In 2010, Wikileaks published a leaked video taken from a US helicopter that showed a 2007 attack on unarmed journalists and their associates in eastern Baghdad. When civilians, including children came to offer the fallen journalists assistance, they too were murdered by the American servicemen in the Apache attack helicopter.
The following video continues to encapsulate the callous, trigger happy video game mentality that the US military continues to demonstrate in combat zones, in spite of the cautions international law has in place against such random acts of violence which are not backed up by any meaningful intelligence.
Yesterday, in the US state of Florida, a similar act of callous aggression against civilians was committed against students at a local school, leaving at least 17 dead. The suspect who has been taken alive, is 19 year old Nikolas Cruz. Perhaps the most haunting but also instructive element of the young killer’s biography is that he was a member of something called the US Army’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC). JROTC is a government funded programme designed to ready minors for their eventual enlistment into the US armed forces. The programme is supposed to give young people interested in the military, a head start before they enter formal basic training as an enlistee.
It seems that for Nikolas Cruz, the JROTC training turned him into that which often takes years of training to turn someone into: a cold blooded killer who mercilessly attacks unarmed civilians. While many countries have programmes designed to prepare young people for military service, there is something particularly worrying about a US military machine which teaches that killing is something clinical and removed from real life experiences. It is a virtual reality mentality that distorts the nature of life, death and war, rather than train people to be calm under pressure, keep a strong nerve at all times and to never forget who the enemy is and who is not.
The US destruction of the Syrian city of Raqqa is a prime example of the US military ethos on a grand scale. In Raqqa, US forces killed hundreds of civilians during a protracted illegal bombing campaign and in the process, destroyed 90% of the city, while not tangibly doing anything to retard the progress of the terror group Daesh.
Syrian envoy to UN Bashar Jaafari addresses Security Council https://t.co/LHHHRpS4pY
— Press TV Breaking (@BREAKING_PTV) February 14, 2018
Other military training programmes emphasise discipline in a vastly more holistic way than that which is common in the contemporary US military. In Russia for example, young people in the military become skilled in classical martial arts, something which is still the best way to teach awareness, cognition under pressure and personal toughness in the absence of a weapon.
The same is true for the Chinese military,
North Korea’s military,
and South Korea, to name but a few.
Hand to hand combat situations, while rare in the kinds of illegal wars the US tends to fight, are still the best way to train young soldiers for the eventuality of difficult situations in any battle scenario. But for the United States, virtual reality has supplanted the physical realities of the world, thus eliminating perspective, conscience and ethics from the battlefield, leaving young angry men to fire at will upon the target of their choosing, with deadly modern weapons.
Had Nikolas Cruz not committed his atrocity yesterday in a school, he could well have entered the US military and committed an even larger atrocity on civilians abroad. While Cruz is now in police custody and will be tried as a mass murderer, had his victims been Iraqis, Libyans or Syrians, he might well have received a medal of honour. This is the root of America’s problem. It has nothing to do with weapons but a culture which uses drugs, poor education and poor military training to numb its youth to the realities of their world.