Tuesday, October 02, 2007


by Thomas Riggins

One of the best arguments for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq can be based on our own self-interests. The fact that we are murdering and killing Iraqis and destroying their country and culture does not seem to impress the political class in the US. Only a few Congress people even seem to be aware of it. The way the Senate stumbled over itself in defending Gen. Betrayus is a case in point.

So here is an argument calculated to appeal to our own self-interest. We want to have an army we can depend upon and an officer corps we can respect. The Iraq war shows we have neither. This is fairly well known to those who have been following the war and know the type of men and women who are willing to serve as officers under Bush. Not only do they care more about advancing their careers than their duty, but they use the regular troops, the grunts and GIs, as pawns for their career advancement, even turning them into common murderers when it suits their purposes.

I am in no way disparaging the common soldiers and national guard troops, but the officer corps is, I think, totally corrupt from Betrayus on down and needs to be purged in conjunction with the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

I submit as evidence the following article from the New York Times of 9-28-07 which shows in microcosm what is happening in a larger scale throughout the military, namely, officers ordering and pressuring the troops to kill noncombatants, then covering up for themselves and holding the soldiers responsible for the misdeeds. The article, by Paul von Zielbauer, is entitled “Testimony in Court-Martial Describes a Sniper Squad Pressed to Raise Body Counts.”

According to the NYT, Army Field Manual 23-10 says that “A sniper must not be susceptible to emotions such as anxiety or remorse.” The sniper is also taught to “calmly and deliberately” kill people including people who are not threatening him. These are also the characteristics of a socio-pathic serial killer, so what type of training has the military cooked up that we don’t know about? The snipers are going to be under a lot of pressure because human beings (excepting psychopaths and sociopaths) cannot be made immune to the emotions of anxiety and remorse.

There was a court-martial in Iraq last week of a sniper accused of killing innocent Iraqis (he was found not guilty of murder but of planting evidence -- most likely following orders). The following information came out in the proceedings. Snipers testified they "were pushed beyond limits by battalion commanders eager to raise their kill ratio against a ruthless enemy." Of course, both sides are "ruthless" with respect to one another. But "eager to raise their kill ratios" should tell you the army will be killing a lot of civilians to get these ratios up so the officers can look good to their superiors.

The article notes that at a separate hearing in July a soldier testified that snipers sensed "an underlying tone" of, as the Times reports, "disappointment from field commanders seeking higher enemy body counts." The soldier said, with respect to not killing enough people, "It just kind of felt like, 'What are you guys doing wrong out there?'". The troops are trying to do their jobs-- engage the enemy. The officers don't want that-- they just want bodies.

This is Catch 22. The insurgency is supposed to be going down, so there should be less insurgents around to kill, but the officers reputations, in their minds (and in the 'kill 'em all' culture of the Pentagon), depend on killing more people. What to do?

How are they going to look good by killing more people if there are less bad guys around? A simple solution. They can entrap innocent civilians, kill them, get credit for being outstanding officers, and blame the grunts if something goes wrong. Some day they may even get four stars! Why the Senate may even pass resolutions condemning American citizens for questioning and disrespecting their military overlords.

Here is what the battalion commanders decided to do. They would plant "bait" consisting of "fake explosives and detonation wires" around an area [of course they knew curious civilians and poor people scavenging for scrap would be lured towards this bait] then anyone picking up the bait could be killed and the US Army would get the credit (the officers involved, that is) for killing "the enemy." We have already been told that "real" insurgents don't depend on scraps to make their explosives, they come ready made from Iran. It seems whole countries can be set up just as easily as poor Iraqis.

The officers also "sought less restrictive rules of engagement--- to legalize the combat killing of anyone who made a soldier 'feel threatened' [i.e., any Iraqi from 8 to 80], for example, instead of showing intent or actions...." This shows that killing for the sake of killing was the goal of the officers, not anything remotely related to "legitimate" warfare. Well, not just for the sake of killing, but to make the officers look good an extra ribbon or two for all that blood couldn't hurt your career prospects. How many careers were made by killing Vietnamese peasants , how many war heroes were made by bombing people from 50,000 feet. Why can't Iraqi workers and peasants blood serve the same purpose? What better way to live up to Duty, Honor, Country?

Now that this is out in the open we can expect the blame to fall on this or that rogue GI, the officers will circle the wagons, the war will go on, new techniques of baiting and fishing for men will be devised, and exposed, until this criminal war is brought to an end. Its going to be up to the American people to do this as quickly as possible and not wait for the Iraqis to drive us out. There has been too much blood shed already, the blood of our troops and the Iraqis, too much blood shed for oil and the career goals of thugs with stars and eagles on their shoulders.

Thomas Riggins is the book review editor of Political Affairs and can be reached at pabooks@politicalaffairs.net

1 comment:

FSJL said...

Well, now, the regular army seems to have supplemented by condotierre like Erik Prince. Perhaps the armed forces are too loyal to the Constitution for the economic royalists now in power.