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Thread: Germany (catch all, incl. terrorism)

  1. #21
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    Default German army in new racism row

    A video showing a German army instructor telling one of his soldiers to envision African-Americans in the Bronx while firing his machine gun was broadcast Saturday on national television.

    The video, coming after scandals involving photos of German soldiers posing with skulls in Afghanistan and the abuse of recruits by instructors, seemed likely to raise more questions about training practices in Germany's conscript army.
    .....
    The instructor tells the soldier, "You are in the Bronx. A black van is stopping in front of you. Three African-Americans are getting out and they are insulting your mother in the worst ways ... Act."

    The soldier fires his machine gun several times and yells an obscenity several times in English. The instructor then tells the soldier to curse even louder.
    .....
    story link:
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe...ermany.race.ap

    video link:
    http://www.nowpublic.com/video_of_ra...video_portal_1

  2. #22
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Listening to Germans saying "mother####er!" is just funny.

    Let me just say I am shocked, shocked! to find racism in the armed forces.

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    First time I heard that I didn't know am I going to laugh or cry!? I know US Military using derogative terms for arabs to train troops but for Germans to use Bronx "example" I am just puzzled where that came from!??

    I guess, racism is never "funny" when turns against you...

  4. #24
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    That's sort of what makes it bizarre - but I have no idea about racial politics in Germany or where it would come from.

    I guess, racism is never "funny" when turns against you...
    This is true. Lots of the Southerners who made fun of black or Hispanic or Asian recruits in the squadbay had the nerve to get butthurt over cracker incest jokes. Rather amusing in the end.

    It would be great to have a non-racist population or military, but I doubt we will ever get there.

  5. #25
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    I think it's important to point out that there is a difference, albeit one that is glossed over by man commentators, between "stereotyping" and "racism". Racism implies a hierarchy of value between distinguishable groups and is based on a completely faulty understanding of both biology and social dynamics. If you dig a touch deeper, you will find that it is also based on Spencer's concept of "Survival of the Fittest" (yeah, that was Spencer, not Darwin) applied to a skewed, unilinear teleology.

    Stereotyping on the other hand is a result of the way our brains have evolved and is a pro-survival trait. Stereotyping is the action of taking limited sensory input and reacting to it - it's not always right, but it does tend to be fast. Let me give you an example of why I say that stereotyping is "pro-survival". Imagine you are on the savanna and you see the top of one piece of grass moving against the wind. Are you going to rationally analyze it or are you going to react? If you rationally try to analyze it, you will probably end up being killed by the lion whose tail tip you mistook for a grass stem, while the other person who just ran will live to have kids.

    Stereotyping may harden into racism once you start getting an inter-locking set of "rational" justifications for why the stereotypes are not only "valid" but "why" they are "true". This is a process some Sociologists call "crystallization" where perceptions "become" social "truths", and it's why so many people will say that "racism" is learned.

    Let's bring this out of the lecture hall

    Most people have difficulty killing other people (those that don't are usually called sociopaths). So, here's the problem - how do you get someone to kill someone else in an organized fashion, but not indiscriminately? One way to do this is to "train" them such that they will engage an opponent only when they receive certain stereotypical sensory input. In an ongoing fight, this stereotypical sensory input starts to get crystallized into names - the "muj", the "geek", the "Hun". At other times, you end up picking a stereotype that already exists in the culture and is perceived as "dangerous" and use that. Since cultural stereotypes can come from almost any medium, I'm not at all surprised to hear about the German example. Anyone played any video games recently?

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
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    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    I understand all that, especially about military “conditional mind”, but I am still finding damn funny when my friend tells me that she was called “sand niger” (she is muslim-american, living in Ohio) and that name calling coming from her - black co-worker!? One would expect at least black americans would be sensitive on “N” word…

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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila
    It would be great to have a non-racist population or military, but I doubt we will ever get there.
    Sadly, I agree.

  8. #28
    Council Member sullygoarmy's Avatar
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    My wife is German and her family lives in Nurnberg. I remember when I first me them, I told them that my father was born and raised in the bronx (1940s-1950s). They were shocked. Their version of the bronx was based on the movie "Fort Apache" and had no other visions of how that area looked like other than how it was portrayed in media venues in Germany. Years later I took my wife down into the Bronx to see where my Dad was born and worked as a NYPD officer there for 20 years. I wasn't anything like she had pictured.

    Interesting observations on racism, media portrayal and cross-cultural understandings. I agree with Tequila. All we can do is try to educate our own people, our allies and approach other cultures with an open mind. We all know the hollywood portrayal of America is 1) no where accurate and 2) often the only cultural exposure other nations have to America.
    "But the bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet withstanding, go out to meet it."

    -Thucydides

  9. #29
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Derogatory Terms fpr Arabs

    I know US Military using derogative terms for arabs to train troops but for Germans to use Bronx "example" I am just puzzled where that came from!??
    Sarajevo,

    Just what would those terms be and where does this happen? I can tell you that as a matter of course, this sort of stuff gets stamped on pretty hard where I work. I would be quite curious to know what your source of information is.

    Tom

  10. #30
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Hmmm ... let me just say that in USMC recruit training and at ITB, the NCOs who conduct the training do not practice much racial sensitivity towards people of Middle Eastern extraction or Muslim beliefs. That isn't their job, either.

  11. #31
    Council Member sullygoarmy's Avatar
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    Here we go.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "But the bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet withstanding, go out to meet it."

    -Thucydides

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Sarajevo,

    Just what would those terms be and where does this happen? I can tell you that as a matter of course, this sort of stuff gets stamped on pretty hard where I work. I would be quite curious to know what your source of information is.

    Tom
    Hi, Tom

    First “source” that came in my mind is “Ground Truth” DVD showing interviews of US military veterans where they explain they training and then frames from boot camp (Marines maybe!?) and drill sergeant yelling, “kill that haji! stab that towel-head!” and stuff like it. Plus number other videos and soldiers stories of time there and they training/conditioning before Iraq. You think all those massacres and abusing coming from nowhere!?

    But, I believe marct explaned that way better and tequila helped.

  13. #33
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarajevo071 View Post
    You think all those massacres and abusing coming from nowhere!?
    Sarajevo - One should note that for all the "massacres" and "abusing", which there have been in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been far less of this in almost any counterinsurgency war on record.

    Massacres and abuse are not solely the result of racism or ethno/religious differences. Germans massacred Belgian civilians in WWI. Egyptians used chemical weapons and indiscriminate shelling and airpower on Yemenis in 1963. In a famous example, Syria used indiscriminate artillery on Hama to wipe out a nascent Muslim Brotherhood insurgency, while the civil war in Algeria speaks to the horrific brutality that can occur between men who speak the same language and worship the same God. The worst massacres in Iraq are taking place between Iraqis, and almost all Iraqis, including insurgents, prefer to be taken prisoner by Americans than by their own people because Americans are far less likely to abuse or kill them than Iraqi security forces.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Sarajevo - One should note that for all the "massacres" and "abusing", which there have been in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been far less of this in almost any counterinsurgency war on record.
    Of course I agree with all that, tequila. In my time I use to carry hollow point in my breast pocket if I will run out of ammo or get surrounded or cut off… No one will cut me alive in pieces.

    I am just (sadly) noting that side who should show better judgment and higher standards of behavior, more civilize if you will (if one can talk about being civil in war!?) failing to do so…

    I mean, this is message U.S. trying to send around, right!? And, if someone (minority) does something evil and bad, don’t hide them or cover for them but use SAME rules and judgment you wish others to rule and judge you.

    That would be my idea of better conduct.

  15. #35
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Training to Hate

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarajevo071 View Post
    Hi, Tom

    First “source” that came in my mind is “Ground Truth” DVD showing interviews of US military veterans where they explain they training and then frames from boot camp (Marines maybe!?) and drill sergeant yelling, “kill that haji! stab that towel-head!” and stuff like it. Plus number other videos and soldiers stories of time there and they training/conditioning before Iraq. You think all those massacres and abusing coming from nowhere!?

    But, I believe marct explaned that way better and tequila helped.

    The use of the term, Hajji, was somewhat common, especially in the 2003-2004 time frame before we started to get our heads straight. Gratefully leaders like COL McMasterrs in 3rd ACR and others started to get a handle on it. I know we do not use it here or any of the other typical terms you cite. First of all as you no using Hajji as a diminutive is ultimately stupid because it identifies the user as at best ignorant--since Hajji is a title of respect.

    Secondly as Marc states below, we have used this technique in larger conflicts. I have an WWII lessons learned pamphlet circa 1943 that said we must teach our soldiers to hate. Such training makes it easier to kill.
    Most people have difficulty killing other people (those that don't are usually called sociopaths). So, here's the problem - how do you get someone to kill someone else in an organized fashion, but not indiscriminately? One way to do this is to "train" them such that they will engage an opponent only when they receive certain stereotypical sensory input. In an ongoing fight, this stereotypical sensory input starts to get crystallized into names - the "muj", the "geek", the "Hun". At other times, you end up picking a stereotype that already exists in the culture and is perceived as "dangerous" and use that. Since cultural stereotypes can come from almost any medium, I'm not at all surprised to hear about the German example. Anyone played any video games recently?
    But in a COIN environment, that sort of training is ultimately counter-productive because if you are fighting to win the support and trust of the locals, you have to put a human face on those locals. Moreover you can ill-afford to dehumanize the enemy or worse demonize the enemy because ultimately, you hope to win him over too, through amnesty or similar programs.

    Finally such terms are in fact self-destructive in the long run--I go back to my Rwanda experience in saying this--because once you successfuly dehumanize your opponent you are dehuminizing yourself at the same time. The Hutu extremists took this to the extreme; Dallaire talks about being in the presence of pure evil. Stan and I along with a female former peace corps member got to where we made black jokes about bodies. All of us by the end of Goma would have welcomed a volcanic eruption--often promised never delivered--as a final solution to the refugee/killers. By my second month in Rwanda, I began to despise the killers in a way that left me in a slow boil anger. I pretty much stayed that way for the next year and a half and I paid for it when I got home.

    Best

    Tom

  16. #36
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Ali - Baba vs. Al Havae (phnetics)

    One of the things I noticed when I started listening and thinking - was the use of the IA to jokingly use the term Ali-Baba when describing AIF activity. This was a hold over from young US soldiers looking for a word that would communicate a thought to Iraqis in 2003-2004 in order to collect information. Interestingly the word Ali-Baba was decreasing in favor of "Al havae" (bad spelling, but such are translations) which comes about as close as possible to terrorist in meaning. CFs working more closely with ISF have also picked up on this word, and Ali Baba is rarely heard anymore. Hajji - meaning among other things - one who has made the trip - is now used mostly in its proper context(s). Much of this has to do with soldiers and marines understanding more an more of the culture as they make multiple deployments, and the cultural training in the CTCs. I suspect if there is large scale residual use of deregatory terms, its by folks who made the initial 2003 (maybe 2004) deployments, but none since or the train up that accompanies them. Our soldiers are becoming culturally saavy, and astute. The only other people I've heard use deragatory terms were some of the people who never left the FOB or interacted with Iraqis (Arab, Kurdish, Turkoman, or other) as people.
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 04-16-2007 at 06:31 PM.

  17. #37
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Tom,

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    But in a COIN environment, that sort of training is ultimately counter-productive because if you are fighting to win the support and trust of the locals, you have to put a human face on those locals. Moreover you can ill-afford to dehumanize the enemy or worse demonize the enemy because ultimately, you hope to win him over too, through amnesty or similar programs.
    Exactly! What's even worse about it is that we can be 99.9% sure that it is going to keep happening since the process is part of our neurophysiology <sigh>. On the whole, "we" have gotten rather lazy when it comes to stereotyping, and this is a really good example of how we have gotten lazy.

    Consider who we a "fighting" against. It's not "the locals", but the "insurgents" (another stereotype). What are we really fighting against? Actually, as that small unit leaders handbook points out so well, we are really fighting against a set of perceptions held by individuals rather than against a collection of individuals. The AO, in addition to be geographic, is also perceptual and in the minds of "the locals".

    So, given this, why do we keep using words (the "ordinance" of perceptions) in a manner that supports the insurgents? That, reworded somewhat, was the essence of Jim Guirard's condemnation of the Western (mis)usage of Arabic terminology (see the SWJ Blog for an intro on this). One of the things I really like about Jim's points is that he gives us "categories" (words) to describe who we are fighting that already exist inside the cultural matrix of the "perceptual battlespace" (i.e. the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi in the street).

    So, given this, why do we hear terms like "muj"? The slang comes from "mujahadeen" and denegrates the entirety of Islam. Why not cal them, in a diminutive, stereotype fashion as "irhabi"? That already has the semantic connotations in the Iraqi mind of "evil", "piece of sierra", etc. Calling them this, since we can be positive that slang diminutives will be used, has one added benefit - a local may shift from being a "irhabi" back to being a "true muslim".

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Finally such terms are in fact self-destructive in the long run.... By my second month in Rwanda, I began to despise the killers in a way that left me in a slow boil anger. I pretty much stayed that way for the next year and a half and I paid for it when I got home.
    Too true, Tom. In some ways, the "ideal" mindset for dealing with combat was described by Musashi in the Book of Five Rings. Unfortunately, that thype of mindset requires so many precursors and skills to achieve that are a very low priority in the West that we are unlikely to be able to properly achieve them at the general, social level <sigh - No Dave, I'm not angling for a new emoticon ).

    In all honesty, Tom, the corrosive effect of activating a hate-filled stereotype based on actions rather than phenotype is, probably, less than the other type, but it is still there. What is missing, at the general social level, is the psychological (spiritual?) technologies for dealing with those effects. A long time ago, I spent a number of years counseling street kids - I've seen the effects and how the social system doesn't know how to deal with them.

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  18. #38
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    "irhabi"? That already has the semantic connotations in the Iraqi mind of "evil", "piece of sierra", etc.
    Marc, thanks - that's the spelling I was looking for

  19. #39
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    Marc, thanks - that's the spelling I was looking for
    No worries, Rob. So, are you still in Mossul?

    Marc
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    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Default Killing Don Imus

    Distance, high tech killing doesn't require visceral fear and loathing that can only be attached to those wanting you dead first and God knows we love our technology. The clinical is the antithesis of the emotive. Adrenalin jolts, partial paralysis, tunnel vision, acid reflux, shaking, slow motion perception of real time and blurred auditory reception precede instinctive action based on fight or flight instincts. These psychic jolts as I call them can't be overcome by cultural awareness and sensitivity. The Clinical/analytical can't sharpen the emotive to prep the psyche for what has to be done and it never can. So on the one hand you have to condition young minds to kill, on the other they need to be culturally sensitive. I think cultural relativism has no real place in Army/Marine boot camp but must come later. The precepts of COIN put the individual Marine/Soldier more on a one-to-one basis with the indigenous people and that alone dimishes stereotypes and negative perceptions of them simply as human beings better than any seminar can. Certainly the onus of this need must bear significantly heavier on the Officer Corps than the enlisted ranks.I've been watching that PBS show about Iraq and already 2 years ago the necessity of interacting with humans as humans was being put in play, yet in the course of an ambush videoed, someone yelled "####" and you could tell that was the word being used and it got bleeped out. What a hoot! Here the Public is supposed to be getting the real deal, yet they are denied a full plate. It reminds me of the firing of Don Imus in which it is now acclaimed that cultural harm to Black people has taken a big hit, yet nothing is being done about the denigrating rap music and other cultural things whose message and impact is 100 times that of Imus. I think this same analogy can be applied in attempting to sensitize reactive instinct that must be fast and brutal. In short, one should not proclaim too much success in this endeavor but certainly progress can be expected and demanded. Lastly, Sarajevo you should realize that the concerns you expressed have been well anticipated already and mechanisms put in place for correction and improvement a long time ago already.

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