Bad Seeds or Good Soldiers? Why Some Cross The Line?
“You take a mortal man, put him in control. Watch him become a god, watch people's heads a roll.”
A Brief History of Soldiers and War:
Throughout the ages, protectors of the community have been part of any multiunit social gathering. Hunters doubled as soldiers, knights, braves, and warriors of every culture are staples that define a “race”. Much akin to music and religion. (The deeper reasons that is part of our natural psychology is an issue more for thehumansystem.wordpress.com.) The approach to the soldier's station in life in more primitive civilizations, were the result of test of skills. In the more civilized societies, they were apprenticed and had to learn not only physical skills but tactical and moral ones as well. In the early days, during war, every citizens was charged with protecting the community. There were no civilians. As early the civil war the US started forcing people to fight as soldiers. Only 2% of the military were forced to sign up to go fight for a the cause. That grew by the time we reached WWII. Also during that time the war machine had been created and had learned the value “pleasure principle” and found a new way to operate. While a full 60% of the soldiers in WWII were drafted, 75% of the voting public felt that such a draft should exist. So a bridge period where people were forced to go to war, but agreed with that concept. An anomaly in logic for sure. By the end of the Vietnam war, a draft was no longer the most efficient way as the community had turned against it. It was also no longer needed, as there were other ways to make people believe such “service” was the most pleasurable option. To contrast, in the early days all citizens agreed upon a perceived thereat and then rose up against that threat. Today, many will kill simply because the threat they feel comes from a source other then the person or obvious distinct threat from the group of people they killed. Many times it is a fear of social rejection that drives them.
Who is a modern soldier?
“Thy shall not kill.” Ironically a large amount of the outspoken members of the US military claim to be “Christian”. However, the Christ left no room for war in his doctrine. So what is it that leads to such complex individuals that make up soldiers to make that decision. Soldiers come from every walk of life. Rich/ poor, academic/ physical dominate, and all races (even natives to the continent which has another layer). From the age of kindergarten we are “groomed” for that possibility by being forced to learn “The Pledge of Allegiance” and “The National Anthem”. There are disproportions when looking at the military as a whole. We have all heard the sayings/ arguments. “Kids aught to be forced into military service 'cause they lack discipline these days.” I know of at least a half dozen personal stories where they faced either jail time or joined the service. Or, “If you want to get out of poverty, go join the service.” What we know about the American soldier, overall, is that they are driven by money and perks. We know this because the volunteer military would not exist if it offered only room and board, no salary. We know that they utilize signing bonuses, free college education, and free medical insurance to increase its numbers. It is a rational conclusion then that people who are driven by a need for money are a common thread. Jesus generally would not have made a good soldier.
I would go one step further and say that , “The belief that the North Korean's, Vietnamese, or Muslims had the desire and means to be a threat was not inspirational enough to staff the military during the past 10 years.” Another benefit is that soldiers get much praise and social acknowledgment. In a “borderline society” where adequate attention is commonly lacking in most family structures, it is a very appealing option for those looking for a “meaning to life”. In their superiors, many “children” find parental (especially “Father”) figures they had been lacking. In their fellow soldiers, many find family and solidarity of values they lacked in their childhood. “Hoo-Rah”. So along with the monetarily driven, a personality type of wanting to be accepted and acknowledged, and directed are also candidates. This makes public schools darn near unfair grounds for recruiting. “Fish in a bucket.”
The Creation of a Soldier
It doesn't matter whether you are plucked from the inner city projects by a recruiter who keeps one from going to jail, or from a well-to-do military family who have financial success and even preconditioned at a place like West Point, the goals are the same. When you emerge from “boot camp” a soldier is to have six specific qualities. First, they must be able to suppress their individualized personal belief, moral and ethical systems and accept the ones the military psychologically conditioned them to. Your personal beliefs are to be conscious and second nature. Second, they must be able to act as a unified singularity in step with their unit and they must be able to do it with mechanical accuracy. Third, they must be able to act without questioning the consequences. Focus only on what is asked of them, there are not allowed to be existential or deeply philosophical. Fourth, one must be able to bond with their new “family” and the lives of the friends they are in the “fox whole” with is as far out as they can think. Fifth, they have to have the ability to close the doors of the past, absolve themselves of guilt, immediately and to only a forward looking perspective. Last, the value of life needs to be a fluid concept. The lives and definition of the enemy are have no meaning. They have no family, nor friends, no community. They have been deemed “the enemy” and therefore as meaningful as a mosquito.
It is the job of the recruiters to find candidates fear, insecurity, or deficiency, and convince them that the military can fill/ accommodate that missing component. Most common are a lack financial, futuristic, or family identity. The easy ones are those who want to impress parents. It is the job of the drill instructors to find those fears and expose them to the group. Tear each individual down in front of everybody else. Forcing the group to share emotional pain, makes them all exposed to the “What happens in..” syndrome. It also creates psychological bonds with the members that have been long documented. The icing is everybody is in the same uniform, looking the same. This suites to see that the mind subjugates what the eye sees to a predisposed kinship whenever they see another soldier. So these feelings of unity easily transfer to other soldiers long after boot camp. We all just “want to go someplace where everybody knows our name.” As evident by the creation of VFW's American Legions, AmVets, and the like.
Out the other side of boot camp, you have members of a society that outwardly advocates freedom, self expression, family, individuality, and value of life that have been conditioned to give all of that up and find comfort in exactly the opposite.
The Creation Of and Enemy.
Just as important of creation of a soldier is creation of the enemy. The war machine has learned to start this via propaganda long before they ask the soldier to go to war. At the end of the day, the soldier spent his formative years in the general population, and family and past doctrines still conflict with the new ones. In this voluntary military constraint, the population generally has to feel a threat from an enemy. Since many of us have German or European roots, it was hard to make an enemy out of them. They looked and acted too much like us. But, the Asians however, that attracted Pearl Harbor, they could be differentiated. This is the key. The military heads need to convince the families of the soldiers to support the act of killing. Carving out a race of people and treating them as if they are an inferior and “less then human” species is pinnacle to that goal. So the short, slant-eye, suicidal, non-christian, jap, gook, yellow, strange food eating, dictatorial, ect.. group of people were deemed as monsters. The military would make allies with the ones would support their efforts. Those were often the deviants of their own culture and monster in their own right. Communist, especially the soviets, and today the Muslims have all suffered the same propaganda. Simply ridicule and degrading a race or society of people isn't enough though. There has to be an obvious act, incident, or threat. The leaders who wanted war had to find a way to provoke the US into fighting in the past had to use such events as rallying points. Most often there is an element of conspiracy behind the events. Information release have shown that the US provoked (http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/con_korea.cfm) the Russians and North Koreans into the Korean war. The Gulf of Tonkin is the event that sparked the Vietnam war AND it was faked. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Tonkin_incident). This technique has been part of the American expansionalism since its birth. The continental natives were the first to be treated as something less then human. Today we have 911 and oh so many questions about not only the incident, but the response. No matter, the result was the same, the US war machine had a new enemy. Some of the terms I have heard US soldiers use to refer to Middle Eastern Muslims are “Towel head”, “sand nigger”, “camel jockey”, “desert turds”, and of course they are all “terrorists”. Their religion, philosophy, family structure, governing structure, social laws, and traditions have all been called “inhumane” or “inhuman”. The only reason given for the rag tag group of men who attack the US was that they “hate our freedom”. It doesn't matter that the explanation doesn't make any rational sense, the American culture is one that is designed to desire to extract revenge, and any flimsy excuse will do. With that, the public supports its soldiers. An enemy is created.
The Result: Environment meets Soldiers Confirming The Stanford Experiment.
To sum up the environment that leads to combat, I'll recap. We have a people who are trained to and find value in life by being protectors of the community. In modern US those people are driven by financial gain and/ or family respect, condition not to question or weigh the rationality against their own beliefs, and willing to kill without question and feel socially justified in doing so. The society has to support the soldiers and affirm the belief that the targeted group are something less then human and a threat. You have to have leadership willing to absolve themselves from guilt for being the trigger finger on the weapon.
When you have these elements and combine with the psychology of war, the result of soldiers treating the entire population, enemies and allies alike, with degrading disrespect is a given. It has to work out that way. This was proven during the Sanford Prison Experiments. (http://psychology.about.com/od/classicpsychologystudies/a/stanford-prison-experiment.htm)
So are they “bad seeds”.
The simple answer is a resounding “NO!” In fact they turned out exactly how the military expected them too. They are actually too good of a soldier. The acts of Abu Ghraib, Mahmudiyah, and the incident with the peeing marines are all natural results if you have any belief that psychology exists. It is one of the rare test we could conduct on human psychology that we can prove as a law with scientific method validity. People granted authority will use it to maintain their power. Once the group starts to participate in something of this nature, even the one with the weakest indoctrination will come around. “Causalities of War” made a great movie, but the reality is that would be so much the exception then it would the rule.
What we do in the west to the psyche of a human to make him/ her a soldier is dangerous to say the least. It is why we must only use them as method of last resort, and only when confronting real and inevitable threats.