Ajantha Mendis Promoted?? I don’t see the sense in that…

Excuse me, but are’nt soldiers supposed to be promoted and ‘recognized for their achievements’ based on how they do their actual jobs? i.e. being a soldier?? here’s the official statement;

“GUNNER Balapuwaduge Ajantha Winslow Mendis (S/158405) of Sri Lanka Artillery
who created history in the Asia Cup Tournament, bringing laurels not only to the
Sri Lanka Army but also to the entire Nation was promoted to the rank of
Sergeant last evening (7) on the instructions of Commander of the Army
Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka in recognition of his achievements.” states
the official website
of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces.

Now dont get me wrong, i love cricket as much as the next Sri Lankan and watched the Asia Cup final and saw how Mendis almost sigle handedly won the match for us but the last time i checked there was no militarism involved in his actions at all! unless of course he shot the Indian players’ balls with rubber bullets before the game started.

The Sri Lanka Army, dont they need to get their helmets on straight? how would this boost troop morale on the battlefield? ‘here we are drinking dirty water and starving. Not knowing when we’re going to take a bullet for our country, and they promote some chap who’s never seen the jungles of Vanni cos he played cricket and bowled some Indians out?’

Sports and War, i dont think should be mixed up. Mendis is a great cricketer. But the Army is still the Army. This is a typical Sri Lankan decision agian. lol.

Advertisements
23 comments
  1. Anonymous said:

    Ha ha ! Don’t talk about this at this time. It is sacrilege.

  2. David Blacker said:

    First, he was promoted to 2nd lieutenant, not sergeant.

    Second, promotions are given for many reasons — time in service, bravery in battle, technical ability, and extraordinary service to the nation — not just on being a good soldier.

    Third, no one in the Army’s starving.

    Fourth, seeing a soldier kicking the Indians’ butts is very good for morale.

  3. Hakim said:

    “we’re going to take a bullet for our country”…. I presume you are only pretending to be a soldier…. if you really are a soilder I would never want to be sitting next to you in a battle, cause you will simply shove your tail up your ass and run to your mommy… leaving you brethren to do the fighting!

    A soldier may be promoted for his extraordinary service to the country… let it be on the battle field or cricket field… get you fact straight before you go barking!

  4. Acromantula said:

    are u just jealous or some thing… what does the promotion within the army got to do with you?

    I think Devid said it best…

  5. TheWhacksteR said:

    Annonymous – your right! absolute sacriledge! look at the responses i got..

    it might be provisional to promote soldiers based on performance non-related to field work but my question was from a more idalistic point of view and i am asking you if that is right, and becoming of an institution such as the army? did the ancient romans do that? they conquored the world and here we are struggling for so long to conquor a small part of our island.

    and yes i agree it is good for morale, but soldiers not suffering in the battlefield is a bi lame for me to believe.

    thanks David for your eye-openers.

    Hakim

    no i am not a soldier and i am assuming you arent either. but lol, thanks for painting that humorous picture.

    and if you think that poeple in the front are not scared and are full of patriotic courage then think again. for most of them it is their circumstanes that have forced them into soldiering. thats prob why u and me are sitting behind our PCs writing about it while they are actually doing it.

    Acromantula – i am not jealous. friend. i saw AM whopping some indian ass too. no one can do it but he, and i hope he keeps doin it cos we badly need some fresh blood in the team. it was just the expression of my point of view. nothing personal to AM

    cheers!

  6. David Blacker said:

    This isn’t ancient Rome. They threw people to the Lions, should we do that too? But FYI historically, soldiers have often been rewarded for achievements off the battlefield. Usually in the areas of diplomacy, but also science and culture. Usually they are educated and high-ranking officers, but they’re still soldiers. In recent times, sportsmen (particularly rugby players) have been promoted for their achievements. Before rugby went professional, many English players were from the armed forces (Rob Andrew, Will Carling, etc) and were promoted as a reward. In SL, armed forces club rugby players got the same reward. You don’t have an argument here, so why not drop it?

    I didn’t say soldiers don’t suffer. I said no one is starving as you claimed.

    If you want to discuss soldiers and the war, maybe you should blog about that instead of picking on an individual. You say he’s never faced the Tigers — how do you know that?

    All over the world, it’s always the poorer working classes who make up the lower ranks of the Army, but their reasons for enlisting vary widely. If you think they have no choice, you’re dead wrong.

  7. TheWhacksteR said:

    You raise some interesting points. first of all i never said we should throw people to the lions. our society has our own brutal forms of bloodtainment (boxing for e.g. a sport which i love). of course to us they might seem a bit more civilized, but 1000 years later?

    second of all, the Roman army is held to be one of the best military organizations in the hostory of our race. they got there through pure discipline and virtue. i am not saying that armies should not promote individuals for skill if that will benefit them in the battlefield, but last i heard playing cricket was not one of them. recognition is good, and holds the army in good stead in the eyes of society but do to it with so much fanfare and pomp right after his performace seems a bit silly to me. maybe armies will be more efficient if the highest glory and honor were given to acheivements on the battlefield. where are our military heroes? why cant they be promoted and raised to glory? how is that for inspiration and troop morale?

    again, i’d like to reiterate that this is not a personal attack on Ajantha. i admire him greatly and dont think that anyone has a right to tell me what and where i should blog about something. lets not lose our sense of prespective here.

    and David, you hit it right in the head when you said;

    ‘All over the world, it’s always the poorer working classes who make up the lower ranks of the Army’

    there is a reason for that.i am not saying that there are not people (such as yourself) who join the ranks out of a passion for it. but to most of the wrking class who join up, it is a means of making a living, made a bit more attractive by govt propoganda and of course, the fact that they have been deprived of all the great opportunities the middle and higher classes have, and the army provides them some of it.

    thats why you dont see many ‘colombo boys’ in the army.and as for your question, AM joined the army because they wanted him to play cricket for them , not to fight, and if i am not mistaken, thats what he has been doing ever since.

    and this post was not an argument, neither is this comment. i’d like to call it more of a discussion, and greatly value your input.

  8. TheWhacksteR said:

    and just one more thing, how do you know no one is starving?

  9. David Blacker said:

    “first of all i never said we should throw people to the lions.”

    No, but you suggest that since the Romans didn’t reward sportsmen ( at least according to you), we shouldn’t either. My point is exactly that you shouldn’t blindly follow practices from two thousand years ago, just because some part of that practice impressed you.

    “second of all, the Roman army is held to be one of the best military organizations in the hostory of our race. they got there through pure discipline and virtue.”

    Virtue? Forgive me, but where exactly did you hear that Romans were virtuous, or that that had any impact on the battlefield. Rome’s success was yes in the discipline of its troops, but more in the organisation and logistics capability, plus the ability to use auxiliary troops. Another major factor was that all other great civilizations (like the Greeks and Romans) were in decline. So your attempt to impose your perception of Rome on SL’s a bit silly. Oh, and BTW boxing was invented by the Romans.

    “i am not saying that armies should not promote individuals for skill if that will benefit them in the battlefield,”

    As I already told you, promotion in the Army is NOT based just on military skill. If you disagree with this, no problem, so when you’re commander of the armed forces, you can put a stop to it. Militaries worldwide have no problem with it, luckily.

    “recognition is good, and holds the army in good stead in the eyes of society but do to it with so much fanfare and pomp right after his performace seems a bit silly to me.”

    Really? So it’s OK to lionize Murali or Damayanthi Dharsha or whoever, but because Mendis is a soldier he must be ignored? Great logic.

    “where are our military heroes? why cant they be promoted and raised to glory? how is that for inspiration and troop morale?”

    What makes you think they are not? Why don’t you open your eyes & ears and find out what’s actually going on in the SL military without talking such rubbish?

    “i admire him greatly and dont think that anyone has a right to tell me what and where i should blog about something.”

    I have every right to tell you, and you have every right to ignore me. That’s how the world works. If you don’t like comments, you shouldn’t blog at all. My point was that you seem more interested in writing about the military (though you seem largely ignorant about it), and are using the Mendis non-issue to try and get there.

    “but to most of the wrking class who join up, it is a means of making a living,”

    Again, cliched nonsense. If what you’re saying is true, the potential rural recruits will be flocking to the Army during peace or ceasefires (when they can earn an easy living) and avoiding it in wartime, but to the contrary in SL no one’s interested in joining during ceasefires. As soon as the fighting starts however, there are kilometre-long queues outside Army bases. The reason the SL Army is full of rural youth is because Sri Lanka is full of rural youth. Urban youth make up less than 15% of the SL of the SL youth population, and so the Army reflects that percentage. Also, urban youth have more exciting distractions and passtimes than rural youth, so the Army offers excitement to those who have no excitement, rather than money to those who are poor.

    “AM joined the army because they wanted him to play cricket for them , not to fight, and if i am not mistaken, thats what he has been doing ever since.”

    Well according to his mother (quoted in the papers) he had never played competetive cricket before joining the Army.

    “and just one more thing, how do you know no one is starving?”

    How do you know they are? I’ve served in the Army, and even at Elephant Pass no one starved. Have you been in the Army and seen what you are claiming to be true?

  10. TheWhacksteR said:

    “I have every right to tell you, and you have every right to ignore me. That’s how the world works. If you don’t like comments, you shouldn’t blog at all”

    true, you have every right to tell me, and I have every right to tell you that you don’t, if freedom of speech is your ethos, then your argument there is baseless and therefore, i will refrain from continuing it.

    as for Ajantha, and the Romans, the Romans, rewarded sportsmen who were virtuous in the battlefield, they were strongly focused on the purpose of an armed force and did not go about heaping military honors on non-military members of the force (i don’t think such a category existed).

    and as for Susanthika I don’t think she was lauded with any military promotions? I will not pretend to know what ‘lionize’ means.

    coming to your statements on the insignificance of virtue, if you think auxilary troops, tactics, and discipline alone can win a war then you need to think harder, good discippline requires strong virtue. Niccolo Machiavelli stressed how Virtue helped the Romans in his ‘Art of War’. Why don’t you read up, if you haven’t already?

    Finishing off with the Romans, it is ridiculous to say that their opponents were inferior, haven’t you ever heard of Hannibal and his Carthaginians? Your statement is akin to calling Australia an insignificant dominant force in world cricket a few years ago because the rest of the teams were pathetic. You should recognize excellence when you see it.

    AM joined the army to play cricket, you did not contradict me on that. he is a soldier only on paper. And I saw an interview of him today where he claimed that his uncles assured him that ‘it would be safe, you would only have to play cricket in the army’ when he was considering joining.

    If our military heroes are so glorified and honored then how come an average Sri Lankan such as me has to ‘open my eyes’ to know who they are?

    “If you disagree with this, no problem, so when you’re commander of the armed forces, you can put a stop to it. Militaries worldwide have no problem with it, luckily”

    with all due respect, perhaps you should stop observing ‘how the world works’ and start thinking if this is the way it actually should work?

    and as for ceasefires, recruitment is brought down during times like that and troops are only required when the nation is on a war footing. You’re right about men queuing up to join the army because propaganda plays a bit role in attracting recruits.

    As for Soldiers not starving, when did you serve in Elephant Pass? and how do you know that it is the same situation now?

    “Also, urban youth have more exciting distractions and passtimes than rural youth, so the Army offers excitement to those who have no excitement, rather than money to those who are poor.”

    I am not impressed that you think joining the army is just an ‘exciting distractment’ for rural youth. This is not ‘unreal tournament’ or ‘Halo 3’ we are talking about here after all.

    And fyi, I love comments, I thrive on them, learn a lot in the process and would be glad to hear what more you have to say.

  11. David Blacker said:

    “true, you have every right to tell me, and i have every right to tell you that you dont, if freedom of speech is your ethos, then your argument there is baseless and therefore, i will refrain from continuing it.”

    No, you DON’t have the right to tell me that I don’t. Freedom of speech is a positive not a negative. We both have the freedom to speak, not to tell the other not to speak. I suggested you speak about a new topic, I didn’t tell you not to speak. YOU on the other hand told me I do not have the right to tell you this. Clear?

    “as for Ajantha, and the Romans, the Romans, rewarded sportsmen who were virtuous in the battlefield, “

    No, they rewarded SOLDIERS who were courageous on the battlefield, and SPORTSMEN who were courageous on the sporting field. If there were soldiers who were also sportsmen they would have been rewarded accordingly, just like Mendis.

    “they were strongly focussed on the purpose of an armed force and did not go about heaping military honors on non-military members of the force”

    Since Mendis is a military member of a non-military team, and not the other way around, I fail to see your point. Is there one?

    “and as for Susanthika i dont think she was lauded with any military promotions?”

    How could she be given a military promotion when she’s a civilian? Mendis is in the military. How much deeper are you going to dig this hole?

    “coming to your statements on the insignificance of virtue, if you think auxilary troops, tactics, and discipline alone can win a war then you need to think harder, good discippline requires strong virtue.”

    Perhaps you should define virtue first. Translators disagree widely on whether Machiavelli actually meant these words in their current understanding. Most agree that his meaning was more akin to courage. Yes, courage is necessary for discipline in battle, but it is one of many necessities such as endurance and training. Courage alone is insufficient in war — most of Rome’s enemies were very courageous. They still lost.

    “finishing off with the Romans, it is ridiculous to say that their opponents were inferior, havent you ever heard of Hannibal and his Carthagniangs?”

    I didn’t say Rome’s enemies were inferior, I said that the other great Mediterranean civilizations were on the decline. Hannnibal of Carthage was so successful initially against the Romans because he copied them. He trained his troops better, disciplined them, used auxiliaries widely, and had better, more dynamic cavalry tactics. His troops were also as courageous (or virtuous if you like) as the Romans, maybe more so. But Carthage was still defeated. In other words, Carthage was proven inferior. In the end, when Rome fell to the northeast European tribes, its legions were still as disciplined and ‘virtuous’ as ever, but Rome was now in decline. There’s no doubt Rome was a great military power, but not for the reasons you suggest.

    I suggest you read Sun Tzu’s Art of War rather than Machiavelli’s, the former had a better grasp of the intricacies.

    “If our military heroes are so glorified and honored then how come an average Sri Lankan such as me has to ‘open my eyes’ to know who they are?”

    I have only your word that you are average, my friend. I suggest you open your eyes and ears because you are seemingly unaware of many things. Soldiers are not superstars like sportsmen, so they’re unlikely to be given the same sort of accolades. However, I’m amazed that you’ve heard nothing of our heroes.

    “with all due reaspect, perhaps you should stop observing ‘how the world works’ and start thinking if this is the way it actually should work? “

    I’m quite satisfied with the way this works. If you’re suggesting that non-sporting but brave soldiers should be recognized more than they already are and given superstar status, I’m OK with that. But that is more likely to cause dissatisfaction in the Army. For every act recognized a hundred go unrecognized so it’s not a great idea to make a superstar of a soldier. What I do have a problem with is your suggestion that what little has been given to Mendis should also be taken away.

    In the ’80s and ’90s, many SL cricketers were nominally employed by mercantile firms and paid salaries and given promotions merely for the prestige that their status bestowed on those firms. I didn’t here any protests. Why the protests when this is done to a soldier?

    “and as for ceasefires, recruitment is brought down during times like that and ttops are only required when the nation is on a war footing.”

    Again, you’re wrong I’m afraid. In SL the Army has NEVER been reduced in size during ceasefires. Not once. Nor has recruitment EVER been reduced.

    “your right about lines queing up to join the army because propaganda plays a bit role in attracting recruits.”

    A bit role? When the fighting heated up in early 2007, recruitment tripled. I’d say that’s more than a bit. Propaganda doesn’t fill your stomach so I think you’ll agree that the motive for recruitment isn’t monetary.

    I served at EPS in ’91, and the situation in the Army is much better than it was then. Besides, when you make a suggestion that soldiers are starving, I think it’s incumbent on you to back up that statement, not demand it be disproved.

    “i will refrain from calling your comments ‘rubbish’ and ‘nonsense’ because i do not think that they are. but respect the fact that you do not share those sentimensts about mine.”

    I’m glad you’ve seen the light 🙂

    “i am not impressed that you think joining the army is just an ‘exciting distractment’ for rural youth”

    I didn’t say it was “just” a distraction, so please don’t try to put words into my mouth that are easier to argue with. Argue with what I actually said. For rural youth who have very little entertainment in life, a military adventure is very attractive. More attractive than being a government clerk, or a small businessman, or working in a factory. This is true whether you go to midwestern America, northern Scotland, or rural SL.

    “this is not ‘unreal tournament’ or ‘Halo 3’ we are talking baout here afterall.”

    Yes I’m quite aware of it since I was there. How do you know?

  12. TheWhacksteR said:

    I think we have gone off the point here David. I shall reiterate my original points here once gain so that we can get back to base.

    1) I do not see the point of Ajantha Mendis being promoted because i do not think his military service warranted it.

    2) i am aware that this is a common practice in the world today and i am saying that this is not appropriate. a military organization should be different from commercial entities and should be managed thus.

    3) If ‘Translators disagree’ with regard to Machiavelli’s words then it is still a disagreement. You cannot prove anything with that. He Romans became decadent, but that does not make their achievements any less great. And if Hannibal copied the Romans sometimes, that means he beat them at their own game, which is pretty good.

    4) If you are already satisfied with the way the world works then you must be among the privileged few to be in perfect agreement with it. This may seem unrelated to the current discussion to you but if the world is perfect then why is there so much, suffering, repression and oppression? the human race is still rather savage. it is wrong to think of ourselves as perfect. it blinds us to future opportunity.

    “I served at EPS in ’91, and the situation in the Army is much better than it was then. Besides, when you make a suggestion that soldiers are starving, I think its incumbent on you to back up that statement, not demand it be disproved.”

    First of all, you took that statement out of context. I was just describing a soldier talking. Talk about putting words in one’s mouth. But you cannot prove that no one is starving so you cannot back up your statement that they aren’t other than say that the ‘Army is much better than it was then’.

    And I am sorry but I cannot see the noble act of joining the army in the same light of the ‘urban youth’s exciting distractions’. What distractions? Going clubbing, getting wasted or whatever ‘urban youth’ get up to? You don’t think that rural folk have their own set of exciting distractions and need to join the forces to feel alive?

    They join the Army because it is a good opportunity for them at a chance at a respectable profession, a fact that well-off youths would not consider, therefore I will go back to my point to say that the forces is more of a way of life for them.

    “”I will refrain from calling your comments ‘rubbish’ and ‘nonsense’ because I do not think that they are. But respect the fact that you do not share those sentiments about mine.”
    I’m glad you’ve seen the light :)”

    I was actually just being polite David :-)im sorry you missed it.

    “No, you don’t have the right to tell me that I don’t. Freedom of speech is a positive not a negative. We both have the freedom to speak, not to tell the other not to speak. I suggested you speak about a new topic, I didn’t tell you not to speak. YOU on the other hand told me I do not have the right to tell you this. Clear?”

    Actually, not so clear. Am I hearing you actually trying to define the boundaries of free speech? you can tell me whatever you want but I can’t tell you to stop? Freedom of speech is freedom of speech my friend. It has it’s good sides and bad sides. It’s too bad but, it can’t always work your way.

  13. David Blacker said:

    “I think we have gone off the point here David.”

    Is that a royal “we”?

    “1) I do not see the point of Ajantha Mendis being promoted because i do not think his military service warranted”

    As I told you in my first response, promotion is for service to the nation and not to the military. Can I make it any clearer?

    “2) a military organization should be different from commercial entities and should be managed thus.”

    It is different, and it is managed differently. I also pointed out that the practice is common in militaries worldwide. For further clarification, see 1).

    “3) If ‘Translators disagree’ with regard to Machiavelli’s words then it is still a disagreement. You cannot prove anything with that”

    I wasn’t trying to prove anything. You brought up Machiavelli not me to prove YOUR point. I suggested you couldn’t because it was unclear what Machiavelli meant.

    “He Romans became decadent, but that does not make their achievements any less great.”

    I didn’t say the Romans didn’t achieve great things. I pointed out that their great military prowess wasn’t achieved with just virtue and discipline. Many nations had those two characteristics and were still defeated by the Romans.

    “And if Hannibal copied the Romans sometimes, that means he beat them at their own game, which is pretty good.”

    He didn’t beat them, he lost the war and Carthage was destroyed.

    “4) If you are already satisfied with the way the world works then you must be among the privileged few to be in perfect agreement with i”

    I didn’t say I was satisfied with the world, I said I was satisfied with the practice of rewarding military sportsmen.

    “This may seem unrelated to the current discussion to you but if the world is perfect then why is there so much, suffering, repression and oppression? the human race is still rather savage. it is wrong to think of ourselves as perfect. it blinds us to future opportunity.”

    Thanks for the philosophy-101, but did I say the world was perfect? Perhaps you should blog about that next.

    “I was just describing a soldier talking.”

    You described an inaccuracy, and are now asking me to prove you wrong. As I already said, it’s incumbent on you to prove it, not me to disprove it. Is there ONE article or report you can link to that proves it’s common for SL soldiers to starve? One will do.

    If I were too tell you there were aliens on Mars, and you said there were none, it’s upto me to prove the existence of such, not upto you to prove the non-existence. Before you try philosophy I suggest you examine the structure of discourse. You can’t discuss anything til you know how to discuss.

    “And I am sorry but I cannot see the noble act of joining the army in the same light of the ‘urban youth’s exciting distractions’.”

    I don’t expect you to see it. If you had served in the Army, you would understand. However, if you want to have an objective discussion, you should be able to understand even what you yourself haven’t experienced firsthand. If you can’t do this, your views will always be limited to your own narrow horizons, and a subjective view of all other viewpoints. How can you have understood Machiavelli when you cannot understand the motives of a Sri Lankan teenager not much younger than yourself?

    “What distractions? Going clubbing, getting wasted or whatever ‘urban youth’ get up to? You don’t think that rural folk have their own set of exciting distractions and need to join the forces to feel alive? “

    The distraction itself is unimportant, Whackster. The point is that there’s more to do in the city when you’re young. It’s the reason there’s a youthful migration to cities everywhere in the world, even from rural areas where jobs are plentiful. The Army provides something a boring environment cannot.

    “They join the Army because it is a good opportunity for them at a chance at a respectable profession.”

    That too, but that’s not the primary reason. That just helps them make the decision. You’ll just have to take my word for it as an ex-soldier.

    “I was actually just being polite David :-)im sorry you missed it.”

    I was actually being sarcastic. Sorry you missed it.

    “Am I hearing you actually trying to define the boundaries of free speech?”

    No. I was disagreeing with YOUR definition of it.

    Perhaps you should stop spending eight hours a day behind a computer screen and have a closer look at the world you are so eloquent about.

  14. TheWhacksteR said:

    Er. No, that was NOT a royal we.

    “As I told you in my first response, promotion is for service to the nation and not to the military. Can I make it any clearer?”

    You cannot. But you haven’t convinced me. As I said I am not making an argument when I say ‘o don’t see the point in that’. I am just expressing an idea. An idea that I strongly feel is right.

    the soldiers might not be starving as such (as long as their in active service) but the situation in the front is such that it is impossible to believe (due to battle constraints or shortages of occasional supply) that soldiers occasionally do NOT go hungry.

    Their families and the injured ones sure seem to be suffering more though.

    http://www.topix.com/forum/world/sri-lanka/TP1UMC8664F0R3SIO

    And also mismanagement of war budgets and unseemly spending is not helping;

    http://srilankareports.wordpress.com/2008/04/13/spanking-new-merdeces-benz-w221-rs-44-million-for-sri-lankan-army-commanders-wife/

    All this is a bit unrelated to my post. I was portraying how a soldier would react to the situation in my eyes. And if there were factual inaccuracies, then this was a statement that needs to be considered strictly in context and in its presentation. You cannot tell me that no soldier would NOT react like that or not say those words.

    As for Machiavelli, translators broadly agree on the fact that virtue was what he meant. And if there are small faction disputing that they obviously do not pull enough literary weight to change the majority consensus. Besides I only have your word for it. I’d like to learn more on this though so please give me a link so I can read up.

    as for reasons for joining the army and sources of ‘entertainment’ for village youth, I feel that is a topic that we can go on discussing for day on end with both of us putting forward different socio-political views and ideas so let us just agree to disagree there shall we?

    Thank you for your advice on effective discourse, I shall keep it in mind.

    “I was actually being sarcastic. Sorry you missed it.”

    Actually David I was being sarcastic all along. You seem a bit angry, I’m sure ‘proper discourse’ as you describes it does not encompass that.

    “No. I was disagreeing with YOUR definition of it.”

    Ok. You have every right to disagree.

    “Perhaps you should stop spending eight hours a day behind a computer screen and have a closer look at the world you are so eloquent about.”

    Perhaps I should 🙂 the world is so complex that we can all still look a bit closer.

    Cheers!

  15. David Blacker said:

    “You cannot. But you haven’t convinced me.”

    I wasn’t trying to. I was pointing out the reason the promotion was given, since you said you could see no reason for it.

    “but the situation in the front is such that it is impossible to believe (due to battle constraints or shortages of occasional supply) that soldiers occasionally do NOT go hungry.”

    Of course everyone goes occasionally hungry. But there’s a huge difference between occasional hunger and starvation. For instance, I’m hungry right now ‘cos I hadn’t time for breakfast. But your statement of dissatisfaction in the Army was based on the fact that soldiers were starving (not just hungry). They aren’t starving. So yu are exaggerating to make a point.

    “And if there were factual inaccuracies, then this was a statement that needs to be considered strictly in context and in its presentation. You cannot tell me that no soldier would NOT react like that or not say those words.”

    Well if your theory is based on inaccuracies, then its an inaccurate theory. And no I cannot tell you that that NO soldier would express your view, just as I cannot tell you with absolute certainty that there is no intelligent life on Mars. It’s just unlikely. If you wish to deal only in absolutes, then it’s difficult to have a discussion with you.

    “As for Machiavelli, translators broadly agree on the fact that virtue was what he meant. And if there are small faction disputing that they obviously do not pull enough literary weight to change the majority consensus. Besides I only have your word for it. I’d like to learn more on this though so please give me a link so I can read up.”

    No they don’t, and again it’s upto YOU to back up your statement with links, rather than ask me to provide links that disprove you. But just to humour you, here you go:

    http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/2007/08/13/machiavelli-and-the-concept-of-virtue/ (“Machiavelli seems to have used ‘virtue’ in nearly all of the senses used by his contemporaries, though he abandoned or ignored the new and evolving meaning of ‘virtue’ as a general quality possessed by an individual, but he differs from his contemporaries in his strong focus on the one use of the term in its non-moral sense, in its reference to power and to ability.”)

    http://www.emachiavelli.com/The%20Prince%20and%20Machiavelli%20with%20Quotes.htm (“To Machiavelli, the word virtues does not have the same meaning as it does to us, to him it means manliness and strength…Machiavelli also advocates the use of evil to acquire a principality. He gives the example of Agathocles of Syracuse as proof that this works and will enable you to rule the land peaceably through fear.”)

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/122700/Virtue-According-to-Machievelli (“Whereas the interpretation of “virtue” in Machiavelli’s work is fairly loose and vague…”)

    Now these are just a few. There are many such online, and hundreds more available in libraries. I’m sure you can provide a few to back your view too, and the only way to decide who has more would be to count them all, which I’m sure you agree is silly. But my point is that there’s enough debate to make it perfectly clear that the definition of Machiavelli’s virtue is highly disputed.

    “as for reasons for joining the army and sources of ‘entertainment’ for village youth, I feel that is a topic that we can go on discussing for day on end with both of us putting forward different socio-political views and ideas so let us just agree to disagree there shall we?”

    The thing is I have first-hand experience of this, and you don’t. You are accepting a cliche that society puts out in favour of a harder to understand truth. For example, when soldiers complete basic training, they must fill out forms for insurance policies, etc, and one of the questions in these forms is “previous employment”; another is “reason for enlistment”. Army instructors insist that an overwhelming percentage of the responses are “unemployed”. If you don’t believe me, ask some soldiers. Perhaps you should ask yourself why the Army prefers this image of its soldiers 🙂

  16. David Blacker said:

    “You seem a bit angry”

    Actually I’m a bit amused.

  17. TheWhacksteR said:

    I said i did not see any sense in it. And do not see any reason in what you are pointing out to me either. Put it down to my youth and naivety if you like:)

    As for Machiavelli, the fact remains that he did speak about virtue. Generally virtue can be expresses to be;

    “Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness.”

    Will you agree with that? But Machiavelli did talk about virtue in the sense of the goodness you would need if you were in battle.

    “….But he differs from his contemporaries in his strong focus on the one use of the term in its non-moral sense, in its reference to power and to ability”

    I know Machiavelli was perceived as a bit of a controversial writer (with reference to his times) and he would have been the last to expound virtue as absolute goodness. But the fact remains that he did refer to virtue even if the meaning to him was different.

    You cannot assume that i did not understand ‘virtue’ as he did mean it to be understood. The dispute here is on the very interpretation of the word and not whether he used it at all.

    He still refers to individual strength and courage and qualities that are needed for ‘good’ soldiers in the pursuit of a successful campaign.

    I am amused that you are amused.

  18. David Blacker said:

    “I said i did not see any sense in it. And do not see any reason in what you are pointing out to me either. Put it down to my youth and naivety if you like:)”

    Well, if you’d said you were uninterested in the reason and that your query was merely rhetorical, sort of like “Oh God, why is this happening to me?” I wouldn’t have bothered explaining.

    “As for Machiavelli, the fact remains that he did speak about virtue. Generally virtue can be expresses to be;

    “Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness.””

    That is the modern, accepted definition, and it is obvious from Machiavelli’s writing (even if you want to ignore the translators) that his definition is different. Someone who encouraged deception, lies and general evil in order to maximize power and control, clearly didn’t see “virtue” as “Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness”.

    “But Machiavelli did talk about virtue in the sense of the goodness you would need if you were in battle.”

    If by “goodness”, you mean excellence, yes. Which is why I asked you at the very beginning to define virtue. And as I told you, most scholars agree that Machiavelli’s definition of virtue was closer to that of courage, strength, etc. You, however, disagreed in favour of those who think his virtue was the modern virtue, which it is plainly not. So have you changed your mind — do you still think he meant the modern virtue (moral excellence expressed by the individual in righteousness and goodness) or ‘a’ virtue (courage, strength, etc)?

    “But the fact remains that he did refer to virtue even if the meaning to him was different.”

    I never denied that he referred to virtue; his writing is there for all to read. I just scoffed at your suggestion that virtue was important to modern warfare. At which point you quoted Machiavelli.

    “You cannot assume that i did not understand ‘virtue’ as he did mean it to be understood.”

    Forgive me if I scoff some more, but if you’re trying to tell me that your usage of “virtue” was Machiavellian (that you really meant strength, courage, etc), why did you disagree with the scholars whom I quoted who in fact point out that that’s what he meant? Do you seriously expect me to believe that you preferred to use an archaic term, open to wide interpretation, debate, and misunderstanding, instead of the modern word “professionalism”, which is probably the best interpretation (in the military sense) of Machiavellian “virtue”, since it encompasses all of the traits contained in the latter?

    “The dispute here is on the very interpretation of the word and not whether he used it at all.”

    Of course. Did I ever once dispute the fact that Machiavelli used the word “virtue”?

    “He still refers to individual strength and courage and qualities that are needed for ‘good’ soldiers in the pursuit of a successful campaign.”

    Certainly, but he refers to these traits as just that — individual strength and courage — and not virtue — which he uses as a collective; ie a “virtuous” army would be a professional one, while a virtuous man would be good, upright, and moral.

    To use virtue (as it is now understood) in the modern military context is ridiculous.

  19. TheWhacksteR said:

    “Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness.””

    you mean to say that these qualities are not important to a soldier in the battlefied?

    anyways that is not relevant here. if you noticed i brought up the Romans, Virtue and Machiavelli round about the same time. and i did mean virtue in terms of what Machiavelli meant it (no matter how hard that might be for you to believe). there was no reason for you to deduce that i meant it in any other way

    some of your omments;

    “Virtue? Forgive me, but where exactly did you hear that Romans were virtuous, or that that had any impact on the battlefield. “

    “Translators disagree widely on whether Machiavelli actually meant these words in their current understanding. Most agree that his meaning was more akin to courage. Yes, courage is necessary for discipline in battle, but it is one of many necessities such as endurance and training. Courage alone is insufficient in war — most of Rome’s enemies were very courageous. They still lost.”

    yea but you will agree that without courage an army will be very disadvantaged.

    “Well, if you’d said you were uninterested in the reason and that your query was merely rhetorical, sort of like “Oh God, why is this happening to me?” I wouldn’t have bothered explaining.”

    Well not exactly, as I said I appreciate what you said and learned quite a lot from you (scoffing aside that is). Yet my idea is a bit more fundamental, maybe you do not understand. Or maybe it is me. Maybe with time i will grow to be as old and as cynically conformist as you.

  20. David Blacker said:

    ““Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness.””

    you mean to say that these qualities are not important to a soldier in the battlefied?”

    Perhaps it’ll help him in the next world, but not in this battlefield.

    “and i did mean virtue in terms of what Machiavelli meant it”

    Lol. If you say so. So you’re telling me that you meant virtue as to be courage, strength, etc? Well, when I told you that many translators in fact say this, you dismissed them as inconsequential. So you dismissed the translators who were in fact saying what you now CLAIM you were saying. Ha ha. And, as can be seen above, you STILL think goodness etc are important. At least have the intellectual honesty to admit your mistake, Whackster. I am disappointed 🙂

    “Or maybe it is me. Maybe with time i will grow to be as old and as cynically conformist as you.”

    And hopefully articulate, and less intellectually deceitful 😉

  21. TheWhacksteR said:

    “Well, when I told you that many translators in fact say this, you dismissed them as inconsequential”

    Touché David, you got me there! There is no excuse for me having not considered your statements about bravery, but that is what happened. i must have lost my cool in the heat of the argument. The point is yours as a result though and I shall not argue further.

    “And hopefully articulate, and less intellectually deceitful ;)”

    Articulate? Yes. Deceitful? Hmmmm.. Let me think about that. Maybe more aspects of what we discussed and personal implications for me will become apparent with time. I’ll keep you in the loop.

    “”“Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness.””

    Perhaps it’ll help him in the next world, but not in this battlefield.”

    I beg to differ David. It is goodness that keeps a soldier from stealing from the dead. It is honesty that keeps him from lying to his superior to save his own neck. It is goodness and virtue in its ‘modern meaning’ that keeps a soldier from not shooting down an unarmed enemy; it is goodness and ‘virtue’ that would prevent all the war crimes that go unheeded in Iraq and perhaps, in our own land.

    Maybe if we keep dissecting the ‘Machiavellian meaning’ of virtue and the ‘modern meaning’ we would find that a dispute does not have to exist after all. Perhaps they have simply focused their attention on two different areas of the same spectrum. Virtue after all simply put, refers to good qualities doesn’t it?

  22. david B lacker said:

    “I beg to differ David. It is goodness that keeps a soldier from stealing from the dead. It is honesty that keeps him from lying to his superior to save his own neck. It is goodness and virtue in its ‘modern meaning’ that keeps a soldier from not shooting down an unarmed enemy; “

    No, it is discipline. Virtue, in its modern context (just for the record: goodness, morality’ etc) has no real advantage, though it MIGHT have some disadvantages. The essence of military training is to break down the individual conscience, which is sculpted from conventional morality, religion, society, etc, and replace it with a loyalty totally separate to that of civil society. To quote Daniel Carney:

    “The perfect soldier, who recognizes only the order, and the exigencies of the moment.”

    “it is goodness and ‘virtue’ that would prevent all the war crimes that go unheeded in Iraq and perhaps, in our own land.”

    That is true, and the fact that such atrocities occur (and have always occured) is in fact because virtue (in its modern sense) does not exist in the military. Virtue would prevent atrocities, yes, but it would also prevent the ruthlessness needed by military leaders which must sacrifice lives for objectives, ignore civilian suffering, and abandon everything but victory. Virtue, in its modern sense, would prevent an individual from even being a soldier who must kill and maim his fellow human beings in order to achieve a political objective. True virtue would prevent war.

    “Virtue after all simply put, refers to good qualities doesn’t it?”

    Over-simply put, I’m afraid. Good, after all, is a subjective term. But I think it’s clear that Machiavelli didn’t mean “goodness, honesty” etc. He was talking about strength, ambition, manliness.

  23. Anonymous said:

    Its obvious that this is the start of a beautiful friendship…..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: