Sunday, June 11, 2006

Missing the Boat

Recent events in Iraq have spawned headlines and articles indicating that the U.S. military is embarking upon troop training in values, cultural sensitivity and even ethics. This was last week's news.

Yesterday's news, however, was the death of al-Zarqawi on the battlefield in Iraq. Whether he is a terrorist or a criminal is beside the point, which is that he was killed by the U.S. military. Now, the rules of war and the Geneva Convention prevent the display and use of bodies resulting from combat for any reason. Plastering the world's media with pictures of a dead and mangled body is un-American, non-democratic, mean, petty, un-Christian, and definitely exceeds the bounds of humanistic civilized behavior.

Is this "cultural sensitivity" in action? Leave out the cultural entirely, and view this display as totally aberrant and insensitive to any qualities we might normally equate with the term. What positive values are enhanced by displaying a dead body? How can this voyueristic behavior be justified?

We call the unconventional warriors fighting the invasion of Iraq terrorists, yet we proudly diplay the bodies of Saddam's murdered sons, and now that of al-Zarqawi, bringing to mind the way hunters pose with their quarry, pulling the antlers back to reveal the dead buck's face. The difference is, hunting prey is sport. War is not not the place to spike the ball in the endzone. You do not display your bloodied, dead enemy's heads as trophies. The goal is not to emulate those whose crimes we are scandalized by, for then, what are we?

Exactly what is terrorism, and what is humanity, and what is it that we are exporting?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Haditha Values Training and Justice

The current investigations of Marines purportedly responsible for civilian murders in Haditha (Iraq) by the Marines highlights the unfortunate folly of the undertaking that is called Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is like asking the Mafia to find jimmy Hoffa's body.

If Iraq is a democratic and independent state, then why aren't the U.S. Marines being investigated and, if need be, tried in an Iraqi court? If G.I.'s kill in Okinawa, or Germany, or wherever else they may be stationed, they are generally tried in that host nation, such is the protocol of jurisduction and sovereignty.

So why doesn't this principle apply in Iraq? We are acting as though this our playground for growing up a just nation. But just who is it that needs to be taught?

Canadians Get It Right

The AP article, "Canada Foils Terror Plot with Arrest of 17 Suspects," by Beth Duff Brown, is a wonderful accounting of what I've said for years: terrorism is a criminal activity that can be dealt with on all levels by appropraiate police functions. Canadian police handled this case as do the French, Italian and Germans, when dealing with terrorist threats in their respective countries. That is, by apprehension and incarceration of the supects, followed by timely judicial action.

In speaking of those apprehended, the assistant police commissioner actually said, "(They) had the capacity and intent to carry out these attacks." These are precisely the criteria one must use when making a realistic assessment of a potential terrorist threat. The concepts are not interchangeable--capacity does not equal intent; intent does not equal capacity. Without the presence of both, one does not have a credible threat.

The suspects were arrested and will be charged and dealt with through the legal system in a transparent and democratic manner. This is the opposite of the opaque U.S. approach, which would have us believe that the suspected terrorists gain an advantage when the democratic model is followed.

Unfortunately, President Bush has never justified this position, nor do U.S. authorities seem to think that our citizens can handle the facts.

Canada is to be commended for not throwing the suspects into military solitary confinement without being charged, nor tortured them or placing them in open-ended incarceration absent charges. It also appears that this arrest was accomplished without indiscriminate screening of Canadian phone calls, as well. Chat rooms were monitored, but there is no reasonable expectation of orivacy in a chat room. Also, Canada does not enjoy a Bill of Rights, as we in America are supposed to.

Our Northern neighbors have demonstrated in a big way that terrorism is a manageable threat that can be neutralized in a calm and deliberate manner, without sacrificing the civil rights of the populace. I can think of no better way to deter these criminals than by unwavering adherence to democratic principles, and the might of such conviction and example. Ferret out these perpetrators, and have them stand trial by the light of day. Sunshine is a great sanitizer, as Oliver Wendall Holmes said.