Like everyone, I’m deeply disturbed by what appears to be the shooting of an unarmed and wounded Iraqi by a US Marine. Executing a wounded prisoner is a gross violation of the rules of warfare and absolutely against the principles of the United States military. If the soldier involved is found to have acted without reasonable justification, he should spend the rest of his life at Ft. Leavenworth.
However, as much outrage is appropriate in this case, it is important to note that the people who commit acts of deliberate murder on our forces faces the full power of the rule of military law. Our enemy butchers civilians by the scores every chance they can get. Already that day they had used a false flag of surrender to attack US Marines, had been using mosques as ammo dumps and positions for attack, and had booby-trapped their wounded — all disgusting violations of the rules of civilized warfare. We are facing an enemy that acknowledges no quarter and does not follow the same rules we do. We should and must demand absolute accountability to our soldiers, but at the same time we do a great disservice to everyone in uniform if we attempt to compare this incident to the butchery of the terrorists who threaten peace and security in Iraq.
UPDATE: Just to clarify, I don’t know any more than anyone else. I’ve amended the post to reflect that. Could the person have posed some kind of threat? He didn’t look like he was in any shape to carry a weapon, and bodies had been booby-trapped before. The Marine involved deserves the full benefit of a thorough investigation and trial. If he committed an act against the rules of war, he should be punished. If not, he was doing his job. What evidence I’ve seen suggests the former rather than latter – but I don’t have all the facts. What is clear is that the enemy we face is barbaric, inhuman, and desperate. Against such an enemy our soldiers have every right to exercise due discretion in protecting themselves.
UPDATE: I’ve finally seen the unedited tape. What the censored version seems to indicate is that the US troops kill the old man in the foreground of the shot. This isn’t the case – they actually fire on someone else farther away. There isn’t enough information to determine if the person who was shot constituted a threat or not. Certainly the Iraqi witness might be able to shed some light on the situation. There seems to be a much stronger case for self-defense when the censorship of the video is removed.