Friday, July 15, 2005

GIs: On a Suicide Mission

Found a nonsensical right-wing/nationalist op-ed screed in the Express & Star (regional set of papers with head office in Wolverhampton, UK), so decided to be a glutton for punishment.

What I found, instead, was something truly remarkable - a hard look at how old men brainwash young men into killing for them:

"He was a 19-year-old suicide bomber from West Yorkshire. Fired with love of nation and faith, he was trained in special camps to do unspeakable things to other human beings.

When the order came, he picked up his gun and his satchel of bombs and set out to slaughter the enemy. The enemy were mostly decent people but he had been brainwashed to believe they were unspeakable sub-humans.

He was my great-uncle. He was Private Alvin Smith of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding), just another squaddie of the Great War. He was killed on his first day in battle on the Somme in September, 1916.

At the previous Christmas, over dinner shared with his family and his best friend, Willie Smith, Alvin said: 'We'd best enjoy this Christmas, Willie. I dare say we won't see the next one.'

He believed they were on a suicide mission. He was right."

Young GIs don't necessarily join the military with killing Muslims on their minds, but they're trained to do it. Young Muslims don't necessarily join a mosque with killing non-Muslims on their minds, but they're occasionally trained to do it. So, both are wrong, correct? Good. We agree. Killing of innocents is just not justified. There can be uber-extreme cases, sure, where we might decide that we'd like to play God, but those are so extremely rare that we don't even need to worry about them here. The principle holds - killing innocents is wrong, no matter what. On that much, we all agree.

And both sets of young men are on suicide missions - whether they know it or not. Whether you are killing innocents in the name of Allah, or whether you are killing innocents in the name of 'freedom', you are both killers of innocents, and you are both wrong. Agreed? Good.

So, when can we expect the denunciation of Bush and Cheney and the military and the rest of the people who indoctrinate our youth in the art of killing, sometimes killing innocents?

Of course, the US military doesn't train its GI to kill innocents (I dont' think so, anyways), but innocents killed by the US military are just 'collateral damage'. I'm sure the London bombers also thought of their prey as 'collateral damage' - not a primary objective, just something that is sometimes necessary to achieve a higher objective.

Hey Pete - I've heard of 'collateral damage' before - yep. Wasn't really sure if it was the best term, but it kind of made sense - until you refer to these dead white English people as collateral damage - that's making me think a little bit. Maybe collateral damage is not the right term? I just doesn't do justice to the fact that innocent people were killed - how can people just call them 'collateral damage'?

It's called passive racism. You're probably not a member of the KKK, but that doesn't excuse your laziness with respect to how you think about people of other cultures and skin colors as being less human than yourself. Fix that. Read books on race. Read 'Black Like Me'. Read Cornel West. Read Eldridge Cleaver. Just read. And then do.

So, some right-wing nutjobs will want to talk about the moral equivalency of the London bombers and US GIs. (We'll use the term 'GI' to refer to all US forces operating in/around Iraq, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines.) Fine - it distracts from the real culprits - the 'masterminds', if you will - but let's do it - to shut these fuckers up. Then, supposing they're satisfied with our analysis, we can all concentrate on capturing and punishing (not killing - us sane folks, want justice, not revenge) those responsible. (Of course, if the war crimes tribunals recommend death, who are we to argue?)

So, are GI's as evil as these suicide bombers? Yes, and no. Some are as evil, some are more evil, some are less evil (and some none at all). What are the percentages? Not sure. Depends on a lot of factors. Those GIs who have raped, sexually humiliated, tortured, and intentionally killed innocent Iraqis are more evil. Those GIs who have intentionally killed innocent Iraqis would only be as evil as the London bombers. Those GIs who have not intentionally killed innocent Iraqis would be less evil than the London bombers. Of course, we like to think that most Muslims and most GIs are not evil at all, but who knows, maybe that's just liberal utopianism.

What are the percentages? Good question. Of the 150,000 or so US GIs in Iraq, how many have intentionally killed innocent Iraqis? 1%? (For the purposes of this exercise, we'll leave out from this study those evil bastard GIs who did not intentionally kill innocent Iraqis, but who still took part, and currently take part, in torturing innocent Iraqis - i.e. we'll restrict this study to those GIs who kill.) That would amount to about 1,500 GIs. Sounds a little low to me, but we'll see how the calcs work out.

Now, how many innocent Iraqis have been killed intentionally by GIs? The total number of dead Iraqi civilians is about 130,000 right now - we'll say that one quarter that number is the number of Iraqis intentionally killed by GIs - that's about 32,500 innocent Iraqis who were intentionally killed by GIs. (Defining 'intentionally is a bit problematic. In my book, claiming that you "didn't mean it" doesn't qualify as not being intentional. For instance, claiming that you "didn't mean" to kill a few thousand innocent Iraqis in Operation Flatten Fallujah doesn't get you off the hook - you're still a war criminal and deserve to be treated as such. But there are plenty of unintentional cases.) So, we divide the number of evil motherfuckin GIs into the number they've killed, and that comes out to about 21 dead per GI. The London bombers killed about 60 (so the count says so far, b/c the cowardly cops wouldn't get their fat, donut-eating asses down into the subway!) - and with 4 attackers, that comes out to about 15 dead per bomber. So, the evil GIs are more evil than the suicide bombers, right?

Well, not quite. There are about 15,000 factors we did not take into account. We didn't talk about 9/11 victims. We didn't talk about Afghani victims. We didn't talk about Spain. We didn't talk about a lot of things. As I said, it's a ridiculous comparison - a ridiculous question. The real question we should concern ourselves with is how evil, respectively, are the leaders of the US and UK compared to the folks who trained these bombers? And what should their punishments be? And, how do we get them arrested?

Are Bush and Blair more evil than, say, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed? I believe I can make a convincing case that they are much more evil - and are much more deserving of being punished than some low-rent suicide bomb trainer. They all deserve punihsment, of course, but looking at the numbers alone points us to the obvious conclusion that Bush and Blair are the two most deadly 'masterminds', and must be apprehended and punished as quickly as possible.

But that's for another day...

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