I rented the series “Generation Kill” from Netflix and was watching the first CD last night. I read the book back in 2003 or 2004, and while I found it to be an interesting read, it didn’t provoke any serious thought at that point (at least not that I can recall now). However, last night as I brushed my teeth just before going to bed, I found myself reflecting on how the movie version seems to portray the Marines in a more brutal and unattractive light than I recall them being portrayed in the book. While there is an attempt to show the conflicting emotions that some of these men experience as they witness death taking place all around them, the fact that they have been trained to be emotionless killers is apparent, and some of the more ignorant individuals are truly repugnant in their hatred and desire to deal the death blow to the locals (it often seems that they couldn’t care less whether their targets are military or civilian…they just want to off someone).
This all got me thinking about my brother and father, who have both served as Marine officers in war zones, my brother in Iraq and Afghanistan and my father in Vietnam. And I realized that I have a hard time reconciling the father and brother with the killers that I know they were trained to be. If you knew either of these men, you would know them to be thoughtful, intelligent, generous, loyal and kind. Yet…they willingly joined an organization that would train them to kill human beings and then send them off to do so.
I don’t know if either of them ever actually killed anyone. My father dropped ordinance from a fighter plane in Vietnam, so my guess is that he probably did. I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to ask him how he felt about that.
Although I’m becoming more of an advocate for peace versus war as I get older, I realize that we need a military, and that we need men and women to serve in that military who are willing to kill. And I realize that some of them will actually enjoy it. I also know that there are a lot of people like my dad and brother – moral men who, for the sake of their fellow Americans, would be willing to commit immoral acts and then bear the emotional, psychological and possibly physical ramifications for having done so.
I just wish that our government would be more judicious in its waging of war so that moral men aren’t asked to commit immoral acts unless there is absolutely no other recourse.
Note: I'm further on in the series since posting what I did above, and have more thoughts on the subject that I hope to share later.