News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Rage at Haditha Turns to Xtian Forgiveness

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Rage at Haditha Turns to Xtian Forgiveness

In a posting filled with righteous rage and bitterness, the Kit Jarrell at register their frustration with the Leftists and others who bemoan the deaths of civilians at Haditha. Granting his point, the allegations have not been proven in a military court of law, so some restraint must be exercised in passing judgment on the soldiers allegedly involved in this "action." ...

Jarrell writes:

A year ago, we watched Ilario Pantano fight to clear his name of ridiculous charges. He was ultimately vindicated by autopsy evidence, but the damage had already been done. The idea of putting a Marine on trial for killing the enemy in a time of war is asinine. Haditha, in my opinion, is no different.

Marines are trained to kill. Total demolition and obliteration of the enemy is what they excel at. They are not Air Force technicians. They are not Navy radar operators. They are not hostage negotiators. They are killers, trained to win wars by killing the enemy preemptively, NOT reactively. Battles like Iwo Jima were won because Marines are “bold, bloody, and resolute,” not “understanding, tolerant, and merciful.” The Pacific front of World War II was a filthy, gory, stunningly real display of the realities of war. The Marines lived it, breathed it, slept in it for many, many months on end. They did what they had to do to survive, but more importantly, they did what they had to do to win. Were it not for their courage and their testicular fortitude, we would never have won against the Japanese. That means at this very moment, you would not be free.

What the Left (and other worthless institutions like the UN, etc.) are doing is to force Marines - and every other branch of our military - to fight a war as though it were a rough football match, with rules and penalties and punts from their own end zone if they hurt someone during the game…
I can understand the sentiments and anger evoked by this posting. Without a doubt, the accused soldiers deserve the presupposition of innocence. On the other hand, military law is much different than civilian law in the US.

But a soldier's rights do not always coincide with his or her rights as a civilian. Their circumstances require them to exercise deadly force--indeed, as a soldier they are given the right to exercise that power of life and death which a civilian cannot perform, unless duly deputized by various legal constraints.

Above and beyond these considerations, however, is the underlying notion voiced by Mr. Jarrell. He works under the impression that because a soldier is trained to kill, they must therefore be given more leeway in being allowed to invoke mitigating circumstances for when s/he does kill. This view is neither backed up by military law nor by common-sense morality.

The unusual and extraordinary circumstances in which a soldier kills puts more restrictions and responsibilities on them than even a civilian. This is what soldiers are trained to do--and any violation of those restrictions should call down the wrath and full might of military law.

I am perhaps more willing than many to grant that compassion and forgiveness be extended to men and women exposed to a deadly environment in which they neither know who their enemy is nor from which direction death will strike. The overwhelming fear and despair created by such a situation will wear down anyone and expose them to the temptation to use force and death in terrible ways.

Yet, the very deadliness and lethality of the environment cannot excuse one infraction. War is hell, they say. Yes, it is. As Simone Weil once noted in her comments on that greatest of war poems: war turns victim and victimizer into things. The victim is treated as just an object to disposed of, thereby removing them as threat. The victimizer becomes a thing is its murderous disregard for the humanity and dignity of human beings.

Update 1 Via RawStory, the Wall Street Journal has published a poll that shows that "by 49%-33%, they [Americans] want reprimands rather than criminal charges" brought against the soldiers accused of massacring Iraqi men, women, and children. I find this sentiment understandable but also very dispiriting. For all the talk about morality and humanitarianism, a majority of the US public would rather see someone else's kids blown to bits and shot in the back of the head rather than their own and not even hold the men responsible for the atrocity. The religious Right is correct: there is a moral decline in America, it's just that the decline uses Xtian principles to mealy mouth barbarity and injustice, those same principles the Right uses to sermonize the world about how great a god-feaing nation the US is.

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