November 25, 2004

A couple columns worth reading from Canadian blogger-columnists

Andrew Coyne is exactly right about helmet laws. I rode a bike everywhere as a child. I wouldn't bother now. The only tangible result of this one will be fatter Canadians.

And Paul Wells' comparison of Paul Martin to James T. Kirk actually illuminated my understanding of both their characters, surprisingly. So I'm a better Canadian and a better Trek fan now.

Posted by BruceR at 01:53 PM

Response from a familiar Marine

Ex-Marine Cecil T. responds to my thoughts on the Fallujah killing, two posts below:

"While you may believe this is a clear case, I'd point out the perception that counts is primarily the individual Marine's. Judging from the video (and particularly from the tone of his voice), it's obvious he considered the man a threat. If he mistakely took the man for a shamming, injured enemy who was likely to detonate an explosive, it's a tragedy, but not a war crime. And apparently the man had a reasonable suspicion that might have been the case. The Morant analogy assumes the man's motivation was revenge, which I think faulty. Mack Owens covered it well in this article.

"However, I think you got the bottom line dead on (which nobody else seems to've noticed, but was my first impression on hearing the story): why were wounded prisoners left there in the first place? That, along with the numerous perfidious acts by insurgents, was the root cause, and ought to figure prominently in the investigation."

I would only add that the court-martial in the individual Marine's case could well turn on whether non-responsiveness to a command by a wounded and unarmed man can constitute a clear and reasonable indication of perfidy, even under Fallujah-like conditions. It will be a judicial determination worth watching.

I would also say that I'm not entirely convinced that revenge was the sole motive in the historical Morant atrocity (even if Edward Woodward's character in the movie played it so... "they MUTILATED him!" etc.), either. Morant apparently believed the power of summary execution was within his ROEs under certain circumstances, and clearly desired to deter a perfidious enemy tactic (wearing British-style uniforms) in his area of operations that was then threatening his and his men's lives. Plus he'd also just lost his dear friend to enemy perfidy. Had he lost his head when he killed his first prisoner, the wounded Boer allegedly wearing his dead friend's tunic, or was it a coldly rational act? Hard to say: the functioning of the human mind making rapid decisions in combat conditions wasn't that simple then, or now. (Morant's later prisoner-killings are obviously less defensible by any measure, including the execution of the unarmed eyewitness, Rev. Hesse... ironically the one killing for which he was acquitted, due to lack of evidence.)

Posted by BruceR at 01:21 PM