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post #1 of (permalink) Old 12-15-2005, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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OT: Wall St Jrnl reporter on joining Marines-UPDTD

Very good read here (http://ebird.afis.mil/ebfiles/e20051215407140.html) by a 31yr old WSJ reporter who decided to join the Marines... Insightful and motivating. And, reassuring that we have men of this caliber who can still recognize the 'greater good', and willing to make their own personal desires/comforts/safety secondary to 'doing their duty'.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 12-15-2005, 01:17 PM
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Re: OT: Wall St Journal reporter on joining Marine

You'll have to post the text, cause once I deciphered the URL, it looks to be a site for only active DoD personel (wouldn't accept my SSN & DOB)...

BTW, for the active duty folk... http://ebird.afis.mil/ebfiles/e20051215407140.html
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 12-15-2005, 02:31 PM
 
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Re: OT: Wall St Journal reporter on joining Marine

Wow, I'm impressed. It's good to see that someone (from the media, no less) still sees us as the premier service and not just a necessary evil.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 12-15-2005, 02:42 PM Thread Starter
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Re: OT: Wall St Journal reporter on joining Marine

Hmmm... didn't want to post the text b/c of copyright issues, but this is good enough to stick my neck out (thank goodness Thanksgiving is over!).

Admin & mods: If copyright is an issue (even with proper attribution - supplied), pls remove!
________________________________________________
Wall Street Journal
December 15, 2005
Pg. 18


Mightier Than The Pen

By Matt Pottinger

When people ask why I recently left The Wall Street Journal to join the Marines, I usually have a short answer. It felt like the time had come to stop reporting events and get more directly involved. But that's not the whole answer, and how I got to this point wasn't a straight line.

It's a cliché that you appreciate your own country more when you live abroad, but it happens to be true. Living in China for the last seven years, I've seen that country take a giant leap from a struggling Third World country into a true world power. For many people it still comes as a surprise to learn that China is chasing Japan as the second-largest economy on the globe and could soon own a trillion dollars of American debt.

But living in China also shows you what a nondemocratic country can do to its citizens. I've seen protesters tackled and beaten by plainclothes police in Tiananmen Square, and I've been videotaped by government agents while I was talking to a source. I've been arrested and forced to flush my notes down a toilet to keep the police from getting them, and I've been punched in the face in a Beijing Starbucks by a government goon who was trying to keep me from investigating a Chinese company's sale of nuclear fuel to other countries.

When you live abroad long enough, you come to understand that governments that behave this way are not the exception, but the rule. They feel alien to us, but from the viewpoint of the world's population, we are the aliens, not them. That makes you think about protecting your country no matter who you are or what you're doing. What impresses you most, when you don't have them day to day, are the institutions that distinguish the U.S.: the separation of powers, a free press, the right to vote, and a culture that values civic duty and service, to name but a few.

I'm not an uncritical, rah-rah American. Living abroad has sharpened my view of what's wrong with my country, too. It's obvious that we need to reinvent ourselves in various ways, but we should also be allowed to do it from within, not according to someone else's dictates.

But why the Marines?

A year ago, I was at my sister's house using her husband's laptop when I came across a video of an American in Iraq being beheaded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The details are beyond description here; let's just say it was obscene. At first I admit I felt a touch of the terror they wanted me to feel, but then I felt the anger they didn't. We often talk about how our policies are radicalizing young men in the Middle East to become our enemies, but rarely do we talk about how their actions are radicalizing us. In a brief moment of revulsion, sitting there in that living room, I became their blowback.

Of course, a single emotional moment does not justify a career change, and that's not what happened to me. The next day I went to lunch at the Council on Foreign Relations where I happened to meet a Marine Corps colonel who'd just come back from Iraq. He gave me a no-nonsense assessment of what was happening there, but what got to me most was his description of how the Marines behaved and how they looked after each other in a hostile world. That struck me as a metaphor for how America should be in the world at large, and it also appealed to me on a personal level. At one point I said half-jokingly that, being 31 years old, it was a shame I was too old to serve. He sat back for a second and said, "I think I've still gotcha."

The next morning I found myself roaming around the belly of the USS Intrepid, a World War II aircraft carrier museum moored a few blocks from Times Square, looking for a Marine recruiting station and thinking I'd probably lost my marbles. The officer-selection officer wasn't impressed with my age, my Chinese language abilities or the fact that I worked for one of the great newspapers of the world. His only question was, "How's your endurance?"

Well, I can sit at my desk for 12 hours straight. Fourteen if I have a bag of Reese's.

He said if I wanted a shot at this I'd have to ace the physical fitness test, where a perfect score consisted of 20 pull-ups, 100 crunches in two minutes, and a three-mile run in 18 minutes. Essentially he was telling me to pack it in and go home. After assuring him I didn't have a criminal record or any tattoos, either of which would have required yet another waiver (my age already required the first), I took an application and went back to China.

Then came the Asian tsunami last December.

I was scrambled to Thailand, where thousands of people had died in the wave. After days in the midst of the devastation, I pulled back to Thailand's Utapao Air Force Base, at one time a U.S. staging area for bombing runs over Hanoi, to write a story on the U.S.-led relief efforts. The abandoned base was now bustling with air traffic and military personnel, and the man in charge was a Marine.

Warfare and relief efforts, as it turns out, involve many skills in common. In both cases, it's 80% preparation and logistics and only a small percent of actual battle. What these guys were doing was the same thing they did in a war zone, except now the tip of the spear wasn't weapons, but food, water and medicine. It was a major operation to save people's lives, and it was clear that no other country in the world could do what they were doing. Once again, I was bumping into the U.S. Marines, and once again I was impressed.

The day before I left Thailand I decided to do my first physical training and see what happened. I started running and was winded in five minutes. The air quality in downtown Bangkok didn't help, but the biggest problem was me. I ducked into Lumpini Park in the heart of the city where I was chased around by a three-foot monitor lizard that ran faster than I did. At one point I found a playground jungle gym and managed to do half a pull-up. That's all.

I got back to Beijing and started running several days a week. Along the way I met a Marine who was studying in Beijing on a fellowship and started training with him. Pretty soon I filled out the application I'd taken from New York, got letters of recommendation from old professors and mentors, and received a letter from a senior Marine officer who took a leap of faith on my behalf.

I made a quick trip back to New York in April to take a preliminary physical fitness test with the recruitment officer at the USS Intrepid. By then I could do 13 pull-ups, all my crunches, and a three-mile run along the West Side Highway in a little under 21 minutes, all in all a mediocre performance that was barely passable. When I was done, the officer told me to wipe the foam off my mouth, but I did him one better and puked all over the tarmac. He liked that a lot. That's when we both knew I was going for it.

Friends ask if I worry about going from a life of independent thought and action to a life of hierarchy and teamwork. At the moment, I find that appealing because it means being part of something bigger than I am. As for how different it's going to be, that, too, has its appeal because it's the opposite of what I've been doing up to now. Why should I do something that's a "natural fit" with what I already do? Why shouldn't I try to expand myself?

In a way, I see the Marines as a microcosm of America at its best. Their focus isn't on weapons and tactics, but on leadership. That's the whole point of the Marines. They care about each other in good times and bad, they've always had to fight for their existence -- even Harry Truman saw them as nothing more than the "Navy's police force" -- and they have the strength of their traditions. Their future, like the country's, is worth fighting for. I hope to be part of the effort.

Mr. Pottinger, until recently a Journal correspondent in China, is scheduled to be commissioned a second lieutenant tomorrow. He spent the last three months at Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Va. As of early December, his three-mile run was down to 18 minutes and 15 seconds.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 12-15-2005, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: OT: Wall St Journal reporter on joining Marine

HEY! Just thought of something... I'm 'there'! Maybe I oughta go look 'im up tomorrow @ his graduation ceremony. No doubt he'll not be too hard to spot - probably a few reporters taking pix of 'im.

Anything ya'll would like me to tell 'im? Post it up... and I'll print out this thread & give it to him.

Glad to be of service! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 12-15-2005, 06:04 PM
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Re: OT: Wall St Journal reporter on joining Marine

Tell him that I'm as proud of him as if he were my own son.

I hope he gets a job where he can use his writing skills, if not in an official capacity, atleast as an occasional contributor to some forum where we can keep track of him and his experiences. Tell him that we'd be proud to have him join the BBS, even if he doesn't have a Jeep.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 12-15-2005, 06:19 PM
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Re: OT: Wall St Jrnl reporter on joining Marines-U

Awesome Jerry. I'm sure he will find what he wants in life there. Thats a big step to a new life. I gotta give him kudos for it at his age.

And on a side note a guy here in town that I used to even play in a band with Just joined the army reserves. (I know......) Said he always wanted to but never thought he had the time with his music going good. He ended up married and has a kid now. He just finished basics and graduated a couple weeks ago from what the paper said.He is 38![img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif[/img] And wanted to be infantry. So I thought that was kinda cool too.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 12-15-2005, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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Re: OT: Wall St Jrnl reporter on joining Marines-U

Just rec'd a PM from one of our own board members (mid-30's professional) inquiring if he was too old to join up. MAN! you guys are enough to make a grown man weep with joy and admiration.

(I sure would not want to try to do OCS in my 30's... CRAP! it almost killed me at the ripe ol' age of 22! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img] )
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 12-15-2005, 11:21 PM
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Re: OT: Wall St Jrnl reporter on joining Marines-U

tell him...

Semper Fi!!!!!!
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 12-16-2005, 10:18 PM
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Re: OT: Wall St Jrnl reporter on joining Marines-UPDTD

Amidst all the garbage this guy is spouting, this part should be heeded:

[ QUOTE ]
I'm not an uncritical, rah-rah American. Living abroad has sharpened my view of what's wrong with my country, too. It's obvious that we need to reinvent ourselves in various ways, but we should also be allowed to do it from within, not according to someone else's dictates.

[/ QUOTE ]

If we expect to be granted that privilege, we should be extending that courtesy to other nations. The United States has become the Jehovah's Witnesses of the world. We knock on nations’ doors in hopes of converting them to capitalism. If that fails, we try to impose our values upon them with threats of economic sanctions and/or military action.

We, living in a capitalistic society, think that our way is the only way. It’s no different than religions preaching that theirs is the only TRUE religion. You may call it by nice names like freedom and democracy but they see it as capitalism. They see it as a government controlled by the wealth. They see a nation where money is power. Many here even see it that same way.

Even though we, as a nation, try to impose our way of government, based in freedom and democracy, on other nations, we are rapidly giving up our own benefits of freedom and democracy in the name of national security. Many cowards would be forever willing to dispense with the rights the real patriots gave us, MY RIGHTS, out of irrational fears of the unknown/unseen and the tainted belief that the government could/would actually do something to provide them with some ultimate security blanket of protection.

We unjustifiably attacked a nation because of a pack of lies. There were no WMDs; nobody has linked Saddam or Iraq to any direct involvement in 9/11. Saddam was no threat to us. The US government is the bigger threat. Every one of the 9/11 hijackers had US issued visas. The US government failed to do sufficient background checks before issuing those visas and secondly, failed to expel those with expired visas.

Many, many years ago, we had a similar enemy to Saddam and Iraq. That guy actually had WMDs in the form of nuclear missiles. That nation was right off our coast putting us in easy range. There were cowards then that lived with fear of nuclear war. Many built bomb shelters with provisions to allow them to live like moles for years to come in the event of an attack. The bad part of all this was the US put this guy in power. His predecessor was a dictator and, after the reign of FDR, the US feared dictators. We went form a dictator in a nation that was a vacation spot for many Americans, to a communist dictator over a nation that US citizens were forbidden to visit. We didn’t go to war with them. We were not attacked. That dictator is still in power but poses no threat to us. It all worked itself out, though probably better for tourist trade in Hawaii than anything else.

Give me back the rights and freedoms that the real patriots gave me. Quit squandering them in the belief of some ultimate security. If you are a coward and have trouble sleeping at night for fear of an attack, take a pill. If you wake up dead, you won’t know it. If you are religious, you’ll be glad to meet your god (or at least find out if your beliefs were true). If you are atheist, what have you to fear?

To borrow a phrase, “Give me liberty, or give me death.” My freedoms are what is important here. Those I’ll fight for. Those were fought for once and won. Fighting terrorist by unjustly attacking a small nation in the middle east over alleged WMDs and 9/11 involvement is not going to end terrorism, it just antagonizes them. Many say we cannot win this war. I ask rather, how would we know if we did.

We, the United States of America, are seen as the problem in this world with visions of world domination. Many nations are as happy with their government as most here are with ours. Most nations have those critical of their nations’ problems too. If they really desire change, they will eventually cause it themselves. It might be peaceful, it might take bloodshed, but either way they will have fought for and hopefully earned what they desire in a government without the meddling of the US dictating some formula for them. Some of those nations have probably given up their rights and freedoms in hopes of attaining the ultimate governmental protection. If you live in fear, maybe you could move to one of those to feel more secure, you’ll find it much easier than eroding away my rights and freedoms. Maybe you should at least make an extended visit to one of those countries to see what it would be like once all those rights and freedoms are gone forever.

I started out with a claim that this guy was spouting garbage. In support of that claim, I submit the following as only one example of his statements in that category:

[ QUOTE ]
Living in China for the last seven years, I've seen that country take a giant leap from a struggling Third World country into a true world power.

[/ QUOTE ]

If he thinks that transition happened in the last seven years, he just ain’t been paying attention.
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