From The Anti-Media:

June 7, 2016   |   Isiah Holmes

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(ANTIMEDIA) America is known for its military capabilities and culture of warrior worship among its population. What if, however, you learned that Mexico — not America — is the force with the highest recorded kill rate? Mexican Marines, in fact, are such efficient killers that international watchdogs fear the numbers all but confirm some of the most horrid tales of atrocity from the ongoing drug war.

An assessment of wars since the 1970s conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross found that in modern war, for every one target soldiers kill, four are injured. The number wounded is sometimes even greater, the New York Times reports, and older studies support this finding. Most notably, SLA Marshall, a U.S. Army historian for WWII and Korea, found most soldiers simply wouldn’t fire their weapons. In his study, “Men Against Fire,” Marshall found just 15-20% of fellow soldiers would fire their weapons. The rest objected, either out of sheer shock or an unwillingness to violate a moral code.

Mexico’s military, however, flips the game, killing some eight targets for every one it wounds. The nation’s Marines are particularly noteworthy, killing around 30 for each one injured. According to the New York Times, body counts and atrocity reports have only continued to rise since soldiers began their street-by-street war against crime.

Since 2006, just 16 of the 4,000 complaints of torture reviewed by the attorney general’s office have resulted in convictions. “Not only is torture generalized in Mexico,” says U.N. special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Mendez, but it is also surrounded by impunity.” Though the military refused to comment on atrocity claims from the press, it touts itself as the only effective institution against crime. Some use Mexico’s broken justice system — which convicts less than 2% of murders — to defend the military’s kill rate.

Abuses extend far beyond the cold rhythm of thumping rifles and fallen dead, however. As the Times reported, Mexico’s government was forced to issue a public apology after video footage surfaced showing police holding a plastic bag over a woman’s head as soldiers beat her. The case of 43 college students, ‘disappeared’ since 2014, still resonates in the public consciousness, as do suspicions of the government.

Several soldiers were reportedly present in Mexico’s Guerrero State, where the students went missing — and the military denied investigators interviews. “The conditions to conduct our work don’t exist,” says Claudia Paz y Paz, part of an international panel investigating the disappearances. Claudia once served as Guatemala’s attorney general, gaining international notoriety for prosecuting the country’s dictator for genocide, the New York Times notes. An investigative report published in the Mexican magazine, Proceso, contradicts the Mexican government’s narrative that soldiers weren’t patrolling where the 43 students vanished. According to Huffington Post, members of 27th battalion told prosecutors they’d been on the streets and tracked the students before any firing started. Soldiers were told of “armed personnel that are going around killing people.” Although former Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam claimed local police committed the kidnapping, ammunition casings found at the scene of the attack belonged to Guerrero State’s army weapons — not police.

Questions also linger over the killing of 22 people by armed forces who later claimed the victims belonged to an armed gang. Military officials applauded the “battle’s” outcome, as only one of their own was injured. Mexico’s human rights commission, however, determined 15 of the people were executed and that soldiers altered the scene. Only one soldier related to the incident was reprimanded — for the crime of “disobedience.”

This brings us back to an important question: what percentage of Mexican soldiers actually do the killing? If this number is particularly high, then what is the Mexican military doing that other militaries aren’t? Considering the armed forces opted not to publish statistics that delivered this revelation, New York Times reports, a concrete answer may prove elusive. Closure may instead lay dormant within the human psychology of systematic killing, brutality, and justification of these behaviors.

Drastic behavior modification can occur in “total institutions,” such as religion, military, or society as a whole. It’s along these very same lines that the process of dehumanizing the enemy begins, and wars with uniformed enemies encourage the dehumanization process. “When people are stuck in a total institution, their moral vision can become blurred, broken down systematically,” Psychology Today explains. Methods of indoctrination, or the ramifications of groupthink, can accelerate such moral breakdowns.

Psychology Today references a “corrupting culture” at Goldman Sachs and an army sergeant who massacred 16 Afghan civilians to exemplify how total institutions can negatively modify individual behavior. If soldiers are involved in a culture that punishes those who refuse orders, then a learned helplessness of sorts may also factor in. Learned helplessness occurs in individuals unable to escape a repeated or ongoing unpleasant experience. Eventually, because the situation or stimulus proves unavoidable, the individual stops trying to escape. A soldier, pressured by consequences for disobeying an order to kill, may learn to get by merely out of necessity. Numerous other equally powerful factors exist preventing soldiers from killing, particularly when the enemy is close — like in executions. SLA Marshall found that particular situations, like seeing the target’s face, may decrease the soldiers drive to kill.

Regardless, over 164,000 casualties, the victims of Mexico’s drug war outnumber those of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, PBS reports. They are police and cartel members, soldiers and civilians, journalists and others. Exactly how many belong to each group may be difficult to determine, as well as who’s spilled more blood. “A lot of the dead are not counted,” says Molly Molloy, border and Latin American specialist at New Mexico State University, PBS notes. It would seem the collective cost of the drug war is as cryptic as the mechanisms and motivations of its participants.


This article (Double Tap: Mexican Military Is Disturbingly Efficient at Killing Its Own Citizens) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Isiah Holmes and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. Image credit: © Tomas Castelazo/www.tomascastelazo.com. If you spot a typo, please email the error and name of the article at edits@theantimedia.org.

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