I'm reading "Devil's Guard" right now which is fascinating. The book is supposedly based on a true story about an ex-Eastern Front S.S. commando who fled Europe after Germany surrendered. He then joined the French Foreign Legion and was then stationed and fought in Indochina.
The whole book is fascinating. Everyone except the British come out looking pretty bad. Germany looks brutal, France looks incompetent, America looks naive, and all the Communist forces get portrayed as bankrupt in all ways. The book has some definite rings of truth, but also of some exaggeration or outright fabrication. Some of it probably accurately describes what happened after WWII, where other parts are fantastically exaggerated.
I did like one particular exchange. The German officer was offered some Nationalist Chinese advisors to help him make some battleplans, but he wasn't sharing much information with them. One of the Chinese officers, Major Kwang, notices this and talks to him about it, saying that he can be trusted and wants to help. The reply -
"We have been around here for a long time, Major Kwang. We have outlived the average life expectancy of the Legionaires, and I think we are still around because we took nothing for granted - never!"
The major smiled politely. "Then you regard every stranger guilty until proven innocent?"
"We regard only one thing, Major - our own survival factors," I said. "We learned that a long time ago: to think, to plan, to calculate, to evaluate and act - everything related to survival factors. Friendship, relations, rank, sentiments are all only of secondary importance. We are living on borrowed time and abiding by the law of probability, which is the only law we carefully observe. Had we done otherwise, we would now be dead heroes instead of surviving experts. For that's what we really are, Major Kwang: neither invincible daredevils nor supermen nor heroes - only survival experts. But survival is the most important thing in any war."
"We are living on borrowed time and abiding by the law of probability, which is the only law we carefully observe. Had we done otherwise, we would now be dead heroes instead of surviving experts."
Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman's "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society" is a fascinating work. It's required reading for much of the American military officers and law enforcement personnel. There's many counter-intuitive points in there, including that the vast majority (approximately 80%) of soldiers during the American Civil War and World War II never actually fired with the intent of hitting the enemy.
This paragraph stood out to me -
[In Dr. Jerome Frank's] Sanity and Survival in the Nuclear Age, […] he points out that civil wars are usually more bloody, prolonged, and unrestrained than other types of war. And Peter Watson, in War on the Mind, points out that "deviant behavior by members of our own group is perceived as more disturbing and produces stronger retaliation than that of others with whom we are less involved." We need only look at the intensity of aggression between different Christian factions in Europe across the centuries, or the infighting between the major Islamic sects in the Middle East, or the conflict between Leninist, Maoist, and Trotskyist Communists, or the horror in Rwanda and other African tribal battles, to confirm this fact.
John D Rockefeller was one of the richest men who ever lived. Around 1900 he gave a talk to his Sunday school class and offered up his view of why he and the other so called ‘robber barons’, were justified in using cut throat business practices while building their financial empires. He said:
Some people today still hold to that philosophy. But is that the way that God or evolution (his references) is now directing us? I don’t think so.
EMPATHY is the key to our survival. It was and always will be.
Survival of the fittest was a term that Charles Darwin didn’t coin, but added to his writings years later after people complained that the term natural selection sounded to much like an intelligent deity was doing the selecting..