May 20, 2004


I very much disagree with the wording in Andrew Sullivan's newest post:

It's very hard to know the facts about the carnage on the Iraq-Syria border, but whatever the occasion, it appears that the U.S. military was responsible for the deaths of several Iraqi women and children. It was almost certainly a mistake - either of target or of provocation. But it's another blow to the prestige of the U.S. military and their ability to avoid the kind of action which will, in fact, make their mission harder rather than easier. There are now many reports of U.S. soldiers feeling so beleaguered and jumpy that their first instinct is to fire, capture or mistreat captives. And so the cycle of distrust in some areas appears to deepen. [emphasis mine]

Blaming the military for events that make life harder for the military is a big mistake, in my opinion. They are well aware that what happened near Syria is going to be a huge problem. They are well aware that prison scandels and imprecise bombing will cause the anti-war faction to shriek. They are well aware that their every action is watched under a microscope. They don't need Andrew Sullivan to point out the blow to their prestige.

When soldiers feel that the media and the world are watching their every move, they will indeed get jumpy and nervous. The last thing we need are jumpy and nervous soldiers. If you put a basketball team out on the court and then fill the stands with hecklers and let the announcer use the mic to point out every little mistake they make, don't you think that might start to affect the team's performance at some point? That's what we do to our soldiers, only this is life-and-death, not a game of hoops.

Our soldiers know they've potentially made a huge error near Syria. Do we need to rub their faces in it over and over and point out that it's their inabilities that make the war worse?

Posted by Sarah at May 20, 2004 09:16 AM

Wars will always kill children...and adults. For some reason we value the life of a child higher than that of an adult. But in a region of the world where children are just as likely to be combatants as adults, how can that still hold?

Arabs have always cherished children, especially the first-born male. But now they use our sympathy for children against us, always pointing out their deaths regardless of circumstance. It makes me less likely to care.

Posted by: Mike at May 20, 2004 02:46 PM

With all the stuff that they found at this house (SATCOM radio, weapons, passports, etc) I don't think there is any mistake at all. They had a mission to do and who knows maybe headed off something that would have happened if they didn't find this stuff.

The media is playing down what they accomplished and playing up the killing of "innocents".

Posted by: Machelle at May 20, 2004 02:59 PM


Read Belmont Club ( for a good analysis. It's not yet entirely clear what happened. BTW, I read your blog every day. Retired Army with 6 years served in Germany. Thanks for writing!

Posted by: Dana at May 20, 2004 04:55 PM

"It's very hard to know the facts..." but I am going to proceed to be self-rightously critical, because surely that will be helpful... (/sarcasm)

It's bad whenever non-combatants get killed. What's worse is dealing with an enemy that chooses to hide weapons and tools of war in the midst of non-combatants and holy places. When you're facing that kind of enemy, things you'd rather not see happen, will happen. We don't choose the enemy's tactics- we have to deal with them.

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