The Devil dwells in all of us. And when he possesses a soldier, it's fearful to behold what can be unleashed
Hastings' argument isn't as simplistic as the headline, but he does say:
in a theatre of war the risk is always there that an individual — or more often small group of men — will snap under stress, giving way to feral instincts. In March 2006, for instance, four American soldiers of the supposedly elite 101st Airborne Division raped and killed a 14-year-old girl at her home south of Baghdad, also murdering her parents and six-year-old sister.
I'm not sure I buy this idea that civilised behaviour is a veneer that men struggle to maintain, while just below the surface lurk "instincts" to which they're always in danger of "reverting", as if such instincts represent the essence of man and masculinity. Hastings asks the question:
What prompts men arbitrarily to kill?
but doesn't answer it. I don't agree with this:
On the Western allied side [in WW2], while not all hands were clean, civilians were murdered only on the initiative of maddened, drunk or brutal individuals, often seeking sex.
It's an attempt to pathologise one set of people, to separate the mad and lusty them
from the sane and restrained us
. But it doesn't work like that.
As usual, Hastings attracts a following of Gareths from The office
I've often thought that if I'd been a soldier and had the shackles of civilized restraint removed from me I could kill hundreds and even worse 'like it'. Crossing that invisible forbidden boundary of 'the first one' must be the hardest then there'd be no turning back. Luckily for my soul I never had the chance to find out
- ron, Cumbria, 13/3/2012 2:57 Rating 34