An officer and a gentleman? (mature)

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fnordboy
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An officer and a gentleman? (mature)

Post by fnordboy » Jan 13th 2004, 12:54 pm

Warning!! Mature topic!!
Here is a link to a video of a US Soldier apparently executing an Iraqi.

Transcript of CNN report:
CNN Presents: Fit To Kill

Aired October 26, 2003 - 20:00 ET

CROWLEY: Wounded, another Iraqi writhes on the ground next to his gun. The Marines kill him -- then cheer.

RIDDLE: Like, man, you guys are dead now, you know. But it was a good feeling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah!

CROWLEY: When the battle is over and you are still standing, the adrenalin rush is huge.

RIDDLE: I mean, afterwards you're like, hell, yeah, that was awesome. Let's do it again.
<<<more>>>
The video is obviously edited somewhat, so what the soldier says in the interview may or may not be directly related to the incident, but still... :shock: it just amazes me. But, sadly, doesn't surprise me too much.

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Post by andrewgd » Jan 13th 2004, 4:50 pm

Killing for a living (in war) is probably one of the most surreal things someone will have to do. It HAS to mess up your head somewhat. It is definitely messed up that things like this happen. But since we (at least I) have never been in the situation where we are told to go to war (and probably kill people) we cannot judge these soldiers by the same standards as we'd judge ourselves.

I think that if I were in the situation they were in, and was ordered to fire on people, I'd have to shut something off in my head. I'd have to start thinking of the enemy as animals, or targets. The last thing I'd want to do is think of them as actual people. If I did that I'd go insane. After a year of having to think of them as animals or targets, I'd imagine it would be very easy for many people to do the exact thing these soldiers did in the video. (from your description, I didn't watch it).

While I think it his horribly wrong, I wouldn't penalize the soldiers. I just hope that the army has a decent program to return these kids to normal life (which I doubt they do). It is very very sad what "For Our Country" does to our kids heads, and then releases them back into the public.
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Post by grim4746 » Jan 13th 2004, 7:10 pm

andrewgd wrote: I think that if I were in the situation they were in, and was ordered to fire on people, I'd have to shut something off in my head. I'd have to start thinking of the enemy as animals, or targets. The last thing I'd want to do is think of them as actual people. If I did that I'd go insane. After a year of having to think of them as animals or targets, I'd imagine it would be very easy for many people to do the exact thing these soldiers did in the video. (from your description, I didn't watch it).
I think I understand what you are saying but I don't know if I agree. You say that if you were a soldier you wouldn't be able to think of the lives you are taking without going crazy. You say that turning off the part of your mind that makes you acknowledge other people as human beings would be the solution that would keep from losing your mind but that many people would very easily take the next step of then having fun by killing the people they are supposed to be protecting. To me that sounds like either way you end up going crazy. If I was going to lose my mind either way, I think I'd rather do it without willfully denying the humanity of others (but like you, I thankfully have not been to war so my opinions are more philosophical than practically based).
andrewgd wrote: While I think it his horribly wrong, I wouldn't penalize the soldiers. I just hope that the army has a decent program to return these kids to normal life (which I doubt they do). It is very very sad what "For Our Country" does to our kids heads, and then releases them back into the public.
i think it is easy to jump to the conclusion that war and "For Our Country" has driven these people to insanity but I think it is more complicated than that. Presumably most of the soldiers don't freak out and start killing civilians to get their rocks off, perhaps just the ones who had a predisposition to violent, aggressive, power games before they were given their weapon and list of acceptable human targets. Screening procedures should be able to keep these people from being armed and sent throughout the world to kill at will. I don't know exactly what I think about 'penalizing' soldiers gone haywire but I'd think at least a lengthy stay in a mental ward would be wise.

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Post by TomSpeed » Jan 14th 2004, 12:09 am

I don't find the video troubling. People in the armed forces of every country are trained to protect themselves and kill their enemies. War is a dirty business. These troops are being shot at. They are shooting back. Yes, all people are the same. But in war, soldiers differentiate between "us" and "them." From what I understand, the Coalition Forces are bending over backwards to minimize collateral damage, sometimes, unfortunately, at the cost of their own lives. Do they try to fire themselves up? Do they take pride in what they do? Do they want to kill someone trying to kill them before he can accomplish his goal? Will they be glad to come home? I'm very confident that the answer to those questions is yes. We civilians can debate all we want about whether the troops should have been sent there in the first place. But these debates won't change the fact that they are there now. And we can't truly understand what they are going through because we haven't walked in their boots.
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Post by fnordboy » Jan 14th 2004, 12:36 am

The way I see that video is the guy was down, seemed incapacitated to me. Yes he was writhing on the floor so he was still moving, but he didn't seem like a threat to me. Plus they seemed to be treating it as sport. They were all standing there, they weren't covering themselves behind anything (the wall in front of them was low and they weren't that close to it), plus the cheers were not adrenaline fueled IMO. The dialogue of the video was clearly cut up and edited so I take that with a big grain of salt. Just going by the images is what gives me my assesment of it.

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Post by starbug » Jan 14th 2004, 5:41 am

fnordboy wrote:The way I see that video is the guy was down, seemed incapacitated to me. Yes he was writhing on the floor so he was still moving, but he didn't seem like a threat to me. Plus they seemed to be treating it as sport. They were all standing there, they weren't covering themselves behind anything (the wall in front of them was low and they weren't that close to it), plus the cheers were not adrenaline fueled IMO.
That's pretty much how I saw it. It didn't look like they were any kind of serious fire to me (but I watched without sound) and that basically they hit this guy while he was down, as something to just 'do'. From that video footage, I'm not convinced they couldn't have gone over there and taken a very much alive prisoner of war. Of course, that would have been more difficult if they were in fact under attack. But it looked to me like the shots that killed didn't NEED to be fired.

I'm not in a position to assess the actions of soldiers in general, but looking at this video, it seemed like in this case it was sport (and maybe that's what you're meant to think...who knows).

All I know is that I find it pretty shocking. I'm glad I watched it because it means I'm not protecting myself from seeing the realities of war - and the reality of what people on both sides go through.

I honestly don't know if I could ever shoot to kill. I'd probably spend so much time deliberating about it in my head that I'd be killed myself and put others at risk. That's why I'd make a terrible soldier. I think I agree with andrewgd that you must have to temporarily shut down some part of yourself to be able to do it. It's the question of how long 'temporary' is, and whether in certain people they've been doing it so long that it becomes permanent. I'd like to believe there is some sort of effective 'exit' training but I doubt it somehow.

I do know that I've seen documentaries on British forces during which the families of those forces said that when those soldiers come home, they need a big release from all that violence, and are some of the gentlest kindest people when they are off duty. Clearly that's subjective on the part of those families, but it does have the ring of rationality to it.

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Post by grim4746 » Jan 14th 2004, 11:02 am

I didn't actually watch the video, I was going by the description. It seems that whenever there is an active military role there is also killing and victimization of civilians (though apparently this tape involves a combat situation I think many of the same issues come into play). Why is this? Shutting down part of yourself to become a successful soldier keeps coming to mind. Possibly this is the right answer after all. But that leads me to wonder why some people are able to shut that down and fight a war and come home without having tortured, raped or killed for sport. Perhaps there should be a greater, or better executed psychological training before entering combat. Training that would allow soldiers to shut that part of their mind down without becoming monsters. There could be as much emphasis on the difference between "good" violence, or use of force and "bad" violence as there is on the difference between "us" and "them". There might be some comfort in knowing that one is justified in taking lives on the battlefield not because the enemy is less human and deserving of life but because in fact there are situations where it is morally justified to take human life.
TomSpeed wrote:We civilians can debate all we want about whether the troops should have been sent there in the first place. But these debates won't change the fact that they are there now. And we can't truly understand what they are going through because we haven't walked in their boots.
Yes, I agree. However debate and examination of the situation can change whether or not the soldiers are there (or a neighbouring country) next year and the year after and hopefully to a degree change what happens while they are there.

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