Saturday, May 05, 2007
Redemptive violence. posted by Richard Seymour
You see, what happens is, the troops are sent into battle, to confront the enemy, eliminate the shame and disgrace of 9/11, send out a warning to the whole world, and return with the treasure. Having been sent to war as Jeffersonian revolutionaries, they return with their liberal, secular, democratic instincts intact - sharpened, in fact. They fully reintegrate into society as model citizens, productive workers, and happy consumers. What's more, you might think, having expended their healthy manly aggression on the battlefield in intimate duet with an evildoer, they would return chilled and mellow, if anything feeling rather wistful and sentimental as they return to neighbourhoods bedecked with yellow ribbons. Or, perhaps not:
The Pentagon survey found that less than half the troops in Iraq thought Iraqi civilians should be treated with dignity and respect.
More than a third believed that torture was acceptable if it helped save the life of a fellow soldier or if it helped get information about the insurgents.
About 10% of those surveyed said they had actually mistreated Iraqi civilians by hitting or kicking them, or had damaged their property when it was not necessary to do so.
Troops suffering from anxiety, depression or stress were more likely to engage in unethical behaviour, together with those who had had a colleague wounded or killed in their unit.
And they longer they stay, the more they suffer from mental health problems. So, even if there wasn't a policy of torture, micro-managed by Rumsfeld, one could infer that a sizeable number of the troops would return with a bit of experience in manipulating human pain, for sport or tricks. Some of them would also bring back interesting memories of gunning people down in homes, cars, weddings or hospital beds, dropping cluster bombs and white phosphorus, and firing bullets at residential blocks from a helicopter. And all of that mental and physical scar tissue would probably come with a colossal chip on the shoulder and a huge 'Fuck Hajji' attitude. Role models, eh?