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June 13th, 2006

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01:23 am - I can't believe I just read this.
From wikipedia's page about suicide attempts at Guantanamo bay:

Prison commander Rear Admiral Harry Harris has stated: "This was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetric warfare committed against us." [[5]

It supposedly stems from the mistaken belief that if 3 prisoners died, the US military would be forced to close the camp, but trying to call three suicides an act of warfare is really quite astonishing. It sounds rather like the same sort of mistaken logic that gave us "In order to save the village, it was necessary to destroy it".

It occurs to me that this is proof that the military needs PR people, but I think we occasionally need statements like this to drive home the fact that some career military folk really aren't in step with the rest of society.

(7 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2006 08:55 am (UTC)
I don't know how you could be a part of the military, and know that you're directly responsible for the death of so many people, and still be normal and in step with the rest of society. I mean, yes, not all military folks see action by any means, but they're all conditioned to see action. They're all told to "kill the enemy", and quite a few of the higher ups are higher ups because they DID see action, and they didn't fall apart. They in fact, performed honourably.....not only were they able to rationalize their own actions, they were able to lead their fellows in a time of kill or be killed. That's got to mess you up. On this subject, I highly reccomend seeing "Jughead", (if you haven't already) very well done movie on war psychology in the first war in Iraq.
Also, I'm reminded of something my old history teacher once said about war. She said that young men were chosen to be soldiers since forever because they were "dispensable", and this attitude is still painfully clear in the armed forces today.
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2006 08:59 am (UTC)
well, i figure a great number of people are out of step with reality, so it's sadly not that surprising.
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2006 09:31 am (UTC)
I sometimes wonder if that says more about the rest of society than people in the military. Maybe it's comparable to the reaction people have when they find out how the animals they eat are butchered.
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2006 10:00 am (UTC)
Looking at the wikipedia page and the people they have quoted, it seems likely the suicides were acts of desperation, since the prisoners seemed to have been effectively held in limbo.
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC)
Harris is correct.

There have been many attempted suicides; most have been prevented, some at substantial cost and effort.

The jihadists, in general, perceive that suicide for their cause is not truly suicide at all, but a gateway to a better life. The Qur'an forbids suicide -- but in language that allows and encourages martyrdom.

You wouldn't say that the hijackers -- who also committed suicide, but managed to take others with them -- commmitted "an act of desperation". It was a planned military assault about two years in the making.

Conditions at Guantanamo are actually pretty good, and compare favorably to most prisons. The jihadists are dedicated to what they believe is necessary. Their beliefs are wildly wrong, but to think that these organized and encouraged suicides are merely "desperation" is, in my opinion, not in step with reality.

Perhaps the rest of society would like to give free reign to jihadists. I doubt it. But an examination of the facts should be key, not alarm and outrage over someone who spoke a blunt and unpleasant truth.

===|==============/ Level Head
[User Picture]
Date:June 21st, 2006 01:11 am (UTC)
I thought about this a long while before replying to formulate what exactly it is about the statement that bothers me.

It's the attempt to take the deaths of three individuals and, instead of expressing some level of regret at their decision to take their own lives, spin it as an act of war against the United States.

That may have been the motivation. I don't doubt that they hoped to force the US to close the camps by ending their lives. That doesn't change the simple fact that they're human beings -- dangerous and wrongheaded ones to be sure -- who are in our care.

Now, this might not be an issue if the camps were open and the conditions were known to be good. But they aren't. The people there have not been afforded the basic right to get on with their lives instead of having years snatched away from them without the benefit of a trial.

I'm not saying the camps should be opened up and the people released. I'm not even saying that the majority of people in them are particularly worthy of those rights. The fact remains that this nation was founded on the belief that men are granted certain unalienable rights and we are therefore obliged to give them the benefit of a doubt lest we contradict our own fundamental beliefs.

Addressing their actions first and foremost as a military act instead of a human act seems to be a grave misunderstanding in my opinion.
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2006 10:22 pm (UTC)
Yknow, thats probably WHY they're career military folk, rather than something else....

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