Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Few Bad Men

Bob Koehler:
And where is it that the Vice Lords meet the Aryan Nation? Why, in Baghdad, of course — where, in one of the less obvious unanticipated consequences of W’s disastrous war, potential domestic terrorists and “army of one” nutjobs are getting top-notch weapons instruction and plenty of target practice. It’s sure to come in handy when they get home.

With the military unable to meet recruitment goals for an unpopular war, gangbangers and white supremacists are having a far easier time getting “moral waivers” to enlist, according to a recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center called “A Few Bad Men,” as well as an investigative series in the Chicago Sun-Times in May. The upshot: a future compromised in yet another way, as we train and further desensitize the psychologically fragile and psychotically embittered.

Some of them, baptized in hellfire, could, like Timothy McVeigh, John Allen Muhammad and a long list of others, turn around and bite us. Bush’s war to promote terror — the perfect self-sustaining fear machine — isn’t just generating an endless supply of hardened enemies beyond our borders. It is also creating the conditions of social breakdown and psychological blowback within our borders. Guess what? Under Plan Bush, we’ll never be safe.

Among the costs of mobilizing for and waging war — even a “good war,” with huge popular support — is a general cheapening of human life. “You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them,” Lt. Gen. James Mattis famously blurted out about the Iraqis during a panel discussion in San Diego a year and a half ago, to much applause from couch-potato warriors everywhere.

Such glibness notwithstanding, the actual desensitization process the military must employ to turn raw recruits into killers is serious and often irreversible.
We are, in short, inflicting a lot of bad dudes on innocent Iraqis and we will ultimately inflict them back on ourselves. Turns out the cost of waging a pointless war is even higher than the cost of waging one that has rational justification. The social degradation is deeper when we wave a soiled flag.
Read it and weep.