Sunday, November 27, 2005

Call me sick and twisted, but at first glance I find something kind of hilarious about this.

'I can't tell you how damaging it is,' he said.

'Just imagine a young man turning up in his unit and being made to wrestle naked in a field while his non-commissioned officers are dressed up in women's frillies. I mean, it's not very dignified stuff, is it?'

BBC NEWS | UK | Marine 'bullying' video condemned

Or rather, I find it human.

If you're going to put people in a madhouse, (which is what I consider war and military organizations to be), then the natural human reaction is to go mad.

Except ... of coure ... that it's not funny at all.

It's a miserable thing. The organization is sham. Held together by perverse bonds of power : threat, fear, bravado. You can't ensure "discipline" without letting people "blow-off steam" in ugly, violent rituals of degradation.

It's important to remember this when we ask how our soldiers can torture and humiliate prisoners in Iraq. They can do it, because torture and humiliation are part of the structure of their lives within the military institutions.

These aren't "bad apples". They're canaries in the mineshaft : the weak links that buckle and break under the stressed power-relations that bind our military together.

1 comment:

John Powers said...

I'm not a military man--an observation which would be met with hilarity by any who knows me. My local newspaper has a liberal reputation and is one of the dying breed outside the conglomerated press in the U.S. Yet even in my quick read of it today there were many references to me and people like me as fools from birth. So deeply steeped we are here in chauvinism that any mention of the cost of war and militarism is met with derision.

This piece about the suicide in Iraq of Army Col. Ted Westhusing tellingly shows that honor and duty which defend soldiers from insanity have been breeched by the obscene occupation of Iraq.