04
Aug
07

The often hidden psychological effects of war…

I just read a very sad story about the brutal assault of an civilian Iraqi family in their own home.

A military jury on Friday found a soldier guilty of rape and murder in the slayings of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family.

Jurors deliberated much of Friday evening before convicting Army Pfc. Jesse Spielman, 22, of conspiracy to commit rape, rape, housebreaking with intent to commit rape and four counts of felony murder.

Military prosecutors did not say Spielman took part in the rape or murders, but alleged he went to the house knowing what the others intended to do and served as a lookout. Spielman had pleaded guilty on Monday to lesser charges of conspiracy to obstructing justice, arson, wrongfully touching a corpse and drinking.

 Spielman’s sister, Paige Gerlach, screamed: “I hate the government. You people put him (in Iraq) and now, this happened.” [Yahoo/AP]

It is hard to know exactly what was going on in this soldiers head while all of this was going on, but we know for sure that at the end of the incident, an Iraqi girl had been raped, and her family murdered in cold blood. The most important point about this incident is not that the brutality and heartlessness of the crime is unusual, but rather the opposite. The ability to kill without hesitation is a requirement in order to be a good soldier. In times of war this is a necessary ability. In a theater where your combatants are just as likely to be women and children, as men, you learn to kill each with the same level of efficiency. The problem however, lies in the other less salient side effects that occur as a result of this kind of conditioning.

What happens when you reach the point where you can look at someone, a race, or a demographic, and no longer see a human being? Just a soft target? Well, in war, it makes you a better soldier. But once you learn to kill people without guilt, what else might you be capable of? And will you have to moral fiber to discern the right from the wrong and act on it? We may never know the reasons Pfc. Spielman went along with all of this. But I can understand Paige Gerlachs’ hatred of the government. She and her family will be forever emotionally scarred by this incident.

But the sad fact is, though the government may have put them in Iraq and trained them to kill Iraqi men, women and children without guilt, it was not the government who made them murder that family. They were not ordered to do so. The did this of their own free will. And I’m sure they are not the only ones to have committed such war crimes. But the actions of few such out-of-control soldiers, if any, will ever be publicized, even if they are caught. And yet they will return to our soil, with this black mark upon their psyche. And that is the ultimate problem with war.

At the end of any war, you will have not only damaged your enemies population, but your own as well, both physically and psychologically. A war of any kind comes at great cost. To both sides. And unfortunately the rewards are sometimes not worth the sacrifices. It is not something to be entered easily or lightly, no matter how strong you may think you are.

Soldier found guilty of rape, murder – [Yahoo/AP]

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2 Responses to “The often hidden psychological effects of war…”


  1. 1 Akonx
    August 5, 2007 at 9:26 am

    100% agree.

    But as human being, war is kind of part of the culture. We are unable to avoid it since the old age.

    We hate war, but we did it.

    Life is not perfect. But at least we can do our very best to minimize the damage.

  2. August 5, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    I understand that such violence is human nature.

    But I would also submit that simply accepting that it is a negative trait we have and doing nothing about it also make us poor citizens. Should we not be trying to change those things that we can see are wrong with our culture?

    Rather than trying to minimize the damage of war, why aren’t we trying to eliminate war altogether? I’m not saying it is a simple or easy thing. It may not even be possible.

    But few things of value are ever easy, and in the process, we may end up with less overall violence, regardless of whether we are 100% successful in reaching that goal or not.

    Shouldn’t we at least try?


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