Almost everywhere on the Internet, TV and in the newspapers, all you hear and see is the story of the Marines and the unfolding events that occurred in Haditha, Iraq in November 2005. If you couple that with the killing of the pregnant Iraqi woman and her cousin, suddenly the actions of our military come under intense scrutiny. Please do not mistake my intent in this piece. I do not condone the killing of anyone, but, before we place the blame for these actions on soldiers sent into hell by liars, please try to understand how these events might have occurred.
Ironic, is it not, now that these events have come to light, those in leadership in the Department of Defense have ordered ethics training for our soldiers in Iraq. Would it not be more appropriate to order ethics training for those who lied us into this war?
Is it fair to expect those conducting the war to have more ethics than those who started this war based on lies, and ordered the soldiers to Iraq; many to be maimed and killed?
Only those who have "seen the elephant" know the intense emotions one faces in combat. No matter what emotion one experiences in such an environment, the intensity is at times overwhelming. For someone who has never been there to make a judgment that switches the blame for this debacle onto the backs of the soldiers, is just wrong — dead wrong. Not one Soldier, Marine, Sailor or Airman has killed as many innocent people as this administration has.
What I fear is about to happen in this country is a return to the dynamics of the Vietnam era where a nation finds itself unwilling to confront a criminal government that it previously supported, when the frustration of an un-winnable war with its attendant casualties and atrocities begins to overwhelm the senses. Instead of directing its anger towards the criminals in government, the nation instead attacks its soldiers.
When you have stood and looked at the bloody mess that just a few minutes ago was your friend, then you can criticize. When you look into the eyes of locals who knew where an IED was concealed, after it has just taken the lives of your friends, and do not have an almost uncontrollable desire to kill them, then you can pass judgment on those who have. When you have looked into the eyes of a friend who has just had his body literally cut in half and listen to him beg you to kill him because he does not want to be half-a-man, then you can condemn.
The problem, as I see it, is this nation of cowards, who, rather than confront their own culpability in supporting a criminal government, seeks instead to find a scapegoat on whom to heap the blame, finding a convenient target in those who wear the uniform.
Damn this nation for lacking the courage to bring its real criminals to justice!
Michael Gaddy [send him mail], an Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada, and Beirut, lives in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest.