Opinion: Criminalizing a hero

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Elie Dvorin

Despite the fact that U.S and Iraqi forces regained control of the terrorist stronghold of Fallujah in less than one week, the successful military operation has not gone without heavy criticism from human-rights groups and the international community. Video footage filmed during a raid on a mosque shows a U.S. Marine apparently shooting a wounded and unarmed terrorist. As a result of the outcry against this “brutality,” the marine has been removed from his unit and now faces a court-martial.

Anyone with half a brain can read between the lines of this unfortunate situation. Instead of defending this man for acting courageously in a vicious war, the U.S. government is willing to appease the international community by offering this man up as a sacrificial lamb. After facing worldwide criticism due to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, the administration was unwilling to give any more political ammunition to Europe and the rest of the anti-war community. Consequently, the life of one of ours is at stake.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW), two of the most extreme leftist human-rights watchdog groups, came out with statements calling for a full investigation. This doesn’t come as a major surprise, as these groups look for any opportunity to criticize the United States and Israel while giving a free pass to the Islamic world. Amnesty International used this incident to deride the moral character of U.S. troops, while an HRW spokesman claimed that this event was likely a “war crime” and a “grave breach of the Geneva Conventions.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t disemboweling Iraqi women, beheading U.S. civilians on videotape and shooting humanitarian-aid workers be considered war crimes? I guess those aren’t nearly as bad as killing a terrorist who might be playing dead with a bomb strapped to his body. Nonetheless, the Geneva Conventions do not apply in this situation. They address the treatment of uniformed soldiers, and the terrorists in Fallujah are neither members of a military or uniformed. By forcing our troops to play by the rules when the enemy does not, we are putting the lives of these brave men and women at unnecessary risk. People justify applying the Geneva Conventions to the war on terrorism by arguing that humane treatment of terrorists will lead to the humane treatment of our soldiers if they’re captured. Anyone who believes this is true is too na‹ve to understand the reality of Islamic terrorism and will hopefully never be in a position to influence public policy.

I might view this incident differently if the Marine had walked into a Fallujah elementary school and started indiscriminately shooting Iraqi children. That being the case, let’s not allow political correctness to interfere with the facts. The Marine at the center of this controversy shot and killed a terrorist. Not a civilian, not a child – a terrorist. The day before this event occurred, this same Marine was shot and wounded and immediately returned to combat with his unit. In addition, earlier that day, a member of his unit was killed when he walked up to the dead body of a booby-trapped terrorist. By the way, I’m still waiting for Amnesty and HRW to condemn the practice of strapping bombs to dead bodies. I have a feeling I’ll be waiting a long time.

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The U.S. government is putting the lives of more brave men and women at risk. By investigating this matter and pulling this Marine from his unit, the government is essentially condemning an action that could save lives. Instead of wasting the time and resources to look into this matter, the Marines should be told to use all necessary force to ensure their safety. If this means killing a potentially unarmed terrorist to guarantee the safety of their unit, then by all means do so. Instead, our current policy has criminalized a hero, and in the process, put the lives of other heroes at risk.

Elie Dvorin is a junior in LAS. His column runs alternate Mondays. He can be reached at [email protected].