Army: If They Screw up, Promote 'em?

| Wed Jul. 26, 2006 3:42 AM EDT

There is so much that is depressing, and so much that feels like you already kind of knew it but have never seen it laid out in such horrific detail, about Fiasco, the new book by the Washington Post's Thomas Ricks, now being serialized in the paper. One of those things is the pattern whereby grunts do bad things--always have, always will; that's a given if you're going to send hundreds of thousands of people into a creepy, scary, unknown environment--but it's the command structure that signals whether those things are to be tolerated, winked-and-nodded, or avoided at all costs. That is why it's a problem when, as Emily Bazelon documented in Mother Jones, torture was exported from Bagram to Abu Ghraib; or when you have an Army batallion commander who, even after he's been outed for helping his guys cover up a straight-out murder, can get away with saying that

"If I were to do it all over again, I would do the exact same thing, and I've thought about this long and hard. I was taught in the Army to win, and I was trying to win all the way."

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