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The Expansionist
Friday, May 11, 2007
 
Soldiers' Morality, Militarism, 'Ratting', Exporting Jobs.
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(1) Our 'Heroes'. On May 5th, media reported disgusting attitudes among U.S. forces in Iraq. Today, General Petraeus, commander of the troop 'surge', issued a responsive letter to U.S. forces to tell them that such behavior is not only immoral but also counterproductive.
The US military commander in Iraq told his troops to fight by the rules after a Pentagon survey found many soldiers and Marines back torture and would not report colleagues for killing or injuring civilians.

"This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we – not our enemies – occupy the moral high ground," General David Petraeus wrote in a letter.

The Pentagon survey of ethics, released last week, showed that only 40 per cent of marines and 55 per cent of US Army soldiers deployed in Iraq said they would report a fellow serviceman for killing or injuring an innocent Iraqi.

It also said well over one-third of soldiers and marines believe torture should be allowed to obtain information that could save the lives of US troops or gain knowledge about Iraqi insurgents. * * *

According to the survey, ... about 10 per cent of the 1320 soldiers and 447 Marines questioned said they had mistreated civilians, either through physical violence or damage to their personal property.

It also showed increasing rates of mental health problems for troops on extended or multiple deployments. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has extended tours for US soldiers in Iraq to up to 15 months instead of one year.

In the letter, Petraeus, who is on his third tour of duty, said that "while we are warriors, we are also all human beings", and urged his troops that if they felt stress they should talk to "your chain of command, your chaplain, or a medical expert."
Oh, yeah, that will work. I have heard that soldiers know better than to look for help from military mental-health personnel because they feel they can be reported and discharged for anything they say.
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The general's comments are a step in the right direction, but the real problems are (a) military service is intrinsically evil, so attracts evil people; (b) the extreme stresses of warfare, especially being surrounded by a huge population of what come to be regarded as all enemies, can push over the edge even originally-decent people who foolishly enlisted in the military out of mistaken notions of duty or honor; and (c) punishments for wrongdoers are trivial and inconsistent.
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In one notorious crime against civilians, the "Mahmudiyah incident", five U.S. soldiers raped and killed a 14-year-old girl after murdering her parents and sister. Two of the guilty have already had their cases resolved. One was supposedly sentenced to life in prison, the other to 100 years in prison. But they will actually be eligible for parole in, respectively, 20 and 10 years! 10 years in prison for murdering four people! Why not just legalize raping and murdering Iraqis if that's the 'punishment'? The leader of the attack and two others have yet even to be tried.
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In another notorious incident, 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha were murdered by rampaging Marines. Pretrial hearings are just getting underway in that horrendous disgrace to the honor of the Nation. One of the criminals, who admitted to pissing on the body of one of the people murdered, has been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against others!
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How can Iraqis but feel that the United States is the enemy? How are we to win the "hearts and minds" of civilians when U.S. soldiers who commit mass murder aren't shot dead by firing squad?
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(2) Militarism. A cult of hero-worship for the military has arisen in this country, as dangerous to our civilization as militarism proved to Germany and Japan in World War II. Both Democrats and Republicans refuse to speak ill of "our heroes" in Iraq, and even bitter opponents of the war pussyfoot around the whole issue of the evil of militarism. No major figure attacks the very notion of soldiers as "heroes". Media go out of their way to puff up nonexistent "heroes" like Jessica Lynch, who admitted late last month, before Congress, to being astonished by media treating her as a "hero" (not, mind you, "heroine").
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We used to be a Nation of citizen-soldiers, and a few voices have dared to suggest that an all-volunteer, professional army is a danger to our values. Alas, most of the opposition focuses on the unfair distribution of hardship rather than the toxic effect on our civilization produced by the glorification of militarism. Charles Rangel, a black Congressman from New York City, has repeatedly argued that we should reinstate the draft, on the basis that the all-volunteer military victimizes the poor, who look upon the armed forces as the employer of last resort. Rangel's plan has essentially no chance in hell of being approved.
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Bizarrely, Virginia Tech, which suffered 33 deaths to gunfire, invited retired Army Gen. John Abizaid, former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, to be commencement speaker in tonite's graduation ceremony. They invite a man responsible for tens of thousands of violent deaths of Iraqis to speak to a university that suffered 33 violent deaths in Virginia? Is that supposed to put the 33 deaths in context? What on Earth were they thinking?
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Lest you think I exaggerate the cult of militarism, consider this bit of rabid militarist drivel from the rightwing Heritage Foundation's website:
Rangel is talking about people in the profession of arms, men and women who believe it to be the most honorable path in life.
"The most honorable path in life." Honorable?!? Killing people for a living is honorable? On what planet? In what universe?
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Let's be plain: the military is a collection of career killers, people trained to murder the defenseless, as by dropping bombs from altitudes so high that the bomber cannot be hit by anti-aircraft artillery nor even missiles, or by launching cruise missiles from great distances where there is absolutely no risk to the person who sends a deadly missile on its way. The military calls noncombatants murdered by their actions "collateral damage", and dismisses such murders as at worst 'unfortunate', not crimes against humanity. What of the soldier who presses the launch button on a cruise missile that will kill dozens of civilians, including children? Oh, he bears no personal responsibility for his crime. He really was "only following orders".
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The military is a moral monstrosity. That we may need to have professional killers in our employ does not make them honorable men — yes, "and women", because women are being trained as career killers too, and told that it is honorable to slaughter in the name of "God and country". Oh, and "freedom". The military is a despicable necessity, not an honorable profession. The sooner we can change the political arrangements that produce wars, the better. But nobody is talking about that. No, our politicians and media are too busy talking about hitmen as "heroes". Well, they're not heroes to me, and I sure as hell don't want ANYONE who is taught to fire a bullet from a distance and who can watch thru a telescopic sight, with equanimity and without shame, pain, or guilt, as his (or her) victim's head explodes!, to come back to this country and walk on the streets anywhere near me.
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(3) "Ratting Out" Lance Armstrong. Media today used the term "rat out" in connection with a claim by a bicyclist charged with violating drug rules, that Federal anti-doping agents tried to get him to accuse Lance Armstrong of using dope himself. What on Earth is going on, that media are now disparaging the genuinely heroic act of informing authorities about violations of laws? Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart recently addressed the despicable "Don't snitch" campaign in rap music (see clip here). What started with thugs in the deformed "music" of the ghetto has apparently now spread to mainstream media! Detestable.
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(4) No Jobs Left at Home? American business has become The Enemy Within, so intent on saving money that it will gladly export every single job from the United States, even local news reporter, leaving Americans destitute and desperate, until we rise up and slaughter the rich. I guess the rich look forward to being tortured to death and having their mansions looted by mobs, because their behavior certainly seems calculated to produce that result. There are 200 million guns in the United States. And plenty of ammo. Maybe those soldiers taught violence by the military and who come back home to find that all opportunities have vanished, all the jobs they might have expected having been exported to China and India, will have their uses after all.
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(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 3,386 — for Israel.)



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