Thursday, July 24, 2003

Sins of the Grandfather

I haven't yet personally said anything about the deaths of the brothers grim. While I'm happy to acknowledge that the world is a better place without them, and assuming all we've heard about them is true they're still owed quite a lot of karmic retribution.

But, it seems rather obvious that a truly successful operation would have captured them. I have no idea how exactly this situation played out. I have no clue if the soldiers did or didn't do what was necessary in the circumstances. Nonetheless, whether or not one can assign any blame for a failure to take them alive, either at the command level or on the field, I really don't understand anyone would fail to acknowledge that ideally they would have been captured and that this should have been a priority (I have no clue if it was or wasn't.)

I find the gleeful bloodlust that has surrounded their apparent deaths rather disturbing as well. The problem with deriving a sense of triumph from such an end is that it is short-lived. American Justice, a phrase Bush misuses regularly, isn't frontier justice. Far more satisfying for us, the Iraqi people, and the perceptions about our commitment to true Democratic justice, to have captured and tried them.

When police go in to arrest a murder suspect, and the confrontation ends in the suspect's death, that particular mission should be deemed a failure. The planning may have been correct, given known information, and the actions individual police officers may have been appropriate, but nonetheless if the mission is to capture and not to kill the suspect, then if the suspect isn't captured alive the mission is a failure.

And, finally, whether or not it was necessary in the course of battle, we should never be cheering the death of a 14 year old, no matter who his relatives were or how many guns he was carrying. Necessary at the time, perhaps, but not a desirable outcome.

Tacitus thinks we're nuts over here. I'm not sure why.