I've smelled that bracing stench of testosterone a lot in my life and it was good. Despite the worst efforts of the nanny state, boys still want to be men and woman are glad of it.
But here is a warning, guys: save the really raw stuff for when the girls are off somewhere. Like the marine colonel I read about recently who told his men that his idea of a fair fight was clubbing baby seals to death with a stick! I thought, "Hell yeah!" and then glanced around guiltily to see if my wife was watching. There are many reasons why females don't belong in a combat unit and this is one of them — it inhibits the testosterone so vital to the function of the male warrior.
There is something about being a man that reminds me of watching a good dog sit up and shake itself after a nap or a swim. It's about competition and rough neck sports and sheer old-fashioned pizzazz. Women are attracted to it but once they catch such a man they spend years trying to house train him. A real man can't be house trained.
My late father was one such man. Women loved him till the day he died — he had that Frank Sinatra sort of swagger and dressed the part too. He was mean as a snake. Dad was sixty seven years old the last time I know for sure he got in a fight. It was at the VFW and an equally aged marine disparaged Dad as a former swab jockey. The old man had faced the worst the kamikazes could throw at him at Okinawa, and the great typhoon afterwards so those were fighting words. Mom heart him shout, "Try digging a foxhole in a steel flight deck with your fingernails, you son of a bitch!" Then the time for talk was over…
My commanding officer in the army was another. When he took over a company of the Rhodesian African Rifles he knew those guys didn't need to hear a pep talk. Most were paratroopers with long service and much combat under their belts. He lined them up and introduced himself. "I'm Major Winkler, and I'll be your new commanding officer. I'll be running some patrols for the next couple of days and we'll get to know each other." He pointed to first platoon, I handed him his shotgun and we headed off for the bush. The men looked on approvingly.
Which brings me to what I think of as the Al Gore syndrome. Can you imagine having to be told by a woman how to be an alpha male? Gore could have been running against Satan and no real man would have voted for him. What a sissy!
Hint to Al — it's not about clothes, you jerk! Real men wear whatever they damn please.
One reason I can't stand either the former or current Bush is that they both have that mealy mouthed way of talking, sort of like Elmer Fud. "Buh buh buh bring it on!"
A lot of American males are trying hard to convince themselves that Bush is a real man but they are damn sure not convincing me. Real men don't make deals with Teddy "The Swimmer" Kennedy. Real men protect their country's borders.
A real man would throw out every damned one of those twenty thousand or so unconstitutional gun laws we have in this country.
George Bush is using combat soldiers to patrol Baghdad and wondering why his peacekeeping efforts are not working. Here is the problem. There are real men in Iraq too. You do not diss a man in front of his woman. He will kill you for that.
This is not obvious to our sad sack leaders because they obtained their positions by pleasing the power brokers, stroking the special interests and kissing any and all asses they felt they needed to in their endless search for money and power. Real men don't do that. Real men lead. Real men think.
Here is an example. I took over as chief of security years ago at a giant arcade called Rock City Amusements, just across from the famous Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. They told me they had problems and I was given all the armed guards they thought I needed to stop those problems: gangs, drugs and hookers. All that stuff was costing them business. I did the job and kept the firepower on a tight leash. Here is how.
I kept a few hookers and drug pushers and booted the rest. I explained to ones I kept that they could hang around but not do business in my place. They kept me informed of all I needed to know about the competition.
The gangs? I made it a point to get to know the toughest of them. I treated them with respect, particularly when they had women with them. I de-emphasized the hitting power I had waiting in the wings so I wasn't presenting them with a challenge they couldn't refuse.
It worked because I really did respect them; it was not an act. Those guys stick together in a tough environment — if they acted like a bunch of Ritalin zoned public school boys they'd be dog meat. People can smell disrespect from a mile off.
And notice that I made no threats. I spoke to them as one man to another. It cuts across cultures and borders.
Real men don't respond well to threats. American Imperial Viceroy (or whatever his title is) Bremer made a huge mistake recently in Iraq by mouthing loud threats of a military crack down on the insurgents with good old reliable brute force. I have to wonder just whose side this loser is on. But then I know the answer.
The US government only employs real men in the military, and apparently they are ritually castrated upon promotion beyond the rank of light colonel so they can fit in with the gray men who haunt our nation's capital. They act out the role of "man" for the TV cameras but are at a loss as to what it really means. Real men are never bullies.
Thanks to Bremer's big mouth, more Americans will die. They just don't get it. You can't swagger all over the place putting on that alpha male shtick without pissing off the locals. Combat soldiers must be pulled out immediately after the fight is over.
Our policies in Iraq are such that an honorable Iraqi man is left no room to be our friend. It is simply impossible to pretend to yourself that an occupying power has the best interests of your country at heart. At best, such a policy is paternalistic — which is insulting right out of the gate.
At worst the US comes off as a brutal aggressor. Saddam is gone folks, the Weapons of Mass Destruction are gone; there is now and probably never was any threat to the USA from these people and now they are asking themselves just what it is we want that we must use all these combat troops to get it. You can't impose democracy at the point of a gun.
It gets worse. Our only just policy is to leave that place and stop bullying the locals. But all that tough guy talk from Rummy and Dubya has left us in a deep hole — if we do the right thing we look like we're backing down; if we don't we plunge deeper into an un-winnable situation. Great bit of planning there guys.
Think how confusing this is to the Iraqis; how hypocritical it must seem. Out of one side of our mouths is all that touchy feely nonsense about human rights and democracy; the other side is full of threats, backed up by men with guns.
One night in 1979 I was sitting in a bar in Salisbury Rhodesia. There were men there from a number of different regiments and they let you know who they were, loudly. They were much like our young marines and cavalrymen in Iraq. But sitting over in a corner nursing a beer was a quiet little guy who looked vaguely familiar, friend of a friend kind of thing. I asked him what outfit he was with. "SAS," he whispered.
That's the kind of man who won't antagonize the locals. It's about mileage folks, and young combat troops don't have that. Walking around in flak jackets and shades is just plain confrontational. That annoys every Iraqi worth his salt.
Of course, we have nowhere near enough of those "special" guys to do the job of occupying Iraq — that would have required planning and foresight; besides those men don't want to be occupiers anyway.
I have to wonder if anyone in Washington even realized there would be an "after the war." Why we feel it necessary to occupy someone else's country is another question altogether. The only thing we can be sure of in this case is that actions have consequences. So far nobody is smiling.
Somehow those folks in Washington, having no idea how a real man acts, always go for the cinematic version, where whipping the bad guy is the beginning and the end. Not so in real life. Somebody has to clean up the bodies, restack the bricks, pick up the garbage and get the electricity back on. Obvious candidates for the job would be the Iraqi people themselves.
It is not a job for the Marines.
The problem is, our young troopers have to make the reasonable assumption that they are commanded by older, more experienced men who have a clue about the big picture. They are told that our national security is at risk. They are dimly aware that some problems can't be solved with a burst of machine gun fire but they assume, as any soldier would assume, that if they are patrolling the streets with heavy weapons then a state of war must exist and the Iraqis are the enemy.
The Iraqis are making that same assumption.
At Rock City Amusements I wore my usual dark jacket and jeans, no uniform or big sign proclaiming security. But the marines could always smoke me out. Every other night a couple of those boys would saunter up and let me know that I could count on them if there was any trouble. And it was obvious they hoped that there would be trouble. I'd spotem a couple free games and letem know I appreciated their backing.
You see, I genuinely like guys like that. I just don't want them patrolling my streets with guns.
Neither do the Iraqis.
November 14, 2003