Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Few...The Proud...

I’m amazed at how the military, the media, and the population at large are springing to the defense of the marine who killed the unarmed Iraqi insurgent in a mosque last Saturday. We are supposed to "understand" that what this man did was caused by the horrors of war, by the trauma he had suffered through things his unit had recently experienced, by sleep deprivation…you name the excuse, we will float it out there. I’ll admit, I included a reference to the incident in one of my previous journal entries, even though I had not heard the full story. This evening, I went to, and found an article ( which described the incident, then went on for several hundred words in an attempt to defend it. I’m sorry…I couldn’t see how the authors (Owen West and Philip Carter) made the leap from the actual fact of the shooting, to the excuses they made in the subsequent paragraphs.

"A Marine shot an unarmed insurgent in a Fallujah mosque on Saturday. We know this because we saw it. The digital video footage of the shooting—recorded by NBC reporter Kevin Sites, who was embedded with the Marines—is running nearly continuously on cable news channels worldwide. We heard it, too. A Marine says: ‘He's f___ing faking he's dead. He's faking he's f___ing dead.’ The Marine comes into view with his rifle shouldered. There is a rifle shot. An Iraqi leaning against a wall slumps, leaving a blood stain behind. According to CNN, another Marine says, ‘Well, he's dead now.’ "

Am I the only person in America that finds this absolutely abhorrent? The authors begin the article with this description, and then proceed to tell us why what the shooter did was not a war crime, but simply an error in judgment. First of all, they suggest that the shooting is not counter to the Geneva Convention, because the marines were not yet certain that the mosque was "theirs," so the man couldn’t really be considered a prisoner. Then they go on to describe the horrors of battle, the "kill or be killed" atmosphere, the sleep deprivation suffered in a protracted offensive, and on and on and on.

So now I’m supposed to feel sorry for this marine, this professional soldier, who has benefited from arguably the finest military training the world has to offer. I’m supposed to assume that he was ill-prepared for the reality of battle stress, did not know enough to understand whether the battle was still being engaged, had not been trained in the finer points of treatment of prisoners, didn’t have enough moral foundation, or at least common sense, to understand that you don’t shoot an unarmed man. Especially not while the cameras are rolling.

If it had been some nineteen-year-old draftee who had pulled the trigger—a frightened boy who was wallowing in war up to his neck—I would be willing to allow all these excuses, and more. But, no… This atrocity was perpetrated by one of "the few…the proud." If this is an example of the finest fighting force on earth, the one that is supposed to be the staunchest defender of American interests throughout the world, then I am very, very disappointed. And embarrassed, and frightened, and saddened. But I can’t say his actions are not reflective of a decay that has swept across our land. We no longer recognize what is good or fair. Gratuitous violence is so pervasive in our culture, we don’t even know enough to be outraged by it. Life is all about winning at any cost. Give up everything—your friends, your family, your moral fiber, your humanity—to make sure you are the last man standing. That is what commands respect in American culture today. And you never take responsibility for a negative outcome. You blame it on society, your parents, your superiors, the victim, the weather… We’re becoming so skilled at pointing the finger at the other guy, it has almost replaced baseball as the national pass-time.

All I can say is, "WAKE UP, AMERICA!" Open your eyes, look past what you would like to see, or what the Bush machine would like you to see. Our military is broken. Our relationship with the rest of the world is broken. Our ability to recognize goodness and fairness, and to walk that walk, is broken. We’re running our country into the ground by promoting a culture of fear, hatred, domination, and selfishness. Our military is a reflection of our values around the world. WE shot that man in cold blood in a mosque in Fallujah. Will we defend and excuse it, or will we take responsibility and punish it? And will we take steps to rehabilitate our culture, so that we don’t continue to send soldiers abroad to broadcast such evil in the world?


  1. I think I "excuse" it to a certain degree because I know that these are mostly just kids over there. They haven't even had a chance to fully develop intellectually to comprehend their actions to the fullest extent. They are hyped up in order to be sent off into battle to kill others. They aren't trained to be discriminating in their thought process. They aren't some kind of highly trained fighting force. They are taught to kill or wind up being killed.

    It's not a black and white situation. Some people have said to me that it shouldn't have even been shown, that we shouldn't have reporters embedded because of stuff like this. But, I'm glad it was because collectively we need to understand what goes on in war so it will stop being glorified. And, yes, it should be investigated. But, I can't be quick to judge on a news blip. There is so much of the story that a few minutes of footage doesn't transmit. --- Robbie

  2. I find the whole thing disturbing, and I feel a little bad that I'm not as passionate about things as you are (and others).  Sometimes it's enough for me to just deal with my immediate family and I don't feel as though I have anything in reserves for the rest of the world.  Maybe I will someday.  It's not that I don't care, though, you should know that.

  3. You're 100% correct.  It seems like the 'liberal media' really jumped up to defend this war criminal.  OK, maybe he's not a war criminal, but that simply can't be tolerated.  And to somehow justify it by how the Iraqi Freedom Fighters are acting is just plain wrong.  We shouldn't be there!  We've killed over a hundred thousand Iraqi civlians so far in this bloody and immoral war.  When will it stop?  When will we realize that the Iraqis do not want us there.  Isn't it clear?  Out of the 1000 or so people they arrested in Falluja, only about 20 were foreign fighters, despite repeated statements that this is a foreign instigated rebellion.  It is not.  These people do not want to be occupied.  And frankly I don't blame them.



  4. Lisa-
    Yes, there seems to be a lack of 'self responsibility' of so many today. I would think that the Marines stand and live by "The few, the proud.....". There is nothing to be proud of here and if the real truth be know, more than a 'few' were involved with this incident. I am not only saddened by this murder, but sick about it as well.

    Thank you for the reality check and another great journal entry Lisa.

    PS: I promise not to let my camera fun get in the way of school....LOL!


  5. And so continue the horrors of war........I am sure the Marine will have to live with this for the rest of his life he will have to pay this terrible price for a war that makes no sense When and will we ever learn?

  6. Being a veteran and understanding military dynamics for the most part, I can tell you this, because it was a Marine pulling the trigger versus say the Army, makes this the worst case possible.  Our dominance and lack of discipline has penetrated the last remaining thread of dignity that does in fact represent our American attitude.  I have always maintained that the Marines were the most disciplined group with an underlining realization of compassion I have ever experienced first hand in the military.  Now that they have broken down, we are definitely broken.  My eyes have been opened so long now, that this does not open them further, but gives me justification to want to go to sleep forever.