More important matters

I assume you’ve heard about this by now.

The U.S. military is investigating the killing of a wounded and apparently unarmed Iraqi prisoner inside a mosque during combat operations here, the Defense Department told NBC News on Monday.

NBC’s Kevin Sites, who witnessed the incident Saturday while assigned to represent a pool of news organizations, reported Monday that the man was shot by a Marine who appeared to be unaware that the Iraqi was a wounded prisoner and did not pose a threat.

— snip —

One of the Marines noticed that one of the severely wounded men was still breathing. He did not appear to be armed, Sites said.

The Marine could be heard insisting: “He’s f — ing faking he’s dead — he’s faking he’s f — ing dead.” Sites then watched as the Marine raised his rifle and fired into the man’s head from point-blank range.

“Well, he’s dead now,” another Marine said.

And according to Bob, this is being defended by some of the same people who — just a few weeks ago — were busy denouncing John Kerry for acknowledging that sometimes bad things happen in wartime.

There’s only one way this mindset is consistent: if you believe that Americans, by definition, are always on the side of light and therefore never commit atrocities. Whatever Americans do is justified.

There are some notable people in the not-so-distant past who believed something similar.

American troops died in large number to fight them.

What followed was the creation of a large body of international law on what is and is not a war crime. Much of this law was purchased with American blood.

And now… this is where we are.

One final point: the soldier in question has at least one defense I can think of, which is ultimately human and understandable, even without condoning what he did. In the midst of a dangerous situation, furious from earlier combat, sleep-deprived, overheated, god knows what all the guy went through… he made a momentary, snap decision, one which he may or may not come to regret for the rest of his life.

OK. That’ll all be at the trial and so on. That’s one thing.

But the people condoning this sort of summary execution as we speak… words fail me. They have no such defense. Most of them are sitting in comfy chairs enjoying a broadband connection, with all the time in the world to consider moral questions.

And they say killing people in cold blood is A-OK.