Problem of the Military Mindset
By Hawker Hurricane
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It is indeed a mindset.
You teach a young man (or woman, now) that problems are to
be solved with violence. After all, what is the military for
but to use violence to solve problems? If the problems could
be solved by other means, you wouldn't send in the military.
You tell them that what they are shooting at are not human
beings (not killing human beings is taught at an early age).
For the navy, we are taught that we are blowing up ships (no
mention of the sailors on those ships) or shooting down aircraft
(no mention of the crews) or blowing up buildings ashore (get
the idea?). The air force is similar; pilots talk of shooting
down enemy planes like there is nobody on them; the talk of
"delivering ordinance to the target" without thought
of what is alive on/in the target... and never mind the bombs
But what of the soldiers (Army and Marines)? They can see
who they are shooting - it is not impersonal. So it is made
impersonal. They aren't shooting human beings, they're shooting
"terrorists," "ragheads," "congs,"
"gooks," "japs," "krauts," "spics,"
"rebs," "yanks," "bluebellies,"
"grays," "redcoats" - because, after all,
they are also taught that their country is right and good...
therefore the other guys must be wrong and bad.
This is why combat troops make lousy policemen - until they've
had a chance to calm down. It is also why Military Police
are given special training; they are taught that the opponent
(who might be on their own side, after all) is not
inhuman, but misguided and needs to be "corrected."
We have taught the soldiers, as we do in every war, that
the enemy is not human... and then put the same soldiers in
charge of the prison camps. We have told them that the "rules"
(the Geneva Convention) do not apply, for these are not enemy
soldiers, people like themselves who are on the wrong side,
but terrorists - worse than criminals, dangerous animals who
are to be used and then eliminated when no longer useful.
So - we need to get information? Do what it takes. And when
we have the information we need... well, what do you do with
a rattlesnake after you've collected the venom you need to
I cannot bring myself to blame the soldiers.
Does anyone remember the USS Iowa disaster? An explosion
in one of the 16" gun turrets killed a large number of
sailors, and the Navy's investigation focused their efforts
on the (conveniently) deceased enlisted sailor who they claimed
was a) homosexual, b) depressed because of the recent marriage
of his best "friend" and therefore c) suicidal.
The Navy's investigation claimed that this sailor committed
suicide by placing an explosive "device" into the
gun turret, killing himself and 50 of his shipmates. The Navy
claimed that the FBI investigation found evidence of the device,
even though the FBI said no sign of the "device"
What the FBI did find was that the officers were experimenting
with the powder loads, that the crew had not been properly
trained, and that the commanding officer had covered up evidence.
The FBI filed no charges, as it was a Navy matter. The Navy
filed no charges; after all, the person "responsible"
The leaders in the current situation, the officers and the
politicians, have put the soldiers in this position. The politicians
must be blamed and punished; the officers are the ones who
are responsible. The enlisted men will be blamed, though -
after all, they're the ones who did this. The officers who
ordered it, at least the senior ones, will walk. The CIA interrogators
who required it will remain anonymous. And the politicians
may very well be re-elected.
So I ask, once more, that we put aside our differences.
This November we have a clear choice - between a man who puts
criminals in positions of power, and a good man. The good
man is not perfect - what man is? His views may not match
yours as much as you'd like. But given the choice, who would
you prefer? The criminal candidate or the imperfect candidate?
And I remain Hawker Hurricane SM1(SW), USN(Ret).