To be fair
Now, some may be pouring through these pages—well, perhaps not “pouring,” but lets say sampling a paragraph now and then. And some may start to say, “Hold on there, sergeant! Who the heck are you to say this or that?” The person might not actually say, “this or that” but anyway….
And that is a good point. Who am I to lay blame or imply cause to some of the gripe-able goings on of today’s military? I’m definitely not any sort of expert as to why things are done the way they are. I’m just, well, normal. At least I hope I’m just normal. And my reactions are what many normal people might experience.
I got an email a little while back that was a little terse—not an all-out attack, but it did imply that I was “talking bad about soldiers who risk their lives everyday.” And when I do go off about a topic or paint a picture of a situation that is less than logical, I am throwing some smack around.
I do, however, make it a point to not use names in my anecdotes. I’m not out to roast anybody. I just try to call out aspects of my day: some bad, some good, and some annoying.
It is true that it’s not my place to openly criticize the decisions of my superiors (so far as to call them doo-doo heads), but I can have an opinion, and that’s what I put out here.
I would only caution anybody who might click in to this den of Salmons to remember that I’m just as fallible as anybody I might poke fun at. I’m hardly a saint or a paragon of wisdom and logic. When I rant and rave about something that irks or turns my brain to paste, it’s just that, a chance for a soldier in Iraq to vent.
I guess what hit me most about that email was the fact that some people think I’m belittling the sacrifices made by soldiers serving here. “There are hundreds of thousands of soldiers who do their jobs perfectly everyday,” the email said. Yikes, I never meant to go there!
But, speaking of…
In the light of the recent “whoopses” by Soldiers here in Iraq, there needs to be some discussion to set the table for further talks.
There are two responses to the uncovering of the scandals like Haditha and other killing of Iraqi civilians: one says that the acts are inexcusable; the other says to remember that 99 percent of soldiers do their jobs everyday.
Both of these statements are true.
The atrocities of war are inexcusable. But remember (for argument, not justification) that atrocities have occurred in war since the dawn of time. War and all of its accompanying stresses and outbursts of violence cultivate the seeds of social-norm deviation that exist in certain individuals.
While most would never think about killing innocent civilians, some do. Blame the administration, blame the schools—hell, blame video games again; some people go a little coo-coo when placed in stressful situations.
The fact that the Army pretty much takes everyone who volunteers doesn’t help. High selection ratios (that is, hiring most who apply; thank you Human Resource Management 562) means you get a lot of creeps, criminals, and unbalanced individuals. Throw in deaths of friends, no clear enemy, repeated deployments and subtle Nationalism, and you have a recipe for some of these “whoopses.”
Now, to the statement that most do their jobs swimmingly every day. It’s true, the majority of soldiers are hardly raving, raping, killing monsters. But does that “make up” for the bad episodes?
I guess that’s the next step with the whole thing. Are these killings acceptable due to their relative low occurrence? Should they ever be acceptable?
“Of course not!” everyone will say; but, again, remember that they’ve always happened and probably always will. War isn’t pretty.
Does that excuse them? What do you do when they happen? Am I too pessimistic in thinking that atrocities will always happen—that it’s just a matter of paying attention?
Does my honorable service diminish when another soldier commits acts against innocents? Am I to blame too? If not, then who?
Are the commanders and those in charge to blame? Which ones? There are dozens of levels of leadership. Is a leader always accountable for the actions of his or her subordinates? All actions? Should I shackle my troops to my bed at night to make sure they don’t get into trouble? There are limits.
I abhor the recent events like Haditha, Abu Ghraib and the like; but there’s not an easy person to blame—no one bad fuse or valve that can be swapped out and everything made better.
Be fair before throwing that blaming finger around about anything. There are always two sides. There are always two ditches to fall into. There are always two extremes.