I woke up one morning last week to further reports of killing. I wrote of Haditha earlier that week. In that treatise, I mentioned the April 26, 2006 slaughter in Hamandiya, Iraq. I was aware of the allegations made against Marines for a March melee. On this morning, as I glanced at the periodicals, I saw reports stating the Camp Pendleton soldiers accused of that crime were cleared. Details were scant. Nevertheless, their reactive behavior was deemed righteous. Apparently, the actions these soldiers took were in accordance with military procedures. Hooray for the “good guys.” I only wish I was clear; who are the men, women, and children in the white hats?
We recognize the bad guys, or at least the media, the Administration, and society-at-large says we do. The dreadful, the ghastly, and the horrific are the criminals. They are those that kill in cold blood. Terrorists are these. Saddam Hussein is also, or so we are told. The innocent Marines that slaughter young children, elderly men, pregnant women, and unarmed persons in their homes are not wrongdoers. At least some of them are not. Desmond Turner is a truly terrible man. His associate James Stewart may also be.
Last week in Indianapolis, Turner, with possible accomplice, 30-year-old James Stewart entered a neighborhood home and murdered three generations of one family, seven innocent people. The crime was described as heinous. The reason for the reactive behavior of this man was said to be unknown. Hum, might I reflect. I do not see the difference between killings. Whether soldiers are killing the innocents or civilians are doing the deed, defenseless people are dying.
Granted the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have been placed in a situation where they feel their very existence is threatened. Simple survival is a challenge. Persons living in the States are presumed to be safe and sane. However, life for them is not always, as it would seem. Poverty poses some awful challenges. Even those with money can be placed in precarious situations. Crises are abounding, even in the heartlands.
What for me is the issue is man’s inhumanity to man. Today we live in a world where aggression is acceptable. It is posed as animal instinct. It is the nature of man and beast. Fight or take flight. Thus, we see, hear, and read of hostility everywhere. George W. Bush, the President of the most powerful nation in the world boasts, “Bring it on!” He declares, we want him/them, “Dead or alive.” Granted, belatedly he apologized for his signature statement. However, the request for forgiveness was bestowed years after the fact and though offered contritely, it seemed less than sincere.
Mr. Bush our fair leader stated, were it not for the First Lady, King George II would not have uttered the apology; he had no idea there was a problem with his pronouncement. Sadly, few of us do. Bush does The as a bunch of us do; he acts without thinking. Is that too, the nature of the beast?
We blurt out whatever words we want, whether they yield as weapons or are expressions of kindness. We deceive, destroy, and devastate others and ourselves, physically and mentally. We kill! We rarely think, until after the fact. Humans are a bundle of emotions; however, they have the ability to rationalize, post-problematic aggressions. Some presume; fauna do not have the capacity to reason or reflect. Wo/man does. It is often said, our ability to rationalize is makes us different; man is more highly evolved than other mammals. Yet, I have not read of, seen, or heard of an animal engage in self-destructive behavior.
Mr. Bush claims, “I speak plainly [sometimes.]” Many Americans considered this a likable quality; they voted for this bumbler because he was as they are, “human”. This can be good; however, often it is not.
When the all-too human Bush returned from the White House after first voicing his terrorizing machismo remarks, his wife Laura greeted him inquiring, why would you say such things. Baby Bush quipped, “Well, it was just an expression that came out. I didn’t rehearse it. It just was there when they asked me my opinion.” That is our Emperor, the man we turn to for guidance, Good Ole Shoot-From-The-Hip GW. Sadly, we as individuals follow his lead too often.
Admittedly, at times, the Bush opinion, is scripted, practiced, and prepared. It needs to be, for as the President said, he has learned. “You gotta be mindful of the consequences of the words.” With all the recently revealed Iraqi war woes, King George II is being more “mindful” of the words he uses.
Our Commander-and-Chief, the President discussed what appears to be a series of atrocities among the Marines. He addressed concerns for the men in uniform. However, King George II assured us that Marines are “honorable” men and women. They respect “the law.” Commander Bush presented his defense for the troops. The King rationalized what is knowingly wrong; Mr. Bush spoke in support of [legitimate] killing.
The President continued to declare the war, the unilateral attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, as justifiable. He proclaims these were necessary. For this President battle often is. Bush believes that there is evil in the Middle East. To ensure that it does not come to our country, we must annihilate all [suspected] terrorists abroad.
In contrast, the new Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki thought the massacres unacceptable. This leader did not address the initial war, which brought him to power. He could not expect to argue what has provided him with a revered position. He is human; power, war, and turbulence are fine, as long as they serve him. Mr. Maliki charged American forces have regularly attacked Iraqi civilians. He said the abuses would be taken into account when determining the necessary departure of American forces. Maliki, as most of the world is resigned to warfare. It is only when individuals might be involved that he becomes inflamed.
Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld has few complaints. As log as he can retain his post and send innocents off to kill other harmless souls, he has no reason to complain. When asked of Mr. Maliki’s assertions, he declined to respond. Rumsfeld said he had not yet read them. Would it have mattered if he had? He also refused to discuss the specifics of the Haditha deaths, though supposedly he had read reports of these many months earlier. Rumsfeld stated he did not want to interfere in the ongoing investigations. Does anyone? Will anyone ever answer the real questions? Why is war ever an option? When is killing ever acceptable?
If we attack, seeking vengeance, are we honoring the commandments we pretend to support? When we covet oil, power, or seek a worldwide democracy are we respecting our neighbors? When we murder, rape, steal pride, and possessions, how can we claim to be honorable?
The pious man that speaks for God might know. Mr. Bush knows his commandments, as do his equally religious Cabinet rangers. Yet, he and his Defense Department order the youth of America violate these. They train the young to execute and they do.
This military is not the only organization that sanctions the violent exercises, parents, guardians, and society-at-large endorse these. We all accept cruelty in our homes. Persons living in Western cultures turn on their television sets and ask that the games begin. As ancient Romans in an amphitheatre, we cheer on the strong, the brutal, the snide, the rude, and the crude. Blood races through our veins and it spills out onto carpets and fields. Movie theatres are filled with the same fervor and red gooey substance flows on the screens. Acts of viciousness invade video monitors. So much of society is bathing in blood. The Western world is a gory and gruesome one.
Psychologists Craig A. Anderson, Ph.D., and Karen E. Dill, Ph.D. state that “One study reveals that young men who are habitually aggressive may be especially vulnerable to the aggression-enhancing effects of repeated exposure to violent games.” The professionals continue to discuss research findings on sadism, “The other study reveals that even a brief exposure to violent video games can temporarily increase aggressive behavior in all types of participants.”
“Violent video games provide a forum for learning and practicing aggressive solutions to conflict situations,” said Dr. Anderson. “In the short run, playing a violent video game appears to affect aggression by priming aggressive thoughts. Longer-term effects are likely to be longer lasting as well, as the player learns and practices new aggression-related scripts that can become more and more accessible for use when real-life conflict situations arise.”
People accept this. Most know of similar studies. However, people say fighting is characteristic of humans; it is natural. Some people are overjoyed as they witness aggression. The adrenalin is high as we engage in it. Insensitive to the slayings and subjugation, we laugh as we watch these. Then, on occasion we speak in horror of the same. Silly humans, “tricks are for kids.” apparently, even the eldest among us are children. Few of us have aged enough to stop the play, the war games, the bullying, teasing, and the slaughter that accompanies these.
Instead, we do as humans do. We rationalize, justify, criticize, and blame others for our actions. Humankind, with their neo-cortex denies the strength of the amygdala, the emotional sentinel, and intellectualizes why s/he is right and all others are wrong.
We are witnessing this among the military and even many of the “newsmakers vetted with the troops. These individuals claim the playing fields are no longer fair. Guerillas are everywhere.
We call those that fight for religious reasons, financial freedoms, or sovereignty guerrillas, for they do not follow the rules of engagement. The insurgents dress in civilian clothing. It is impossible to discern who is friend and who is foe.
Each time I hear this explanation, posed as a complaint, I think about the history of America. I recall reading that the revolutionaries were successful in battle because, unlike the British in their starched and vibrant uniforms, the colonists wore casual wear. A Tory soldier was unable to identify a warrior from an innocent colonist.
Our founding fathers, those forever-faithful men of reason, were once the group intent on overthrowing the government. Yet, those guerrillas are now celebrated. They were the first Americans and what made this country great. Who are we?
I am told, today, in all our martial garb and glory, we identify ourselves as humanitarians. Our servicemen and women are honorable. The President of the United States has told us so.
Mr. Bush said the Marine Corps are taught core values as part of their training. General Michael Hagee, the Marine Corps commandant assured us this is so. He said, “We do not employ force just for the sake of employing force. We use lethal force only when justified, proportional and, most importantly, lawful.”
Apparently, the law provides a wide berth. Principles, morals, and ethics must state slaughter is acceptable within certain parameters. These limitations are too obscure for me. Still, I am not the authority on war and never will be. I think combat is never an option, though for the majority of the world, it is. Clearly, Americans think it was or at least they thought so years ago.
Americans see themselves as those that promote the Democracy we love, even if it means provoking others. The United Sates is the worlds “greatest” superpower. We have weapons in abundance. We have wealth. Wisdom is all that we as a nation lack. America entered a region uninvited. The Administration of this country decided to attack another country unilaterally, with little reason or support. They lied. They never built a broad coalition; they trusted their personal desires and ignored the truth.
The Bush Bandits committed themselves to a protracted war without a plan. Actually, they dedicated the lives of devoted soldiers to a winless wager. Neoconservatives gambled and they lost. Three thousand soldiers perished. Tens of thousands of civilian took their last breath and still the battles rage on.
Soldiers are stressed; of this, I have no doubt. Thus, they think, ??just kill them all.’ Corporal James Crossan said, “Several members of the unit were young and inexperienced and may have snapped after seeing one of their colleagues killed by the bomb.” Platoons have learned to loathe any one that does not look like them. “I think they were blinded by hate … and they just lost control,” Corporal Crossan said. It comes with combat. Much does.
Murders, massacres, butchery, and carnage, these are all a part of war. I do not understand it. I cannot comprehend the need for aggression of any sort.
I can only accept the soldiers involved in the March massacre were absolved of guilt. The investigation into the massacre at Haditha continues. The April 26 at Hamandiya incident is being debated. Yet, few admit what we as a people have created. Society will punish Desmond Turner and James Stewart willingly. A court martial may find a Marine or two guilty. Civilian courts may judge these soldiers, as the military system will. I know not. I am left to wonder how on a planet where war is pervasive and violence is promoted, how do we justify the difference? How do brutalities committed by individuals out of uniform differ from those committed by persons wearing official attire? Moreover, why is there a need for either?
A personal note if you will . . . As I read of and observe those in other animal kingdoms, I am struck by their compassion. Mammals kill only when their survival is threatened. On occasion, they maim accidentally, often during what they think is play. I have yet to discover a self-destructive streak in any mammal, but man. I am forever fascinated by what we attribute to nature and natural instincts. Animals do not kill for the sake of killing; nor do they slaughter in mass. Why is it that the rational brain justifies the unjustifiable? Someone please tell me!
References for War, Warriors, Wounded, Weapons, and Why?
• Lawmaker: Marines killed Iraqis ??in cold blood,’ By Jim Miklaszewskiand Mike Viqueira. NBC News. May 17, 2006
• Murder Charges Likely for Marines in Iraq Death, By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times June 2, 2006
• Marines Kill Innocent Iraqi Family. Verdict “Not Guilty”? © Betsy L. Angert, Be-Think May 28, 2006
• Military clears troops in Ishaqi raid probe Associated Press, MSNBC June 3, 2006
• 7 Family Members Slain in Indianapolis, By Charles Wilson. Associated Press. Forbes.com June 02, 2006
• What happened in Haditha? By Richard Engel. Middle East Bureau Chief, NBC News. May 30, 2006
• NBC: Marines accused of cover-up in killing May 25, 2006
• Killing of Civilians in Iraq Highlights Stress on Troops; Repeated Guerilla Attacks May Play Role Specialists Say, By Bryan Bender. Boston Globe. June 4, 2006
• President Discusses War on Terror National Defense University. March 8, 2005
• George W. Bush and the G-Word, By Al Kamen. The Washington Post.October 14, 2005
• Social Learning Theory of Aggression By Albert Bandura. The Journal of Communication
• Transmission of Aggression Through Imitation of Aggressive Models By Albert Bandura, Dorothea Ross, and Sheila A. Ross. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology
• The Social Learning Theory, By Margaret Delores Isom. November 30, 1998
• Aggression: A Social Learning Analysis By Albert Bandura
• The Emotional Brain By Laura Arendal. BrainConnection.com. May 2000
• Intuition: Thinking through Your Gut, By Laura Arendal. BrainConnection.com. May 2000
• The Study of Aggression, By Dr Paul Kenyon, University of Plymouth
• Violent Video Games Can Increase Aggression, By Craig A. Anderson, Ph.D. and Karen E. Dill, Ph.D. American Psychological Association
• Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
• Did Marines Kill “in Cold Blood”?, By Sally B. Donnelly. Time Magazine. May 29, 2006
• PDF Did Marines Kill “in Cold Blood”?, By Sally B. Donnelly. Time Magazine. May 29, 2006
• “I Saw Marines Kill Civilians”, By Michel Guerrin. For Le Monde. Translated for CounterPunch by Norman Madarasz
• Accused marines were ‘blinded by hate’ Timesonline. June 01, 2006
• Accused Marines Blinded By hate, Australian News, June 02, 2006
• General to Marines: kill only when justified, By Will Dunham. Reuters May 25, 2006
• US forces shoot at speeding car and kill Iraqi woman in labour Dispatch
• Did Marines Massacre Iraqi Civilians? By Jonathan Karl. ABC News May 26, 2006
• Troops Respect Iraqis’ Rights, Rumsfeld Says, By Michael R. Gordon. New York Times. June 2, 2006
• Probe Finds Marines Killed Unarmed Iraqi Civilians, By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times. May 26, 2006
• Iraqis not focused on massacre claims, By Ian Pannell. BBC News, Baghdad. June 2, 2006
• Funeral for 6 Slain Ind. Family Members, By Ken Kusmer. The Associated Press. Washington Post. Wednesday, June 7, 2006
• Are Violent Acts Human Nature? By Leslie Yeransian. ABC News June 2, 2006
• The Logic of War Crimes in a Criminal War By Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and Brian Becker. A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition. June 3, 2006
• The Rise and Fall of Sociobiology, By Peter Augustine Lawler. The New Atlantis, Number 1, Spring 2003
• Bush: Regrets? Confessions? Bring ‘Em On!, By Leslie Savan, Boston Globe and AlterNet June 5, 2006
• Bring on the 2nd thoughts: Bush admits some ‘regret’ By Andrew Miga. Boston Herald. Friday, January 14, 2005
• Family Slain In Indianapolis Bloodbath CBS News June 2, 2006
• Indianapolis Slay Suspect Surrenders CBS News June 3, 2006