Author Archives: GI Wilson

The Psychology of Killer Drones – action against our foes; reaction affecting us

From the archives.
It describes America today more than it did when written in September 2011.

Summary: GI WIlson explains that we now have enough experience with drone warfare to study its effects. Just as in physics, our actions affect ourselves as well as our targets. Social science research shows that drones are a gateway to moral disengagement dehumanization, and deindividuation. The great distances drones operate over, manipulated by faceless-nameless-lawyeristic-voyeurs, creates an emotional, mental, and physical divide between “us” ( i.e. our government) and the enemies we kill. Drones allow us to dissociate our actions from our values, a useful high-cost and high-tech justification. At the end are links to gain more information about this new form of warfare.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
— Newtons Third Law of Motion, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (1687)

Flying Terminator

From The Terminator (not written as history)

Contents

  1. Moral Disengagement
  2. Dehumanization
  3. Deindividuation
  4. Articles about UAV’s
  5. Other posts about UAVs
  6. References

(1) Moral Disengagement

Bandura studied the behaviour of individuals engaging in destructive activities towards others, describing it as “moral disengagement”. “People do not generally act out destructively unless they have a mechanism to morally justify their actions to themselves and others” Moral disengagement encompasses ways one mitigates, justifies, neutralizes, or eliminates inhibitions or moral constraints connected to committing acts of violence or a crime. Bandura holds that people use moral disengagement techniques such as “cognitive reconstruction and dehumanization to view certain despicable acts or conduct as justifiable or rational” (Bandura, 2004).

McAlister, Bandura, & Owen (2006) describe four behavioural prongs of moral disengagement associated with violence particularly as it pertains to the military. The four prongs are moral justification, minimization of detrimental effects, disavowal of responsibility and dehumanization (McAlister, Bandura, & Owen, 2006):

At the behaviour locus, people transform lethal means into benevolent and moral ones through moral justification, advantageous comparison, and sanitizing language. At the agency locus, they are relieved of a sense of personal accountability by displacement and diffusion of responsibility. At the outcome locus, the injurious effects of lethal means are disregarded, minimized, or disputed. At the other end, foes are dehumanized and blamed for bringing the suffering on themselves (p. 142).

(2) Dehumanization

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The ultimate 21st Century cage match: Titanic Government vs. the National Security Iceberg

Summary: Today GI Wilson writes about the great game of the 21st century — the US government vs. our 4GW foes. Once called “low intensity war”, our foes have taught us the ability of sustained 4GW produces only a series of expensive defeats for foreign armies (no matter how powerful). A slow bleeding, until we either adapt or give up.

We just need bigger weapons!

We just need bigger weapons!

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Introduction

The recent article, “7 Absurd Ways the Military Wastes Taxpayer Dollars” by Laura Gottesdiene at Salon shines a bright light on military waste and the smarmy behavior of general officers. This smarmy behavior is just the tip of a national security iceberg. The personal foibles of these general officers are symptoms of a much deeper problem. In the wake of 9-11 we are witnessing the costly ineffectiveness our Titanic government bureaucracies. Today, a report by the Independent Accountability Review Board on Benghazi slammed senior level leadership and management laying bare national security miscalculations and incompetence. (Chicago Tribune)

What our national security apparatchiks are missing is that we live in a world where we are seeing sub-national “bad actors” use 4th generation warfare (4GW), which embodies low-tech tactics, techniques procedures (TTPs) together with insurrection, sabotage, espionage, and terrorism, to subvert nation-states. In effect, 4GW has emerged to challenge the established international system. While 4GW is not new, as some critics would have you believe, 4GW has emerged over several decades as the dominant style of warfare in the first part of the 21st Century.

The United States Government (USG) has not adapted to this change. Driven by conventional mentality and bureaucratic inertia, the Military Industrial Congressional Complex (MICC) and the US military has responded to the 4th generation warfare (4GW) threats with a conventional techno strategy of fielding high cost acquisition programs that created the MICC in the first place during the Cold War. The acquisition-programmatic approach to strategy led to a welter of highly complex programs and associated complex organizational relationships that force-fits the fighting man into a technological strait-jacket.

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The Psychology of Killer Drones – action against our foes; reaction affecting us

Summary:  GI WIlson explains that we now have enough experience with drone warfare to study its effects.  Just as in physics, our actions affect ourselves as well as our targets. Social science research shows that drones are a gateway to moral disengagement dehumanization, and deindividuation. The great distances drones operate over, manipulated by faceless-nameless-lawyeristic-voyeurs, creates an emotional, mental, and physical divide between “us” ( i.e. our government) and the enemies we kill. Drones allow us to dissociate our actions from our values, a useful high-cost and high-tech justification.  At the end are links to gain more information about this new form of warfare.

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For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
— Newtons Third Law of Motion, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (1687)

Flying Terminator

From “The Terminator”. Not written as history.

Contents

  1. Moral Disengagement
  2. Dehumanization
  3. Deindividuation
  4. Articles about UAV’s
  5. Other posts about UAVs
  6. References

(1)  Moral Disengagement

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Bandura studied the behaviour of individuals engaging in destructive activities towards others, describing it as “moral disengagement”. “People do not generally act out destructively unless they have a mechanism to morally justify their actions to themselves and others” Moral disengagement encompasses ways one mitigates, justifies, neutralizes, or eliminates inhibitions or moral constraints connected to committing acts of violence or a crime. Bandura holds that people use moral disengagement techniques such as “cognitive reconstruction and dehumanization to view certain despicable acts or conduct as justifiable or rational” (Bandura, 2004).

McAlister, Bandura, & Owen (2006) describe four behavioural prongs of moral disengagement associated with violence particularly as it pertains to the military. The four prongs are moral justification, minimization of detrimental effects, disavowal of responsibility and dehumanization (McAlister, Bandura, & Owen, 2006):

At the behaviour locus, people transform lethal means into benevolent and moral ones through moral justification, advantageous comparison, and sanitizing language. At the agency locus, they are relieved of a sense of personal accountability by displacement and diffusion of responsibility. At the outcome locus, the injurious effects of lethal means are disregarded, minimized, or disputed. At the other end, foes are dehumanized and blamed for bringing the suffering on themselves (p. 142).

(2)  Dehumanization

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Book review: The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits

Summary:   A review of The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits by Catherine Herridge.  Reviewed by “GI” Wilson (Colonel, USMC, retired).

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When reading Catherine Herridge’s smashing investigative work on terrorism, The Next Wave, the lyrics from Jimmy Buffet’s “Trouble on the Horizon” immediately came to mind:

We got trouble, trouble right here in River City,
Every day’s becoming Halloween.
We never see it coming, We never have a clue,
But there’s trouble on the horizon, Waiting for the barbecue.

Indeed, “we got trouble, trouble right here in River City” with a lot more to come.  The Next Wave is a chilling autopsy of homegrown evil doers threatening the personal safety and security of Americans!  Herridge artfully provides insight into developing sources, nailing down facts, and collecting information. She underscores the value of open source intelligence concordant with critical thinking and real investigative journalism.

There is no political flummery concerning terrorism’s inroads into the United States. Herridge is all business, straight to the point, and springs a narrative with the force of a titanium-bear trap.   Herridge lives up to her nickname as the “Terror Pixie” — a very respectful well earned moniker given to Herridge by those who have come to admire her persistence, tenacious professionalism, and sheer guts.

In her work, she lays bare the insider threat to American’s existence (let alone America’s survival as a super power) from within at the hands of home grown evil doers. Herridge serves up a diabolical landscape of DC infighting, political correctness, duplicity, and warmed-over-interagency intrigue. Fathom the hypocrisy of a government allowing one of the worst-of-the-worst-Islamic terrorists to enter and depart the US unimpeded to do more evil.

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Careerism and Psychopathy in the US Military leadership

A summary view of our senior officer class:  “Glibness, Superficial Charm, Grandiose Sense of Self-Worth, Deceitful, Cunning, Manipulative, Lacks Remorse, Callous, Lacks Empathy, Does Not Accept Responsibility for Own Actions, and Impulsiveness … ”  That’s the conclusion of GI Wilson (Colonel, USMC, retired) in this important essay.

 

Introduction from the Editor

The internal workings of the US military had little significance to the overall state of the nation, except during wars — until the post-WWII era.   With the military dominating our foreign policy and being one of the most trusted institution, the character of our senior generals may become a major factor shaping our future.  Hence the importance of this chapter by GI Wilson from The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It, edited by Winslow T. Wheeler and published by the Center for Defense Information and the World Security Institute.

This chapter draws on his experience in the USMC plus a Masters degrees in forensic psychology and business management.

“Careerism and Psychopathy in the US Military”

This essay attempts to make it easier for you to identify the quality and character of military officers and civilian bureaucrats, to increase your awareness and recognition of careerism and its consequences. As Americans, we all must exercise more care and caution in our appraisal of our senior military officers and the Washington “suits” that exert dominating influence on the cost of defense and the conduct of American national security policy.

The Department of Defense (DOD) that I have observed all too closely for over three decades is an overgrown bureaucracy committed to standing still for, if not actively promoting, poorly conceived policy agendas and hardware programs funded and supported by Congress. Coupled to that is the task of attracting the blind loyalty of senior military and civilian actors on the Washington, D.C. stage. For the careerists in America’s national security apparatus, it is all about awarding contracts and personal advancement, not winning wars.

Careerists serve for all the wrong reasons. They weaken national defense, rob the military of its warrior ethos and drive away the very highly principled mavericks that we need to reverse the decay. This can only be remedied by rekindling the time honored principles of military service (i.e. duty, honor, country) among both officers and civilians.

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