Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 14, 2006 / 18 Sivan, 5766

In marines we trust

By Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "What we have here is (a) failure to communicate."


That famous line from the 1967 Paul Newman classic, "Cool Hand Luke," might well apply to Iraq today, and specifically, to Haditha, where U.S. Marines are alleged to have massacred innocent Iraqi civilians last November.


Not only do we not know what happened in Haditha, but we've failed to communicate effectively to the rest of the world what we do know: that our Marines always deserve the benefit of the doubt. And that if something did go terribly wrong in Haditha, it was a rare exception to the rule.


Instead of launching an aggressive PR campaign to debunk the growing impression that such incidents, if true, are par for American forces, we get a presumption of guilt and an ethics course to fix a problem that isn't a problem. The failure to communicate responsibly and strategically in this case, coupled with the rush to judgment in the international court of public opinion, has hurt not only the Marines under investigation, but also all our military men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.


The drill is too familiar by now. The action begins with someone (apparently anyone will do) making an accusation; next come the cameras and the media saturation; and, Voila: we have a conviction before we have a formal charge. Whether the alleged perpetrators are prison guards at Abu Ghraib, lacrosse players at Duke University or Marines in Haditha, we are predisposed to assume guilt.


In Iraq, we might add to our failure to communicate a failure of confidence in ourselves and of faith in our own. Given that Haditha is dense with insurgents whose tactics do not come from the Marine Corps playbook, is it possible that they, not we, killed the civilians, or that they used them as human shields? Killing civilians, after all, is the rule among those who seek to drive the U.S. from Iraq.


Is it also possible that some of our Marines lost control and did the worst? Of course. Prolonged exposure to combat takes a toll on the human psyche. In 1946, following a study of World War II veterans, John W. Apple and Gilbert W. Beebe wrote in The Journal of the American Medical Association:


"Each moment of combat imposes a strain so great that men will break down in direct relation to the intensity and duration of their exposure. Thus psychiatric casualties are as inevitable as gunshot and shrapnel wounds in warfare."

Donate to JWR

Even so, today's Marines are as well trained and disciplined as any fighting force in human history. What is alleged to have happened simply doesn't jibe with what we know about the Corps in general and about Haditha in particular.


Consider this recent letter from Capt. Andrew D. Lynch, commanding officer of India Co. (3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines), written from Haditha to friends and family of India Company. Lynch first wrote of the difficulties of adjusting to the "nuances of this complex setting," then described how his men had adapted:


"The Marines immediately recognized the key to success would be to establish themselves as the dominant entity in the city, the alpha male, who by their professionalism and aggressive posture would foster trust with the local population and command respect from our enemy.


"Your Marines are experts in navigating through the concrete jungle and human terrain that is Haditha . . . each Marine in the company could feel his way through alleyways and side streets in the dark of night to a nondescript building, and cordon off that structure in total silence.


"Every Marine can recognize subtle shifts in the population's mood, identify slight changes in the normal rhythm of the city's activities and can often sense the presence of an insurgent before seeing him . . . all Marines are experts in reading body language, and can spot a nervous tic, a lie or a cover story during the first few exchanges in one of dozens of conversations they have with locals every day.


"The type of fight India Company is engaged in requires a special brand of fighter. Brash displays of firepower and unharnessed aggression are not only ineffective but also counterproductive. Self-discipline, tireless vigilance, prudent judgment and the patience of a hunter are the most valued skills, and Marines have learned to trust the hairs on the back of their neck more than anything else."


We don't know what we don't know, but those Marines don't sound like the kind of men who would knowingly mow down 24 innocent men, women and children.


That's what we should be communicating to the world instead of allowing a tiny minority to define us — or telegraphing to our enemies that our military needs ethics training.


Not that continuing education isn't always a good idea. In that spirit, perhaps Lynch could perform some alpha male training with certain faithless officers next time he's in Washington.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.


Kathleen Parker Archives

© 2005, Tribune Media Services

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles