Senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military’s ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.
A World War II study determined that, after 60 days of continuous combat, 98 percent of all surviving soldiers will have become psychiatric casualties. A common trait among the remaining 2 percent was a predisposition toward having “aggressive psychopathic personalities.” Lt. Col. Dave Grossman in his book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, notes: “It is not too far from the mark to observe that there is something about continuous, inescapable combat which will drive 98 percent of all men insane, and the other 2 percent were crazy when they got there.”
War is necrophilia. This necrophilia is central to soldiering just as it is central to the makeup of suicide bombers and terrorists. The necrophilia is hidden under platitudes about duty or comradeship. It is unleashed especially in moments when we seem to have little to live for and no hope, or in moments when the intoxication of war is at its highest pitch. When we spend long enough in war, it comes to us as a kind of release, a fatal and seductive embrace that can consummate the long flirtation with our own destruction.
War ascendant wipes out Eros. It wipes out delicacy and tenderness. Its communal power seeks to render the individual obsolete, to hand all passions, all choice, all voice to the crowd.
War is the beautiful young nymph in the fairy tale that, when kissed, exhales the vapors of the underworld.
The ancient Greeks had a word for such a fate: ekpyrosis.
It means to be consumed by a ball of fire. They used it to describe heroes.