Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Fog of War

By now most people have heard that there is a young marine facing an investigation into an alleged execution of a wounded insurgent in a mosque in Fallajah. I have seen the video shot by Kevin Stiles a few times. The problem I have with the videotape deals with the camera angle. I cannot see what the young marine is seeing. Nothing on the tape reveals his point of view; without that point of view I cannot begin to comprehend the real context under which this shooting occurred.

Among the many tactics insurgents have employed to injury and/or kill marines are the booby-trapping of dead and injured insurgents. In fact, contained in this CNN story of the marine shooting; this is reported:
About a block away, a Marine was killed and five others wounded by a booby-trapped body they found in a house after a shootout with insurgents.

The question becomes how does one determine who will fight to death and seek to take you into that dark night with them? If I were that young marine, I would be inclined to look at all prone, wounded or stationary insurgent bodies as potential threats to myself and my fellow-marines. If they twitched or jerked quickly, the only prudent course would be to shoot first and ask questions later. It’s not pretty and it might not follow the combat rule book of politically correct etiquette but better safe than sorry. In combat, he who hesitates is lost. A bad decision is better than indecision.

I recognize that there are rules of who can be killed and when, who must be spared in war and overall I am comfortable with that; and the US Uniform Code of Military Justice. I believe in the integrity and trust in the honour of the US Marine Corps, and I am confident that that young man’s superiors will attempt do the right thing – whatever the right thing turns out to be. But on another level, an emotional one, my gut says: good, another scum bucket bites the dust. Perhaps, the truth lies in the fact that I am just not as highly evolved spiritually as others; therefore I am not able to rise above insurgent transgressions and eek out a few tears over this one. I cannot pity those who seek to enslave others to a brutal ideology or for those would not hesitate to torture and mutilate those they kidnap and hold hostage in their slaughterhouses.

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