Monday, February 07, 2005

We do not condone taking pleasure from killing. Sort of.

Has everybody already heard about the U.S. general who says that killing people is fun?
Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. I like brawling. ... You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis said. "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.
That's Lieutenant General James Mattis, verbatim. From what I can tell, the story has gotten a lot more foreign press than it has here in America, which is not at all surprising. But it's interesting to see how different countries spin things differently. The BBC, for instance, carries the story of the military's response to the comment with the headline, US 'war is fun' general rebuked:
The US Marine Corps has publicly upbraided one of its generals for his comments describing shooting people in Iraq as "fun". ... The Marine Corps said Lt Gen James Mattis had been "counselled" concerning his remarks, made during a panel discussion in California. The general had agreed he should have chosen his words more carefully. ... The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen Mike Hagee, later issued a statement saying he had counselled Gen Mattis on his remarks. The statement praised Gen Mattis as a brave and brilliant military leader and it seems there will be no disciplinary action.
The same facts seem to be reported with a very different headline on, Pentagon defends general who said shooting insurgents is 'fun':
The Pentagon Thursday defended a Marine Corps general who was quoted as telling an audience this week that it was "fun to shoot some people," referring to insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lieutenant General James Mattis was "counseled" over the remarks by the commandant of the Marine Corps, General Michael Hagee, the marines said. But the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Peter Pace, defended Mattis when asked about the remarks at a Pentagon press conference. "I was not present when General Mattis made those specific comments so I will let him address what he said for himself," said Pace. "But, I will tell you that the last three times that that general has been in combat when he was leading marines in Afghanistan and the two times he led his division in Iraq, his actions and those of his troops clearly show that he understands the value of proper leadership and the value of human life," he said. ... In a statement, the Marine Corps commandant called Mattis "one of this country's bravest and most experienced military leaders." "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 said. "Lieutenant General 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," he said.
I have to say, it looks to me like the Turkish Press describes it right, and the BBC describes it wrong. A counselling session counts as an 'upbraiding'? If you say so...

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