No one yet knows what happened in Haditha, Iraq, last November. There are accounts -- unconfirmed -- of a massacre perpetrated by a unit of enraged Marines against unarmed civilians. Unless I miss my guess, this is about to become the biggest story in the world.
Consider that Abu Ghraib, which did not involve killing or torture (though it did include extreme humiliation) became the American and world press's favorite topic for weeks on end, though far more grotesque acts were being perpetrated daily by the jihadists in Iraq and elsewhere. In the period since then, the American press has focused almost exclusively on stories from Iraq that depict the situation as hopeless and the role of Americans as counterproductive.
Even before we know anything with certainty about Haditha, the Chattanooga Times Free Press has let fly with this bit of instant sociology: "If the vicious sectarian strife that is ripping Iraq apart holds no apparent end and is now sufficient to prompt a spree of unprovoked killings of innocents by American troops, Americans reasonably may wonder whether, as some generals already believe, this nation is now doing more harm than good by remaining in Iraq."
Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., every liberal's favorite ex-Marine since the day he advised pulling out of Iraq, called a press conference to accuse the Marines of murder. "[T]here was no firefight, there was no IED that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and killed innocent civilians in cold blood."
The Boston Globe, like countless other outlets I checked on Nexis.com, has rushed to dust off Vietnam analogies: "The My Lai massacre, covered up for more than a year, symbolized the moral bankruptcy of the Vietnam War. Senators need to determine whether the Haditha killings were a shameful anomaly, or, three years into the occupation, a manifestation of a deep coarsening in the US force." Three guesses which option the Globe thinks is true?