Though it is a subscription-only “featured” article, Thursday�s Wall Street Journal editorial offers a clear-eyed perspective of recent events in Fallujah, in proper perspective. It is worth excerpting heavily:
Some 40 Marines have just lost their lives cleaning out one of the world’s worst terror dens, in Fallujah, yet all the world wants to talk about is the NBC videotape of a Marine shooting a prostrate Iraqi inside a mosque. Have we lost all sense of moral proportion?�Never mind that the pictures don’t come close to telling us about the context of the incident, much less what was on the mind of the soldier after days of combat�
When not disemboweling Iraqi women�killers hide in mosques and hospitals, booby-trap dead bodies, and open fire as they pretend to surrender. Their snipers kill U.S. soldiers out of nowhere. According to one account, the Marine in the videotape had seen a member of his unit killed by another insurgent pretending to be dead. Who from the safety of his Manhattan sofa has standing to judge what that Marine did in that mosque?
Beyond the one incident, think of what the Marine and Army units just accomplished in Fallujah. In a single week, they killed as many as 1,200 of the enemy and captured 1,000 more. They did this despite forfeiting the element of surprise, so civilians could escape, and while taking precautions to protect Iraqis that no doubt made their own mission more difficult and hazardous. And they did all of this not for personal advantage, and certainly not to get rich, but only out of a sense of duty to their comrades, their mission and their country.
In a more grateful age, this would be hailed as one of the great battles in Marine history–with Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Hue City and the Chosin Reservoir. We’d know the names of these military units, and of many of the soldiers too. Instead, the name we know belongs to the NBC correspondent, Kevin Sites. We suppose he was only doing his job, too. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to indulge in the moral abdication that would equate deliberate televised beheadings of civilians with a Marine shooting a terrorist, who may or may not have been armed, amid the ferocity of battle.
The incident in question should be investigated fully at some later date, but in the meantime we should be deeply grateful to the Marines – whose death toll has apparently since risen – for moving mountains yet again, under the most difficult of circumstances. Semper fi, indeed.
UPDATE: I�ve never been in the military, but this sounds like sensible advice to me.