Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Two plus two

The two missing soldiers have been found dead. And they did not get the quick and painless death I hoped for.

General Caldwell declined to speak in detail about the physical condition of those who had been found, but said that the cause of death could not be determined. He said the remains of the men would be sent to the United States for DNA testing to determine definitively their identities. That seemed to suggest that the two Americans had been wounded or mutilated beyond recognition.

The suspicion is that they were beheaded:

The Mujahedeen Shura, an umbrella group that claims Al Qaeda of Mesopotamia as a member, said in a statement posted on the Internet that the successor to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had slaughtered the two Americans. The authenticity of the statement, like many that are posted on the Internet, could not be verified. The Arabic word used in the posting — "Nahr" — denotes the cutting of the throat, and it has been used by jihadi groups when they have beheaded their victims.

Medieval idiots.

I oppose the war in Iraq. But even though the war may be a mistake, that doesn't change the fact that there are some very bad people on the other side that badly need to be helped off this plane of existence. I happen to think our presence in Iraq is creating more and more of them, which is one reason I think the war is a mistake. But that doesn't even begin to excuse behavior like this. May the perpetrators find themselves on the wrong side of a Rheinmetall 120mm smoothbore.

Separately, an Army investigation has concluded that two soldiers killed in 2004 were shot by the Iraqi troops patrolling with them.

The deaths of Army Spc. Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr. and 1st Lt. Andre D. Tyson were originally attributed to an ambush during a patrol near Balad, Iraq, on June 22, 2004.

But the Army's Criminal Investigation Command found that one or more of the Iraqis attached to the American soldiers on patrol fired at them, a military official said Tuesday.

Not so good, and something that has been a low-level worry among war observers for awhile. That and the infiltration of the armed forces by militias is one reason we've been reluctant to provide the Iraqi army with heavy weaponry, which has hampered their development as a capable fighting force.

Luckily, this sort of thing is rare, according to the Pentagon. Take that with a grain of salt, since this report only came about after a lengthy investigation. But if it were truly a serious problem we would hear a lot more about it from the soldiers involved.

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Anonymous Marc said...

The ironic thing is that these incidents are likely to help Bush. I'm sure Al Quaeda figures that barbarisms like this will scare Americans out of Iraq; but I think it's more likely to make people mad and bump up support for our staying. In a lot of ways, Al Quaeda, as evil as it is, is sort of like the gang that couldn't shoot straight. Zarquawi was a good example of that; rather than focusing on Americans, he killed more Iraqis and created more animosity toward Al Quaeda. I suspect that's why they fingered him for the US.

My feeling has always been that while Bush has much responsibility for Iraq and for the deaths on all sides, you can't simply ignore the moral culpability of the insurgents, who behave like animals and seem to thrive on nothing but hatred. And while I think it is correct to say that US policy is an element in this, I don't think you can overlook the medieval mentality that perpetuates this type of hatred and conduct. You don't need to romanticize these bastards to oppose the war as a bad idea.

6/21/2006 10:03 AM  

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