Letter: Marine’s action wrong

By The Daily Illini

Elie Dvorin’s Dec. 6 column, “Criminalizing a Hero,” makes me wonder what Elie believes to be the purpose of the Iraq war. In his article, he claims that “The Marine at the center of this controversy shot and killed a terrorist.” What evidence has been presented to suggest that the Iraqi man really was a terrorist? Are all Iraqi people assumed to be terrorists until proven innocent? Elie claims that “killing a potentially unarmed terrorist to guarantee the safety of their unit” is a perfectly acceptable action. If being unarmed, unconscious, unresponsive, or asleep isn’t enough to prevent us from killing someone, then what is? If it is perfectly acceptable to kill people that pose no immediate threat, and if the safety of our soldiers is really all that matters, then why are we even fighting a ground war?

Furthermore, Elie’s exact stance on how to treat terrorists is confusing. On one hand, he states that they are exempt from the Geneva Conventions because they are not part of a coherent military. But on the other hand, he implies that the crimes committed by any terrorists are representative of the future actions of all other terrorists, which requires that the terrorists actually act as one coherent group acting under the same command – which, by all definitions, makes them a military. Elie’s view of terrorist treatment is inconsistent, unless Elie views all Iraqis as incoherent savages that want nothing more than to behead aid workers. If that is his stance, then I guess he really is consistent.

The only way to ensure the complete safety of the American and British troops, while eliminating the international terrorists believed to be living in Iraq, would be to carpet bomb the entire country into oblivion. While some people may seriously consider that idea, that is not what the United States does. We do not invade countries under the guise of liberation only to act with complete disregard for civilian lives. We do not violate rules of decent human behavior just because some enemies do. We do not execute people that pose no immediate threat without a fair trial. What separates the American Democracy from third-rate tyrannies around the world is our justice system, one that ensures that all criminals get their day in court. If an enemy combatant poses an imminent danger to an American life, then I have no complaints towards the use of violence. But in the situation being discussed here, there are obvious alternatives to the way things turned out, and that is the standard that our soldiers should be held to.

Regardless of whether the Marine is found guilty, his actions are reprehensible. He is by no means a hero – a title which often is given to those who save lives, not those who unnecessarily end them.

Christopher Prokop

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