Thursday, April 22, 2004


Here's a social-scientific generalization for you: war makes barbarians of people. Kerry knows this, or used to. For another example: ever hear about the Soviet advance to Berlin?

The young Kerry--though not today's--would have been talking about Falluja. Via Empire Notes, here's what a Marine sniper has to say:

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Taking a short breather Friday, the 21-year-old Marine corporal explained what it was like to practice his lethal skill in the battle for this city.
"It's a sniper's dream," he said in polite, matter-of-fact tones. "You can go anywhere and there are so many ways to fire at the enemy without him knowing where you are."


"Sometimes a guy will go down, and I'll let him scream a bit to destroy the morale of his buddies," said the Marine corporal. "Then I'll use a second shot."


While official policy discourages Marines from keeping a personal count of people they have killed, the custom continues. In nearly two weeks of conflict here, the corporal from a Midwestern city has emerged as the top sniper, with 24 confirmed kills. By comparison, the top Marine Corps sniper in Vietnam killed 103 people in 16 months.

"As a sniper, your goal is to completely demoralize the enemy," said the corporal, who played football and ran track in high school and dreams of becoming a high school coach. "I couldn't have asked to be in a better place. I just got lucky: to be here at the right time and with the right training."


But the sniper, with time to set up his shot, sees his victim more clearly through a powerful scope: Their faces, their eyes, the weapons in their hands. And their expression when the bullet hits "their center mass."

"You have to have a combat mind-set," said the corporal.

Unlike other infantry troops, the sniper thus has a greater confidence that his shot is not as likely to hit a civilian or a "friendly."

The corporal hopes to get back home by late fall in time to take his girlfriend to a college football game and go deer hunting with his father.

"When I go hunting for whitetail, it's for food and sport," he said. "Here, when I go hunting, it's personal, very personal."

For similar attitudes, see this riveting story of an effort to get aid to a hospital in Falluja.

When will we have "Iraq Veterans Against the War"? Are such things possible today?


Welcome to my blog, my effort to become a participant and not just an observer of the vast left-wing blogosphere conspiracy centered around sites like Atrios, Tapped, and the Center for American Progress.

A little about me. I'm an American. By profession I am unfortunate enough to be a political scientist--doubtless I'll vent about the bankruptcy of that benighted discipline here--but I'm only an amateur in the study of American politics. I do know a lot about economics and Russia. I find the lack of anyone with a coherent vision of how to improve the economic lot of the less developed countries most depressing. Everything about the Bush regime--its serial mendacity, its massive redistribution in favor of the more fortunate, its fundamental disdain for deomcracy--sickens me. Above all, the Iraq war makes me very ashamed of what's being done in the name of we Americans.

We all have to change our life. This is my small way of trying. Welcome.

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