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(DV) Petersen and Sabri: American Violence in Iraq -- Necrophilia or Savagery? (Part III)







American Violence in Iraq: Necrophilia or Savagery?
Part 3: King Frederick’s and George Bush’s Troops
by Kim Petersen and B.J. Sabri
September 1, 2005

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* Read Part One
* Read Part Two



“Rape mutilation, abuse, and theft are the natural outcome of a world in which force rules, in which human beings are objects.”


-- Chris Hedges


In part two, we delineated a general approach to the US violence in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, delimiting the issue of that violence only to the battlefields created by imperialist wars is reductionist at best. For instance, President George W. Bush’s pre-war diplomatic violence against the United Nations, the world, the American people, and the Iraqi people was, in effect, violence in all its attributes, although depleted uranium shells were yet to rain over Baghdad. In the case of Iraq, Bush’s constant pre-aggression reference to the “US leading a coalition of the willing to disarm the dictator” was, by itself, an act of virtual war.


Because of the complexity of the issues of war crimes and generalized violence, these issues are only addressed in this series in a general context only. The reason(s) for this complexity lies in the following truism: enlisted men and women in the US army are ordinary people with varied psychological and social backgrounds. Servicemen and women could just be individuals wanting to find a job, psychopaths looking to kill, sexual deviants wanting to satisfy a habit, killers who want to kill, ignorant persons who wants to learn how to kill, dogmatic patriots, or ideological enlistees in search of applying their sadism on the adversaries to the ruling classes of American power.


There are a few aspects that the American people must consider when discussing their government’s militaristic adventurism abroad:

* Unless openly and actively opposing such adventurism, the violence that is being committed bears their name, which means, that because the US is nominally a democracy, any violence that originates from the US and is perpetrated by the US, implies a public condoning of that violence. Patriotism cannot be a pick-and-choose proposition. To maintain a principled position, if the patriot wishes to bask in the laudatory achievements of his country, he must also acknowledge any repugnancies of the homeland and reject them.

* The enlistees in the army are employees of the federal government, and because of that, they share an equivalency with the civilian employees of the same government; that means

* If a civilian employee of the federal government is involved in corruption, harassment, rape, abuse, robbery, embezzlement, murder, etc., she must face prosecution for crimes committed; consequently

* The armed forces of the United States must face prosecution if they commit similar acts in the countries where their government sent them to fight.   

One fundamental article of indictment was intentionally left out of this argument in order to emphasize it:


* Because every member -- in every capacity and without exception -- of the invading force is taking part in a premeditated aggression, defined by the Nuremberg Military Tribunal as the “supreme international crime” containing “within itself the accumulated evil of the whole,” then the entire expedition force is guilty, at a minimum, of being accomplices to violence and war crimes whether they killed or not, destroyed or not, and maimed or not.   


Axiomatically, the soldiers of an aggressive state that attack any other country for any reason except for verifiable self-defense are murders regardless of their intention or rank. This principle is retroactive to the entire history of humanity and applicable to any group, nation, or state. In short, if one attacks to conquer others or to follow the orders of his state for any political or economic reason that is alien to strictly self-defense, he is, by definition, a killer or accessory to killing.


Regardless of the motive, the troops cannot be placed in a class by themselves, whereby they can kill and enjoy immunity from prosecution and maintain legal innocence. In wars of aggression, there is no innocence; everyone of the aggressing party is a participant -- active or passive -- in a carnage conceived of by others. This principle even negates when soldiers have been recruited through lies and false promises. [1]


Emphatically, in the Iraqi theater-of-death, the personnel upholding the US-led occupation of Iraq include war criminals, thieves, pillagers, murderers, rapists, torturers, sadists, mercenaries, liars, looters, and war profiteers. Given the profligacy of the atrocities being committed, one wonders why any “well-intentioned” troops might stand mutely by. The caution of Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka confronts those witnesses who fear to speak out against the unjust wielding of absolute power: “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.”


Of wistful note, is that the US has even stooped to hiring mercenaries -- a questionable occupational pursuit whereby one rents one’s military prowess out to whoever. Thousands of such soldiers-for-hire are now serving in Iraq under the flags of the occupation. [2] Blackwater Security, a supplier of mercenaries, exhibits a clear embracing of necrophilia among its ranks. An email, purportedly from the company president Gary Jackson, mentioned the need for terrorists “to get creamed, and it’s fun, meaning satisfying, to do the shooting of such folk.” [3] [italics added].


The preceding quotation-of-purpose is a pursuit impervious to jingoistic fervor. Categorically, profit mingled with thrill of inflicting destruction principally motivates such a mentality. When Jackson’s word is cast under these terms, Hedges’ concept of necrophilia becomes acceptable. 


Some in the military also openly declare their necrophilic sentiments. US Marine, Lieutenant General James Mattis, is such an example. Mattis foolishly boasted how much he enjoyed killing: “Actually, it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people.” [4] [italics added] Attention is drawn to the selective nature and enjoyment of killing. Racist attitudes held by some service personnel, certainly make it easier to pull the trigger and take pleasure in doing so. Lance Cpl. Tom Browne, who partook in the devastation of Fallujah, admitted, “I don’t even think about those people as people.” [5]


Of course, the troops are under orders to go to Iraq, and they are under orders not to reveal the heinous shenanigans taking place there. But, one wonders, what kind of human being submits his Cartesian sense-of-self to unquestioning obedience of orders? It brings to mind the acerbic remark attributed to the eighteenth-century Prussian monarch Frederick II: “If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks.”


Exemplifying this ignorance is bliss mentality was American Terry Rodgers, a 21-year-old mechanic who enlisted in October 2002 because “It was something [he] always wanted to do.” The army “looked fun” and he was “bored” and wanting to “try something new.” The US invasion of Iraq held little import for Rodgers who stated, as if by way of exculpation: “I didn’t have a political view. I’m not into politics.” Political views are of minor pertinence here. Moral aspects certainly dwarf the political aspects of initiating war. One wonders whether Rodgers might also quip: “I didn’t have a moral view. I’m not into morality.” [6]


Based on what is occurring now in Iraq, it appears that US troops are adducing Frederick’s precept to the letter. In fact, US troops regularly shirk off basic tasks such as trying to establish which Iraqis are fighters and which are civilians. Sergeant First Class John Meadows summed up the prevailing attitude amongst his colleagues: “You can’t distinguish between who’s trying to kill you and who’s not. …Like, the only way to get through s*** like that was to concentrate on getting through it by killing as many people as you can, people you know are trying to kill you. Killing them first and getting home.” Specialist Corporal Michael Richardson backed up his fellow soldier: “There was no dilemma when it came to shooting people who were not in uniform, I just pulled the trigger.” He chillingly added, “It was up close and personal the whole time, there wasn’t a big distance. If they were there, they were enemy, whether in uniform or not. Some were, some weren’t.” [7]


Why should US troops exhibit attitudes that deviate from the military and political elites? These are attitudes to which historical facts can attest. The macabre 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear holocausts, reminds humanity of the US government’s wanton disregard for civilian life. Of the nuclear bombs, former US president Dwight Eisenhower even admitted, “The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” However, this was not the limit of US government violence. In 1991, a World War II plan for a gas attack on densely populated centers in Japan came to light, with the intent to “maximise casualties, mostly civilian.” [8]


Top U.S. military commanders routinely exhibit total contempt for human life.  Examples include General Tommy Franks who after the invasion of Iraq cynically quipped, “We don’t do body counts,” and General Colin Powell, who after Desert Storm in 1991, expressed his insouciance about casualty figures: “That’s not really a number I’m terribly interested in.” If top commanders have such a negligible respect for the lives of people in designated enemy states, then why should the attitudes held by the troops be different from their leaders?


There are episodes where the troops will sometimes rebel against orders, predominantly, out of concerns for personal survival. For example, soldiers from the 343rd Quartermaster Company received orders to go on a dangerous mission in Iraq with insufficient protection; some refused, stirring up accusations of mutiny. [9] Arguably and given the instinctive drive for self-preservation, should it not also be a fundamental mark of humanity that this same consideration extends to the lives of others? The episode with the 343rd Quartermaster Company, however, suggests that it is the desire for self-preservation rather that conditioned obedience that primarily guides the actions of soldiers.


The measure of the soldier must rather be the individual’s willingness to defy orders that are contrary to conscience and to submit to whatever punishment the commander can devise. What price can one put on one’s conscience? Is the psychological scourge of warfare, post-traumatic stress disorder, that afflicts so many soldiers a function of finding oneself under fire, or is it a function of licensed killing followed by silence over witnessed and/or committed atrocities?


Naturally, the answer should be no. One reason for such an answer is that those people who have become predisposed to use violence, accept violence, and promote violence endorse the policy of the government regardless of lies and deception.


Of course, these questions have no value for empire builders, military commanders, soldiers, media, or any one else involved in the active policy of expeditionary imperialism. In addition, what soldiers feel or think during a raging war is of no relevance to those who order them to fight. The reason for such an irrelevance (at least in the American way of thinking) is that soldiers are paid personnel whose death in war is a possibility; hence, it is a part of job. Moreover, when indoctrination of soldiers requires total obedience to orders, and when these orders require killing whatever comes in the way of a desired conquest, the lines between morality and perversity no longer exist.  This is especially true, when indoctrination portrays the aggressed party as ruthless enemies and terrorists, as in the case of the US wars against Arabs and Muslims consequent to the still outstanding issue of who exactly was behind 9-11.


Whether inborn necrophilia or acquired savagery, a generalized American lust for killing other people that deviate from the American way is palpable and assumes direct Nazi-like connotations where ignorance, sadism, biblical beliefs, and fascism can combine in an explosive intent to destroy life.


An Internet writer elaborated on certain themes of American interventionism and the death its causes to both, the aggressed country and to US soldiers in terms that mix necrophilia, imperialistic bravado, and Judeo-Christian theology. The Vietnam Remembered website writer epitomized the intent to destroy life as follows: 


If we were to believe in the undermining lies our conclusion would be the war was in vain and lives were taken without purpose or reason. It is imperative that we not swallow this! I suggest there was purpose and would like to inform you of some truths. Not a moment of the Vietnam War escaped our Lord, He is always at war with evil. He will use it towards His own glory (Ps. 76:10; For the wrath of man shall praise Thee; With a remnant of wrath Thou shalt gird Thyself.). War is a result of our sin and it is not God’s desire for us. He still graciously works with us, even while we wage war. Many will come to the TRUTH by the things they suffer, for even the Son Himself, learned obedience this way. (Heb. 5:8; Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.)…We are always quick to hear that 58,000 Americans died, but did you know that 600,000 Communist were killed? [10] [italics added]


Categorically, the writer engaged in statistical necrophilia, used political sympathies to justify mass destruction by declaring that sacrificing 58,000 capitalist soldiers is worth it since they killed 600,000 Communist fighters. This is not necrophilia but an apocalyptic necro-orgy.


A question needs to be asked: Are there norms that guide US soldiers, politicians, thinkers, and ordinary citizens into considering that foreign people who (1) opt to institute political and economic systems differing from that of the United States, and (2) are accused of wanting to possess defensive weapons against US piracy must die?


Certainly, there are no such written norms or regulations in this sense. Historically, however, there are abstract ideas or an ideology of racism, superiority, and debasement of the others that the system has not only managed to program into the American mind, but also to enshrine in doctrines, policy objectives, and daily life. Among these ideological tools, there are concepts and slogans that define and predispose the American people to condone the aggression of their government against foreign people.


Among these concepts are “American values,” “Our great nation,” “Our democracy,” “Our freedoms,” “We are right and they are wrong,” “They are tyrants, and we are not,” “Our technology,” “Our laws,” “We are good, they are evil,” etc. In short, the system has been inculcating the American people with a rigid Manichean view of the world, of the United States, and of the relation that should exist between them: superior civilization (American) versus inferior civilizations (“them”). One direct result of such indoctrination is the moral and intellectual deformation in the attitudes of the average American citizen toward foreign nations and their national and international rights.


In conclusion, the implementation of imperialism and the destruction of foreign nations along with their culture and history has become an acceptable practice within the American system and a hallmark of its foreign policy.  Briefly, according to the dominant ideology of the US, a foreign nation’s right to exist ceases when it becomes an obstacle to the US “national interest.”


In Part 4: Is violence a hereditary fixture in the American landscape, particularly when it comes to US interventionism and wars, or do morality and conscience play a role? 


Kim Petersen is a writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. B.J. Sabri is an Iraqi-American antiwar activist. You can reach them at:

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[1] Told by Joshua Key, written up by Annick Cojean, “Zombies in the Fog of War,” Le Monde (translated at Straight Goods), 24 July 2005. “The recruiter promised me a paycheck, a health care plan, instruction in a skilled trade, and no overseas deployment. He lied.”

[2] Tony Lando, “Soldiers And Fortune,”, 16 April 2004.


[3] “US mercenaries in Iraq told to shoot for fun,” The, 4 April 2005.


[4] Agencies, “US general: it is ‘fun to shoot some people,’” China Daily, 4 February 2005.


[5] Lourdes Navarro, “Marines in Fallujah trade ‘culturally sensitive’ training for bullets,” Information Clearing House, 15 April 2004.


[6] Quoted in Peter Carlson, “Talking Wounded: Terry Rodgers Came Back From Iraq a Changed Man, and Not Just Because of the Bomb,” Washington Post, 10 August 2005.


[7] Naveed Raja, “US troops admit shooting Iraqi civilians,”, 19 June 2003.


[8] Paul Rogers, “By any means necessary: the United States and Japan,” openDemocracy, 4 August 2005. The story gains credence since Rogers’ comments are not without imperialist bias.


[9] Jonathan Turley, “Is Suicide Part of the Job? Los Angeles Times, 21 October 2005. The LA Times gave this sympathetic account of the defiant soldiers.


[10] Allan Austin, “Realities,” Vietnam Remembered, 1996.


Other Recent Articles by Kim Petersen

* American Violence in Iraq: Necrophilia or Savagery? Part Two
* American Violence in Iraq: Necrophilia or Savagery? Part One
* Darwinian Survival of the Fittest Meets Wal-Mart and Hiroshima
* Making Sense of Terrorism
* The Message from the London Bombings
* Face to Face with the Absurd
* The Counterrevolution: Capitalism’s Ugly Head in China
* Damage Control Over the Downing Street Memo
* Rivaling Pax Americana
* Angels of Death
* Hating the Bible
* Canada’s Oil Invasion
* Eating Profit: Frustrations of the Salmon-Farming Industry
* Hypocrisy Abounding
* Fueling Imperialism: It’s the Crude, Dude
* Progressivism and Free Speech for All
* Objectivity in Independent Media, Part 4
* Objectivity in Independent Media, Part 3
* Objectivity in Independent Media, Part 2
* Objectivity in Independent Media, Part One
* The Never Again Mantra
* The Rationale of Suicide Bombing
* Gauging the Worth of US Troops in Neocon Eyes
* A Sporting Revolution: The Parecon Hockey League
* A Stain Upon the Sea: Profit Over Wild Salmon
* Zionist Propaganda in Progressive Wool
* Securing Canadian Political Obeisance: Halifax Greets Bush
* The Footprint of an Out-of-Control Behemoth Leaving a Trail of Bodies in its Wake

* Progressive Efflux
* Bamboozling Morality
* A Pretext for War
* Chomsky and the Hopelessness of Lesser Evilism

Other Articles by B. J. Sabri


* American Violence in Iraq: Necrophilia or Savagery? Part Two
American Violence in Iraq: Necrophilia or Savagery? Part One
* Objectivity in Independent Media, Part 4 with Kim Petersen
* Objectivity in Independent Media, Part 3
with Kim Petersen
* Objectivity in Independent Media, Part 2
with Kim Petersen
* Objectivity in Independent Media, Part One
with Kim Petersen
* The Splendid Failure of Occupation, Pt 7
* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Pt 6
* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 5

* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 4
* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 3
* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 2
* The Splendid Failure of Occupation: Part 1
* Beyond Empty Triumphalism
* The Hyper-Imperialist Paradigm, Part One

* The Hyper-Imperialist Paradigm, Part Two
* The Hyper-Imperialist Paradigm, Part Three

* The Hyper-Imperialist Paradigm, Part Four
* Reporting from the Colonialist Side of the Brain
* Thomas Friedman: The Insidious Prophet of Petty Fascism
* Nomen Nudum, Or, Hyper-Imperialists On a Rampage
* Which Prototype is Bush Following: Nero, Holagu, Malthus, Hitler, or Sharon?
* From Guernica to Baghdad Via Dresden and Hiroshima
* Barbaric Era, Year 2003
* When Hercules is Intoxicated, Furious, and Unchained
* War on Iraq and the Pregnant Chads Factor

* Nuclear Blues and the Iraqi Question