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British soldiers filmed beating Iraqis.
February 13, 2006 4:01 PM   Subscribe

British soldiers filmed beating Iraqis. A British tabloid has released footage showing British troops beating Iraqi rioters. The video, available in realplayer format or Windows Media format, was apparently taken by a British corporal, and shows at least eight British soldiers dragging four young rioters inside a British army compound, where they were repeatedly beaten with batons, boots and fists, and kicked in the genitals. Arab television and the BBC have since aired the footage.
posted by insomnia_lj (72 comments total)

 
There are disconcerting signs within the video that this abuse was not an isolated incident, as the moment the prisoners were brought inside the compound, the corporal filming the scene said that they were "going to get it", indicating that it was pretty routine for this to happen. To make matters worse, approximately twenty British soldiers in riot gear entered the compound and passed the scene of the beating, but none of them took the initiative to stop it.

The beating sequence on the video, which appears to be a series of excerpts from the incident, takes up 60 seconds of the 3minute 12second tape. The video also has two other shocking sequences.

In one, the camera approaches an Iraqi corpse while a soldier draws back a blanket to display it as a sickening trophy. The cameraman then kicked the dead man twice in the face. As the head of the man, aged in his 20s, is lifted to face the lens a soldier sniggers: "He's been a bad mother****er."

Another scene shows an Iraqi man grabbed by three soldiers and forced to kneel behind a wall where he is kicked hard in the chest.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:04 PM on February 13, 2006


I would not like to be seen to be condoning this, however a lot of the outrage here is confected. Police and paramilitaries in states all around the world, certainly including Iraq, do this all the time. If they were Iraqi police, it would be nothing.

That said, of course the poms shouldn't be lowering themselves to local standards, and presumably are going to have a very short military career from here.
posted by wilful at 4:05 PM on February 13, 2006


In the video I saw on the network news yesterday it looked like a soldier in a helmet head butts a detainee.
posted by wsg at 4:11 PM on February 13, 2006


Meh. We taught the British everything they know about beating and torturing prisoners. When it comes to prisoner abuse, American troops and cops are still #1!
posted by fandango_matt at 4:20 PM on February 13, 2006


As Spitting Image put it, twenty years ago: "The British Army: Football Hooligans in Uniform".
posted by Grangousier at 4:20 PM on February 13, 2006


a lot of the outrage here is confected

um.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 4:20 PM on February 13, 2006


You took your sweet time posting that.
I've been scanning metafilter for three days wondering when it was going to be posted.

It's sickening footage, and no doubt there will be the usual outcry of disgust from the British Army chiefs and the usual rise in hostilities in Iraq because of it.

I don't know what to make of it myself. The Army shouldn't be engaging in this sort of unprofessional conduct, but on the other hand I'm not the one being blown up and attacked by Iraqi insurgents on a daily basis. There's a part of me that thinks the soldiers can't be blamed for letting off a bit of steam. It could have been a lot worse. As far as I can tell, nobody got killed. A bunch of teenagers got the shit kicked out of them for throwing rocks at soldiers. As bad as this is, it's no worse than stuff that happens in every town on every weekend night of every week of the year.
posted by seanyboy at 4:20 PM on February 13, 2006


what, no quicktime?
posted by Mach5 at 4:21 PM on February 13, 2006


No cartoons are beleived to be involved.
posted by Artw at 4:23 PM on February 13, 2006


Some of the about 842 related articles on Google News are reporting that one British soldier has already been arrested. Flagged.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:23 PM on February 13, 2006


The cameraman then commits an act considered the ultimate insult to an Iraqi—and kicks the dead man twice in the face, humiliating him in death. As the head of the man, aged in his 20s, is lifted to face the lens a soldier sniggers: "He's been a bad mother****er."

Yeah it's no big deal. Let's go back to the cartoons.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 4:23 PM on February 13, 2006


Didn't Rodney King teach us anything? Kill the cameraman first, people.
posted by ColdChef at 4:24 PM on February 13, 2006


You know what they say, "When in Rome.......".

Other than making stupid remarks, I don't know what to say. This just sucks. Obviously the victims were just kids too. Kinda makes me sick in the same way that everything else happening over there makes me sick.
posted by snsranch at 4:25 PM on February 13, 2006


Why did they film this? I'm sure these soldiers are going to get the book thrown at them as the higher-ups do the "few bad apples" routine. I'd feel sorry for them if they weren't stupid enough to film their own evidence.
posted by mullacc at 4:26 PM on February 13, 2006


The dude with the camera has issues. Sounds like he's masturbating. "Oh yes, you're gonna get it. Naughty little boys. yes, Yes, YEEESSSSSS!"
posted by jsonic at 4:29 PM on February 13, 2006


Sick, sick, sick. And we call the radical Muslims the barbarians???
posted by lometogo at 4:30 PM on February 13, 2006


The only time this sort of thing turns into a scandal is when it is filmed. Clearly, the vast majority of the time, it isn't going to be filmed, or if it is, the film is going to be successfully kept secret. It is likely to be completely standard procedure.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 4:30 PM on February 13, 2006


Two things will happen:

1. Soldiers will be disciplined, and it will be used as an example for others.

2. No more personal video cameras while in an operational theatre.
posted by furtive at 4:33 PM on February 13, 2006


PotEA beat me to it.
posted by furtive at 4:34 PM on February 13, 2006


PEA: Many illicit things in life follow that some pattern. Most of us speed while driving despite the knowledge that it is illegal and dangerous - but we take a measured risk. Drunk driving is similar; many peolpe will have a couple drinks and still drive but overall the we seem to be more conservative when taking this risk because the punishments are more harsh and we have less control (it's harder to apply judgement when you're drinking). The soldier's habits of video-taping their abusive antics seem out-of-wack. The downside is tremendous and it's impossible to control the situation (i.e. you can never know when someone will decide to drop the dime on you).

And I'm not talking about the actual abuse, just the video-taping of that abuse.
posted by mullacc at 4:38 PM on February 13, 2006


Sick, sick, sick. And we call the radical Muslims the barbarians???
posted by lometogo at 6:30 PM CST on February 13


Ummmm...I don't. Hear that radical Muslims? I have never, ever called you barbarians.
posted by ColdChef at 4:46 PM on February 13, 2006


It only becomes a scandal over here when film is released, and not much of a scandal at that since the Bush loyalists among the LGF crowd use these tapes as masturbation-fodder, but in Iraq every single incident like this is known and talked about, spreading through extended families and all through towns and regions as quickly as a video spreads across the web.

That these soldiers treat rioters only slightly better than Saddam would have isn't anything new to people living in Iraq.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:47 PM on February 13, 2006


"a lot of the outrage here is confected."

Isn't that what the rightwingers do? Sugar-frosted tolchocks in the yarbles?

"Our soldiers are such boisterous teens, aren't they? God bless 'em! Iraq is like one big frat party. What we're seeing isn't abuse, it's just a little friendly hazing before the kegger!"
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:51 PM on February 13, 2006


Jesus Christ.
posted by Wataki at 4:52 PM on February 13, 2006


Troops aren’t cops. And generally vice versa. Did some training with some cops a while back. Didn’t work out so well. Which in many respects is a good thing.

I talked to a police chief a bit back about something that happened to him. This guy had barricaded himself in a closet and his officers had shot him multiple times. Seems he had shot at them a bunch of times first from a window in his house, so they gassed him, so he hid in the closet and was shooting through the closet door. So they came in with shields and gear, etc. He kept shooting at them and opened the closet to charge at them. Several officers opened fire and he was hit about 4-5 times.
I said “Jesus!” He’s looking at me like I’m going to condemn the shooting.
“That’s a hell of a lot of restraint. Why didn’t you nail him when he was at the window?” I asked. “Or have a sharpshooter hit him in the closet?”
He looked at me and asked me: “So what branch of the service were you in?”

Cops systemically hesitate in killing someone. Troops don’t.
A beating by the police is an escalation of violence. For military personal to beat on someone is (generally) a de-escalation.
I can’t chop through the hyperbole here to determine whether these were MPs or not.

This doesn’t justify anything of course. Clearly they should not have been doing what they were doing.
But y’know, if you take people who are trained to kill and put them on riot duty - which is more of a police function - this is generally what to expect.

As the situation above, my first thought is: Wow, no one opened fire?

If they were MPs I have to wonder at their training. If not, I have to wonder what genius decided to put combat troops on riot duty. Or a combat NCO in the situation.
Either way I gotta wonder at who the officers were (and where they were) and who gave the orders to put those guys where they were.

The word ‘clusterfuck’ comes to mind as a nice adjective.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:53 PM on February 13, 2006


"As far as I can tell, nobody got killed."

Except, of course, for the part of the same videotape which showed a British soldier repeatedly kicking a dead Iraqi in the head.

No Iraqis were killed in the making of this film.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:55 PM on February 13, 2006


MPs that is - miltary police.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:55 PM on February 13, 2006



posted by fandango_matt at 4:58 PM on February 13, 2006


I was quite surprised on the BBC's Have Your Say section that so many people seemed to be condemning the release of the footage, and taking a 'sweep it under the carpet and deal with it later' approach.
posted by Navek Rednam at 4:59 PM on February 13, 2006


I was quite surprised on the BBC's Have Your Say section that so many people seemed to be condemning the release of the footage, and taking a 'sweep it under the carpet and deal with it later' approach.
posted by Navek Rednam at 4:59 PM on February 13, 2006


How can we have a reasonable discussion about British troops pounding on some Iraqi kids who were throwing rocks at them without raising as a counterpoint the issue of the sick, gratuitous brutality which is visited regularly upon random civilians in Iraq by the radical muslims?

Would that not be in the finest of Metafilter traditions?
posted by shoos at 5:00 PM on February 13, 2006


Would that not be in the finest of Metafilter traditions?

MeFi's official Apologist Laureate position has been more-or-less open since dhoyt was exposed, but feel free to apply.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 5:14 PM on February 13, 2006


Thanks for the post. If not for this post, the dozen reports on this I have heard on NPR the last three days, the ten articles in my local papers, the prominent reports on this at the New Yorks Times website, discussions at my workplace, and numerous other sources, I never would have heard about this.
posted by LarryC at 5:16 PM on February 13, 2006


“...gratuitous brutality which is visited regularly upon random civilians in Iraq by the radical muslims...”

Because they’re related how?
posted by Smedleyman at 5:16 PM on February 13, 2006


Thanks for the post. If not for this post I wouldn't have come across it. I hadn't heard about this incident until this FPP.
posted by ericb at 5:24 PM on February 13, 2006


the audio is truely sickening. horrifying. imagine what the audio of the abu ghraib shit must have been? release that video mr. president.
posted by specialk420 at 5:27 PM on February 13, 2006


"I never would have heard about this..."

Had you seen the video before today? Because until today, I hadn't.

I think part of that has to do with the news cycle, frankly. This story broke in England two days ago, during the weekend, and even though it did get some coverage in the US over the weekend, many Americans don't consume much news then.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:30 PM on February 13, 2006


When it comes to prisoner abuse, American troops and cops are still #1!

Ah, no. American troops are so very distant from the number one spot of dispatchers of torture and abuse. Think for a moment of the extreme harm that prisoners must suffer in the dismal jails of China, of Iran, of Pakistan, of so many sad African states. Abu Graib's degrading photos and these nasty kicks are child's play in comparison.
posted by soiled cowboy at 5:31 PM on February 13, 2006


What can you say about this? Just more of the same crap about us bringing democracy and civilization to a people thirsty for freedom. yeah right. Have some...
posted by gallois at 5:44 PM on February 13, 2006


"American and British troops: Not quite as bad as Chinese and Pakistani troops."

Yeah, that's kind of catchy.
posted by bardic at 5:49 PM on February 13, 2006


Armitage Shanks, I'm a bit busy to take the position, but clearly there are many more anti-dhoyts than dhoyts on Metafilter, and balance would call for more of the latter.

Smedleyman, if by "brutality" you mean "they," then it's the yin to this story's yang. I mean could you have a Metafilter thread on, say the third world spewing pollution into the atmosphere like there's no tomorrow without bringing up the US not signing on to the Kyoto protocol? Hell-no!

LarryC, what other outlet would insomnia_lj have? It's not like it's easy to like start a blog and then do all the stuff required to keep it going. You'd have to hire like this entire IT support staff, drum up venture capital, etc etc. It's no small thing, given the current state of blogger funding by Bushco.
posted by shoos at 5:51 PM on February 13, 2006


Put the grunts in impossible situations then go mountain bike riding.
posted by larry_darrell at 6:03 PM on February 13, 2006


Smedleyman writes "But y’know, if you take people who are trained to kill and put them on riot duty - which is more of a police function - this is generally what to expect."

I was generally thinking the same thing, but you beat me to it and backed it up nicely with personal experience.
posted by brundlefly at 6:18 PM on February 13, 2006


"American and British troops: Not quite as bad as Chinese and Pakistani troops."

Yeah, that's kind of catchy.


No, that's not catchy at all. Nor is your point clear.
posted by soiled cowboy at 6:26 PM on February 13, 2006


If USian Psyops, or any for that matter, was doing their job this kind of shit wouldn't be happening. Apparently the "enemy" is doing a much better job recruiting insurgents. Those kids and their Dads and Moms should all be volunteering somewhere in an effort to rebuild the country. (And by the same token, raking in some of that Haliburton booty.) This is one reason behind my crappy Lawrence of Arabia post the other day. It can be done! The people of Iraq need some inspiration, dreams of great future, not beatings.

Heartless commentary? No. Darwin didn't make up the rules, he just figured them out.
posted by snsranch at 6:33 PM on February 13, 2006


Smedleyman: As the situation above, my first thought is: Wow, no one opened fire?

Same thought here. I mean, they were throwing rocks at armed soldiers in a war zone; that seems to be a cross between a protest and the ultimate case of taking a knife to a gunfight. Thrown rocks can be legitimately considered weapons.

I think what bothers people most about this isn't some sort of disproportional response, it's the sadistic pleasure the soldiers seem to take in it. I could deal with the soldiers shooting them a lot easier than bringing them in and beating them senseless for no good reason. What they did here wasn't designed to neutralize any threat.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:38 PM on February 13, 2006


Great point, shoos. And once insomnia_lj has some sort of blogging setup, (s)he should cleverly append what type of setup it is to the end of his/her metafilter login, a la insomnia_lj_blogger or insomnia_lj_typepad. That way, anyone who wishes to read such a thing could find it.
posted by swell at 6:57 PM on February 13, 2006


Wait a minute. Look at the film again. It seems that at first the soldiers seemed to be administering a good spanking. Clearley a majority of the blows seem to be aimed at the buttocks. Only later when the boy on the far left resists does he get whacked on the head... Not condoning any of this but this is what you get when you send soldiers in to do what is essentailly police work. They know only how to do one thing well, and riot control is not it.
posted by Gungho at 7:18 PM on February 13, 2006


Soldiers are trained to spank? That's hot.
posted by brundlefly at 7:21 PM on February 13, 2006



Mitrovarr
, not that long ago I attended a school with some recent returnees from Iraq. One guy, an MP, brought in some photos and videos that they'd made while there. I viewed them all with a kind of guilty, disturbed feeling, because I was, for the most part, looking at a lot of graphic pictures of corpses and disembodied human pieces, often times being used as comical props. The guy who brought in the photos laughed while he recounted some of his stories.
The thing is, I wasn't in Iraq with that guy, and have never experienced the things he has.

I think Smedleyman is spot on with his observations. Soldiers really are conditioned to be killers. I imagine if you are then set loose in a situation where you actually have to follow through with those "skills" that it probably affects you in a way that is difficult for a regular person to understand. I'm not saying it's a good thing, I'm just suggesting that what we view as a sadistic beating might be a byproduct of the unhealthy situation plus the mindset that combat training engenders, with a pinch of the usual adrenaline and testosterone.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 7:29 PM on February 13, 2006


Smedleyman: As the situation above, my first thought is: Wow, no one opened fire?

Same thought here. I mean, they were throwing rocks at armed soldiers in a war zone


It's Iraq, not Israel ;-)

Anyway, it's definitely the narration from the soldier operating the camera that's sickening about this clip - as pointed out above, it makes it sound as if this sort of behaviour is routine, and, worse, a source of pleasure. Whether or not army troops are suited to riot control, they shouldn't be gleefully taping excessive beatings. (Excessive in that the beatings continued after the men were restrained and could no longer be considered a threat.)
posted by jack_mo at 7:46 PM on February 13, 2006


"he should cleverly append what type of setup it is to the end of his/her metafilter login"

I am insomnia_lj because insomnia itself was already taken when I created my account (#3118). My first comments were in response to posts about LiveJournal, and, as I was LJ's Business Manager, I felt that it would be a good thing to reply to them.

Really, I'd much rather just be insomnia nowadays, but it seemed like a good idea at the time...
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:20 PM on February 13, 2006


Wow, a 'beatings' tag, what kind of sick fuck is going to search for that?
posted by Space Coyote at 8:40 PM on February 13, 2006


this is what you get when you send soldiers in to do what is essentailly police work. They know only how to do one thing well, and riot control is not it.

I know this may sound completely radical, but where I come from people are capable of learning more than one thing. Why aren't these guys trained in riot tactics and police-type procedures, since their job clearly involves same?

I am sick of hearing this "soldiers aren't cops" meme. Why in the hell can't they be both, using the appropriate terms of engagement in the appropriate context? This isn't fucking rocket science.
posted by beth at 8:48 PM on February 13, 2006


“Smedleyman, if by "brutality" you mean "they,"”

No - I meant how can brutality done by Iraqi’s “radical muslims” counterpoint brutality done by British troops.
One could therefore posit that violence done by the Black Panthers to black folks counterpoints violence done by the police to black folks.
It’s not a valid counterargument.

Unnecessary violence is unnecessary violence. There are appropriate and effective ways to deal with rioters and this is not one of them.
That said, I object to the characterizations of Abu Ghaib and other acts of brutality which are also not equivalent.

And I reiterate my objection to the tone of this piece and it’s portrayal of these men. Troops are trained to kill, police aren’t. This was a police job and troops were sent in to deal with it. Stupid.
I thought I saw a recent news item about someone barricaded who flipped the police off. The SWAT moved in - reasoning that because they saw the gesture, the hand wasn’t holding a weapon and it was an opportune moment.
I’d have shot to kill without hesitating. It wouldn’t have occured to me to capture. The police response is to capture.

Hal Mumkin brings up a good point, and I agree that to some degree this response is a hybrid.
Yes, Mitrovarr they take sadistic pleasure in it. But you often don’t get to savor having an enemy by the throat. Or the nuts. Or whatever. Whether they’re really a threat or not doesn’t enter into it. They’re a threat because they are alive.

In some respects I think having that sort of passionate anger is more of a sign of humanity than if they acted in cold blood. But I don’t really know.
Either way, I think a lot of people don’t realize that they are capable of doing and feeling exactly what these men are doing and feeling. They are not divorced from humanity.
What causes disgust and offends most people is that part of it. The revulsion is not an intellectual reaction, but one of instantly recognition and empathy with humanity (on both sides - the booter and the bootee) and just as nearly instant contempt, because it’s very likely few people have felt that intensely and fewer have acted on it.

It’s less shocking if you’ve come to terms with it. And I think that’s where the failure lies. We have a reaction like jack_mo does and don’t understand why they didn’t stop beating on the men when there was no threat and the men were restrained and so forth.
Putting men into that situation without understanding exactly what men are capable of - much less men trained to kill - is criminal.

At some level I wish we could have a really big motherfucker of a war where vicious street battles are fought in nearly everyone’s hometown and almost everyone you know has some kind of wound and has lost someone and you truly and deeply hate whoever “those” people are in “those” uniforms because they keep trying their damnedest to kill you and then they run away.
Maybe we’d have peace for a few generations until everyone forgot how you would cut an eye out of your head just to have a piece of that bastard over there.

I saw a program where some archeologists or someone discovered where some proto-humans had a battle with a troop of chips. There were, apparently, more chimps who were obviously stronger. But the humans won and they found most of the chimp bodies covered under tons of fist sized rocks at the bottom of a ravine. Apparently the proto-humans threw rocks at them for hours after the chimps were dead.
That’s how angry and vicious humans were as animals. And our adrenal glands have grown since that time.

The only thing keeping that vicious primate in check is society and our need for it. War is the absence of society.

So what the hell did they think was going to happen?

You can’t be a little bit pregnant. You can’t sort of be a virgin. And you can’t accept killing as just fine, be in a war zone, and still expect to remain within the bounds of society.

Society includes not restraining and beating people and laughing about it. War does not.

Humans are trained from birth to respect certain physical limits as well as behavioral limits. You can remove those limits and people can be amazed at what they are capable of. You can go for weeks without food, you can go for many days without sleep, you can drive yourself well past what you think is exhaustion. In the same way, you can remove the limits society places.

Tigers come to mind.

You have to train tigers from a young age or you can never expect to train them. This is because tigers, when you train them, only respond to your commands because they still think you are stronger than they are. Once they stop thinking it, you’ve lost control over them.
In the same way - once a person learns that the societal limits are purely artificial, they are capable of this.

The military has rigid discipline for the same reason you keep a tiger on a heavy chain.

The difference is a human can be trained back into society. But a lot of people can’t cope for a lot of reasons.
And society often would rather dispose of it’s soldiers rather than reintegrate them.

Partly because of economics, but mostly because it’s easier to divorce “those” people who become tigers from humanity than it is to accept them as part of ourselves, albeit an ugly part.

Which is ironic, because that’s usually the reasons wars are started in the first place.

The first step in stopping it, is accepting it as a possibility and recognizing it as an integral part of humanity, not simply a trait of “those” kinds of people be they Iraqi extremists, British soldiers or California hippies. We’re all capable of it, which is why we have to take safeguards against it.
Those safeguards, quite obviously, weren’t taken here.

...wow that was long. Sorry.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:11 PM on February 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


But worth it; thank you.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:21 PM on February 13, 2006


beth writes "I know this may sound completely radical, but where I come from people are capable of learning more than one thing. Why aren't these guys trained in riot tactics and police-type procedures, since their job clearly involves same?"

Because military training simply does not involve those things. You're right. Bush & friends may say over and over and over that this is a new type of war, but there's no reflection of that in our overall strategy. War is still glorious Greatest Generation bullshit to them, and doesn't involve any realism. We're fighting a "war" against nebulous schools of thought, and our soldiers are trained for shooting at clearly defined enemies from trenches.

This should be an intelligence war, not a traditional war, and we've sent poorly trained young people into a shooting gallery because it looks good on TV.

As far as this not being "rocket science" for those involved, I have to ask how you would respond in these situations. It's really easy to condemn cruelty on the part of soldiers when you have the proper training or you're not involved in what they are. As has been proven by history again and again, your average American person is likely to revert to this kind of brutal violence when presented with horrific/amoral situations. The solution is not found in pointing to a few bad apples, but in pointing to our leadership.

on preview: No apology necessary, Smedleyman.
posted by brundlefly at 9:22 PM on February 13, 2006


“Why in the hell can't they be both, using the appropriate terms of engagement in the appropriate context? This isn't fucking rocket science.”

beth, military science and law enforcement are two completely different fields of study. Like a wolf and a dog, they are only outwardly similar.
You can’t mix the two because either the law enforcement guy uses the wrong tactic in an engagement and dies or the military guy uses the wrong tactic and kills someone.
It’s why there are military police. It’s why cops have SWAT.
Indeed, there are specialists within each field of study. I would argue that it is a more critical field than rocket science because there are a great deal of lives at stake in the matrix decisions of the millions of troops and cops out there exercising their training.
And unlike rocket science there are instant decisions required in the military and in law enforcement. This requires not the longer reasoned methodical approach, but a kinesthetic response, derived from muscular memory. This requires doing something the same way over and over and over again until through habituation you are trained to do it that way very well. This can be expanded to situations as well and you can learn predict and anticipate based on a variety of stimuli.
It is not the same kind of learning required in other fields of study. I’ve trained some students who have become outstanding hand to hand combatants. Because they are skilled at a certain type of conflict resolution does not mean they can be cross trained to become, for example, debaters.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:35 PM on February 13, 2006


or what brundlefly said better and more concise than I did. (Argh! note to self: preview button)
posted by Smedleyman at 9:36 PM on February 13, 2006


My completely conjectured armchair opinion is that as the militarization of domestic police forces continues*, we will see more instances of brutality and excessive force domestically.

The mandate of police is to protect and to serve and that of soldiers is to kill and eliminate. To me they are mutually exclusive. That is why we don't allow the army to police domestically. We have FBI, ATF, Treasury, and secret service agents to handle federal law enforcement in the US.

There do need to be new strategies to deal with things like insurgencies and military operations in which people masquerade as civilians. But how do you make effective killers who aren't desensitized? The actions of the British are reprehensible, but I can't help but feel that this is an institutional failure.


*- Reprint of a Washington Post article.
posted by eisbaer at 9:56 PM on February 13, 2006


Smedleyman, no it's not a counterargument, but it is in the grand Metafilter tradition, which we all must uphold.
posted by shoos at 10:31 PM on February 13, 2006


“grand Metafilter tradition”

I see that I missed your point earlier. My (earnest) apologies.


You know who else had grand traditions? Hitler.

(just keeping up my end)
posted by Smedleyman at 11:33 PM on February 13, 2006


If not, I have to wonder what genius decided to put combat troops on riot duty.

the same genius who decided to invade Iraq, then start a nice experiment of nation-building. the US is doing nation-building with soldiers and Blackwater mercenaries, not with actual cops.
not that sending, say the LAPD or the NYPD to Iraq would make things better (ask Rodney King or Amadou Diallo's ghost)
posted by matteo at 12:54 AM on February 14, 2006


Police and paramilitaries in states all around the world, certainly including Iraq, do this all the time. If they were Iraqi police, it would be nothing.

In the US of A that used to be called 'giving someone the 3rd degree' and it was declared illegal.

So the police doing such DOES cause outrage in the US of A.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:13 AM on February 14, 2006


The events were from 2004 during riots in Basra IIRC. Releasing them now seems somewhat stupid considering the whole Danish cartoon incident. Insomnia - "you're going to get it" is not really an indication that this is a regular occurence, simply that the Iraqis are going to be receiving "it" i.e. a shoeing. It probably makes more sense if you're British.*1

Those saying that soldiers cannot do non-violent work are labouring under a misapprehension - back in Somalia the USMC gained an excellent reputation for keeping control without resorting to violence. They made contacts with the local warlords without attempting interdiction (knowing that they were what passed for "local government") and remaining on reasonable terms with locals.*2

Smedleyman - these will have been just infantrymen. British troops have been doing COIN and riot duty as well as police patrolling for a great number of years and usually are pretty good at it. There are always going to be events like this - a soldier dies in a roadside bomb and so the boys go grab some local hard nuts and give them a kicking. It's been the way all the way since the beginning. Hearts and Minds is the public face whilst behind the scenes this sort of thing occasionally happens. I'd wager there are very few Catholics in Northern Ireland who don't know someone who received a kicking in the back of a Army "pig" in the 80s.*3

*1 Yes, I know. It shouldn't even be an issue if we want honesty in the media and our military forces but it's stupid to release it now because it's going to make things worse which escalates matters.
*2 The same cannot be said of regular Army units who replaced them but that's because the Marines warfighting lab has been thinking about this sort of thing for years.
*3 This was not a cool thing but was one of the first things a Sergeant Major taught me about N.I. He was a little bit gleeful about it as he was under the impression it created respect rather than hatred.
posted by longbaugh at 2:15 AM on February 14, 2006


Soldiers are trained to spank? That's hot.
posted by brundlefly at 7:21 PM PST on February 13 [!]



I'm sure Jeff Gannon would do that kind of work.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:32 AM on February 14, 2006


Smedleyman is there any kind of training or testing when one leaves the army?

Kind of like basic training for fitting back into regular society. And if not do you think such a program would help our soldiers mental state & well being?

Besides leadership where our we going wrong in our rebuilding plans compared to the sucess of germany & japan due to the marshell plan?
posted by Dreamghost at 2:37 AM on February 14, 2006


Besides leadership where our we going wrong in our rebuilding plans compared to the sucess of germany & japan due to the marshell plan?

Are u for real? You aren't rebuilding anything, and you didn't succeed in Japan or Germany. Those were/are two of the most industrially advanced countries in the world, and their populace was willing to compromise.
However, the occupying forces in Iraq, aren't there to rebuild anything, they are simply preforming their "military tasks" as so "eloquently" described above, in the larger framework of US/UK Imperial quest to secure energy reserves, place Iran under check, and blah blah blah
And I don't care how you justify it, beating little boys is wrong! The chain of command is to blame for placing these ignorant & emotionally void over grown video game junkies in Iraq......and the soldiers....well the video demonstrates it well.

Smedleyman - we all know what humanity is capable of and our nature is quite destructive. But these soldiers represent the so-called most advanced and "civilized" nations in the world, and their behaviour clearly demonstrates how wonderful our democratic nations are.

At least the Germans didn't pretend to bring u democracy and peace! They fucked up like a real MAN.
posted by koli at 3:09 AM on February 14, 2006


A little extra background, like the mortar round landing and exploding inside the soldier's compound before the troops run out and drag the 'protestors' inside to 'ask them some questions'.

Nice to see Dick Cheney leading from the front and harming innocent (?) people too. As White House spokesman Scott McClellan said about the Cheney news delay "I think you can always look back at these issues and look at how to do a better job". No shit Sherlock.
posted by DrDoberman at 5:04 AM on February 14, 2006


"but on the other hand I'm not the one being blown up and attacked by Iraqi insurgents on a daily basis."

True enough, but it seems to me a better target for this rage would be the chickenhawks and soft bellied cowards that put them there in the first place.
posted by 2sheets at 10:18 AM on February 14, 2006


beth, I believe the correct term is rocket surgery.
posted by The Monkey at 2:07 PM on February 14, 2006



“the USMC gained an excellent reputation for keeping control without resorting to violence” - longbaugh.

Agreed. But that was the mission. There were clearly defined parameters. And of course Marines are Marines. I wholeheartedly agree soldiers can complete a hearts and minds mission. There is a difference between peacekeeping and policing however.


“....represent the so-called most advanced and "civilized" nations in the world, and their behaviour clearly demonstrates how wonderful our democratic nations are.”

That’s what I mean. Something isn’t so just because you say it is. I am not “civilized” because I wear a shirt and tie.
It’s in the acts that you do. So, they’re seen to do this and it becomes manifestly obvious that we in the enlightened nations are not so civilized.
You are what you do.

“Smedleyman is there any kind of training or testing when one leaves the army?”

Sort of. There is more now, but it’s still somewhat 1/2 assed. The military doesn’t do enough though for guys coming out of combat positions. I’ve had to spend some long hours with friends I’ve had who were in. I do it gladly, but it would be nice if there was a manditory program. I think that’s the biggest thing though, just getting to talk and spend some time with someone who knows what’s going on in your head. It would have to be long term. I don’t know, maybe not psychoanalysis, just someone to talk to and shoehorn you back in to making decisions for yourself and reclaiming that social part of yourself.
You have to relearn what to value. In others and in yourself.

Amer. Legion Halls are ok - but there’s always bars in them. I think it can be counterproductive sometimes.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:08 PM on February 14, 2006


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