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Posted by on May 31, 2006 in At TMV | 43 comments

Is it fair to blame the Marines Alone?


West Asia has a tough terrain with a different culture and civilization. It can bring out the best, or the worst, in a man who is sent to participate in an unending fight/war. Even the best soldiers can buckle under, notwithstanding their excellent training/arms. From heroic deeds to barbaric ones…This can happen if a soldier has a blurred objective and no time-frame regarding their engagement.

Some generals and senior officers who tried to bring this fact into focus have been asked to shut up or have been effectively sidelined. Anyone who has some idea of military traditions would be extremely worried at the games (almost like video games) the civilian leadership has been playing from the comfort of their cushy offices.

Two stories today poignantly bring out the unfolding tragedy whose unwitting victims are also soldiers who, under a good and capable civilian leadership, could have distinguished themselves in the battlefield and brought laurels to their countries.

The Independent states that US Marines will be court-martialled over the massacre of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Haditha. The dead included women and children said to be as young as two.

“The parents of two US Marines said their sons were left traumatised after being asked to clean up the mess. One of the men, Lance Corporal Roel Ryan Briones, said he had taken photos quickly confiscated by investigators and carried bodies out of homes.

” ‘They ranged from little babies to adult males and females,’ he said. ‘I’ll never be able to get that out of my head. I can still smell the blood.’

“His mother said: ‘He had to carry a little girl’s body. Her head was blown off and her brain splattered on his boots.’

“The accusations further undermine trust between the occupying forces and the Iraqi government. Iraq’s new Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, launched a candid attack on what he said was a worrying number of civilian deaths from the gun barrels of American troops. ‘There is a limit to acceptable excuses,’ he said. ‘Yes, a mistake may happen, but there is an acceptable limit to mistakes.’

“Human rights groups are already referring to the killings in Haditha as ‘Iraq’s My Lai’ after the cold-blooded murder by US soldiers of more than 500 Vietnamese civilians in 1968.”

For more on Marines you can see Wikipedia.

Another news story notes that the month of May 2006 had been the bloodiest for Britain since Iraq was occupied three years ago, leaving 11 Britons dead, many injured and the calls for withdrawal more urgent than ever before. And the crescendo is rising about the “orderly withdrawal of British troops”.

“The outcry followed as details emerged of the latest young British soldiers to perish in Iraq: Lt Tom Mildinhall, a brilliant sportsman, scientist, musician and army officer, and L/Cpl Paul ‘Fas’ Farrelly, of Runcorn, Cheshire, a committed family man who leaves a wife and three children.”

In these sad circumstances I am reminded of a moving song of yesteryears:

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?

Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?

Where have all the flowers gone?

Gone to young girls, every one!

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing?

Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?

Where have all the young girls gone?

Gone to young men, every one!

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone, long time passing?

Where have all the young men gone, long time ago?

Where have all the young men gone?

Gone to soldiers, every one!

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

And where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?

Where have all the soldiers gone, a long time ago?

Where have all the soldiers gone?

Gone to graveyards, every one!

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

And where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing?

Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?

Where have all the graveyards gone?

Gone to flowers, every one!

When will they ever learn, oh when will they ever learn?

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