War is a lousy thing.
In Fallujah, a Marine apparently shot and killed a wounded Iraqi prisoner.
The NBC report set the scene:
The Marine battalion stormed an unidentified mosque Saturday in southern Fallujah after taking casualties from heavy sniper fire and attacks with rocket-propelled grenades. Ten insurgents were killed and five others were wounded in the mosque and an adjacent building.The other Marines arrived:
The Marines displayed a cache of rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 assault rifles that they said the men were holding. They said the arms were conclusive evidence that insurgents had been using mosques as fighting positions in Fallujah, which they said made the use of force appropriate.
When the Marines left to advance farther south, the five wounded Iraqis, none of whose injuries appeared to be life-threatening, were left behind in the mosque for other Marines to evacuate for treatment.
Sites saw the five wounded men left behind on Friday still in the mosque. Four of them had been shot again, apparently by members of the squad that entered the mosque moments earlier. One appeared to be dead, and the three others were severely wounded. The fifth man was lying under a blanket, apparently not having been shot a second time.Combat does things to people. Pressure, stress, the high emotion of watching your friends get killed and wounded, of being shot at yourself - they're all a recipe for occasional problems. During World War II, there were many stories of GIs killing prisoners. It happens. The military frowns on it, and I'm sure the Marine involved is in a world of trouble; as Jason Van Steenwyck points out, the Marine is probably looking at a murder rap.
One of the Marines noticed that one of the severely wounded men was still breathing. He did not appear to be armed, Sites said.
The Marine could be heard insisting: “He’s f---ing faking he’s dead — he’s faking he’s f---ing dead.” Sites then watched as the Marine raised his rifle and fired into the man’s head from point-blank range.
“Well, he’s dead now,” another Marine said.
When told that the man he shot was a wounded prisoner, the Marine, who himself had been shot in the face the day before but had already returned to duty, told Sites: “I didn’t know, sir. I didn’t know.”
But what it boils down to is that it's something that is a symptom of the stress of combat, something individuals and small groups do in the heat and pain and pressure of battle.
Not as a matter of national policy.
I would ordinarily feel silly pointing that last out. It's not rocket science. But a number of leftyblogs, not being themselves rocket scientists, are trying to create an Abu Ghraib-like scandal out of this - and pin it on the Administration:
Kevin Sites, while showing captures of the photos of the murder: "Let's watch Bush win Iraqi hearts and minds!"
Matthew Gross entitled his piece "Culture of Life", and said "Someday, not too far away, we'll tell the kiddies how the U.S. was once looked up to around the world, as a beacon of moral virtue. And you know what? They won't friggin' believe us."
Get a grip, people. It's not an administration policy, and it's not a sign that America is in decline. It's an alleged murder, with (it is likely) extenuating circumstances, none of which will help the Marine much if he's found guilty. It's a symptom of what a rotten thing war is.
Which leads us to the conundrum; we're fighting people who saw hostages heads off, and are lionized for it throughout the radical Moslem world. They're people who'd think nothing of killing prisoners - in fact, that's what started the whole situation in Fallujah.
Our laws, and "international law", forbit the killing of prisoners. That's a good thing. Our enemies will look at the prosecution of the wounded Marine who did the shooting, and laugh at our weakness.Posted by Mitch at November 16, 2004 05:33 AM | TrackBack