Saturday, June 03, 2006

Bush Credibility Zero, Ditto Cheney Rumsfield Congress - Now the MARINES too??

More disturbing revelations in today's New York Times:

... the investigator pressed the marines: if none of the Iraqi men had weapons and none had threatened the marines, why did the troops shoot them? The marines did not have a convincing reply, said the official who was briefed on the report.

...initial reports from the field indicated inaccurately that noncombatants were killed in the bomb explosion. The Marines also issued a press release the day after the killings that said 15 Iraqi civilians had died in the bomb blast and 8 insurgents had been killed in an ensuing firefight.

What the soldiers allegedly (and apparently) did was wrong. What the folks in charge have done is a travesty of justice and will reverberate throughout the globe and history long after these soldiers have been punished and the family members of the murdered have grieved their devastating losses.

Again I urge the reader to research the works of Stanley Milgram, Lawrence Kohlberg, Irving Janis, Philip Zimbardo.

In fact, through a joint effort between Court TV and Sundance Channel, both have recently been showing a short documentary (only 1 hour!): The Human Behavior Experiments, which explores Obedience to Authority and the Prison Guard/Prisoner experiments begun (and ended early) by Professor Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University in the 70s. Again, only an hour long and must-watch for anyone who wants to better understand Abu Ghraib, My Lai and more about such situations here and abroad (and why those in power must be held accountable, and their dealings, actions, decisions made transparent!).

From the NYT article "Initial Response to Marine Raid Draws Scrutiny":

Marine commanders in Iraq learned within two days of the killings in Haditha last November that Iraqi civilians had died from gunfire, not a roadside bomb as initially reported, but the officers involved saw no reason to investigate further, according to a senior Marine officer.

The commanders have told investigators they had not viewed as unusual, in a combat environment, the discrepancies that emerged almost immediately in accounts about how the two dozen Iraqis died, and that they had no information at the time suggesting that any civilians had been killed deliberately.

A senior Marine general familiar with the investigation, which is being led by Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell of the Army, said in an interview that it had not yet established how high up the chain of command culpability for the killings extended. But he said there were strong suspicions that some officers knew that the Marine squad's version of events had enough holes and discrepancies that it should have been looked into more deeply.

"It's impossible to believe they didn't know," the Marine general said, referring to midlevel and senior officers. "You'd have to know this thing stunk." He was granted anonymity, along with others who described the investigation, because he was not authorized to speak publicly about it.

If this situation was not viewed as "unusual" or out of the ordinary by the commanders in charge, then how many more of these 'usual' kinds of situations have occurred, seen as typical or usual or nothing special -- which also have not been investigated?

And even for those situations that have been cursorily 'investigated' how much faith can we have that the facts have been shared instead of swept away? How much credibility exists anymore in the 'leadership' in charge of American soldiers? Is this scenario sounding remotely familiar?

Credibility Zero and dropping

Bush Cheney Rumsfeld Rove Chertoff, et al: Credibility = Below Zero and dropping through the floor to the other side of the globe and beyond outer space (which is where they deserve to be banished).

And these are the same folks who now will proceed in full-force on Monday to divert American citizens' (and media) attention away from serious life-threatening, life-altering issues to that of 'gay marriage' (along with being against burning a symbol -- flags) as a tried and true method of stirring the (ignorant) passions of their base. And the sheep will gladly follow.

These are the very same people in charge who first lied that Pat Tillman died fighting vicious Al Qaeda -- when in fact he was killed by his own brother soldiers in the fog of war -- amidst the violence, confusion, adrenalin, hate, lack of impulse control, stress -- human emotions which in context can be understood -- never condoned, but understood (and seen as in Haditha, very much related to poor or nonexistent leadership).

"What's Lost in the Hue and Cry Over Haditha"
A father writes and shares his feelings and his son's missives from Iraq in today's Washington Post:
All our troops confront the tortured "morality" of war. My son wrote this from his first combat tour in Afghanistan as a Marine intelligence noncom: "Date: 9/25/03 8:27:01 PM Dear Mom and Dad: I have learned that the right thing and the necessary thing are not synonymous, rarely are they even in the same ballpark. It's very depressing to see the results of some necessary actions, it's never pure, and there is no purity here . . .

"People ignore what they cannot see. They just don't want to know. The truth is too ugly and vicious to comprehend . . .

"In a natural state a human will kill, and kill not always for necessity, but for convenience as well. The only way that I know I am still me is that I hate that fact; I hate it more than anything I have ever known."

This kind of moral insight is something we have NEVER seen or heard from Bush Cheney Rumsfeld Tommy Franks, Peter Pace, et al -- and I truly doubt we ever will.
The flag-waving boosters of our current war and their critics all seem to forget that war really is hell. Proponents sweep the inconvenient dreadfulness under the carpet (no photographs of coffins, please) while opponents are shocked, just shocked, at the nastiness. All sides seem to forget that there are no good wars, only morally ambiguous conflicts that lead to better or worse outcomes.
The fog and confusion of war is not just there -- it's here, too. Unfortunately, he like so many, place the 'boosters' and 'critics' on equal footing. There are differences -- major ones. And it always comes back to issues of power and resources: who had the power to decide, to send, to spend, to bomb, to maim, to kill, to overthrow, etc. There are others who can and will point out other logical fallacies, so I leave that to them.

I believe this father goes on to mistake much of what his own son's writings truly mean on a deeper level -- he too blames the media and the critics of the war. Yes, there are some critics who simply 'hate Bush' and anything they can do to further that superficial agenda will be promoted. However, I believe he fails to understand the deeply moral underpinnings that so many of us have in objection to this war, in objection to the effects of violence of all types -- objections informed by other subjective, personal experience -- which is what he bases his own arguement's moral authority upon -- and which is legitimate but does not preclude the moral authority of others to draw both similar and different conclusions and to take similar and different actions.

Like most of us, this father has his own unresolved contradictions and complexities of which he (like most of us) is unaware, unconscious of, or unable to make sense of. Nonetheless, powerful reading and highly recommended.

Remember: Those with the power and resources ultimately have the greater responsibility to their soldiers, their citizens, and yes, even the world community. Never forget the power dynamics, the power relationships. Those soldiers had power over those Iraqi citizens. Their commanders had power over them, and up the chain. There is enough accountability and responsibility to be shared and divvied up. The ultimate responsibility must be assigned to this administration for lying these soldiers, these Marines, these citizens and this country into war. They must be held accountable. But will they? Are Americans really capable of 'Doing the Right Thing?' Or is that just something we tell ourselves to make us all feel better about not doing the right thing?

Complete NYT article here. WaPo article here. My previous posts dealing with Obedience to Authority, Groupthink, Leadership, Moral Development, related topics: Jan 06, Dec 05, Nov 05.

PS: Did anybody else catch Rumsfeld's body language as he spoke about Haditha? Especially when he shrugged as if to communicate: "meh, no big deal, these things happen, folks die, whatever, move on, don't bother me with this shit."


At December 09, 2007 10:15 PM, Blogger Andrew Meyer said...

The documentary can be seen here:
The Human Behavior Experiments

At December 09, 2007 10:23 PM, Blogger Andrew Meyer said...

The documentary can be seen here:
The Human Behavior Experiments


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