Friday, June 02, 2006

An 'ethical' American militarism?

The US military have just anounced that troops based in Iraq are to receive 30 days of 'ethical training'. Apparently, troops are to be given lessons in 'core warrior values', (whatever that is), in what seems like a desperate, knee-jerk reaction to the alleged slaughter of 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq.

The US military have been put on the defensive, top brass like Lt-Gen Peter Chiarelli, commander of multinational forces in Iraq admitted that 'it is important that we take time to reflect on the values that separate us from our enemies'. It looks as though American forces have fallen foul of their own propaganda. US forces have constantly made an emphasis of avoiding unnecessary civilian casualties, so when they do occur, they become a cause of an international outcry. Instead of pointing out that 'collateral damage', as it is euphemistically known as, is an inevitable consequence of war - the US military tries to play the victim, by accusing the insurgents of 'war crimes'. Accusing others of war crimes, only leaves the US military open to the very same accusation.

Picture: US military checkpoint in Bagdad. May 2006. (AFP/US ARMY/File/Staff Sgt Russel Lee Klika)

5 Comments:

At 11:33 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

the point is that many of those soldiers may be quite ethical and nice chaps with real morals. The real question is though, can training stop your instinctive behaviour when the heat is on for any person? As any marshial arts master can tell you, "I am a good fighter in games and competitions" but I do not know how I will react in a real life scenario facing real guns and knives? Will I freeze, will I try to negotiate, will I kill, rather than incapacitate. Such things can only be trained through exposure and many years of guided experience. Get the the army of elders out to fight the battles. Isn't that precisely the point? Youngt men are chosen to be soldiers not just because of physicality but also because of limitations on their morality, and a higher preperation to go for high risk scenarious, with still little to loose (apart from your life).

 
At 3:22 AM, Blogger Roland Dodds said...

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At 2:19 PM, Blogger Roland Dodds said...

Clearly this is in response to the recent slaughter allegations. This is what I think about sensitivity training for soldiers.

Soldiers are used to kill an enemy. The concept that they should be constantly considering every move they make is counter to a successful military strategy.

However, what separates and armed mob from a professional military is accountability and order. If an illegal action is carried out by a group of reneged troops, I would hold them accountable with the highest punishment available. But if this was ordered, or was accepted by higher ups, I do not think it is acceptable to hold a private responsible. Let us not forget that a soldier does not take a shit without a commanding officer knowing about it; I have a hard time seeing these kinds of actions going unnoticed by their superiors.

And if a slaughter or some other breach of law is committed, with the known consent of some higher ups, I hope they pay the price for their decision.

 
At 6:19 PM, Anonymous Incitatus said...

IMHO the problem here is with deployment strategy. The USMC was, and supposedly still is, a rapid reaction force with essentially the same purpose as the Royal Marines. Their training emphasising their primary role, which is to establish and hold beachheads and await support from regular army units. They are a pure combat force that aren't supposed to be deployed for long periods in one place. As a result, they are not trained for policing and crowd control any more than the PARAs were before a certain Sunday in 1972. The frequent and prolonged deployment of the USMC in both this war and Vietnam is truly mystifying. I've even asked USMC vets, and they admit they never really figured it out either. There was a suggestion that it might have something to do with pride and tradition affecting the higher levels of the USMC; sorta like, 'Yeah, our boys'll do it, you tell those Army boys to stay at home where we know they like it best'. The guys saying this obviously having no intention of joining 'the boys' on the ground to share the blood debt.

The USMC is the smallest arm of the US armed forces, and yet has taken by far the most casualties in the last 40 yrs of combat. That's just plain weird.

More generally though, the US needs to provide its soldiers with firsthand experience of civilian policing. Preferably in areas where they are less likely to get blown up or shot at. The only way to get that is to make more UN deployments (instead of leaving it to French, British, German and African forces).

 
At 9:45 PM, Anonymous thabet said...

"Instead of pointing out that 'collateral damage', as it is euphemistically known as, is an inevitable consequence of war...

This will only lead to charges of legalising the deaths of those who become 'collateral damage'.

 

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