Iraq, military, United States, war

American troops rotten to the core?

Yes, this is an examination of the “a few bad apples” philosophy spouted by Rumsfeld, Bush, and Cheney. A recent study by the Office of the Surgeon General of the US Army Medical Command suggests that the mistreatment of innocent Iraqis is something that a majority of the rank-and-file will not report. Moreover, it suggests that a minority of American troops believe that “Iraqi noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect.”

Alternet article on the Surgeon General’s Report

Some of the press accounts of the surgeon general’s study, “Mental Health Advisory Team (MHAT) IV; Operation Iraqi Freedom 05-07,” also reported the more detailed findings from its chapter on “Battlefield Ethics.” The information became more disconcerting; the problems were clearly more serious and pervasive than the executive summary indicated:

“Only 47 percent of soldiers and only 38 percent of Marines agreed that noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect.”

“Well over a third of soldiers and Marines reported torture should be allowed, whether to save the life of a fellow soldier or Marine … or to obtain important information about insurgents….”

28 percent of soldiers and 30 percent of Marines reported they had cursed and/or insulted Iraqi noncombatants in their presence.
9 percent and 12 percent, respectively, reported damaging or destroying Iraqi property “when it was not necessary.”

4 percent and 7 percent, respectively, reported hitting or kicking a noncombatant “when it was not necessary.

The study also reports that only 55 percent of soldiers and just 40 percent of Marines would report a unit member injuring or killing “an innocent noncombatant,” and just 43 percent and 30 percent, respectively, would report a unit member destroying or damaging private property.

Immorality breeds immorality. This is the true Bush legacy.


7 thoughts on “American troops rotten to the core?

  1. This all comes from the methodology and tactics involved with the training of these troops.

    Canada’s long legacy of peace keeping allowed our forces to be properly trained for combat in a manner that did not require all of the GI Joe, ‘blood and guts’, bayonets into your abdominal cavity while screaming ‘Kill – Kill – Kill’ tactics that the American basic training involves.


  2. CE – You’re right, troops are never truly “moral”, but it’s not just American troops. However, the “one bad apple” argument has always been used to cover malfeasance.

    It shouldn’t be.


  3. I think a number of factors affect these results and the behaviour of US troops abroad. There is the American chauvinism that is present in most Americans, especially those indoctrinated by the US military. The fact that they are deployed in a place where the people are racially different. Considering the US’s history regarding race relations, sending American troops to a racially different part of the world is a troublesome proposition. There was none of this kind of behaviour on the part of US troops moving through Europe during the Second World War, for the obvious reason; the people there were white and most soldiers could trace their ancestors back to Europe.

    Another factor is the portrayal of Arabs in the US media and entertainment industry. If you see an entire society portrayed as fanatics, you perceive them as such and treat them accordingly. Some of the attitudes regarding Arabs in the period following 9/11 were an example of this, and we’re still in the post 9/11 period.

    Another reason is the nature of US military training. The “We’re the biggest and baddest military in the world” mindset translates in the mind of many soldiers and marines into a belief that might makes right. They have permission to do whatever they want to because they can. It sounds curiously like the foreign policy of the Bush administration.


  4. Actually leftdog, we do train our troops to bayonet abdominal cavities. At least I was. As it turns out the best training for peacekeeping duties is to train to destroy the other side. Our history of participation in peacekeeping missions, While highly laudable, has created this warm and fuzzy myth amongst politicians and civilians, who as a rule are woefully uninformed about all aspects of the armed forces anyway, that our military exists for peacekeeping and maybe a little bit of disaater relief and some light snow shovelling in the Toronto area. My personal view is that it allows most of those who wouldn’t dream of signing up to both feel good about and deny the true purpose of the pack of trained killers in their midst. Admittedly I have strong views on how the concept is used for PR within Canada. I really don’t think it helps the armed forces when our “betrayed tradition of peacekeeping” is loudly lamented.


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