Introduction: During the comments on my most recent posting on The Seminal I had a conversation with commenter "Twain" who asked where the impetus for the "killing for kicks" amongst some American soldiers had come from:
Where is this “fun” killing coming from? Is it the officers in charge, the attitude that we are “exceptional”, or something inside these particular soldiers? I really don’t understand this at all and keep thinking that if I read enough about it, I’ll understand how they got so twisted, but I doubt it.
I gave him my opinion and we "backwards and forwardsed" a little on the topic. During our dialogue I quoted a commentary and analysis piece written by my Gorilla’s Guides colleague Saba Ali Ihsaan. Colonel Ihsaan is a founder member of the group of which the "Gorilla’s Guides" blog is a part. His military record is that of a resourceful officer who led his men from the front, he was wounded and captured by the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war, he escaped captivity and made his way back to Irak leaving a string of Iranian corpses behind him as he did so. He asked to be returned immediately to the front was wounded twice more and served as an intelligence analyst while he recuperated. He must have been good at it they promoted him to colonel. He is a fervent Iraki patriot, a shrewd analyst, and perhaps our best hostage negotiator. His writing style is terse and spare packing a lot of information into a very small space.
On September 19, 2010 he wrote a commentary and analysis piece in response to an article from McClatchy. "As Iraq winds down, U.S. Army confronts a broken force | McClatchy" :
With the U.S. drawdown in Iraq, the Army is finally confronting an epidemic of drug abuse and criminal behavior that many commanders acknowledge has been made worse because they’d largely ignored it during nearly a decade of wars on two fronts.
The Army concedes that it faces a mammoth problem.
A 350-page report issued in July after a 15-month investigation into the Army’s rising suicide rate found that levels of illegal drug use and criminal activity have reached record highs, while the number of disciplinary actions and forced discharges were at record lows.
In his piece "It is not only Americans who can say "Mission Accomplished" " Colonel Ihsaan provides a further partial answer to Twain’s question. He reveals that some Iraki resistance commanders set out deliberately to "shatter the minds" of American soldiers hoping drive them into a "mental and moral breakdown" so that at least some of them would run amok first while still in service and then amongst American civilians on their return to civilian life. The tactic, was one resistance commander told him, "far more successful than they had dared hope". The McClatchy article and his response to it both deserve to be better known. I am grateful to him for his gracious permission to reproduce it here in full.
The Resistance’s Tactics Were Successful
This is the lesson of the Iraki Resistance’s war on the American invaders. The goal was not just to inflict death and physical wounds the goal was to drive American troops into mental and moral breakdown.
The tactic was to attack American troops relentlessly — to force the American invaders to live in a situation where they never ever had any respite.
The American invader was never to be able to relax they must be denied any respite, they were denied meaningful rest.
The resistance consciously set out to inflict constant tension,constant sleeplessness, constant mental pain, and constant uncertainty, and fear upon the American invaders. The idea was to do this until a large proportion of the invaders were worn out with fatigue, grief, horror and pain.
The Resistance’s intent was to not just inflict pain and horror on the invading troops for the sake of doing, the object was to shatter their minds so that while they were still in Irak they turned on their comrades. And then after they returned to America that they turned on the American civilian population at large.
This tactic was, one resistance commander told me, far more successful than they had dared hope.
The American high command, and American civilians are only now beginning to appreciate what the resitance did to them. They are only now starting to realise that they are not the only ones who can inflict "collateral damage" and that there is more than one form of it.
It is not just Americans who can say "Mission Accomplished".