When a country’s military has been turned into nothing more than a criminal killing and torture machine we should not be surprised when its own ranks in turn become seized with all sorts of psychosis and pathology.
The latest mass killing this week at the US army base in Fort Hood, Texas, in which four personnel were shot dead and 16 others injured is but another symptom of how the American military is at war with itself.
An army is supposed to be an honorable institution of the state tasked with defending the nation. In America’s case, the military is a sick entity that reflects the deeper national decay caused by its criminal ruling class.
Ivan Lopez, a 34-year-old military truck driver, opened fire on his comrades with a semi-automatic pistol before turning the gun on himself.
It was the third such mass fatal shooting at a US military installation in recent years. Last September 13 people were killed in a rampage at the US Navy Yard in Washington. In November 2009, a former military psychiatrist shot dead another 13 personnel – also at Fort Hood, Texas, where the latest killings occurred this week.
US President Barack Obama said he was “heartbroken” by the news of another self-inflicted multiple murder on American military premises. Obama promised that “he would get to the bottom of the incident” to investigate the cause.
That’s the last thing that Obama and the Washington political establishment will ever do – because at the bottom of such tragedy is the following answer: the wholesale debasement of the American military by the country’s rulers for their own criminal purposes.
In truth, the US military has always been used and abused as a cudgel by its capitalist rulers, as former Marine Commander Smedley Butler noted in his book, War is a Racket, published in 1935. The same can be said, too, for other colonial, imperialist powers.
But what distinguishes the US in recent years is the relentless overturning of the military into a discredited gangster enterprise.
Coincidentally, but tellingly, this week also saw the emergence of the US Senate report into systematic torture and law breaking by the US military and intelligence agencies. Full details of the US Senate Intelligence Committee study will probably never be disclosed, but enough information has surfaced to show that the Pentagon and its Washington masters have overseen a vast web of torture conducted on a global scale over the past decade.
Both the Bush and Obama administrations are implicated in sanctioning and covering up institutionalized torture – in shocking violation of American and international laws. And yet Obama and his ilk still have the gall to lecture Russia and other countries about the rule of law and diplomatic norms.
That grave, systematic American criminality is an integral part of even bigger crimes – stemming from the illegal wars of aggression committed by the US government in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as ongoing presidential-run assassination programs with drones and Special Forces in several other countries, including Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
This is all done in the outrageously spurious name of “war on terror”. Since the 9/11 attacks on America’s northeast in 2001, the US military has been assigned by the rulers in Washington to a permanent state of imperialist war making around the globe. This includes the cynical “humanitarian intervention” in Libya in 2011 and the ongoing US-led covert regime-change operation in Syria.
In addition to the more than one million civilians killed by this American Murder Inc., thousands have been scooped up into US black sites around the world where they are subjected to horrendous physical and mental suffering, many of them dying while in illegal captivity.
The so-called war on terror is nothing but a pretext for the American ruling class to embark on global imperialism with impunity. In this criminal enterprise, the ranks of the American military have been turned into a killing and torture machine in the service of elite corporate and financier interests.
Such rampant violation of basic human morality and law is manifest in the consequent deranged behaviour of the American military even in times of so-called peace.
The US Veterans Administration puts the number of soldiers or ex-servicemen taking their own lives at around 22 a day. That is over 8,000 military-related suicides every year – more than the number of fatalities among American troops serving in purported combat zones.
Tens of thousands of US military personnel return from the American killing fields abroad deeply traumatized by what they have committed or have witnessed. These individuals are often discarded in post-military life to endure poverty, family breakdown, unemployment, drug addiction and homelessness – beneath a heap of psychological damage. And if they confess to what they may have witnessed while on duty, they run the risk of persecution behind bars for being “a traitor”.
Significantly, the suicide rate among US military personnel – more than double the rate among civilians – has increased dramatically since 2005, according to official figures. That fact alone is an indicator of the moral corruption that is at the heart of American imperialism and the abuse of its foot soldiers.
It is also related to the upsurge in cases of sexual violence and harassment within the American military. If laws are so routinely broken by occupying American military forces towards civilians in foreign countries, then it is little wonder that these personnel have lost all moral compass within their own ranks.
Ivan Lopez, the latest US military shooter, was a veteran of Iraq. He was said to have been suffering from psychological “issues” before going on his murder spree against his own comrades at Fort Hood on Wednesday.
In a recent American media interview, days before the latest shooting, President Obama said that after a decade of wars the US military had become exhausted and was not capable of fighting another war. He was referring obliquely to possible deployment against Russian forces over the Ukraine tensions.
Obama’s banal comment about “exhaustion” is one way of putting it. More accurately, the US military has been degraded to become a criminal killing machine that is now finding itself drowning in a moral cesspit made by its political leaders.
The biggest enemy the US military faces is itself and the American war criminals in high office.