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Posted on Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 7 a.m.

Message of military recruiting TV ads is that violence is cool

By Letters to the Editor

While watching the NCAA playoffs on TV a very violent ad appeared many times. It had music and action. It showed weapons and rockets being fired. Jets swooped. Tanks and soldiers ran across an open area.

The message was clear to me -- violence is cool. Violence is exhilarating. Violence is like a sport. Violence is how the USA solves conflicts. This ad is paid for by the taxpayers and watched by all age groups. The Few, The Proud . . . they do it best. Wave the flag!

I was in the Army, infantry, Vietnam. As I reflect on my experience and observe the continual promotion of violence in this county, it is not surprising to me that weapons are the first choice of many and murder is so pervasive. It looks so cool. It looks so exhilarating. It like a sport -- until you see the “score” first hand, and smell the results.

It should be about basketball, not violence.

Arnold Stieber
Grass Lake



Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 5:25 a.m.

Having served in the Marines and having helped pick up a few dead bodies, I will concur that the reality is not as glorious as the advertising. Nonetheless, it would do our self-centered population a world of good to have to spend a few years doing SOMETHING that wasn't all about them and their perceived needs and wants. Whether in the military, the Peace Corps, or some other altruistic form of national service, everybody should have to do SOMETHING for their country to have the right to call themselves Americans.


Thu, Apr 5, 2012 : 5:41 a.m.

Spot on Eagle. Human beings are the most violent and destructive animals to ever inhabit the Earth. We are also the most technologically advanced and civilized. It's not a paradox, it's normal and natural. Too many people have their head in the sand. We are reaping the benefits of a whole bunch of killing right now being able to cozily sit at our computers. It never ceases to amaze me how "green" and "natural" people say they are. Not much is more natural than violence. It doesn't mean violence is the only thing. It is one of many normal, natural occurrences. I highly doubt we are any more or less violent than any other civilization has been or will ever be. I'm sure Greeks recruited plenty of soldiers with stories of glory and so did Middle Eastern nations, Native American Indian tribes, Western European nations, and any region, nation, or civilization in any part of the world in all of the history of Earth. A commercial is no different.


Tue, Apr 3, 2012 : 1:05 a.m.

The writer of this letter obviously does not pay much attention to history or human behavior. The history of this country is extraordinarily violent. From the Seven Year's War to the Revolution to the Civil War to the World Wars and right on through to the current day. This is not counting the innumerable massacres, riots, and revolts that have bloodied our soil since before we were a nation. Now let's look at human behavior. Humans have for the longest been interest in the macabre and the violent.In almost any culture one examines you will find a violent aspect to it. Why? Because violence is part of who we are as humans. We watch horror movies because in part we enjoy the violence that comes along with it. We enjoy being scared by the description of maiming and death that we read in Poe. We lap up the muscular lyrics of death metal. Death and its cousin violence can be found on as a motif in art, literature, music, and architecture in almost every part of the globe. This fascination with violence is not uniquely American nor recent.Humans love themselves some "good old fashion" gore.

Soft Paw

Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

"The message was clear to me -- violence is cool. Violence is exhilarating. Violence is like a sport. Violence is how the USA solves conflicts." The last part is certainly true. Even when things get settled without violence there is always the threat of it, whenever the invisible hand of capitalism needs help from the iron fist of imperialism.


Tue, Apr 3, 2012 : 1:09 a.m.

Yeah. you need to read some on socialism, Soft Paw. Tens of millions died under such regimes. In fact, most crimes came in states with powerful centralized authorities. It is easier to kill with a centralized authority than a de-centralize authority no matter the ideology of those in power. History tells us that de-centralization is the greets protection against war, but people today are too dimwitted to see that. They are foolishly grasping for a single government world in the vain hope that the deeply ingrained cultural differences and basic human behavior can be overcomes. This is Utopian way of thinking is what created the EU. Certain folks are attempting to do that now, but on a world stage.


Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

as opposed to the" non violence / non imperialism " of jihadism, or historically , anti-capitalist communism or fascism?? wow.....unbelieveable.


Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

Maybe the recruiting ads should have flower children running through the daisies?


Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

Sparty My point was! IF you are advertizing anything. You show what is relevant. If you are trying to recruit soldiers you don't show a BMW driving down the hwy! I have the utmost respect for those that have or are serving in the military. Even though too much money is spent and there are places we should not be! Have you ever heard of a medical deferment?


Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

Was that your experience? What branch of the military did you serve in ?

Stuart Brown

Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 4:47 a.m.

I agree with the author--and I appreciate how someone with real life experience is attempting to provide information that could help the young people amongst us. I wish we could have vets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan invited into our high schools to explain what PTSD is and why so many of the returning vets are affected by it. I suspect if many high school kids considering joining the military were aware of what really goes on in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, they would not join. Look at the history of Vietnam and in particular, Lt. Calley and My Lai; it seems like every war the US gets involved with ends up with a My Lai massacre sooner or later. My Lai happened because the US soldiers realized that the civilians were helping the Viet Cong and did not want US soldiers in their country. That's what happens to occupying armies in foreign lands, sooner or later the insurgents make it impossible for the occupier to continue occupying. The US government will never get this despite nothing to show for having been involved in Afghanistan for over 10 years and seems to have no problem murdering millions more to relearn a lesson it will soon forget, again. The above is a truth our young people really need to know; especially the ones considering joining the military.


Tue, Apr 3, 2012 : 1:15 a.m.

Really? So what about Nazi Germany and Japan? What about the South post-Civil War? We occupied those lands and nothing of the sort happened. You mention My Lai, but you neglect to mention the NVA's atrocities and subsequent oppression of the Vietnamese. We may not have been the cowboy in the white hat, but neither were Ho Chi Minh s minions.


Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

Stuart, PTSD is typically caused by the realization that in the heat of battle you are capable of doing things above the realm of human understanding. Without getting graphic, there are situations and espically in this war, where our men and women are required to do the unthinkable for thier own safety. As far as your comment "The US government will never get this despite nothing to show for having been involved in Afghanistan for over 10 years" - I have to disagree, and if you speak with the overwhelming majority of our men and women who have served multiple tours overseas you would hear them describe a far more civil region. There are still violent hostile areas, but in a whole it is night and day from what we entered 10+ years ago.


Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

so go vote ron paul...he needs all the help he can get on his ( and your) isolationist 'blind eye to patent evil, while hyper obsessing about the far more justified responses to it " ( eg the 'extra judicial killing" of monsters) Admittedly ,though, tactics are always in need of tweaking. And yes, stuart, you would indeed not do well under the taliban...but you never bother to say that until prodded, given your "greenish" instincts to blame victims rather than perps who you and your pals in fact often apologize and cheer for..

Stuart Brown

Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 11:40 p.m.

Bedrog, I just knew I could count on you slither up from somewhere on this thread, thanks for giving me the opportunity to rebut your claims. Stuart Brown is no friend of the Taliban since he does not think he would do very well living under them at all. Which is why he is disappointed that the US military has proven to be one of the best friends they ever had. The longer the US military occupies Afghanistan, the stronger the Taliban grows; go figure. This is a lesson that has been learned by occupying countries for centuries; small bands of ruthless fighters with enough popular support can and do defeat modern military forces from advanced industrialized nations. It is how the Founding Fathers of the US defeated the British in the 1780's. The French learned this in Vietnam and Algeria; the US learned this in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq; the USSR learned this in Afghanistan as well. The best way to win at this game is to not play it at all--like with the Lotto. Lt. Calley got off with very modest punishment; the government has admitted that atrocities were perpetrated by every company sent to Vietnam at one time or another with no punishment whatsoever handed out.


Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

The taliban have murdered far more of their fellow afghans than the u.s. ( whose "murders' --as opposed to justifiable killings of known murderers--- are investigated and punished , as was My lai).. And Taliban run- afghanistan was perfectly happy to be "occupied", and bribed, by arab al qaedists who used afghanistan as a base to attack us, and other places around the world....and will continue to do so unless they are decisively crushed. and in a broader historical context, currently islamic -fanatic- run Iran was "occupied" by islam -bearing arabs in the 7th century who forceably surpressed the indiginous zoroastrian faith, and converted Iranians by the sword. so some 'occupations' clearly do work. But nevermind...none of this reality should ever interfere with your and your cronies' looptape- ism, which would never deign to condemn any violence other than that committed by the u.s and its allies...and that nowadays mostly defensively. yet nary a word of condemnation for any of this from you and your colleagues. Your sense of history---and reality--is, as ever,


Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 2:15 a.m.

As long as human beings exists on this planet we will have a need for the military. The majority of the men and women who wear the uniform are outstanding individuals and need to be thanked for protecting your rights and freedoms. Thank you for the sacrifices they make.

Linda Peck

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 10:41 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Stieber, for speaking out. I agree with you. We must look to a future better age for our children that wars and poverty. If we end war, we will end poverty.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

I guess the commercial about the 72 virgins waiting for those that die in battle ended up on the cutting room floor. By the way, what would be waiting for females that die in battle?

Dwight Lang

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.

All warrior cultures - ours included - need to idealize violence to motivate the warriors and their families. Unintended, but not surprising consequences include citizens back at home shooting one another - but that's the cost to be paid. What's missing in that ad are soldiers dodging explosions and bullets - as they attack unseen/faceless warriors in other societies who have been likewise convinced that war is good and inevitable.

G. Orwell

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

Just as hero general Smedley Butler said, "war is a racket." Wars are not to defend this country or democracy. No country would dare attack the US. It' is to make money for a select few and to fulfill their agendas.


Tue, Apr 3, 2012 : 4:35 a.m.

BTW, @Mun, are you still asking George Zimmerman where his wounds are, now that even ABC has admitted that the video shows evidence of trauma to the back of his head? MSM aren't looking so good now, with them having to admit that and NBC on the hot seat for misleading the public on Zimmerman's 911 call with their manipulative edit. Told you not to back those horses.


Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 5:21 a.m.

"Oh yes also the British and French. All of them attacked us." If you're talking about WWII, the British and French were our allies against the Nazis.

Unusual Suspect

Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 2:06 a.m.

You're missing just a little bit of history there, George.

G. Orwell

Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 1:23 a.m.

Hunterjim The US has nuclear weapons and backing of NATO. No one is going to attack us first. Unless they want to be annihilated from the face of the earth.

G. Orwell

Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 1:20 a.m.

Mike K Government is a racket therefore, wars are rackets. Who takes us to wars?

Mike K

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 11:59 p.m.

George, Government is a racket.............

G. Orwell

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

Hunterjim Learn your history and not from the government run public schools. First, Japan was forced to attacked the US because we cut off their fuel supply. Second, Roosevelt knew Japan was going to attack at least 10 days before Pearl Harbor. Japanese communication was intercepted. Roosevelt allowed the attack to go forward to get the American people behind entering WW2. You can't possibly tell me that the US did not know hundreds of Japanese planes were flyIng toward Hawaii in broad day light? What happened to all our sophisticated radars system? Back then the US did not have nuclear weapons and NATO backing us. Do you really believe a country would attack the US now and face being annihilated off the face of the earth. Why haven't we invaded North Korea? Because they have a handful of nukes. Why do you think Iran wants nukes? To defend themselves from a US and NATO invasion.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

Tell that to Japan and Germany. Oh yes also the British and French. All of them attacked us.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

Mr. Stieber, It is about freedom. Thank you for your service. Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. ~Ronald Reagan


Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

What is about freedom? How do any of the wars of the last 6 decades affect our freedom or that of others?


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature, and has no chance of being free unless made or kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. - John Stuart Mill


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

sh..iraq maybe not. Afghanistan absolutely...and it still is.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 4:36 p.m.

So, were the Iraq and Afghanistan wars worth fighting?

G. Orwell

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

Our young are being recruited for cannon fodder. " Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy." - Henry Kissinger. 51% of our tax dollars go toward our military conquest. While people go hungry and our roads and infrastructures deteriorate. Obama worked for Kissinger Associates so the policy of war will continue. Wars are to benefit the elites. Nothing more.


Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 5:51 p.m.

Sorry JonnyA2, your budget is what you spend. It doesn't matter where it came from. BTW, SS has been a Ponzi scheme since day one: "Ida May Fuller worked for three years under the Social Security program. The accumulated taxes on her salary during those three years was a total of $24.75. Her initial monthly check was $22.54. During her lifetime she collected a total of $22,888.92 in Social Security benefits." So, there's a nagging fact for you. Keep making it up, you're doing fine.

Mike K

Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

"I think Obama is a fraud. Both the democrats and republicans are taking turns destroying this great country. That is a fact." Couldn't agree with you more. Voted that up. "Deteriorating infrastructure" is generally a liberal talking point. The shame of infrastructure is that governments of all scales failed to maintain the existing infrastructure. That along with poor fiscal management makes it very difficult to address today.

G. Orwell

Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 1:19 a.m.

Mike K Who says I am a liberal. I think Obama is a fraud. Both the democrats and republicans are taking turns destroying this great country. That is a fact.

G. Orwell

Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 1:17 a.m.

EyeHeartA2, You are only looking at the info that is published. There is far more spending off the books. That is why the Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, estimated that the Iraq war ALONE will cost $3.0 TRILLION (I thought the Iraq oil was suppose to pay for the war. What a joke). Add in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, multiple military bases in 175 countries around the world, and black ops, it costs far more than what you are told. Pentagon/Rummy, on 9/10/2001 (funny how he came out and admitted this on 9/10.), announced it is missing $2.3 TRILLION. Google it. Don't believe everything our government tells you. Don't be so naive!!!!

Mike K

Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 1:12 a.m.

Thanks for the clarification. I happen to be a Ron Paulista myself, but respect military presence just a little more than most Ron Paulista's. The comment on infratructure sure fooled me. It's a liberal talking point.


Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 12:19 a.m.

mike: orwell is hardly a 'liberal" ( although i am...and recognize the need for military responses to aggression). He's a ron paulista


Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 12:12 a.m.

As usual the right wingers forget that SOCIAL SECURITY is FULLY paid for In fact the military BORROWS funds from Social Security. Medicare and Social Security are ONE HUNDRED % paid for. Facts are nagging things for people like you. Take SS out of the mix and the deficit is HIGHER.

Mike K

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 11:58 p.m.

That's the last we'll hear out of George. One challanged, the liberal will take his script elsewhere.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 10:16 p.m.

You need to check those facts, there sport. 19% of our budget goes for defense 43% goes for Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid: But keep making it up as you go along. It's all good.

Dog Guy

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

Mr. Stieber, such ads are intended to recruit young men open to the use of powerful weapons and lacking your age, observation, experience, and reflection. John Falstaff recruited "food for powder, food for powder, they'll fill a pit as well as better men." (Shakespeare, Henry IV)


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 7:01 p.m.

Don't the ads intend to recruit young and older men AND women? What's this focus on men only ????


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

At least they don't sugar coat it? It's not easy. It's not a walk in the park.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

In addition to glorifying violence that ads always end with a very dishonest statement: "Paid for the U.S. Army." An honest statement would be "Paid for by the U.S. taxpayers." The Army alone spent around $500 million in taxpayer dollars last year for advertising.

Robert Hughes

Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 2:59 a.m.

PBS and NPR are partially funded by corporations and individuals.

Mike K

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

Yeah, just like Solyndra was paid for by the US taxpayer. One function of the Federal Government that we should all agree on is national defense.

John of Saline

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

Maybe we should put the same tag at the end of every PBS and NPR show, too.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

Ummmm. It's an ad. Ads usually do best SELLING their product, not disparaging it. Sorry you don't like the armed forces, that doesn't diminish the need or mean that they should put out poor ads. Ad slogans you will never see: "BUY the new NISSAN LEAF, it'll leave you stranded after 100 miles, but think of how superior you will feel" Yep, there's a keeper.

Robert Hughes

Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 2:58 a.m.

The Tango has a range of 150 miles.


Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

@jonneya2' I'm not going to throw the whole left wing under the bus with some ad hominem attack, that seems to be your stock in trade, since you have done it twice now in this little thread. I'm not sure what part of the fact that the car has a range of 100 miles is a lie. Perhaps you can enlighten me and my "ilk", about that? You know, the lie I'm repeating over and over? Thought not. @sh1, calculate away. As I said, I think it is the perfect car for you. I really want you to buy one. Please report back on how it works out for you.


Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

I'll do the critical thinking for you: if I know a car has a 100-mile-limit, I will not drive it over 100 miles and therefore will not be stranded. It will be a perfect car for my daily commute.


Sun, Apr 1, 2012 : 12:09 a.m.

Two thirds of people have a commute 15 miles each way to work. Why would TWO THIRDS of the people need more than 100 miles range? I guess facts matter very little, you are all about the marketing spin of everything. Typical of the right wing. Say a lie often enough and people will believe it. Kind of why we were in Vietnam, Iraq, AND Afghanistan. By the way, I thought SERVING your country was a "patritiotic and heroic thing". If it is truly those things, then why would anybody need to be sold or PAID for it?


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 10:12 p.m.

@northside; From the tone of the article, it is pretty clear where Arnold stands. Seeing as how he was in Vietnam, he was most likely drafted, so his veteran status likely has little to do with his feelings towards the armed forces. Since Arnold is likely reading this, he can certainly set the record straight here if he likes. Here's another flash for you, all ads sell something, recruiting ads included. @SH1; Seriously? You don't think I spent 15 seconds looking up the range of the Leaf. It's ... wait for it....100 miles. Get the Leaf, it will be perfect for you.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

Do some research and you won't be so afraid of your car stranding you in the middle of nowhere. I drive a hybrid (gets 60 mpg) and am actively looking for an electric car. You might have steered me toward the Leaf... : )


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

Funny how the right wing says the government should not "pick winners" in businesses, but spend MILLIONS to promote the military industry. Is your point that military needs to use tactics that misleading and deceptive to get people to join? I guess that shows what a lie the military is. Can not get people to join based on the FACTS, so you may as well market it the same way they do beer and cars. By the way, II would be all for a draft if it were conducted FAIRLY. The means there are no automatic outs (as there were in Vietnam). Mitt Romney's kids have as much chance as serving as a person from the inner city. That will never happen, because the 1% would never stand for their kids dying in war.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

Speaking of disparaging, Eye, you equated military service with a product. And to use the "you don't like the armed forces" accusation is shameless against anyone, but to throw that at a veteran? An impressive morning's worth of work.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

If we all drove electric cars, we would all be stranded at 101 miles. What brand electric do you drive?


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

He never said he doesn't like the armed forces. You missed the point of the article. Funny you bring in the Leaf to make a joke at its expense. If people drove electric cars, we could probably cut our military budget by half since we wouldn't have to fight over oil anymore.

Top Cat

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

If our military was focused on defending the USA rather than being used as the world's police force, we would see fewer ads for recruitment as we would need fewer soldiers, sailors and airmen.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

no argument there from me.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

I agree that such commercial glorification is troubling , all things being equal .. Maybe you could spread the same message to the plethora of jihadist websites that do the same thing, but worse.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

yes...but not in afghanistan ( and arguably Pakistan) which are global " terror central" , although there has been obvious metastasis to paces like Yemen, somalia and north africa.. Our "violence" there, while not perfectly so, targets known perpetrators in contrast to "theirs ' which is random and often lethal to non combatants. This whole issue is way too simplistically presented in this op ed, and thankfully bipartisan policy makers recognize at least some of the unpleasant complexities that make military actions necessary.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

Who started it is important; I agree. We started it in Iraq.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

sh1: all violence is NOT equal. who started it...and even more importantly, who'd stop it if the other side would a highly relevant part of the question.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

Violence is violence.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

In my opinion we need a military. Hopefully most would agree to that point. When you served in Vietnam the military filled its ranks through a draft as well as volunteers. We no longer have a draft. They need to entice volunteers somehow. An alternative could be to reinstate the draft and all the commercials could go away.


Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 5:31 a.m.

I imagine that if all of America had a dog in the fights that we find ourselves in, there'd be fewer fights. As it is, a tiny percentage of Americans do our dirty work for us while the rest sit around watching it on TV like a losing football game. Reinstating the draft with alternatives in the Peace Corps or other national service programs (remember the old Civilian Conservation Corps?) is a fine idea that deserves serious consideration.


Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

Maybe we should enlist every citizen of age colleting government assistance. Let them 'pay their fair share' by earning a paycheck while defending the country instead of simply collecting a handout.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 10:22 p.m.

annarborkid How do you think FDR turned the economy around.


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

I agree that we need a military, but we spend entirely too much money on the military and fighting wars. We could honestly be putting our money and people to better use and turning around our economy. $683 billion a year for then military seems a bit excessive...


Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 11:30 a.m.

"Military glory—the attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood. - Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), U.S. president. speech, Jan. 12, 1848, to the House of Representatives."