General Mattis: It’s Fun to Shoot Some People

Marine General Counseled Over Comments (AP)

Photo: A Marine Corps general with battle awards is being counseled to watch his words more carefully after publicly observing that “it’s fun to shoot some people.” Lt. Gen. James Mattis, a career infantry office now in charge of developing ways to better train and equip Marines, also made fun of the manhood of Afghans during comments Tuesday while speaking at a forum in San Diego. On Thursday, Gen. Mike Hagee, the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, issued a statement of regret about Mattis’ remarks, saying they reflected “the unfortunate and harsh realities of war.”

According to an audio recording, Mattis had said, “Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. … It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling.” He added, “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.” His comments evoked laughter and applause from the audience. Mattis was speaking during a panel discussion hosted by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, a spokeswoman for the general said.

Gen. Hagee’s statement said, “Lt. Gen. Mattis often speaks with a great deal of candor. I have counseled him concerning his remarks and he agrees he should have chosen his words more carefully.” “While I understand that some people may take issue with the comments made by him, I also know he intended to reflect the unfortunate and harsh realities of war,” Hagee’s statement added.

It’s unfortunate that so few people have a sense of humor these days. What Mattis said was funny and the spirit of what he said was true. Professional soldiers don’t enjoy killing but they do feel good about fighting in a cause so obviously just as removing the despicable Taliban from power. Off-color humor and demeaning the manhood of the enemy is as old as warfare.

Update (0815 2-5): “Captain Ed” Morrissey compares press coverage of Mattis’ comments to those of CNN news chief Eason Jordan.

Scott “Smash” Koenig expresses his appreciation that men like Mattis are manning the wall.

Donald Sensing, quite literally, illustrates that Mattis is following a long tradition.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Outside The Beltway : General Mattis: It’s Fun to Shoot Some People
    I’ve been wanting to comment on this issue since I heard about it, largely because I think it’s a stupid controversy. USMC Lt. Gen. James Mattis had some choice words to say regarding his duties in the war on…

  2. I agree. What’s wrong with enjoying your job?

  3. BigFire says:

    Especially shooting scumbags like the ones he described.

  4. Chuckg says:

    The only problem I have with the general’s comments is that he was silly enough to say them where reporters could hear them, this many years after it’s been made plain that most reporters are the enemy.

    Still, that doesn’t mean I disapprove of him in the slightest. Hell no. I’d just go “General, remind me never to make you the Pentagon’s PAO spokesperson.”

  5. Just Me says:

    I don’t know, I think it is really stupid for generals to say stuff like this, even if they feel it, because it just ends up giving the other side some crap to throw back at you, and it is crap that is hard to defend and difficult to clean off.

  6. Bithead says:

    But notice, please, what they had to do to paint this comment as they did; They had to remove it from the context of shooting someone who was “abusing women for 5 years.”

    Can you imagine a liberal complaining about the comment within that context?

  7. LJD says:

    Its not like he said “It’s fun to shoot liberals”, although that would have been good also.

  8. Reminds me of another high-ranking officer:

    And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives–You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.

    No one condones a madman (and I am not suggesting Gen. Hagee is one), but on the other end of the spectrum, hugging the terrorists won’t make them go away. The man is getting results, enough said.

  9. Bachbone says:

    No liberal had any problem whatsoever with Alec Baldwin saying, on national television, that Henry Hyde and his family should be killed for pursuing Clinton’s lying to a Grand Jury. Apparently, some killings are okay with them.

  10. McGehee says:

    Charlie, Mattis’ comments (not Hagee, BTW) made me think of that monologue also.

    The people who are complaining about what he said may think they want the truth, but THEY CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!

  11. Fred Boness says:

    Reminds me of another high-ranking officer:

    General George S. Patton

  12. ken says:

    There are good people and bad people in every line of work. General Grant, General Eisenhower are examples of good people who were also war time generals. General Mattis is an example of a bad person who is a general. There are probably a few more like him. They should be gotten rid of.

  13. Ballstoyourpartner says:

    It’s interesting how our American neighbours generally seem to find killing “fun”. Personally, I can’t think of any situation where I would be able to see the “humour” in it. I’m sure that there are many American men who slap their wives around – would you also suggest that they should be fair game? Also, while reporters don’t always give the people all the information they need to make informed decisions, what they do report is almost always true so I don’t quite undertand how they have become “the enemy”.

  14. me says:

    Some info is needed here for the foreign readers to keep up with the story:

    Yes, wifebeaters are fair game in the USA, especially to the relatives of the wife, and almost always if the relatives are in the military.

    Yes, it is funny to demean the enemies one wishes to defeat. See the recent blog stories on the hostage Cody doll, or anything in the archives of the Allahpundit, for examples.

    Reporters who include all the information needed to reach a conclusion are actually reporting, which is considered good and fine in the USA. See the initial reports of Army press releases about Abu Ghraib for examples. Those who by omission lead one to an incorrect conclusion are not reporting, they are propagandizing. The blogosphere uses terms such as “Fisking” and “Dowdification” for this reason.

    And yes, Americans really really enjoy all this.

  15. McGehee says:

    I’m sure that there are many American men who slap their wives around – would you also suggest that they should be fair game?

    I’m mystified that you would have a problem with that. Or are you telling us more about yourself than you realize?

  16. Lurking Observer says:

    Ballstoy:

    What reporters report is almost always true??

    Did you really mean to write that?

    Jayson Blair, Jack Kelley, Eason Jordan (about forgetting to mention that CNN was paying Saddam Hussein), CBS’ Memogate, Eason Jordan (about the US targeting journalists), and you believe that what journalists write is nonetheless almost always true?

    McGehee, I think that tells us even more about this person than whether he thinks should happen to people who beat up their wives….

  17. I agree with balls. If your job was to get paid to slap your wife around – wonderful. Nothing wrong with it.

    if your job is to kill insurgents and you like it, wonderful, nothing wrong with it.

    However, last I checked – slapping one’s wife around is neither acceptable nor a means of employment – unless youre Muslim, of course.

  18. McGehee says:

    I agree with balls. If your job was to get paid to slap your wife around – wonderful. Nothing wrong with it.

    I must be missing the joke here.

  19. In Defense of Jim Mattis
    It’s been all over the news. Not the whole quote, mind you. When the Spousal Unit heard it on the radio driving home from Quantico, NPR oh-so-helpfully cut out the part about slapping women. As did CNN on the evening…

  20. Cassandra says:

    Ken, with all due respect (and I’m not sure much is due here) you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

    Taking an isolation quote out of context and blowing it out of proportion is ignorant. Try reading up on Mattis’ guidance to his men. Then tell me he’s a “bad man”.

    Or try reading my post on the subject. And I’m not link whoring – this is important – people should know the truth on this issue and the media will never bother to present a balanced picture even though 5 minutes on Google would yield all the material they’d need.

    Sad, really. So much for fairness.

  21. Cassandra says:

    And I’m sorry about the typo, but this really has me steamed.

  22. Mc,

    Heavy Sarcasm button turned to on.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  23. It is Fun to Shoot Some People
    I’ve been wanting to comment on this issue since I heard about it, largely because I think it’s a stupid controversy. USMC Lt. Gen. James Mattis had some choice words to say regarding his duties in the war on…

  24. Boyd says:

    As a Texan, retired sailor and father of a Marine, it makes perfect sense to me that a Marine would enjoy killing the Taliban. In fact, if he doesn’t he’s probably in the wrong job.

    And when it comes to “think it, but don’t say it,” all I can say is ptui! War is a dirty business. Military folks exist to kill the enemy. Better that they enjoy that job, and that those they serve and protect allow them to enjoy it.

  25. McGehee says:

    Heavy Sarcasm button turned to on.

    I was hoping that was the case. Just couldn’t see where it was pointed.

    Sorry for the confusion.

    RWD, one thing you’ll discover around here is, you never need to give any of us a case of confusion. We come in already well supplied. 😉

  26. Attila Girl says:

    I should hope that wife-beaters of any stripe/origin would be fair game.

    (Wife-beaters the scumbag semi-humans, not wife-beaters the garments, which are generally fine things for husbands to wear, particularly in black/gray.)

  27. Killing Machines
    Some people in this world need to be made dead THE PRIMARY MISSION of our military is, to put it bluntly: “To hunt down our enemies, kill them, and break their stuff.” Now, I’ve never had to kill anyone, and…

  28. magazine subscription
    magazine subscription

  29. Ballstoyourpartner says:

    To me, McGhee and AttilaGirl:

    “Yes, wifebeaters are fair game in the USA, especially to the relatives of the wife, and almost always if the relatives are in the military.”

    “I’m mystified that you would have a problem with that. Or are you telling us more about yourself than you realize?”

    and

    “I should hope that wife-beaters of any stripe/origin would be fair game.”

    Unfortunately, a typical American over-reaction. The General and I said “slap” which you turned to “beat” which then quickly ramped up the suitable punishment to “shooting”. This is what the justice system would call a “disproportionate response”.

    “Yes, it is funny to demean the enemies one wishes to defeat.”

    Using psychological methods on the “enemy” is one thing but thinking that it is “funny” to kill anyone is very troubling.

    To Boyd:

    “it makes perfect sense to me that a Marine would enjoy killing the Taliban. In fact, if he doesn’t he’s probably in the wrong job.”

    One would expect soldiers to be competent at their jobs, especially when its a “kill or be killed” scenario but for someone to enjoy killing another human being (for any reason) indicates to me that they are ‘one sick puppy’ and I, for one, would not feel comfortable sharing my community with such a person when they return home from their “job”.

    to Lurking Observer:

    “Jayson Blair, Jack Kelley, Eason Jordan (about forgetting to mention that CNN was paying Saddam Hussein), CBS’ Memogate, Eason Jordan (about the US targeting journalists), and you believe that what journalists write is nonetheless almost always true?”

    What percentage of all reporters/reports do they represent? .001? That’s why I used the word “almost”.

  30. I’d Follow This Man Anywhere

  31. american waster says:

    “So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.” It will be a lot of fun for me to waste an american prick if I find one. You want to stay alive, sit on your f***ing continent.

  32. Lance Coolie says:

    You folks don’t understand: he WAS restraining himself. Marines, even generals sitting behind desks, speak simply and honestly; usually with words and phrases that would make a liberal cry. I certainly don’t mind using words like that; I think I’ve earned it.

  33. TUMAE says:

    You guys need therapy.

    No, seriously, you guys need it bad.

  34. a paratrooper says:

    I’m finding this thread a little late but I thought I’d chime in.

    As a soldier on my second combat tour in Iraq I can tell you there’s no happiness in the killing of an enemy. The happiness comes from surviving the encounter. The happiness comes from knowing that particular enemy won’t threaten anyone again. There’s also an incredible adrenaline rush during a firefight, which is almost euphoric..unless you happen to be getting shelled.

    Anyway unless you’ve experienced it the General’s words probably won’t make much sense. And to “American Waster”, you know exactly where we are. If you have some desire to square off against us get in line and you’ll be dealt with.