Apparently, over the past few years the official US Army's "Soldier's Creed" has been changed, and those changes have meant, I believe, a change in the approach American soldiers and the military have applied to their "mission". The original creed was drawn up in the late sixties, early seventies to prevent anymore Viet Nam atrocities. That creed is as follows:
"I am am American soldier. I am a member of the United States Army - a protector of the greatest nation on earth. Because I am proud of the uniform I wear, I will always act in ways creditable to the military service and the nation that it is sworn to guard.... No matter what the situation I am in, I will never do anything for pleasure, profit or personal safety which will disgrace my uniform, my unit or my country. I will use every means I have, even beyond the line of duty, to restrain my Army comrades from actions, disgraceful to themselves and the uniform. I am proud of my country and its flag. I will try to make the people of this nation proud of the service I represent for I am an American soldier."
Now there is a new version called the "Warrior Ethos".
"I am an American soldier. I am a warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live with the Army values. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade. I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I will always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself. I am an expert and I am a professional. I stand ready to deploy, engage and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat. I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life. I am an American soldier."
I can now start to understand why some of the atrocities of recent times. From Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo to Bagram to the "black" prisons of the CIA, humiliation and beatings, rape, anal rape and murder are becoming so common-place, that they no longer make front page news. The Warrior Creed allows for no end to any conflict accept total destruction of the "enemy". It allows no defeat and does not allow one ever to stop fighting, lending itself to the idea of the "long war". It says nothing about following orders, it says nothing about obeying laws or showing restraint. It says nothing about dishonourable actions.
When insurgents placed babies in the road in Fallujah in an attempt to stop the American advance, "...placing the mission first" allowed the Americans to just drive over them on their way to "destroy" rather than defeat the enemy. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the activities in American military prisons and the hundreds of reported incidents against civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are part of what the US military is presently intended to be.
While I know that many other armies behave in a worse fashion than the US Army, none of those armies claim to be the "good guys", - shining examples of the best that America stands for.
George Bush sees winning the "war on terror" as harbouring into the world some 21st "shining age of human liberty". I'm not so sure. This shining age of human liberty is being bought in the dungeons of "black" prisons, under the fists of US Marines, on the exhaust pipes of Humvees. We are warriors, we are Samurai. We draw the sword, we will destroy.
And if you think about it, that is exactly what Osama bin Ladin said.