Killing Made Easy and Entertaining, Even Essential

According to several US prosecutors, evidence reveals that the four Blackwater guards, who are facing charges of manslaughter and gun violations in the horrific Sept. 16, 2007, shootings in Baghdad, Iraq, were motivated by deep hostility and hatred towards the Iraqi civilian population in general. If this is the case, then in America not only has killing been made technologically easy and socially entertaining, but it has also become ever-so internalized and essential.(1)

After World I and II, US military and political officials became increasingly alarmed when it was discovered that very few infantry personnel had actually fired their weapons. In order to combat these low firing rates, new techniques were designed to instill higher firing rates. By replacing small, circular paper targets with human-like, silhouette figures on the firing range, firing rates rose. Advanced weaponry that killed from a distance, and a barrage of propaganda aimed at dehumanizing the opponent, increased kill rates too.

The American Psychiatric and American Medical associations’ observations that violence in the US media greatly increased aggression did not go unnoticed. Working with the movie and gaming industries, military officials initiated pro-war and violent shows, films, video games, and music to encourage violent attitudes, behaviors, and values, mainly in children. Measurable long-term effects prove that associating violence with entertainment leads to emotional desensitization toward violence and killing in real life. (2)

Has killing now been made essential, meaning obligatory and necessary? With regards to the upcoming trial of the private contractor Blackwater security guards, the answer is yes. Evidence suggests the guards that killed 14 Iraqi civilians while wounding 18 others did not believe they were under hostile fire but had harbored a low regard for, and deep hostility toward the entire Iraqi civilian population. Furthermore, they had openly expressed a sense of euphoria to other Blackwater personnel about killing Iraqis. (3)

According to the prosecution’s court filing, one Blackwater guard even admitted he wanted to kill as many Iraqis as he could as “payback for 9-11,” and repeatedly boasted about the number of Iraqis he had shot, including an old Iraqi woman. Other guards, still in the Army, deliberately fired their weapons to instigate battles or to draw out return fire so a battle could ensue. Automatic weapons were carelessly fired at civilians from the turrets of armored vehicles without regard for who might be struck by the rounds.

Military professionalism has not only collapsed, but so too has American society. The trail leads from ordinary citizen-soldiers to the revolving doors between the Pentagon and privatized corporations, even the president. Armed gangs and thugs within the military, along with drug use and violence addictions are not the only problems Americans should be concerned about. Then-President George W. Bush’s political mandate, that he claimed to have won in 2004, was an unspoken mandate to essentially kill more innocent Iraqis.

With the military-industrial-entertainment-complex’s dehumanization of Iraqis in general, killing became obligatory and necessary. Unequal and remote weaponry and wars fought from a distance, violence in entertainment and every-day life, and connecting 9-11 with Iraq through a series of lies and propaganda, made killing painless, amusing and leisurely. Therefore, who and what should really be on trial?

(1) Blackwater shootings: Why Did they shoot Iraqi civilians in 2007?/3/20/2014.

(2) Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col., On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning To Kill in War and Society., New York, New York: Back Bay Books, 2009., XX.

(3) Blackwater shootings: Why Did they shoot Iraqi civilians in 2007?

(4) Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col., On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning To Kill in War and Society., p. 99.