Analysis Of The My Lai Massacre: A Military Crime Of Obedience

The structure of the military is responsible for soldiers committing cruel and unnecessary acts. For example, the My Lai massacre and the abuses at the Abu-Ghraib prison in Iraq are great illustrations of this. Kelman and Hamilton (1989) in “The My Lai Massacre: A Military Crime of Obedience” did not only write about what occurred during the My Lai massacre, but expanded on WHY the military personnel engaged in this horrible act. Their main explanation is that the structure of the military causes social processes which make it easier for someone to kill or hurt another person; this includes: authorization, routinization, and dehumanization (Kelman and Hamilton 1989:22). The article, “Report Blames Rumsfeld for Detainee Abuses” by Shane and …show more content…
The military’s training programs is what initiates these soldiers to be able to dehumanize an enemy. This is recognized with the American soldiers at Abu Ghraib because of the specific military training program they endured. This program is referred to as SERE, or also known as: Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (Shane and Mazzetti 2008). They mentioned that these soldiers had to go through this training so they could get “…a taste of the treatment…” just in case they became a prisoner one day (Shane and Mazzetti 2008). Giving them these experiences teaches them that chances are the enemies will not treat them like humans, so consequently, they end up believing they should do the same to their enemies. Another detail that supports the fact that dehumanization was present in Abu Ghraib is when Shane and Mazzetti (2008) stated that the prisoners, captured by American soldiers, were thought to be members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. This label made it easier for them to completely distinguish the prisoners from themselves because they were now seen as a total different group—or in other words, the enemy. In their eyes, enemies are not human so it is okay to do whatever they want to them… just like what was done to …show more content…
These three social processes permit most of the military personnel to try and justify their actions to themselves and others. Each process they engage in, causes them to try and justify more, which then results in making it harder to cease the horrible acts they are engaging in. Even though these two events— the My Lai massacre and the abuses at Abu Ghraib—happened many years apart and were different kinds of situations, it is shown that the structure and dynamics of the military has fundamentally stayed the

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