N°7 | Le moral et la dynamique de l’action – II
Le décrochage du sens moral
Chaque homme a en lui autant de potentiel de fraternité que de haine. Prix dans les conditions extrêmes de son engagement, un soldat peut donc montrer de lui le meilleur comme le pire. Retour sur le scandale d’Abu Ghraib.
The breakdown of morality
Each person has within them the potential for both fraternity and hate. The extreme conditions of their engagement can bring out the best and the worst in a soldier. Due to the scale of its media impact, the Abu Ghraïb scandal was a surprise to the extent that the US military community was shocked; however, the behaviours witnessed were highly predictable. Whether hidden or out in the open, these instances of a loss of control have also occurred in other periods, in other places. It is surprising that in their planning for operations in Iraq, US specialists did not learn from the brilliant demonstrations on experimental psychology performed in US universities in the 1960s. These demonstrations show that a normal person under certain conditions can engage in cruel behaviour, due to an extinction of their moral judgement. The facts are beyond doubt: ethics can be lacking in a soldier, regardless of his qualities. The soldiers involved in the Abu Ghraïb scandal were normal people. They were among people whose conduct up until that point had been remarkable, but the situation they were put in led them to do what they did. It was not until after the event that the shocking nature of their behaviour became clear. The only real way of preventing this phenomenon comes from the command, through information and surveillance efforts. Military academies in several NATO countries have information on situations in which this problem, known as moral disengagement, can occur.