How Good Soldiers Became Evil

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The mind is the most complex but fascinating feature of human beings. Although our minds are the primary source of love, care, and goodness, our minds are also capable of perpetuating hate, abuse, and evil towards others. Abu Ghraib, a city in the Baghdad Governorate of Iraq, is notoriously known for the horrific incidents of torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers in 2004. Although the events happened 10 years ago, the events continue to ponder our minds as we question, "How were they capable of doing those things?" There are many theories in regards to the cause of the Abu Ghraib incident. After analyzing the arguments, theories, and explanations of Robert Tolmach Lakoff, Dianne Benscoter, Tara Mcklevy, and Phillip Zimbardo, I have aligned myself with a combination of factors offering an explanation of how "good" soldiers became "evil."
The vulnerable environment of soldiers in war allows their minds to conform to the acts of hostility towards the "enemy." When one decides to become a soldier, they do not only accept the duties of a soldier, but, they accept the fact of being away from everyone and everything they once knew. Their normal environment of family, friends, a day-to-day job, and other people and activities which compose a comfortable setting is suddenly gone as they are greeted by a cold, harsh, and lonely surrounding upon entering the war zone. As their means of comfort is stripped away from them, they are left in a vulnerable state of mind, seeking any type of comfort in the present environment and being more likely to succumb to the dominance of others. Dianne Benscoter illustrates this "foundation" of one being susceptible to control with her own personal experiences in her lecture, “How cult...

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...f soldiers is to “follow orders,” with no questions asked. Rather than display an apathetic negligence for the enemy, this atrocious event reveals the desperate attempt by vulnerable soldiers to persuade themselves that they were not in Iraq to kill or torture human beings; they were simply teaching the “things” a lesson.

The Abu Ghraib incident is an unfortunate and horrific event that plagues American society to this day. Fortunately, theories, explanations, and arguments have given us insight into “how” and “why” these abhorrent acts are committed. As our questions are answered, we must learn how to prevent this from ever happening again. To prevent this act of evil from occurring once again, we must act against the military’s techniques of dehumanization and de-individualization for indifference and disdain often does much more suffering than utter dislike.
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