Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Haditha



On November 19, 2005 Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Haditha, a farming town in Iraq that has been an insurgent stronghold since 2005. Corporal Terrazas was a member of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. When reports initially surfaced about the death, the information provided indicated that 15 Iraqi civilians were also killed by the bomb's blast and that eight insurgents were killed when the corporal's team returned fire against those attacking the convoy. War is hell, and the loss of the corporal and the civilians were indeed tragic. However, this is not the end of the story.

The loss of the corporal was evidently avenged by the marines in his battalion. Recent reports and a reopened investigation into the incident have brought forward evidence indicating that 24 civilians were killed by marines retaliating for the bomb explosion that took Corporal Terrazas' life. Some reports allege that the marines went to four separate houses and killed Iraqi civilians including a wheelchair bound man and two children ages 3 and 4.

The story has been confirmed by several sources and an investigation has been reopened into the incident.

The intentional killing of civilians, or of any unarmed people, is prohibited by modern laws of war derived from the United Nations Charter, the Hague Conventions and the Geneva Conventions, and the acts constitute a war crime. The Marines involved in the incident will likely be subjected to a courts martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (source-wikipedia article on the Haditha massacre).

This is of course, a terrible event that occurred. The marines involved in the incident will, if found guilty, be imprisoned and their lives will effectively be over. For those civilians killed in the incident, their lives are realistically over. The family members and neighbors who survived the attacks will probably hate the United States for the rest of their lives.

Marines as well as other members of the armed forces are rigorously trained when to engage and use force. They are professionals, and it is rare when events like this occur. However, they do occur and when they do, it is important that the country find out the reasons why.

Atrocities happen in war. Innocent people die. Sometimes, as it seems in this case, they are intentionally targeted and killed.

The "spin" has already started. Tony Snow, White House Press Secretary has indicated President Bush found out about this from the recent news reports. Come on! This occurred in November of last year. It was reported last year. You're really telling me that the president didn't know about this before Jack Murtha did? Distancing, containment, push the blame down to focus on the Marines involved in the incident. This seems all too familiar. Remember Abu Ghraib? An isolated incident with a few bad apples. Same here, no way you can put responsibility for this on the war effort and the administration.

PLEASE. This war has now dragged on as long as the US involvement in the European part of World War II. The troops are exhausted and frustrated. Several have now been on their 3rd and 4th tours. Patience and judgment are wearing thin. On the Sunday talk shows, a few retired generals said these troopers most likely "snapped" and acted with tragic results.

We have got to end this war. We'll see more and more of these types of events occur if we don't get out of Iraq. It is a highly likely that the insurgency will not stop. Insurgents are a sneaky bunch, they don't show up in columns with artillery, tanks and airplanes. They plant bombs, hide in houses, snipe from rooftops and generally look like the civilians we so desperately want NOT to kill. As they become more emboldened and sophisticated in their actions, it will be harder and harder for our troops to combat them. The more we press them, the deeper into the civilian populace they will hide. What then? Do we have another My Lai? Do we simply destroy entire towns and all the civilians because we can't tell them from the insurgents? Do you really want to put American soldiers in that position?

It is criminal to put our soldiers in positions such as this and when something like the Haditha incident occurs show outrage at their actions. These troops, if found guilty of the allegations most certainly did something terrible. The administration and the defense department has also done something terrible by putting them in this situation. How many more Haditha's will we have before we realize we will not win the "hearts and minds" of the people of Iraq?

Mr. Bush, you, Mr. Rumsfeld and the rest of your leadership are culpable for this mess as surely as those soldiers on the ground are. It's high time you re-thought your strategy for Iraq. Your legacy now has the blood of dead kids on your hands. It will most likely have ruined the lives of US Soldiers as well. Heckuva job their Bushie!

Tell me what you think,

Regards,

Dennis

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