The Psychological And Institutional Importance Of The War II Essay

The Psychological And Institutional Importance Of The War II Essay

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It has been said of war that, “In no other circumstances than the battlefield does man confront the knowledge that he is present in that place for the purpose of suffering death at the hands of fellow man, and that he must kill if he is not to be killed himself. The battlefield…is a place almost without mercy and utterly without pity, where the emotions which humanity cultivates and admires elsewhere…have neither room to operate nor place to exist” (Kindsvatter 30). The motivation to participate in unspeakable acts while in an environment that is foreign to most of humanity by virtue of their nature is difficult to understand let alone quantify and model. The underlying conditions for combat compliance can be reasonably explained, with a few limitations, by the leadership theory which postulates the psychological and institutional importance of both central and local leadership figures.
The involvement of American troops in several large scale conflicts such as the Vietnam War, Korean War, and World War II offers insight into the commitment to conflict across different generations of soldiers from the same culture. Each of these individual conflicts presents numerous examples of compliance ranging from extreme non-compliance to over compliance. The majority of soldiers fall somewhere between those two extremes in an attempt to best negotiate a tough situation, but theory of leadership lays out a foundation for a baseline of compliance.
On the extreme end, non-compliance is generally considered to be a mass mutiny of soldiers or an outright refusal to carry out orders. In the Vietnam, as the war progressed and sentiment about the war faded into despair, the rational for fighting came into question and incidents of what i...


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...ic fever, and… dysentery – a malady so common as to be nicknamed ‘the GI’s’… Some soldiers thus fought on while suffering the fevers and chills of malaria or the stomach pains and loose bowels of ‘the GI’s’”(Kindsvatter 44). The fact that the soldiers continued their commitment to combat in the face of many obstacles enforces the leadership theory in that it highlights the importance of a strong leadership and the stability of an institution to engender the continued support of the soldiers, many of who had been consigned to war. The commitment of the soldiers cannot simply be explained by alternative concepts such as automaticity or external incentives due to the soldiers facing physical and emotional challenges they were not prepared in training and which overcoming offers little to no glory as an incentive. The reliability of the institution of local leadership

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