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Marine’s Reaction to the News: ‘Who’s Rumsfeld?’

Posted on Nov 10, 2006
James L. Davis
Joao Silva for The New York Times

Lance Cpl. James L. Davis Jr. taking a smoke break. He is the Marine who claimed not to be familiar with the name Rumsfeld.

Informed of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s resignation, a Marine lance corporal (right), in his second tour of duty in Iraq, replied that he had no idea who Rumsfeld was.

  • This is a sobering reminder that, as a N.Y. Times reporter wrote, “Those with the most at stake are among the least involved in the decisions that send them where they go.”

  • N.Y. Times:

    ... The sergeant went upstairs to tell his marines, just as he had informed them the day before that the Republican Party had lost control of the House of Representatives and that Congress was in the midst of sweeping change. Mr. Menti had told them that, too.

    “Rumsfeld’s out,” he said to five marines sprawled with rifles on the cold floor.

    Lance Cpl. James L. Davis Jr. looked up from his cigarette. “Who’s Rumsfeld?” he asked.

    If history is any guide, many of the young men who endure the severest hardships and assume the greatest risks in the war in Iraq will become interested in politics and politicians later, when they are older and look back on their combat tours.

    But not yet. Marine infantry units have traditionally been nonpolitical, to the point of stubbornly embracing a peculiar detachment from policy currents at home. It is a pillar of the corps’ martial culture: those with the most at stake are among the least involved in the decisions that send them where they go.


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    By R. A. Earl, November 11, 2006 at 11:53 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    When Hank wrote…

    “How on earth can people put their lives on the line day after day without thinking about why they are doing it?”

    ... I nearly cheered out loud! I’ve asked that same question for DECADES but only silently to myself because it would be almost a hanging offence to question that a PATRIOT would even HESITATE to put him/herself in harms way for MY FREEDOM. How ungrateful could I be to not drop to my knees to honor their sacrifice and to offer my sincere thanks?

    There’s no bloody way I’d willingly go off to some god-forsaken desert or swamp, live in misery, pickup diseases for life, likely get my head more screwed up than it is and very likely GET KILLED… WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING FOR CERTAIN EXACTLY WHY I’M BEING ASKED TO DO IT!!!!!!!!!!

    If some jerked off politician wants to declare war on some other maniac, LET HIM PICK UP THE FIRST GUN AND LEAD THE CHARGE. If that were the law… THERE’D BE NO WARS. Can you see GWB in a helmet putting HIS LIFE on the line by charging into the desert after some poor schmuk? Not bloody likely! Well, until the guy who DECIDES to go to war leads the way, he can forget about me as cannon fodder, especially when we’re not even being threatened let alone being attacked!

    If some foreign crackpot declared war on us and began landing on our shores, THEN AND ONLY THEN WOULD I BE PREPARED TO PUT MY LIFE ON THE LINE FOR MYSELF, MY FAMILY AND MY COUNTRY. Since there are VERY few countries stupid enough to try that I feel pretty damn safe.

    Let those in other lands solve their own damn problems just like we have to. Why the hell should WE die to solve THEIR stupid problems?

    Oh yeah, I forgot, GBW & his cronies wanted the OIL and Saddam wouldn’t just give it to them.

    Our guys aren’t dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for OUR freedom. There’s no way Iraquis or Afghans would ever attack the USA so OUR FREEDOM has NEVER been threatened by outsiders. Our own politicans have done more to wreck our freedom than foreigners ever have!

    WAKE UP AMERICANS! Tell your politicians to bring our troops HOME and keep them HERE to defend our shores and borders and then KEEP OUR NOSES OUT OF OTHER PEOPLES’ PROBLEMS!

    Report this

    By PAUL AMIGO, November 11, 2006 at 9:21 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    To “vet240”[Comment #37596 ], may be the question touched a raw nerve in you because you and I know the TRUTH and that is, those poor boys are being slaughtered in the ‘killing fields’ in Iraq is BECAUSE they were send there on the basis of LIES and PROPAGANDA, just like fourty years ago in VIETNAM !!!
    Just because they VOLUNTEERED to serve, doesn’t give ANYONE the right to USE THEM like CANNON FODDER !!!!

    Report this

    By Hank, November 11, 2006 at 10:03 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    This article is not very encouraging.  How on earth can people put their lives on the line day after day without thinking about why they are doing it?  How can we send these ignorant kids to their deaths!  Bring these hopeless troops home and let them grow up beforfe we ask them to risk their lives.

    Report this

    By Crushed with sadness, November 11, 2006 at 7:33 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    This is why recruiters for the “volunteer” army can get away with telling people, “Oh, the Iraq war? That’s over - there’s no way you’ll be sent there.”

    The young people of America have become the neocon victims of choice, because they’re pathetically easy. It’s like taking candy from a baby, getting these politically ignorant people to go die in stupid wars for the AIPAC agenda (“What’s AIPAC?” Corporal Davis asks…).

    Report this

    By vet240, November 10, 2006 at 10:12 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    If the quote credited to Lance Cpl. James L. Davis Jr. is accurate, I would have a different interpretation of his meaning. I would assume that due to the fact that Rumsfield is out, and Rumsfield having very little to do with the focus of the L. Cpl., that being his immediate problem his personal survival, that Rummy being gone is of no importance to him, hence the Question “Who’s Rumsfield?” Gets those making the announcement to get on with something more immediately important, namely their own survival. In other words knock off the bullshit and get with the program.

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    By Bukko in Australia, November 10, 2006 at 9:42 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Maybe John Kerry’s comment was correct! Look, if you had a bunch of deep thinkers in the military, they wouldn’t want to go charging into situations that likely mean death. Sad, but sometimes necessary…

    On the other hand, I’ve read a lot of commentary by troops on the ground that have it sussed way better than I ever will. They weren’t Marine riflemen, though.

    Report this
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