"Sometimes when you take a life it is funny. Watching a human body instantly become lifeless and tumble awkwardly in the heat of battle is a stress reliever; knowing that you eliminated the enemy (before he elimiated you) and watch him disgracefully land head over heels. Killing is what we as the US military are trained to do, whether you like it or not - that's just the facts. Why else have a military?" --posted by Killed Anyone Lately?
I read through this exchange and was very disturbed. As I read the comments I was overwhelmed with grief that these soldiers are so stripped of their humanity. I am not at all “glad” that they are wired so. I’m not at all glad that they are able to kill. The American war machine has made killing an easier thing to do, and it says that at least its soldiers are ready when it’s necessary. Well, what happens when it’s not necessary, like when they’ve come home to their families? I’d prefer that they were like anyone else, i.e. reluctant to kill, afraid to kill. Yes, we’d be an ineffective army, but I’d prefer that we weren’t so good at killing. For one, I still don’t believe this country has ever fought a “necessary” war like we’ve been taught to believe. World War II was way too full of contradictions and pretexts to be so easily billed as an “honorable” war. If you haven’t read Howard Zinn’s work on WWII, please take a look.
To me, one of the tragic victims of these wars is the soldier him/herself. Look at what they are capable of feeling, thinking and doing! It’s horrifying! These soldiers are completely blind to the causes of wars, and have very little capacity for doubting the merits of the wars they are fighting. One of the reasons they so quickly and vehemently defend their acts as “necessary” is an automatic defense mechanism against the cosmic guilt they must feel for committing these acts! They have these ready-made, fabricated responses all cued up and ready to spew: “we’re protecting your asses!”, “we’re protecting your rights to free speech!”, “we’re taking the fight to them, so they won’t bring it home to you!”, and on and on… They need to believe these lies so that they can manage the internal psychological war they are fighting. They hate it when people like myself say: “it’s not your war, this is a class war and you’re killing your brothers and sisters!” Or, “you’re not protecting freedom; you’re fighting a rich man’s war over resources!”
These soldiers so deeply identify with these wars because they have to! They have to in order to combat the guilt they feel when they recognize that their sacrifices or their killing was all for the power and wealth of the rich man who continues to control their lives even after the war is over! If my job description was, “protector of freedom…may require killing some innocent people, but that is the price of freedom,” what do you think I’m going to say to people who oppose war? Of course, I’m going to be defensive, even perhaps violent! Unless I’m willing to face massive shame and guilt and admit that I’d been foolishly or unwittingly duped into believing that my nightmare existence was necessary, I think I’d do every thing I could to continue the illusion! Fortunately, it doesn’t have to come down to a soldier’s individual guilt or complicity. That soldier had been indoctrinated, even brainwashed, into believing the nightmare to be true and could do little to resist it. I feel a great deal of compassion for the soldiers of war! They are victims of the worst kind. Not only do they suffer the internal contradictions of knowing something is amiss in what they are doing, they must take the memory of their acts with them for eternity.