With the president's approval ratings in a recent Newsweek poll dipping to an all-time low at 28%, there is little for him to be happy about these days, much less the war in Iraq. But I am sure the president is seeing the glass as half full and thinking about how nice it is that his disapproval ratings are at 72%. But the problems go further than simply the military failures of this war and even the treatment of the soldiers as stated in my last article. The problems have surfaced as a question of whether or not the strain and heavy burden placed on our troops overseas is creating a moral handicap in their judgment.
In a recent study, over 40% of soldiers supported the concept of torture on civilians in the hope that it would provide valuable information. Even more shocking was that less than half of Marines said that they would report a fellow Marine if they wounded an innocent civilian. And 10% admitted that they had been responsible for personally abusing innocent Iraqis.
An article by the Associated Press said, "The military has seen a number of high-profile incidents of alleged abuse in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the killings of 24 civilians by Marines in Haditha, the rape and killing of a 14-year-old girl and the slaying of her family in Iraq and the sexual humiliation of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison."
Our troops are stretched out too thin on the battlefields and the immense pressure placed on the soldiers is blurring the lines between defense and offense; ethical decisions and unethical decisions; right and wrong. It is understandable that under these high-pressured and violent conditions where life and death hang in the balance, decisions can become split-second and difficult. But our troops are beginning to show signs of mental fatigue. The scale of sanity is losing its balance and tipping to an unethical sense of preemptive defense and indiscriminate persecution. What our troops need is to come home and remember what peace feels like. Because while we like to believe that our troops are these invincible, perfect machines of justice and elitism--they're not. They are human beings just like everyone else and no training can prepare the mind for the things they face. No soldier is infallible but all are accountable. And so let's take our soldiers out of these hellish environments where some of our children as young as 18-years-old are forced to play judge, jury and executioner with real lives.
All the meanwhile, Bush is ridiculed at home for his handling of the war. Though many Republicans feel that he is brave in standing up for his beliefs, many Americans simply do not share that view. In a recent Newsweek poll of 1,000 American adults the conclusion by Marcus Mabry of Newsweek was, "A majority of Americans believe Bush is not politically courageous: 55 percent vs. 40 percent. And nearly two out of three Americans (62 percent) believe his recent actions in Iraq show he is 'stubborn and unwilling to admit his mistakes,' compared to 30 percent who say Bush's actions demonstrate that he is 'willing to take political risks to do what's right.'"
It is about time that Americans start seeing the truth behind this war and begin taking steps to end it. This war is not healthy for anyone. I can only hope that soon the horrors of war will be stopped and those accountable will be brought to justice so that peace can grow where violence has reigned for far too long.