Friday, November 19, 2004

Owen West and Phillip Carter weigh in on the criminality of shooting a gravely wounded unarmed Iraqi prisoner. They conclude that the shooting is tragic, but not a war crime, because war is chaotic, very confusing, dangerous, and terrifying, and soldiers often act instinctively to a perceived threat or to get revenge for "atrocities" committed by the other side. Because war is such an uncontrolled and uncontrollable environment, "the very idea of placing inflexible constraints on the act of killing is at odds with [its] fundamental nature."

Reading this makes me think about what Riverbend over at "Baghdad Burning" had to say about the prisoner's murder.

In this last year we've seen murderers, torturers and xenophobes running around in tanks and guns. I don't care what does it: I don't care if it's the tension, the fear, the 'enemy'… it's murder. We are occupied by murderers. We're under the same pressure, as Iraqis, except that we weren't trained for this situation, and yet we're all expected to be benevolent and understanding and, above all, grateful.

She has a point, don't you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think Riverbend of Baghdad Burning fame has spent about as much time in Iraq as I have.

Kathy, I don't disagree with a lot of what you say, but I think you take a very extreme view of things and that is like reading a blog from a diehard Bush supporter only on the other side.

The video of the marine shooting the wounded Iraqi prisoner requires him to go to trial. Your analysis of this is all over the place. On the one hand you say war is so abhorent to human nature, that soldiers start doing weird, violent things. On the other hand you say that it makes no difference what this marine's state of mind was. The issue is not whether this is a war crime, it surely is, the issue is whether this young man has a defence. You have studied law, so I am sure you know this.
But it is more than this. We are not talking mere technical legal terms, we are talking about whether it would be humane to punish this marine in these circumstances. The people in Iraq are suffering terribly right now, but why does that we have to withold humanity from this marine? How does that help matters?
Take Care,