Friday, June 23, 2006

"Murder" in Iraq

[These thoughts were ultimately expanded into a published op ed column which, in this online version comes complete with footnoted sources: "Perspective on Military Murder and the Mission at Hand," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 2, 2006,
More of my published commentary about terrorism in general and the Iraq War in particular can be found at Terrorism and the War in Iraq.]

Can't defend "murder" -- whether in battles of war or breaches of the peace. But does anyone else see how inevitable it is when the "mission" isn't really suitable for military solutions?

It's very difficult to have a "war" in a country where our military will inevitably be viewed as invaders/occupiers, we don't know the culture, can't speak the language, there is no front line, the "enemy" refuses to wear uniforms and can't be distinguished from allies and innocent civilians, the enemy operates out of cells and as individuals with no "headquarters" or discernable "chain of command," the country's population is divided among historically antagonistic ethnic and religious groups -- now warring -- rather than united against an invader, and the fighting must take place in densely populated urban areas' homes, shops, streets and schools. This was a problem in Vietnam and even more so in Iraq -- and one of the reasons the President's father wisely avoided trying to "defeat" Iraq once its military was beaten back out of Kuwait.

Our 21,000 dead and injured American troops are already matched with an estimated 35,000 to 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians. It is often the case that innocent civilians are the greatest casualty of war.

This week's news brings the story that 8 U.S. troops now stand accused of "murdering" an Iraqi civilian in his home. I can't justify what they are accused of doing. Nor am I about to charge Bush with being a "murderer."

But it does seem to me that it was fully predictable when the Administration handed our well-trained, brave troops an impossible "mission," inherently not suited for a military solution, that it would inevitably lead, at some point, to an event like that for which 8 of our soldiers will soon be standing trial for "murder."


Nick said...

After posting this I saw a consistent op ed in today's (June 23) New York Times with the following paragraph:

"It's impossible to imagine the frustration and stress on American soldiers in Iraq today — impossible, or maybe it's simply not something we willingly work to imagine. Then the news breaks. My first thought on hearing about the alleged atrocities at Haditha — and of the announcement this week that murder charges are being brought against eight American servicemen for killing an Iraqi civilian at Hamdania in April — was 'Duh.' If we didn't know this day was coming, we were fools."

Alex Vernon, "The Road From My Lai," New York Times, June 23, 2006.

seo said...