Mike Balson, Upper Wilsons Creek
Around one in a hundred Australians are psychopaths. That means 250,000 of us. Psychopaths make great soldiers because they can kill without trauma or remorse. They are disproportionally attracted to life in the military, especially mercenary armies and special forces (in much the same way paedophiles are attracted to the priesthood).
It’s inevitable that occasionally a psychopath soldier goes rogue and starts indiscriminately killing innocent people.
In Vietnam, when this began to happen in the US Army, another member of the platoon would toss a live fragmentation grenade in the psychopaths tent. This was called ‘fragging’ and became quite a common practice. The platoon cared about the death of innocent people, and just as importantly, they didn’t want the actions of a rogue psychopath to discredit their platoon.
After years of trench warfare, Australian soldiers in WW1 became famous for not taking prisoners. They crossed half the world to ‘kill Germans’ and after years of living in trenches with the stench of corpses and losing thousands of mates, the enemy was easy to kill. The ‘Huns’ had been thoroughly demonised and dehumanised.
There are two kinds of dehumanisation still taught in today’s military. There is ‘animalistic’ dehumanisation, where the enemy is likened to vermin or some repulsive animal. Then there is ‘mechanistic’ dehumanisation, where the enemy becomes merely an object on a screen, like you see in drone strikes.
We call our military a ‘defence’ force. But Australia hasn’t fought a defensive war since 1945. The only thing we have been defending is our alliance with the United States. We have spent the past 75 years being an invading force, joining our bullying ally in a succession of cruel, costly, and unnecessary wars. Our military killed thousands of people that Australia had no grievance with.
Scomo is concerned that the shocking details of Special Forces atrocities in Afghanistan might cause reprisal ‘terror’ attacks in Australia. He behaves as if we are innocents in all this. When the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ (Bush, Blaire, and Howard) dragged Australia into invading Iraq and went on to murder a million Iraqi’s and upset the Sunni/Shia balance; we sewed the seeds for years of reprisals. This should come as no surprise.
How might we feel if a well armed force of Iraqi’s invaded Australia, turned our cities to rubble and killed a million Australians? We would likely seek revenge. But the very fact that many Australians don’t seem to consider that Iraqi’s and Afghani’s love their children and cherish peace as much as we do, shows how successful years of dehumanising propaganda have been. To varying degrees, we have all been dehumanised.
War itself is dehumanising and the trauma of war ricochets down the generations.