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The Silicon Gadfly

I am an unashamed liberal, and if you were to visit my blog, you'd likely find yourself disagreeing with much of what I have to say. I have never served in the military, and likely never will, but I do not say this with pride. Though I do not perfectly have the temperament or, frankly, the courage, I have respect for the institutions and for those who serve. However, as the child of an officer and a voracious reader, I think I might understand something about what you are saying here, and I wanted to contribute one liberal's view to show that we might not be entirely on opposite sides.

For the marines involved in the incident at Haditha, I am ambivalent. If the reports are true (and I understand the investigations are not complete), then they cracked under more pressure than I will ever be asked to bear. Given this, and all the other factors you mention, I do feel great compassion for these men. However, the end result is still that they have comitted very real crimes under US Military, Iraqi, and International law. In addition, their actions caused very real harm to our ultimate goal in Iraq, which is to bring peace to the region, and ultimately (I suspect) will prompt more violence against US troops. Neither justice, military discipline, nor the harsh realities of international relations will be served by "sweeping it all under the rug", and I believe the "immediately responsible" parties must receive full military justice. (I really hated to write that last sentence, by the way, but I will stand by it.)

However, your final paragraph gets to the heart of the liberal position. These men were indeed put in an untenable position, as you say "by us". Some of us -- the "pro-military, anti-iraq-war" crowd -- would disagree with the word "us", however, and say that a very small number of civilian leaders were responsible for this dreadful situation, and are ultimately responsible for whatever happened in Haditha. (It should be noticed that we are usually not blind pacifists. There were very few anti-Afghanistan marches.) We certainly don't blame the men in the field for the conduct of the war. How can we? Should they be deciding day to day which battles they wish to fight and which commanders they will obey?

Even if all of the troops in Iraq were perfect "plaster saints", it's still almost guaranteed that there would be an incident of this sort by the time it was over, and it would still be a crime for which the men on the ground who pulled the triggers would have to be punished. And I'd still blame the men who sent them there. As it is our men are not perfect. They wear the uniform; and serve their country; and often die for their country; and I will most certainly give them my respect and support; but they are still human, fallible, men.

Roscoe

Gadfly - I accept that you don't bear any responsibility for the war in Iraq (other than, just like me, the extent to which the citizens of a democratic country are responsible for what their government does). But, whoever is responsible for creating the situation in Haditha, you can bet that these kids didn't have much of a say.

Which was kind of the point of my post. Everyone wants to relate this incident to some higher goal or cause. I am hoping that, as this situation unfolds, we continue to keep some understanding and compassion for the young Marines involved.

The Silicon Gadfly

Roscoe, I accept what you are saying. You are right that I was relating this to a higher point, which is ultimately that I regret that the Marines were there in the first place. But you are also right that I should not let that point keep us from understanding what is happening to the men on the ground. Your messages is well taken.

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