Sunday, June 04, 2006

Thoughts on Haditha

Recently, evidence has emerged of possible atrocities committed by US Marines last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha. There is an investigation underway, and as a soldier currently on active duty it would be wrong of me to offer any opinion on the guilt or innocence of the Marines in question. Two pieces at National Review Online, by former Marines Mackubin Owens and W. Thomas Smith, do a good job of explaining what might have happened and putting it into context. I will only say that if the allegations are true, that whoever was involved should be prosecuted to the full extent permitted by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Opponents of American victory in Iraq have gleefully seized upon the Haditha story as vindication for their position. They ignore the fact that the number of confirmed atrocities committed by US troops in Iraq has paled next to those committed by their adversaries. Just today, news came of a horrific massacre of Shia civilians who were literally taken from their vehicles and slaughtered. Of course, this story will see a mere fraction of the attention that the media is devoting, and will devote in future, to the Haditha allegations.

The simple truth is that war is ugly and cruel, and all armies in all wars commit acts that are unspeakable. As Frank Schaeffer pointed out in yesterday's Washington Post, allied forces in WWII were far more brutal than their present-day successors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet that hardly means that the US and UK were morally equivalent to the Third Reich and Imperial Japan. In WWII, as today, the distinction was that on one side such atrocities were the exception, while on the other they were very much the rule.


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