Wednesday, November 17, 2004

 

Don't whine about it - deal with it

Mike Barnicle on the Imus in the Morning show just a few minuts ago really pissed me off. He started off well, paying tribute to a young soldier from the Boston area who was killed in Iraq on Monday and lamenting all the young Americans killed for no good reason.

But then he started whining about the Marine who killed the "terrorist" (as if that excuses shooting someone who may not have posed a threat), complaining that we will now waste time worrying "about what the Europeans will think" as if it's unfair that our noble soldiers should all be stained by one soldier's act. And he's right, they should not all be stained by one act.

But that's the wrong attitude. The facts have not been established yet, but if it turns out that this Marine did in fact shoot an unarmed Iraqi ("terrorist" or not) who no longer posed a threat, then it is in America's most vital possible interest that we deal with it immediately. As with Abu Ghraib, it is those people who support the war, those people who support the president, those people who call themselves patriots, who should be leading the way to expose the scandals and punish those - all those - responsible, from top to bottom. Nothing could more impress that part of the world that wants to respect the United States than if we were to lead the way in dealing with all the consequences of the invasion of Iraq, good and bad.

But that won't happen, nor will it ever occur to the tub-thumpers that it should. There is a widespread belief that one should never "air one's dirty laundry in public," that doing so will undermine public confidence in you and your enterprise. Bullshit. It's the cover-up that does the most to undermine confidence. It's damn hard to come down on a friend or ally, especially if your own hands aren't 100% clean - which is the main reason why groups never investigate themselves. But it's essential if you truly believe that the mission is what matters rather than the people running it.

Which, of course, those running it don't really believe.

In any case, if this Marine did it, he should be punished, and doctrine should be examined, command structures, rules of engagement, training, etc., to make sure it does not happen again. (Although, it probably will, in which case it should be investigated and punished again.) But lamenting not that it happened but that it will be lamented - that's a sure way to keep our reputation in the toilet. In the long run, honesty is not only the best policy but the only policy.
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