A while ago i posted a comment on the internet about Mark Boal’s recent Rolling Stone Kill Team article about a group of US troops in Afganistan who had started killing unarmed civilians for fun. i was appropriately appalled and expressed indignation in sufficient amounts to convey how i did not condone that type of killing.
However i really didn’t get it; i didn’t understand what made them do what they did. Recently i watch In the Valley of Elah. i was disturbed by the film and actually watched it twice over two days just to make sure i understood everything and the motivation of the soldier who killed his comrade in arms. Watching the movie and reflecting on it i was able to draw a link between the inhuman actions it portrayed and those discussed in the Rolling Stone article. i was able to figure out how adults can be transformed into inhumane killing creatures. Their training has changed a lot over the years as Gwynne Dyer mentions in a recent comment piece in the Winnipeg Free Press. Soldiers are not trained to think, they are trained to kill, and to follow orders; without question.
The recent execution of Osama bin Laden is a case in point. we now know he was unarmed, that he apparently did not surrender but made a threatening gesture: perhaps a raised middle finger… What ever it was the Navy Seal with his finger on the trigger perceived it as a threat and waxed Osama. End of story. The training took over.
Somewhere along the line we have managed to forget “Thou shalt not kill”.
The one thing i am glad about is that i’ve managed to convince my oldest son that he has other career options aside from joining the Canadian Armed Forces. The last thing i want happening is he becoming another statistic in Afganistan.