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November 21, 2004

"Acquired Omniscence" -- Do We Know Enough To Have Strong Opinions About the Marine Charged With Killing a Prisoner?

Bill from INDC has a good and thoughtful post on the question.

His position is implicitly one that scolds me, as I made the factually-challenged jump to decide no charges should be brought against the Marine, pre-investigation. Still, it's a good post and a point well-taken.

A military man emails to say he's not necessarily on the side of the Marine. I've wondered about that, to tell you the truth-- are military folks generally supportive of the Marine, or do they want him to be tried (if the facts warrant) because it's vital to them that they serve in organizations acting with perfect honor and scruples in all situations? Does the code of martial honor require tough sentences for soldiers acting on the wrong side of the gray line in difficult situations?

If most say the latter, then perhaps we civilians ought not rush to defend, erroneously thinking that's the best way to support the troops.

I've mostly heard military folks arguing in the defense, but obviously that's pretty anecdotal and not anything like a scientific survey.

I'm not saying that whatever the military wants they should necessarily get, mind you. I'm just saying that the first impulse -- to defend a soldier or Marine -- may not be the response most military men actually prefer. We civilians may be assuming that soldiers and Marines want us to defend this guy from the get-go, whereas they might -- might; I don't know -- actually prefer a strict interpretation of the rules of war and possibly harsh sentence if the facts so warrant.

Update: Bill's also got a Time piece on the Battle of Fallujah and USAToday photo-essay that are definitely worth checking out.

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posted by Ace at 08:34 PM

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