Saturday, May 06, 2006

Killing for Sport In Iraq?

As I read news accounts of the British helicopter that went down in Basra earlier today (apparently shot down by a rocket) I got to thinking. Why would anyone want to shoot down a British helicopter in Basra? There are, of course, many answers to a question like that but one answer came to mind that I had not considered before.

Perhaps some of the killing in Iraq, perhaps more than some, is simply for the thrill of it . . . for sport.

I remember as a young teen when my brother and I went out into the woods with a small .22 rifle to shoot at tin cans or whatever else we could shoot at. We eventually got tired of shooting at cans and started shooting at chipmunks. At one point we actually hit one and followed a trail of blood to its hole. With considerable remorse we emptied the rifle of whatever bullets were left and went home. I have never fired a gun since.

Why did we shoot the chipmunk? Was it threatening us? Were we angry at it for being in our neck of the woods? No. Of course not. We shot the chipmunk because we could. We had the rifle and, what the heck, the chipmunk wasn't going to shoot back at us!

I wonder if much of what we are seeing in Iraq is something like that. Why shoot down a British helicopter? Why not! Here's a missile. What's it good for? Well, shooting down things. So, why not use it and see what will happen!

The odds of actually hitting something with these rockets are not much better that those old WW II movies where desparate soldiers try to shoot down Japanese attack planes with rifles and machine guns. Maybe you'll get lucky!

The same with IEDs. There may not necessarily be a great deal of politics of religion in many of these attacks, either. Bad guys who may, in fact, be motivated by politics or religion can always recruit bored kids and train them to do very bad things just for the thrill.

If the kids get blown up, so what? As far as the bad guys are concerned, the kids are both disposable and replaceable.

Wherever you have lots of guns and violence there will be those who will use those weapons for little or no reason. Perhaps because someone looked at you the wrong way. Or because someone put your father out of business. Or because of a bad debt or whatever. So, why kill them? Because you can. And because you have the means to do it.

Why blow up a Humvee? Why not! You've been given the IED and have been shown how to use it. It will be cool to see if you can "get" one of them.

I think, unfortunately, that this is part of human nature. Just like the children who one minute are taking candy from American troops full of smiles and thank yous that are genuine and sincere. Then, a few minutes later, as an IED disables a US military vehicle, those same children are running around, showing off, knowing that there could be a big explosion any moment but are simply testing the limits of their own courage. The excitement of such an attack brings out even more smiles, sort of like playing a real-live video game. Nothing personal about it. Just the fun of playing with really big toys that go BOOM and blow things up!

I am beginning to believe that there is some truth to the argument that, when American troops leave Iraq, this type of violent attack will diminish. Why? Simply because it will not be as much "fun" or as much of a thrill to blow up an Iraqi Security Force vehicle. That would not carry the same cachet as bloodying the most powerful nation in the world!

Why climb Mt. Everest? Because it is there.

Why blow up a Humvee or shoot down a British helicopter?

Despite what pundits are prone to ponder and propogate, not everything is necessarily religiously, politically or economically motivated. Some things are done just for the thrill.

Just a thought.