Green Room

Giving Thanks To The Necessary Men

posted at 1:07 pm on November 25, 2009 by

It’s traditional to welcome the Thanksgiving holiday by expressing gratitude for the great people in our lives. I had a sizable list of such sentiments prepared for a Thanksgiving essay, but last night I set it aside. Recent events have given me two specific expressions of gratitude to focus on.

First, thank God for the Navy SEALs accused of punching out that Iraqi terrorist.

Soldiers have to follow the rules of engagement. The discipline of our soldiers is one of the things that makes them so vastly superior, both operationally and morally, to the terrorist murderers they’re fighting. However, the pursuit of discipline can pass from the realm of common sense, and become a fetish. Common sense tells us that fighting an enemy  defined by its refusal to honor any rules of conduct, or standards of human decency, will require us to get a little dirty. Navy SEALs are not cops, and al-Qaeda terrorists are not street criminals. The refusal to understand this simple truth produces a cognitive dissonance that will soon blossom into a lunatic circus, in the courtrooms of New York. Soldiers in the field cannot afford that kind of dissonance. The civilian command owes them the logic and dignity of setting rules of engagement that sane men can follow.

What is needed, in our appraisal of military actions, is a sense of proportion. Even if the fat lip of that Iraqi terrorist is definitively traced back to a Navy fist, the idea that we might pull vitally needed special operators out of the field over something like this is insane. If our system of discipline and military justice would threaten the careers of these SEALs because they punched a terrorist they had every right to vaporize, the problem is with the system, not the SEALs.

Very few men have what it takes to become members of special forces units. I had lunch with a SEAL a couple of years ago, and based on what he was allowed to tell me, I sure as hell couldn’t do it. My sleep is untroubled by this knowledge, because it says more about him than it says about me. Every soldier in the field is the product of dedication and courage multiplied by training. Those who make it through special forces training have succeeded where plenty of good men gave honorable efforts that didn’t quite make the grade. SEAL training is not like public school, where everybody gets a B as long as they show up at least half the time, and remember all the words to the Obama worship song. You can be a fine man of extraordinary courage and superhuman will, and still wash out before graduation.

This doesn’t mean we should give valuable special forces soldiers free reign to do whatever they want. I’ve never met a single military man who thinks we should. It does mean we should view their actions with care, and give them the benefit of the doubt… and I don’t mind saying I’ve got plenty of doubt about anything said by anyone affiliated with al-Qaeda. Even if the Iraqi terrorist is telling the truth about getting punched out, treating the SEALs as if they had randomly opened fire on the Baghdad peewee soccer team is ridiculous. At the dinner table of warfare, eating your salad with the wrong fork is not the same as stuffing the turkey with a live grenade.

SEALs belong on dangerous beaches. Terrorists belong somewhere other than civilian courtrooms. If civilian support for these SEALs can help to restore sanity and protect their careers, I offer mine without hesitation or reservation.

My second Thanksgiving blessing is for Allahpundit.

Allahpundit is the reason I know what blogging is. A friend sent me a link to his blog during the 2004 presidential campaign. I devoured every post he had written, then found Ace of Spades through his blogroll, and ended the evening in tears of laughter after reading Ace’s thoughts on which D&D character would be played by each of the Democratic presidential hopefuls. I remember visiting Allah’s old blog site after he abandoned it, disappointed that nothing new would appear.

I disagree with his take on many issues. In fact, I guess I’ve ended up with the exact opposite opinion, as often as not. I really hate the notion that total agreement is required to find someone’s writing interesting, or that supporting someone’s position on a single issue means complete solidarity with everything they ever write. I wouldn’t want anyone reading this to believe their only options are complete agreement with me, or absolute contempt.

I’m not going to challenge anyone’s anger over the post Allahpundit wrote on the Navy SEAL situation. People are entitled to their feelings, and getting mad at people for being angry creates the kind of whirlpool that swiftly drowns reason. I’m not going to defend Allah either, because he doesn’t need me for that. I will say that I don’t see the point of choosing insults when reason is available. I’ve learned a lot by reading the responses to Allah’s post from active and retired military people.

I write as often as I can, and hope to post four or five times a week. Allahpundit cranks out more than twice that much in a single day, sometimes within minutes of a major event. Is it unreasonable to make generous allowances for error on such a blistering schedule, for a perspective offered in real time? Besides, what’s more stimulating than a well-written opinion you disagree with, prompting your own heartfelt response? A lot of my essays began that way, because Allahpundit got there first. I never understood the point of mocking him as an “Eeyore.” Nothing makes my optimism flare up faster than a dose of someone else’s pessimism. Look at it this way: if you have to take the Hundred Acre Woods gang through SEAL training and lead them on a mission, you’re going to trust Eeyore with the explosives. You’re certainly not going to let Tigger carry them. That’s just crazy talk.

Anyone who finds merit in anything I have written should consider that you probably wouldn’t have read it, had I not followed the trail Allahpundit laid to Hot Air. In this place, among its remarkable writers and amazing readers, I have discovered something of great importance to my life: a joy I can only hope to receive with proper humility. I have Ed, Michelle, and Allahpundit to thank for this opportunity. I spent far too much of last night listening to one of those people called a douchebag.

Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have become irritated when told he was “necessary,” because the necessary men are the first ones lined up and shot after a crisis passes. We should treat them better than that. I know he’s an atheist, but I hope somehow, tomorrow evening… as he roasts his turkey over a pile of flaming Yankees fungo bats, and a quivering Humpbot plugs in its carving knife accessory… Allahpundit hears the toast I plan to raise in his name. Well, his alias. I hope the one I raise to you reaches your heart, as well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I’ve been reading each of your posts and relish the anticipation of the next. Curiosity got the better of me and I starting trying to find out who “Doctor Zero” might be. Found you on MySpace …. and read your blurb:

About me:
I am a monster. I am Pure Evil. More than The Baron Ashura or Doctor Hell from Mazinga Z and the Vega Army from Goldrake can ever be , you can be sure of that. And I want to take over the world.. I want to unite continents one to another and subdue everyone so they will bow down to me and recognize my power and my infinite intelligence. There’s only this guy called Fantaman who keeps butchering all my plans with the help of those weird people flying into that flying circular machine…..Fantaman ‘s just a pain in the ass… with your help, I WILL defeat him and we’ll get rid of him at once, please enroll and be part of my Evil Forces and follow me! Be my People and you’ll have great satisfaction! The wooooorld…is….mine!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2010 should be really interesting.

This may be a tad presumptuous of me – but – thank you my friend ……

oldfiveanddimer on November 25, 2009 at 1:23 PM

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours Doctor Zero. I always enjoy reading your posts. I am thankful you are here at HA.

letget on November 25, 2009 at 1:34 PM

You certainly have a way with words that I only wish I possessed.

However, sometimes Allah can be a douche. Sometimes I can be douche. Everybody says things that don’t make sense from time to time, and there’s not really anything wrong with politely noting that. I attribute Allah’s post on the SEALs more to being uninformed on the topic he was writing about than anything else. It happens so rarely that I think it threw off a lot of people.

He’s still the best blogger I’ve ever stumbled across, and one bad post doesn’t change that.

BadgerHawk on November 25, 2009 at 1:40 PM

And as long as you’re toasting, take a sip for the first commenter to recognize your literary brilliance and recommend you as a Greenroom poster *cough*BadgerHawk*cough*.

BadgerHawk on November 25, 2009 at 1:51 PM

oldfiveanddimer on November 25, 2009 at 1:23 PM

LOL, that’s not my Myspace page, but I’ve got to drop by… it sounds like a riot. I think I might have interned with Doctor Hell at Evil Medical School.

And as long as you’re toasting, take a sip for the first commenter to recognize your literary brilliance and recommend you as a Greenroom poster *cough*BadgerHawk*cough*.

BadgerHawk on November 25, 2009 at 1:51 PM

I’ll take that sip with pleasure! And possibly even turn it into a gulp, depending on how the rest of Thanksgiving dinner is going…

Doctor Zero on November 25, 2009 at 2:22 PM

Dr. Z, I have been reading and posting on HA since the very first day. I have been a fan of MM for years and I came over to support her efforts with HA. I find myself here more now than over at her personal site and it is simply because of the excellent writings of AP. He and I could not be more different. I live in the South, he in NYC. I am a deep red conservative, AP not so much. It really doesn’t matter, I enjoy the conversation. He and I don’t agree on everything, sometimes not much, but I do believe his heart is in the right place…
Now that I have had the chance to read many of your posts. I want to express my thanks for your thoughts and writings. Happy Thanksgiving! I look forward to many more from both you and AP.

d1carter on November 25, 2009 at 2:41 PM

Good on you, Doc.

I was a bit surprised by the viciousness of the pile-on AP received. Seemed more like what I might have expected of the other side, not us. I expect, understand and encourage disagreement and discussion among us. Flat-out kindergarten name-calling like I have seen from some – well, I don’t give your opinion any weight if it doesn’t deserve any.

Keep it up, too, AP. Illegitimus non carborundum, and all that. Be an Eeyore – an atheist, and all that. I may challenge you on some of it, but with logic and argument, not invective.

A Friend of the Devil on November 25, 2009 at 4:37 PM

Wow, what douchebag.

Just kidding!

I have come to enjoy your posts tremendously, Doc. You do make a great point here, but I must give deference to the opinion of Uncle Jimbo on this particular issue. Blackfive is a great milblog I have been reading for years, and I have been a Jimbo fan all of that time. His history as a US Army special operator forces me to allow him the beatdown. For him, this thing is personal in a way you and I, or Allahpundit will ever relate to.

Look forward to everyone getting along again in the near future, and Happy Thanksgiving. I’ll be toasting you as well, Doc.

Brian1972 on November 25, 2009 at 7:17 PM

I’ve learned a lot by reading the responses to Allah’s post from active and retired military people.

Dr. Zero,
I share your allowance that the SEAL post might be an error borne of ignorance and high output of material. I suppose I worry unnecessarily, but that post was bothersome for a couple of reasons. For one, it reminded me of the cop-hater video posts, where the culpability of civilians was obvious. The only merit I saw in those was the comments; they generated light with the heat — like the SEAL post.

Yet the SEAL post was worse, because our leftist Enemy Within is far more deadly inside the military. The post came from a presumptive ally on a prominent blog. Besides the lack of common sense and proportion, these things suggest a disdain for defender-authority figures. The point here is not to bash Allahpundit, but I’m getting to it.

An insistence on atheism is a faith-based conviction of non-existence. I understand it as a phase; don’t we all go through these doubts at some time in our lives? But whatever happened to agnosticism, and doesn’t that make a little more sense? Faith in non-existence is illogical. An entrenchment in that position might have perilous consequences that spill into prominent opinion-making. The crazy-gas is thick in this dangerous time.

Here are some ways people blind themselves to their own flaws and subordinate position in the Universe. One is money. Another is power. Another is superior technical competence. We are constantly tempted to do away with absolutes today and many of the issues I find myself in disagreement with Allahpundit and others remind me of something: Forbidden Planet.

The noble Krell, supremely confident in their genius and benevolence, built the fusion-powered creation machine. So OK, they’re good enough to play God, redefine fundamental constants (like marriage) and do Supreme Deeds of Creation and Goodness. Telepathically directed, the machine read primitive impulses and created monsters that annihilated them when they slept. And “they could hardly have understood what power was destroying them.”

It reminds me of our society today.

I hope atheism doesn’t set Allahpundit on a self-destructive spiral. He’d miss too much work.

Now that I’ve immeasurably depressed anyone who bothered to read this, there’s something I forgot.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to Hot Air and everyone who makes this the place to be!

Feedie on November 26, 2009 at 1:44 AM

Happy Thanksgiving Dr. Zero. I am thankful to have a Hot Air home, and always look forward to anything you write. HA has been a refuge in this crazy world, and Ed and AP, as well as the other contributors have helped me keep what little sanity I have left.
So, I give thanks for our little HA community, and for you.

lovingmyUSA on November 26, 2009 at 3:34 AM

Thank you Dr Z for giving a shoutout to AP as one of the “necessary men.” I agree and wince whenever people here trash him. You can disagree without tearing down someone who is on the same side 90% of the time. Let the Left be boors who engage in purges.

YehuditTX on November 26, 2009 at 9:57 AM

PS I too remember AP from 2004. His cartoon strips were the best of their type (adding speech balloons to news photos) on the web ever and still. Made me spit all over my monitor many times. I wish he would put them back up even though they are outdated.

YehuditTX on November 26, 2009 at 10:01 AM

Dr. Zero,

I wandered aimlessly about politically for most of my 55 years. It wasn’t until I stumbled across HOTAIR that I realized there were people who shared my angst with government (or circus time). I am truly thankful to have the opportunity to read your opinion. I look forward to every new post. Thank You.

psychocyber on November 26, 2009 at 11:12 AM

Dr. Zero

I enjoy your writings and agree totally with your opinion about our Navy SEAL’s and other Special Operators. God Bless each and every one.

Also, I agree with you about Allahpundit. He is, without a doubt, one of the best bloggers out there. I don’t agree with him half the time either and he sometimes drives me nuts. But, he always makes you think about your own position as well as his own.

Furthermore, I respect him even more when he submits to a beatdown like he got the other day for the “Wrist Slap” comments. How many writers would openly and unabashedly allow their readers to SLAM them for making a mistake? Even Uncle Jim, over at Black Five, admitted HE had gone to far in condemning AP. As far as I know, AP has never admitted he made a mistake in his reasoning, at least in writing. He didn’t have to, because he wrote another post which all but invited everyone to beat him up. That shows he has a thick skin and is comfortable within it; It shows he knows (despite his moniker) that he isn’t perfect and, lastly, it shows he has something many in the MSM don’t have – INTEGRITY!

I hope you and yours (and Allah and his kittys) have a Happy Thanksgiving.

FloridaBill on November 26, 2009 at 7:12 PM

Having just enjoyed (?) Thanksgiving travel, it is always evident that what there is to be thankful for is a much narrower list each year. Not a list of things. A list of feelings.

A little more humbleness, appreciation, peacefulness, and of course love.

Yes, I am implying here that the older, less maturely held feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness and such have been narrowing out of my list of emotions as the years go by. Gracefully. Thankfully. Perhaps youth is not only something we all must go through, but something we should all aspire to consciously emote through as well.

Happy Thanksgiving, belatedly, and may the future be more dear to us than the past.

Robert17 on November 28, 2009 at 9:43 AM

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