Posted: August 12th, 2013
Violence in military
The high rate of violent incidents among military men and personnel retired from active duty is alarming. The highest instances of military violence have been recorded in the least expected areas like military towns, such as Schofield Barracks, that have been categorized as the world’s most dangerous areas. The high number of domestic violence cases among military families serves to aggravate the situation and bring more attention to stopping the violent rampage. The core activity within military circles involves operations that inevitably require a soldier to be violent. While this may be the job description, it does not necessarily mean that good soldiers need to have a violent predisposition.
The various manifestations of violence within military circles raise various questions that can be answered through a combination of sources. First, what are the various forms of violence exhibited by military personnel? In her article, Szegedy-Maszak, mentions domestic violence and torture as the two main forms of violence. Other authors mention these two, but also include rape, mass slaughter and murder. Another vital question is what are the major causes of military violence? Violence among military personnel may be as a direct result of their job description that may involve restoring peace and order through force (Bojanski 18). Although this is the argument given by George Orwell, in his book Shooting an Elephant, even he had mercy and great respect for human life and strived to preserve it at any opportunity he grasped. This proves that military work might be violent but does not mean that violence is necessary or acceptable.
The article “Was it conditions at Abu Gharib or perverse human nature that led to these atrocities” by Szegedy-Maszak Marianne focuses on the innate aggression within human natures as one of the major causes of excess aggression and violence among military personnel in modern day warfare, as was witnessed in Abu Gharib and other war-torn areas (Szegedy-Maszak 38). She argues that exposure to violence among young American recruits transformed them from peaceful liberators into merry sadists. Szegedy-Maszak Marianne provides two psychological solutions that try to discover the ability for wickedness that resides in normal military men. She referred to the simulated prison experiments in 1971 by Philip Zimbardo that resulted in the mock guards indulging in forms of torment and degradation. In conclusion, she narrowed down the excess violence within the forces to the environment, overzealous personnel and other minor factors such as racism and imperialism (Szegedy-Maszak 19).
The situation witnessed by George Orwell in Burma was slightly different. He was a government official with the British Government in India where they were exceedingly oppressive, discriminative and dominant over the natives. Obviously, violence was a main tool in instilling discipline and compliance (Orwell 27). This source is critical since it brings out the fusion between violence and authority that makes the issue of military violence exceedingly difficult to analyze. A more focused approach toward the expression of violence among military personnel was capture by Justin McCurry in his article “Arrests of US Sailors in Okinawa Reignites Opposition to Bases” that talk about violence against women by military men (McCurry 78). In this case, military men allegedly raped a woman in Okinawa. Once again, the combination of authority and violence makes it difficult to determine whether the two American sailors committed the atrocity under the pressure of active military duty or purely out of the need to exploit an opportunity. Whatever the case, it is evident that the training methods employed by the US military (Watson 37).
The issue of violence within the military and the different manifestations of violence outside the boundaries of the military have been on for many years without much intervention from governments and other stakeholders. Locals have had the worst experiences at the hands of military people, and this situation needs to be changed through the development of new solutions.
Bojanski Heather. Domestic violence and the military. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed on 7 December 2012. Retrieved from http://dhhs.ne.gov/behavioral_health/Documents/Bojanksi-DomesticViolence.pdf
The article Domestic violence and the military were published to expose the situation of domestic violence in the context of military families. The article revealed that soldiers were at risk of having adjustment issues after they were done with the wars and had to go back to their families. The military officers displayed signs of heightened anger and petulance when it seemed that the adjusting process was becoming very difficult. The changes to the family that happened when they were away also served to aggravate the situation. The article gave examples of military officers who perpetrated acts of domestic violence due to their inability to adjust to the normal life. In such situations where soldiers have been unable to fit in to their new lifestyles, there are several solutions that could be attempted. One, the soldiers should be place under a monitoring program to study their behavior. In this way, uncooperative and violent behavior can be controlled before they cause casualties. The military should also provide peer-to-peer support programs that will allow soldiers going through the same issues to help each other sort their problems.
McCurry Justin. Arrests of US Sailors in Okinawa Reignites Opposition to Bases. U.S. Military Violence against Women. Accessed on 7 December 2012. Retrieved from http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2012/1018/Arrests-of-US-sailors-in-Okinawa-reignites-opposition-to-bases-video
In the article, two soldiers were arrested in connection with raping an innocent young girl when they were on duty in the quiet neighborhood of Okinawa in Japan. The two officers, Christopher Browning and Skyler Dozierwalker angered the Japan government who termed the incident as “egregious and vile” (McCurry 38). However, the American government which is responsible for the training of the military personnel and who promoted the use of aggression and violence took a softer stand and promised to investigate into the matter. The response was a clear indication that violence among military soldiers was condoned and cultivated by the military system. This increases the argument pointing at the military academies for producing flawed training modules that nurture violent tendencies among soldiers.
Orwell, George. Shooting an Elephant: And Other Essays. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1950. Print
The book Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell was based his real life experiences as the sub-divisional police officer of the town of Moulmein. In the book, Orwell openly displays his disgust with the British method of governance in India. His contempt and guilt put him at crossroads because, as the police officer, the government required him to engage in some potentially violent activities against the natives. On the other hand, the natives also treat him with distrust and hatred that makes their relationship highly volatile and malicious. Orwell uses the metaphor of “killing the elephant” to show the destructive strength of imperialism, and in the metaphor, he expresses the guilt, hatred and anger that developed within him as he shot the elephant. The Orwell story illustrates the effect that violence has on the military which serves to exacerbate the violence within them. Modern day soldiers are most of the time forced to act against their will in the same way that Orwell was forced to kill the elephant, though he thought it was a harmless and misunderstood animal.
Szegedy-Maszak Marianne. Was it conditions at Abu Gharib or perverse human nature that led to these atrocities? US News. Accessed on 7 December 2012. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/040524/24torture.htm
The American soldiers in Abu Gharib were reported to have used excessive force in securing the territory during the Gulf War. This excessive display of violence caught the interest of Marianne Szegedy-Maszak who attempted to address the reasons behind the behavior by the soldiers. She argues that every individual has the potential to become violent and torture another. Within Abu Gharib, the soldiers were however letting of the anxiety, stress and helplessness of their work on the innocent community members. These difficult conditions increased the anxiety and stress. She even mentioned sexual tension as a reason for the pent up energy that was translated into violence.
Watson Bruce. High crimes: Military towns are among the country’s most dangerous. Daily Finance. Accessed on 7 December 2012. Retrieved from http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/11/16/most-dangerous-military-towns/
The author of the article Bruce Watson discusses the violent and aggressive behavior exhibited within military towns and areas that experience regular military activity. He explains that the military bases and the surrounding neighborhoods exhibit peaceful, safe and organized environment, but in reality, the serene atmosphere harbored high levels of criminal and violent activity. The Schofield Barracks topped the list as the most violent military neighborhood in America. It reported about 759 property crimes per 1,000 people, which represents 20 times more than the average crime rate for other parts of the world. Military men are expected to be at the forefront in promoting law and order, and it is understood that military bases and their neighborhoods should experience the highest levels of security. Military bases have a tendency to comprise of high concentrations of youthful, solitary men living together in close lodgings. One likely reason for these increases in crime rates could be that young soldiers, detached from parental and communal supervision feel more tempted to perpetrate various types of crimes.
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