Lee, the professional gunfighter portrayed by Robert Vaughn in the original “Guns of the Magnificent 7” has the best lines of all the mercenaries.
The lies you tell yourself. No enemies… alive. I have lost count of my enemies.
Lee has PTS. He is no longer at the top of his game but no one will dare call him out. Vaughn plays Lee like a man with no way out. You want him to find that way out, but he gets shot down anyway.
John B. Books, the anti-hero in Glendon Swarthout’s novel “The Shootist ” also has great lines. As portrayed by John Wayne, Books is Lee 30 years later. Books finds no glamor in being a hired killer, but he is idolized by Gillom Rogers, portrayed by Ron Howard. Books seeks to dissuade younger Rogers.
“Gillom Rogers: Bat Masterson told Cobb…
John Bernard Books: [Interrupts] Bat Masterson?
Gillom Rogers: Yeah, he said that a man has to have guts, deliberation and a proficiency with fire arms.
John Bernard Books: Did he mention that third eye you better have?
Gillom Rogers: Third eye?
John Bernard Books: For that dumbass amateur. There’s always some six-fingered bustard that couldn’t hit a cow in the tit with a tin cup. That’s the one who usually does you in. But Masterson always was full of… sheep-dip.” [emphasis added]
When you’re the globe’s Alpha, three things are guaranteed to happen: you get deployed a lot so everyone knows you aren’t scared, you have to find a new edge to stay alive for the next fight, and everyone studies you and waits for a moment of weakness. Townie’s post addresses that search for some new edge. From StrategyPage comes a short article on the PLA’s lessons from Desert Storm.
As with our own officer corps, the PLA experimented with competence but realized new uniforms make for better warfighters.
“One thing the Chinese have not yet been able to change is the quality of their officers. In part this is because the pre-1990 officer selection and training was based on the Russian model that put more emphasis on loyalty (to the Communist Party) than professional skills. China did try adding more officers selected for skills rather than loyalty but since 2010 have shifted back to the “loyalty first” model. This was necessary because of problems eliminating the corruption in the military and the realization that the military would more likely be needed to deal with an internal threat rather than an external one. It is easier to fake combat competence with new uniforms and weapons than to assure political loyalty when it is needed the most.” [emphasis added]
For a plate of beans and $10 a day, we could get Lee. For $516 billion we got no Merchant Marine, a miniscule Navy, an Air Force that is owned by the Russians, and an Army that is running a debt collection racket instead of generating combat power to face down the next punk seeking a name.