March 23, 2007

I really just don't know what to say.

Pat Tillman's death was tragic. It was also a story of chaos and error and perhaps, we may find out, darker overtones; but it is a story that is repeated over and over again when we send soldiers into combat. Creating the conditions in which the likelihood of events like this becomes almost a statistical certainty is part and parcel of what makes war. Managing that chaos and uncertainty, that confusion and danger which can make things like this happen better than your opponent is one (some would say the only) way to prevail in war. Turning loose the conditions themselves, though, is what war is.

The message that I take away from the recent investigation into the circumstances of his death, however, is a somewhat grimly mixed one. On the one hand, a soldier's death is investigated with an eye towards preventing other such incidents and discovering if error or malfeasance was present; I approve wholeheartedly. But the headlines telling us that multiple officers, including general officers will be held accountable for a tactical encounter in the field makes me wonder - where are the general officers and policy makers who directly soiled my country's military and my country's honor at Abu Ghraib? Where are their indictments?

I guess the message is clear. If a football player dies in the darkened field on your watch under suspicious circumstances, the hammer of God will descend. But torture Iraqis by direction under klieg lights all you want.

Posted by jbz at March 23, 2007 11:18 PM | TrackBack

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