A U.S. Marine shoots a wounded Iraqi. Am I supposed to act surprised? Read some history books and do a little research about what has happened to enemy combatants at the hands of U.S. military personnel. Some examples I’ve come across; A Navy chaplain tasked with the keeping of two Japanese prisoners (a rarity during WW2 Pacific island fighting) tries to hand responsibility of the two prisoners to a Marine he encounters. The Marine is hesitant but the chaplain insists until the Marine agrees to take them. He then raises his weapon, kills both prisoners and continues on his way to where he was going before he was stopped. In the early days during the Battle of the Bulge, over 70 captured U.S. Army troops were killed by their German SS captors. As the word spread among U.S. forces many soldiers acted in retribution against any German who tried to surrender as their offensive faltered by killing them immediately. There was even an “official” order issued saying: “No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoners but will be shot on sight.” What little film footage exists of combat during WW2 is revealing. One example shows a Japanese soldier, already on the ground either wounded or dead being repeatedly shot by Marines who apparently want to make sure he is really dead. Sound familiar?
I’m not naive enough to think it was the first time something like that happened in Iraq. I can’t decide if it was a good or bad thing that it was caught on video.
My father served on a U.S. Navy destroyer escort in the North Atlantic during WW2 responsible for sinking German U-boats. In his photograph collection are several photos of Germans before, during and after their rescue after their sub was sunk. One photo shows a U.S. seaman in the water helping a wounded German unable to climb up the net onto the ship unassisted. Maybe the good outweighs the bad but I don’t believe there can ever be a claim to any moral superiority.
It happens but you don’t have to like it. It’s called war. Something I’ve never known and personally don’t care to experience first hand. I couldn’t begin to say how I would react in the same situation. I don’t agree with our policy in Iraq but as long as our troops are there I wouldn’t expect them to behave any differently than their predecessors. Maybe one day we will learn.