Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Murder in Iraq?

A story that has been developing in the news over the last few days has deeply disturbed me.  There are accusations that a U.S. soldier, Steven Green, and three buddies raped and killed an teenage Iraqi girl and killed her family- including a 10 year old sister.  This happened in a town caleld Mahmudiya, just south of Baghdad.  The accusation is that they then burned the body to cover up the crime.  I kept going back and forth about posting about this in my blog saying to myself, that's not what this blog is about.  But, I commented about Moussaoui's sentencing and other current affairs.  So, I've got to talk about this.
First of all, we don't know all of the facts yet.  The soldiers haven't been formally charged.  But, it looks as though they certainly will be.  And, in our justice system, people are innocent until proven guilty.  So, let's keep that in mind.  But, the main evidence against this soldier is the testimony of fellow soldiers.  So, it doesn't look likely that nothing wrong happened there.  And, in this case, we're looking at premeditated rape and murder, not something that happened in the heat of battle.

Before I rush to judgment, I always try to put myself in the place of the accused.  What was he  thinking or feeling that caused him to do what he did?  In this case, I can't even imagine the stress of being a soldier in Iraq. War is no longer as "civilized" as it was in the days where soldiers all wore uniforms and met on the field for battles.  Now, it's hit and run.  Enemy combatants hide among the populations we're trying to liberate.  Our soldiers can't tell who will shoot them the minute they turn their back or who has planted an IED (improvised explosive device).  Death is a possibility literally every moment of their day.  This has to place tremendous stress on the soldiers and cloud their judgment.  I can't know what they're thinking.  But, I do know it has to be almost unbearable.  So, we should give that some consideration when we're judging their actions.

But, we are getting reports of soldiers committing horrors against the people of Iraq that are simply animalistic, barbaric acts.  We have to call them what they are.   What these soldiers are accused of doing (and others who have shot people in their homes) is nothing short of murder, even in a time of war.  I have criticized "moderate" Muslims for not speaking out against the Islamafacists.  I think it's important that Americans separate ourselves from the acts of these individuals and cry out in a loud voice that we do not approve.  The acts these soldiers are accused of committing are not only just as wrong as they can possibly be from a humanity POV, they provide fodder to the Islamfacist propaganda machine.  They are incredibly harmful to our reputation around the world and they help the enemy fan the flames of hatred against us.  If these things were done, they are tantamount to treason against the United States.
I have gone on and on in my blog about how justice is not about retribution.  I've talked about how it's better to forgive than to seek vengeance.  And, I must be consistent with that POV.  However, these acts are so public, so heinous and so potentially damaging, I'm afraid that I have to say I want to see them prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and dealt the harshest penalty possible, as both a deterrent against future acts and as a way of saying "We don't approve". 

I almost cried as I watched the news report last night.  Man's inhumanity to man never ceases to amaze and disappoint me.  I want to be patriotic.  I support our soldiers wholeheartedly. Even while I have serious reservations about our involvement in Iraq.  I am so grateful for them being willing to volunteer to lay down their lives for their country.  They are far better people than I can even hope to be.  But, we have to speak out against atrocities committed in our name and we have to do it loudly.

Peace,
Brian

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