Tuesday, August 29, 2006

When Killing Becomes Fun...

According to the Washington Post:

Homicide Charges Rare in Iraq War

The majority of U.S. service members charged in the unlawful deaths of Iraqi civilians have been acquitted, found guilty of relatively minor offenses or given administrative punishments without trials, according to a Washington Post review of concluded military cases. Charges against some of the troops were dropped completely.

Though experts estimate that thousands of Iraqi civilians have died at the hands of U.S. forces, only 39 service members were formally accused in connection with the deaths of 20 Iraqis from 2003 to early this year. Twenty-six of the 39 troops were initially charged with murder, negligent homicide or manslaughter; 12 of them ultimately served prison time for any offense.

Some military officials and analysts say the small numbers reflect the caution and professionalism exercised by U.S. forces on an urban battlefield where it is often difficult to distinguish combatants from civilians. Others argue the statistics illustrate commanders' reluctance to investigate and hold troops accountable when they take the lives of civilians.

Via ilona at Daily Kos from the book 'On Killing' by Dave Grossman:

Commanders, families, and society need to understand the soldier's desperate need for recognition and acceptance, his vulnerabilities, and his desperate need to be constantly reassured that what he (or she) did was right and necessary, and the terrible social costs of failing to provide for these needs with the traditional acts of affirmation and acceptance. It is to our national shame that it has taken us almost 20 years to recognize and fulfill these needs with the Vietnam War Memorial and the veterans' parades that have allowed our veterans to 'wipe a little spit off their heart.'

What's really shameful is the fact that soldiers who rejoice in killing, such as those in this video who committed a war crime, are actually treated like heroes. Social acceptance of acts and attitudes like that is a disease in itself.

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