He's a little late
Forgive us now for what we've done
It started out as a bit of fun
Here, take these before we run away
The keys to the gulag
Torture is not just a matter of policy;
it is an addiction, a deadening mindset,
a point of identification, a form of moral paralysis,
a war crime, an element of the spectacle of violence,
and it must be challenged in all of its dreadful registers
--America's Addiction to Torture,
Surely the concept of moral injury is rock solid. However, Ranger takes exception with a Special Forces Lt. Col. Bill Russell Edmonds (then a Special Forces captain) who has written a book about his moral injury in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) based upon his experiences witnessing torture and in which he felt complicit.
Edmonds "volunteered for duty in an ad hoc organization, the Iraqi Assistance Group, which the United States military created to supply advisers to the nascent Iraqi military. He was sent to Iraq, given a brief training course in Baghdad and then loaded into a convoy to Mosul, where he would spend the next year on a small compound Saddam Hussein had called the Guest House" (God is Not Here).
Forgive me if Edmond's claim does not move me, but as an SF officer he was trained and conversant in the Geneva Conventions and the Rules of Land Warfare. He knew what he was doing, and he chose to "just follow orders."
As he was purportedly injured when a Captain, he was later rewarded for his transgressions as he is now an LTC. How can one be morally injured and yet still wear the beret and revel in the rank awarded you for your subservience?
Further, what was an SF trooper doing in the bowels of an Enemy Prisoner of War (EPW) compound running amok with captured personnel? Is this what JSOC and SOCOM hath wrought both to our Army and society?
There was a time pre-JSOC/SOCOM when interrogations were handled by military intelligence specialists and tip of the spear guys, where the rubber meets the road guys never got involved with enemy prisoners of war. Why was an SF officer performing this duty?
Clearly, the Military Intelligence types would not prostitute themselves by torturing and insisted on following the Rules of War. (At least, Ranger hopes there was an enclave of legality somewhere in this otherwise immoral war.) So, the Special Forces assumed the illegal function.
In short, the Captain insured his own moral injury by playing fast and loose with the morality of soldiering. His self-perversion earned him a promotion, retention in active duty, and a book detailing his experiences. Sorry, but this does not go down well.
Moral injuries are real, devastating and corrosive, and characteristically fall upon the average soldier unprepared for what he experiences. It is too much to believe that an SF Captain would go along to get along, yet once safely awarded his LTC rank, finally wakes up to smell the coffee. It sounds like bandwagon-hopping to this retired SF LTC.
Nobody ever said that SF guys were stupid.