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July 14, 2006

A Perfect Storm

Turns out that the soldier, Stephen Green, accused of raping the young girl in March in Mahmudiya, Iraq, and murdering her and her family, was a troubled young man who never should have been allowed in the Army.  Nor would he have been allowed to sign up if the military had not been having so much difficulty recruiting for a war that our young people aren't sure they want to fight.  He was placed in a situation where horrific things were happened to fellow soldiers and he evidently cracked.  The consequences of this terrible deed perpetrated by this troubled young man and his fellow assailants, is likely to be felt for years.  Unfortunately, the conditions that led to this attack, are becoming more and more common.  This perfect storm, like the hurricanes in the Gulf Region, are likely to be seen again and again because the underlying conditions have changed dramatically.   

The New York Times has an article on Green which details his unfortunate life.  He appears to have been a disaster waiting to happen.  Green was born in 1985 in Midland, Texas, the town that George Bush grew up in.  Green's parents divorced and his mother moved him to a town south of Houston in the 6th grade.  Classmates remember him as a youngster always in trouble, getting into fights, being mad at teachers.  He did drugs and alcohol at an unusually young age and dropped out of school in the 10th grade.  Green knocked around for a few years, picked up a GED, and was arrested a couple of times for minor drug paraphernalia, and having tobacco and alcohol as a minor.   Shortly after he was released from jail in January of 2005, Green received a "moral waiver" and was inducted into the Army.  According the the NYT article:

The share of Army recruits who received “moral waivers” for criminal records increased last year and through the first half of 2006 by 15 percent from 10 percent or 11 percent before the war, according to statistics released this week. (According to the Pentagon, the number of waivers in 2001 totaled 7,640. The figure increased to 11,018 in 2005, and for the first six months of this fiscal year totaled 5,636.)

Green arrived in Iraq with Bravo Company, First Battalion, 502nd Infantry, part of the 101st Division.  It was not long before he was patrolling in the "triangle of death" south of Baghdad.  Bravo Company has seen some of the worst violence of any division in the military.  From the time in late 2005 when two sergeants of Bravo Company were shot dead at a checkpoint, seventeen battalion members were killed in four months, the last four months of Green's unfortunate enlistment.  Of those seventeen, 8 came from Bravo Company, which had had 110 soldiers.  Peter Kunk, the brother of the commanding officer of the battalion, Lt. Col. Thomas Kunk, said that Colonel Kunk had regarded this deployment as the most brutal stretch of his 22 years in the service.

“This is the toughest tour of duty he has ever had,” Mr. Kunk said. “You can tell by his letters. It has taken a terrible toll on him and his men. We’re heartsick about it. There’s been so many deaths, loss of limbs, injuries.”

Just as we will have years worth of hurricanes in the Gulf due to our government's rigid insistence that human activity is not the cause of global warming and increased hurricane activity, so too are we likely to have years worth of atrocities and years worth of troubled returning soldiers. All due to our government's rigid insistence that we continue putting young people into a situation in Iraq that is out of control because of an administration that doesn't know the first thing about diplomacy or war.      

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 14, 2006 at 08:16 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

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