Thursday, May 18, 2006

My Lai Revisited?

From CNN online:

Lawmaker [Rep. John Murtha, D-Penn.] says Marines killed Iraqis 'in cold blood'

A decorated Marine colonel turned anti-war congressman said Wednesday that Marines killed at least 30 innocent Iraqi civilians "in cold blood" in Haditha in November, suggesting the attack is twice as bad as originally reported.

This is very sad news. And very disturbing. Could become the My Lai of Iraq.

An investigation is on-going. I'm not prepared to speculate on the accuracy of the report. I also cannot accept any effort to use this event to indict the entire US military. We do not need to repeat "Baby killer" signs and spitting on soldiers at airports.

That said, if it turns out to be true, I can't say that I'd be surprised. Like Vietnam, the enemy is hard to identify. Like Vietnam, the enemy is hard to find. Like Vietnam, the fighting doesn't secure territory and may not seem of value to the soldier on the ground at times. Like Vietnam, support for the war is declining at home and this must affect morale. Therefore, like Vietnam, it is entirely plausible that frustrated soldiers may have crossed the line. If true, we will need to deal with those soldiers.

Ultimately, we must also not allow this episode, if accurately reported, to undermine our understanding that there has been an overall policy failure in Iraq- a policy failure of profound moral dimensions. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died since the US invasion- innocent civilians. Perhaps, by some accounts, 100,000.

Now, maybe, 100,030.

Piling tragedy on top of tragedy.


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