A hat tip to Noah Shachtman, formerly of Defensetech.org, who's now running the Danger Room national security blog over at Wired.com. One of his contributors, David Axe, came across this e-mail from former defense analyst Franklin Spinney, who (essentially) accuses a Marine fighter pilot of being a bloodthirsty murderer. Spinnery was commenting on a letter from the F/A-18 pilot (unidentified), who expressed great satisfaction at being able to kill the enemy during close air support missions. Spinney's comments, contained in an e-mail, are being circulated by the left-wing Center for Defense Information, which claims that they provide a "much needed and unvarnished perspective." David Axe calls Spinney's remarks "unfair," and I agree with him. But judge for youself; first, the Marine pilot's comments:
God, I do love killing these bastards. …
The other day, [names omitted] got three nice passes with the gun and rockets on some Muj in a little town called Karma, which is just northwest of Fallujah. I firmly believe they are implants from the “big city.” Looked as though they were in the process of trying to attack the Iraqi police headquarters. I wonder why the insurgents would be attacking the Iraqi police. CNN says the [police] are ineffective. Funny, the “ineffective” [police] stood their ground and called in three strikes. Only one confirmed kill.
And, from that, Spinney concludes:
Here is a “warrior” who brags about killing for killing’s sake, but the people he kills are just spots on the ground that disappear in clouds of explosions. He describes the joy of war at a distance and sees nothing of its horrors. You won’t find any descriptions of blood, broken limbs, trauma or destruction in this email. You won’t even find reference to his own feelings of menace or fear – not to mention their noble counterweights courage and esprit – just braggadocio on the subject of killing. Of course, his targets are all insurgents: no sense of any human capacity for doubt on that point. … Hopefully, the man who wrote this ghastly thing is an aberration and not at all representative of the men and women in our military.
Get a grip, Mr. Spinney. I'm sure that Marine pilot has a clear understanding of the horrors of war. He--or she--probably has friends from ROTC, the Academy or The Basic School that are currently serving as platoon or company commanders in Iraq. That pilot probably knows Marines who have died on the ground, fighting a fanatical enemy so that others might be free. He understands that those "spots on the ground" are terrorists, hell-bent on killing Iraq policemen, U.S. Marines, innocent civilians or anyone else who won't submit to Sharia law. He understands that by killing the insurgents from above, fewer Americans--and Iraqis--will die on the ground.
A few years ago, one of my friends (an F-16 driver) visited a Marine Harrier squadron to coordinate an upcoming exercise. Along the main hallway of the squadron operations building, he noticed a life-sized poster of a Marine rifleman, in full combat gear. There was no caption or title on the poster, and none was required. The ultimate mission of that Harrier unit was to support Marines on the ground, and provide the air support needed to defeat the enemy.
I'd say that Hornet driver is anything but a murderer. He's a professional who takes pride in the fact that his skills--and his aircraft--can make a difference for the warriors on the ground. It's easy for Spinney and the CDI crowd to take shots from the safety and comfort of Washington, D.C., but then again, they wouldn't have much use for this man, either. He said similar things more than 60 years ago:
"We're not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we're going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun cocksuckers by the bushel-fucking-basket. War is a bloody, killing business. You've got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it's the blood and guts of what once was your best friend beside you, you'll know what to do!"
The speaker was General George S. Patton.