Thursday, June 01, 2006

"Core values training' won't erase the stain

As soldiers line up for their "core values training on moral and ethical standards on the battlefield," I find myself wondering why, on June 1, the news story says the U.S. military is investigating whether Marines "might have intentionally killed unarmed civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha on Nov. 19." Wasn't it clear whether the killings were intentional on, say, Nov. 19?

Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli said some things that seem to echo other commentators as this seven-months-ago atrocity is finally allowed to trickle out into the consciousness of American subjects.

First, "As military professionals, it is important that we take time to reflect on the values that separate us from our enemies." This is related to the thought that the United States punishes soldiers who commit atrocities, and that makes us different from countries that condone such behavior.

Second, and more Orwellian, Chiarelli said, "The challenge for us is to make sure the actions of a few do not tarnish the good work of the many."

Why not? Of course the actions of these "few" tarnish the "good work of the many." The actions of these few cast a dark, ugly, indelible stain on every American. After all, if you put on the uniform, you represent "the greatest nation on Earth." Those men, women and children were butchered by the few and proud who are held up as examples of the best America has to offer. These soldiers shamed us all, committed murder to make us safe and secure from the terrorists.

"Core values training" is not going to wipe the stain from our hands. The deaths of innocent men, women and children in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania five years ago does not justify the deaths of innocent men, women and children in Haditha. This incident does not give us an opportunity to reflect on the values that separate us from our enemies; it is a time to reflect on the values that we share - and apparently punishing the innocent for the crimes of the guilty is one that we share.

It is an outrage that in an era of instant communication, this crime against humanity is only now slowly coming to our collective attention. It is sickening that the public relations spinners feel the need to rationalize that these are just a few bad apples, or worse, good apples who went bad for just a few minutes.

I heard a talk show host suggest that our values are different from those of the "jihadists." It's hard to see the difference when writers feel compelled to point out that "The killings, in which victims included women and children, followed a bomb attack on a military convoy that killed a Marine," as if that explains or rationalizes butchery. It sounds like the same values are at work: An eye for an eye, and it doesn't matter whose eye.

"Of the nearly 150,000 Coalition Forces presently in Iraq, 99.9 percent of them perform their jobs magnificently every day," Chiarelli said. Do the math: That suggests 150 of them are disgracing us every day.

Let others rationalize, explain and spin. I'm just going to go off and vomit.


Anonymous John Newman said...

Thank you for giving this the attention it deserves.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous A Friend said...

Thank you once again for saying so well what it is I feel but can't put into words the way you can.

12:33 PM  

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