The Corner

Green Fog

An e-mail:

I am distraught. I went to [a military hospital last] evening to drop off some DVDs for a young Marine [I know]. Anyway on my way around the [hospital], I found myself trapped behind a huge Red Cross van. All of a sudden, two soldiers appeared and opened the doors. I could see that there were some of our wounded in there- clearly new arrivals. The staff lifted them onto the moveable hospital beds (many of the guys had machines attached to them) and wheeled them into the main building.

So many things passed through my mind during those minutes- first [God] Bless every one of them. And then, thank [God] for them. And then–deep deep anger. I thought of the current NBC story about the Marine who (maybe) shot a wounded Iraq insurgent. K we cannot allow them to do this to our boys. This will not be Vietnam.

There is no evidence outside of the reporter’s statement that what he claims happened actually…happened. The video doesn’t show the Marine shooting anyone. It definitely suggests it, but that is not evidence- that’s a suggestion. The most damning thing in my opinion is that insurgents have been putting booby traps in dead bodies… They fake surrender and then open fire. My [close relative] is being taught (quite rightly): ‘anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. ammo is cheap.’ I like that–someone tries to kill you–you get him first- he’s not quite finished- take care of it. I mean, the guy was not selling girl scout cookies he was a friggin terrorist in Fallujah! He could have been one of those savages dancing on the burned wreckage of the Blackwater vehicles in April. He could have been running one of the torture chambers. He’s a BAD GUY!

Are we as a nation prepared to say that the life of an insurgent (I prefer the term terrorist) is equivalent to the life of a US Marine? I’m not–and not just because [a close relative] wears green. This makes me absolutely sick. Our guys deserve better from us. We owe i to them to speak up and speak loudly. We love you. We are proud of you. Thank you for everything you do.

And, when I asked Jed Babbin about the Marine incident yesterday, he wrote back:

The idea that the shooting may have been wrongful is justified by the film. But I’m sure that it doesn’t portray accurately the room-to-room fighting that was going on. Every time the Marines find someone alive they find someone who may be wired with a bomb and still able to detonate it. I recall Richard Tregaskis, in Guadalcanal Diary, quoting one Lt. Harold H. Babbin, USMC — my dad — briefing his platoon on the eve of the invasion:

“You might see a Jap sniper hanging from the top of a tree, lookin’ dead,” the lieutenant continued, “because they tie themselves in with ropes. He might be playing possum. So don’t hesitate to throw another .30 [caliber bullet] up there and bounce him off the tree again. That’s good stuff.”

In combat, especially against people whose usual practice it is to violate the law of war, a Marine has to kill the other guy before he gets a chance to kill the jarhead or the Marine standing next to him. The rule is do unto others before they do it unto you.

I don’t know what happened in that one incident, and wrongdoing obviously needs to be punished, but am I wrong to want to give these guys volunteering to keep us safe and free others the benefit of the doubt when they are being shot at, with their lives on the line?

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