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My Lai II
May 18, 2006 8:18 AM   Subscribe

U.S. Marines "overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood", according to Rep. Murtha (D - Pa.), whose previous comments regarding the "unwinnable" nature of the Iraq conflict drew retaliation and accusations of treason from the GOP and associates. From reports verified by the military, troops "shot dead 15 members of two families, including a 3-year-old girl", despite initial reports that officially claimed a firefight had killed Iraqi civilians. Some have suggested this incident echoes the My Lai massacre of the Vietnam War.
posted by Mr. Six (165 comments total)

 
Barbarians.
posted by Jairus at 8:25 AM on May 18, 2006


1. Just for the record, kudos for how well you handled framing the FPP.

2. Jesus tap-dancing Christ: (from the MSNBC link)
On Wednesday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said the accounts are true.

Military officials told NBC News that the Marine Corps' own evidence appears to show Murtha is right.

A videotape taken by an Iraqi showed the aftermath of the alleged attack: a blood-smeared bedroom floor and bits of what appear to be human flesh and bullet holes on the walls.

The video, obtained by Time magazine, was broadcast a day after town residents told The Associated Press that American troops entered homes on Nov. 19 and shot dead 15 members of two families, including a 3-year-old girl, after a roadside bomb killed a U.S. Marine.

On Nov. 20, U.S. Marines spokesman Capt. Jeffrey Pool issued a statement saying that on the previous day a roadside bomb had killed 15 civilians and a Marine. In a later gunbattle, U.S. and Iraqi troops killed eight insurgents, he said.

U.S. military officials later confirmed that the version of events was wrong.
I repeat: Jesus tap-dancing Christ. I mean, what's the best-case secnario here- that the marines legitimately were looking for terrorists and- oopsie- just happened to gun down over a dozen people inside their house?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:27 AM on May 18, 2006


Read some of what the Freepers have to say - the best case scenario over there is "La la la la la I can't hear you! Murtha...urgh...TRAITOR!"

Seriously. The threads are full of people posting images of hunting knives and such, banging on about what they'd do if Murtha was in front of them.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:33 AM on May 18, 2006


I'm going to have to hear a hell of a lot more before I compare this to Mai Lai, honestly. It's horrible -- goddamn horrible, and it should be a slap-in-the-face wake-up call to those who think that long-term peacekeeping is a good fit for combat troops.
posted by verb at 8:34 AM on May 18, 2006


Holy Fuck.
posted by chunking express at 8:35 AM on May 18, 2006


This is (very sadly) one of the inevitable costs of occupation. Even with the most restrained, best trained military in the world, this kind of shit is going to happen from time to time. Get used to it.
posted by psmealey at 8:38 AM on May 18, 2006


"As soon as the facts are known and decisions on future actions are made, we will make that information available to the public to the fullest extent allowable."

That worries me. See also the bit about the Court Martial re: the Mai Lai massacre. Most of the charges were dropped, a few people were pardoned by Nixon and "of the 26 men initially charged, Lt. Calley's was the only conviction."

I have my doubts that these men will stand trial.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:39 AM on May 18, 2006


Verb, the appropriateness of peace-keeping for combat troops is surely a training issue. I've got no military experience but look at the UK armed forces: they know how to police a situation but they also know how to fight. Why can't the US armed forces do the same?
posted by bouncebounce at 8:39 AM on May 18, 2006


what a clusterfuck.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 8:39 AM on May 18, 2006


I don't at all mean to sound callous in saying that, just from a historical perspective, given the French experience in Indochina and Algeria, and the British experience practically everywhere else, this kind of horror is seemingly unavoidable, even with the best of intentions.
posted by psmealey at 8:40 AM on May 18, 2006


Didn't want to make a FPP about it, as my links are scarce, but I'll pop it in here. There are rumors that America is fighting in Somalia again, siding with some warlords against Islamic factions. (1),
posted by edgeways at 8:40 AM on May 18, 2006


Military officials say Marine Corp photos taken immediately after the incident show many of the victims were shot at close range, in the head and chest, execution-style. One photo shows a mother and young child bent over on the floor as if in prayer, shot dead, said the officials, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity because the investigation hasn't been completed.

One military official says it appears the civilians were deliberately killed by the Marines, who were outraged at the death of their fellow Marine.

“This one is ugly," one official told NBC News.
Jesus. Nevermind, I take back my earlier post. If this incident does turn out to be what it looks like now, it has little to do with training for peacekeeping or shit like that. Just...

Jesus.
posted by verb at 8:43 AM on May 18, 2006


this kind of horror is seemingly unavoidable, even with the best of intentions.

You bet it is, which is to say this probably isn't the first time it's happened in Iraq, and sure as hell won't be the last.

And those f*ckin' Freepers better hope they don't wind up on the business end of those knives...
posted by kgasmart at 8:43 AM on May 18, 2006


Can we start calling them babykillers now?
posted by Optamystic at 8:45 AM on May 18, 2006


Is there honestly a belief among MeFites that this doesn't happen on a semi-regular basis???

What exactly do you think is going on over there?
posted by dreamsign at 8:46 AM on May 18, 2006


this unfortunate and regrettable incident has ruined the occupation forces' spotless record, it really hadn't happened before
posted by matteo at 8:47 AM on May 18, 2006


Since the only information I have is from Murtha and an Iraqi videotape taken after the incident, and since I wasn't there personally, I believe I will reserve judgment on my country's military until the investigation is complete.
posted by tadellin at 8:51 AM on May 18, 2006


this unfortunate and regrettable incident has ruined the occupation forces' spotless record, it really hadn't happened before

Yeah, I saw those photos.

Welcome to war, twas ever thus, what the hell did we think it would be? I have to say I have a hard time blaming the grunts - this shit, seeing your friends/officers offed right before your eyes, it changes you in ways the Fox News-watching idiots here at home can never fathom.
posted by kgasmart at 8:51 AM on May 18, 2006


psmealey wrote "I don't at all mean to sound callous in saying that, just from a historical perspective, given the French experience in Indochina and Algeria, and the British experience practically everywhere else, this kind of horror is seemingly unavoidable, even with the best of intentions."

So basically, you are implying that the US military's behavior in Iraq is no different from the explicit (failed) colonialism adventures of the world's previous superpowers. That's quote the comparison.
posted by bhouston at 8:52 AM on May 18, 2006


(and please spare me the "omfg they're attacking murtha instead of dealing with the situation" routine, at this point it's a waste of time to pretend that the Iraq Attaq cheerleaders still care about things like accuracy. or decency)
posted by matteo at 8:53 AM on May 18, 2006


I don't at all mean to sound callous in saying that, just from a historical perspective, given the French experience in Indochina and Algeria, and the British experience practically everywhere else, this kind of horror is seemingly unavoidable, even with the best of intentions.

Ok, so can we finally cut all that bullshit about being the best, the few, the proud, etc..?
posted by c13 at 8:57 AM on May 18, 2006


bhouston, America acts like a colonial power. The comparison is apt.
posted by chunking express at 9:00 AM on May 18, 2006


I have to say I have a hard time blaming the grunts - this shit, seeing your friends/officers offed right before your eyes, it changes you in ways the Fox News-watching idiots here at home can never fathom.

I find it impossible to justify the execution of unarmed civilians.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:07 AM on May 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


I believe I will reserve judgment on my country's military until the investigation is complete.

Because your country's military are the most likely to come to an honest and complete conclusion right?
posted by Jenga at 9:09 AM on May 18, 2006


Do we really think this is the first time? Think about all the other times the cameras weren't there.
posted by j-urb at 9:09 AM on May 18, 2006


I have to say I have a hard time blaming the grunts - this shit, seeing your friends/officers offed right before your eyes, it changes you in ways the Fox News-watching idiots here at home can never fathom.
posted by kgasmart at 8:51 AM PST on May 18


If they can't handle war - and I don't blame them - they should go AWOL, not execute children.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:11 AM on May 18, 2006


So basically, you are implying that the US military's behavior in Iraq is no different from the explicit (failed) colonialism adventures of the world's previous superpowers.

Well the United States version of imperialism is a little more tricky. Its set up through institutions and not usually administered through military force. The US empire goes under this idea of "Global capitalism." Does the US Empire have more or less the same objectives as the British Empire which of all Empires it mostly resembles? I would say yes. Furthermore, if you go back into American history, America was founded on Roman principles which were clearly not pacifist in any regard.
posted by j-urb at 9:13 AM on May 18, 2006


Since the only information I have is from Murtha and an Iraqi videotape taken after the incident, and since I wasn't there personally, I believe I will reserve judgment on my country's military until the investigation is complete.

The US military has not only confirmed the content of Murtha's report, it appears the number of dead may be higher.
posted by Mr. Six at 9:14 AM on May 18, 2006


I believe I will reserve judgment on my country's military until the investigation is complete.

That would be reasonable were someone outside the military carrying out the investigation, but since it's just the military investigating itself, you appear to have misplaced some of your trust.
posted by scottreynen at 9:15 AM on May 18, 2006


I find it impossible to justify the execution of unarmed civilians.

There are no justification, but there are reasons why.

Are we myopic enough to believe that this sort of incident has not occurred in every single war this country has fought? This is simply the kind of thing that happens in war, and maybe more so in a war like this one, where the enemy isn't a state, where the "bad guys" aren't wearing an easily-identified uniform, where they melt into a population that on occasion shelters them. It's the exact same situation as in Vietnam, as the soldiers begin to resent the locals - then, "gooks," today, "hajis" - and when they take fire from a village, decide to teach the people in that village a lesson they won't forget.

Not all soldiers behave this way, but this war is conducive to this sort of behavior, which was yet another of the million reasons it shouldn't have been waged in the first place.
posted by kgasmart at 9:15 AM on May 18, 2006


As if it was possible, this has made me even more sad.
posted by NationalKato at 9:21 AM on May 18, 2006


...this shit, seeing your friends/officers offed right before your eyes, it changes you in ways the Fox News-watching idiots here at home can never fathom.

I agree, on one hand, but people are responsible for their own actions, if they can not be responsible for their actions they should not have guns. I also think, and have more sympathy for:


...this shit, seeing your friends/officers family/friends offed right before your eyes, it changes you in ways the Fox News-watching idiots here at home can never fathom.

Which is why we will never win the Iraq war, it is just a matter of how we will leave.
posted by edgeways at 9:21 AM on May 18, 2006


Huh. I manage to get up everyday and not 'accidentally' kill children and women in their homes while they're bent down and at close range.

Seems like that sort of thing takes a conscious decision. What with our default state as humans not being one of killing tons of people.

If the fellows on the "living" side of the guns weren't insane before, I would imagine this is the sort of thing that usually does the trick. They should be taken out of service if for no other reason than to take some time out to determine what is worth living and dying and killing for.

All those dead Iraqis don't have much in the way of options. Shame some folks took those options away.

Where's the nonviolence at?
posted by Matt Oneiros at 9:22 AM on May 18, 2006


Are we myopic enough to believe that this sort of incident has not occurred in every single war this country has fought?

Reporter to Helicopter gunner: "How can you kill women and children?"

Helicopter gunner: "Easy. You just lead 'em a little less."
posted by three blind mice at 9:23 AM on May 18, 2006



posted by iconjack at 9:32 AM on May 18, 2006


Clearly, that 3-year-old was a terrorist.
posted by fandango_matt at 9:40 AM on May 18, 2006


Mission accomplished.
posted by Jairus at 9:41 AM on May 18, 2006


I can't tell if iconjack is joking or not.
posted by borkingchikapa at 9:42 AM on May 18, 2006


They might win a few more hearts and minds if they weren't so busy splattering them all over the floor.
posted by banshee at 9:47 AM on May 18, 2006


Yes, incidents like this happen in every war. The issue will be how it is handled. Court martials and stiff punishment for all responsible or minimized and ignored? How it is handled sends a powerful message to the people of Iraq, and to the world.
posted by caddis at 9:48 AM on May 18, 2006


fuck you USA. fuck you. (yea i feel better somehow)
posted by zenzizi at 9:49 AM on May 18, 2006


fuck you USA

I didn't vote for him. Lay off.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:51 AM on May 18, 2006


Yes, incidents like this happen in every war. The issue will be how it is handled. Court martials and stiff punishment for all responsible or minimized and ignored? How it is handled sends a powerful message to the people of Iraq, and to the world.

That message was sent long ago.

We attack civilian areas and use everything from depleted uranium to white phosphorus. We give the spoils of war to our folks while providing lip service to "freedom" and "reconstruction." We hold innocent civilians captive in prisons outside the law. We kidnap family members to coerce possible insurgents from hiding. We torture and kill the ones we catch. And, when we get frustrated, we just kill whoever we catch and lie about it afterwards. If we're caught, we blame our actions on everything from "the victims didn't follow orders" to "I didn't know that was a diplomat" to "it was the fog of war" to "but we're just trying to liberate you." We punish only the visible tip of this horrible iceberg, only those too visible to avoid punishment, and continue to do what we like, because who can stop us?

What message do you think is left to send, really?
posted by FormlessOne at 10:01 AM on May 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Huh. I manage to get up everyday and not 'accidentally' kill children and women in their homes while they're bent down and at close range.

So you're a soldier in Iraq? or Afghanistan? or you've lived in a war zone? Because otherwise this sounds a bit, uh, sanctimonious. I would hope that the difference between Iraq and Vietnam is that we never again vilify the troops but instead lay the blame for their actions where it belongs--with the commanders and generals and chickenhawks back home in the Pentagon and White House.
posted by tula at 10:08 AM on May 18, 2006


It is not important that these tragedies occur in every war.

The real problem is that there is no accountability. No one will be held responsible. The issue will be buried, only to rise back up out of the grave in a few months or years time, when a pack of uncontrolled soldiers again slaughters innocents.

There needs to be a fundamental change to the way the military deals with these atrocities.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:12 AM on May 18, 2006


I would hope that the difference between Iraq and Vietnam is that we never again vilify the troops but instead lay the blame for their actions where it belongs--with the commanders and generals and chickenhawks back home in the Pentagon and White House.

How about both? No one is pulling the trigger for them.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:13 AM on May 18, 2006


God, my writing sucks today. It is not important to this current event that these tragedies occur in every war. We can not change history. We can plan for the future. And so we should be learning from these tragedies, in order to prevent (or reduce) them in the future.

Or something like that. I'd best let someone more awake run with this.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:14 AM on May 18, 2006


Who's to decide where a war zone begins and ends? Who's creating a war zone? Why create it if it's a place where shooting people is purportedly justified?
posted by Matt Oneiros at 10:16 AM on May 18, 2006


I have no problem vilifying the troops when they, and let's not mince words here, murder the innocent.

Their higher-ups in the chain of command may have put them in a bad situation, but unless they were given orders saying, "Go into that house and kill everyone inside" they have absolutely no excuse and should face the harshest punishment available. Even if they were given such a command, it's an unlawful one and they shouldn't follow it. Their actions have shown these men to be nothing less than cold-blooded murderers. It doesn't matter if it's Iraq or down the street from where you live.

I was dismayed to see people making the excuse that it's normal in the course of war for this to happen. Call me naive, but I think it's absolutely breathtaking to see apologists for war crimes here.
posted by mullingitover at 10:23 AM on May 18, 2006


So you're a soldier in Iraq? or Afghanistan? or you've lived in a war zone? Because otherwise this sounds a bit, uh, sanctimonious.

Wow. You've met my friend Kettle, right?

Several heroic soldiers at My Lai also managed to realize that indiscriminately killing people might not be a nice thing to do. It's almost as if the fatigue of battle doesn't necessarily mandate self-justification for cold-blooded murder. Funny, that.

I would hope that the difference between Iraq and Vietnam is that we never again vilify the troops but instead lay the blame for their actions where it belongs

Holding Rumsfeld and Bush accountable for the war as a whole is not synonimous with justice in this incident. I, for one, have no problem villifying any soldier who walked into a civilian's house and blew their brains out for no particular reason.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:24 AM on May 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Bring the Troops Home Now!

Oh, wait ...
posted by hank at 10:26 AM on May 18, 2006


I was dismayed to see people making the excuse that it's normal in the course of war for this to happen. Call me naive, but I think it's absolutely breathtaking to see apologists for war crimes here.

I wouldn't call realism an apology for war crimes.

I agree with you - if this is indeed true, American troops have murdered innocents - innocent fucking kids, even. And they absolutely should pay for that, maybe with their lives.

But we put them in a situation where something like this was bound to happen. One of my favorite bloggers, Billmon, wrote about this today:

Executing helpless women and children while they're huddled on the floor, praying to their God, is a war crime committed by terrorists. It's Lidice and Rwanda and Srebrenica and, of course, My Lai. The men who committed this crime aren't really human any more -- they shed their humanity like a snake sheds its skin when they walked into those houses and started shooting. All that's left of them is a dark pit at the center of their reptilian brain stems, a place that knows no pity or remorse or even self-awareness. They're lost souls -- lost to the world and to themselves...

It's not entirely fair to blame these guys for being enthusiastic killers -- after all, that's what the Marines train them to be and what we pay them to be. But when you put their ferocity together with the thinly disguised signals being broadcast by the pro-war media, and the growing racial and religious hatred of the "sand niggers," and the repeated rotations, nightmarish conditions, poor equipment and insufficient manpower plaguing the U.S. military in Iraq -- i.e. the Donald Rumsfeld experience -- it's a surprise we haven't seen more atrocities like My Lai . . . I mean, Haditha.

posted by kgasmart at 10:29 AM on May 18, 2006


“Not all soldiers behave this way, but this war is conducive to this sort of behavior, which was yet another of the million reasons it shouldn't have been waged in the first place.” -posted by kgasmart
Agreed.
+ what tula & five fresh fish sed.

Are these particular Marines wrong (if guilty)? Hell yeah.

But allow me to point out to the asshats shouting “babykiller” and other generalities about Marines and combat troops
A. Murtha’s a vet.
B. You probably aren’t.
C. Murtha’s doing something about it.
D. You probably aren’t.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:31 AM on May 18, 2006


Speaking as a prior military man in the last Iraq war, This is indefensible, Sick, counter productive, a failure, embarrassment and a puss filled scar on an already damaged image, possibly irreparably damaged (likely).

This is not the way I was trained, so the failure is on all levels, Bad war, bad policy, bad training, bad planning, bad supervision and bad people.

Get these asses home and try them this week. it is the only way we can hold our head up after this account.
posted by Elim at 10:34 AM on May 18, 2006


I echo those who say it has always been thus with war. I've probably told this story before on MeFi. A family member of my spouse was in the US Army in WWII. He told me a couple of years ago about an experience he had toward the end of the war -- it may have been after official armistice. He and a colleague happened upon a couple of Japanese soldiers asleep in "the jungle." Rather than take them captive or just leave them alone, they took the opportunity to toss grenades onto them and watch their bodies blow apart.

And that was the "greatest generation."
posted by Cassford at 10:35 AM on May 18, 2006


Iraqi have been seeing and hearing about these types of events every day for the past three years. And then people wonder why they're willing to join the insurgency.
posted by cell divide at 10:37 AM on May 18, 2006


I echo those who say it has always been thus with war.

But didn't you support the war? That means you were supporting this, if you know that this is always how it is. Correct me if I've got my usernames scrambled.
posted by cell divide at 10:41 AM on May 18, 2006


it has always been thus in war because people ignore the law and allow it in war, THAT IS THE FARKING PROBLEM!

We have rules of war and Laws and a freaking CODE (UCMJ)

we have rules they are sworn to follow, by an oath and a contract. don't do it, and don't allow it.
posted by Elim at 10:46 AM on May 18, 2006


The men who committed this crime aren't really human any more -- they shed their humanity like a snake sheds its skin when they walked into those houses and started shooting. All that's left of them is a dark pit at the center of their reptilian brain stems, a place that knows no pity or remorse or even self-awareness.

This is the very attitude which allows people to walk into buildings and slaughter two dozen people. They're not human, they're terrorists. They're not human, they're republicans. They're not human, they're murderous US soldiers.

As nice as it must feel to marginalize these people and say "well, they're not part of MY race", it's bullshit. These people are human, that's the problem. Given the right circumstances, these people could be any one of us, and it's not until we accept and face that fact that we'll be able to deal with these issues.
posted by Jairus at 10:47 AM on May 18, 2006


cell divide, I think you must have that screwed up. I've been against this war from before it started and did everything I could think of -- protests, letters, etc. -- to try to stop the juggernaut. Once we were in and wrecked everything, I was conflicted about whether or not we should pull out. I'm still conflicted. For all of the reasons you can guess.

Jairus -- right on! Two good books to help guide anyone's thinking about how war can turn ordinary people into murderers are Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men and, more recently, Christopher Hedges' War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.
posted by Cassford at 10:58 AM on May 18, 2006


D. You probably aren’t.

Smedleyman, the whole notion that only a vet can judge another vet and/or current soldier is so much bull. If this were Imperial Rome (some say it's starting to look that way), you might have a point. But the fact is, if a US soldier committed an act of violence against an innocent civilian, he or she did it with equipment, training, and bullets provided by civilian tax-payers, along with a salary and benefits (and spare me how little they make--yes, I realize they're not coming home to mansions and Hummers, at least not the enlisted men. But guess what? Neither am I.).

As for doing something about it? I'd argue that paying some f'ing attention to these stories is at least a start, compared to the news or lack thereof taken in by most Americans, if not the downright "my country right or wrong" garbage that gets espoused so often by major media outlets, not to mention Freep and LGF. Voting out, impeaching, or arresting the liars who got us into Iraq would be a viable next step, IMO.
posted by bardic at 10:58 AM on May 18, 2006


this kind of shit is going to happen from time to time. Get used to it

Someone follows you into the shower every morning, juggling chainsaws. You may occasionally loose a finger or toe. Get used to it.
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:00 AM on May 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


But allow me to point out to the asshats shouting “babykiller” and other generalities about Marines and combat troops

Yes, we all heartily applauded the single person who mentioned that; I remember it well.

A. Murtha’s a vet.
B. You probably aren’t.


Oh, does service guarantee citizenship now? I wasn't aware that we no longer had a civilian-controlled military or that our votes and our voices don't count because some of us refuse to sign up for a multitude of reasons.

C. Murtha’s doing something about it.
D. You probably aren’t.


He's also a congressman. I'm terribly sorry that I haven't had my own independent investigation and that the military won't take my calls, Smedleyman; shall I storm the White House myself?

I had you on my contacts list because I thought you were a sharp guy with a good heart. But no more. Your loyalty to the military is greater than your loyalty to the country. In hindsight, I was a fool to think otherwise.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:10 AM on May 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


The insurgents, terrorists, whatever the term-of-the-day is, operate with, at the minimum, non-interefernce of the general populace and sometimes with the aid of the general populace. The soldiers know this. They know that the nice family down the road may not be making and planting bombs, but they are covering for their uncle who is, or turning a blind eye, whatever.

After seeing their friends die, and being in danger all the time, and having every emotion greatly heightened, they lose it and take it out on the people nearby. This always happens in this kind of conflict. Look to Brazil right now, and you will see another version. In the worse cases, reprisal killings become policy (secret or not); death squads, etc. who put the general populace in fear of helping the insurgents (or whatever).

This is inevitable and the cost of war. I think, perhaps, this lesson has been lost on a lot of people recently, who may have been conned into believing you can fight a war rightously, or perhaps fairly and cleanly. You cannot.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:11 AM on May 18, 2006


Allow me to clarify not 'vilifying' the troops. I think that soldiers involved in this incident, the torture at Abu-Ghraib, etc. should all be held accountable, brought to trial, & punished for their individual actions and failures, but I think I'll save the label evil for those who persecuting an unnecessary war. Good young men and women break down and behave savagely in war. The people making the excuses are the one's saying that they couldn't foresee that there would be atrocities.
posted by tula at 11:17 AM on May 18, 2006


Well it's good to know that since that 3 year old was killed people will be too afraid to take up arms against the US.
posted by chunking express at 11:18 AM on May 18, 2006



“But didn't you support the war? That means you were supporting this, if you know that this is always how it is...” - posted by cell divide

I don’t think that support for the war = support for this.
Particularly if the perception of the engagement is: go in, disarm Saddam, destroy the WMDs that are an immediate threat to the U.S. and boogie out.
As opposed to - what’s the actual plan?
Mill around as a target to take the heat off the oil infrastructure so the people Cheney’s fronting for can make more money?
That kind of plan would up the body count in an ecumenical meeting of Jains and Quakers.

Not that that’s at all an excuse for this
(+ as Elim sed - UCMJ, et.al). The investigation should be open and the men held accountable.
But consider - what is served by avoiding accountability?
The apparatus of government isn’t bending over backwards to cover the asses of a squad of grunts.
I mean they’re ‘fungable*’ right?

*forgot who said that first rummy? wolfy?

“Smedleyman, the whole notion that only a vet can judge another vet and/or current soldier is so much bull.”

bardic - You either know that’s not what I said or you’re too blind to get it because I prefaced my comment pointedly.

It was directed solely at one facet of this issue - that of smearing all troops with the acts of just these men.

My position is that you cannot judge the military experiance unless you are a vet, not that you cannot judge the actions taken by combat troops unless you are a vet.

I know nothing about - say - being an Indy car driver. If an Indy car driver kills a child I cannot say “All Indy car drivers are adrenaline-addicted maniacs and that’s why this guy killed a child.”
Unless I’ve been an Indy car driver, I can’t comment generally on the experiance. I don’t know what it’s like so I have no insight into potential motivations from common experiance.

I can, without being an Indy car driver, say that killing children is wrong for anyone at all times though.

Which in this case is the same - I support the position that these Marines were wrong and should be punished.
What they did is appalling and my condemnation is stronger for it because I’ve walked that path and did not fail in my duty as these Marines did.

But again, to make it clear - THESE Marines, not ALL Marines.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:18 AM on May 18, 2006


Now I know how citizens of arab countries felt after 9/11. Polling data showed that majorities in those countries did not believe the act was committed by arabs. How could you believe your own people could do such a thing?

I do not believe any American would committ this massacre. I mean, maybe one or two crazy evil fucks, but a whole group? It sounds unlikely to me. I could believe Abu Ghraib because I know people who would do that crap. But killing kids? No way.

If this did happen, these bastards should be punished severely. But even if these allegations are true, I don't think one can see this as a reflection of the entire military or the war effort, or if one supported the war to begin with, that s/he supports this massacre. That's akin to saying one who is in favor of driving is in favor of drunk driving and hit/runs.

There are 100,000 troops over there and we know the vast, vast majority of them are great kids.
posted by b_thinky at 11:20 AM on May 18, 2006


This is inevitable and the cost of war. I think, perhaps, this lesson has been lost on a lot of people recently, who may have been conned into believing you can fight a war rightously, or perhaps fairly and cleanly. You cannot.

Right - so let's stop trying to pretend that the Iraq war is anything but what it is - a stinking, shitty mess.

Gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet, right? Gotta put a bullet through the skull of a few 3-year-old because freedom isn't free, right?
posted by kgasmart at 11:21 AM on May 18, 2006



“Smedleyman; shall I storm the White House myself?”

If you had any balls.

“I had you on my contacts list because I thought you were a sharp guy with a good heart. But no more. Your loyalty to the military is greater than your loyalty to the country.”

Because you had me on your contacts list you know all the public service I’ve engaged in and such. Wow. Didn’t know that qualified you to judge me.
I’m really just weeping for all the people losing faith in me. Well... “Smedleyman” anyway.
Rather than...y’know addressing (or even reading) the argument.

Stop laying your trip on me, because I’m not defending those positions.
And read the thread, man, lots of general “it happens all the time” type stuff and arguments the military covers all this up.
Well, if they do - Cui Bono?

‘Cause it’s not the guys on the ground.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:26 AM on May 18, 2006


If you had any balls.

It doesn't do anyone any good for one man to get his skull blown off by black-suited bodyguards. But that's a nice sentiment for you to share.

Didn’t know that qualified you to judge me.

I'll judge you as I damn well please when you say that civilians are unqualified to critique the military.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:37 AM on May 18, 2006


Not every soldier would start something like this. In war, the most monstrous and violent in our society tend to be put in positions where they can instigate this kind of violence. Personally I think we should breed them out of the population. Or else it will always be with us.

Bullshit excuses for this sort of thing would be just as much bullshit if it were American civilians gunned down, praying, in their home. Just wait... "The Americans do it!" is already being used as an excuse for shitty behavior around the world.

We're supposed to be civilized. Not doing so well on that. We keep letting the monsters and thugs win.
posted by beth at 11:43 AM on May 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Marines are trained killers. In whatever enviroment, they are going to slaughter with extreme prejudice.

Use the Marines unwisely, for example in an urban landscape, and children will be massacred. Everyone will be killed.

It gives Republicans 7 day hardons but this is why you cannot elect these barbarians. Americans must elect moral, responsible leaders.

As long as Republicans are in power, blood will stain the world.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 11:48 AM on May 18, 2006


This story gets even shadier because the military's explanation has evolved since the incident occured in November. Initially, the military claimed that the Iraqis weren't killed by Americans at all but by an IED.

U.S. military authorities in Iraq initially reported that one Marine and 15 Iraqi civilians traveling in a bus were killed by a roadside bomb in the western Iraq insurgent stronghold of Haditha. They said eight insurgents were killed in an ensuing firefight...After CNN broke the news of the initial investigation in March, military officials told Knight Ridder that the civilians were killed not in the initial blast but were apparently caught in the crossfire of a subsequent gun battle as 12 to 15 Marines fought insurgents from house to house over the next five hours.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 11:49 AM on May 18, 2006


“But that's a nice sentiment for you to share.”
Offered as realisticly an option as you presented it.

“I'll judge you as I damn well please when you say that civilians are unqualified to critique the military.”

Is that what I said? Wow. Seems to me I was asserting a point against judging a group of people and making general statements about them without actually knowing anything about their life experiance.
Ironic really.

I mean if all troops are wrong, or all the military is evil - what’s up with Murtha pressing an investigation?

Also - since we’re invoking ‘freepers’ and such (not specificly - but on the thread) what’s up with calling for the military to do something about the war in Iraq but asserting civilian authority?

I mean it’s ingrained that civilian authority is the absolute and final decision maker in all military affairs (if you’d served, you’d know that) - but seems to me a lot of talking heads have been asking why people on duty aren’t doing more to resist the bad moves made by this administration.

Which is another foundation of my point - it’s YOUR government. YOU figure out what to do about it. I’m doing my thing. I’m batting for my principles - why should I tell anyone else how to go about asserting what they believe is the right path?
None of my damned business really.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:49 AM on May 18, 2006


I'm not getting into any of these arguments. Just wanted to say these guys are the shit of the world and if there's any justice they will be locked up for the rest of their lives, if not put to death. Mass aggravated murder? To be frank, it's because of people like this that I continue to support the death penalty.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:02 PM on May 18, 2006


If you're all in tears'n'shit because mean ol' OC has wiped you off his contacts list, I'll offer to put you on mine, Smedleyman. 'cause, y'know, being on a list is ever so important.

Honestly, OC, wtf was that all about? Do you really think anyone gives a shit whether they're on your list? Or, for that matter, anyone else's list?

It's like a farkin' playground in here sometimes.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:12 PM on May 18, 2006


The creepiest thing about this is that it was Marines, who are supposed to still retain a certain level of "professionalism", ( or so the mythology goes) as opposed to just strung out inexperienced grunt kids in over their heads. Not that that would excuse it, but it just shows how far the erosion of martial discipline has gone...
posted by slatternus at 12:12 PM on May 18, 2006


Thanks five fresh fish.

Apparently, Optimus Chyme thought I was a sharp guy at one point.
I mean that’s how screwed up he is!
Ha ha! Aha ha ha!

....hey, waitaminute.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:15 PM on May 18, 2006


As long as Republicans are in power, blood will stain the world.

Bill Clinton ordered the bombing of four separate countries.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:18 PM on May 18, 2006


And these fucked up bloodthirsty Marines are going to be coming home soon, just as wound up and fucked up as they are now. Good luck reintegrating them back into civilian life.
posted by slatternus at 12:19 PM on May 18, 2006


kgasmart, I didn't say it was right, I said it was the way it is. I said nothing of breaking a few eggs, or that it was justified. It is not justified, and it is not right. My statements are addressed to those who seem to believe that war can be fought without these things from occurring. It is not an excuse, it is a consideration when someone condones/starts a war, yet it is rarely discussed. Those who want the war seem to believe (or rationalize perhaps) that this time it won't happen because we are the 'good guys' or some nonsense.
posted by Bovine Love at 12:19 PM on May 18, 2006


This, my friends, is what happens when you decommission Army peacekeeping training system a month or two before going to war.
posted by Freen at 12:22 PM on May 18, 2006


This situation should be punctuated with the return of public execution--preferably a nice multiple hanging (starting with the officer(s) on the scene who so disgracefully lost control of the situation and ending with the bastard who apparently thinks murdering toddlers is an acceptable ROE)--in front of the assembled battalion these shitheels have shamed with their actions.
posted by Chrischris at 12:25 PM on May 18, 2006


Those who want the war seem to believe (or rationalize perhaps) that this time it won't happen because we are the 'good guys' or some nonsense.

I agree with that, I was just sort of free-associating ranting.

When these pictures first appeared, I remember thinking that every single American should be forced to look at the entire set. Your war in Iraq? This is what it's all about, folks. It's not the flag-waving, Democracy-spreading sanctimonious crap that the Keyboard Kommandos seem to think it is. It's real, it's dirty, it's bloody, it isn't going away and we really don't seem to know how to disentangle ourselves from it.

I would like to think that things like this might make Americans think a little harder before they go signing off on war and slapping another ribbon magnet on the back of their SUVs. But I sometimes suspect the only thing that could do that would be if these things were actually happening in this country.

(Which, of course, your favorite warblogger will tell you is inevitable unless we kill the lot of ungrateful Arab bastards before they get us. The murderous attitudes aren't confined to the trained killers on the battlefield.)
posted by kgasmart at 12:27 PM on May 18, 2006


Whoops - These pictures
posted by kgasmart at 12:27 PM on May 18, 2006


This is very sad, but I do not understand something:

Why do people respond to this more than to comparable numbers of civilians killed by a bomb. and there are many more bombing incidents?

I'm sure that people feel that this was purposeful, while bombing casualties are "accidental", but the expected casualty rates for every bomb dropped are calculated well in advance. If the bomb is dropped anyway, it is no accident, rather, it is deemed an acceptable loss of civilian life given the desirability of destroying the primary target.

I don't know, there was no target here. I guess I can follow the logic, but it doesn't sit right with me at all.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:29 PM on May 18, 2006


Honestly, OC, wtf was that all about? Do you really think anyone gives a shit whether they're on your list? Or, for that matter, anyone else's list?

I doubt it, but I was pretty shocked at his indifference to the matter. The first thing he thought of isn't "this is horrible" but rather "oh my god someone needs to defend the military's honor." Because that's always our first reaction: bad apples. Isolated incident. Stress. Anything but "gee, maybe we shouldn't teach 20 year-olds that the fastest way to a good career is by letting us shove a rifle in their hands and saying "kill who we ask you to and one day you can go to college.""

Seems to me I was asserting a point against judging a group of people and making general statements about them without actually knowing anything about their life experiance.

Great. Optamystic can make a babykiller crack and then you can call anyone who doesn't worship servicemembers as gods come to earth as asshats and then we'll never discuss why an offensive rather than defensive military is a hideous, barbaric idea.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:35 PM on May 18, 2006


"As long as Republicans are in power, blood will stain the world."

Republican/Democrat is a red herring. The elite in both parties have a lot in common, they think they know better than you how your money should be spent (on them) and how your life should be run (for them).

Does your party's stated ideology match your ideology? Does your party act on its stated ideology? Does it really matter? The point of the parties is to collect and channel political power for the benefit of a few at the top who are held above the laws they force you to live by.

As long as the current false Republican/Democrat dichotomy myth is perpetuated, nothing will change. Republican haters and Democrat haters alike are equally loved by the status quo because they neutralize themselves by chasing their own tail.
posted by b1ff at 12:40 PM on May 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


What part of "War is Hell" don't people understand?
posted by darkstar at 12:50 PM on May 18, 2006




RYVAR
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:02 PM on May 18, 2006


Republican/Democrat is a red herring.

So... what idiot started this war of choice and what party are they from?
posted by Artw at 1:03 PM on May 18, 2006


Mentally ill troops forced into combat is the headline from just a week ago.

"I can't imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on [antidepressants], when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal," said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a New York-based advocacy group. "You're creating chemically activated time bombs."

And to think that we are going to take these men just back from three tours in Iraq and put them on the Mexican border. That is going to work out so well.
posted by JackFlash at 1:16 PM on May 18, 2006


MightyMouth Says:

"It's obvious Murtha has lost it. "Bush hate" seems to be the most blinding, paralyzing, phenomena to infect parts of this country in memory. It makes otherwise rational people do unrational things... sad..."
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 1:19 PM on May 18, 2006


Bush hate is a cancer.

That's why we must ban gay marriage.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:23 PM on May 18, 2006


I remember reading about this incident a few months back and wondering if it would ever be investigated. To be honest, I'm surprised it didn't get buried.

I think this is probably a lot more common than we want to believe. Our military is not trained in guerrilla urban warfare. I think they probably don't have the training to differentiate between "good" Iraqis and "bad" Iraqis. One of them gets killed, and all Iraqis nearby are going to die.

It's a disgusting situation, which is a direct result of us trying to put boots on the ground in Iraq, an insane idea from a military strategy standpoint.

Which is what happens when chickenhawks with grudges get access to toy soldiers. And make no mistake about it; the troops are nothing but toy soldiers to the Bush administration.

The Marines involved should be court martialed and drummed out of the service. If court martial doesn't allow for a life sentence, then they should be tried in the international war crimes court. (Yeah...that could happen.)
posted by dejah420 at 1:26 PM on May 18, 2006


“The first thing he thought of isn't "this is horrible" but rather "oh my god someone needs to defend the military's honor." ” -posted by Optimus Chyme

You’re telepathic as well? Wow.

I didn’t address the “this is horrible” part because it goes without saying. But as long as we’re self-righteously stating the obvious - what the Nazis did in WWII was wrong! Hitler had no right thinking he was somehow better than anyone else and killing millions of people is way out of line!

See how good a person I am? I’m so much better than those Nazis.

“...then you can call anyone who doesn't worship servicemembers as gods come to earth as asshats...”

Yeah, because that’s exactly what I said. It’s written right there upthread. Absolutely no qualifications or nuance within my point at all.

“...then we'll never discuss why an offensive rather than defensive military is a hideous, barbaric idea.” - posted by Optimus Chyme

Is that what ‘we’ were discussing? I didn’t notice you making that point?
Hmmm...I wonder why?
Oh yeah, ‘cause you’re attacking me rather than cogently addressing any issue I actually did raise - such as why this would be covered up or politicised in the first place. That’s right.

Yeah, screw discourse or raising issues of motivation or strategic posture (defensive or offensive) we’ll never be able to do that as long as Smedleyman is around wanting only to make knee jerk reactive assertions to the surface event.

OC, I’m no smarter than you. But I’m not pissed off right now. Let it flow past you before you hurt yourself man. It’s not about these Marines killing innocent civilians - no one in their right mind would condone that. It’s bigger than that. We’re all frustrated with the bullshit going on with this war, but that’s what the powers that be count on and have counted on for so long.

It’s not the honor of the military I’m protecting.
Think about it - could these grunts orchestrate the entire cover up? Could they put Murtha on the defensive? The crime is manifest, it’s obvious. What needs to happen is the prevention of letting it happen again, not the simple recognition that it’s a crime. We all know that. Except some of us don’t. On both sides.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:29 PM on May 18, 2006


So... what idiot started this war of choice and what party are they from?

Can you be a little more specific? There's so many to choose from.
posted by scottreynen at 1:32 PM on May 18, 2006


So... what idiot started this war of choice and what party are they from?

IIRC, all of them and all of them.
posted by IronLizard at 1:37 PM on May 18, 2006


So... what idiot started this war of choice and what party are they from?

Good Question. Do you really know the answer?

So do you really think that this could all be pulled off without the cooperation of the other party? Even if you do, does that strike you as a government that has properly functioning "checks and balances"? Why is it that you never really see anything but some halfhearted bitching from the minority party? Where is someone in government to stand up against the war, or even just against spying on all your emails and phone calls?

Face it, the sides are not Republican/Democrat it's the elite vs the rest of us. Getting angry at a party, which is just a mechanism to get someone voted into office, is stupid and a waste of time. It's also exactly what they want and expect you to do, so why be a tool?
posted by b1ff at 1:42 PM on May 18, 2006


I didn't vote for him. Lay off.

I didn't either, but as long we live here and pay taxes, we ultimately bear some share of the responsibility for this. Thank you so very much, GOP voters.
posted by longdaysjourney at 1:46 PM on May 18, 2006


What part of "War is Hell" don't people understand?

I apologize if this line was meant to be ironic, but all over the net today I've been seeing people excusing this kind of slaughter with the preface "Yes, well, it's terrible of course, but war IS hell you know".

Like that never occurred to anyone. Nevertheless, we have the concept of WAR CRIMES for a reason. And that concept doesn't just get thrown away because war is hell.
posted by slatternus at 1:47 PM on May 18, 2006


And that concept doesn't just get thrown away because war is hell.

Let me know when they're brought to The Hague.
posted by Jairus at 1:51 PM on May 18, 2006


Nevertheless, we have the concept of WAR CRIMES for a reason. And that concept doesn't just get thrown away because war is hell.

No, it gets thrown away when those committing the war crimes are winning the war.
posted by scottreynen at 2:02 PM on May 18, 2006


Well if America was winning, sure.
posted by slatternus at 2:03 PM on May 18, 2006


Look, people. At least we're better than the terrorists, who execute innocent civilians in cold bloo--

Ah, shit.
posted by verb at 2:05 PM on May 18, 2006


So do you really think that this could all be pulled off without the cooperation of the other party?

Yes, but which party INITIATED IT?

The whole Democrates are exactly the same as republicans meme is total bullcrap.
posted by Artw at 2:21 PM on May 18, 2006


A large part of the discussion here seems to be focused on why these soldiers did this, as if the fact that there might be reasons for their actions excuses those actions. What some people may be forgetting is that there are always reasons for human actions, no matter how barbaric or horrible. Any atrocity you can name (yes, even that one we're not supposed to name) had reasons behind it.

I guess my point is: so what? Of course, war is hell, etc., etc. - that may be why it happened, but what really matters, or should matter, is what happens next.

And frankly, I for one am sick to the back teeth of hearing "I didn't vote for the guy", as if that alleviates any blame. Don't you realise every time you buy anything, your taxes are paying for the bullets that are killing these people?
posted by stinkycheese at 2:24 PM on May 18, 2006


Fucking babykillers.

There is no excuse. "Over-reacted?" WTF? Can you imagine what kind of sick soul it takes to point a gun at a 3 year old and pull the trigger? Hanging is too damn good for that motherfucker. Babykiller. Babykiller. Babykiller.

This country has gone beyond shame. We are the terrorists now. Frankly, we deserve whatever we get in retaliation. Iraqis love their children too.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:37 PM on May 18, 2006


Don't forget the dems had a majority in the seneate when this whent down. It was like one vote, though, and leberman and probably a few others would have been for it

but what ultimately happened is that a majority of people voted for it, and then we all got fucked.
posted by delmoi at 2:48 PM on May 18, 2006


The war resolution passed the Senate 77 - 23 and the House 296 - 133.
posted by caddis at 2:59 PM on May 18, 2006


It still doesn't matter, Delmoi - Congress would never have started this war without the President pushing it through. Democrats who voted for this damn thing are culpable, that's for sure, but Artw is right, there's a big difference between responsibility and cause. Congress bears responsibility for letting the President go to war, but the Bush Administration is the reason we're there. If you think a President Gore would have started the Iraq war, I have several bridges in to sell you.
posted by longdaysjourney at 3:08 PM on May 18, 2006


Well with all these murders and bombings , something has to happen to change the situation - I think the Americans should invade Iraq.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:14 PM on May 18, 2006


Considering the nightmare of a security situation going on right on their doorstep, perhaps the Iranians could step in and take this Albatross from around your (our, UK here) necks.

They could hardly make matters worse.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:16 PM on May 18, 2006


Smedleyman, how do you explain the evolution of the military's explanation for what happened?

You can keep defending the military all you want but it is very clear that (1) this sort of "unnecessary engagement" (or--in civilian/non-bullshitspeak--punitive expeditions) are common in Iraq and growing (2) the military is evolving a set of tactics and policies to hide to cover up these war crimes (3) the problem is only going to get worse. Though I must say I figured it'd be another 18 months or so before we started seeing full-on massacres. It suggests that there really is nobody in charge over there. It's every man for himself and the squads must figure they can easily get away with murder.
posted by nixerman at 3:20 PM on May 18, 2006


delmoi:
The Senate vote sharply divided Democrats, with 29 voting for the measure and 21 against. All Republicans except Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island voted for passage. [from caddis's link].

That's not a majority in a 100 member house.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:30 PM on May 18, 2006


It's things like this that just re-enforce my strong belief that Marines and Special Forces should never be unleashed on American soil. Hurricane, border patrol, or whatever.
They are the wrong tool for almost any job, except killing.
posted by Balisong at 3:49 PM on May 18, 2006


77 out of 100 Senators voted for it. That is a majority.
posted by caddis at 3:53 PM on May 18, 2006


I think the Americans should invade Iraq.

Unilaterally impose some form of regime change you mean? An interesting idea, although potentially very risky (the situation in Iraq is so volatile an invasion force could get bogged down for years).
Still, I like the way you think.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 3:53 PM on May 18, 2006


Even with the most restrained, best trained military in the world, this kind of shit is going to happen from time to time.

Imagine what it would be like if your army actually was the most restrained, best trained military in the world. Because to descibe the US army as such will only provoke guffaws from the rest of the world.
posted by salmacis at 4:00 PM on May 18, 2006


Our military is not trained in guerrilla urban warfare. I think they probably don't have the training to differentiate between "good" Iraqis and "bad" Iraqis.

Why the fuck not? Seriously. This war is not brand new. Counter-insurgency is not a new concept. Why aren't these guys being trained for the sort of engagements they will encounter? This is training failure on a grand scale, and I'd like to know who is responsible (read: at fault) for not giving these guys the kind of training they need.

It is not unheard of for an army to be trained in urban warfare, or peacekeeping (well we don't have peace there so that part is kinda moot at this point). Other armies do it better than us. We need to figure this shit out and do better.

It makes me sick when people rhetorically throw up their hands with an attitude of "Oh well. War, heh. What are ya gonna do? Sucks.". That is completely unacceptable. We have to fix the problem, part of which is rooting sociopaths out of the armed forces. Such people should not be given weapons, ever, and certainly not in a capacity to represent the armed forces of our country.

People act as though it's impossible to keep this sort of behavior on a leash - then why the hell do we bother teaching soldiers about their duty to refuse an unlawful order? Why do we have a UCMJ at all? These things should not be abandoned or merely paid lip service. They matter.

We will reap what we are sowing, and it's not going to be pretty. But then what do you expect from the crew who let Abu Ghraib happen, then didn't go after a single person in a leadership position about it?

And this is one ugly truth that some people don't want to mention: some people who go into the military are attracted to it precisely because it offers the opportunity to do this kind of violence to people. Note that this does not cover all soldiers. Seriously, the military needs to weed these people out, because they not only do horrible things, but they influence other soldiers to do horrible things along with them. (By which I mean soldiers who wouldn't initiate this shit on their own).
posted by beth at 4:22 PM on May 18, 2006


Congress bears responsibility for letting the President go to war, but the Bush Administration is the reason we're there.

Don't worry, there's plenty of blood to cover everyone's hands.
posted by scottreynen at 4:23 PM on May 18, 2006


It's good to see that most everyone is outraged at this.

It would be even better to see most everyone put that outrage toward action. The USA needs you to make every effort to regain control of your government. The corruption runs deep in both parties. The idiocy — well, you're well aware of how stupid any politician can be. The lack of accountability... now there's something that might underlay all these problems.

Hold your representatives accountable. Put their feet to the fire. Make a difference, please! A whole lot of the world needs common Americans to regain control of their destiny.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:38 PM on May 18, 2006


People act as though it's impossible to keep this sort of behavior on a leash - then why the hell do we bother teaching soldiers about their duty to refuse an unlawful order? Why do we have a UCMJ at all? These things should not be abandoned or merely paid lip service. They matter.


Which is why I stand by my suggestion that a few hangings in this case would do wonders. It would demonstrate to the Iraqis that, whatever our other faults, we still do value justice. It would demonstrate to the rest of the world that we are not the gang of rapacious, self-centered, lawless thugs we are so often portayed as. It would show the soldiers that we will absolutely not allow anyone to compromise the honorable traditions and moral foundations of our military. It would demonstrate to the Liberals that, whatever its faults and past transgressions, the US military is a fundamentally just and honorable institution that can still be trusted to place the best interests of America above its own reputation. It would would demonstrate to the Conservatives that the military is a prime bastion of personal responsibility, moral rigor, and impartial justice, where actions truly do live up to statements.

All this, at the cost of only a few babykillers. It's a bargain at twice the price (heh).
posted by Chrischris at 4:44 PM on May 18, 2006


caddis:
Believe me, I am quite ashamed that in my country a Labour Party, ffs, a Labour Party only a third (139 backbenchers out of a total of 412 elected Labour MPs) voted against Blair's war.

What I am contesting is that the pro-war congress was not a Dem majority: it was 50/50 (or 50/49/1, with that Vermont Independent). No party had a majority, but the motion was passed by a majority.

Shameful times on both sides of the Atlantic.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:47 PM on May 18, 2006


Go to the front page of CNN or MSNBC or whatever and see if you spot this story. Dead - buried.
posted by caddis at 4:48 PM on May 18, 2006


It's good to see that most everyone is outraged at this.

Well, everyone here anyway and most progressive sites. But have a gander at the calls for lynchings of Rep. Murtha going around the blogosphere's dark id, by which I mean, Michelle Malkin, LGF, Instapundit et al....
posted by slatternus at 5:22 PM on May 18, 2006


"Yes, but which party INITIATED IT? The whole Democrates are exactly the same as republicans meme is total bullcrap."

Of course they are not identical. I never said they were. How could they misdirect people's anger at each other instead of at the elites unless they create unimportant, superficial distinctions for people to latch onto with a terrier-like grip?

If you think a President Gore would have started the Iraq war, I have several bridges in to sell you."

Think of it like tag-team wrestling. The two wrestlers wear different costumes and take turns slamming you around. One stays in power until termed out, then tags the other until he is termed out. They each have their special moves: for example, the Democrat is the "Taxmaster" who keeps taking your money, the Republican is the "Warlord" who keeps taking everyone elses money (other countries' money, oil, etc).

Sorting out which party is screwing you is like trying to follow the cards in three card monty. The answer is that the cards do not screw you, the cardthrower does, and so do the shills and the bouncers that are all around you if you look up from the cards and pay attention to reality.
posted by b1ff at 5:22 PM on May 18, 2006


Were these acts by "Our Troops" really that hard to predict?

'Course, then there was the "U.S.A. bad, kills civilians. Guess what folks, we've done this before, several times. Isn't it time to declare a moratorium..." keep-our-heads-firmly-planted-in-sand bullshit. Yeah, don't want too much of the "same old same old" talked about.

Might upset people. Might upset our gutless but oh so special "troops". Might upset those who use the troops on these little gutless errands. Might upset the mindless cretins who supported this particular gutless errand.

America. It's really best if we're just doomed to repeat the same tragic mistakes over and over and over, ad infinitum.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 6:31 PM on May 18, 2006


Our military is not trained in guerrilla urban warfare.

Yes, but how much training does one need to realize that a 3 year-old child will most likely not present a grave danger to an armed 18 year-old dressed up in kevlar and ceramic trauma plates?
posted by c13 at 6:57 PM on May 18, 2006


Things to note:

Murtha is a Democrat and strongly supported our entry into the war. He didn't change his mind until last November. The first edition of his book From Viet Nam to 9/11 was written before the war. In it he describes how to enter and win the war; with UN support and approval, with a united coalition of most of our allies, with reliable intelligence, and with enough troops.

In fact, Murtha has supported every war/conflict that has occurred during his over 30 years in office, except those Clinton advocated.

Murtha's house is 13 miles from Shanksville, PA. Shanksville used to be part of his district until the Pennsylvania Republicans in Harrisburg and Washington re-drew his district after the last census in an attempt to remove him. He still won by over 70%

Freepers and others who call him a traitor are damp in evil. Except for the war, Murtha is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress. He is very anti-choice and very pro-gun. His values represent those of the people of his district; working class, patriotic, salt of the earth.

Murtha's ties to the Corp are very deep. He's 74 and only retired from the Corp in 1990. He's doing what he thinks best for the Corp. And those in the Corp and in the Pentagon, top to bottom, talk to him. He would never ask for a redeployment unless he thought it was best for them. For him to disclose this must be one of the most difficult moral decisions he has ever made.

We should pay attention. He is wise enough to admit a mistake. A terrible, terrible mistake.
posted by Toekneesan at 8:05 PM on May 18, 2006


I guess I was a little unclear, obviously a majority of senators voted for it, that's why it passed. But more then that, a majority of senate democrats voted for it as well. 29/21.
posted by delmoi at 9:17 PM on May 18, 2006


Murtha's report now reports there were 30 murdered civilians, not 15 as originally reported.
posted by Mr. Six at 9:39 PM on May 18, 2006


Our military is not trained in guerrilla urban warfare.

Actually, that's half the fucking tragedy. Ever since Mogadishu there has been a heavier emphasis on MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain), and Camp Pendleton, for example, has a "state of the art MOUT facility". The 1st Marine Division is based at Pendleton. Every damn lieutenant in Iraq, supposedly, is reading Small Wars, the old Marine guerrilla manual put together beginning with the Phillippines. The Marines believe that by training and doctrine, expeditionary warfare is their primary role in the military. The Army's supposed to go after other militaries and have all the protracted land warfare tricks up their sleeve. But the Marines ...

This is supposed to be what they're good at.
posted by dhartung at 10:56 PM on May 18, 2006


We got your utterly amoral, video equipped babykiller replacement right here. War is hell, but it doesn't have to be dangerous.
posted by paulsc at 12:45 AM on May 19, 2006


Beautifully said, Toekneesan.

The trashing of rep. Murtha after he came out for a drawdown and withdrawal from Iraq was nothing short of shameful and disgusting behavior by the chickenhawk right. I disagree with about 80 percent of what Murtha has stood for over his career, but respect the man. When one thinks of the association between military service, public service, and honor, Murtha is the poster child. He is a man who knows what war is, and who believes it can be a righteous exercise. He's calling Bush out for incompetence. And he's calling Bush out on this too, on creating a situation where corrupt, evil things are not only bound, but encouraged, to happen. The war is corrupt and evil in its core motivations. Everything that follows from the decision to fight it is corrupt and evil. Sadaam was corrupt and evil too. That doesn't change the fact that this war was entered into for reasons that have nothing to do with freedom for the Iraqi people, and we all know it.

It is Mr. Bush who hates the military. He has degraded and abused their loyalty, and stretched their resources to the breaking point, causing breakdowns in discipline and the recruitment of the scum of the earth just to fill the Humvees with meat for IEDs. He's triggered a civil war and stuck the military hopelessly in the middle of it. He's a bumbling, corrupt, incompetent, evil fool. And everything he touches turns to a reflection of that. When will this nightmare stop?
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:46 AM on May 19, 2006


MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:36 AM on May 19, 2006


they should be tried in the international war crimes court.

It's pretty fucking depressing that only one person has suggested this, which I would think would be the obvious and right course of action, however unlikely it is that it will come to pass, yet several people have suggested executing the soldiers in question, one opting for public hanging. You're all on the same side of the coin as these murderers, as far as I'm concerned.

I do not believe any American would committ this massacre.

Blimey, I wish I'd led a life sheltered enough that I could believe that, or even hope to believe that. (I don't mean that specifically about Americans, either, lest anyone suggests I'm taking some sort of snooty British high ground...)
posted by jack_mo at 4:42 AM on May 19, 2006


You're all on the same side of the coin as these murderers, as far as I'm concerned.

If you say so. You're just so superior. Those of us who want to string the mofo up are no better than babykilllers, huh? We should send him off to the Hague, because those guys have done SUCH a great job prosecuting all the war criminals in the world, and Europeans are just so much more civilized than Americans. Heck, look at how they took care of Milosevic! Dude DIED waiting for justice. That will show the next one.

Kiss my ass, jack_mo. Just because I'm angry at the US doesn't mean I am in love with the freaking UN, which remains completely and pathetically irrelevant and ineffectual in the face of global crises. Same for all your world government pie in the sky institutions. There is no effective international justice system.

No, Americans should take care of our American problems, including stringing up our own babykillers. Not that it's gonna happen, but spare me the sanctimony. Europe (including your precious Britain) has given us some of the worst war criminals in human history, and y'all are busy committing atrocities in Iraq as we speak too. Go string up your own babykillers.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:59 AM on May 19, 2006


You're all on the same side of the coin as these murderers, as far as I'm concerned.

If you say so. You're just so superior. Those of us who want to string the mofo up are no better than babykilllers, huh? We should send him off to the Hague, because those guys have done SUCH a great job prosecuting all the war criminals in the world, and Europeans are just so much more civilized than Americans. Heck, look at how they took care of Milosevic! Dude DIED waiting for justice. That will show the next one.

Kiss my grass, jack_mo. Just because I'm angry at the US doesn't mean I am in love with the freaking UN, which remains completely and pathetically irrelevant and ineffectual in the face of global crises. Same for all your world government pie in the sky institutions. There is no effective international justice system.

No, Americans should take care of our American problems, including stringing up our own babykillers. Not that it's gonna happen, but spare me the sanctimony. Europe (including your precious Britain) has given us some of the worst war criminals in human history, and y'all are busy committing atrocities in Iraq as we speak too. Go string up your own babykillers.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:59 AM on May 19, 2006


Whoops, try to tone it down and see what happens? OK, kiss my ass it is.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:00 AM on May 19, 2006


Only the citizens of defeated and powerless countries end up in The Hague. These guys won't go there because the US doesn't have to submit.

The people that complain about the UN's powerlessness are the same people who work to keep it that way.
posted by caddis at 7:26 AM on May 19, 2006


I'd rather kiss your grass than your ass, thanks, fourcheesemac ;-)

Sorry, though, I wasn't clear: 'however unlikely it is that it will come to pass' should have been followed by something like, 'because of the parlous state of the international justice system and the fact that America don't subscribe to those institutions anyway.'

No, Americans should take care of our American problems

But, by definition, it's an international problem when Americans are killing people outside America...

spare me the sanctimony. Europe (including your precious Britain) has given us some of the worst war criminals in human history, and y'all are busy committing atrocities in Iraq as we speak too.

I don't doubt that for a minute, and, as you can probably guess, I'm not exactly over-fond of my 'precious' Britain under its current government (Labour haven't had my vote since 1997, and I tore up my membership card when they dropped Clause IV), nor of it's colonial past, so the last sentence of my comment above applies here too.

Those of us who want to string the mofo up are no better than babykilllers, huh?

I didn't say that, nor anything close. But if you advocate the state killing people for killing people, I don't think it's entirely unreasonable to say you're on the same side of the coin as people who kill people.
posted by jack_mo at 7:36 AM on May 19, 2006


I advocate the death penalty for people who kill children and cold blood, if the killing can be proven irrefutably. Yes. That does not make me a terrorist. Human societies throughout history have accepted the administration of the death penalty for heinous crimes -- far more than have not. The only side of the coin I'm on is the same one you are: members of a particular species of animal with culture and consciousness. I'd prefer it wasn't the state, to be honest. I think the mother of a murdered child ought to get to pull the trigger, or release the rope.

And I'm far to the left on almost any other social issue you can name. So I don't fit the stereotype, I suppose.

As for the UN, I don't conform to Caddis's stereotype either. I certainly have never worked to undermine the UN, but consider it a corrupt and irrelevant institution that has been effectively undermined and whose mere existence perpetuates the lie of a rational world order governed by universal principles of justice. The UN, in other words, is a tool of western hegemony, staffed by corrupted colonials eager to do the white man's bidding and cash in their cut. Entrusting them with enforcing justice that ought rightly to be enforced within the US military, swiftly and severely under the UCMJ is like trusting a wino to run deliveries for a liquor store.

The bastard in question apparently sited down the barrel of a gun and blew the brains out of an innocent being who weighed 25 pounds, understood nothing of what was happening, and had no ability even to appeal for mercy. A life was ended before it could flower because this asshat has a glandular problem and has been enculturated to kill. And because a bigger asshat sent him there to do it.

Hang 'em high.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:55 AM on May 19, 2006


And how is "the same side of the coin" anything but a euphemism for "just like," if you don't mind? Let's go Anglo Saxon on this one. You certainly did say, with that euphemism, that on some level those of us who advocate the death penalty for child murderers are no better than the murderers themselves.
After all, we live on the same side of the coin, unlike you enlightened types who get to see both sides at once.

Must be nice living in an innocent world.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:00 AM on May 19, 2006


“Smedleyman, how do you explain the evolution of the military's explanation for what happened?” - posted by nixerman

I don’t. I asked only - who benefits from it?

“You can keep defending the military all you want but...”

I didn’t. I asked - who benefits from it?

“it is very clear that (1) this sort of "unnecessary engagement" (or--in civilian/non-bullshitspeak--punitive expeditions) are common in Iraq and growing”

Why? And who benefits from that? ‘Cause it’s not the grunts.

“the military is evolving a set of tactics and policies to hide to cover up these war crimes”

I see, and it’s these guys in this particular case who set that up? Is it all of the non-coms? Or just the guys under E-6?

“the problem is only going to get worse.”

And the grunts are the ones reaping the rewards? Want my nightmares asshole? Enjoy insomnia do ya? All yours pal.

“But the Marines ...
This is supposed to be what they're good at.” -posted by dhartung

(Not directed at you dhartung)
I bet they’re acting contrary to doctrine just out of spite. Or for no reason at all. Yeah, they’re just baby killers, that’s what it is.

Do I think the war is wrong? Yes. Do I think this and other actions like it are wrong? Yes. Do I think these men should be investigated, found guilty if they are and prosecuted to the full extent of military justice? Yes. Do I think atrocities like this are growing? I don’t know it - but I would suspect so, yes. Do I think they should stop? Yes. And by whatever means we can, including leaving Iraq. Do I think the cover ups should stop? Yes.

“babykiller(s)” - variety

These particular guys? Yeah. They killed a 3 year old. F’ing Duh.
But I am defending vets who did nothing of the kind. Who served honorably, but happen to have been in military service.

Got a problem with all that? Come and get me motherfuckers. Or learn how read - from initial premesis I said: “Are these particular Marines wrong (if guilty)? Hell yeah.”

But all this anger gets directed at guys who have nothing to do with this act.

Think I’m wrong? How many people misunderstood my argument and got on my case?
Someone has to remind people - and strongly - that it’s NOT all troops that do this.

That it isn’t their will to do it. Nor was it their will to go to war in the first place...gee I wonder who’s it was? Gee, I wonder who elected all those folks who voted to go to war? Gee, I wonder if it was any of those folks’ neck who was going to be on the line?
The grunts don’t get shit except the sharp end.
My fucking God you would think people believe all the guys on the ground get big stock dividends from Exxon Mobil or some bullshit. They don’t want to be there. They don’t want to be getting fired on or firing on someone else. They might think they do. We sure as hell want them trained that way, because we go through a lot of trouble to make sure they do; we don’t want them scared or empathetic of someone’s plight. But they don’t. And if they don’t die in the sand somewhere and if they kill the enemy or even civilians or think they might have or don’t know - they’re going to have to come home and be put back together into human beings.

Who’s going to be there for them for that?
This administration? Anyone here? No, other vets. Veteran organizations. People like me.
Why? Because we know that although the Marines here failed, broke, murdered an innocent child, that it’s not the fault of the men who were in-country but nowhere near that. It’s not the fault of the men who did not point their rifle deliberately at a child’s head and fire simply because they happen to wear the same uniform. That although they’re veterans, that doesn’t mean they condone this.
Can you at all fucking understand why I might want that message out there?
Can you at all understand my frustration when I see the same crap happening - even in this thread - where people heap their shit baggage and guilt and blame on you and make assumptions about your position simply because you take the position that not everyone in the military is a babykiller - even when you concede these particular Marines are?

Well, fuck it whether anyone else does or doesn’t. We take care of our own anyway. It’s not like Americans are rushing out to make sure vets have help when they come home - beyond, y’know the cute little yellow ribbon magnets folks can buy for $2.50 (1/8 of a cent of which goes to some vet organization in the Cayman Islands no one’s ever heard of).
posted by Smedleyman at 10:53 AM on May 19, 2006


Human societies throughout history have accepted the administration of the death penalty for heinous crimes -- far more than have not.

So? Human societies throughout history have accepted lots of morally repugnant shit - slavery, for example. Longevity doesn't make those things good and right.

I think the mother of a murdered child ought to get to pull the trigger, or release the rope.

Crikey. Really? How charmingly Old Testament. I think it's less a matter of sides of a coin, more a matter of living on different planets!

And how is "the same side of the coin" anything but a euphemism for "just like," if you don't mind? Let's go Anglo Saxon on this one. You certainly did say, with that euphemism, that on some level those of us who advocate the death penalty for child murderers are no better than the murderers themselves.
After all, we live on the same side of the coin, unlike you enlightened types who get to see both sides at once.


Yeah, of course I see how it could read like that, and sorry for allowing the possible (probable?) inference that I was directly comparing your lot to cold-blooded child killers, but I honestly wasn't meaning it as a euphemism for 'death penalty fans = child killers'. I can't quite think how to phrase it without laying myself open for the same accusation again, but I mean that killing children is abhorrent and child killers disgust me, the death penalty is abhorrent and people who support it disgust me, and, while advocating the latter is in absolutely no way akin to committing the former, they are not unrelated by dint of the fact that both involve killing. Or, you know: Thou shalt not kill.

Must be nice living in an innocent world.

Oh, totally. I don't mind admitting that I'm basically a big dafty when it comes to my hopeful view of humans, despite crushing evidence that we're a shower of terrible cunts. (I'm a paid-up member of CND, for example - talk about pissing into the wind!)

Ach well, just as I doubt I'll persuade you that the death penalty is a barbaric hangover from less enlightened times, you'll not persuade me that it's ever an appropriate punishment, whatever the crime.
posted by jack_mo at 11:36 AM on May 19, 2006


"Thou shalt not kill" flies in the face of human evolutionary history. Longevity doesn't make killing egregious violators of the community's moral code right. It makes it a fundamental feature of human nature. Slavery is nowhere near as widespread or ancient as juridicial capital punishment. If you believe our better nature exists, good on ya. I want to kill the bastards who kill little children.

And I see nothing wrong with that.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:18 PM on May 19, 2006


And to be clear, I oppose the death penalty as it is institutionalized in the US, where it is obviously applied in a racist fashion and open to charges of obvious error in application. I am as idealistic as you in imagining a world where we know for sure if someone did something, and the punishment fits the crime just right. I think if you know for sure, anyone who tortures anyone else, kills in cold blood, or takes the life of a child in the commission of any criminal act should be offed. I don't defend capital punishment as it is practiced. But sometimes it is justified. For me, a soldier who deliberately and with prejudice kills a 3 year old child out of rage or vindictiveness, if it can be proven irrefutably, would look awfully good at the end of a rope. He's no better than any other child killer.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:23 PM on May 19, 2006


I oppose war, in principle too. But since it happens, we need to enforce some kind of limitations with swift and severe justice.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:24 PM on May 19, 2006


Also, I think it's amusing that you accuse me of being "charmingly old testament" and then toss out "Thou Shalt Not Kill" as your trump card. LOL.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:26 PM on May 19, 2006


"Thou shalt not kill" flies in the face of human evolutionary history. Longevity doesn't make killing egregious violators of the community's moral code right. It makes it a fundamental feature of human nature.

Folk have been offing kids since time immemorial too, no? To oversimplify spectacularly, you might say that the whole sodding point of laws, moral codes and what have you is to curtail aspects of 'human nature' that we as clever humans have decided are a wee bit too animal. Hence frowning rather on stuff like killing kids and capital punishment.

Also, I think it's amusing that you accuse me of being "charmingly old testament" and then toss out "Thou Shalt Not Kill" as your trump card. LOL.

You were meant to laugh with, not at, damn it!

For me, a soldier who deliberately and with prejudice kills a 3 year old child out of rage or vindictiveness, if it can be proven irrefutably, would look awfully good at the end of a rope.

Well, like I say, we're going to have to agree to disagree on that, which I find completely sickening. For me, killing the child killer out of rage and vindictiveness is on the same side of the coi... oops!
posted by jack_mo at 4:51 PM on May 19, 2006


Actually, it's no better when we drop bombs on neighborhoods. Those babykillers are just doing it from a more clinical (for them) distance.

We share our disdain for murderers. We disagree about whether killing a murderer is murder.

Yes our moral codes and laws are, to an extent, designed to replace and circumvent the state of nature and the law of brute force. But they cannot replace the state of nature, and it is foolhardy to try to make them do so.

Murderers reintroduce brute force into normal social relations, and remind us that at times the application of brute force in response is necessary. I realize the same doctrine can justify war. Some wars are justified too. As are some executions. The absence of consequences equal to the transgression inspires the breakdown of those very moral codes you would celebrate.

I would personally be willing to kill a child killer. I would never be able to kill an innocent person. I see a clear moral difference. I also experience that difference as authentic.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:30 PM on May 19, 2006


FCM: Also, I think it's amusing that you accuse me of being "charmingly old testament" and then toss out "Thou Shalt Not Kill" as your trump card. LOL.

jack_mo: You were meant to laugh with, not at, damn it!


Funny how they were separated by several paragraphs. One doesn't expect such sophistication on the internet.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:33 PM on May 19, 2006


"...That it isn’t their will to do it. Nor was it their will to go to war in the first place...gee I wonder who’s it was? Gee, I wonder who elected all those folks who voted to go to war? Gee, I wonder if it was any of those folks’ neck who was going to be on the line?
The grunts don’t get shit except the sharp end.
My fucking God you would think people believe all the guys on the ground get big stock dividends from Exxon Mobil or some bullshit. They don’t want to be there. They don’t want to be getting fired on or firing on someone else. They might think they do. We sure as hell want them trained that way, because we go through a lot of trouble to make sure they do; we don’t want them scared or empathetic of someone’s plight. But they don’t. And if they don’t die in the sand somewhere and if they kill the enemy or even civilians or think they might have or don’t know - they’re going to have to come home and be put back together into human beings...
posted by Smedleyman at 1:53 PM EST on May 19 [+fave] [!]


While I understand your sensibilities and the loyalties you may feel to brothers and sisters in arms, Smedleyman, the fact is that the American military is an all volunteer force. Everyone that is in an American uniform in Iraq wanted to be in the military, and felt, at some point in their enlistment procedure, that the pay & benefits were fair for the risk and duties asked of them. The current American military structure is far more mercenary than citizen-soldier, in everything from recruiting to planning to leadership. Certainly, the officer corps is essentially an entirely professional, career organization, above platoon leader rank. You can call upon our empathy for the "grunts" as people who made poor personal choices in enlisting, or as people fleeing poor opportunities in civilian life, but that is not germane to the argument, and is discounted by much of the military command structure.

The people that pulled the triggers in this affair did a lot to get themselves into positions to do so. The people that ordered, planned and led that mission are trained by the U.S. military to do so for pay and benefits, and wanted to do what they do. The people in U.S. uniforms at Abu Gharib were volunteers too, and trained by the U.S., and paid by the U.S.

In Iraq, the U.S. military has embarrassed the United States, endangered the homeland, can barely control a 5 1/2 mile road from the Baghdad airport to the Green Zone, and has badly spent several hundred billion dollars, and thousands of casualties in the worst round of military adventuring since Viet Nam.

When is it patriotic to call this travesty of a military to account? Because while you rightly state elsewhere that this military serves the faulty goals and mindless aims of duly elected civilian officials, it is after all, a trained and willing volunteer's finger on every war crime's trigger, and it is the military command structure, according to those civilian officials, that is calling the tactics and the dance every day in Iraq...
posted by paulsc at 2:05 AM on May 20, 2006


Everyone that is in an American uniform in Iraq wanted to be in the military, and felt, at some point in their enlistment procedure, that the pay & benefits were fair for the risk and duties asked of them.

My impression is that a very good many of your soldiers are from poverty backgrounds, who felt that the military offered their only hope of dragging themselves out of poverty.

Not really much of a choice, that.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:27 AM on May 20, 2006


"When is it patriotic to call this travesty of a military to account?"

I don't see anything you said as refuting my position, paulsc. The perception that has been misstated by others perhaps. Not mine.

In fact your assertion that: "...the fact is that the American military is an all volunteer force..."
only makes what's happening that much worse.

Did the grunts decide to attack Iraq? Of course not.
Did they put themselves in that position? Yes.

We can argue as to why they decided to serve in the first place - and let us be very clear on that point, it is service - and their reasons might be great, lousy or meaningless.

The fact of the matter is their trust in and service to the government at this time is being abused. These particular marines, I very much doubt would have gotten on a commercial aircraft, flown to Iraq, purchased or otherwise aquired weapons and killed these people.
I very much doubt they would have killed anyone were they not assured that they had to in service of their country.

We can argue whether that trust is warrented. We can argue (if we had ever gotten to it) as Optimus Chyme introduced the issue of what posture the combat forces of the U.S. should take. We can argue a great variety of things (and mostly we didn't) but the irrefutable fact is the oath these men swore to defend and uphold the constitution of the united states and defend enemies of this nation must work both ways.
We cannot simply deny that they were in our service when they commit something horrible like this.

To call them "babykiller" - or in any other way simplistically shine this incident on.

Some of those who condemn these marines are doing that, but most certainly glossing over the incident, sweeping it under the rug - or any act that doesn't examine our powers and responsibilities to the men who serve us besmirches the memory of those men who did serve and/or die with honor.

To answer your question - it is always patriotic to call the military to account. It is always necessary to know, understand, and concern yourself with how the men in your service are executing their duty and more importantly it is patriotic and necessary to recognize your own responsibility in the decisions being made with their lives.

Is that clear?
Does it make any sense now why a long term career military man like Murtha might be prosecuting this course? Beyond his politics or whatever agenda or morals he might have - anyone with any realization of the matter would do the same.
They are Marines. They are American troops and we have to accept the black stain, but we can clean it by doing justice.

Obviously for the Iraqi families, obviously because it's the right thing to do - obviously for a hundred other reasons, those should go without saying (unfortunately yes, some idiots in high places need to be brought to heel) but also for those men who serve(d) honorably.


"In Iraq, the U.S. military has embarrassed the United States,"

Read your own links man: "“Do you really believe the Army relieved a general officer because of six soldiers? Not a chance.”"

Think that's "the military" that's doing (and did) all that? Last I heard G.W. Bush was "the decider."

"The military" would rather sit on it's ass all day and look at porn, drink and play cards. Well, 7/10ths would. 2/10ths would want to make the other 7/10ths march up and down and drill and the remaining 1/10th is a mish mash of political motives, ignorance, raw stupidity, chaos, and basic psychopathology while fucking over and selling out the other 9/10ths.
...just like civilians.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:26 PM on May 20, 2006


"...or any act that doesn't examine our powers and responsibilities to the men who serve us..."

I didn't make explicit and clear that includes a full investigation into this, things like this, things tangentially related to this, how to prevent this from ever happening again, etc. etc.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:29 PM on May 20, 2006


"Read your own links man: "“Do you really believe the Army relieved a general officer because of six soldiers? Not a chance.”"
posted by Smedleyman at 2:26 AM EST on May 21 [+fave] [!]


I did read my links, sir. Did you?

From the same article, a few paragraphs above the line I think you take out of context:
"...No criminal proceedings were suggested for Karpinski; apparently, the loss of promotion and the indignity of a public rebuke were seen as enough punishment."
Any military that prosecutes and locks up Lynndie England, while denying her lawyers the right to question Janis Karpinski in open court, and lets Karpinski off with, literally, a slap on the wrist, has no understanding whatsoever, of justice.

Let me be clear, too, that Karpinski's subsequent career demotion to the rank of colonel was not related to her mismanagement of Abu Gharib, but to subsequent actions and charges. On Abu Gharib, Karpinski walked, got out of Iraq, and got a book deal. And she's still running around, telling the world that she was unfairly set up by General Taguba's investigation.

Karpinski, and the system that refused to bring her to account, are the continuing embarrassment of Abu Gharib for the U.S. military. Maybe Bush and Rumsfeld don't want the stink to come up the ladder, and are exerting influence to shield Karpinski to keep her as a firewall; that's a cynical assumption, and one for which I have no evidence. But if that's the deal, I'd expect any flag rank officer who had a scrap of integrity and knew such particulars, to resign on principle and rat out the deal. Honor and justice, as military concepts and ideals, demand no less. Otherwise, she should have been tried.

Until she is, yes, I think I can fairly generalize about "the military" as an institution with now dubious motives and piss poor performance.
posted by paulsc at 1:50 AM on May 21, 2006


The US Military: Professional organization, or thoroughly incompetent clusterfuck?

IMO, it could be a pro org if the Chief Decider were to STFU, listen to his expert military leaders, and choose from among their best-rated alternatives.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:17 AM on May 21, 2006


“I did read my links, sir. Did you?”

My mistake. I should have said read and cogitate on your links.
(to wit):

“Any military that prosecutes and locks up Lynndie England, while denying her lawyers the right to question Janis Karpinski in open court, and lets Karpinski off with, literally, a slap on the wrist, has no understanding whatsoever, of justice.”

Agreed. But again - my question is directed toward how and why this happened. Who benefits from this - because it isn’t anyone under the rank of Col.

“I'd expect any flag rank officer who had a scrap of integrity and knew such particulars, to resign on principle and rat out the deal. Honor and justice, as military concepts and ideals, demand no less.”

Honor in the American military depends on following the civilian leadership. You do NOT countermand or in any way rebuke the civilian leadership for their decisions. It’s drilled into your head in the military. The president and congress are in charge. The president and congress are in charge. The president and congress are in charge. The president and congress are in charge. Over and over again it’s made clear and explicit. With good reason, the last thing we want is a staff officer getting tricky ideas in a democracy.

Your analogy is more apropriate to a police force covering for one of it’s own. This situation is not the same. Partly because police forces have unions, can collective bargain, and sometimes are not fully aligned with the orders given them in command (the old south comes to mind when you had cops who were Klan members and the mayors, city councils, etc. - the civilan leadership above them couldn’t stop lynchings f’rinstance).
The military is nothing like that. Certainly you have an old boys network, and certainly you have some men cover for their buddies.
But nothing like that could be done on this scale.

I’m not arguing the military isn’t responsible for such things - quite the opposite. I’m arguing that any coverup harms the military - because the ends of the coverup not only mock what the organization is supposed to stand for, but it does not serve anyone’s ends. Again - who benefits from coverups like these?

“yes, I think I can fairly generalize about "the military" as an institution with now dubious motives and piss poor performance.” - posted by paulsc

Ah, so since I have been a part of the military, my motives were dubious and my performance was piss poor. Well, obviously, ‘cause I was wounded. I wasn’t paying attention. Must have been something I was trying to cover up going on.
I have friends who died in the service, one got a medal for getting shot while rescuing someone, he’s a real shit bag. And clearly to get any medals in the military you have to kill lots of people, it’s the only thing that gets any respect (well, carnage and cover ups).

Hey remember Hugh Thompson ? His motives were clearly dubious. Say, why would the military cover up My Lai in the first place? Why were we in Vietnam? I bet “the military” (along with Cally - because Lt.’s have SOOO much power) told the president, the pentagon, the state department, the joint cheifs of staff, and congress not to investigate the matter.

Until Representative Morris Udall decided that perhaps the military being the piss poor organization that it is, My Lai should be investigated (he hated the military so much he busted his ass to get in - covering his glass eye, until he got in towards the end of WWII - weird that he was a vet too huh?)

Clearly we can knee jerk dismiss these incidents with slogans and bumper sticker philosophy. We can blame the military for being a poor tool instead of blaming the workmen using it.

I dunno paulsc, I don’t see anywhere I suggest that we shouldn’t investigate. Quite the opposite. And indeed many vets seem to feel very strongly about these issues and strive to uphold honor and justice. Weird coming from an ex-miltary man I know, I must have some ulterior motive.

But perhaps it’s best not to say things like “All Cretians are liars” just in case a few of them aren’t.

Additionaly - I don’t see where we’re disagreeing on anything but the generalization and where to lay blame.

I am arguing that blame should not be put on the men in the field (the particular Marines concerned excepted - charges should be strongly leveled at them) nor on tactics that the Marines are supposed to follow (and strangely - aren’t - I wonder who benefits from that?), but on the top echelons and their political counterparts in the civilian government.

Which again - puts any officer or enlisted man with knowlege of this in the uncomfortable situation of either following orders he believes are wrong but doesn’t have a full picture of - or - if he/she does have a full picture, disobeying the civilian leadership and (possibly) breaking their oath of service.
That’s a damned hard choice and very different from Thompson’s decision in the field where he could see firsthand evidence of wrongdoing.
But Thompson got hosed for a lot of years and the issue got very muddled - and again - who benefited from that?

Thompson went back to civilian life, reviled in some quarters. Calley was, in those same quarters, hailed as a hero.
(Fuck those quarters, incidentally)
Calley was convicted though....was it an enlisted man that ordered him released from prison? Hmmm... maybe a captain or a Col.? General maybe? No, it was Nixon.
Gosh, I guess they were old chums or something. Maybe it was because Nixon loved the miltary so much?

Really not much changed. Except for one young Major who was directly involved in whitewashing the event. Colin Powell? Gee, whatever happened to him?

So, do you think it was Calley that got him into the Secretary of State position? You think maybe it was a Col. or a General not on the joint chiefs of staff that put him there?

Something like this - Marines directly killing civilians, should raise questions not lead to dismissive answers.

Because who’s ends does that serve?


“...it could be a pro org if the Chief Decider were to STFU, listen to his expert military leaders...”

True. But even then, FFF, they were given a rigged game. They weren’t asked “What strategic options do we have regarding Iraq?” they were asked “How shall we invade Iraq?”

Those who said “In the first place we shouldn’t” were shown the door.
Those who said “Well we’re gonna need ‘X’” ( ‘X’ being in conflict with whatever the administration had in mind) were shown the door.

We’re getting closer and closer to operating on the Soviet model in the military. I’m just waiting for XO’s to be replaced with Political Officers.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:35 AM on May 22, 2006


You do NOT countermand or in any way rebuke the civilian leadership for their decisions.

This is absolutely necessary in order to run an effective military.

It is also absolutely necessary that the civilian leadership make responsible decisions. And this is where the US administration has failed their duty to a treacherous, even treasonous, degree.

It is not only Bush and his nearest cronies that are at fault: the entirety of the congress (senate?) is to blame for not protecting the lives of their citizens by ensuring military action was necessary, well-planned, properly equipped, and well-run.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:54 PM on May 22, 2006


Marines may face the death penalty: one of their number took horrific photographs of a massacre in Iraq on his mobile phone.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 9:37 PM on May 27, 2006


Today I told my son about Haditha.
posted by taosbat at 10:38 PM on May 28, 2006


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