As early as 2006, the US military started falling short on it’s recruitment numbers, but they made the target recruitment numbers and more. Obviously, with two wars to participate in, meeting this goal was imperative. But in doing so, they had to cut corners. The military started recruiting people with criminal backgrounds including murderers by issuing the so-called “moral waivers“.
The reaction to such recruitment has ranged from outrage to ambivalence to resignation. But the effect of recruiting felons into the military has not been sufficiently illuminated. The military has been accused of hiding any moral or pragmatic ill effects that may have been precipitated by such large numbers of felons in the military. Incidentally, the evidence of such ill effects and complacency of the military have traditionally been anecdotal.
We may finally be seeing the effect of such “moral waivers”. Recently, a court martial in Washington sentenced a US soldier to 24 years in prison for murdering Afghan civilians with intent.It looks like unlike with Abu Gharib and Iron Triangle murders, the US military has stopped protecting soldiers who commit crimes (while in active duty). While there is no evidence to say that the soldier was a “moral waiver” recruit, I don’t think that matters. As Dr. Stjepan Mestrovic argues in his book Rules of Engagement, certain events, behavior, or tolerance creates a social atmosphere which affects the moral compass to the individuals in that society so that acts that would otherwise been considered immoral or wrong suddenly becomes acceptable, is rationalized, and condoned. The murder of Afghan civilians by US soldiers could well point to the creation of such an unhealthy social environment that has metastasized the soldiers’ moral inclinations and driven them to misanthropic acts that have occurred almost beyond the individual’s volition.
I hope I am wrong. But I seriously doubt it.