May 07, 2007

Troops at Odds With Ethics Standards

Not only is the Iraq war becoming a quagmire that will set back the well-being of every American and Iraqi, it is taking an enormous toll on our troops who are now stuck in Vietnam war circumstances--no clear mission, no ability to tell who their friends are, undersupplied and with rapidly waning support for the conflict on the home front. Not only is this taking a terrible toll on their mental health but it is undermining core ethics and values in our armed forces.

Iraq is not only a human disaster it is an ethical disaster as well. The neoconservatives who got us into this ill-advised, concocted conflict, who claim to stand for traditional American values, have done more to undermine then in troops and in our civic society than any enemy could have hoped to accomplish. Where is their moral accountability for what they have done?

More than one-third of U.S. soldiers in Iraq surveyed by the Army said they believe torture should be allowed if it helps gather important information about insurgents, the Pentagon disclosed yesterday. Four in 10 said they approve of such illegal abuse if it would save the life of a fellow soldier.

In addition, about two-thirds of Marines and half the Army troops surveyed said they would not report a team member for mistreating a civilian or for destroying civilian property unnecessarily. "Less than half of Soldiers and Marines believed that non-combatants should be treated with dignity and respect," the Army report stated.

About 10 percent of the 1,767 troops in the official survey -- conducted in Iraq last fall -- reported that they had mistreated civilians in Iraq, such as kicking them or needlessly damaging their possessions.

Army researchers "looked under every rock, and what they found was not always easy to look at," said S. Ward Casscells, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

You can read the rest of the article here.

-Art Caplan

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