PL100 Essay 2

PL100 Essay 2 - UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY "THE...

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UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY “THE FALL OF THE WARRIOR KING” PL100: GENERAL PSYCHOLOGY FOR LEADERS SECTION D11 MAJ ROBERT MEINE BY CADET LAUREN BECKLER ‘10, CO A3 WEST POINT, NEW YORK 20 APRIL 2007 ___ MY DOCUMENT IDENTIFIES ALL SOURCES USED AND ASSISTANCE RECEIVED IN COMPLETING THIS ASSIGNMENT. ___ NO SOURCES WERE USED OR ASSISTANCE RECEIVED IN COMPLETING THIS ASSIGNMENT. SIGNATURE:
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Beckler Three concepts relevant to the events which took place in Samarra, Iraq, in January, 2004 are prejudice, conformity, and obedience. The soldiers of the 1-8 Battalion were thrown into the violence of the Sunni Triangle, where distinguishing friend from foe proved to be a daunting task and in which it was easy for leadership to succumb to the negative aspects of prejudice, conformity, and obedience. Nate Sassaman, a West Point graduate, was neither a weak leader, nor an immoral individual. He and his men were put in a high-pressure, ambiguous situation and his actions accurately reflect that. One of the biggest challenges the 1-8 Battalion faced was distinguishing enemy insurgents from innocent civilians. The first method they used was implementing a curfew in the area. Their policy was “[a]nyone caught on the streets after the appointed hour was assumed to be a guerrilla. At the very least, any such person would be detained; if he acted aggressively, he would be killed” (Filkins 2). This strategy worked for a while. Soldiers used discretion in distinguishing friend from foe. However, during daytime, it proved to be more difficult. Sunnis, who fell victim to misplaced violence, became less fond of Americans and some even turned on them. Lt. Col. Sassaman and his men began to succumb to the effects of discrimination. Discrimination involves “behaving differently, usually unfairly, toward members of a group” (Weiten 668). Because of the difficulty soldiers had distinguishing between insurgents and civilians, they treated everyone as an enemy in order to protect themselves. Sgt. Eric Brown was quoted the morning of a raid involving 15 innocent Iraqis saying, “"I feel bad for these people, I really do. It's so hard to separate the good from the bad" (Filkins 7). This type of discrimination is a product of in-group versus out-group. “People tend to evaluate outgroup members less favorably than ingroup member” (Weiten 670). The soldiers saw locals as all being a member of a group unlike themselves; they were all the same to the Americans. “The illusion of 2
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PL100 Essay 2 - UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY "THE...

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