Nothing in this blog can be believed. If you think that anything in this blog is true or factual, you'll need to verify it from another source. Do you understand? No? Then read it again, and repeat this process, until you understand that you cannot sue me for anything you read here. Also, having been sucked into taking part in the mass-murder of more than 3 million Vietnamese people on behalf of U.S. Big Business "interests", I'm as mad as a cut snake (and broke) so it might be a bit silly to try to sue me anyway...

Monday, July 03, 2006

snippets...

Last year I braved my anti-social tendencies to attend the National Nonviolence Gathering in Queensland. Yes, due to my eternal internal turmoil, I was a displaced person there... A stranger in a strange land... Indeed...

Things were going reasonably well for me until I found myself in a discussion in which the discussion intitiator postulated that soldiers derive a sense of power from guns and uniforms. The initiator painted such a one-sided and absolute picture that I gave him an anectdote from my experience in Vietnam:

December 1968. We had just disembarked from the troopship HMAS Sydney in Vung Tau harbour. We were grunts on our first day on the ground in Vietnam and we were nervous. VERY nervous... We boarded a convoy of trucks for the road trip to our new home, the base at Nui Dat, some thirty or forty kilometers up the road.

A few kilometers along, the convoy ground to a halt, due to a traffic jam of its own making. So here we were, about five hundred troops sitting in the back of stationary trucks. Sitting ducks in a duckshoot. Being a machine gunner, I was at the back of our truck. We were literally surrounded by a throng of Vietnamese peasants dressed exactly the same as the Viet Cong we had been told so much about, i.e. the traditional "black pajamas". And we could not understand what they were shouting at us. Some looked angry.

One toothless old man had an olive-green tin can in his hands and was gesticulating with it. In fact, I now realised that in the crowd, there were quite a few people of all ages doing likewise. Thoughts raced through my mind (as they do in moments of crisis):

Were these tins home-made grenades?
Were they ration tins?
Where they begging for food?
Were they about to attack us with grenades?

I suddenly felt very powerless... And afraid... My gun and my uniform were more of threat to my safety than a source of power. We could do nothing until something bad went down. And if it did, would I even be alive a few seconds later? Fear and impotence is what I felt - not power!

This anecdote seemed to derail the discussion initiator's agenda, which appeared to me to be that all soldiers everywhere and in all situations got a big fat hard-on from carrying a gun and wearing a uniform. No doubt some psychologist who's never "been there" dreamed that one up... No doubt it sounds good in a classroom full of impressionable young students...

How terrible of me not to conveniently fit in with this stereotype...

Tragic...

I wish these self-appointed gurus seeking to shape the impressionable minds of well-intentioned peace activists would occasionally venture outside of the confines of their own lunchtime...

6 Comments:

Blogger phil said...

Gerry - people like me, who never went, can never know. A good mate of mine, a Vietnam vet, turned up at Dad's funeral today. I know this bloke well but, despite that, I can never relate fully to him. My marble came up but, as I knew it would if it came to the crunch, my poor eyesight ruled me out.
In my purely theoretical understanding, then, I think I'm with you in believing that war cures nothing. I'm sure that was dad's message.
You take care of yourself, please.

July 03, 2006 10:05 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Phil! My deepest sympathy! I thought you were telling us on your blog that your father had died, but as it was too cryptic, I couldn't say it there. Again - Sorry for your loss, Phil.

In many places in this blog I have argued the point that well-organised peaceful people power will achieve what wars cannot. Virtually every time!

War is a wank. And totally unnecessary. Peace fucks war. Every time! The evidence is there in history if you look the right way. How many different ways do I have to say it?

Trouble is that people generally don't want peace. They WANT war. Leaders MAKE then want war. They BELIEVE their leaders. You cannot save such people form their fate...

Was your father a WWII veteran?

July 03, 2006 11:09 PM  
Blogger JahTeh said...

Mothers don't want war but women have to become mothers to find this out.

July 04, 2006 12:12 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

JahTeh, feel free to publish suitably edited bits of my email here. You know... Anzac Day, women, women in combat roles.. etc... You get the drift?

I'm way too pissed to make sense...

July 04, 2006 12:39 AM  
Blogger GreenSmile said...

I wonder, Gerry, if the naive, to put it mildly, "intiator" would have honestly answered you if, instead of sharing your reality, you had first asked "I have a perfectly deadly, well oiled and loaded machine gun I can lend you right now if you will just sling it over your shoulder and wander around slumier streets and alleyways of Todd River or Wadeye for a few evenings. Can you tell me how you expect to feel?"
Assuming your questioner knows anything more about goings on at the end of the Daly River Road or Alice Springs these days than he knew about the Viet Nam of 1968, he should be able to imagine himself in the fading dusk, uncertain from which shacks or sidestreets he is being watched. The "hard-on" he projects on others is either his own (in which case he might report he'd not be afraid to try your test) or its a vapor of his ignorance and slightest exercise of imagination would make him recant.

July 07, 2006 8:27 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

The "initiator" was a big wheel in the counter-recruitment arm of the anti-war-movement. He espouses all sorts of gender-political stuff about "power" etc etc etc... Meretricious theory, much of it. I have no interest in numbing my brain trying to read all that stuff so I'll leave it to others more eager.

But he had general theories about why men join the military (forgetting that they might equally explain why women join the military).

I've heard it said that rape is not about sex but but about power. I can't speak authoritatively you about that, and I would concede that some (if not most) rapes might well fall into that category, but I know of one case of rape I personally prevented from developing (in 1966), and whilst I may not be a shrink, I had the distinct impression that the drunk guy involved just wanted to have sex with the drunk female and that she was saying "no". Ok, you can argue that if she's saying "No" and he continues to proceed that it is about power. Absolutely. But it's ALSO about wanting to have sex. So, "not ONLY but ALSO" applies here.

Anyway, I separated them, sent her away, and told him to "sit!" The next day he apologised to her and they contiued to be good friends for many years without sex or power ever entering the equation again.

Now where was I, oh yes, "carrying a gun and wearing a unifirm is driven by a sexio-megalomanic urge". If I were a psych student in dire need of a thesis subject, I might latch on to that one and write a mountain of sophistry and thus get my PhD. I'd much rather just buy one for $200. It's more honest.

Patriotism, sense of duty, family history, socio-political conditioning, socio-economic strata, the media, etc, etc, are all ignored in favour of the theory that people wear uniforms and carry guns in order to strut like peacocks with hard-ons. The man was a fool and I lost it I'm afraid... But then again, I would, wouldn't I? :-)

July 13, 2006 7:28 PM  

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