Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Do we support our troops who are in harms way, or don’t we?

Most of us would automatically answer a quick “yes” to that question. But not everyone.

You’ve heard the story. A group of Marines entered a mosque in Fallujah where terrorists had been encountered the day before. Left behind when the first group of marines left the mosque were five injured terrorists who had received medical care before the Marines left.

Before I continue the story, let’s make sure we all understand that the day before this incident occurred, these same terrorists, along with others, were trying to kill US military personnel. They shot at them, they fired RPGs at them. In action other places, terrorists booby trapped their dead or injured comrades with bombs that were supposed to, and in some cases did, kill US military personnel. Some of the personnel in this second group to enter the mosque had been injured the day before this incident occurred by terrorists trying to kill them.

So, when the Marines entered the mosque there were five terrorists who had been injured and left behind. One appeared to be faking being dead. When he moved, a Marine shot and killed him. A terrorist had shot that Marine the day before. The military is investigating whether this Marine acted properly or not.

Footage of the shooting was aired on Al-Jazeera television. Iraqis interviewed Tuesday in Baghdad harshly condemned the killing.

The hypocrisy of this situation is nearly overwhelming. To wit:

  • It’s okay for the terrorists to play dirty pool, and use literally any means imaginable to kill our personnel. But US personnel must play by a pretty strict set of rules, and risk persecution and prosecution if, with little time to make a decision that might mean the life of one or more of them, somebody makes the wrong decision.
  • Iraqis condemned the act as "cowardice" and "something forbidden in Islam," although Islam apparently doesn’t condemn the terrorists. Praise be to Allah for his wisdom.
  • And this cake-taker: "It is something forbidden in Islam, an American killed an unarmed Iraqi prisoner inside a mosque," said one Iraqi. Islam does not condemn Iraqis for using a mosque as a fortress, but it does condemn our personnel who were being shot at by those in the mosque if they attack the mosque. Praise be to Allah for his wisdom.

A spokesperson for the International Red Cross reminded us that “the Geneva Conventions are clear: Protection of wounded combatants once they are out of action is a basic rule.” He did not explain how Marines are supposed to judge that a terrorist who had been trying to kill American troops is “out of action,” or whether he’s just waiting for the opportunity to explode a bomb under his clothing and take out everybody in the room.

In the US, people claiming to be for human rights are ready to hang this Marine. This is despicable, particularly before the investigation has even begun. But even if the Marine is determined to have acted improperly, he should not be punished. No one who was not present can be allowed to second-guess what that Marine did in that highly stressful and dangerous situation.

Charles Heyman, a senior defense analyst with Jane's Consultancy Group in Britain, defended the Marine's actions, saying the wounded man could have been concealing a firearm or grenade. "In a combat infantry soldier's training, he is always taught that his enemy is at his most dangerous when he is severely wounded," Heyman said. If the injured man makes even the slightest move, "in my estimation they would be justified in shooting him."

That’s exactly right, Mr. Heyman. And every red-blooded American ought to rise to the defense of this Marine. Anyone who doesn’t deserves to be put into one of these situations and see how they react.

There have been in past wars incidents where it is clear that US military personnel have improperly injured or killed enemy fighters who should not have been harmed. In such cases, it is proper to prosecute the errant personnel. This isn’t one of those cases.


Daddy said...

Well Written! I couldn't agree more. I get especially frustrated when I hear people on TV or on the Radio giving their "educated" opinions and saying things that just are wrong because they aren't there and don't know the exact situations of these marines. Keep your posts coming. The world would be a better place were there more people like you in it.

James Shott said...

Thanks for your comment Mr. Paw.

Give me your blog address (if you have one) and I'll post it on my site.


Anonymous said...

I quickly read your observations and therefore I can only come up with some quick thoughts. What I miss in the observations is the discrepancy between what people wish a situation to be and the reality. We (read some of us) emphasize the high developed standards in ethics and morality. To secure these standards we came up with a set of rules, we all know or have a bit awareness on. However in cases of emergencies and other emotional events we fall back to our individual level of characteristics, ethics and moral values. If we are to conduct the set of rules in a very strict way, we would condemn ourselves to rigidness or moral extremism and end up losing the fight. Extremists hold the strongest card in this way, that they constantly are capable to confuse/frustrate us and test our ability to come up with solutions that in some way hold up right the set of rules we forced ourselves to play by and to which we have attached the view of how we look at ourselves. In a way an collective action of self-delusion in which we are ready to sacrifice some of us to feel better (read condemn the given action) or sacrifice ourselves in this particular case shoot to kill before to get killed yourself and risk to be sacrificed. Either by the bullet of the enemy or by the opion of some of us. Soldiers are in a way trained to give their life to the cause they fight for but not in blind rage. However on the battlefield blind rage is used in maybe millionth of a second, because you can not kill someone else without rage, hatred or any kind of feeling (we consider to be the oposite of evil in general) we use at the moment. It might be so that if we allowed ourselves to admit we would throw overboard any set of rules and play as dirty as the 'terrorists' just to win our case and risk the loss of innocent victims. The given example highly confronts us with this unpleasant feeling. I think this can be just the trick terrorist and other extremists use to confuse us all the time. I'm inclined to say there isn't any cure for this. Rules work both way. They protect us and they limit us in our actions.

p.s. excuses for my anonymous post, but I don't have an opinion blog right now and I want to keep things organized.

Vitriola said...

War is a nasty thing. If you go to war, nasty things happen. Aside from the fact that your own troops are injured, innocents die when war is waged on a civilian population, as it has been in Iraq. We send troops to war, and by doing so, must gave them license to behave as they see fit in a wartime situation. Sometimes this leads to misjudgements. I believe this incident is probably one of those.

What it looks like to me is that an armed man shot an unarmed man lying on the floor. I don't think this is an action that can be justified. No matter what the circumstances are, no-one should shoot someone who appears to present no threat at that time. Therefore I don't think it's okay to condone this kind of action.

We went into Iraq because there were supposed to be WMD
there. There weren't. Because Saddam had links to Al-Quaeda. He didn't. Because Saddam was a vicious dictator. Okay, maybe.

My point is, toppling the ruthless dictator seems to me the only tangible reason left why we went in there. Iraq was not a seat of terror. So, given that the main purpose for this venture has been narrowed down to bringing democracy and peace to the people of Iraq, given that we're going to view ourselves as a good thing for the Iraqi people - we therefore have to be beyond reproach. We cannot approve , therefore, the shooting of an unarmed man. That doesn't mean to say that we have to make this a witch-hunt. Like I said, bad things happen in wartime situations.

I'm also a bit worried about the use in this case of the term 'terrorist'. I would prefer to call these people 'insurgents', which is what they are. They aren't necessarily terrorists. They may have been normal people living normal lives before we invaded. Perhaps they were normal, going about their normal lives, but when they were bombed and invaded decided to defend themselves and fight us off. Because it's still their country. If someone invaded my country, no matter what sort of ruthless dictator was running it, I'd still fight back. The insurgents could be what we would traditionally call terrorists, but I doubt that they *all* are.

John said...

Hey James you knocked me off the top spot and formed an alliance!

All joking aside, I finally agree with you! Yes we all should rise to the defense of that poor marine who shot the Iraqi insurgent. Unless you've been in situations like that no one knows how you'll react.

Actually I'd like to ask one "moral" - International law question though.

I'm not concerned about the soldiers who found the wounded Iraqis, I'm concerned about the solders who left the Iraqi insurgents to lay there, suffer and possible die.

According to the reports (primarily from NBC) we had wounded them in a battle the day before but our troops simply left the wounded there expecting someone else to take care of them.

I believe we have a duty and responsibility under international treaties to treat wounded enemy combatants. We've done it in every other war. We would expect similar treatment for our soldiers. We would be enraged if they same thing had happened to our fine young soldiers.

Otherwise we sink to the level of barbarians.

James Shott said...

Hi, John. Yeah, Kenna gave me a great plug. Besides, he'a a personal friend.

I understood that the first group of Marines had treated the terrorists before moving on. In any event, given the situation in Fallujah, I'm not sure if it would have been possible to do anything else.

I agree with you that we have an obligation to not just leave them to die, unless circumstances prohibit giving the full humane treatment.

Daddy said...

This comment has been removed because it linked to malicious content. Learn more.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mr. Paw. I am posting your address now.

Anonymous said...

I'm posting as anonymous because I am compuillit, my term for being computer illiterate. And I am.
The terrorists are winning again by reaon of default.
Of course the marine was correct in protecting his self as well as his companions.
How many terrorists did he kill? Had he been as depicted by the lefties, he would have shot all five.
The statement that thes people are or were not terrorists ignores the facts. They are, as has been proven many times over, not only Iraqi objectors, but foreign intruders whose objective is nothing but domination of all the mideastern and African countries by instilling fear in the citizens. They are, quite obviously, not the Muslims who cherish peace. They are criminals bent on the destruction of Islam and using the robes of Islam to take over entire governments, and the true Muslims must eventually come to understand that. Some high-ranking clerics already have done that.
Ask any Irani of the Loyal Opposition for his opinion.
Every terrorist, dead or alive, is a possible endangerment to our military people. The time to react to any threat of danger is immediate. When you have been shot between the eyes, it tends to interfere with your vision and your reaction time.
I'm not sure how many times it must be proven to those who support the terrorists that Saddam was playing footsie with Usama. Neither am I sure how many times it must be proven that Saddam did have weapons of mass destruction or was well on his way to having them. WMD is not limited to nuclear weapons, and ample evidence has been uncovered of both chemical and biological programs as well as some evidence of future atomic devices Ask any of the victims of an IED or a car bomb if those could be classified as a WMD, especially some of those hundred or so victims of a recent blast
The media generally ignored or downplayed the discovery of the 20 chemical casings. 20 of those could have, properly loaded and dispensed, wiped out about 200,000 sympathizers in New York City alone.
The terrorists are being aided and abetted by the media and that is precisely what the lefties want. The ultimate aim is to immasculate our military to the point that there can be no effective defense against any enemy, not only against the terrorists this time, but any future enemy.
I am fully aware that we should not act as barbarians even while battling barbarians such as those with whom we are now engaged. Our individual troops have so far acted with remarkable constraint while in combat. The marine who is now being castigated by those supporting the hoodlums, both here and abroad, in my opinion acted in defense of his person and of those around him.
I suspect that any one of his critics, placed in the same position and circumstance would have done exactly the same thing.
P.S. Great article!