Here's what happened: A convoy of Marines trolling insurgent-riddled Haditha was hit by a huge IED. A Humvee was destroyed. One Marine was killed (split in two). Two other Marines were wounded (one grievously). There was a lot of shooting at an approaching Iraqi car. There was a lot of shooting at two nearby Iraqi houses where Marines heard, as The New York Times put it, "the distinct metallic sound of an AK-47 being prepared to fire." As one Marine witness explained, "the squad leader thought he was about to kick in the door and walk into a machine gun." In the end, no additional Marines had died, but 24 Iraqi civilians, including some children, had been killed.
And here lies a hunk of the politically correct outrage fueling prosecutorial fires. According to a leaked report chiding Marines for not investigating further, Army Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell was apparently appalled by "statements made by the chain of command" that "suggest that Iraqi civilian lives are not as important as U.S. lives, their deaths are just the cost of doing business. ..." Maj. Gen. Bargewell was also apparently exercised by the Marine consensus that "civilian casualties were to be expected" due to such insurgent tactics as hiding among civilians. "Although this proposition may accurately reflect insurgent tactics," he wrote, he heard it so often "that it almost appeared rehearsed."
Rehearsed? Notice the contorted way military brass disparages the exculpatory reality of the Iraqi battlefield.
Meanwhile, three cheers for the Marines. If only someone would mention to the Waughian-named Maj. Bargewell that when the "business" is war, the chain of command darn well better consider "U.S. lives" more important than "Iraqi civilian lives" (many "civilian" in name only), or guess what? Too many U.S. lives will be lost and the United States won't win.
Victory, however, isn't the objective of our increasingly PC military. This is becoming more and more apparent as the war continues. Which calls into question our very capacity -- not military, but psychological -- to wage war. It also calls into question our continuity with our forbears -- Capt. Stone's grandfathers, for instance. They might know the uniform but, watching their grandson's show trial, I doubt they'd recognize much else. Diana West is a columnist for The Washington Times. She can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright 2007, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.
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