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Old 06-09-2006, 02:44 PM   #26
akiy
 
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Hi folks,

I just wanted to step in and ask that the subject matter in this thread be focused on the matter of reconciling aikido principles and philosophy with being in the military.

If you feel the need to move this subject to a broader context outside of aikido, please take it to the Open Discussions forum.

Thanks,

-- Jun

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Old 06-10-2006, 12:58 PM   #27
Neil Mick
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Whoah. Talk about reality, disconnected from perception.

Out of respect for the thread topic, I won't go into this disconnect overmuch, unless someone wants to start a new thread topic.

But please...comments like this:

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
I see the U.S. Military as more of a "warrior" force now, rather than a mere "soldier" force.
make me wonder how anyone can honestly make these kinds of statements. Consider our current record: Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo, Fallujah, Haditha, Ishaqi, etc.

Granted, these incidents are the exception, rather than the rule.

But, a brief analysis of these events suggests a complicit top-down hierarchy that permits these abuses to go unpunished (and uninvestigated), so long as it doesn't get out in the media.

In short, we do not have, IMO, a "warrior" army. IMO, "warrior army" implies some institutional commitment to a greater, nobler cause. A "warrior army" would not engage in an illegal war without some principled stand against it, as in the case of Lt. Ehren Watada.

No, we have individuals who can be called "warriors" within the US Army: but the US Army could hardly be called a "warrior army:" not without employing a serious dose of historic amnesia (for a remedy of this amnesia, I suggest reading A People's History of the US).

Quote:
In addition the American tradition has always been a citizen-soldier model. That's why we make such poor imperialists.
I believe that a great many Philippines, Hawaiians, Cubans, etc. might disagree. In the words of General Smedley Butler:

Quote:
spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902--1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.
So, to tie it all back into the first post: yes, I agree with all the points about using Aikido as a means to become a better warrior.
But the US Army has a long, long way to go before it can properly be called a "warrior army." Warriors engage in self-reflection; and self-correction. In an insititutional warrior army: this would translate to full, transparent investigations of itself; and a firm commitment to uphold its moral directives (i.e., the Geneva Conventions).

The US Army cannot even properly be called a "volunteer" force anymore: the way we're operating now--we're more properly called a "volunteer/privatization" force. Some of the worst abuses were caused by unsupervised contractors, who do not have the same commitments to the Geneva Conventions, as a US soldier should.

CAN a privatized mercenary with no clear mandates for rules of engagement employ Aikido techniques, to transform into a warrior? I suppose it's possible, but IMO the next mercenary might well be just as prone to moral slacking, with no centralized code of conduct, as a moral center. In a dojo where there is no Sensei and the rules are vague, with little fear of retribution: why adhere to rules?

No, the only rule to adhere under these circumstances is CYA...cover your (and your buds') a#%. Make sure you get out alive, and leave the finer details to whomever signs the checks, for later.

Last edited by Neil Mick : 06-10-2006 at 01:07 PM.
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Old 06-10-2006, 01:17 PM   #28
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Neil,

This topic is not about politics, but about a soldier from the Canadian Army trying to reconcile his personal beliefs with those of war.

As Jun states, it is about reconciliation and doing right actions, not about politics. In all due respect, I have never come in and dumped all over your threads, I'd expect you to show the same kind of respect on this one. If you have something of value to contribute along a positive vein that is about reconciliation and ethics, then by all means please contribute.

I have no issue with your politics as long as you keep them in the forum they belong in and keep them pointed at the civilian sector, but once you come in and start messing around with soldiers and soldier ethos I start taking it a little bit personally.

I am assuming you have never been a soldier or in the military, so I really don't think you are qualified to have an opinion about what soldiers think, feel, or do. Maybe you have seen some bad acts, or had some bad experiences. I am sorry if that is the case.

The majority of us have families, would love nothing more than to have no war and to have peace, and essentially want the same thing out of life that you do.

As a citizen of the U.S. you are a part of the process to make change. (please refer to my earlier post).

Again, if you have something to add about aikido and implementation of the art or martial arts in general in the military, then please contribute. Again this is not an area to get on your soap box. Keep it in open discussion please.
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Old 06-10-2006, 01:30 PM   #29
Neil Mick
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
Neil,

This topic is not about politics, but about a soldier from the Canadian Army trying to reconcile his personal beliefs with those of war.

As Jun states, it is about reconciliation and doing right actions, not about politics. In all due respect, I have never come in and dumped all over your threads, I'd expect you to show the same kind of respect on this one. If you have something of value to contribute along a positive vein that is about reconciliation and ethics, then by all means please contribute.
Kevin,

As Jun stated,

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote:
Hi folks,

I just wanted to step in and ask that the subject matter in this thread be focused on the matter of reconciling aikido principles and philosophy with being in the military.

Thanks,

-- Jun
Now I took that admonishment very seriously. I felt that simply calling our Army a "warrior" army was an incorrect assessment of the current function and make-up, of this army.

I'm sorry that you felt the need to label my post as "dumping." And in point of fact, I was being very respectful. I challenge you to go back and find one sentence, where I showed a lack of respect.

Now then...

Quote:
I have no issue with your politics as long as you keep them in the forum they belong in and keep them pointed at the civilian sector, but once you come in and start messing around with soldiers and soldier ethos I start taking it a little bit personally.
Good: I hope you do. It is your job, after all. I meant it personally; but with no disrespect. I hope you now see the difference.

Quote:
I am assuming you have never been a soldier or in the military, so I really don't think you are qualified to have an opinion about what soldiers think, feel, or do.
Nope, never have been a soldier; probably never will. And no, I am not qualified to express myself as some sort of authority on the subject.

But not qualified to have an opinion?? Since when are people not qualified to have an opinion?? Do I need to sign a verification now, before I post an opinion...? Please.

More to the point: I was talking about the function of the Army, rather than what soldiers think/feel, etc. And since I'm partly footing the bill for what this Army does: well then, IMO, that makes me MORE than an expert...that makes me complicit, in their actions.

So no: I cannot expertly state how a soldier should think...but I certainly can state (with some assurance) that they, as an Army, are not acting, as warriors.

A Warrior Army, IMO, has a central moral code...a volunteer/privatized Army, does not.

Quote:
Maybe you have seen some bad acts, or had some bad experiences. I am sorry if that is the case.

The majority of us have families, would love nothing more than to have no war and to have peace, and essentially want the same thing out of life that you do.

As a citizen of the U.S. you are a part of the process to make change. (please refer to my earlier post).
As I have attempted, several times in the past. I am sorry my post made you feel defensive: but it was not intended as an attack upon soldiers.

Quote:
Again, if you have something to add about aikido and implementation of the art or martial arts in general in the military, then please contribute. Again this is not an area to get on your soap box. Keep it in open discussion please.
The topic, again: was about Aikido and the military. Now IMO, that also includes a discussion about the Army as a whole, as opposed to the Army as individual soldiers.

If you cannot see the relevance of this topic within the discussion, then we can agree, to disagree.

Last edited by Neil Mick : 06-10-2006 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 06-10-2006, 01:36 PM   #30
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Neil,

I refer you to the first post made by Grant:

Quote:
Here is my spiritual issue however.

I'm a soldier and I'm heading overseas in a few months for my third tour. I'm having a problem trying to understand how I can practice 'the art of peace' while in that environment.
This is the focus of discussion.

Not if you think Soldiers are warriors or not. How I define myself, or you define yourself, or what you identify with is irrelevant to the discussion. Personally I define my soldiers and myself as warriors. To debate that here though is not what this is about.

What I would be interested in is how you feel a soldier can reconcile his beliefs about valuing life and peace and harmony with the act of going to war and dealing with the conflict that such an environment can create.
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Old 06-10-2006, 02:02 PM   #31
Neil Mick
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
Neil,

I refer you to the first post made by Grant:

This is the focus of discussion.
Respectfully, I take issue with this assertion. A discussion takes many roads, and the last few posts have broached the topic of the spiritual function of the Army.

Again, I'm sorry that you take issue with my opinions, but I fail to see how my take on the subject is anything other than a continuance of the topic.

To me, it seems as if you are attempting to establish a "political correctness" gauge to this thread...you can ONLY talk about individual soldiers' beliefs, and NOT their function, as an Army.

Or, you can ONLY express your opinions here, if you are a soldier.

Sorry, I don't march, dance, or tenkan to that tune.

Quote:
Not if you think Soldiers are warriors or not. How I define myself, or you define yourself, or what you identify with is irrelevant to the discussion. Personally I define my soldiers and myself as warriors. To debate that here though is not what this is about.
Sez you. I could just as easily use this tack to argue that you have no place discussing the role of Aikido to a soldier, unless you are currently practicing it, as you aren't a "real" Aikidoist unless this were so.

And if I did, I would be just as misplaced, in my assertion.

Quote:
What I would be interested in is how you feel a soldier can reconcile his beliefs about valuing life and peace and harmony with the act of going to war and dealing with the conflict that such an environment can create.
Well, as you pointed out: I am not a soldier. And so, I will go with the stance of Lt. Watada in his recent statements.

IMO, every time you are ordered to pick up a gun to kill: a soldier should examine the moral and legal ramifications behind that order. If he honestly believes that going to war will bring greater peace and harmony to the world: then there is no reconciliation needed...off to war, you go!

But in these politically convoluted times, there are few instances where such simple resolves are clear. But that is an individual choice.

An unknown (and significant) number of soldiers are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan psychically damaged. IMO, many of these soldiers are paying the price, for not reconciling their morals with their orders. It's very sad, but it's also very telling.

Somewhere along the way, some of these soldiers forgot to engage in this vital introspection...and their superiors failed to set a clear moral framework.

If you fail to discuss the latter (as you are attempting to do, here): you leave out a large part of the problem of the soldier's dilemma. It's the elephant in the room...what is the role of the Army, in shaping the individual soldier's moral code?

Last edited by Neil Mick : 06-10-2006 at 02:08 PM.
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Old 06-10-2006, 02:43 PM   #32
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

The Army has no spiritual function.

Soldiers in the army are human beings and as such have spiritual needs.

Yes there are many soldiers that are returning from battle and have many psychological issues to deal with. It is a unfortunate casuality of war. One that we as a society must think hard about along with all the other horrors that you present. No one is debating that social issue. It is one that involves not only soldiers but our society as a whole.

No i am not excluding discussing from the topic introspection that people must make as they make a choice about going to war or making decisions to use violence or force. That is a good topic to talk about in this forum. Especially how it relates to the individual.

Absolutely every soldier should question his orders to pick up a gun and kill. At least in the United States we have a military that is volunteer (regardless of the social-economic issue of if we really have a volunteer army or not). By law it is still a volunteer army and as such, no one is required to join the military if they do not believe in the cause. There is also provisions in place for those that "change their minds" and become C.Os.

We also educate soldiers and train them of Rules of engagements, what constitutes lawful orders, and ethics, values and all that good stuff. So they are free to make decisions with in the confines of their faculities. No one sacrifices indiviuality.

In the case of your LT you quote, he made a decsion that he felt was right. He also made a decison and took an oath. Some casualities of war die on the battlefield, others will be along the lines of this LT. He made a courageous stand, and now he will deal with the fallout from that stand. Many people in life will be faced with having to make difficult decisions.

It is why it is important to think, comtemplate, and understand as much as you can about yourself, your beliefs, values, ethics....all stuff dealing with Budo...before you have to pull the trigger. Once you are faced with making that decision under fire, so to speak, it is not the time to change your mind. When you do that, you always will have to deal with the consequences of your action/inaction.

The problems we face in society and the military are very, very complicated. Really the military becomes a distillation or concentration of what problems we face as a society. From segregation, to ethics, and religion...the military has traditionally been the organization that has been the focus of these issues and has typically lead the way to showing our society how you can fix such problems.

I see no difference in this current war. We are facing many, many problems. We as a military are a reflection of society as a whole.

Do we have problems, of course. Are we trying to fix them. I have seen us take many steps and are heading in the right direction.

I spend about 5 hours a week teaching Army Combatives (martial arts). In that course of study it becomes very evident to soldiers that we are asking them to do things. Without preaching I and my fellow instructors always ask them to "think". think about what they are doing, why the are doing it, what they might be asked to do. Think about your emotional state, your family, friends etc.

No, it is not about political correcness, but about trying to help indiviudals...soldiers...be good people, and to do the right things. I am embarrassed and ashamed that many of the bad things happen that we have seen happen. Some people in our miitary make bad choices. I know of no leaders I personally work with, nor my subordinates that feel these actions are just or right.

Can we do more to better prepare people to make good choices? Yes we can, and we are! can we do more...absolutely!

So, to round out and get back on topic.....

It boils down to indiviual action. As Ghandi said "be the change you want to see in the world". For some it may being a peace activist and lobbying for social change. For others it may mean being a soldier and being a leader and setting a good example for other soldiers to follow.

I try not to get caught up in the whole gestalt of the thing as it is overwhelming a complicated. We all have a certain "karma" that puts us where we are in life. What actions we choose has a significant impact on things regardless of how small. What may be right for you may not be right for others. Being judgemental and accusatory, and pointing fingers doesn't solve anything. Exuding the values, and "change" that you want to be, is what is necessary for all of us to do regardless of where we are and what we are faced with.

It might be a Whaling boat as a Green Peace activist, or a Soldier having to make a choice to pull a trigger on a "enemy".
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Old 06-10-2006, 03:56 PM   #33
Neil Mick
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Kevin,

Congrats, for a thoughtful, and well-written response. Now then...

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
The Army has no spiritual function.
EVERYTHING, IMO, has a spiritual function...right down to the rocks and stones, lining your streets. Even a seeming absence of spiritual direction from an organization still propounds a spiritual imperative.

And of course the Army provides a spiritual direction...just look at their mottos:

Quote:
"First In Deed"
is based on the numerical designation, purpose and achievements of the First United States Army.
- FIRST US ARMY

"Tertia Semper Prima"
(The Third Always First)
- THIRD US ARMY

"Leadership And Integrity"
- FOURTH US ARMY

"In Peace Prepare For War"
- FIFTH US ARMY

"Born of War"
- SIXTH US ARMY

"PACIFIC VICTORS"
The motto alludes to the Eighth Army's campaigns and operations in the Pacific Area, and service during World War II and the Korean War.
- EIGHTH US ARMY

"The Sword of Freedom"
US Army Europe

"AMERICA'S CORPS"
- I CORPS

"STRIKE FOR FREEDOM"
- III CORPS ARTILLERY

"Steadfast and Strong"
- V CORPS ARTILLERY

"It Will Be Done"
- V CORPS

"Honed in Combat"
- XXIV CORPS
Look at some of these keywords...Strength, Freedom, Leadership, Integrity...all of these are spiritual signposts, if you will. Maybe they don't always advocate specific spiritual practices (i.e., meditation); but I'm sure that the Army has experimented with it, at least to enhance soldier capability.


Quote:
Yes there are many soldiers that are returning from battle and have many psychological issues to deal with. It is a unfortunate casuality of war. One that we as a society must think hard about along with all the other horrors that you present. No one is debating that social issue. It is one that involves not only soldiers but our society as a whole.
Yes. Sure, it's society's burden.

But, what about the Army? They have a significant role to play in the way soldiers behave on the battlefield.

Quote:
There is also provisions in place for those that "change their minds" and become C.Os.
(very difficult-to-prove provisions, I might add)

Quote:
We also educate soldiers and train them of Rules of engagements, what constitutes lawful orders, and ethics, values and all that good stuff. So they are free to make decisions with in the confines of their faculities. No one sacrifices indiviuality.
Well, apparently, in light of Abu Ghraib, Haditha, Fallujah, et al: the Army seems to be falling down in its role to train its soldiers in what consititutes "lawful orders."

(Or, can we simply dismiss a Marine Corps-attempt to cover up a clear war-crime on spiritual grounds, merely by saying that that is not their function...?)

I don't know the answers to these questions (as I am talking about the "spiritual," as opposed to the "legal"), but your elaboration leaves holes in the role (and responsibility) of the institution of the Army, when these spiritual directives are not met.

Quote:
In the case of your LT you quote, he made a decsion that he felt was right. He also made a decison and took an oath. Some casualities of war die on the battlefield, others will be along the lines of this LT. He made a courageous stand, and now he will deal with the fallout from that stand. Many people in life will be faced with having to make difficult decisions.

It is why it is important to think, comtemplate, and understand as much as you can about yourself, your beliefs, values, ethics....all stuff dealing with Budo...before you have to pull the trigger. Once you are faced with making that decision under fire, so to speak, it is not the time to change your mind. When you do that, you always will have to deal with the consequences of your action/inaction.
Yes. I am reminded of a doc about the Kent State killings in the '60's. The film simultaneously showed two interviewee's (a decade aftter the massacre)...one a protestor, the other a National Guardsman, both relating their feelings at that moment. The protestor was expressing his disbelief and confusion, while the soldier kept saying "this isn't happening: this isn't happening."


Quote:
The problems we face in society and the military are very, very complicated. Really the military becomes a distillation or concentration of what problems we face as a society. From segregation, to ethics, and religion...the military has traditionally been the organization that has been the focus of these issues and has typically lead the way to showing our society how you can fix such problems.

I see no difference in this current war. We are facing many, many problems. We as a military are a reflection of society as a whole.
Yes, agreed. Right down to the economic problems.

Quote:
I try not to get caught up in the whole gestalt of the thing as it is overwhelming a complicated.
Interesting! I thought that you, of all people, would try to see the whole picture, and your role in it.

(no judgement call: I just find it surprising)

Quote:
We all have a certain "karma" that puts us where we are in life. What actions we choose has a significant impact on things regardless of how small. What may be right for you may not be right for others. Being judgemental and accusatory, and pointing fingers doesn't solve anything. Exuding the values, and "change" that you want to be, is what is necessary for all of us to do regardless of where we are and what we are faced with.

It might be a Whaling boat as a Green Peace activist, or a Soldier having to make a choice to pull a trigger on a "enemy".
Yes. All true.

But, a whaling company, GreenPeace, and the Army (ANY army) all provide a moral and spiritual framework, from which we operate. Yep, even a whaling company. They might not talk about the spiritual underpinnings of what they're doing, but it's easy to evaluate...

1. Whales and fish are commodities. As such, concern for their lives are secondary to profit. The spiritual directives of GreenPeace are diametrically opposed to this ideal, and so the two groups sometimes clash.

2. Fishing in the ocean is fishing in a commons, but capture of fish and whales is collecting property and resources, to be bought and sold.

Adding international laws to the mix also betrays the spiritual framework of governments and people involved in the whaling industry. NAFTA laws allowing Japanese whalers to side-step other nations' environmental protections reveals a world of spiritual focus about the concerns of those nations.

In short: the drive to profit is more important than the living requirements of small, or local, communities. And don't even get me started about Free Trade...

Last edited by Neil Mick : 06-10-2006 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 06-11-2006, 12:05 AM   #34
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
Whoah. Talk about reality, disconnected from perception.

Out of respect for the thread topic, I won't go into this disconnect overmuch, unless someone wants to start a new thread topic.

But please...comments like this:
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
I see the U.S. Military as more of a "warrior" force now, rather than a mere "soldier" force.[/quotes] make me wonder how anyone can honestly make these kinds of statements. Consider our current record: Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo, Fallujah, Haditha, Ishaqi, etc.
....
In short, we do not have, IMO, a "warrior" army. IMO, "warrior army" implies some institutional commitment to a greater, nobler cause. A "warrior army" would not engage in an illegal war without some principled stand against it, ...
Not at all, and no moral hierarchy or judgemnt is implied -- a "warrior" is some one who fights from his own motivation; a "soldier" is somone who fights because someone else motivates him. A warrior may disregard orders for his own reasons, sometimes that is necessary adpataion to the vagaries of battle and saves lives; somtimes it's a war atrocity.

A soldier is one under command; a warrior is a fighter, without regard to command.. As I said, the american forces are more of "warrior" force than a "soldier" force, but they are very much part of both.

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
In addition the American tradition has always been a citizen-soldier model. That's why we make such poor imperialists.
I believe that a great many Philippines, Hawaiians, Cubans, etc. might disagree.
I did not say we were NOT imperialist, I said we were POOR imperialists. I stand by that, and your examples tend to support my point, with Hawaii as the exception proving the rule .

Since the thread as Jun has said is about the spiritual issues surrounding military service, the warrior/soldier dichotomy necessarily comes into play.

A soldier follows orders; that is a definitional criterion. Orders do not excuse soldiers from moral responsibility, although they routinely try to argue the point. A warrior decides when he will, or will not, follow orders. He takes the consequences in both decisions, whether he follows or disobeys the order. But bad soldiers disobey orders too. That does not make them warrirors, thought they like to view it so.

That decision, for good or ill, is rich ground for spiritual thought in military service. The cult of honor is often the only guide, and never an explicit one.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Last edited by Erick Mead : 06-11-2006 at 12:20 AM.
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Old 06-11-2006, 12:15 AM   #35
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Hi folks,

Last request before I move this thread to the Open Discussions forum.

Please remember that this forum is about aikido. Let's try to explicitly include that subject in your posts, please?

-- Jun

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Old 06-11-2006, 12:38 AM   #36
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote:
Hi folks,

Last request before I move this thread to the Open Discussions forum.

Please remember that this forum is about aikido. Let's try to explicitly include that subject in your posts, please?

-- Jun
Nuff said.

The attacker gets to decide how his attack will begin. Aiki is about choosing how the enemy's attack will end.

If a soldier merely slavishly follows orders he is controlling nothing, and in fact abdicating his choice to someone else. That is plainly not aiki. A warrior takes every order critically, and chooses how each such direction will end up, regardless of the intent of the one giving the order. That is aiki. Given an attack, the intended victim gets to shape the outcome. Given an order, the person executing it gets to shape the outcome.

Practice in Aikido gives one the ability to internalize this dynamic, and to deal with the issue more intuitively. If aikido practice has begun to internalize, one ought not be as conflicted in accepting the order as given, precisely becasue there are so many contingencies in its execution that may take the execution of that order is directions never intended or contemplated. If one is a warrior and not merely a soldier, how it turns out -- well ... , that depends on a lot of things -- just like good aikido randori.

I think the Bhagavad Gita had something along these lines, actually,

Ah well, nothing I write is truly original, anyway.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 06-11-2006, 01:19 AM   #37
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Jun could we possibly split this thread into another broader debate in the general forums?

In any case I'll do my best to tie this into Aikido.

The military is like Aikido in that unless you've actually done it then it's hard to get an accurate account on what it's like.

The soldier vs warrior question is a biggie in the military community.
A good friend of mine pointed out some thoughtful differences between the two. Some will argue that the warrior is what someone should strive for yet others (such as my friend) will point out "warriors" are easily defeated when faced against soldiers. Examples include Native American braves vs US cavalry. Samurai vs their Japanese soldier counter parts. Barbarians against roman soldiers. In most cases warriors with their singular codes of conduct (battle) and preferring to keep with tradition and "the old ways"will loose when faced against soldiers who arguably put mission first and are willing to adopt new tactics and technology. I'll see if I can dig up his argument on it.

Above my friends compelling argument against "warriors" I still try to see warriors in a good light. To me a warrior is someone who makes soldiering his life. Where a soldier will take time off work, relax and do whatever, a warrior will spend his off time training to be a better soldier. I feel many soldiers who practice Aikido bring with them a warrior mentality. (It's easy to offer help to a dying friend, it's something all together different to comfort a dying enemy).

I don't feel we (north America, the allies) have a warrior army per say. Watching the recruiting commercials and such I feel the powers that be are trying to push this army of one warrior stuff and convince anyone listening that that is what we are. In truth I think our military is full of professional soldiers some of whom ply their trade under a warriors mentality.

A warrior or fighter who doesn't follow orders would probably find himself without a job pretty quick.

A warrior, like an aikido student in my opinion, is someone without an ego. Who does not have to put on a show or posture themselves trying to convince people around them that they are tough. Someone willing to do what they think is right vice what everybody else is doing. A quiet professional.

In the military, especially due to conditioning, I think it's easy for young soldiers to get caught up int he close with and destroy the enemy, hooah kill em all but 6 mentality. Aggressive and competitive. It's a necessary evil when you consider what we are asking 18 year old people to do. Approaching anything military with the aikido way of peace is tricky. It's a challenge to practice aikido spiritually while not looking like a 'tree hugger' or distancing yourself from your peers who may still be at the blood makes the grass grow! stage.

I'm not sure if this is a good example but just this week I was talking to a soldier and the topic of his ex girlfriend came up.'

'God I hate her, if she was here right now I would blow her head off with a shot gun!' Obviously it was posturing and all talk but instead of agreeing with him and egging him on I gave him an alternative."

"You should be happy that you guys split up! Look at it this way dude, I'm sure you guys fought like cats and dogs, think about how crappy you felt int hat relationship. If you were still with her you'd probably be talking about putting that shotgun to your head instead"
I know my comment hit home, i could literaly feel him look at his situation from a completely different point of view, and he agreed with me. It was like he dropped a huge weight from his shoulders.

Applying the spirit of Aikido in the military is tricky but if done right, in my opinion, has some awesome results.
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Old 06-11-2006, 01:53 AM   #38
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

From Wikipedia:

Quote:
A warrior is a person habitually engaged in war and/or skilled in the waging of war. In tribal societies engaging in endemic warfare, warriors often form a caste or class of their own. In feudalism, the vassals essentially form a military or warrior class, even if in actual warfare, peasants may be called to fight as well. In some societies, warfare may be so central that the entire people (or, more often, the male population) may be considered warriors, for example the Maori or Germanic tribes.

Professional warriors are people who are paid money for engaging in military campaigns and fall into one of two categories: Soldiers; when fighting on behalf of their own state, or mercenaries; when offering their services commercially and unrelated to their own nationality. The classification of somebody who is involved in acts of violence may be a matter of perspective, and there may be disagreement whether a given person is a hooligan, a gangster, a terrorist, a rebel, a freedom fighter, a mercenary or a soldier.

Warrior code

In many societies in which a specialized warrior class exists, specific codes of behavior (ethical codes) are instituted in order to ensure that the warrior class is not dangerous to the rest of society. Warrior codes often have common features and usually value loyalty, courage, and honor. Examples include the codes bushido and chivalry.
The posts by Mr. Mead mix warrior and warrior code up, confusingly. Aikido is nothing like this, although one thing is definite: in aikido, you cannot do what you like either, else you will not be going anywhere fast, except perhaps out the dojo LOL From my experience aikido everywhere takes on the aura of the senior teacher there - and I believe it is that teacher's severe responsibility to find out and discover what the founder of aikido meant with aikido, and its application in the world. That heavy and never-ending task should be the code of a seeker after the truth in aikido, and guide his or her actions, thoughts and words. If a person wants to do something else, that is fine too - many people split off from Aikikai and do their own thing with their followers, and this is a respectable thing to do.

FWIW
Gernot
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Old 06-11-2006, 07:15 AM   #39
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Neil,

What is the sprititual function of a screwdriver or hammer? It might have some fancy slogan on the side of it saying "tempered" or "quality guaranteed", or "always faithful". It describes the characteristics, and values that the company that built it hopes that it will endure and exude in the use of it.

When it comes down to it, it is simply a tool for turning screws or banging nails. It has a purpose, a very specific and narrow purpose.

Now, in the hands of the user, it might be used to build a church, it might be used to build a well in Africa, or serve any number of greater purposes, but it in itself has no purpose.

Soldiers and militaries are the same thing. Tools to serve a purpose. That is what I mean about not having a spiritual purpose. He mission of a miitary is not to serve for the spiritual needs and growth of people.

That said, soldiers are people and most modern armies recognize individualism and the need to appeal to a "higher purpose" in order to maintain good order and discipline and focus on mission.

We have values, ethics, and codes, but in the end the goal is to serve the state that we represent and have sworn allegiance to.

The state and the people it represents may have a "higher calling" or may be fighting for religious reasons, etc, but that is the purpose of the state, and not the military.
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Old 06-11-2006, 07:25 AM   #40
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Erick Meade wrote:

Quote:
If a soldier merely slavishly follows orders he is controlling nothing, and in fact abdicating his choice to someone else. That is plainly not aiki. A warrior takes every order critically, and chooses how each such direction will end up, regardless of the intent of the one giving the order. That is aiki. Given an attack, the intended victim gets to shape the outcome. Given an order, the person executing it gets to shape the outcome.
IF only it were this simple Erick!

Most major orders given to commanders are along the lines of "secure a foothold at the bridge", or "establish command and control in the town". It is not "kill 100 people" or "make sure everyone is dead".

Most modern militarys focus on endstates and objectives, not individual task when issuing orders. We don't typically measure success by a body count or an individual task. This allows for a great deal of latitude in how you as a commander or soldier interprets those orders. So, each soldier or subordinate command has the flexibility and choice to decide how he/she wants to proceed to accomplish that task.

I don't see much difference in aikido. Sometimes we have the choice, given the luxury of time, skill, speed, etc, to make a choice that benefits both uke and nage. Sometimes we are suprised, overwhelmed, or outskilled by uke, and we must react, speed up, use more force than we might use in another situation.

To me being aiki does not always require that you have the ability to shape the outcome, you may not always be able to. I can think of the thousands of times in the dojo where I failed to correctly or appropriately deal with uke! What is important is to do it when we can, or to be of such character that we show compassion as best we can always considering how our actions will effect things once all is said or done.
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Old 06-11-2006, 07:39 AM   #41
Mark Freeman
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Quote:
Ah well, nothing I write is truly original, anyway.
You are not alone Erick, we are all guilty of this to a greater of lesser degree.

Whichever thread this discussion takes place in, it is healthy that it is taking place at all.

How we 'the citizens' of the free world conduct ourselves and 'our' armies in the various 'flashpoints' around the world, will determine the shape of things to come for the foreseeable future.

Aikido provides the principles for effective engagement in conflict. It is what we do in the dojo - practice the principles over and over until they become embodied.

As I mentioned in an earlier post I may just be a wishful thinking old hippy, but when face with a problem I tend to look for a solution. Aikido philosophy provides 'a' solution, a way to deal with conflict. But to transfer that philosophy to the wider world, well alot of work has to be done. It seems that we are along way off from that yet. So we need to do what we can to spread the word and 'be the change we want to see'.

I'm sure there are many soldiers serving right now that are just as disgusted as the civilians at some of the blatant disregard for the 'accepted' rules of engagement. They have to accept it or take the consequenses ( A Royal Airforce Doctor recently refused to return to Iraq recently on the grounds that it was an illegal war and that his conscience would not allow him to go back - A Court Marshall found against him ). We the citizens do not have to accept things in the same way. We must do what we can to ensure that the 'soldiers/warriors acting on our behalf, do so with dignity. Otherwise we must step down from the position of having any moral superiority over our enemies.

Good discussion chaps, keep it respectful and real. Too much defference, results in unpalatable truths sometimes not being brought to light.

regards

Mark

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Old 06-11-2006, 09:08 AM   #42
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Quote:
I don't see much difference in aikido. Sometimes we have the choice, given the luxury of time, skill, speed, etc, to make a choice that benefits both uke and nage. Sometimes we are surprised, overwhelmed, or out skilled by uke, and we must react, speed up, use more force than we might use in another situation.
Well said!

Quote:
A Royal Air force Doctor recently refused to return to Iraq recently on the grounds that it was an illegal war and that his conscience would not allow him to go back
I hope no soldiers or civilians or enemy combatants died due to this doctor (who probably didn't pay for his schooling) refusal to go back.

I've never liked the whole legal illegal war argument myself. Who makes a war legal, the UN? Thats hardly reassuring.

People simply need to accept responsibility for their actions (ie voters or soldiers refusing their marching orders)
Accepting responsibility for the protection of human life is a big Aikido principal in my (thin) book.

Last edited by Guilty Spark : 06-11-2006 at 09:17 AM.
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Old 06-11-2006, 09:17 AM   #43
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

I had a squad leader, who was the best squad leader I every had, the epitome of a soldier, refuse to deploy. (he wasn't in my chain of command when this happened). He mobilized and deployed to the training site, but refused to go when it came time to cross the pond.

He felt that his platoon leader and company commander were idiots and were going to get people killed. Several people I know tried to talk to him about the issue to get him to reconsider. They needed him more than ever if that were the case and he should stay to protect the men that he said were at risk.

He did not feel in his good conscience that he could be apart of it.

Everyone makes his decisions. I respected his decision, albeit I was sorely disappointed that he did not go, as I agree his men needed him.

He was reduced to E-1 and given a dishonorable discharge. It was too bad as he was one of the guys that were needed to lead us in making good decsions.
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Old 06-11-2006, 09:19 AM   #44
Mark Freeman
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Quote:
Grant Wagar wrote:
I hope no soldiers or civilians or enemy combatants (allied, Iraqi) died due to this doctor (who probably didn't pay for his schooling) refusal to go back.
The Doctor can't be held resposible for any death that occurs due to his acting in accord with his own conscience, he is paying the price by being 'detained at Her Majesty's pleasure'. There would be alot less death if all men acted in a similar way instead of blindly following either 'orders' or 'god's will' or any other 'external pressure'.
Good men can end up doing awful things, they need to give themselves a reason for doing so..

regards,

Mark

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Old 06-11-2006, 09:57 AM   #45
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Quote:
There would be a lot less death if all men acted in a similar way instead of blindly following either 'orders' or 'god's will' or any other 'external pressure'.
Oh I agree, too many people jump on the following orders bandwagon, on the flip side of the coin though can you imagine what would happen if every soldier could pick and choose what order he followed?

While I wouldn't hold this doctor responsible for any deaths (thats being a little ridiculous of course) I do feel he has a duty to his high station. Same with Kevin's example. I would bread bread with these guys any day, it takes a serious dose of courage to do what you feel is right and accept harsh consequences. However I think that sometimes whats good for the individual needs to take a back seat to whats good for group. In the two examples of the doctor and squad leader, good on them for doing what they felt is right but I can't help but wonder how many other people (who don't want to be there either) would have benefited from having them around both medically and leadership wise.
It can almsot become an argument of putting the needs of others above your own, depending on perspective. (And easily argued )
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Old 06-11-2006, 05:54 PM   #46
Neil Mick
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
Neil,

What is the sprititual function of a screwdriver or hammer?
Kevin,

Effectively, you answer your own question...

Quote:
It might have some fancy slogan on the side of it saying "tempered" or "quality guaranteed", or "always faithful". It describes the characteristics, and values that the company that built it hopes that it will endure and exude in the use of it.
So how are values and morals different from "spiritual functions?" I challenge you to come up with a spiritual discipline, devoid of values or morality (even Hedonism has its moral tenets).

Quote:
When it comes down to it, it is simply a tool for turning screws or banging nails. It has a purpose, a very specific and narrow purpose.

Now, in the hands of the user, it might be used to build a church, it might be used to build a well in Africa, or serve any number of greater purposes, but it in itself has no purpose.
I disagree. The spiritual function of a tool is...a tool: a concrete means of manifesting your intangible goals. Think about all the symbolic underpinnings of a "tool," and you might see what I mean.

How you came to own the tool (did you steal them? Make them? Buy them at Safeway?) plays a role in the spiritual function, of these tool, as well: including what you plan to do with them (build a piece of art? A bridge? A tank? Break into a home?)

Come on...soldiers in years' past of all nations put great stock and symbolism into their weapons of war...their tools. I certainly don't need to go into the symbolism of the sword, to the Samurai. I'm betting that today's US soldier's also place spiritual values on their tanks, rifles, planes, etc, as well...even tho it isn't expressed that way.

Quote:
Soldiers and militaries are the same thing. Tools to serve a purpose. That is what I mean about not having a spiritual purpose. He mission of a miitary is not to serve for the spiritual needs and growth of people.
No, it doesn't: I agree. But that does not mean that the spiritual function of the Army isn't there.

Quote:
That said, soldiers are people and most modern armies recognize individualism and the need to appeal to a "higher purpose" in order to maintain good order and discipline and focus on mission.

We have values, ethics, and codes, but in the end the goal is to serve the state that we represent and have sworn allegiance to.
And how is this not a spiritual calling? I could use this sentence to describe the Roman Catholic Church, substituting "soldiers" for "clergy," and "state" for "God."

IMO, this IS a spiritual calling. Anytime you swear an oath to anything: you better believe that there is a spiritual function apparent.

Quote:
The state and the people it represents may have a "higher calling" or may be fighting for religious reasons, etc, but that is the purpose of the state, and not the military.
Again, we can agree to disagree: but I think that at this point, some of our differences are semantical.

Last edited by Neil Mick : 06-11-2006 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 06-11-2006, 06:17 PM   #47
Neil Mick
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Quote:
Grant Wagar wrote:
I hope no soldiers or civilians or enemy combatants died due to this doctor (who probably didn't pay for his schooling) refusal to go back.

I've never liked the whole legal illegal war argument myself. Who makes a war legal, the UN? Thats hardly reassuring.
Grant,

I could go on about the illegality of this war: but you've probably heard it all already.

But I will comment on the "spiritual," or "great cause" that this war is being fought over.

If there really IS such a great cause to this war: then why is it so hard for the White House to articulate what it is? Cindy Sheehan hounds Bush for an answer: and he cannot give her one.

If the leaders are unable to clarify what our "great cause" is; if they are unable to coherently detail what are the legal rules of engagement--then how are the soldiers on the ground supposed to parse all this out?

And, how does Aikido philosophy fit into fighting a war with a vague "cause?" (the closest I can figure what this "cause" is, is some sort of "crusade." But it would be a bad political move for W to articulate this out loud, considering where we are, in the world).
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Old 06-12-2006, 05:15 AM   #48
Mark Freeman
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Quote:
And, how does Aikido philosophy fit into fighting a war with a vague "cause?" (the closest I can figure what this "cause" is, is some sort of "crusade." But it would be a bad political move for W to articulate this out loud, considering where we are, in the world).
Aikido stance/posture is one of being upright, prepared, relaxed, open, focused and centered. The hands are open offering a non confrontational image ( as opposed to the closed fist ). The being in this stance must embody the principles of aikido otherwise it is just an outward show.

It is easy to see where the protagonists in the latest round of hostilities are not being 'aiki'. From a 'muscle' point of view the US is the largest most powerful military force on the planet, but unfortunately the 'mind' moving the muscle is not enlightened or developed enough to consider aiki principles.

An example of an aikido principle is "know your partners mind". When Mr Bush used the term 'Crusade' early on in the post 9/11 tub thumping. He did not consider how much of a provocation that would be in the world outside, his sense of history only seems to go as far back as his being 're-born'. Offering to crush or annihilate, does nothing to calm the situation. Admittedly it must be hard for someone brought up in such great privilege to "know the mind" of the 'terrorists' but unless the attempt is made, the same problems will just be repeated ad infinitum.

In the same way that a smaller more skillfull aikidoka can handle a larger more powerfull opponent, the smaller enemy can negate the muscle of one with the largest 'firepower' by not fighting on the same terms. The re-emergence of the Taliban is a case in point, these people have a nearly a 1000 years of fighting history to draw on. And you can't bomb an 'ideology into extinction.

The vested interests in maintaining conflict and war, may be far too widespread and powerfull to consider that the ideals of the 'art of peace' have a chance of being employed. There is great profit to be had in 'fighting'. It is obvious and well documented. The US military is already talking in terms of the 'Long War' being fought for 20 years or so. Those who profit from conflict must be rubbing their grubby little hands together in glee.

When you see a war to be fought and won whether it be against terror, drugs or poverty etc. you are not approaching the problem with an aikido mindset. We have to look at these issues and apply intelligence, cooperation, and a sense of compassion to the proceedings. Given the current state of play, we have got enough to keep us busy for many years to come.

We live in an interesting time in history chaps. We communicate with each other on this forum, one to one, from all around the globe. The internet has changed how we communicate for ever. We must use this tool for good. The greater the information passed amongs all of us at the ground level the less chance that we can be miss-led by propaganda from our 'leaders'.

It's Monday morning and I got out of bed on the wrong side!

regards,

Mark

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Old 06-12-2006, 11:36 AM   #49
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
It is easy to see where the protagonists in the latest round of hostilities are not being 'aiki'. From a 'muscle' point of view the US is the largest most powerful military force on the planet, but unfortunately the 'mind' moving the muscle is not enlightened or developed enough to consider aiki principles.

An example of an aikido principle is "know your partners mind".
Acceptance of those results that tend toward harmony and reduce total discord are true Aiki. The overall judgment of the case cannot be made with either an overly narrow or an overall generalized view. History will judge us all, for good or ill, both those who support and those who oppose the current conflict. Be not quick to judge, therefore ....

The moral case is made out in the larger picture as well as in the immediate circumstance. Willy-nilly acceptance of the intended results of others does not result in harmony, but merely forestalls and deepens eventual conflict. Complex and subtle motivations are often lost or overcome in simple deeds, for good or ill. The best of intentions is the often the preface to disaster.

This is one reason why Aiki is such an effective response to violence, despite its antihetical position in comparison to the modern expecation of predictive, testable, repeatable results. Its predictive horizons are exceedingly short, precisely because it does not need them. Battle is still ruled by contingency and caprice. The effort in Iraq, with Iran, and with jihadism generally, is bound to such contingencies. It is the criticism of many that the inital reason for action may have changed, and the present stance seems ill-poised for predicitable victory timetable. Sorry, that is war.

We do not complain when the threatened shomneuchi morphs into a munetsuki. We simply abandon the shomenuchi in our response and address the mnunetsuki now presented. We aikidoka beat this out of ourselves the moment we quit asking "which foot should I have forward?" We should judge our war councils in no less favorable light, for they will answer to us eventually. The same is not true of the war councils of the enemy.

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
{Re: Taliban} these people have a nearly a 1000 years of fighting history to draw on.
And we do not? My Celtic forebears have been fighting westward across the globe now for nigh on three thousand. We're getting pretty good at it, actually.

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
And you can't bomb an ideology into extinction.
Been to Japan lately? That was mass exercise of Aiki of the first water. Yamato damashii, indeed. So far, a number of bombings have caused the surrender or near surrender of a great number of people and governments in the rightness of defending and promoting ordered liberty and popular government. Spain being a case in point.

Aiki is not submission, even though it is in a narrow, technical sense, non-resistance. Submission may be victory; resistance may be death. The converse can also be true. Submission can mean good things. As in the case of Japan. This can mean bad things. In the case of global jihadism, their aim is nothing less than the submission of all to their view of God, and for whom resistance to their particular direction means justifiable death. Not aiki in my book either.

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
When you see a war to be fought and won whether it be against terror, drugs or poverty etc. you are not approaching the problem with an aikido mindset. ...
We have to look at these issues and apply intelligence, cooperation, and a sense of compassion to the proceedings.
When someone girds on a sword, it is not ill-considered to think it means war. When civilians are specifically targeted, it is not ill-considered to view the means of that war to be evil and dishonorable. To merely assume an enemy will not use his sword, is not aiki. To assume that an enemy will respond to reason and persuasion, is not aiki.

Aiki does not persuade, it does not chasten, it does not bully. Aiki comes into its own when the enemy strikes. Aiki waits for action and then does act, and with devastating effect to remove the foundational premises of the enemy's attack, using the enemy's own power against him.

The heart of the enemy's power lies in the oppression of the people, which has existed for centuries, and which they promise to relieve using the the same tools by which the people themselves have been exploited by tyrants -- terror. This is the strategic connection between Al-qaida, the Taliban, Iraq, Libya and yes, Iran. As ideology it is false; as method it is ugly, and would merely continue the opression of the people, were they to win. No person coming to power by such means has ever surrendered the use of them to maintain it. Never.

The foundational premise of Jihadism is not aiki. Its chief strategic criteria are two: compulsion of its opponents by means of fear and intimidation, and to inspire its supporters by spectacular acts of symbolic vengeance for past oppression. It cannot prevail by means of the first alone; it cannot survive at all without the second. By means of the action against Hussein and the Taliban we demonstrated that we would not tolerate regimes of terror. In Libya we demonstrated that our goal was not subjugation. This is the first delivery of a promise to the people at large. We can remove sources of oppression without becoming one.

How does one respond in aiki to the victims of this fear and terror who are in harm's way? The first answer is that you CANNOT lead them from harm's way. Budo should teach us by now, that there is almost no way by direct opposition in defense to stop anyone committed to killing from carrying out their objective if they disregard their own life. A walkking deadman will still kill you. Only irimi and aiki will save you from such attack.

The nature of the enemy's weapons does not allow us victory in terms of their first criterion. The only option is to establish a situation in which fear and terror are progressively de-legitimized in the eyes of its victims, and therefore do not inspire support. Then the enemy will be defeated because people themselves hound it out, not before.

The people must first feel the exercise of their own power, which they have been prevented from for centuries. This cannot happen without help. The enemy will not abandon his first criterion, and he must be engaged to minimize his impact there, but we cannot win on that ground alone. This cannot happen unless governments responsible to the people they govern exist in the region exploited by jihadism. It is a precondition to victory.

It still may not work. This is the point of the propaganda war against the U.S. by means of our failures at Abu Ghraib and in other, less graphic incidents -- to rebut this case. Those are failures without doubt. It is the reason three jihadists just commited coordinated suicide at Guantanamo top further their own cause. They understand the calculus of terror and oppression, and they have demonstrated an committed ability to exercise both its affirmative and negative modes.

But everything we are doing is done with that end in mind despite the failures. We are doing aiki there, albeit by fits and starts.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 06-12-2006, 11:55 AM   #50
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Aikido, the military and fighting

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
So far, a number of bombings have caused the surrender or near surrender of a great number of people and governments in the rightness of defending and promoting ordered liberty and popular government. Spain being a case in point.
Respectfuly disagree.

We didn't surrender to the jihadism, we defeated a government who was opposing the sovereign spanish people's will and manipulating/hiding info about the bombings.

Regards,
Demetrio

Jun,
Sorry for cooperating to the thread hijack, but i felt the need of pointing that as a spanish citizen (with celtic ancestors, btw).
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