Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Islamic State claims responsibility for detaining Japanese man

Islamic State claims responsibility for detaining Japanese man

This is a tragedy in the making.  It's already bad enough.  When I first heard about this, my impression was this man really was a doctor or a journalist.  One reason I had for thinking that was a truncated subject line in an email I received from the Japan Times.  It ended with the word "embedded," which I associate with journalists covering the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Evan Wright comes to mind, especially since I just finished watching Generation Kill, the TV miniseries based on his book by the same title.  Which I then read, followed soon after by Nathaniel Fick's One Bullet Away, an account of the same events from the perspective of the USMC platoon leader who appears in both.

Now it turns out this man embedded himself for reasons that seem a bit flaky to me.  Posting videos of himself online, running around with rebel troops in Syria.  Pretending to be something he isn't.  According to a news story my wife and I watched last night, which included a number of quotes from someone likely to be the man's father, his intent was to start some kind of private mercenary security firm.  Like Blackwater or one of those other now-infamous names.  So he wanted to see some of the world's trouble spots to get a closer perspective of his chosen field. 

This kind of stuff seems really fun and cool when you do it in a first-person shooter game, or you watch Arnold and Sly pretending to do it just outside some tropical resort in Hawaii or Costa Rica or a desert a couple of miles away from Los Angeles, but I'm not exactly sure how one goes about starting up a mercenary firm in the actual places where the fighting happens.  I doubt you do it this way, though.  My uneducated guess would be it's much more practical first to join a nation's military and learn and put into practice soldier skills in a real-world setting.  If you survive, then just maybe you have what it takes to create and run this kind of company.  I still wouldn't suggest it as a small business start-up when your CV suggests you're better off running a lemonade stand.  A mom and pop security firm, minus the mom?

Others may feel the best way to learn is to do.  Maybe they're right.  My sum total of first hand military experience consists of a month or so of close-order drill with the elite warriors of the local Civil Air Patrol when I was in junior high.  Nice bunch of guys.  I learned to read a map and I got to fly in a single-engine airplane, from which I saw my house.  But what do I know?  I've only fought wars on my sofa or in my computer chair at home.  So maybe you should just show up at a war and do your best until you can upgrade your status from amateur to pro.  Both certainly die alike.

I only hope our guy here returns safely to Japan with enough experience to live his dream.

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