Don’t tell me to keep this in perspective and that only one-twentieth of the people were killed in Haditha than were killed in My Lai. Don’t tell me that I can’t possibly know what it’s like to be out there in the field under the kind of pressure that our troops are feeling in Iraq. American soldiers should be better than this.
Two years ago, it took eight idiots, a camera, and a black hood for us to lose whatever claim for nobility we might have had in liberating Iraq, and our efforts to secure the area and gain the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people was irrevocably set back. Was it reasonable that it turned out that way? Of course not. But we’re dealing with emotions here, not logic. There is no calculus of equality — we are held to the moral standard of angels; our enemies, to that of demons. And that’s the way it is.
But if the stories from Hadditha are accurate, what we’ll be seen as can only be imagined. Our world image has already taken a huge beating. Any American in uniform will be seen as a cold-blooded murderer and any civilian American as underwriting murder. This will be inaccurate — obviously, the vast majority of our troops aren’t doing things like this — but our enemies and our critics seem better able to manipulate the media than our government. And we will wind up needing to execute some of our own soldiers to collectively redeem ourselves in the eyes of the world.
John Murtha had better be wrong.