the POTUS according to the organizational charts, but I’d argue that it extends still further, reaching the free citizens who cannot escape responsibility in a government of, by and for the people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  32. 11B40 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Greetings, michael reynolds:

    Oh michael, michael, michael. Oh my dark-eyed beauty. Just when I thought you had found some nanometric sliver of light that might lead you out of the the dark forest of progressivism, like a junkie’s promise, it evaporates into our atmosphere which we have so carefully saturated with lots and lots of deadly and destructive carbon dioxide.

    Be that as it may, being a Roman Catholic in the afterglow of a newly selected Pope, all hope has not been extinguished in my breast(s). But I’m one of those “credit where credit is due” type of Roman Catholics, so I’m going to take you a bit to task.

    As much as a good litany of racist atrocities warms my aching bones and cold, cold heart, I can’t let you get away with your so patent exclusion of our greatest success. I know what you’re doing by excluding the Neanderthals. This is no speed keystroking oversight. You’re trying to bury our greatest success. Gone, we got everyone of those creepy, creepy Neanderthals and right in the heart of lefty besty human-rights-ophilic Europe and under the somnolent eyes of the United bloody Nations and before they had even made up the word “genocide”. Every last one of them, not a chromosome left anywhere. Gone, baby, gone now and forever. There ain’t enough Michael Crichtons in all the Jurassic Parks of all the many life bearing planets in all the solar systems in all the galaxies of all the cosmoses even you can think of to bring those babies back.

    I love the smell of racist extermination in the morning. It smells like victory.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  33. michael reynolds says:

    @11B40:

    Do yourself and everyone else a favor and stop trying to be clever. You lack the wit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  34. Darkwater says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I won’t go into the résumé game or claims as to who has the larger member, but I have very established careers in the military and in psychological counseling, and I’m old enough to easily tire of today’s post-post-modern fashion of deconstructing everything into a slag heap of drivel.

    What we did to the Indians pales compared to what they did to each other; we were simply more efficient over time. The early Spanish in my neck of the woods wrote of tribes delighted to make their acquaintance if for no other reason than that they could assist in beating up on their enemies, a similar sentiment found in Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King. What we did in isolated instances, and typically in retaliation understood in the context of the time, is several magnitudes lighter than what some tribes would do as a culture. The staggering savagery of the Comanche, for example, have presented us (and I include other Indian tribes) with some of the best positive rationales for genocide since the Amorites. Were we on occasion guilty of excess? Yes, but it is to our favor that we recognize that – not so the apologists who mainly lament that they lost out in the cultural conflict. My ancestors painted themselves blue and hacked Romans to death, and others took up arms against the Comanche and the Apache (those that the Comanche allowed to live) when they were attacked, but I’ve gotten past that. I have an ancestor who was burned at the stake for being a Presbyterian, but I share an occasional glass of wine with Roman Catholic friends. I served as a member of foreign military units, one of which my father fought against at Anzio, but we got along splendidly.

    As for the Japanese, they steadfastly refuse to even acknowledge their recent past, which goes well beyond the Rape of Nanking, only one of the more obvious atrocities of the war. And I have yet to meet a veteran of the Pacific war, too quickly dwindling now, who wasn’t delighted – justifiably – that the atomic bombs were dropped to end the war. The number of Allied, and Japanese, lives saved number easily well into the hundreds of thousands.

    Slavery was a plague on Mankind, ended for the most part in the civilized world not so much by Lincoln and the wholesale destruction of Sherman’s March to the Sea and the excesses of Reconstruction, but by the moral suasion of William Wilberforce and the guns of the Royal Navy, taking to task the slavers sailing from ports in hypocritical New England. Yet it was a human condition, however callous, and it was cast aside by the better angels of our nature, though people are still enslaved in those parts of the world that we are told to leave alone lest we contaminate them with our Western ways. The old story is told of the British Raj in India, and a maharajah patiently explaining the virtues of the Indian cultural tradition of suttee, or widow burning. A British colonel smiled and politely replied, “Ah, well, in England we hang chaps like that.”

    Our self-imposed pop culture filters of ignorance, what C S Lewis called our ‘chronological snobbery’, will still blind us right up to the point where Kipling’s Gods of the Copybook Headings return with terror and slaughter, such as with the attacks of 9/11. It has been said that men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. So it is with these opening shots – at least the ones we finally recognized – of this war of civilizations, and the bien-pensants have scurried out to politically cleanse our truly righteous wrath. The scenes of the actual destruction – not just mere buildings – and the beheadings of innocents are removed, and even the photo of the three firefighters raising the flag in the ruins of Ground Zero was almost deleted from the museum because it was too pro-American.

    And it won’t stop: our space-faring descendants accustomed by necessity to a vegetarian diet will talk of how disgusting we are for eating animals, yet I will still thoroughly enjoy my rib-eye steak.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. michael reynolds says:

    @Darkwater:

    I don’t really disagree with you on the history. You seem to think you’re debating some goateed hair shirt wearing Berkeley assistant professor. That would be quite a ways off base.

    That said, I am perhaps not as much a moral relativist as you. While I do make allowances for time and place, and to a certain extent culture, I hold that the murder of innocents remains an evil whether it’s one or ten thousand, whether it was done yesterday or a century ago, and whether it was done by “us” or by “them.” I don’t think we want to congratulate ourselves for being less brutal than, say, Mongols. We have to ascribe to a set of moral positions and work unceasingly to live up to them.

    Our genocide of the Indians does not therefore become less heinous because some tribes were awful to other tribes, just as our American slavery does not become less objectionable because we were abetted by African potentates. We have our morals. We have our standards. We have to hold ourselves accountable and set an example for others to emulate, not rationalize our failures.

    Somewhat off-topic, but related, I just came back from Tokyo (yesterday, or today, the date thing gets confusing) where I happened to visit one of plant Earth’s more bizarre establishments: the Robot Restaurant. My son put up a brief video which captures the awesome weirdness only to the extent you could say that a snapshot captures the Grand Canyon. But both in the stairwell descending to said restaurant, and in the main show, there was iconography involving B-29s. At one point several lovely, bikini-clad Japanese girls were smiling while trapezing from beneath a neon B-29. Just one of many jaw-dropping moments, but definitely strange in a city noticeably empty of structures built before 1945.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. michael reynolds says:

    Incidentally, regarding said firebombing of Tokyo and nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, my position is basically: Don’t want your cities burned down? Then don’t make war on the United States.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Dazedandconfused says:

    Back on topic, taking care of our soldiers. I suspect the knee-jerk hatred of “leftists” is simply a case of historical ignorance, particularly the extreme leftist policy’s of Eisenhower’s post war leadership generation.

    It was not thousands, but hundreds of thousands of returning soldiers, and Ike had been forced to watch, and to a degree, participate in the routing of WW1 vets who marched on Washington to get what had been promised them. They, Ike and the politicians of the day, were not going to let a Daddy Warbucks run the government and get away with that crap again. It would not be so easy to route these guys, there were too many of them, and it may be one of those orders you can’t give because you know it will be disobeyed.

    90% tax rates on the top earners effectively limited what a “job creator” could take home from his company. Either you spent it to expand your business and hire people or the government would confiscate it and fund massive projects…like the highways…with it. Ike hated greed, but moreover, he wasn’t even slightly alone in that, greed was unfashionable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0