The Reality of the War Zone

by DIANE REJMAN

I am watching a special on the Holocaust. I have seen many before. This time, however, it’s striking me differently. I’m realizing how many German soldiers involved in it apparently didn’t consider the reality of what they were doing. They couldn’t have believed they were killing real people. I’m reminded of stories I’ve heard from US war veterans who tell of things like playing soccer with the heads of dead Iraqis. At the time, it was “normal.” But then they returned home, and the reality of what they did kicks in. They wonder how they could have done such a thing.

Many people believe the only men who would do this have a predisposition to this kind of horrific action. I do not believe this. I believe there is something about the war machine that changes the soul of a human being. In the US, part of basic training consists of de-humanizing the enemy. When a soldier can be convinced that a “gook” or “raghead,” or whatever disgusting nickname our current enemy is called, is not a human being, it is easier for the soldier to kill. Basic training is really a hate training camp.

The latest version of this mindless killing mentality involve drone operators, who drop bombs on the other side of the world, from the safety of their office in Nevada. They probably go out to places like Applebee’s for lunch, and maybe are on a bowling league at night. During the day, while doing nothing more complicated than playing Pac Man, they are killing people tens of thousands of miles away. We all know they are killing civilians. Part of them must know it, also. Whether a person is a German soldier, or a drone “pilot,” it’s all about dehumanization and murder. I’ve already heard about drone “pilots” developing post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD). I say – good – it means they have a conscience. It means they realize what they did. It is their soul screaming out for healing. I think this whole train of thought of mine started when I started wondering if any German soldiers developed PTSD after the war. I suspect, since they, too, are human, a certain percentage of them must have. I can only hope.

I believe the only way of ending wars is for people to truly understand what goes on in a war zone. Although I was spared that experience, I have read many personal accounts of war, and have spoken with many veterans who revealed the horrific things they were involved with, and the pain they have had to live with their entire lives ever since. They didn’t understand what they were involved with, until it was too late.

I believe an understanding of this should be a requirement for anybody in a position to wage war.

I think if Americans understood what we subject our soldiers to, they’d stop the platitudes about thank yous and yellow ribbons, and actually do something to stop it.

Diane Rejman is a Army veteran, and a lifetime member of Veterans for Peace. She holds a MBA in International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and her biography has been listed in Who’s Who in the World. She can be reached at: yespeaceispossible@gmail.com

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire