Tuesday, July 24, 2007


There are a couple of blog posts here and here which give details of a recent Leftist attempt -- mainly on Daily Kos -- to smear the U.S. Army as psychopathic killers.

The article concerned relies entirely on anecdote and therefore has no scholarly worth whatever. It picks out a set of criminals and says: SEE! All these served in the army. So the army creates criminals. You can of course prove anything that way. One could equally pick out a set of former army men who undertook charity work and say: SEE! All these served in the army. So the army creates angels.

The one substantial point the article has is that the incidence of soldiers who actually fire their weapons in battle has improved over the years. The author says that this is because the army has found ways to make men into machines. Military people would be rather surprised by that. The problem is a well known one and it was long ago noted that the problem was largely one of aiming. Men who were using automatic weapons fired much more frequently -- as such weapons can be effective even without much aiming. So one response has been to make available to the men more weapons capable of automatic fire. But more training in use of weapons is of course also effective. Many of the non-firers of the two world wars were conscripts with very little training. Additionally, the rate of fire will depend on the battlefield situation and the use of men as cannonfodder has declined over the last century. Men are now more likely to be put in situations where they can be individually effective.

And the idea that the U.S. army wants its men to be killer robots is truly laughable. It would be more accurate to say that the onerous ROE under which U.S. soldiers now operate make them the most restrained and cautious soldiers in all of military history. The army takes great pains to ensure that their soldiers DON'T fire unless absolutely necessary.

So the article is the sort of ignorance of the military that one expects from today's Left. But another sort of ignorance it displays is ignorance about psychopathy. As someone who has contributed a couple of research papers on psychopathy to the academic journals (See here and here), I may be in a better position than most to offer a quick summary of what is involved. The basic point is that psychopaths are born not made. The condition is highly hereditary and emerges from early childhood on. Any attempt to MAKE a person a psychopath is more likely to traumatize them deeply than anything else.

And one place where true psychopaths are likely to be found is in Leftist politics -- from Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pol on. They are the ones who have no compunction about slaughtering other people en masse. And the basic underlying feature of psychopathy -- lack of any moral anchors -- is in fact glorified by Leftists as "postmodernism". Where have you heard "There is no such thing as right and wrong" before? And amoral men are very successful even in democratic Leftist politics -- with Bill Clinton being the standout example. But John Kerry and Barack Obama also have clear psychopathic characteristics. I go into the diagnosis of all three men in some detail here

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