Of course, this assumes the Iraqis will in fact take what we are doing as being what we say it is. However much any of us disagrees with these assertions, what ultimately matters is whether the Iraqi people believe them. The insurgents fight at extreme odds with out pay while the Iraqi military and police receive training and a salary. Something must be wrong when the military and police melts at almost every
On the subject of the soldier who shot the wounded Iraqi (insurgent? terrorist? rebel? fighter?) I can understand why he did this. I do not pretend for even a moment that war is a fair, humane thing. It is an expression of extreme brutality. However, the case has been made that this war isn't merely a goal unto itself, that it is in
fact towards achieving certain goals (peace, democracy, freedom, etc). In this respect, I can also understand why this soldier would be punished for his actions. If he is not, the message will be re-enforced that we are immoral people. An Iraqi watching that footage will on average sympathize with the Iraqi, just as we on
average put ourselves in the shoes of the soldier. If we send the message that such actions will not be punished, this will be a powerful recruiting tool for those who oppose the US. They will declare "look at what the Americans do to the wounded, surely they are a barbaric people". War inherently involves sacrificing the lives of ones own side. How is indictment for strategic purposes any different than death for strategic purposes?
Those who oppose us in Iraq say we're being imperialist, that we are part of a wider oppression of Moslems, that we're only there for the oil, etc.
Those are talking points unsupported by any interpetation of history. They appeal to westerners who cling to cherished mulitcultural tenets or to Muslim populations that have lived for centuries encouraged to believe that they are victims of foreign oppression, not domestic despotism. The mystics recognise that our inherently more competitive culture will extinguish their brand of barbaric mysticism within a few generations if assimiliation of ideas takes place in an intellectual environment. They have been attacking us because we aren't like them, or in the cases of the more secular Arab dictators because they recognised us as a useful, slothful target they could attack for domestic political points with relative impunity.
The insurgents fight at extreme odds with out pay while the Iraqi military and police receive training and a salary.
Where did you get that idea? Endemic poverty and unemployment in Islamic societies is the prime recruiting tool for the movement, far and above videos or sermons. That and the fact that the only professional occupation available to most serfs under Islamist rule is the clergy. It's a given that Saddam salted away grundles of cash expressly intended to fund post-war insurgency and that Saudi and Iran are both providing material , personnel, and financial support for the Iraqi theater.
Syria is assisting passage for foreign fighters and funding them with Saddam's own money. Five hundred dollars was only the last bounty I've seen mentioned in our press; scan al Jazeera's morass and you can find more references, too.
Are you one of the 'minuteman' crowd? If that is the case let me know and we can end this conversation. The driving forces behind the Iraqi insurgency are not noble goals of national identity or cultural pride. They are last ditch effort to regain
despotic political power via murder and intimidation on the part of the Baathists. The Wahabbists and remaining secular dictatorships in the region see their end in the event of democratization, so they are fighting as hard as they can to prevent it from happening.
However, the case has been made that this war isn't merely a goal unto itself, that it is in fact towards achieving certain goals (peace, democracy, freedom, etc). In this respect, I can also understand why this soldier would be punished for his actions. If he is not, the message will be re-enforced that we are immoral people.
I'm not sure I understand your implication. What case do you refer to? As far as moral judgement in the eyes of the opposition is concerned, we're already condemned for being infidel - a capital offense they publicize without end. We will submit, or be killed. If defending ourselves from that threat is somehow immoral I fail to see why. Our elected government authorized the removal of Saddam Hussein from power and the plan to reconstruct the infrastructure and politics of the country after regime change. There was nothing nefarious or dissembling about our published intentions for the nation of Iraq...unless your political power depended on the continued acceptance of the United States for 'acceptable strongmen' - the 'realist' school of foreign policy/security thought.
That's over. Say goodbye to all of that.
I contend that the question of whether or not the actions of this Marine can be reasonably extended as some sort of proforma indictment of our entire effort is ludicrous on its face. One, the brutality of the incident has NOTHING to do with the question of whether or not it was justified. An investigation is underway and there will be a finding one way or the other, with which both of us and the rest of the world will be free to support or condemn. We watched a terrorist get popped during clearing operations. Where was the video of Theo Van Gogh's slaughter? I don't remember the last published statement from any Islamic clergy condemning kidnappings, beheadings, suicide bombings, or street corner murders. Maybe they don't run on Fox. Or CNN.
Or even al Jazeera. Maybe they were afraid that this routine display of Muslim activity might serve as a recruiting tool for all those Baptists that have been slaughtering innocent Muslims at work and play for the last fifty years? Maybe not, eh? The reflexive disgust we feel when witnessing the Marine video comes from our unconscious rejection of physical violence as accepted behaviour...but we've come to accept that any random day will provide more footage of Muslim terrorists just being who they are. Where's the outrage there?
Funny thing about the Imperialist intent America has had for the Muslim world; for over fifty years it manifested itself primarily by US force ensuring the territorial security of the Middle East against the Soviet Union (to include the sea lanes by which the only useful commodity exportable from the Mid East had to transit) and us paying their price for their oil. We routinely surrender individual freedoms and customs when doing business inside their countries. Along the way we also stopped Israel from occupying (or possibly nuking?) Cairo and Damascus the last time the Arabs failed to exterminate the Jews, too. Go figure. I mark that decision as a probable mistake here from the Monday quarterback slot.
If we send the message that such actions will not be punished, this will be a
powerful recruiting tool for those who oppose the US.
They'll get more mileage out of this in the west than they ever will on the Arab street. If we determine that the Marine acted in accordance with the Law of Land Warfare in the context of that situation, publish the result, and get back to the business of killing the enemy any genuine outrage (hard to imagine how that is even possible, to me) on the part of the 'street' will be more than outweighed by the despair of the terrorists as they realize one more example of us refusing to allow them to establish the rules of engagement for this war.
If you are wondering about strategic implications on our ability to continue to conduct the ground war, please consider that what happened on that video is not exceptional to any dozen incidents happening every day over the last week in Fallujah except that it was taped, and that the aggressor was an American serviceman. Our people are trained exactly as referenced by Froggy in his original post. Each time a door goes down an entirely unique deadly universe opens up for the troops charged with clearing the objective. There are thousands of rooms cleared every day. We conduct these clearing operations on foot using hand weapons because we have refused to ignore the plight of non-combatants as our enemy does. We are risking our troops lives in order to minimze non-combatant casualties. Given the lethality and complexity of the battlefield, there must be an acknowledgement that mistakes will happen despite our best efforts.
This tape wasn't My Lai 2004, despite the most fervent wishes of the enemy, and our domestic activists who wish it was so. Not even close.
Just a window into one shitty day on the road to victory.
War inherently involves sacrificing the lives of ones own side.
It doesn't involve operating under rules of engagement that arbitrarily disregard the lives of our troops in the hope of not offending editorial observers. We are the side in this fight that observes considerations beyond winning the fight, not the enemy. The second the men and women we are asking to win this fight stop believing that authority places the value of their lives behind political expediency, we will have lost this war and justifiably so.
Our enemy understands this. So does a large segment of the international and domestic political opposition to this war. I will leave it to you to ponder where I stand on this congruence of objectives. The line between loyal opposition and enemy is become thin...very, very thin, in this war, and in more than one place.
How is indictment for strategic purposes any different than death for strategic purposes?
I don't understand your last question.
UPDATE: Did a bit of editing to clean up the format.