Driving back to Florida from Minnesota I had a lot of time to listen to talk- radio. From the mid-west to the Bible belt, Americans were calling in about American service men and women who were being accused of crimes in the combat zone of Iraq.
Most Americans were defending our troops, and saying that Americans would never do the things that were reported about them. The killings and rape of innocent Iraqis in their minds had to have been provoked in some way.
No American mother ever wants to believe that her son would commit a crime when they are out there defending our nation. It sad to say, and if you haven't been there it is hard to believe, but combat can change a person.
Putting a young man into a position of power can lead them to things they would never have done back here in the States. Some times the opportunity to act out things that were only deep dark secret thoughts is too much for a Soldier or Marine to control themselves, and crimes are committed.
by James Glaser
Outlaw motorcycle gangs have a patch on their colors that is just a big "1." This tells the world that they are that one percent of mankind that are outlaws.
In the American military, they have their one-percenters too. Every unit has one or two. That means that the other 99% of those serving our country are stand-up guys. I guess now it would be stand-up guys and stand-up women who serve our country.
Every time there is a report of another atrocity by American troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, the American public has a hard time understanding how these acts could happen. Many Americans refuse to believe that our fine young troops would do anything out of line.
The truth is that even with all the screening the Pentagon does to keep the "bad apples" out of the service, some of them get in. Like those motorcycle gang members, that one percent in the military who tend to run amok can ruin the image of all the rest. I think back to Vietnam. Millions of Americans served over there and for every million who served in-country, there were 10,000 of those one-percenters who could run amok if they had the chance.
Right now there are about 130,000 Americans serving in Iraq, and if we use that one percent figure, there are 1,300 potential bad apples in with our fine young troops.
Right now we are reading about guys in our Army, who if the story is true, have raped a women, then killed her and her family. There are several soldiers suspected of taking part, but I'll bet you that when all is said and done, there was one guy that got the idea, and the rest of the troops followed his lead.
Remember, one bad apple spoils the barrel? Well that is all it takes in a military unit, too. One sick guy comes up with an idea. He might not even tell his comrades what he is going to do, he just does it, and because of, as Marines call it, Esprit de Corps, every one covers up for him. There were a lot of Soldiers working in the prisons we had set up in Iraq, but it only took a few to start a scandal about how we treat prisoners. Now every American who ever worked in an Iraqi prison is tainted with those pictures of Abu Graib.
Americas want to be proud of how our troops act in the war zone, but they have to learn that not every Soldier or Marine is that perfect example of the American fighting man or woman. One percent sounds like a small number, but when you realize that hundreds of thousands of troops have been deployed, that one percent number grows to a significant number. Officers and senior enlisted people are always on the lookout for those rogue elements in their units, but some of them slip by.
In every war, in every nation, human beings who get a thrill out of doing sadistic or cruel things are drawn to the military in hopes of fulfilling their fantasies. War draws those people like a moth to a flame, and the actions of the few are what we read about on the front page.
BACK to the 2006 Politics Columns.