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  1. #1
    khaleesix
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    Question Should the Western soldiers who fought in Iraq be viewed negatively?

    Recent opinion polls seem to indicate that the majority of people are now pretty against the Iraq war. I can certainly see why; whether it be the trillions of dollars spent, the legal grey areas or the horrific death tolls, from a Western perspective it doesn't quite seem the military success that was naturally hoped for. Politicians get a lot of slack for it and, personally, I think rightly so.

    One part of the Iraq war that always gets me is the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians that were killed. I shudder to think how many innocent people died through simply being swept up in war. I've naturally always had focussed my criticisms of the Iraq war on high powered government workers as being heads of the operation. However, should the soldiers taking part in the war also be to blame for some of the horrors in the Iraq war? Should they be criticised too?

    Criticising soldiers always seemed a somewhat taboo subject given the amount of glory our society gives them, but it's now something I've been mulling over. After all, it takes soldiers for such a war to be fought at all and the soldiers were coming from relatively educated backgrounds where they had the freedom to not partake.

    It's worth noting that I do not have any particularly strong views either way on the treatment of soldiers. Although I object to many facets of the Iraq war, I'm just genuinely interested to see other people's viewpoints on the matter.

  2. #2
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    Re: Should the Western soldiers who fought in Iraq be viewed negatively?

    First, the iraq "war" was a smashing success, our soldiers went in, kicked butt and took names. The subsequent "occupation" has been poorly done. I personally have a problem with an occupation and using our military to do it, because it is like using a jack hammer to do your laundry. The militarizes Job is to blow (expletive) up, put holes in targets(also known as people) and to subjugate our enemies through force. That the military has been mis-used or mis-applied to instead try to police a population, to avoid blowing things and people up, and to impose a gov on a people is not the soldiers fault that is a politicians problem.

    Second, I would argue for total immunity to prosecution of murder for any and all U.S. soldiers. If you don't like that fact that a baby was crushed by a passing tank, because the driver refused to stop, because throwing children in front of a military vehicle is a standard tactics for really bad guys... then pull the military out. If you don't like road blocks being enforced with 50cal machine guns with warning shots that blow up engines... then don't deploy the military. I simply do not blame the military for doing what it is designed an purposed to do. Police work is not their job, they are barred from doing it in the states, and that isn't what they are designed to do with 40 ton tanks and 500lb bombs.

    Third and finally, what I have learned is that you can't "give" freedom to another people, they have to EARN it. If the subjugation of a people in another country bothers you... drop weapons and let them sort it out.
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

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  4. #3
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    Re: Should the Western soldiers who fought in Iraq be viewed negatively?

    Quote Originally Posted by khaleesix View Post
    Recent opinion polls seem to indicate that the majority of people are now pretty against the Iraq war. I can certainly see why; whether it be the trillions of dollars spent, the legal grey areas or the horrific death tolls, from a Western perspective it doesn't quite seem the military success that was naturally hoped for. Politicians get a lot of slack for it and, personally, I think rightly so.

    One part of the Iraq war that always gets me is the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians that were killed. I shudder to think how many innocent people died through simply being swept up in war. I've naturally always had focussed my criticisms of the Iraq war on high powered government workers as being heads of the operation. However, should the soldiers taking part in the war also be to blame for some of the horrors in the Iraq war? Should they be criticised too?

    Criticising soldiers always seemed a somewhat taboo subject given the amount of glory our society gives them, but it's now something I've been mulling over. After all, it takes soldiers for such a war to be fought at all and the soldiers were coming from relatively educated backgrounds where they had the freedom to not partake.

    It's worth noting that I do not have any particularly strong views either way on the treatment of soldiers. Although I object to many facets of the Iraq war, I'm just genuinely interested to see other people's viewpoints on the matter.
    This is one of ODN's debating forums, where the Original Post (OP) must present a question for debate (which this one does) and take a position on that question for or against (which this one doesn't), and then provide some sort of evidential support for the position taken (which, since no position is taken, this one obviously, then, doesn't as well).

    And why, if I may ask, would you be interested only in the views of others? Did you mean "views" in a sense different from "view" as applies to your OP? If so, what would that difference be? You see, once you answer that for yourself, and then edit your OP so that "view" applies to it in the same sense in which it applies to what you're asking others to give you, then you'll likely have yourself a debate platform. Otherwise all you're really asking for is something like:

    "Personally, I think war is murder, and anyone who takes part in one should be given a fair trial before they're hung by the neck until dead."

    and what good is that?

  5. #4
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    Re: Should the Western soldiers who fought in Iraq be viewed negatively?

    I think in general soldiers deserve a lot of respect. They fight for the nation and risk their lives for its ideals and safety. And they do it for pretty middling pay.

    I don't think that respect has to trump individual behavior. A soldier who murders people is still a murderer and has to be treated as one. You have to have sympathy for the challenge of determining killing enemy humans and non-enemy humans and the blurry lines on who is or is not an enemy. But still, such consideration only goes so far.

    I don't think it is at all appropriate to castigate a soldier for fighting the war they were sent to fight. We who sent them to kill have the same blood on our hands as those who did it on our behalf. Its a burden we should all share equally.
    Feed me some debate pellets!

  6. #5
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    Re: Should the Western soldiers who fought in Iraq be viewed negatively?

    Quote Originally Posted by khaleesix View Post
    One part of the Iraq war that always gets me is the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians that were killed.
    This statement would be better phrased as "the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians that were allegedly killed." There are few detailed reports on how many civilians died during the US led war there. The only report that I'm aware of that states anything like 100K+ civilian deaths was the long ago retracted Lancet II paper which was noted for poor academic standards and some blatant fraud if I recall correctly.

    We also need to remember that all costs if properly understood, are opportunity costs. Hussein was killing 10K+ a year on average anyway and we need to remember the relative death rate that would have occurred absent any US intervention.

    The follow on question here is whether all of those deaths are the moral responsibility of Americans. While there is certainly something to be said for the china shop analogy (if you break it you bought it), there is also something to a more nuanced moral vision where we realize that the majority of those deaths were caused by insurgents for the purpose of killing civilians.

    I'll recuse myself from criticism of soldiers discussion in general for reason obvious to most here, though I am willing to discuss any specific scenarios.

    Rather, I would debate your underlying premise, that the war was a failure and that the moral culpability for those deaths is ours.
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
    "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions. -G.K. Chesterton
    Also, if you think I've overlooked your post please shoot me a PM, I'm not intentionally ignoring you.


  7. #6
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    Re: Should the Western soldiers who fought in Iraq be viewed negatively?

    I saw this and just wanted to make a few points:

    #1 - Soldiers do not enjoy immunity from murder. We have this little thing called the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Law of Land Warfare. It explicitly make illegal killing punishable as murder. The real problem is not the law or immunity, it is the often great difficulty in gathering evidence and the tendency to give the benefit of the doubt when engaged in combat (think Haditha). However, in more overt cases like the Blackwater incident in Nisour Square, in which the opening victim was a young boy and then his horrified mother who leaned over in shock at the at the sudden immolation of her child and was subsequently shot for it. I happen to have served with the Iraqi National Police Colonel (he speaks perfect English) that responded to Blackwater's 'call for assistance' (Nisour Square is right next to the National Police Headquarters), and had to threaten to to have the National Police attack the Blackwater convoy to get them to stop shooting.

    http://news.yahoo.com/four-blackwate...163617629.html

    It took a long time, and some legal wrangling to define the contractors as combatants, but they were convicted of murder. The same applies to Lieutenant Laurence in Afghanistan.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...97201H20130803

    I wish I could say that all Soldiers misbehaving were similar held accountable, but like any judicial system, there are matters of evidence against the possibility of conviction.

    #2 - There were a great many of civilians killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would be a mistake to assume that the majority were killed by US Soldiers (or that it was done illegally). Insurgent attacks of the local populace for intimidation alone are quite common, assassination of 'collaborators' is common. The use of suicide bombers and car bombs, whose victims are almost always civilians was common in Iraq. Worse, there was a virtual civil war between Suna and Shia in Iraq, with, at one point, hundreds of bodies found every day (often with evidence of exposure to absolutely brutal torture).

    Before you go blaming the US Military thought, understand that the same outcome was likely whenever Saddam was removed from power and the tribes subsequently grabbed at the vacuum of power. This is especially so when you have Kuwait and Iran who never want Iraq to be powerful enough to invade them again, and have no problems interfering in Iraq to that end (and often at cross purposes), and a sympathetic Saudi Arabia who has no problem turning a blind eye to the aid of the Suna to assure that the Suna remain a healthy check on Iran's regional ambitions. The outside influences in Iraq are literally torrents of interference, and there are plenty of unscrupulous people who will take advantage of that illicit trade to enrich themselves ... making the problem of governance in Iraq that much more difficult.

    That does not excuse the action of US Soldiers who did violate the ethical and moral obligations of professional warriors, but I will tell you that the vast majority of US and Coalition Soldiers comported themselves with honor under very trying circumstances.

    http://books.google.it/books/about/B...8C&redir_esc=y

    What our Soldiers had to endure was as often as not just brutal combat, but leadership so poor it was toxic. The book above, black hearts, is true. I know the Battalion Commander, and am good friends with one of the Company Commander's who had to endure this situation and its effects. If there is any failing in our War in Iraq, it is that very often we failed to hold our leaders accountable when they were failing to provide adequate leadership to our Soldiers. In Iraq, I was privileged to be able to see just about every American Brigade assigned to Surge, and I will tell you that the one indicator if success and failure that was absolutely clear was that the quality of the Brigade's leadership directly effected success on the ground in Iraq. (And Afghanistan BTW). Our collegiate system of evaluation rarely held these leaders accountable. THAT, IMHO, is the worse failure in our recent wars.
    Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.

    Albert Einstein

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