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Misplaced Vengeance

In light of the recent reports of possible killings of innocent civilians in Iraq, I felt it prudent to revisit a Zogby poll conducted among US forces back in February. While the poll found that 72% thought the war should end this year, a startling 90% felt that the war in Iraq was retaliation for Saddam's role in 9/11. So it would seem that the propaganda campaign by the Bush administration not only persuaded a majority of Americans to back the invasion but has also meant that almost four years into the conflict (and with ample evidence to the contrary) the soldiers involved still consider their actions to be "payback".

Given that this "revenge mentality" is still pervasive among our troops, is it little wonder that incidents such as those in Haditha and Ishaqi have occurred. Because these soldiers feel that they are seeking revenge for what happened on 9/11 (or in the case of Haditha, avenging a fallen comrade) they most likely believe their actions are justified, regardless if those who suffer are guilty or not. Those who are blinded by revenge often do not think with a rational mind.

The Bush administration for its part has only made things worse, forever blurring the distinction of who it is we are fighting. Our soldiers, some barely out of their teens, are given the impossible task of making this distinction on their own, often times when mere seconds is all that separates them or their fellow soldiers from a gruesome death. They must remain hyper-vigilant, always alert to the next possible threat. Add to this the stress of enduring multiple deployments into this violence ridden environment. They are being overwhelmed, stretched to their breaking point. And we now see the consequences when they finally do "snap".

Now I am in no way trying to justify what took place. Certainly not. All those involved should be held accountable. My point is that responsibility should not be restricted to just those few "bad apples". Those who put them there, and the lies they told, deserve equal blame.

Update: Marc McDonald has more.

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