In an interview with Paul Jay of The Real News Network, Josh Stieber, who “enlisted in the army after graduating high school (and) was deployed to Baghdad from Feb 07- Apr 08” talks about his training for combat and shares this chilling confirmation that chants advocating the mass murder of innocent women and children, in violation of international law, are still being used in military training, despite assurances that these training methods are a thing of the past.
This interview adds obscene credence to the fact that women’s bodies are still a part of the battleground on which wars are fought and clearly illustrates that the U.S. military has little regard for women’s lives an attitude so ingrained that it must be considered as part of the context of any discussion of sexual assault against women within the military as well.
JAY: How interwoven were your beliefs in America and what America stands for and your religious beliefs?
STIEBER: They were pretty closely intertwined. I went to a religious high school. And one example is, in a government class that I was in at this religious high school, we read a book called The Faith of George W. Bush. And people like that were held up as, you know, these—these are people that are fighting for God’s will here on Earth. So religion was very interwoven with a sense of nationalism.
JAY: But by 2006, when you join, it’s already really clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that Bush and Cheney had essentially lied to start a war. Like, that was—by 2006 that’s fairly acknowledged. Had that penetrated in to you, to your school?
STIEBER: There, and just the—kind of the people I was listening to. And, again, I wasn’t making any kind of effort to really challenge my thinking. People were saying, you know, whoever it is, the media or other countries are out to make us look bad, and, you know, we did the right thing, and we’re doing the right thing. And I might have had a few doubts in my mind, but even I comforted the doubts by saying, you know, even if the reasons that we’re there weren’t completely justified, we’re there and we’re still in this position, since we’re there, that we can’t just pull out, and we need to help these people.
JAY: So even if there were no weapons and even if the argument for weapons wasn’t legitimate, it’s still good versus evil, and they’re evil and we’re good, and we’ve got to fight it?
STIEBER: Yeah. I bought into that lingo a lot.
JAY: So you go to Iraq. You join, you go through boot camp, and you’re sent to Iraq, and you’re still more or less the same mindset. Tell us a little bit about boot camp and the kind of training that takes place to prepare you for war. I mean, your religious training is supposed to be about love thy neighbor, and then you’re sent to war. So how do they get you ready for that?
STIEBER: Yeah, I guess that’s where I started to see, maybe, some of these contradictions, just by the kinds of things that we did on a regular basis in basic training, whether it was the cadences that we sang as we were marching around, some that even joked about killing women and children.
JAY: Like what?
STIEBER: One that stands out in my mind is—it goes, “I went down to the market where all the women shop/I pulled out my machete and I begin to chop/I went down to the park where all the children play/I pulled out my machine gun and I begin to spray.”