Wednesday, August 29, 2007

One more round for the war heroes.

Pretty much very week now Iraq-Vets, just off the plane, come into the bar I work at and they drink themselves silly. They just sit there all by themselves with that thousand-mile stare and at end of the night they always plead for just one more round. 'Please, ma'am,' they say, 'I just got back from Iraq three hours ago, can I please have one more?' Of course, as sympathetic to these poor bastards as we all are, there's just no way any bartender is going to serve someone to the point of passing out.

You look at the faces of these kids and it's always so shocking to how young they are. It's just a crime how we as a society can send mere boys and girls of 19 or 21 years-old off to another country to kill other boys and girls. And it's not like they just sort of get the idea on their own to go off and kill someone. Most people don't have the inclination to murder, other humans, despite what you see on TV.

Penny Coleman has a very interesting article at where she argues that:

"Prior to the Vietnam era . . . [military] training consisted largely of practicing military skills and learning to manage military equipment. It is only in the last half century that training has evolved into an entirely new phenomenon that makes use of the principles of operant conditioning to overcome what studies done over the last century have consistently demonstrated, namely, that healthy human beings have an inherent aversion to killing others of their own species. . . Today's recruits are intentionally and methodically subjected to a training regimen that is explicitly designed to turn them into reflexive killers. And it is very effective. It is also carefully concealed. . .

War Psychiatry, the army's textbook on combat trauma, notes that 'pseudospeciation, the ability of humans and some other primates to classify certain members of their own species as "other," can neutralize the threshold of inhibition so they can kill conspecifics.' Modern military training has developed carefully sequenced and choreographed elements of what many would call brainwashing to disconnect recruits from their civilian identities."

Smedley Butler, the "Marine's Marine" wrote decades ago in his famous book War is a Racket:

"Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to 'about face'; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed. . .

Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another 'about face'! This time they had to do their own readjustment, sans [without] mass psychology, sans officers' aid and advice and sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn't need them any more. So we scattered them about without any 'three-minute' or 'Liberty Loan' speeches or parades. Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final 'about face' alone."

The same is all too true today. I know, that lonely soldier is at my bar begginf for just one more round.


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