Friday, April 21, 2006

Last redoubt of manliness: Nepal

This is retired British colonel John Philip Cross, eighty years old, enlisted April 2, 1943 and, for many years now, a leader of Gurkhas, soldiers described here as "practically out of the Iliad".

"Late-nineteenth-century warfare never stopped,” Colonel Cross told me, “though it was masked for a time by the Cold War emphasis on atomic bombs. And in this type of warfare that you Americans must master, only two things count: the mystic dimension of service and the sanctity of an oath. It’s about the giving of one’s best when the audience is of the smallest."
Don't you like that phrase "when the audience is of the smallest"?

I wonder if you remember earlier this month when I posted about Harvey Mansfield's book, Manliness.

There are many levels of manliness, he adds. “Higher levels include risking life for a cause.”

Women have lain down their lives throughout history. Is there a difference? Yes, he says. “A woman will risk life if necessary. A man will do it for fun.”
Return to Colonel Cross.
“You can’t fight properly until you know that you are going to die anyway. That’s extreme, but that’s the gold standard. You don’t join the army to wipe your enemy’s ass. You join to kill, or for you yourself to be killed, and above all to have a good sense of humor about it.”
Is that more or less the feeling down at your pub? Mine, too.

An article by Robert Kaplan in The Atlantic Online. (Don't miss the "briefing on sex" that Cross remembers from his first days in the army.)

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2 comments:

Paramendra Bhagat said...

King Of India
King's Address: Old Wine, Old Bottle
Could Girija Be President?

NoolaBeulah said...

I must admit, Paramendra, I included this post because of the man, Cross, rather than the political situation in Nepal, of which I know only the little that is on the news and the even-less that is in the article.

Robert Kaplan doesn't seem to think much of the King's chances against the Maoists.

"Colonel Cross was careful not to make explicit political statements, given his circumstances: the Maoists are in the hills nearby, and government forces are down the street. The fact is that the Maoists come from the same sturdy hill tribes that Cross recruited for decades, while many of the RNA’s forces are softer plainsmen and can’t employ artillery, because even a handful of civilian casualties would ignite protests from the international community. Moreover, the Maoists are fortified by “the mystic dimension of service and the sanctity of an oath,” whereas RNA recruits—aside from some specialized units—join for a salary and a career."

I wish you and yours all the best.