The Warrior Ethos

The Warrior Ethos

Tribes, Gangs and Terrorists

By Steven Pressfield | Published: February 21, 2011

Chapter 7  Tribes, Gangs and Terrorists

Every honorable convention has its shadow version, a pseudo or evil-twin manifestation in which noble principles are practiced—but in a “dark side” system that turns means and ends on their heads.

Tony Soprano

"Men of Honor." Do criminal organizations practice the Warrior Ethos?

The Mafia and criminal gangs live by rigorous and sophisticated codes of loyalty, discipline and honor. So do terrorist organizations. Does that make them warriors? Do these groups practice the Warrior Ethos? When is “honor” not honor?

To answer this, we must consider the nature of tribes. What are the social, cultural and political characteristics of tribes?

First, tribes are hostile to all outsiders. This has been true, anthropologists tell us, of virtually all tribes in all parts of the globe and in all eras of history. Tribes are perpetually at war with all other tribes.

Tribes practice the primacy of honor. Tribes are governed not by the rule of law but by a code of honor (nang, in Pashto). Tribal codes mandate the obligation of revenge (badal). Any insult to honor must be avenged.

Tribes prize loyalty and cohesion. Tribes revere elders and the gods. Tribes resist change. Tribes suppress women. Tribes value the capacity to endure hardship.

Tribes are patient. Time means nothing in the tribal scheme. Tribes will wait out an invading enemy till he tires and goes home.

“You’ve got the watches,” say the Taliban, “but we’ve got the time.”

Tribes are tied to the land and draw strength from the land. Tribes fight at their best in defense of home soil.

Tribes are adaptable; they will take on any shape or coloration temporarily, if it will help them survive in the long run. Tribes will ally with enemy tribes to repel the greater threat of an invader, then go back to killing one another once the invader has been driven out.

There is much to admire in these qualities. In fact, a strong case could be made that what the U.S. military attempts to do in training its young men and women is to turn them into a tribe. Certainly it’s not hard to understand why tribes all over the world make such formidable fighting forces.

But the tribal mind–set possesses two potentially dangerous attributes, which can make its practitioners prey to what we might call “shadow tribalism” or “criminal tribalism,” particularly in the modern post- and anti-tribal world.

First, tribes exist for themselves alone. An outsider (unless he falls under the obligation of hospitality) is not considered a human being in the same sense that a tribal member is and is not protected by the same notions of fellow humanity. Tribes are the original us-versus-them social entity.

When this aspect of the honor culture is grafted onto a criminal, political or extremist religious doctrine—read: Mafia, Aryan Brotherhood, al Qaeda—the easy next step is dehumanization and demonization of the enemy.

The Warrior Ethos, on the contrary, mandates respect for the enemy. The foe is granted full honor as a fighting man and defender of his home soil and values. From Cyrus through Alexander to the Greeks and Romans and on down to Rommel and the Afrika Korps (with some notorious lapses, be it said), today’s enemy was considered tomorrow’s potential friend—and thus granted his full humanity.

Second, tribes are by definition limited in size (since social bonds are usually of blood or kinship) and thus feel vulnerable at all times to bigger or stronger rivals. Tribes live by the siege mentality. They see themselves as surrounded, outnumbered and ever in peril. Again, read: Mob, prison gang, al Qaeda.

The tribal mind–set thus has no trouble embracing the concept of asymmetrical warfare and pushing this to its limits, meaning terrorism and beyond. If the enemy is bigger, stronger and more technologically advanced than we are, says the Mob/gang/terrorist, then we are justified in using any and all methods to strike at him.

Criminal and terrorist organizations practice tribe-like codes of honor, but they do not practice the Warrior Ethos. They are “shadow tribes.” They are not warriors. In the practice of terror, in fact, the terrorist organization uses the enemy’s embrace of the Warrior Ethos against him. How? By violating the honorable tribal/warrior code in the most shocking and extreme manner—i.e., striking civilian targets, using women and children as human shields, etc.

The terrorist’s aim is to so outrage and appall the sense of honor of the enemy that the enemy concludes, “These people are fiends and madmen,” and decides either to yield to the terrorist’s demands out of fear or to fight the terrorist by sinking to his moral level.

What would Leonidas think of waterboarding or extraordinary rendition? How would Cyrus the Great look upon the practice of suicide bombing or of video beheadings on YouTube?

Chapter 8   The Difference Between Guilt and Shame

Sociologists tell us that there are two types of cultures: guilt-based and shame-based.

Individuals in a guilt-based culture internalize their society’s conceptions of right and wrong. The sinner feels his crime in his guts. He doesn’t need anyone to convict him and sentence him; he convicts and sentences himself.

The West is a guilt-based culture. Since the Judeo-Christian God sees and knows our private deeds and innermost thoughts, we are always guilty of something, with no way out save some form of divine absolution, forgiveness or grace.

A shame-based culture is the opposite. In a shame-based culture, “face” is everything. All that matters is what the community believes of us. If we have committed murder but we can convince our fellows that we’re innocent, we’re home free. On the other hand, if the community believes evil of us—even if we’re blameless—we have lost face and honor. Death has become preferable to life.

A shame-based culture imposes its values from outside the individual, by the good or bad opinion of the group. The community imposes its code on its members by such acts as shunning and public shaming.

The Japanese warrior culture of Bushido is shame-based; it compels those it deems cowards or traitors to commit ritual suicide. The tribal cultures of Pashtunistan are shame-based. The Marine Corps is shame-based. So were the Romans, Alexander’s Macedonians and the ancient Spartans.

The maidens of Sparta were taught songs of ridicule with which to humiliate any young man who displayed want of courage in battle. When a warrior accused of being a “trembler” returned to the city, the pretty young girls clustered around him, mocking him and defaming him with these anthems of shame.

Remember the Spartan mother who lifted her skirts to chastise her sons: “Where are you running—back here from whence you came?”

If a Spartan youth failed to show courage in battle, his fiancée would abandon him. The magistrates would not permit him to marry or, if he was married already, he and his wife were forbidden to have children. If the warrior had sisters of marriageable age, their suitors would be compelled to part from them. The man’s whole family would be shunned.

At Thermopylae in 480 B.C., every one of the 300 Spartans died resisting the Persian invaders except one, a warrior named Aristodemus who was withdrawn at the last minute because an eye inflammation had rendered him temporarily blind. The next year, the Spartans again faced the Persians, at Plataea, in central Greece. This time, Aristodemus was healthy and fought in the front rank. When the battle was over, all who had witnessed his actions agreed that Aristodemus had earned the prize of valor, so brilliant and relentless had been his courage. But the magistrates refused to award him this honor, judging that he was driven by such excess of shame that he risked his life recklessly, deliberately seeking to die.

[To be continued next Monday. To view earlier chapters, click on "The Series" in the header bar at the top of the page, then click "Warrior Ethos."]

Posted in The Warrior Ethos

16 Responses to “Tribes, Gangs and Terrorists”

  1. AJ
    February 21, 2011 at 6:07 am

    Have you had the chance to read Carnage and Culture by Victor Davis Hanson, if so I’m curious to hear what you have to say about, what Hanson describes as the ‘western way of war’.

  2. CB
    February 21, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Although I admire much of Mr. Pressfield’s work, I think he creates a false dichotomy if he pits what he calls the “guilt-based” society derived from belief in the Judeo-Christian God against the “shame based” ethos of warrior cultures in history.

    The Christian Bible has many warriors in its pages. And the goal of those warriors, like all warriors is not to fight…but to win. In conquering death by His resurrection, so the Christian belief goes, Jesus won victory over death. A victory that His followers believe they can partake in. And I am not sure that “guilt based” (if it can be called that) of JudeoChristian thinking really resonates with tribe cultures, because in an ultimate sense because all human beings are created in the image of God have value regardless of tribal affiliation (including no affiliation).

    It would be helpful to this reader would be to understand if Pressfield’s intent is to be purely descriptive in writing about the warrior ethos or in fact prescriptive. If taken prescriptively, I don’t see how Pressfield’s warrior ethos itself can not lead to a kind social nihilism where right and wrong are in the end determined by a tribal groupthink.

    • William
      May 12, 2012 at 5:48 pm

      Brilliant deduction. I just ordered Mr. Pressfields book, but after reading “some” of what’s previewed, I did use what I researched about Mr. Pressfield “as” perscriptive. God is still in control.

  3. February 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I take issue with several of the ideas presented here. It is my belief that this investigation of the warrior ethos is getting lost as it intensifies pursuit of it down anecdotal rabbit holes.

    Look at how the tribe is characterized throughout this writing– “hostile to all outsiders,” mysoginistic, resistant to change, defensive fighters, “adaptable” (in apparent contradiction to resisting change), as having less respect for the humanity of outsiders, and as somehow more acceptable of terrorism.

    And yet, in the same breath, Mr. Pressfield asserts that the military tries in some ways to instill this mindset into its warriors.

    To begin with, this construct of the tribe is so narrow as to be almost academically untenable outside of a specific paradigm– specifically, the tribes of Afghanistan. Had that single caveat been made at the opening of this post, I wouldn’t have a problem with it except that it would be too narrow to apply to a discussion of a universal warrior ethos. But ignored here are the matriarchal tribes of Hawaii, Asia, and the Berbers and Tuareg of Africa. Considering that Japanese clans in the 1840s were tribes that still used swords and rudimentary cannons, I’d say their naval victory over the Russians at Tsushima less than 40 years after contact with the Americans demonstrates anything but a resistance to change. As for their defensive nature, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan and even Alexander himself arose from tribal cultures.

    And with regard to terrorism, this assessment is extremly limited not only to Afghanistan, but to Al Qaeda and the period of history after 1990. Outside of these constraints, the association of terrorism with a tribal mindset does not hold. Terrorism in the 1970s and 1980s was a predominantly political action, and oftentimes the strategy of groups residing totally in western civilization. Any attempt to draw connections to tribalism with Baader-Meinhoff or the Red Brigades would be ludicrous. Likewise, even modern middle eastern terrorist groups such as Hamas and Al Qaeda in Iraq don’t fit neatly into the tribal model forwarded here. They are absolutely open to outsiders, and have even adopted the media models of western civilization (they make rap videos!) to facilitate their recruiting efforts– another example of not being resistant to change as well. And while the Iraqi groups defied the assumption of “alliances of convenience” along Sunni/Shia lines, they also simultaneously disproved the theory of “us against them” and “infinite patience” during the Sunni Awakening and Reconciliation orchestrated by General Petraeus. Notably, the same thing is happening again in Afghanistan, in direct defiance of the tribal assumptions made here.

    But what I find most detestable is the idea that the Marine Corps works on a shame-based model. That is ridiculous.

    To begin with, the primary blunder here is masked by the separation of phrases. You have to put them together to see the problem at work. “Western civilization is guilt-based… the Marine Corps is shame-based.” So, the conclusion we must make is that, somehow, a young man or woman from Nebraska, in the center of the United States, the modern poster-child for western civilization, arrives at Parris Island, and within six weeks has their whole western-civ-based model of ethics scrambled and rearranged? Perhaps in Stanley Kubrick’s Marine Corps, but not in the one I know.

    Secondly, but of equal importance is the model created for the armed forces according to this assumption. In it, the American soldier lives in a place where he or she can hold their head high after abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib so long as the photos don’t get out. If there’s anything shameful about here, it’s the proposition of this belief. As a former military officer and continuing observer of our armed forces, I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous. From our service academies and the introductory training of enlisted recruits to the ethics segments of our professional education schools at the highest levels, the armed forces continually train service members to maintain a high standard of internal honor. While there is no stated “warrior ethos” in the Army, there are seven Army values. “Honor” and “Integrity” make the list– “shame” doesn’t. While I will not argue that a sense of shame does exist within many individuals and even some organizations, it is never viewed as a good thing within the ranks, and measures are taken to defeat it where it crops up. It is, as you said, a “shadow.” We shine the light of integrity on it at every possible opportunity.

    I’ll close with a counterpoint to your own summation. Compare Salvatore Giunta to Aristodemus. If the American Army really follows the shame-based model, shouldn’t we rename it the “Medal of Conspicuous Lack of Shame?”

    • February 23, 2011 at 5:06 pm

      Some interesting comments here about the relationship between guilt and shame. I have been living in Japan, which is often categorized as a ’shame’ based culture, for a good number of years now, and it has allowed me to get some kind of perspective on this issue, and all I can say is… the deeper you go, the more confusing it gets.

      Of course cultures differ in many ways that have nothing to do with this issue, and yet this label is often attached to the way people habitually act to outside pressure. To me, it often appears to be based on “What would other people think?”, and this strong sensitivity to outside opinion is reinforced from early childhood, far more so than in the United States, for example. I think this is partly to do with economic inter-dependency and community… the sense that you are, whether you like it or not, part of a web of social relationships, and many aspects of your life depend on the way others view you. If you are in such a community, it doesn’t matter if you feel good about yourself as much as if your future boss, potential parents-in-law, business partner etc. see you as trust-worthy, a reliable person and so on. ‘Shame’ is strongly connected to these kinds of relationships. The result is not a bunch of crazed, do-or-die samurai in suits, as much as generally polite, well-mannered folk who treat you well, try not to disturb the public order, but who tend to think people in their group and their personal relationships are more important than the nameless strangers they pass in the street.

      But that does not remove a personal sense of guilt – the feeling that you have done something wrong, even if no-one knows anything about it. So even in a ’shame-based’ culture like Japan, people have a sense of guilt, the same as back in the west. What I do see, as a difference, is that guilt takes a back seat – first do what you know to be right, then take stock of your personal feelings. The question is how closely are these two connected, and what exactly do you ‘Know to be right’?

      This is true of any community, to a lesser or greater degree, and was certainly true of western communities in the past, and now too, to a certain extent. I remember my mother’s “You should be ashamed of yourself!” was a pretty strong admonishment. It made me feel bad even when I didn’t think what I had done was particularly bad.

      Military bodies are also communities, and shame, as well as guilt, would, I assume (I defer to your knowledge on this) play an important role in upholding integrity and honor, in that they provide an interior reason for keeping to these noble aims (as opposed to fear of punishment for infractions of rules).

      However, for good or bad, shame is closely associated with group-think and the idea of rules imposed from outside. The division is also used as a convenient means of separating ‘us’ and ‘them’. In actual fact, I think that most of us have both guilt and shame – it’s what we feel guilty or ashamed about that makes us, and our societies what we are.

  4. February 28, 2011 at 4:03 am

    @Mr. Pressfield

    Thank you for this article. I find your exploration of tribalism often insightful. Being that my wars are internal battles of the soul, facing the Resistance, rather than literal battles fought with m16s, I normally concentrate on your Writing Wednesdays. I truly enjoy your Writing Wednesdays; there are some hauntingly beautiful passages in your Writing Wednesdays column, and a level of writing, thought, and depth that is rare in the blogosphere.

    I especially love your post on “The Amnesiac’s Story” as well as your post about depth in art. Both represent ideals I seek in my own art at present.

    @All

    I really enjoyed the discussion about this article; I find the posts above intelligent and insightful. I am impressed by the level of intelligence present here. I suppose this is because Mr. Pressfield’s work tends to attract thoughtful readers.

    This is a quality dialogue.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Two thoughts I wish to present:

    1)This series is Mr. Pressfield’s personal exploration of the warrior ethos, rather than a sociological monogram; this is a series of personal essays.

    2)Chapter 8 rightly draws the most criticism.

    1.
    This seems less a sociological, empirical exploration of the dynamics of tribal communities (ie Afghan tribes, prison gangs, mafia) than a personal exploration of the possible shadow side of the warrior ethos. In the first installment of this series Mr. Pressfield’s recent project had stirred questions about what it means to be a warrior, to act from a code of conduct, to act out of honor.

    Mr. Pressfield mentioned this warriors’ ethos is one for the literal warrior bearing swords as well as the figurative warrior bearing pens. Having read “The War of Art” I understand where this is coming from.

    Given this interpretation, I think most of the criticism above mistakes Mr. Pressfield’s poetry for prose, reading it as a sociological pamphlet rather than a personal essay.

    This series should be read as a series of personal essays.

    (Mr. Pressfield, please correct me here if I am wrong about this.)

    2.

    Most of the criticism above centers around chapter 8. This criticism is valid, as I think this is the weakest part of this post.

    Mr. Pressfield begins chapter 8 “Sociologists tell us that there are two types of cultures: guilt-based and shame-based.”

    First, these “sociologists” ought not to remain anonymous and sources need to be cited.

    Second, there are many sociological theories. As a student of history, my own opinion is they say too much based on too little evidence.

    This is the case here, as “shame-based” vs. “guilt-based” societies strikes me as being a too simplistic model to describe the complexities of human societies. It is too binary to describe tribal societies.

    It occurs to me that what Mr. Pressfield really means by “shame” and “guilt” are intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivators.

    If this is so, this can be scientifically explored as motivation has been studied by psychologists for decades. Mr. Daniel Pinks book “Drive” deals with this very issue of intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivators, though his book is far from the only one. (here is a link to Mr. Pink’s book on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Drive-Surprising-Truth-About-Motivates/dp/1594488843/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298893422&sr=8-1)

    Using scientific research demystifies this particular aspect of the exploration with more academic rigor, empirical data, and scientific specificity.

    Using scientific research would strengthen chapter 8.

    @Mr. Gourley

    “Medal of Conspicuous Lack of Shame?”

    Funny.

    I see your point, that Mr. Pressfield’s definition of tribalism applies only to contemporary Afghanistan, and Mr. Pressfield says too much by applying this model to a universal warrior ethos.

    Spoken like a true student of history; I’m going to have to agree with you here.

    Not certain I would call feudal Japan of the 1840s a “tribal society” though. As to its rapid industrialization, there are many theories. Rostow’s model of industrialization would say that the coming of the Americans, an advanced industrial power, so shocked traditional Japanese society that it reacted with a reactive nationalism, feeling a sense of national humiliation at how far behind the West Japan had fallen. This shock, fueled by nationalism, provided Japan the impetus to do away with the vestiges of its “tribalism” and rapidly industrialize to compete on an international stage with the advanced industrial powers.

    As with most sociological models, Mr. Rostow’s model is problematic, though Japan tends to be held up as a poster child example of his model.

    @ Mr. Hellman

    Having grown up in the United States and never having been to Japan, I found your observations of Japanese culture with relation to “shame” and “guilt” fascinating. As I said above, I think it is more a question of intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivators. I assume that here in the US we have a more individualistic bias and Japan has a more community bias, but as you said, these two forces coexist in all societies.

    Great discussion!

    This rabbit hole has gone very far, very deep.

  5. hugh
    March 2, 2011 at 3:12 am

    Warriors do not kill civillians?

    by that assumption alone the us army has killed more civillians in iraq and afganistan than the opposing forces has killed us soldiers therefore they are the terroists…

    Secondly it all depends on the viewpoint you have

    “one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter”

    Basically you have just talked complete single minded rubbish in the first half of this post and i didn’t bother reading the rest.

    and before you assume I’m a Terroist from any of these countries involved i’m not i’m from N Ireland

    • AJ
      March 4, 2011 at 8:26 pm

      According to the UN the Taliban have caused my civilian causalities than the ISAF.

  6. Lou Sancio
    March 2, 2011 at 3:23 am

    Steven,
    I have been a reader of yours for many years. I was wondering if you had read Thr Culture of the Teutons by Vilhelm Gronbech published in English in 1931. It is a wonderful study of tribal culture and the warrior ethos in per-Christian Germanic Europe.

  7. March 2, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I think Steven needs to quit idolizing the past. If this isn’t a sociological/historical ‘monogram’ then it shouldn’t be presented as such, and at least in a way, it is. If it is personal and prescriptive, then tell us the lessons we’ve learned from these past cultures. And every culture will have teachings for us, of things they did right and things they did wrong. The Spartans had some wonderful things to teach us. Some of those are positive and some negative. I think if the Helots revolted the Spartans in charge would go to any length to put them down, including killing non-combatants. Does that mean we reject everything they stood for. No, it doesn’t.

    The problem is the series seems to be looking for some ideal that has never existed and will never exist in a pure way. In doing so it misses some of the lessons history has to teach us. I would be more open to a prescriptive series of essays if it didn’t seem so intent on holding up some ancient cultures as beyond reproach and some as beyond redemption.

    The truth, as all good fiction, is much, much grayer than that.

  8. JGH
    September 13, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Where do you get the notion that tribes are hostile to all outsiders? And…tribes exist only for themselves? And “tribal mind-set”? Wow–and so on. Are you making this up?? If this is your attempt at scholarship here, I recommend you get back in the library and start over. Take a look at the 565 tribes in the US for starters. When writers take a broad and shallow brush to the business of tribal societies, the ignorance continues.

  9. GM
    November 15, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Interesting take on all sides, I am still going back and forth on whether the military is a “guilt” or “shame” based culture. When I reflect on my own boot camp experience in the Marines punishment was subjected on all for one recruits transgressions. Remember in “Full Metal Jacket” the whole platoon was forced to do pushups while Pvt. Pyle ate his jelly donut in the squad bay. This was an attempt to shame Pvt. Pyle and motivate him to stop screwing up and get with the program. In the case of Abu Ghraib the prison guards were a tribe within a tribe and somewhere in the day to day duties of those soldiers they lost their humanity. The Army as a whole would never put up with such actions and 99% of soldiers know that abusing prisoners is wrong. Those prison guards were probably isolated from the larger tribe (the Army) and developed their own code which allowed the abuse to happen. After all, if no one said their actions were wrong then it must be ok.

    I remember reading in a Stephen Ambrose book that there was a study after WWII on how many soldiers and Marines actually fired their rifles in combat. I do not remember the actual number but a high percentage of riflemen did not shoot their rifles and if they did they intentionaly aimed high to miss. The result of the study suggests that a lot of men simply could not kill another man, it went against their Christian upbringing and family values. Their societal beliefs overrode the primative urge to kill in order to survive. Honestly I do not know if that is good or bad.

  10. November 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.

  11. November 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    i admire what you have performed right here. i really enjoy the part just where you say you are executing this to give back but i would suppose by all the remarks that is doing work for you as clearly. do you have any a lot more information on this?

  12. David Wiechecki
    December 3, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    As one who has read most of your books I do love the insights that you bring and the vividness of your storytelling. Gates of Fire really was fantastic and I wish that a movie version would be made. It would be so much better than “300.” I know that the rights were bought. GOF read like the Bible in some places and I personally liked that. As well as mirroring biblical concepts such as the opposite of fear is love, 1 John 4:18. I don’t know how much you read or know about the Bible but the rise of the Greek Empire and Alexander was prophesied in Daniel 7:6 and other places. I view the Battle of Thermopylae as the beginning of the rise of the Greek Empire and then the rise of Alexander and the beginning of Western civilization.
    I do believe in a warrior ethos and I believe it includes honor and sacrifice which the Bible does reinforce. However, I do not believe that our country should be involved in being the world’s policeman. The Spartans initially weren’t interested in conquering the world but just in protecting their country. They had to be defeated before Alexander could conquer the world. And then Alexander had to stop because his men got tired of conquering like the American people are getting tired of using our military around the world. If you read the quotes of our Founding Father’s you would see that they wanted to be free from “entangling alliances” and to be friends with other countries as much as they possibly could. There is nothing wrong with defending your country and family from invaders but going abroad to “save the world for democracy” is not just wrong but less than intelligent. Many of our Founders wanted us to emulate the Swiss. Their unspoken motto is: Leave us alone an we won’t kill you. Switzerland is the only country that I can think of that hasn’t fought in a war in over 160 years. And that includes both world wars! Their policy of armed neutrality seems to work.
    Now I might step on a few toes with my next thoughts. If it wasn’t for the U.S. Govt. going abroad and forcing other countries to do what we want them to do we wouldn’t be where we are today. You can go back as far as 1852 when Commodore Perry forced Japan to sign a trade treaty under threat of cannon fire that the U.S. Govt. began it’s usurpation of its rightful place in American society. Lincoln followed by conducting a war that was illegal and destructive to America in so many ways. The U.S. is the only country to end slavery by conducting a civil war. All other western nations ended slavery peacefully. I recommend “The Real Lincoln” by Thomas DiLorenzo as a book that explains the Lincoln dictatorship in detail. Believe me I was flabbergasted when I read it as I did have a high opinion of Lincoln before reading it and other resources. The book is highly documented with a complete bibliography.
    After Lincoln the Govt. continued to usurp more and more power and authority from the states and the people. Committing genocide on the Indians and other atrocities. Instituting more and more policies that don’t make sense except for an organization that wants more and more power and control over the citizens of this country. That is why there are grassroots organizations popping up to combat these usurpations.
    I have said all of this to finally say that people do feel/know they are guilty when they do wrong (commit sin). Reconciliation with God frees them from their guilt. Shame is the feeling we get when our sin is found out. And the only way to get over it is thru confession to God and forgiveness by God thru Jesus Christ. Romans 10:11 says,”As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
    I believe that many in our military question why they are on the other side of the world fighting people that cannot be conquered. And so do the people back here in the States. As you have said we have the same problems in Afghanistan that Alexander had with probably the same results when we leave. If a foreign invader dared to attack us on our soil the American people would be behind a war effort 100% and couldn’t help and sacrifice enough to bring it to a victory fast enough. The attacks on 9/11 were just that, attacks. Not an invasion. There are other means to strike back at these attackers. Letters of marque and reprisal (look them up in the Constitution).
    Lastly, I believe that many feel guilty for the things they are forced to do and suffer emotional problems as a result of not being in a black and white situation as regards the combatants and non-combatants. I know a young man who was forced to shoot a boy who pointed an AK at him when his unit was doing a house to house search. He is still struggling with the guilt. I believe that if he had been in the U.S. repelling a foreign invader there would have been no guilt because he would have known that his actions were righteous and just.
    I hope that my words will inspire some to research the history of our great country with the hope that together we can restore it to its glory as a nation under God. Thank you for your indulgence.

    David
    USN Ret.

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