Gothamist: Military Encourages Institutional 'Atrocities' 'Rape' 'Torture'

January 25th, 2008 12:11 PM

January 23, Gothamist blogger John Del Signore claimed “rape and torture” are “institutional” in the US military, which “at times condoned and encouraged” “atrocities...genocide" and "butchery.” He said the events aren't isolated, they're “the few war crimes we actually know about and happen with “increasing frequency during prolonged occupations.”

Del Signore profiled a theater class on military techniques taught by Iraq vet and milblogger (Just Another Soldier) Jason C. Hartley. Del Signore's initial remarks seemed like typical lefty snideness, but in the comment section, they quickly descended into rabid anti-military rhetoric (bold mine throughout):

Then you raid rooms full of insurgents and round up detainees. There’s no raping teenage girls, waterboarding or building naked prisoner pyramids, but during the post-show discussion Full Metal Jacket fans are free to ask, “How can you shoot women and children?” (Answer: “Easy! You just don’t lead ‘em as much!”)

After a reader complained that his humor was "harsh," Del Signore replied, "I wasn't trying to be funny" and followed with insulting—and inaccurate--anti-war propaganda worthy of Jane Fonda and Rosie O'Donnell:

Actually, I wasn't trying to be funny or insinuate that rape is part of U.S. military training, i just think it's important to remember, at every opportunity, that these things actually happen, and with increasing frequency during prolonged occupations.

Though, since war throughout history has consistently resulted in rape and torture, one has to wonder if there is in fact something institutional about these abuses; even if these atrocities aren't directly ordered, they are at times condoned and even encouraged.

The U.S. is hardly alone on this, but just look at the atrocities in the Philippines, or during the Native American genocide, or Vietnam. When one considers statements like General Westmoreland's - "The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient." - it's easy to see how the attitude of the war planners can filter down to butchery among the infantry. It could be argued this is by design. Hey - "Stuff happens."

Del Signore later said Westmoreland's "racist rationalizations" were a "sickening world view." But, a Strategic Studies Institute paper (pdf) echoed Westmoreland, saying the Communist North Vietnamese "possess a willingness to die" and would fight to the last person. The paper also quoted Prof. Richard K.Betts who assessed, Hanoi “preferred endless war to defeat.”

The Gothamist blogger then added, "while it may never be confirmed that regular army soldiers are trained to waterboard prisoners, someone is doing it, either in the CIA or Special Forces or private contractors."

After several polite reader criticisms, Del Signore lashed out:

I see I'm really starting to draw out the "Support Our Troops" SUV-magnet crowd. I have a feeling I'm just one or two comments away from "America: Love it or leave it."

Hartley, the milblogger known as Just A Soldier, generously responded:

John Del Signore, don't sweat anything you wrote. You weren't trying to denigrate or disparage, only making light of f***** up shit, something we all do when there is nothing left for us to do...

I disagree. Not only did Del Signore say he wasn't joking, his leftist anti-military bias came through loud and clear. He referred to a handful of events, applied them to the entire armed forces, claiming they are “condoned and even encouraged.” He followed the classic anti-war playbook--US troops are in Iraq to “benefit the ruling class," and "war means profits for the military-industrial complex.” What, nothing about Bohemian Grove or Bilderberg Group?

The ironic thing is that if he hadn't disputed commenters' accusations that he was “insulting soldiers,” he wouldn't look like a leftist insulting soldiers.

Lynn contributes to NewsBusters. Email her with tips and complaints at tvisgoodforyou2 (at) yahoo (dot) com