Monday, July 10, 2006

Is It Any Wonder That It's Come To This?

Reuters is reporting today that the Iraqi government is about to ask the United Nations to end immunity from local law for U.S. troops serving in Iraq. This comes on the heels of five soldiers being charged in a rape-murder case as well as, the killing of 24 people at Haditha and of course, the infamous abuses at Abu Ghraib prison. While it is unlikely, that the U.S. government would ever agree to submit to this request, it is a clear sign that the alliance between the U.S. and Iraqi governments is fraying.

I want to be clear, there is no acceptable excuse for commiting acts of torture, rape or murder.

But I will argue that these heinous acts are symptoms of a much bigger problem: Troops that are over-strained after multiple tours of duty and military "Stop Loss" programs designed to prevent attrition in the ranks, a reliance on Guardsmen who may not have been adequately prepared for this type of fighting, and no discernable exit strategy on the part of our leaders.

The majority of troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are honourable, decent, people. Nevertheless, it is critical that every allegation of impropriety be fully investigated if the United States is to have any credibility in the eyes of the world, or even within our own borders. Perpetrators of these acts must face military justice. But it is critical that we investigate deeper, that we search our souls and ask the tough questions. Why are these things happening? What circumstances have contributed to them? How can we ensure that they will never happen again? And perhaps the most important question of all:

When and how do we hold accountable our leaders, who created this situation in the first place?


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