January 22, 2012


Karl Marlantes, What It Is Like to Go to War (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2011) ("It is bad enough that we send our youth off to fight our wars ill prepared for the spiritual and psychological consequences of entering combat. Add to this the fact that combat is becoming increasingly intermingled with the ordinary civilian world. With cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, air travel, and remote-control weaponry, the battlefield is less clearly defined and the bloody consequences of what modern weapons do can be completely masked. Consider the bomber crews that fly from the United States and back to bomb Iraq or Libya, telling their spouses and kids they'll be gone a little longer than usual that day; or the young woman pushing a button to launch a cruise missile from a naval vessel on a serene sea hundreds of miles from the 'target,' known to his mother as Alim; or the pilots doing nine-to-five jobs at computers consoles in Nevada killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan with drones and commuting to and from their homes like any other commuters. Imagine the psychic split that must ensue from bringing in death and destruction from the sky on a group of terrorists--young men who have mothers and a misplace idealism that has led them into horrible criminal acts, but nevertheless young and brave men--and then driving home from the base to dinner with the spouse and kids. 'Have a nice day at the office, hon?' " Id. at 18-19. Remember, if the line between a "warrior's" being at war or in combat is blurred, then the line between a "civilian's" being at peace and not in combat is also blurred. Civilian targets and military targets are blurred. We are all plausibly legitimate military targets. Are we not?).