The Eternal Soldiers
Always Responding to "Enemy Fire"
by Jerre Skog
May 3, 2003
The eternal soldier can be a protector or an oppressor. He can defend his own country justly or he can invade another unjustly. He can safeguard freedom or he can clamp down on it. Whatever he does depends on the orders he is given, his obedience to them and his capacity to tell right from wrong. Depending on the national leadership the duty of a soldier can be to conduct mass-executions at a concentration camp or organize rescue actions after a catastrophe, to torture POWs for information or to bring civilians to safety. The person who is not prepared to say no to certain duties whatever the consequences shames the country's uniform he wears. The person who doesn't know which duties it is his human duty to refuse ought to stay away from all soldiering!
The American soldier is a professional. He may not know where a country is located until he is sent there to "liberate" or enforce what he is told is "democracy" (but is usually market dictatorship), and sometimes not even then, but the fact remains, he is a professional. That is, he never questions an order, salutes smartly, shoots straight, presses the right buttons and kills whomever he is told to kill for whatever reason he is told, perhaps sometimes even when he is not told to. He is told that his army, navy and air force are the greatest, the mightiest and the most honorable and his leaders, military and political, are right and should be obeyed without fault. He is taught to stand at attention for the flag. The same patriotic rubbish that every soldier in every army has been told since the birth of the national state. That part of the training (indoctrination) is probably flawless and efficient in the US armed forces, as no doubt is the capacity to kill and eagerness to triumph.
The following of orders without fail, and killing without questioning reasons are what is important to every political leader with grand aspirations, from Alexander and Caesar to Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Suharto, Milosevic, Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush. The efficient and unquestioning soldier is the most important tool in the dictator's workshop. Such a soldier is an animal to be feared and detested and not respected and honored when the orders he unquestioningly follows come from a leader with less than honorable motives and agenda. When he has the world's most dangerous weapons at his disposal, he is the most dangerous creature on earth.
The American soldier these days is doing his job because he is indoctrinated and ignorant and he is following orders that are often as criminal as the ones that Waffen-SS once obeyed. He is killing the wrong people for the wrong reasons, all because he is not told the truth. He is scared for the wrong people and hates the wrong people because he is filled with nationalistic bigotry by his leaders. When it comes to indiscriminate killing the American soldier can be relied on as was demonstrated when a few millions lost their lives in Indochina. When it comes to killing without risking his own life he has no peer as could be seen in Afghanistan. When it comes to justice, humanity and international law he failed at My Lai and he fails at Guantanamo Bay just as his unelected president fails in America and the world. When it comes to respect and understanding for foreign peoples and foreign cultures he is a spoiled barbarian and an unfeeling conqueror for he does his job for the wrong leader and follows wrong orders. But he does so very professionally!
We may have sympathy for the individual American soldier and realize he is on an impossible mission, but that doesn't excuse his actions. He might kill because of his leaders' lies, but his victims are no less dead because of his ignorance. He simply kills too much, too easily and for the wrong reasons - preferably from a safe distance or high altitude. The American soldier is taught to worship flag, country and president and to hell with foreigners and especially Muslims. That is why he will not succeed in "winning hearts and minds" in Iraq. He might buy them or he might blast them to eternity, but he will not win them. To win them you've got to show respect and trust for the people, which is completely opposite to all the training and indoctrination the American soldier is subjected to.
The impression of US troops in Iraq often is that they act under the motto "no waste of Iraqi life is too much to carry out the mission we are on as long as no American life is risked". Perhaps nobody told them that the mission WAS to liberate and win hearts and minds. Maybe they were just told about securing the oil? Whatever the case, the American soldier is doing his illegal job in a confused and brainwashed fear of evil-doers, suicide-bombers, Saddam-fedayeen and fanatical terrorists. And he gets nervous. The American soldier in general is doing his job in the belief that Saddam Hussein's evil-doers were responsible for 9-11, that Iraq has lots of dangerous weapons and that the Arab world is dominated by suicide-bombers and fanatics. This in spite of no fact or evidence pointing in that direction. How can he possibly act rational with that backpack? Blame not the individual soldier! Blame the lying commanders and leaders.
The catastrophic consequences of this ignorance, brainwashing and disinformation have been seen repeatedly. 7 civilians killed in Mosul. Some killed in Basra, some in other places. 13 unarmed protesters killed in Falluja, 2 more the next day. Hundreds of innocent civilians have been wounded. Almost every day there remains fewer and fewer hearts and minds that might be won and the chances of doing it plummet for every bullet that hits an innocent demonstrator or stone-throwing kid. Some journalists were killed in Baghdad and a few TV-offices bombed because of the suspicious and fearful mood that has the invading forces in its grip. (Unless, ugly thought, the journalists were actually targeted for being too truthful.) The training and the situation combines to constantly create imagined attacks.
Every time the military claims it was just an act of defence and response to "enemy fire". The attack on Hotel Palestine in Baghdad wasn't preceded by any "enemy fire" as soundtracks and witnesses can confirm. The "25 gunmen" in Falluja were not seen by anyone but the Americans. The place where the US troops took cover wasn't marked by any bullet holes and no witnesses had seen any firearms. The American soldier has the same weaknesses that we all have. When his motives are wrong and his information is false his reactions are wrong. In his fear of the unknown but hyped-up evil-doers he even loses his professionalism and fires indiscriminately into crowds of children, women and male civilians. Responding to some stone-throwing by killing six children below age ten is NOT "returning fire"! It may be explainable and to an extent understandable, but unnecessary and a result of propaganda and human fear. The blame, again, rests heavily on, above all, G.W. Bush, Mr. Rumsfeld and the other junta-members. There are probably fewer "gunmen" and "evil-doers" in Iraq than in the United States of America. It's just that the soldiers are not taught reality!
US troops are only in certain areas as well-trained as Mr. Rumsfeld wants to believe. British troops have complained that they were taught to defend themselves against an enemy but nobody had told them how to protect themselves against their ally, US. The insufficiently trained, lied to and confused US soldiers have big difficulties not only to avoid killing their allies but also to avoid killing the people their leader pretends to have come to liberate. And it's no wonder. The mixture of induced fear and aggression, unknown territory, culture and people, insecure trigger-happiness and material supremacy can easily turn a relatively harmless situation into a bloody carnage as was the case in Falluja. A circle of violence has begun which US soldiers are not trained to handle.
The truth is that the invading American troops are nervous, trigger-happy and indoctrinated to see in every Iraqi, child, woman or man an enemy, a suicide-bomber or evil-doer and they are since childhood filled with the American ideals which declare that everybody is equal, but, Americans are a lot more equal than all others. Because of this Rumsfeld's boys set the human value of Arab people at a fraction of American people, and Iraqi culture from thousands of years before the Americans slaughtered the Indians is allowed to be looted and destroyed.
Saddam Hussein was a bloody dictator and was in American pockets for more than 20 years. He was largely an American invention. The Iraqi people doesn't deserve to lose more lives in the process of getting rid of him than it already did during the years when American leaders easily could have disposed him without sending their indoctrinated soldiers to do the dirty job.
How can these forces now be expected to create a free and democratic Iraq?