Major Dad 1984

Cursed By A Classical Education

Let's just say that I intend to use this blog to blow off some steam that I might be feeling with the International/National media, my work situation, or maybe even to tee off on the family in a humorous way of course!

11/16/2004

Marine on Trial in the Court of Public Opinion

I thought I'd post this here...after already posting on another blog of an anti-war Brit.

Here's his rant...and my response follows:

American Marines have been filmed shooting injured Iraqis at point blank range.

The picture below was taken of one such incident. It took place in a Fallujan mosque.


click photo to read ITN news story


That's right. In a mosque. If there could possibly be a more inappropriate place to showcase wanton disregard for Muslim life, I can't think of it. If there's any image more likely to launch hitherto moderate Muslims into fanatical vengeance fantasies, I can't imagine it.

(Christians might like to imagine how they'd react to footage of a wounded, dying Western man being shot at point blank range by a group of Arab soldiers on the altar of a church. This doesn't even take into account the separate horror Muslims will feel at soldiers trampling over prayer rugs with their dirty boots, or the thoughtless, careless way in which such sacred buildings are summarily destroyed.)

One incident was shown on ITN news this evening, with just the soundtrack of the killing heard clearly, but with the picture paused as it was "too distressing to be broadcast".

In another incident, also shown on British TV tonight, soldiers are seen discussing how a shot Iraqi has fallen between two buildings and cannot escape. One soldier walks up to the gap, aims at the injured man, shoots, and walks away saying "He's done". This footage was broadcast in Australia and other countries days ago and has whipped up a storm of outrage trailing right across the planet.

Fallujah is broken, smashed, smelling of "broken corpses and decaying flesh" , with no water or electricity or food. We hear that 50 doctors and nurses have tried to enter but that 17 of these were shot dead by US troops while crossing the River Euphrates. We hear today that the journalist who made that report has been shot by US soldiers.

We hear stray dogs and cats are eating corpses in Fallujah because the bodies aren't being cleared away. That Iraqi blogger also makes the following claims:

"They report today that Asma Khamis al-Muhannadi, a doctor who witnessed the US and Iraqi National Guard raid the general hospital said, "We were tied up and beaten despite being unarmed and having only our medical instruments."

She said the hospital was targeted by bombs and rockets during the initial siege of Fallujah, and troops dragged patients from their beds and pushed them against the wall.

Al-Muhannadi went on to say that all of them were put under intense inspection and, "Two female doctors were forced to totally undress."

She continued on, "I was with a woman in labor," she said, "The umbilical cord had not yet been cut. At that time, a US soldier shouted at one of the (Iraqi) national guards to arrest me and tie my hands while I was helping the mother to deliver. I will never forget this incident in my life.""


We hear that Amnesty expresses concerns about violation of international laws in Fallujah, that the Red Cross and Red Crescent have been denied access because the US says it is capable of treating any remaining civilians, despite the vast numbers of innocent people who have bled to death or died as a result of lack of access to basic medical care.

We learn that typhoid is spreading in "ghost town" Fallujah and that puppet president (unrecognised by Iraqis) Allawi laughably insists there has been not a single civilian loss in Fallujah. No wonder he's so unpopular with his people. Not even Rumsfeld or Hoon are brazen enough to make that bold a claim. Conservative estimates are currently around 2,000 Iraqi dead. The distinction between "insurgent" and "civilian" is impossible to make.

Military families, traditionally pro-war and pro-government, have made unprecedented breaks with convention by protesting about the Iraq campaign vociferously. A few days ago, families of dead Black Watch soldiers forced their way to Downing Street's steps to hand in a wreath of protest. Soldiers and their families have spoken out so strongly against this war that the Ministry of Defence scarcely knows how to handle the sudden abandonment of protocol.

And meanwhile, Iraqi sources say the Fallujah massacre has only inspired the able-bodied men of Iraq to fight all the more against their unwanted occupiers. They intend to fight to the death.

This is a war waged without reason, without humanity and without a hope of succeeding in its professed aims. A few years ago, a lot of Muslims disliked the West's foreign policy, but only a handful of crazed extremists ever took violent revenge. Today, watching thousands upon thousands of people being killed, their homes destroyed and an entire city reduced to rubble, how many more will be preparing to fight back? With pride, life and hope obliterated so publicly and so humiliatingly, what do these nations have to lose by fighting us back? Aren't these ideal conditions for destructive hate and suicidal vengeance to flourish?

As a global population, we have never been more at risk. Let's not kid ourselves: we are all pawns in our governments' callous, acquisitive war games and we will be the ones who have to pay for their greed.

This senseless killing must stop now and those responsible must be brought to justice. If you oppose this war, please make sure your voice is heard.

Okay...here's my response...

Ah...maybe things are different in Great Britain, but I think that the Marine in question is entitled to a trial before he's convicted of being guilty of ANYTHING.

I have to agree with the previous commenter...if someone on the opposite side of your opinions said the sky will be blue...you'd want to argue about it, just to be contrary.

I've heard the audio of the incident...I don't believe anyone's seen the video...and all I see within your blog is a still picture of a Marine guarding a prisoner. No evidence of wrong doing in all those "fact filled" pieces of evidence. I'm sure that the military will make a full investigation of the incident.

You need to understand the context of right and wrong, especially in a combat zone is relatively fuzzy...I believe that Clausewitz called this the "fog of war." If you haven't heard, the insurgents have been known to booby trap their dead...and even their wounded. I'm sure you've seen it in a hundred movies, the guy that says "Leave me behind...but leave me a grenade." The grenade is then placed under the body (as it's bleeding out). When the body is rolled, the spoon flies, the four second fuse starts burning and KABOOM! Whoever may have rolled over the dead soldier...whoever was providing security (i.e. the guy pointing his weapon at the insurgent)...and anyone else that might be in the area...a corpsman perhaps?

Let's say for the sake of argument that the insurgent hasn't yet bled out...but he sees the opportunity to kill some American Marines...and decides to use his grenade, pistol, etc.

Lots of ifs here...but it is completely plausible.

You seem to have lost sight of the fact that the Iraqi insurgents have used the mosques in Fallujah improperly in accordance of the Laws of Land Warfare and the Geneva Convention. True, the buildings do enjoy certain sanctity from attack...provided they're not actively supporting enemy activity...but the minute they're used for any purpose to support an enemy force, they lose their immunity. The invisible force field goes away and they become legitimate military targets.

I'm also appalled at your apparent disregard for what both your forces and my forces are trying to accomplish in Iraq. Did we force this "good guy" to don an orange jumpsuit, kneel in front of a video camera to plead for his life, and then did the Marines saw his head off with a K-bar? No, no and hell no.

Before we try to tag this Marine with the crime of the century, let's allow him his day in court.

I guess I'm back to the "shame on you" stance...

From the high ground...

MajorDad1984




Read the rest of the longer story!

13 Comments:

At 6:28 PM, Blogger the urban fox said...

Hey Major D, I didn't know you'd posted here about this. I've replied on my blog anyway.

Not sure I'm as far away on this point as you first thought, particularly not with regard to my opinion of the soldiers themselves, which I think you may have taken as somewhat different from my intended meaning.

But I'm respectful of your opinions whichever way you see it after reading my reply. Thanks for responding, and best wishes to you and Major Family.

 
At 6:30 PM, Blogger the urban fox said...

Oops, I should've posted the link to that reply. Duh. Here it is.

 
At 9:06 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Major Dad:
I am with you on the confusion and fog of war thing. The troops are under duress in a big way. read my post on fox's blog, I simply can't type anymore now.
JOS

 
At 9:41 PM, Blogger Joe said...

I have not personally seen the video, but I heard a report on it by a BBC reporter who had seen the reporter. Apparently, the Iraqi was unarmed, and did not seem to pose any threat. I'm inclined to think that since the Marines guarding the men had recently arrived in the area and had just been posted to them, they might not have known that they were prisoners, but were instead corpses; one of the group of five wounded Iraqis was already dead, and three of the others were close to death. So, maybe it was a simple lack of communication between the Marine patrol that had left, which had captured the five, and the arriving patrol, or perhaps the Marine knowingly murdered him. But it really won't lessen the repurcussions either way

 
At 10:15 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Oh just curious, Majordad, do you add that "from the high ground" comment at the end of each post facetiously, or do you truly find your views to be elevated above others'?

 
At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, while I agree with you that everyone, especially this guy, deserves their day in court, I'm distressed by how quick you are to justify his actions.

I have seen the tape. Of course people in every war booby trap their dead. I don't think that gives us the right to kill wounded, unarmed insurgents - if for no other reason than killing them doesn't un-booby trap the body. Not to mention, you know, that murdering people is wrong. (And yes, that's murder, which is unjustified, as opposed to killing in battle, which usually is.)

Anyway, I'm certainly not out to crucify this guy. I do want to hear his side. But I'd be a lot happier if more of the milbloggers in this country wouldn't all jump quite so quickly to - "fog of war - they booby trap their dead" and other justifications that aren't. Yes, the fog of war clouds your mind. It doesn't give anyone the right to kill wounded unarmed combatants. It would be nice if the response were - "We want him to have his day in court - but if this tape is accurate, he should pay the price for murdering someone." That wouldn't even be the high ground: just the right thing.

ADS

 
At 10:30 AM, Blogger MajorDad said...

I think you need to read more carefully...a quick skim can get you in trouble here.

I NEVER said that I condoned or justified the cold-blooded murder of a wounded prisoner.

Let me say this clearly in very small words...just like O.J. Simpson, just like Scott Peterson, this Marine and the others involved in the incident are innocent until proven guilty. End of story.

Now onto the fog of war...unless you've been there, please don't talk to me about it. Even in a peacetime military or corporation, the fog of war keeps people from making the best, informed decisions on a daily basis. Let's add a foreign battlefield, a foreign language (or several), snipers, mortars dropping in day and night, and oh yeah....the friggin media crawling so far up your butt you've got a nostril hanging out your belly button...get my drift?

Things get confusing enough here getting up and going to work each day here...imagine what it's like there!!!!

From the high ground.

MajorDad1984

 
At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did read your post in its entirety. All I said was that while I agreed with you, wholeheartedly, that this Marine is absolutely entitled to presumption of innocence, and a fair trial, it would be nice to see you stand up the way Smash did about the Abu Ghraib incident, and say, as he did then, that while everyone is entitled to their day in court, what appears to be going on in these pictures is WRONG, and we will not condone it, not justify it, not attempt to explain it away.

I haven't heard you say that yet. Feel free not to: you'd have a lot of company. I'm hoping people like Smash actually will take the high ground and do what's right.

 
At 12:43 PM, Blogger lcf said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 4:52 PM, Blogger MajorDad said...

I get it...and I was wrong in not saying that IF the story with the Marine, shooting a wounded, unarmed insurgent in the mosque was unwarranted and simply murder....then he should pay for his crime.

What I was trying to get at is that we simply cannot make snap judgements before all the facts are in, investigations conducted, and justice procedures carried out.

We, primarily as Americans, have a real problem with patience. We have become junkies for instant gratification...and have become slaves to the media in that we'll believe anything we see or hear...provided it's been given to us by one of the well-coiffed, made up talking heads on the tube.

I'll state it again...if the Marines in question wrongfully sent the insurgent off to Allah, then they should pay for the crime. But before I join the lynch mob screaming for justice, I'm willing to give the kid the benefit of the doubt. I've not walked a mile in his moccasins...or seen all the facts.

As always, from the high ground...

MajorDad1984

 
At 7:31 PM, Blogger StinKerr said...

Okay, Joe. Let me explain to you:

I believe that MajorDad uses the phrase "from the high ground" as a double entendre.

1. It's good military practice to control the high ground in a battle.

2. In a comments section or his blog he always takes the high ground inasmuch as he never stoops to name calling or snarky comments like: "...do you truly find your views to be elevated above others'?"You have no reason to interpret the phrase the way you seem to have done, so read the blog and figure out where he comments and read those blogs and comments too.

I'm guessing MD wouldn't step off the high ground to address your comments but I have no such qualms.

From the bridge, StinKerr

(Go figure that one out)

 
At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your clarification, MD. I, like you, am more than willing to wait for all the facts. I'm no more in favor of a lynch mob than you are.

ADS

 
At 10:29 PM, Blogger Joe said...

I didn't mean to be "snarky," it's just that the way I read it, which has turned out to be incorrect, seemed to have a hue of arrogance. I, being uninformed in the realms of military lingo, didn't recognize the connection with battlefield references. And "from the bridge?" That obviously means you're one of those punks who stands on bridges and throws hard candy at my crew when we row under. The shells we row are extremely expensive; please, don't try to put holes through our hulls.

 

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