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War... & the terrible, brutalizing effects on soldiers.

 
 
msolga
 
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 01:57 am
I came across this article this morning, as I was doing my usual Saturday morning round of world news sites on the internet. This is from the Israeli newspaper site, Haaretz. And (like quite a number of Israelis who responded - see link under article) I was appalled at the messages that young Israeli soldiers had chosen to have printed on their own personal T shirts.
And it made me wonder: what degree of hatred of "the enemy" needs to be installed in young army men (& not just the Israelis, the US & other forces in Iraq, Vietnam, etc, etc,...) to make them so insensitive to killing people they don't even know? To consider even civilians "the enemy" & to relegate them to almost sub-human status? How exactly does this happen? And how on earth do these young men (who are doing the killing ) ever recover after their experience of war? Terrible to contemplate :


Last update - 22:41 20/03/2009

Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques - IDF fashion 2009
By Uri Blau/Haaretz

http://www.haaretz.com/hasite/images/iht_daily/D200309/Ishot2kills.jpg
A T-shirt printed at the request of an IDF soldier in the sniper unit reading 'I shot two kills.'

Quote:
The office at the Adiv fabric-printing shop in south Tel Aviv handles a constant stream of customers, many of them soldiers in uniform, who come to order custom clothing featuring their unit's insignia, usually accompanied by a slogan and drawing of their choosing. .......

Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children's graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques - these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty. The slogans accompanying the drawings are not exactly anemic either: A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription "Better use Durex," next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A sharpshooter's T-shirt from the Givati Brigade's Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull's-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, "1 shot, 2 kills." A "graduation" shirt for those who have completed another snipers course depicts a Palestinian baby, who grows into a combative boy and then an armed adult, with the inscription, "No matter how it begins, we'll put an end to it."

There are also plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages. For example, the Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, "Bet you got raped!" A few of the images underscore actions whose existence the army officially denies - such as "confirming the kill" (shooting a bullet into an enemy victim's head from close range, to ensure he is dead), or harming religious sites, or female or child non-combatants.

In many cases, the content is submitted for approval to one of the unit's commanders. The latter, however, do not always have control over what gets printed, because the artwork is a private initiative of soldiers that they never hear about. Drawings or slogans previously banned in certain units have been approved for distribution elsewhere. For example, shirts declaring, "We won't chill 'til we confirm the kill" were banned in the past (the IDF claims that the practice doesn't exist), yet the Haruv battalion printed some last year.

The slogan "Let every Arab mother know that her son's fate is in my hands!" had previously been banned for use on another infantry unit's shirt. A Givati soldier said this week, however, that at the end of last year, his platoon printed up dozens of shirts, fleece jackets and pants bearing this slogan


http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072466.html
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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 7,192 • Replies: 30

 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 02:14 am
I came across this quote today. Yes, yes indeed!:

What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world. ~Robert E. Lee, letter to his wife, 1864
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 02:21 am
And this..:

Join the Army, see the world, meet interesting people - and kill them. ~Pacifist Badge, 1978
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 02:42 am
Of course (& I hope this goes without saying!) I feel great compassion for the ordinary people, the civilians, the victims of war. But this Haaretz article made me wonder about soldiers (who sometimes carry out despicable acts, at the behest of their army/nation) as casualties, too. Something (apart from the Vietnam vets) that hasn't been talked about too much recently.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 07:28 am
@msolga,
Quote:
what degree of hatred of "the enemy" needs to be installed in young army men (& not just the Israelis, the US & other forces in Iraq, Vietnam, etc, etc,...) to make them so insensitive to killing people they don't even know?


Hatred of "the other" has often been used as a manipulative tool in warfare, dating just about as far back as there are historical records. At the same time, state policy can modify or even eliminate this. In his Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, Nicolo Machiavelli outlines the policy of the Roman Republic, which had a gradation of responses to their enemies, based on the degree of resistance in arms the people made to them. Generally, though, war in ancient time was a bad business for all concerned, as few armies exercised the kind of discipline which allowed Rome to conquer their corner of the world.

In Europe of the middle ages, total warfare was considered very bad form, and there were numerous instances of people who had behaved "nobly" being spared, and even more unusual (to our eyes) circumstances prevailed. People captured in battle who could bring a high ransom were often paroled to go home to arrange for the collection of the ransom (paroled meaning simply that they gave their word), who returned to their captors voluntarily, it being a matter which touched their honor. The wars of the Protestant Reformation had involved many incidents of brutality, to the extent that Europe universally condemned it. It was recognized that the excesses of the followers of an army could be mitigated, it not completely controlled. Wallenstein's army during the Thirty Years War numbered about 40,000 men when he marched across northern Germany, but probably mounted to 100,000 or more counting all the camp followers and scavengers in his wake. He did nothing to control them or to police his troops and their hangers-on. At the same time, the Imperialist general Count Tilly exercised an iron discipline over his men, and looters and rapists were executed out of hand if captured by his field police (most generals of the day didn't even bother with field police)--yet he was so respected by his men that they called him "Father Tilly." King Gustav Adolf of Sweden exercised the same kind of discipline over his Swedes, and the Germans taken into service in the Swedish army. Shallow observers have pointed out that Swedes were tried in German cities and towns for their excesses, but more perceptive historians have pointed out that no other army of the day allowed local authorities to bring their men to trial.

Especially after the Thiry Years War, the European nations condemned the use of what was then known as "terror," and sought to conduct wars in a civilized manner. When in the War of the Spanish succession, in 1704, Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy burned large parts of Bavaria (carefully sparing the estates of Max Emmanuel of Bavaria, the Prince Elector who had betrayed the Emperor and gone over to the French)--they were widely condemned for their uncivilized practice.

In those days, armies were "professional" to the extent that they were all either hired as individuals, or hired from a local prince or magnate who sold the services of his or her troops. So, for example, the dowager "princess" of one of the Hesse's which disappeared in the Thirty Years War tried to keep the inheritance of her son alive by hiring out her troops to the highest bidder, without reference to allegiance. The tradition continued, which is why any German mercenaries in the American Revolution were roundly condemned and called "Hessians," whether they came from one of the Hesses or not. The "Great Elector" of Brandenburg, Friedrich Wilhelm, used the "leasing" of his army as a means of building up the poor finances of a basically indefensible state (what we would think of as Prussia) in order to provide the wherewithal to support a large army on slim means.

It was not until the French Revolution that the massive levies of men of military age created the huge armies that we associate with modern warfare. Just as in the Thirty Years War, the tone was set by the commanders. Many of the commanders during the Wars of the French Revolution took the attitude that they were "liberating" other parts of Europe, and that their men must be held in check--they were not popular with their governments. Napoleon, however, when he invaded Italy for the first time in 1796, looted with genuine abandon, delighting his masters in the government of the Directory, disabusing the Italians of any illusions about liberation they may have had, and gaining the love of his soldiers, who had previously been unpaid, often unshod and clothed in rags. This is not to say that he cared much about his men--the medical services in his armies were appallingly bad, and this despite the fact that the French had pioneered military surgery and medical care under Louis XIV. Napoleon only cared about himself and his family, but he usually won, so the men loved him anyway--soldiers love a winner, no matter how he treats them.

Throughout most of history, intelligent commanders and governments have recognized that dead peasants don't pay tribute, and this, if nothing else has usually lead them to restrain their troops. The European reaction to the religious wars of the 16th and 17th century was largely conditioned by a recognition that the destruction of the peasants and the merchants in the towns destroyed the means by which they could hire and pay their soldiers, and destroyed the tax base for years to come. That may seem cynical, but then, successful soldiers need to be pragmatists. Even the dreaded Mongol horde would hold their collective hand if the local authorities coughed up the tribute right away--Temujin was smart enough to know upon which side his bread was buttered.

Encouraging or tolerating hatred does violence to our modern values, as well as doing violence directly to the victims. The effect of war on the soldiers has reasonably been compared to rape. Any state which tolerates or encourages brutality is ultimately going to isolate itself. Whether or not that will be a bad thing, though, so often depends upon circumstanced. The Romans and the Mongols could be as brutal as they chose--no one was going to stop them. It might be a bad idea, though, for the Israeli state.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 05:21 pm
@Setanta,
Thanks for your detailed & thoughtful response, Setanta. I'm not remotely surprised that the effects on soldiers are so serious, & I'd guess, lasting. As for the Israelis, my thinking is that any state which tolerates such a dehumanizing hatred & lack of respect for the "enemy" (including "enemy" civilians) has been just as brutalized as its soldiers. How are the Palestinians & Israelis to find a way to coexist, live shoulder to shoulder, if such thinking is considered acceptable? How will the conflict ever end? It was very heartening that so many Haaretz (Israeli) readers expressed their outrage at the soldiers' choice of "fashion apparel".

Quote:
Encouraging or tolerating hatred does violence to our modern values, as well as doing violence directly to the victims. The effect of war on the soldiers has reasonably been compared to rape. Any state which tolerates or encourages brutality is ultimately going to isolate itself. Whether or not that will be a bad thing, though, so often depends upon circumstanced. The Romans and the Mongols could be as brutal as they chose--no one was going to stop them. It might be a bad idea, though, for the Israeli state.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 07:42 pm
@msolga,
msolga wrote:

And it made me wonder: what degree of hatred of "the enemy" needs to be installed in young army men (& not just the Israelis, the US & other forces in Iraq, Vietnam, etc, etc,...) to make them so insensitive to killing people they don't even know? To consider even civilians "the enemy" & to relegate them to almost sub-human status? How exactly does this happen? And how on earth do these young men (who are doing the killing ) ever recover after their experience of war? Terrible to contemplate:

The male of the species has been doing this for eons before recorded history. Neanderthal women may have been hunters alongside the males; perhaps, even warriors?

Let us not forget we are mammals.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Mar, 2009 12:02 am
@Foofie,
Quote:
The male of the species has been doing this for eons before recorded history. Neanderthal women may have been hunters alongside the males; perhaps, even warriors?

if by this you mean dehumanizing the enemy and becoming desensitized to killing humans then I suspect that you are wrong. To often killers have been concerned about the morality of their actions, and been greatly effected by their kills. This thread is all about dehumanizing the warriors, and while it is true that the warriors from the corrupt and immoral society known as Israel have much to answer for, the facts don't justify lumping all who have fought and died for a cause in with them.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  2  
Reply Sun 22 Mar, 2009 12:39 am
@Foofie,
Quote:
The male of the species has been doing this for eons before recorded history. Neanderthal women may have been hunters alongside the males; perhaps, even warriors?

Let us not forget we are mammals.


Let us not forget that this is now the 21st century, Foofie.
And let us fervently hope that we have evolved, somewhat, since the neanderthal warriors! Wink
hawkeye10
 
  0  
Reply Sun 22 Mar, 2009 12:59 am
@msolga,
Quote:
Let us not forget that this is now the 21st century, Foofie.
And let us fervently hope that we have evolved, somewhat, since the neanderthal warriors!


If you take the time to add up all the carnage from war, the sadistic acts of national leaders, the way we have become slaves to technology, the inhumanity that we inflict in the name of progress....all of this of the last 100 years.....you would be hard pressed to document the evolution of man. We have changed the scenery with technology, we have made life easier and thus made humans softer and more narcissistic, and we have been able to fill the Earth with many more people....calling what we have done progress is a stretch.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Mar, 2009 01:19 am
@hawkeye10,
But I am not talking about technology here. Nor sadistic leaders. I'm talking about how war brutalizes the participants.

hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Mar, 2009 01:41 am
@msolga,
Quote:
But I am not talking about technology here. Nor sadistic leaders. I'm talking about how war brutalizes the participants.


Yes you are, and you seemingly are unaware that humans are innately brutal at times. We are not forced into war by aliens from outer space or by a heavenly father, we do it to ourselves because we need to act out that part of who we are.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Mar, 2009 11:43 pm
@hawkeye10,


Your statement: "we do it to ourselves because we need to act out a part of who we are". Would you like to elaborate on that?

And I haven't spoken about technology, nor sadistic leaders on this thread at all. Could you point out where I have?
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Mar, 2009 12:21 am
@msolga,
Well seeing as you're not responding, hawkeye, I'd just like to say that I totally disagree with you. I don't believe that humans are innately brutal & violent.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Mar, 2009 04:46 pm
@msolga,
Quote:
.... it made me wonder: what degree of hatred of "the enemy" needs to be installed in young army men (& not just the Israelis, the US & other forces in Iraq, Vietnam, etc, etc,...) to make them so insensitive to killing people they don't even know? To consider even civilians "the enemy" & to relegate them to almost sub-human status? How exactly does this happen? And how on earth do these young men (who are doing the killing ) ever recover after their experience of war? Terrible to contemplate :


From the Australian perspective, though I'd think that many soldiers in any war would would have suffered similar consequences following their experience of combat. This episode of 4 Corners will be shown this Monday night in Oz.

Soldiers left to fight the war within
Posted Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:10am AEDT
Updated Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:28am AEDT

http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/200903/r354350_1627853.jpg

A top secret Federal Government report has admitted Australian Defence Force (ADF) soldiers returning from war are not receiving adequate treatment for mental health problems.

Experts estimate that up to 10 per cent of combatants returning from the Middle East and Afghanistan may be suffering long-term mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Now, as part of an investigation by The Age and the ABC's 4 Corners team, ADF soldiers have spoken for the first time about the horrors they have seen and the trauma they live through because of their experiences.

Five soldiers, some retired and some still serving, have told Four Corners about the condition, what it means for them and their families, and what some of them perceive as a failure by the ADF to treat them adequately.

It has been described as shell-shock, battle fatigue and PTSD, but whatever it is called those who have it know it is a living hell.

Quote:
Just a smell, even a noise can plunge a soldier into a traumatic episode that recalls the horror of war.

One soldier, who worked as a bomb disposal expert, says he would walk around dead bodies still burning from explosions, with the task of finding clues among them relating to terrorist bombs.

Now back home in Australia, he says he is haunted by his experiences.

"You've got the constant thoughts in your head of what you've seen and been involved in," he said.

"You still wake up with the, it's like you've still been there that night. You can just taste the smoke and you can smell it in your nose."

Another soldier says he is trying to recover from an incident that resulted in him shooting a woman and injuring her child.

"The first question anyone asks you is 'Did you shoot anyone?', you know," he said.

"I'd lie and say 'No' because I'd rather people think I didn't shoot anyone than think that I shot a woman and child.".... <cont>


http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/03/28/2528643.htm

0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Mar, 2009 05:16 pm
@msolga,
Quote:
Your statement: "we do it to ourselves because we need to act out a part of who we are". Would you like to elaborate on that?

And I haven't spoken about technology, nor sadistic leaders on this thread at all. Could you point out where I have?


Sorry, I don't catch all the thread actions on the new a2k and missed this one..

I never said that you had talked about sadistic leaders, I brought the subject up in relation to your hope that man has progressed away from our violence. I said that recent (last 100 years) history does not show evidence that you are correct.

PArt of who we are, the dark side of the EGO, the shadow as Jung and Thomas Moore (care of the soul) call it. Failure to recognize this and allow for this will surely lead to trouble. Humans play power games, humans have a huge capacity to inflict pain and suffering upon other humans, it is coded in our genes and would take tens or hundreds of generations to recode the genes. We currently have this fantasy that we can legislate and police conduct (and as ridiculous as it sounds, speech) that we don't like, punish those who act on their dark side and thus make it go away. This is not how it works. We well may be able to lesson the acting out of our shadow, but that energy has to go someplace. It will either build up and erupt outward in grand acts of sadistic violence or it will eat away inwards and twist the psyche. Much better to allow small acts of acting out often, so as to lesson the chance for a catastrophic collapse of the goodness of man.

The views that I express here at a2k on human sexuality and that garners such hostility are tied into the greater good that comes from letting willing participants act out their dark sides sexually between themselves, to explore this part of who they are so that they will know better who the are and be better prepared to control their dark urges when they need to do so. I see no good that comes from encouraging people into self deception about the goodness of man or the goodness of themselves. We are all good and bad, we follow both God and the devil, we can both hurt and heal ourselves and others. We need to be both, life is the endless dance between the polar opposites of good/evil, and if live well also between the masculine/feminine.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Mar, 2009 01:57 am
@hawkeye10,
Hawkeye

I have to disagree. Most soldiers, these days, are either conscripted or else respond to the best employment option open to them. (How many children of the wealthy & powerful in the US volunteered & served in Iraq? Can we assume they have less of a "dark side" than those who did?) Or perhaps some soldiers might have actually been patriots and believed the rhetoric of, for example, George Bush, regarding the "axis of evil", etc ...
But I honestly do not believe that in most cases these these young men (mostly) were acting on some innate need to kill. I think, rather, a dehumanization of "the enemy" needed to be instilled in them as part of their training to be soldiers. Then, all too often, when they have finished their soldiering work & have attempted to return to their normal lives, the conflict between what they have actually done in the war situation & their real selves often proves too great. With absolutely no real support from the governments which put them in that situation in the first place. (See my post above about all the unacknowledged Australian soldiers suffering from PTSD after Iraq, also read up on the Vietnam veterans)

As for your comments about the need for the people to act out the "dark side" of their sexuality (by violence?) ... well, I honestly haven't a clue about what you're talking about & would most likely disagree if I did. Nor do I see what this has to do with the subject of this thread.
hawkeye10
 
  -1  
Reply Sun 29 Mar, 2009 03:28 am
@msolga,
Quote:
But I honestly do not believe that in most cases these these young men (mostly) were acting on some innate need to kill. I think, rather, a dehumanization of "the enemy" needed to be instilled in them as part of their training to be soldiers


because you don't know of the dark side of men you can't fathom how men could kill without being brainwashed into dehumanizing the enemy.

Quote:
Then, all too often, when they have finished their soldiering work & have attempted to return to their normal lives, the conflict between what they have actually done in the war situation & their real selves often proves too great. With absolutely no real support from the governments which put them in that situation in the first place
It is true that soldiers are not getting enough treatment for the effects of war, the 10% figure for PTSD seems very low to me, as in the US army where many have gone to Iraq several times the figure I know is 30+ of those whom have deployed show signs of PTSD. War is hell as they say, and afterwords as they recalibrate to being civilians people find that being warriors has seriously messed with their heads. However, while they are warriors in the fight they do their jobs very well with full awareness of what they are doing. My wife is going back to Iraq in Sep for the third time, and she in looking forward to again doing what she has been trained to do. Most of the younger soldiers that I know personally don't really understand what Iraq has been like but they are in a hurry to get the training done and get there. Most of the senior soldiers that I know are Army to their core, been deployed in war countless times, and this is just one more deployment to get done. Those who are still in the Army don't figure that they have been tricked or let down. They signed up for this and understood the deal at the time. It is only after they become civilians, and often times having a very messy and painful transition, that the feeling of being cheated sets in.

Quote:
As for your comments about the need for the people to act out the "dark side" of their sexuality (by violence?) ... well, I honestly haven't a clue about what you're talking about & would most likely disagree if I did. Nor do I see what this has to do with the subject of this thread


the dark side of the soul is most easy to see in how the erotic plays out. It is the one place where it is still kinda sorta OK play out the culturally unacceptable urges.....between consenting adults in private. You can not join the army and go to war so that you can understand why soldiers act as they do, but if you have a full erotic life you might have some experience that will help you to understand warriors.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Mar, 2009 03:36 am
@hawkeye10,
Quote:
You can not join the army and go to war so that you can understand why soldiers act as they do, but if you have a full erotic life you might have some experience that will help you to understand warriors.


Confused
hawkeye10
 
  0  
Reply Sun 29 Mar, 2009 03:50 am
@msolga,
the power games and violence of BDSM, the hunter and the prey like when a person goes after someone they want as a sex partner, the full sensory awareness of orgasm which is like being on patrol or being in a firefight.

The morning after you might have regrets, just as ex soldiers sometimes do after they get out, but when you are there it is usually because you want to be.....because you are getting something out of it.....even if you don't fully understand what and even if it feels dirty.
 

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