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HADITHA: PERSPECTIVE

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 31, 2006 12:42 PM

Video overview.

My column today, What we know and don’t know, concludes:

There are countless numbers of anti-war zealots on the American Left rooting for failure. They believe the worst about the troops. They’ve blindly embraced frauds who’ve lied about their military service and lied about wartime atrocities. They’ve allied themselves with socialist kooks and coddled murderous dictators. They are looking for any excuse to pull out, abandon military operations and reconstruction, and impeach the president.

They insist on giving suspected foreign terrorists more benefit of the doubt than our own men and women in uniform. And that, I know, I am not willing to do.

I will wait. I will pray. And I will remind you that while the murder of civilians is and remains an anomaly in American military history, it is the jihadists’ way of life.

Or rather, death.

I linked to Dan Riehl’s post the other day on life for the Marines in Haditha. It’s worth revisiting. I’m posting some of the photos Dan linked to from the Marine Corps site here:

usmc.jpg

HADITHA DAM, Iraq – First Sergeant William R. Shaw and other Marines with Mobile Assault Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment bow their heads for prayer during a memorial service for Tiahoga Falls, Ohio native Sgt. Jeremy E. Murray here Nov. 23. Murray, a vehicle commander for the company, was said to be a “Marine’s Marine” and will be sorely missed everyone whose life he impacted.

Photo by: Cpl. Adam C. Schnell
Photo ID: 200512981920
Submitting Unit: 2nd Marine Division
Photo Date:11/23/2005

usmc002.jpg

HADITHA DAM, Iraq – Idaho Falls, Idaho native Cpl. Christopher L. Carney, a convoy security element commander for 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment keeps convoys safe while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. The infantryman turned security commander makes sure the safe transportation of Marines and supplies to their destinations within the battalion area of operations.

Photo by: Cpl. Adam C. Schnell
Photo ID: 20051026115648
Submitting Unit: 2nd Marine Division
Photo Date:10/26/2005

usmc003.jpg

HADITHA DAM, Iraq – Lance Cpl. Eric L. Hicks Jr., an assault man with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, provides security from a rooftop here Sept. 25. Hicks and other Marines in his battalion patrolled through the village looking for weapons caches and insurgents who fired on them that day.

Photo by: Cpl. Adam C. Schnell
Photo ID: 2005101983838
Submitting Unit: 2nd Marine Division
Photo Date:10/05/2005

usmc004.jpg

HADITHA DAM, Iraq – (left to right) Claremore, Okla. native Cpl. Timothy R. Roundtree and Orland, Calif. native Cpl. Joshua E. Thompson, both mechanics for 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, have worked side by side since joining the Marines December 2002. Now on their second deployment together, these two Marines continue to work as a fluid team to keep their unit’s vehicles driving on the road.

Photo by: Cpl. Adam C. Schnell
Photo ID: 2005118124437
Submitting Unit: 2nd Marine Division
Photo Date:11/08/2005

usmc005.jpg

HADITHA, Iraq – (From left) Lance Cpl. Jose H. Garcia Jr., Cpl. Scott K. Jepsen, Lance Cpl. Derrick W. McIsaac, Maj. Dana G. Hyatt, Sgt. Michael T. Lamoureux, Sam Nseir, and Sgt. Ronald R. Roberson Jr. all of the 6th Civil Affairs Group, Detachment Three, Team Five operates in the city here to help the residents rebuild their city to improve the lives of the people.

Photo by: Cpl. Adam C. Schnell
Photo ID: 20051028114124
Submitting Unit: 2nd Marine Division
Photo Date:10/10/2005

usmc006.jpg

Local children look into a bag of gifts as members of the 6th Civil Affairs Group, Detachment Three, Team Five, hand them out in Haditha, Iraq, Oct. 10, 2005. The civil affairs team is attached to Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment which has spent the past six months conducting counterinsurgency operations and providing stability to the “Triad” area of Haqlaniyah, Barwanah and Haditha. During their tour here, the Marines found more than 350 enemy weapons caches and conducted more than 12 counterinsurgency operations.

Photo by: Cpl. Adam C. Schnell
Photo ID: 200634105052
Submitting Unit: 1st Marine Division
Photo Date:10/10/2005

***

More perspective:

Uncle Jimbo on rules of engagement.
A Soldier’s View
Mary Katherine Ham

And Mackubin Thomas Owens at NRO:

Military necessity recognizes that a commander’s overriding concern is the accomplishment of his mission and the safety of his troops. One would not attack a populated area, increasing the risks of civilian deaths, unless such attack was essential to the campaign. Humanity is the self-evident recognition of the fact that one’s enemy is also a human being. Prohibitions against killing or torturing prisoners, or the generally recognized obligation to provide medical treatment to wounded prisoners, flow from this principle. Chivalry is the customary recognition of the idea that the strong protect the weak. Soldiers do not declare war on women or children because it is dishonorable to do so. If women or children engage in war, however, the principle of military necessity usually takes precedence over chivalry, but if the facts are as described by Murtha, military necessity was not a consideration in this case.

Nonetheless, we still don’t have access to all of the information some of which could absolve the Marines under investigation of a war crime. As Tom Ricks has reported in the Washington Post, individuals familiar with the investigation have indicated that message traffic and video from an unmanned drone may affect the outcome of the investigation.

Haditha has all the makings of a terrible story. But I would say of it what I’ve said of My Lai: It was an extreme case. Anyone who has been in combat understands the thin line between permissible acts and atrocity. The first and potentially most powerful emotion in combat is fear arising from the instinct of self-preservation. But in soldiers, fear is overcome by what the Greeks called thumos—spiritedness and righteous anger. In the Iliad, thumos, awakened in Achilles by the death of his comrade Patroclus, leads him to quit sulking in his tent and wade into the Trojans.

But unchecked, thumos can engender rage and frenzy. It is the role of leadership, which provides strategic context for killing and enforces discipline, to prevent this outcome. Such leadership was not in evidence at My Lai. We’ll have to see if this was the problem at Haditha.

Under the stress of war, unchecked thumos can push a decent man over the threshold. That’s a fact. But to use Haditha to discredit the efforts of hundreds of thousands of American and Coalition servicemen in Iraq, is as wrong as it was to use My Lai to discredit our sacrifices in Vietnam.

Update: Red Hot Cuppa Politics links to an important interview with another Marine who was in Haditha on Nov. 19.

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