"Marine kills wounded Iraqi"- Why should I care?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by masterskywalker, Nov 16, 2004.

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  1. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    But setting aside what was going through the mind of the individual Marine (because we don't know), what makes the photographers "open letter" any more accurate than anything else?

    In fact, I'd say it was less accurate in its conclusion about what happened simply because Sites had the luxury of hindsight when he crafted it.

    Now, I'm not saying Sites is wrong, but it still only represents his opinion on what happened.

    In fact, back when he released it in his blog, that was the glaring inconsistancy that I immediately noticed. I called it his own "Larry-Stuism."

    But if you re-read his "open letter," you'll notice that everything he describes sets up a pre-concieved opinion:

    from when he alone (among a group of highly trained Marines) noticed that the ammo was going to explode, to when he barks out orders to a Marine officer, concluding when he determines which Iraqi was more of a security risk.

    It reads like a cheesy 80's action flick, but instead of Arnold, it stars Sites himself, who of course wants the reader to buy his claim that he was the only objective pair of eyes on the battlefield.

    Again, I'm not claiming that Sites is any more, or any less correct than anyone else that day.

    However, Sites himself is not immune to the fallacy of perception, and his open letter certainly illustrates that.
  2. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    It reads like a cheesy 80's action flick, but instead of Arnold, it stars Sites himself, who of course wants the reader to buy his claim that he was the only objective pair of eyes on the battlefield.

    Um... ok. Cheesy 80's action flick.

    Uh, yeah. Well I really don't know what do do with that one. If we're going to call his letter that sort of thing, then it's absolutely no different from the accounts any soldier sends home from the war, or any war from today back to the Civil War and beyond.

    I mean I dunno, that seems a pretty absurd analogy. Considering Arnold's most thought provoking work was probably a movie where he was on Mars for most of the picture. It sounded to me like the person writing it didn't want to get lynched which he was experiencing already. Almost sounds like a justification of "shoot the messenger" (or in this case rather, "play down/belittle the messenger") because although he included mention of the major known mitigating circumstances the marine went through, he didn't make his entire letter about the marine himself.

    The reason his letter includes him barking orders to a Marine officer and alerting towards an ammo dump is because those things happened to him (unless you're saying they DIDN'T happen which is another argument altogether that the army can certainly take up). The reason he doesn't include say, Sergeant Jones giving the order to lay down covering fire is because of all the major events probably going on that day, that wasn't as significant to him. If he was going to do that he'd probably have to include tons and tons of detail that is statistically irrelevant. He's not going to remember Sergeant Jones giving orders, he's going to remember that brief moment he ordered something to sergeant jones (a rare event).

    But none of this has any bearing on whether these experiences have warped his perception to the point that he can't call a duck a duck, or a shooting a shooting. That in that mosque there was just so much going on behind the scenes in everyone's heads that, for that one single moment, you couldn't judge the situation based on even actually being there. That even when you've made mention of how the Marine was wounded beforehand, how you can't make statements as to his state of mind, that even THEN you have not done justice to the situation and have delegated to the level of an Arnie action flick. There's already more time spent here discussing the stresses and state of mind of the Marine than the insurgent he killed, who by all evidence is most likely a native resident of Fallujah.

    I don't believe the camera man at any point is trying to say "wow, look at me and all this stuff I did before I witnessed that event! I'm a Marine, wheee!" so we shouldn't label these things as such because it's convenient to do so. It would be like, gee, saying Richard Clarke is arrogant so his opinion should be of a reduced concern. He goes on at length of the decision to release that material and discussions he had with superior officers to do so. If we're going for some ultra-realistic/telepathic uber-photo-realism of war and life that only Stanley Kubrick ever came closest to approaching on film (or James Joyce in print) by combining action with the mind-numbing boredom of actual reality where nothing interesting or relevant is going on 95% of the time, then we're asking something that even the investigators aren't going to be even able to reproduce.
  3. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I don't believe the camera man at any point is trying to say "wow, look at me and all this stuff I did before I witnessed that event! I'm a Marine, wheee!"

    That's funny because that's the exact perception I get after reading his open letter. See, the point you overlook is that Sites is free to distort, or not distort reality as he sees fit. The letter is his sole creation.

    This isn't a court of law, so we can't subpoena witnesses who might corroborate Site's account, but neither should we accept that account as what happened.

    How many days did Sites have to recreate the entire campaign with him single handedly winning the war?

    Because that is exactly what his letter looks like, a massive ret-con of his entire involvement.

    I know you recognize the progression he built in.

    1)Sites takes it upon himself to attach to the platoon where he knows the action is

    2)Then, out of an entire platoon of Marines, Sites makes it seem like he alone noticed the burning ammo.

    3)Sites yells that he has to practically order the officer to get his own men out, just in the nick of time.

    4)So by the time we get to the shooting incident, Sites had built himself up as some highly trained super soldier who instantly tells who is a threat or not, using the lens of a camera.

    Again, all of it could be true. Maybe the journalism school he went to offered an elective in combat tatctics and leadership. Who knows?

    When reality dictates that he simply caught a single moment out of an entire situation, and people used it solely to pass judgement.
  4. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Again, all of it could be true. Maybe the journalism school he went to offered an elective in combat tatctics and leadership. Who knows?

    I have to take a shower and go to work, so I don't have to respond to most of this now, but seeing this, I will say that Sites obviously didn't learn any of this in journalism school. Where he learned it, and I'm thinking at this point you may have accidentally rather than wilfully overlooked it in this case, is by virtue of the fact he's covered a lot of stories in combat before. Gonig back to what, the 80s? I think JF might know offhand.

    Considering a lot of the marines he's with over there are 19/20, as absurd as it sounds, this could actually mean he has more raw combat experience -- though not with firing weapons nor taking military orders as much as just being in a combat zone -- than many of the soldiers he's with.
  5. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Then again, that will come out in the offical investigation.

    This latest line was started because you posted above that Site's "open letter" was evidence of the Marine's conduct.

    It is no such thing, it is just Site's own perception applied to the situation.

    I just find, since Site wrote the letter himself, there is a lot of grandstanding that is favorable to him.

    We have all heard the old saying "he doth protest too much..." That's what the letter indicates to me.

    It doesn't make him an anti-war activist, it doesn't make him wrong, but it certainly indicates that he went all out to show his own point of view.

    What I'm basically saying is that as a connection to the event, Sites should have just taken the footage, told the investigators what he saw, and moved on.

    He didn't have to publish an account which illustrated that his opinion was somehow worth so much more than any other opinion.
  6. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5
    Good God, Mr44. Give it a rest.

    People were calling this guy a traitor for releasing this video. He took it upon himself to give his side of the story on why this needed to come out in the public.

    It seems to me that you think the soldier's immediate assumptions about the enemy are valid but the reporter's aren't. Isn't that a double standard?

    *Edit*

    And as Gonk pointed out, this reporter likely has more combat experience than the soldiers he was embedded with seeing as he has covered war zones in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Mid East, and Afghanistan. Hell, this guy was captured by Iraqis during the "war" part of the war and was almost killed. Check out his bio here.
  7. Shroom Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2004
    star 2
    Rather than post again on why I think there is an issue worth discussing here, John Donne gave a simple answer to "Why should I care?" back in 1624. Its a sentiment worth recalling when you find yourself becoming numb to images of war, or when you find you can only see the colour of the uniform instead of the person wearing it. I'll let him do the talking far better than I can:

    "...No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee..."

  8. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5
    You know you stumbled across a good post when you see the words of a four hundred year old English poet.

    I should have thought of that.

  9. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Give it a rest?

    Are there any more of my posts that don't meet your obviously high standards of content?

    Let me know now, so I can run any future posts by you first. It might save us both from future embarassment.

  10. Moriarte Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 2001
    star 5
    The only thing I am hearing from you Gonk is that we, right now, only have one side of the story. That "one" story having its own spin on the situation and who was more dangerous. I would be more than happy to know the soldiers' views on the situation rather than accept one-side to its possible conclusion. Either way, the situation has not made my judgement wrong or any lesser than Csillan_girl's since there's only one side-given, as you said. As of now, my opinion has not changed.

    As to the calculation of the judgement call, I don't understand what you mean. If he shot relatively soon, that would be heated, if he actually thought about it for a while, then it would be calculated. The latter sounds a lot more blood-thirsty than having to make a decision about a threat within a matter of seconds which I would not consider calculated.

    And civilized behavior in combat? That sounds awfully oxymoronic.


    Ciou-See the Sig
  11. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    The only thing I am hearing from you Gonk is that we, right now, only have one side of the story. That "one" story having its own spin on the situation and who was more dangerous.

    While I would decline to say that what we have seen so far as 'spin' or even 'one side of the story', I have said that it is only preliminary evidence. I should acknowledge I qualified that statement as well to mr44: we don't know everything yet and by saying preliminary evidence I mean to say I fully expect there will be MORE evidence, and likely some to the contrary.

    But that evidence hasn't been presented yet. I think your entire characterization of 'spin' and 'side of the story' betrays your real motives. We are all more than capable of understanding that not all the evidence has been heard yet and to hold of from convcting until proven guilty. But your entire posts are talking as if there is an entire point of argument that does not yet EXIST. The Marine in question has not even entered a plea about the incident at this point -- I certainly didn't see any having been made at the time of your posts several days ago -- and you're already constructing his defense. Well what if he says he's guilty of the entire thing and losing it?

    I see no 'spin' here, I see something that happened and was reported on. I see them as facts, not facts slanted one way or the other. I acknowledge it is not a full picture and other facts may mitigate what had been shown by preliminary evidence. But I refuse to acknowledge that the evidence so far, preliminary as it is, represents some 'slant', 'spin' or any other low-level conspiracy you might see fit to prescribe.


    I would be more than happy to know the soldiers' views on the situation rather than accept one-side to its possible conclusion. Either way, the situation has not made my judgement wrong or any lesser than Csillan_girl's since there's only one side-given, as you said. As of now, my opinion has not changed.

    But it's based on what you're presuming the soldier's defense will be. The difference here is that I have a given opinion given what's been shown and am fully prepared to change it as things develop. You have an opinion DESPITE what's been shown and if you're prepared to change it remains to be seen.


    As to the calculation of the judgement call, I don't understand what you mean. If he shot relatively soon, that would be heated, if he actually thought about it for a while, then it would be calculated. The latter sounds a lot more blood-thirsty than having to make a decision about a threat within a matter of seconds which I would not consider calculated.

    I don't think the 'preliminary' evidence would show that this was a calculated event in any way. However your characterization of it suggested a deeper thought process was going on in the head of the marine to identify the man as a threat.


    And civilized behavior in combat? That sounds awfully oxymoronic.

    Sounds like it, but absolutely not. A notorious example of civilized behavior in the midst of combat situations , for instance, is Erwin Rommel. There are probably many, many more (just as there are those examples of those who are needlessly brutal -- one of those things dramatized in "Platoon") but we don't hear about most who are brutal or civilized one way or the other.
  12. COLDLIGHT Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 21, 2004
    star 2
    And civilized behavior in combat? That sounds awfully oxymoronic.

    There are many comments like the one above in this thread.

    As an ex-Army officer, I would like to offer the following observations:

    Professional armies, from the Roman Legions to the US Marines, are bound, in definition, by:
    (a) personnel whose service is based on either a personal voluntary committment, or are recruited for a set time by a national conscription program.
    (b) are paid or otherwise remunerated for their time of service.
    (c) are BOUND BY ESTABLISHED RULES REGULATING THEIR PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT, against which they can be held accountable.

    It is point (c) I would like to extrapolate on.

    Established rules (or codes) of conduct are set out in a variety of ways - from the Geneva Convention, to Unit or Base Standing Orders, to particular Rules of Engagement. In part, these rules (for want a better word) strive to establish a practical and at the same time ethical code that defines correct/incorrect, acceptable/unacceptable, legal/criminal codes of conduct, including during combat.

    Any professional soldier in combat will have been trained to at all times follow these rules of conduct (with exceptions made for covert ops, special forces). Regardless of the questionably-ethical behaviour of the enemy, in combat the professional solder, must follow these rules. They promote:

    - acceptable ethical/moral positions for engaging the enemy
    - good group morale
    - unit cohesiveness, reponsiveness and safety

    To argue that 'war is hell, so regard for rules and regulations fly out the window' is simply wrong. Look at Vietnam for a good example of how entire platoons are rendered ineffective and vulnerable because rules of engagement and codes of conduct were routinely and systematically ignored.

    In this case, a commission into the incident is warranted, as the soldier in question (from the video evidence only):

    - made no attempt to ascertain whether the enemy was 'faking dead', or instead severely wounded, near-death, etc, nor determine whether the enemy had immediate access to weaponry and could continue hostilities.

    Therefore, his professional conduct is called into question, and he must account for it. Being in combat is no excuse when he is serving in a professional army, regardless of the combat conditions. If we forsake our professional ethics, rules, practices and standards for random, emotional, chaotic responses, we start to engage in the behaviour and attitudes of those we are fighting against.
  13. One_Sith_Knight Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 10, 2004
    star 1
    Before I reply I would like to state that I am Canadian and not American so my views might be bashed. I don't believe the media hurts a war because it keeps soldiers in check so they can't go around killing innocents. With this incident and the prison tortures, America loses its moral high ground. People will hate America even more after hearing of things such as this.
  14. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    With this incident and the prison tortures, America loses its moral high ground. People will hate America even more after hearing of things such as this.

    But is that perception? Reality? Both?

    If the soldier acted appropriately according to the situation (something we don't know yet), does that mean that because of his appropriate actions, America has lost the "moral high ground"?

    Kimball Kinnison
  15. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    And even if it wasn't justified, do the actions of an individual automatically represent the organization?

    I guess Cananda is made up of a nation of drug dealers?

    HERE

    Three members of the Canadian army stationed at Edmonton Garrison have been arrested for trafficking in drugs including marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine.

    They were all members of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, front-line soldiers responsible for armoured fighting vehicles.


    Or I guess Canada should be known for its widespread support of raping women?

    HERE

    GEN. LEWIS MACKENZIE- CANADIAN UN 'PEACEKEEPER' WHO RAPED FOUR TEENAGE BOSNIAN GIRLS IN SERB-RUN CONCENTRATION CAMP

    Or the fact that the entire Canadian Airborne Regiment was disbanded in 1995, after some of its troopers participated in the torturing of Somalis?

    HERE

    Now, I don't know the context of the above examples, nor do I believe all of them are even true.

    The basic fact is that human beings aren't perfect, and if one looked hard enough, one could find negative examples in any situation.

    However, I for one, would never characterize all Canadians by the actions of a few, nor would I judge an entire group based on something I didn't even understand.





  16. One_Sith_Knight Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 10, 2004
    star 1
    I just wanted to tell u the general concensus up north. The world as a whole is not very pro bush or pro the iraq war as multiple demonstrations should point out. If innocent people r killed or tortured America can't look like the great liberators which is their goal.

    I did not mean that all Americans are immoral or anything like that.
    If u thought that I apologize.

    All I am trying to say is that questionable actions in the war hurts the World's backing or approval of this war.
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