Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Marine Petition

Recently I was sent a petition via email that discussed the recent killing of a wounded Iraqi insurgent that had been televised by an embedded pool photographer. The petitioner stated that it was his/her opinion that "NOTHING should happen to the American Marine," and then asked recipients to sign a petition in support of the marine.

My bias to allow the military investigation to ensue and allow those qualified to make this decision to do so. I am not an expert on international law, the Geneva Conventions or the military rules of engagement. Any opinion that I could make on this issue would be based on hearsay news reports and a video taken out of context. I would not be allowed to view witness testimony and cross-examination. In sum, there is no way that my opinion could be based on anything but jingoist support for an American marine solely because he wears the flag of my country on his shoulder.

The event was obviously tragic. The entire war in Iraq, like all wars, is tragic. The threats to US soldiers and the deaths of Iraqi people are equally disastrous. Nowadays, wars are fought on worldwide television, with various opinions clouded by the “fog of war.” My belief is that we should wish the best to all the individuals involved, but allow the military experts to determine the outcome of the investigation of this event.

My hope is that a soldier representing my interests would act within the confines of humane behavior, but that may be too much to ask in a time of war. Republican Senator Hiram Johnson recognized in 1917 that “the first casualty when war comes is the truth.” Indeed, we have all suffered from indifference to the facts over these past two years, and our soldiers have been the most exposed. My heartfelt concern certainly goes out to the coalition soldiers as well as the Iraqi civilians and also the insurgents, who are all caught in this morass of war.

I do agree with the petitioner when he/she states that our young men and women should “not take an extra second” to decide if its right to shoot and that the “lives of our soldiers should be the single most important factor…” Following this reasoning to the next logical level, I believe that all our soldiers would be put on the next transport home. The US military was dispatched to Iraq in order to make sure that weapons of mass destruction were not in the hands of Saddam Hussein; none were found, so why are our marines still there being thrust into these ethical dilemmas?


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