Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Natural Injustice of War

I read this piece on MSNBC this morning, and felt moved to comment on it.
Regardless of how one feels about the particular war these kinds of things happen... and you have no idea how much I loathe using a euphemism like "these kinds of things." When... not if, but when... it happens this huge black hole of karma opens. There is no "wrong" other than the wrong of war but there is horrible injustice.
He's speeding home with his wife and six children fifteen minutes before curfew after which they're liable to be shot for being Iraqi out after dark... the troops are on foot as sundown draws nearer. He gets too close too soon in the fading light and the troops, justifiably, open up on him... and his wife... and those six children.
I think the piece speaks to the children... who believes justice has been served by giving $7500 to the family elder? Who blames the 14-year old for her consuming hatred?
The piece mentions the role of the Army in restoring the troops to combat... to compartmentalize the trauma of opening that car's doors and seeing what they've just done to an innocent family.
The unit's chaplain, Capt. Ed Willis, says there's no reason to feel guilty: "If
you kill someone on the battlefield, whether it's another soldier or collateral
damage, that doesn't fit under 'Thou shalt not kill'."
I can't begin to tell someone who hasn't lived with it how little that means to the men who are going to wake up from those dreams for the rest of their lives. Of course, this is something with which the President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense and current Secretary of State would not be familiar.


Anonymous Ronni Bennett said...

I don't buy "the natural injustice of war" in this case. I understand the young soldiers fear. I understand the father trying to get his family home before curfew.

I don't understand, after the U.S. military has been in Iraq for two years, the soldiers yelling "stop" in English.

If I was told to stop in Arabic or any other Middle Eastern language, I wouldn't have any idea what was being said to me.

Why aren't our soldiers trained at least in the minimal number of commands and phrases that are likely to be needed in the local languages?

That seems so basic to me that is inconceivable that this is not done.

Additionally, when was the last time a car bomb was stuffed with six children in the back seat? Ever? How could the soldiers not have seen that?

It seems to me, this terrible tragedy - which can't be the only such one - could have easily been prevented. And with the military, having acknowledged the mistake, why isn't the boy with the spinal injury being treated by U.S. doctors?

7:13 AM  
Blogger Always Question said...

Ronni, you make a good point about yelling commands in English... I've read several accounts of other tragedies where that was clearly an issue. I'm not so sure in this case. The piece says the children didn't understand the Arab interpreter. There's no mention that they ever heard the yelling in the car, only that they saw the armed men's gestures.
I have to confess that my perspective is skewed as I read these accounts. The fading light, a car turns toward you and accelerates, the adrenaline rush of fear, you're all yelling, someone fires... I don't know, Ronni. Could they see into the car? Were the windows tinted?
Afterward it feels like it went on forever... in the piece it says it was over in fifteen seconds... maybe it wasn't even that long.
I don't know... and I don't know how, after we shoot up a car full of kids, we just drop them off at the local civilian hospital.
I think it's good that this war is being reported like it is... that we have eyes and ears on the ground so that we can see and discuss this.

9:15 AM  

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