Monday, January 10, 2005


Another day, another group of innocent Iraqis dead, killed by trigger-happy US soldiers who seem to regard any Iraqi near the site of a roadside bombing as a legitimate target. Even when they're wearing a police uniform. No-one will face charges or be discliplined in any way, of course; killing bystanders is perfectly within the rules of engagement.

And they wonder why people hate them...


There are also many hundreds of American soldiers and Marines dead—as well as thousands if Iraqi non-combatants—as a result of roadside bombs and other IUDs placed by local insurgents, who by any standard have far less regard for Iraqi lives than do Americans.

I don't point this out to excuse a mistaken killing—though I would stop far short of labeling it a "war crime"—but to illustrate that your hatred for Americans is evidently untainted by reason.

I could call this attitude lots of names, but "liberal" isn't one of them.

Jason G. Williscroft
The Dead Hand

Posted by Jason G. Williscroft : 1/10/2005 09:15:00 AM

I think Idiot was talking about how Iraquis hate Americans.

If an overseas power invaded your country, imposed martial law and then started torturing, shooting, or running over anyone who got in their way, you'd pretty soon hate them too, regardless of what they claimed their intent was.


Posted by Anonymous : 1/10/2005 06:25:00 PM

I should also point out the enormous difference between British and American forces occupying Iraq. The British do not allow shooting innocent bystanders as "normal practice" under their rules of engagement. They insist on proper fire discipline and actually identifying a target as both "enemy" and "armed" (rather than simply "Iraqi") before they shoot - things which seem utterly beyond American soldiers. And they back this up with the force of the law; they prosecute when people are killed by stray bullets. The soldiers in question may eventually be found innocent (the case is still pending), but it sends a clear message to British troops that Iraqi lives are valuable. This has resulted in far fewer civilian deaths, and (strangely) far fewer attacks on British soldiers.

So, the American way of "kill 'em all and let Allah sort 'em out" isn't the only way, or even the most effective. It's simply an example of poor discpline and a contemptuous attitude towards the people whose country they are occupying.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 1/10/2005 06:53:00 PM

If the Brits prosecute one of their soldiers every time a round goes astray and nails a civilian, I'll eat my hat. I don't know what incident you're referencing, but your wording suggests there aren't that many Brits on trial. If you think that number is even close to the number who have hit non-combatants, I have a bridge to sell you.

The fact of the matter is that Great Britain's political position is such that they have a vested interest in giving a damn about the opinions of people like you, Idiot, who have quite obviously never been in a firefight and wouldn't recognize rules of engagement if they stood up and spit in your eye.

A little historical perspective might help. Civilian casualties are a fact of life during wartime, and no amount of hand-wringing about the value of each individual life will make that fact go away. But here's another fact: our rules of engagement are working. The civilian casualty rate in Iraq is very low, particularly when compared to other examples of urban conflict, as opposed to war in general. In fact, a significant proportion of U.S. casualties during this conflict could have been avoided by the simple expedient of relaxing the rules of engagement.

Let's not even get into a discussion about what constitutes an "innocent" bystander. While you're mucking about in the Geneva convention, you might notice that disguising combatants as non-combatants is also a crime.

The bottom line, Idiot, is this: the Iraqis, aided by the United States and our allies, are trying very hard to recover from decades of vicious tyranny, hold clean elections, and establish a democratic society. There is an element within that society—heavily influenced from the outside—that is willing to do whatever it takes, including killing and maiming thousands of its own citizens, to impede progress toward that goal.

Whose side are you on?

Posted by Jason G. Williscroft : 1/11/2005 05:52:00 AM

Yes, there will be civilian casualties even with the best of care. But surely it is important to take that care to minimise civilian casualties?

One of the major problems with the US armed forces (as I see it) is that they're not terribly selective and don't have particularly effective training programs. It appears they take poor young boys/men (mostly men anyway) and give them minimal training, hand them a gun and put them into a potentially volatile situation.

I'm not sure that prosecuting the individual soldiers would be effective or fair, since it's a problem with the system more than individuals.

Posted by Quail : 1/11/2005 06:28:00 AM

That's what rules of engagement are for: minimizing civilian casualties. And they're working. Complaining about the civilian casualty rate without comparing that number to previous conflicts is an argument without context: worse than pointless.

Rebekah, you'll have to excuse me if I question your competence to judge U.S. military training programs.

I, on the other hand, am a U.S. veteran with twelve years of service, both as an enlisted man in the Marine Corps and as a surface warfare officer in the Navy... and I think you're wrong. You may protest that, as a product of those ineffective training programs, I am necessarily biased. You may be right, too, but the existence of a bias has no bearing on its relevance.

Here's what I repeatedly observed during my service in the U.S. military: the men who served with and under me were intelligent and hard-working. Many of them were poorly educated prior to induction, but they learned fast, and with a will. It is difficult to find a young American sailor or Marine with more than a year of service under his belt who isn't a quicker thinker and more technically proficient at his craft (which, by the way, more often involves operating electronics than machine guns) than any of his contemporaries on the outside.

I, myself, attended the U.S. Naval Academy prior to receiving my commission. USNA is a military training program. It is also one of the finest universities in the United States, a country whose universities are rather well-regarded around the world. Even in Ireland.

The United States has by far the most technologically advanced military in the world. Do you really suppose we could make all that machinery function with dolts at the controls?

I know, you've seen the hick soldiers on T.V., nattering on 'bout gettin' home tuh maw an' shootin' some 'possum. Just try to keep in mind that those images are selected by editors, many of whom have an agenda that—they feel—excuses a little shading of the truth now and then.

Right, Idiot?

Jason G. Williscroft
The Dead Hand

Posted by Jason G. Williscroft : 1/11/2005 09:08:00 AM

Jason G. Williscroft:

The side of Idiot/Savant is obviously that of the Iraqis and Arabs who regularly dismember and maim civilian Iraqis in ill-disciplined and suicidal attacks on middle-tier Iraqi government officials, Iraqi Police and American troops.

Idiot/Savant should petition his/her side to engage in more ethical tactics before sneering at mistakes by US soldiers.

Posted by Antarctic Lemur : 1/11/2005 04:17:00 PM