16 August 2007

Private Beauchamp & the dogs

The New Republic found itself in the middle of a right-wing assault after editor Franklin Foer published a GI's story about how some of our young and immature soldiers have acted in Iraq. The right evidently thinks that all 170,000 of our soldiers there, dropped into hell with an unclear moral purpose, always channeled St. Francis when they weren't killing insurgents.

Army Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, "the discredited soldier" who sent those reports to the magazine, has been widely reviled on the right-wing media sites. His three stories — of kids making fun of a disfigured Iraqi woman; of soldiers' finding children's bones; and of soldiers killing dogs for sport — were ridiculed. How could anyone think our boys would do such a thing?

Now comes this, in today's Denver Post:
A young man recently returned from Iraq sat in Barfield's chair while she applied a memorial tattoo.

She'd seen him in her shop before, just a regular kid. But now he told her a disturbing story about a lull between firefights. With no enemy in sight, the soldiers turned their weapons on a dog.

They fired a few rounds, but the dog didn't die. So they fired a few more. Then they ran over it with their armored vehicle, just to hear the bones crunch.

"They had programmed themselves to be hard," Barfield recalls. "The whole thing was about not losing the programming. But he was laughing when he told the story, and it kind of scared us.
Huh. War can harden hearts and damage a person inside as well as outside. Who knew?

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