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.