Thursday, April 5, 2012

What Every Person Should Know about War

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer prize winning foreign correspondent who has covered many wars as well as global terrorism. Hedges has also won an award with Amnesty International. For this book, “What Every Person Should Know about War” Hedges teamed up with various military experts and worked to answer (and footnote) almost any question any soon to be soldier could ever ask about war. The following are a few interesting statements I thought were worth passing along.

Will I be more likely to abuse my spouse?
Yes. One Army survey of 55,000 soldiers at 47 bases showed that one of every three families has suffered some kind of domestic violence, from slapping to murder. This is twice the rate found in similar groups of civilians. The Pentagon has disclosed that an average of one child or spouse dies each week at the hands of a relative in the military.

What happens to my mind if I am afraid?
It becomes hardere to kill. When people are afraid or angry they do not think with their forebrains. They think with the midbrain. The midbrain harbors a deep instinct against killing one’s own kind. The military combats this with repeated traning. You will be rewarded for being able to overcome this instinct. It is the same principle used to train dogs.

What are the negative aspects of my training?
The conflict between forebrain and midbrain may be the source of several long-term psychological consequences of combat and killing. Those who survive combat have a greater chance of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Must I always avoid killing civilians?
No. You may cause civilian casualties if you are attacking a legitimate target. You may be forced to shoot an enemy if he or she is using civilians as human shields. Civilians are not combatants and are not lawful targets unless they take part in the hostilities against you and are a threat to you.

What will happen to my body after I die?
A doctor will pronounce you dead while you are still in the field. Your body will be put on a stretcher and taken to a collection site. You will be laid out on a tarp with others who died in battle. The collection site, if possible, will be out of sight of the wounded and fresh replacements. Your personal effects will be removed from your pockets. These effects will be placed in a plastic bag and marked with your name, date of birth, and Social Security number. Your weapon, ammunition, and any other government property will be set aside for reuse.

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