Support the Troops?
Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be killers
... for hire... by the government... certainly not without having them first check out whether the government is doing something fishy.
This week I watched an ad for the Air Force, where "troops" sitting in front of a large video screen direct remote airborne drones to kill "bad guys" at the touch of the Enter key. Then the voice: "It's not science fiction, it's reality."
We know the reality is that these armchair video-game "troops" are routinely killing civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Are these the US troops
we should be supporting? Here's an alternative point of view from
a lead writer of Antiwar.com, Justin Raimondo.
Behind the Headlines:
Support the Troops? "No way!"
by Justin Raimondo, October 08, 2010
We often hear, from antiwar activists as well as pious politicians and every sort of commentator, that we should all "support the troops." No matter what one thinks of the particular war being fought, this kind of boilerplate is invariably appended: "But of course," we are told, "everyone supports the troops." We honor them for their service. We pat them on the back and say: "Good job!"
In this context, consider the details of the most recent atrocity coming out of Afghanistan, the activities of the "Thrill Kill platoon," which is accused of murdering Afghan civilians and keeping body parts as trophies. The alleged mastermind of the thrill-killers, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, is also under investigation by military authorities on suspicion of carrying out similar murders in Iraq. The Gibbs "kill team" is suspected of slaughtering at least seven Afghan civilians, and quite possibly more, in the most heinous manner imaginable. Gibbs and four others were arrested in June, and seven others are being held.
These twelve apostles of mayhem — assigned to the 2nd Stryker Brigade, and stationed at Forward Operating Base Ramrod, along the border with Pakistan — randomly chose unarmed Afghan civilians to murder. Then they shot them, or blew them up with grenades, mutilating the victims. Gibbs, the alleged ringleader, made necklaces out of the body parts. They covered up their killing spree by placing weapons near the corpses, and the incidents went down in the records as gun battles with "insurgents."
Gibbs reportedly has a tattoo on his left calf which is a pictorial record of his crime spree: it consists of two crossed pistols encircled by six skulls. According to news reports, the red skulls indicate murders carried out in Iraq, and the blue skulls represent Afghan kills.
Knowledge of the killings was widely shared in the camp, and it’s hard to imagine higher-ups were unaware of what was going on. But there was indeed one apparently unwilling participant, Adam Winfield, who desperately tried to reach out to his parents, to whom he confessed the murders.
The "honor the troops" brigade will tell us this is just another case of a few bad apples: this latest incident is no reason to condemn the entire US military – is it?
Well, quite frankly, it is, because, as Winfield pointed out to his parents in a February 14 Facebook posting: "Pretty much the whole platoon knows about it. It’s okay with all of them pretty much. Except me…. I want to do something about it [but] the only problem is I don’t feel safe here telling anyone." "I talked to someone," Winfield continued, "and they told me this stuff happens all the time and that when we get back there is always someone that spills the beans so it normally works its way out."
Winfield’s father asked, "No one else thought it was wrong?" Winfield’s reply:
"No, everyone just wants to kill people at any cost, they don’t care, the Army is full of a bunch of scumbags, I realized."
Winfield resigned his position as the platoon’s team leader because "I cannot be a leader in a platoon that allows this to happen." He went on to make a key point:
"There are no more good men left here…. I started to think whether I should quit and just give up because it’s stupid to get smoked in Afghanistan. The Army really let me down when I thought I would come out here to do good, maybe make some change in this country…. I find out that it’s all a lie."
None of this would have come out if not for an investigation into alleged drug use by soldiers. Investigators uncovered widespread and rampant drug use, including hashish, opium, and anti-depressants which are issued by the military: in the course of their investigation, one of the thrill-killers – apparently under the influence at the time – spilled the beans. In addition, Winfield’s parents made repeated calls to military authorities immediately upon learning of this horror, but before I get to any of that I want to underscore Winfield’s words:
"There are no more good men left here."
Of course there aren’t. What kind of person joins the military at this particular point in time – a point when the US is engaged in endless wars of aggression, and stories of atrocities committed by "our" soldiers are coming out all the time? For the most part, precisely the kind of person who would delight in the orgy of bloodlust conducted by the "thrill kill platoon." The military has become an outlet for the sociopaths in our midst.
Yes, I know, with the recession people will be joining for economic reasons: after all, where else can they find a job?
Economic considerations no doubt play a large part in the decision to go into the military, but other factors also play a part in making this choice: alongside economic necessity, in this instance, is the generalized knowledge that atrocities are being committed over there. Winfield says the whole platoon knew about what was going on with the "thrill killers," and the same can be said about the entire country when it comes to atrocities being committed in Iraq and Afghanistan by US troops, and I don’t just mean Abu Ghraib. This grisly record is common knowledge, and, in deciding to join up, the prospective US soldier is consciously choosing to ignore or downplay the moral aspects of being asked to commit atrocities: it’s much more important to him (or her) to make a living.
This is the definition of a moral monster....
[link to complete column]
2010 October 12
Excerpt posted by The Coffee Coaster™ w/permission of Antiwar.com
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