This is how Chris Hedges recent article “What it Means when the US Goes to War” from the Asia Times begins:
Troops, when they battle insurgent forces, as in Iraq, or Gaza or Vietnam, are placed in “atrocity producing situations”. Being surrounded by a hostile population makes simple acts, such as going to a store to buy a can of soda, dangerous. The fear and stress push troops to view everyone around them as the enemy. The hostility is compounded when the enemy, as in Iraq, is elusive, shadowy and hard to find. The rage soldiers feel after a roadside bomb explodes, killing or maiming their comrades, is one that is easily directed, over time, to innocent civilians who are seen to support the insurgents.
Civilians and combatants, in the eyes of the beleaguered troops, merge into one entity. These civilians, who rarely interact with soldiers or marines, are to most of the occupation troops in Iraq nameless, faceless and easily turned into abstractions of hate. They are dismissed as less than human. It is a short psychological leap, but a massive moral leap. It is a leap from killing – the shooting of someone who has the capacity to do you harm – to murder – the deadly assault against someone who cannot harm you.
The war in Iraq is now primarily about murder. [emphasis added] There is very little killing. The savagery and brutality of the occupation is tearing apart those who have been deployed to Iraq. As news reports have just informed us, 115 American soldiers committed suicide in 2007. This is a 13% increase in suicides over 2006. And the suicides, as they did in the Vietnam War years, will only rise as distraught veterans come home, unwrap the self-protective layers of cotton wool that keep them from feeling, and face the awful reality of what they did to innocents in Iraq.
It continues from there to give some quite disturbing information about what goes on in Iraq told by US veterans of the war themselves. The article is adapted from Hedges new book, co-written with Laila al-Arian, entitled Collateral Damage: America’s War Against Iraqi Civilians.
These stories are nothing new to me; I heard similar things from a classmate of mine who was sent to Iraq in the Illinois National Guard in 2003/4 and after only a year or so back home committed suicide. There are too many stories like this now. The atrocity of this war is bad on all sides, except for the contracting firms and the Administration-Crony-Good-Ol’-Boys that insist on continuing it until there is nothing left for them to feed on. Fucking vampires, all of them.