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April 05, 2004

It's Not Just An I Told You So ...

The argument for the Iraq War from the right is, "It's better than doing nothing."

Turns out, maybe not. This is what many voices on the left, and a tiny few on the right - Pat Buchanan, Robert Novak, tried to enunciate without being slammed as unpatriotic.

We didn't see a plan, and even if we had, what was going on was working without the very important fact of lessening Iraqi deaths under the Saddam regime. The hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed each year figure has never been realistic nor proven to me. We can't even or won't count Iraqi casualties now - and we're there. But whatever the magnitude, we have not done the country any favors with our lack of strategy and our Rumsfeld-, Perle-, Wolfowitz-, and Cheney-driven bravado.

Since American forces landed there are many Iraqis dead - a couple of hundred that we know about in just the last two weeks alone. I suppose the argument could be that the Iraqis are doing it to themselves and you shouldn't blame Americans.

But go down that route too far and you logically reach the question, why didn't we let Iraqis take care of their own problems?

And for the most part I don't blame the troops for the inferno there. The leadership or lack thereof I would blame first. Most of our soldiers are in and out of hell more times in one day than most of us will be maybe in our entire lives.

But then there's also this scene that keeps on playing in my head that gives me pause to say every soldier out there is to be commended.

CNN spent weeks with a contingent of Marines. I don't know where they were or when it was or what their mission was. But I sure hope the mission wasn't what I saw.

Here's what I saw - through my TV. Marines were behind a low wall, taking some scattered shots and retunring fire to a small group of Iraqis who were out in the open.

Dumb Iraqis right? Take cover or eat dirt, right?

Well, they got a man. A man was down on the pavement, writhing in agony. A small trail of blood could be seen by his legs. I didn't see a weapon but I'm sure he had one.

Four marines were behind this wall, that I saw though it sounded as if more were off camera. They started shooting some more at this one guy. There were two puffs of dirt and then a rapid jerk of the man's body. And then no movement.

"I got him. I got him."

The camera panned out to the Marines, hands aloft cheering wildly - a big grin on one guy's face. It reminded me of a mercy killing out in the woods - of an animal. But this was a man.

I understand the need to kill if being fired on. I understand the need to fight first and ask questions later - at times. This guy, though? Well, he didn't seem to have any fight left in him.

And they shot him.

I didn't feel too good about these particular soldiers. And I don't think I should have.