Copyright John T. Reed

Government survey of ethics of U.S. military personnel in Iraq

The 5/5/07 newspapers carried stroies about a survey conducted by the U.S. military of its personnel in Iraq. Findings include:

This is a disaster.

Not that the enemy is any more ethical. Indeed, they are off the scale unethical. But they do not take such surveys and, if they did, they would not release the results to the public. The enemy press must be having a field day with this survey.

More disciplined

I doubt that previous U.S. troops were more ethical, but, for example, during the U.S. occupation of Japan after World War II, they were reportedly far more disciplined about refraining from such bad behavior. The Japanese people were so astonished about the respectful way in which they were treated that they wanted the top commander of the occupation, General Douglas MacArthur, to become president of the U.S.

'Root causes'

I expect some of this is an inevitable result of:

The U.S. has to either change the minds of the U.S. troops who have these views, get rid of them, or get out of the country. We cannot win “hearts and minds” with a force that engages in this kind of behavior or that harbors these views.

Here is an email I got on 5/7/07 about this page:

I have enjoyed several of your books (Succeeding, 2 of your volumes on Real Estate Investment) and the articles you have posted on your website. In your most recent article about the Military Ethics Survey you alluded to the military's use of torture or coercive interrogation. I would be interested to hear more of your thoughts on this subject, particularly whether you think it is effective or if it should never be used under any circumstances. Thank you and keep up the great work!

My response which was sent on 5/7/07 and posted on this page that same day:

Never used. It costs too much in moral high ground and is too dubious to rely on. The oft-quoted “What if it would save lives” question is not persuasive because you really can almost never say for sure that is the situation, but dangerous because you can often say it might be the situation.

General Petraeus’ reaction to poll

On May 11, 2007, the following story was reported in the media:

Top general demands moral high ground

The top U.S. commander in Iraq admonished his troops regarding the results of an Army survey that found many U.S. military personnel there are willing to tolerate some torture of suspects and unwilling to report abuse by comrades.

“This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we—not our enemies—occupy the moral high ground,” wrote David Petraeus in an open letter dated may 10 and posted on a military Web site.

Petraeus also called on unit commanders to ensure that their soldiers follow standards.

I appreciate informed, well-thought-out constructive criticism and suggestions.

John T. Reed

Link to information about John T. Reed’s Succeeding book which, in part, relates lessons learned about succeeding in life from being in the military

John T. Reed military home page