Sunday, May 13, 2007

You Can Take the Man Out of the War, But You Can't Take the War Out of the Boy

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It's a tricky thing, training men to kill on command. It's not easy taking 18- and 19- and 20-year-olds and turning them into machines who will take life without thought or regret, when in order to do so, they have to turn their backs on a lifetime of teachings that it's wrong to take human life. The taboo against killing another person is a strong one. Getting men to the point where they will break that taboo without question necessitates that their belief systems, and even their psyches, be broken down and then rebuilt to accept something as true and valid that up until that moment they had no doubt was wrong.

It's not an easy thing to do. Once done, though, how do you tell these same 18- and 19- and 20-year-olds that they should treat the "barbaric enemy" with respect and preserve their human dignity? That, my friends, is the tricky part.

Cross-posted at Shakesville.

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