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Sunday, May 16, 2004

The Military Doesn't Want You To Die For Your Country

They want you to kill for it. At present, they want you to kill Iraqis that had no connection to Al Quaeda, have no weapons of mass destuction, and no torturing, despotic leadership--unless you count Rumsfeld, that is. That's a tall order.

As General George S. Patton once remarked:

Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying
for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country. ...

I wonder how well Armed Forces recruiting would do if they mentioned that dehumanization and unquestioning obedience are two obligations of soldiers. Perhaps that's "Warfare for Dummies", but heroism, money for college, and honor show up far more often in recruiting brochures.

Former Marine Scott Gelindez writes about the reaction to Abu Graib through the lens of his experiences in El Salvador and Honduras on William Rivers Pitt's www.truthout.org website:


Drill Sergeant: "El Salvador!"
Troops: "Kill!"...
Drill Sergeant: "El Salvador!"
Troops: "Kill!" "When the coffee beans come creeping all around in El Salvador"

On our way to the mess hall morning, noon and night we sang that cadence in 1983. The U.S. military was preparing us to kill Salvadorans. They wanted us to think of them as less than human. One of the goals of military training is to prepare you to kill; another is to prepare you to follow orders. The combination of de-humanizing the enemy and becoming subservient to the chain of command leaves many soldiers capable of torture.


There was a time, in our nation's history, when young men joined the military to stand up to tyranny--not to become part of it.

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