July 10, 2006

Are US soldiers becoming more violent?

5 more soldiers charged in Iraq rape-murder case

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Four U.S. soldiers in Iraq are charged with participation in the "rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman and three members of her family," the U.S. military said Sunday.

The soldiers are "accused of rape and murder," the military said in a news release.

A fifth soldier is accused of dereliction of duty for failing to report the offenses.

All five are charged with conspiring with former Pfc. Steven D. Green to commit the crimes, the military said. (Originally published on the CNN web site, July 9, 2006. Click on blog title for the rest of the story. )

Is it my imagination or is there some weird psychosis affecting US soldiers all over the world? This is probably the fourth incidence of violence committed by US soldiers that I have read of in the last few months, including the infamous Haditha massacre (here), our own Subic rape case (click here for updates on the case), the attempted murder in Guam by a sailor on his comrade (here), and the killing by a USS Kitty Hawk sailor of his one-month-old son (here).

Aside from rapes and murders, US soldiers in the Pacific have been discovered downloading kiddie porn (here), beating up and robbing ordinary citizens (here), and spreading STDs...eeew! (here).

My mother, who has lived through the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, said the US soldiers of her time, called GIs, were adored because they were kind and helped the locals get back on their feet especially after the liberation of the country. (Not to mention the huge amounts of spam and chocolates they gave away.) Many of those GIs in fact, went on to college, built lives and embarked on distinguished careers. A number of them have become well respected public personalities as well. Since the Korean and Vietnam wars, however, there has been a rising negative perception of American soldiers especially abroad.

It would be too simplistic to say that war is tough on soldiers which is why some of them turn into monsters. But from what I understand, applicants to the military establishment are carefully screened by doctors and psychiatrists. And frankly, I have yet to read of any similar violent incidents or crimes perpetrated by British soldiers, for example. These recent violent incidents show a breakdown of discipline in the US military, which its officials must address it immediately. Any misbehavior by military men and women ultimately reflects on the United States government and its citizens.

(The Stars and Stripes, the US military's own publication, should be commended for reporting these criminal incidents committed by its own members. Illustration of Kenny from www.photos6.flickr.com)

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