« Oil-for-Food Scandal Bites Chevron | Main | Americans Abandon "Hip" Cities for the Heartland »

Destroying the Hearts and Minds of America

from Andrew Sullivan:

More than one-third of U.S. soldiers in Iraq surveyed by the Army said they believe torture should be allowed if it helps gather important information about insurgents, the Pentagon disclosed yesterday. Four in 10 said they approve of such illegal abuse if it would save the life of a fellow soldier.

In addition, about two-thirds of Marines and half the Army troops surveyed said they would not report a team member for mistreating a civilian or for destroying civilian property unnecessarily. "Less than half of Soldiers and Marines believed that non-combatants should be treated with dignity and respect," the Army report stated. About 10 percent of the 1,767 troops in the official survey - conducted in Iraq last fall - reported that they had mistreated civilians in Iraq, such as kicking them or needlessly damaging their possessions.

This is what happens when the rot sets in. In the absence of any hope of a real victory, the people of Iraq become little more than playthings for US troops. And I'll repeat again that I don't blame the troops themselves for this -- when you place any human being in an impossible situation, a psychological breakdown occurs. The environment shapes the troops, rather than the other way around, which was our stated objective. Despite his claims that Bush and the Republicans are the only ones who really care about the troops, they are destroying a generation of Americans just like LBJ and Nixon did in Vietnam. Those who are not killed or physically maimed in the war will come back emotionally broken with the inevitable result of destroyed families, mental illness and homelessness. And it's all because one man's ego will not allow him to admit his mistakes.


Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

  • Currently 3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3/5 (4 votes cast)


Comments (7)

Heralder:

Completely disregarding the numbers from this survey and who conducted it, there are a few things people seem to be forgetting.

This is what happens when the rot sets in. In the absence of any hope of a real victory, the people of Iraq become little more than playthings for US troops.

1) Rabid mischaracterization. Playthings? That's akin to saying Bush insulted the Queen by winking at her or the State Department insulted Islam by wondering why the Iraqi foreign Minister walked out of a dimplomatic dinner.
It's taking things to the opposite extreme to prove a political point. That's a problem.

2) Our military is not best suited to pick flowers for pretty girls and paint rainbows on park walls. That's not and never was their job. You're expecting that they be customer service agents rather than professional men that are trained to complete a mission, and if need be, do so with extreme force.

This is besides the point that by in large they have exceeded their duty to the Iraqi public in their professionalism. You can always cite abberations, but they've treated people well when they could.

Also to take into account is the enemy we're fighting...well, they look alot like civilians, which means the civilians get generally worse treatment. You have to shake people down rather than politely ask questions because the guy that wants to blow up you and 25 innocent people at the market looks exactly like the guy shopping at the market.

And it's all because one man's ego will not allow him to admit his mistakes.

Actually, I thought it was because we're fighting a ruthless enemy without morals, sympathy or conscience. But I suppose you could always blame Bush for making terrorists who they are.

Paul Hamilton:

Heralder:
It's not an "aberration" when two-thirds say they wouldn't report abuse of civilians and that ten percent have actually done so. That's a sign of a real breakdown in the sort of discipline which any military force needs to operate.

And is this really a political issue? Obviously there are Pubs and Dems who are doing so for their own benefit, but to me, it goes beyond that -- the simple fact is that we have the longest deployments in recent history in Iraq now. We have troops who are fighting 7 days a week, 12 hours a day for months on end. Human beings cannot sustain that sort of continuous stress without breaking down, and I believe that the reports of abuse are the direct result of Bush's failures as a military leader, maintaining policies which have never worked for far beyond the time when there is any excuse for doing so. We need to either triple our forces and do what it takes to win -- which is not a practical option -- or we need to get out. That is a MILITARY judgment, not a political one.

Regarding your Point #2, I will refer you back to my comment last week that we need special forces making targetted attacks against terrorists, not an occupation of an entire country. The success of the terrorists since the invasion of Iraq is proof that we're using the wrong tactics.

And I find your phrase "duty to the Iraqi public" to be the most ironic words I've read all day...

And regarding your last paragraph, I will again say that there was no terrorist activity in Iraq prior to our invasion. We armed them, created the chaos that enables them and by our ongoing abuses there, are the best recruiting too they have. Compare that to my idea of using special forces to take the groups out while they're still small, which would win the respect and admiration of the people where terrorists operate, and I'd say the blame is exactly where it belongs.

Heralder:

Paul,

This is a discussion I'm interested in having. If I can't get to a response today, I'll hopefully get to it tomorrow. Unfortunately as of late, my responses are lagging.

Steve Crickmore:

The Army report is extraordinary."Less than half of Soldiers and Marines believed that non-combatants should be treated with dignity and respect," Am I reading this correctly? so almost half the soldiers and marines feel that non-combatants shouldn't be treated with dignity and respect' Well that is not much of a bar to aim at..Maybe the civilian Iraqis if they read this report, would feel they would be respected more by our Marines if they were combatants...One of the most extraordinary remarks, of many, is by Maj. Gen. Gale S. Pollock, the acting Army surgeon general, cast the report as positive news. "What it speaks to is the leadership that the military is providing, because they're not acting on those thoughts," she said. "They're not torturing the people."..(even though they would like nothing better than to)..I'm not sure she is talking about the non-combatants or the combatants?..It doesn't seem to make much difference, any way. It is just incredible..Another 3 or 4 years of this..and yes, what will happen to the soldiers and marines when they come home?

Paul Hamilton:

Okay, Heralder. We'll continue this at your convenience...

Heralder:

Hi Paul,

I have some time this morning:

It's not an "aberration" when two-thirds say they wouldn't report abuse of civilians and that ten percent have actually done so. That's a sign of a real breakdown in the sort of discipline which any military force needs to operate.

I hope this isn't too much of a stretch, but I've working retail customer service before. We were trained to handle customers in a certain way, which I did. Had someone asked me on any given day what exactly I thought about the customers I served, I'd have said much the same thing as these soldiers said.

An important thing to take into account is what Gen. Pollock said:

"What it speaks to is the leadership that the military is providing, because they're not acting on those thoughts," she said. "They're not torturing the people."

In just the same way I may have disliked the customers it was my job to serve, I did the job to specification...without dragging some annoying woman into the dressing room and choking her out (trust me, the feeling was there!)

In summary, I think there's more truth to the General's statement than you give credit. Certain feelings are natural to have, discipline and morals stop decent people from acting on them.

That said, I agree with you on the deployment lengths and the negative effect it's having on the soldiers. That cannot be denied...though something that was missiing from the article that I would love to see numbers on is how many soldiers reupped voluntarily without having to. I know that many have, because they believe in what they're doing.

I will refer you back to my comment last week that we need special forces making targetted attacks against terrorists, not an occupation of an entire country. The success of the terrorists since the invasion of Iraq is proof that we're using the wrong tactics.

This is more a strategy that a tactic...and one I don't believe is viable. Special Forces need information to make targeted attacks. You don't get information without having trust from the populace and men on the ground.

I'm not saying what we're doing right now is perfectly viable, but you cannot fight a war with a handful of men. Perhaps something in between.

And I find your phrase "duty to the Iraqi public" to be the most ironic words I've read all day...

The soldiers don't make the decisions, they do the job, part of which entails protection of the people and betterment of the country. This is what I meant by duty.

I will again say that there was no terrorist activity in Iraq prior to our invasion. We armed them, created the chaos that enables them and by our ongoing abuses there, are the best recruiting too they have.

There was no terrorist activity against the Iraqi people by foreign born militants and Iraqi insurgents, no.
I still have the issue about the logic that we created terrorists by being there...but I'll need to adress that at another time. I'm sure it will come up again.

As far as 'ongoing abuses'? There have been highly publicized events, yes, but you say ongoing as if Abu Garaib is an every day occurance.

I said aberrant, and I stand by that characterization. If it wasn't an aberration, you would know.

Paul Hamilton:

Regarding the troops not actually torturing Iraqis, they DID torture them at Abu Graib, the only question is whether or not that torture was policy or a breakdown of policy. But there's more to it than that -- it's just the over-riding attitude that the Iraqis are our inferiors and deserve no respect or consideration. There are all sorts of vids on the net of our troops mocking and even assaulting "ragheads" for no reason at all, and two-thirds of our troops apparently believe that killing an Iraqi isn't sufficient grounds to rat out a buddy. Something is very wrong in that frame of mind.

>>You don't get information without having trust from the populace and men on the ground.

EXACTLY! And I believe that our current policy is doing the exact opposite. We've gone from the Iraqis at least hoping that we'd be liberators to becoming hated occupiers. They won't reveal information about terrorists to us because they trust the terrorists more than they do the Americans, and that again goes back to our attitudes and actions toward the Iraqi people.

>>cannot fight a war with a handful of men.

But this is not a war in the traditional sense. See my analogy about the Mafia. You can't defeat organized crime by occupying the United States, but you can defeat them by securing the cooperation of citizens and making targeted strikes against the criminals. Let me ask you this -- if an occupying army treated Americans the way we are treating the Iraqis, do you believe that Americans would side with the occupiers or with their own people, even if they are criminals?


Contact

Send e-mail tips to us:

[email protected]

Advertisments

Categories

Archives

Technorati



Add to Technorati Favorites

Credits

Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

All original content copyright © 2007 by Wizbang®, LLC. All rights reserved. Wizbang® is a registered service mark. Wizbang Blue™ is a trademark of Wizbang®, LLC.

Powered by Movable Type 3.35

Hosting by ServInt

Ratings on this site are powered by the Ajax Ratings Pro plugin for Movable Type.

Search on this site is powered by the FastSearch plugin for Movable Type.

Blogrolls on this site are powered by the MT-Blogroll.

Temporary site design is based on Cutline and Cutline for MT. Graphics by Apothegm Designs.