How does one confront death in war?
Richard Armitage was the 13th United States Deputy Secretary of State, serving from 2001 to 2005. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and then after the fall of Saigon moved to Washington D.C. to work as a consultant for the United States Department of Defense, which sent him to Tehran and Bangkok.
Throughout the late 70s and early 80s, Armitage worked as an aide and foreign policy advisor to politicians including Senator Bob Dole and President-elect Ronald Reagan. When Reagan was elected, Armitage was appointed to the Department of Defense. In the 1990s, Armitage worked in the private sector before being confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State with the election of George W. Bush in 2001. He left the post in 2005.
Armitage was educated at the United States Naval Academy. He is an avid bodybuilder, and speaks many languages, including Vietnamese.
Topic: Confronting death
Armitage: Look, I can just say for myself: You go to war perhaps . . . For me frankly, I never considered not going. It seemed to me that it was expected of me. And beyond that I’ve never thought of something very meaningful happening in the world without me trying to be a part of it in some small way. And I meant something good happening in the world, not something bad.
Regarding war itself, I think that it’s been the experience of almost everyone who has heard the angry iron and had to . . . had to face the fear that war brings that you’re not fighting for your nation, though that may be your initial motivation. You’re fighting for your colleagues, your friends. You’re fighting not to be embarrassed – things of that nature. I would say that in my view, there’s not much good – though war is often necessary – it’s too overwhelming to put so much ability to adjudicate over life and death in the hands of a young man or young woman. It’s too empowering in a way, and it’s not something that I think necessarily should belong in the hands of humans. It should belong to God. But having said that, there certainly are necessary wars. And thank God we’ve had young men – and now young men and women – who are willing to sacrifice for us.
Armitage, on confronting death.
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