RANGER AGAINST WAR: The Devil is In the Details <

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Devil is In the Details

The NYT International section ran an article yesterday, "Insurgent Group Posts Video of Two Mutilated U.S. Soldiers" (7/11/06) re. the grisly display of the murdered serviceman's bodies. But are we talking hypocrisy, here, or what? How can we condemn these grotesques when these very same publications are complicit with what is evidently U.S. policy in plastering pictures of dead Iraqis on the covers of their newspapers and magazines. Does this strike anyone else as a double standard?

I reckon if we show it, it's o.k. because we're being scandalized, because all we wanna do is democratize them, whereas somehow, if they do the same, they are bestial.

Perhaps our outrage is over the methodology of killing. Beheading is rather brutish say, compared to death by an M-16 round or a bomb, but the result is no less lethal, and the display of the resultant carnage no less offensive. Both sides are guilty of inhumane exploitation of mangled bodies.

The Times says, "Two American soldiers were abducted," and later states, "the two abducted soldiers...(were) kidnapped when insurgents ambushed a traffic checkpoint." This is agitprop, as soldiers in combat are neither abducted nor are they kidnapped--they are captured. Have even the finest news organizations lost their dictionaries? Soldiers on leave can be abducted or kidnapped, but not those arrayed for combat. Misusing words leads to misunderstanding actions. The perpetrators are not terrorists in this case--they are combatants. Combatants capture their opponents. But POW's so captured are not supposed to be summarily executed. So tragically, in this case, the captors did not extend the rights afforded by the Geneva Convention. Sound familiar?


The next rhetorical offense is the use of the term "ambush". The classic definition taught by the U.S. Army is an attack upon a halted or temporarily halted unit or enemy. A checkpoint attack would more correctly be termed a "raid" or "hasty attack". Possibly, it was a planned attack, as checkpoints are usually static. But let's use words correctly, for the devil is in the details, and if we cannot grasp the small and quotidian concepts, how can we ever hope to address the larger ones intelligently?

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