Murder of civilians at Haditha seems more likely to be true
see "Evidence supports Marines deliberately shot Iraqi civilians" (AP via Denver Post, 8/2/06)
As investigators go through the evidence from the deaths of civilians in Haditha, Iraq, it seems to be becoming more likely that there will be murder charges against Marines, as well as cover-up or at least incompetence charges against officers up the chain of command.
If this happens, it is an unmitigated disaster for the US, the Marines, our activities in Iraq, and the likely results for Republicans in the upcoming elections.
The prestige of the US will be further eroded. I don't care a lot about that, but still having a good reputation is better than not having one. It will bring particular cries about our staying out of the International Criminal Court. I'm completely opposed to our participating in the court, but I hate the idea that people will say we are staying out because we have criminals working for the nation.
The Marines, an old and proud organization, will take a severe hit to its reputation, and possibly to its recruiting ability. They will become the butt of sick jokes, and it will take years (of perfect behavior) to recover the esteem of the nation.
The Iraqis will view us with even more suspicion than they already so. Iraqi politicians will be emboldened to challenge us, to call for us to leave. Militias will use it as a recruiting tool, with likely excellent success. Any little bit of appreciation that the Iraqis had for the USA will be gone...probably for a generation.
And, finally, it's another thing to keep Republican voters home and motivate the Deaniac-fringe wing of the Democrats on election day. If I were a betting man, and I am, I would bet that the GOP loses control of the House of Representatives in November.
I hope I'm wrong, but given how worthless the Republicans have been, how they have presided over the biggest government spending in history, the biggest growth in an entitlement program in history, an inability to get rid of the death tax, and going along with a minimum wage increase, it's hard to care much who wins.
[Addition to the original post]
Readers should not think that my posting this article means that I am against the war, or against the Marines. The Marines are one of our greatest institutions, and the war, while it is clearly going badly, was probably something we had no choice but to take on.
Here's a very relevant quote from today's Wall Street Journal:
Bing West, a former assistant defense secretary, reflected on Haditha in a recent piece about the war's course for the July issue of the Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute:
"The Iraq war is being played out against a backdrop of bitter partisan politics in the United States. Of those on the front lines, 70% get out after four years of service, with no long-term benefits. All they want is praise for their valor and service. They want to be able to say. 'I served at Fallujah, Najaf, or Mosul' and be respected for their dedication.
"Their valor is absent from this war because it is not reported. In Fallujah for instance, 100 Marine squads engaged in 200 firefights in cement rooms, using rifles, pistols, grenades and knives. By any historical comparison, this was extraordinary. In Hue City in 1968, there was one fight inside a house. In the entire history of the SWAT teams in the United States, there have not been 200 fights with automatic weapons inside rooms. Yet the courage of our soldiers and Marines in battles in Fallujah, Najaf, etc. received little press notice. Now we face the test of whether the press will place the tragedy of Haditha in perspective, or whether Haditha will unfairly become a false symbol....
"What happens if the youth of America adopt the same fractious attitudes as their political leaders? Who then will serve? In the tone of our criticisms while we are at war, we as a nation should be very careful that we do not undercut our own martial resolve. If we as a nation lose heart, who will fight for us?"
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