''Another excellent example of soldiers exercising their right to miss is this mercenary-journalist's account of going with one of Eden Pastora's (a.k.a. Commandante Zero) Contra units on an ambush of a civilian river launch in Nicaragua: I'll never forget Surdo's words as he gave his imitation of a Pastora harangue prior to going into battle, telling the entire formation, "Si mata una mujer, mata unapiricuaco; si mata un nino, mata unpiricuaco." Piricuaco is a derogatory term, meaning rabid dog, we used for the Sandinistas, so in effect Surdo was saying "If you kill a woman, you're killing a Sandinista, if you kill a child, you're killing a Sandinista." And off we went to kill women and children. Once again I was part of the 10 men who would actually perform the ambush. We cleared our fields of fire and settled back to await the arrival of women and children and whatever other civilian passengers there might be on this launch. Each man was alone with his thoughts. Not a word was spoken among us regarding the nature of our mission. Surdo paced back and forth nervously some yards behind us in the protection of the jungle. . . . The loud throb of the powerful diesels of the 70-foot launch preceded its arrival by a good two minutes. The signal to commence firing was given as it appeared in front of us and I watched the RPG-7 [rocket] arc over the boat and into the jungle on the opposite bank. The M60 [machine gun] opened up, I rattled off a 20-round burst from my FAL. Brass was flying as thick as the jungle insects as our squad emptied their magazines. Every bullet sailed harmlessly over the civilian craft. When Surdo realized what was happening he came running out of the jungle cursing violently in Spanish and firing his AK [rifle] at the disappearing launch. Nicaraguan peasants are mean bastards, and tough soldiers. But they're not murderers. I laughed aloud in relief and pride as we packed up and prepared to move out.
Grossman adds here: Note the nature of such a "conspiracy to miss." Without a word being spoken, every soldier who was obliged and trained to fire reverted — as millions of others must have over the centuries — to the simple artifice of soldierly incompetence. And like the firing- squad member mentioned earlier, these soldiers took a great and private pleasure in outmaneuvering those who would make them do that which they would not.