June 03, 2006

Elaborating on Haditha

I don't think that the problem is that these Marines came to see the Iraqis as subhuman.

I think modern soldiers are trained to look at the enemy as subhuman, or at least as vastly inferior. They must have that mindset, in order to be able to kill people they do not know at all, at a distance, with the push of a button or the pull of a trigger.

The problem is that this mindset clashes with reality, when the war keeps dragging on, things don't improve, and the soldiers keep losing friends and colleagues every day to an enemy that has learned to fight them. It is humiliating, to be killed by (insert your favourite expletive), and you rarely get to actually fight your attackers.

In addition, Americans (like many modern armies) believe that they are occupying countries "for their own good". That makes it even harder for the soldiers to understand their situation - why would people you try to help, try to kill you?

Putting people in such a cognitive dissonant situation is bound to do serious psychological damage.

According to Rice and co, 99% of the US soldiers behave perfectly every day. According to the top general in Iraq, it's 99.9%. Well, that means that between 130 and 1,300 US soldiers currently in Iraq sometimes wake up in a psychopatic babykilling mood. That sounds like it could be right, but it's not encouraging. It that rate holds up, the US has gained between a few hundred and a few thousand psychopaths over the past few years. People like McVeigh. Good luck...


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