It’s interesting watching the blogosphere’s reaction to the shocking video of a U.S. Marine shooting an unarmed, wounded Iraqi at point-blank range (warning for disturbing pictures). Most of the discussion about this possible war crime is coming from voices on the right who, while condemning the caught-on-film atrocity with one breath, are spending their remaining breaths wringing their hands over how “the left” or “Europe” is going to use this incident.
The reaction on the left? Well, not silence, exactly (although one blogger’s prediction that Jacques Chirac would condemn the incident on camera has not panned out). But the blogging equivalent of that grim stare one gives when something has lived down to expectations.
There are already examples aplenty that the conduct of the Iraq war is frustrating the United States’ long term interest in a stable and democratic Iraq. Those on the left have already said that acts such as this, especially when televised, undo months of hard work winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people and the Middle East. They have already noted that even if draconian gag laws were imposed on the American media, news of such atrocities, whether accidental or malicious, would still get out among the Arab world to devastating effect. I suspect that the left feels that if the right hadn’t been convinced of this by the pictures of Alu Gharib, one more video of a shell-shocked soldier losing discipline isn’t going to change anything.
In my view, those bloggers worrying about the European and the liberal reaction have their priorities somewhat skewed. Neither Europe, nor the liberals, as a general entity, are the enemy. They’re certainly not the group the right needs to worry about at the moment. Al Queda has just been handed yet another clip for their recruitment video. That hurts the world’s interest as much as it hurts America’s, and it is in everybody’s interest that this incident be thoroughly investigated, and justice seen to be done.
Indeed, “liberal handwringing” helps America’s interest, by making it clear that plenty of Americans believe that it is wrong to shoot unarmed prisoners of war. It is in everybody’s interest that the war be won as cleanly as possible, to show that we are demonstratably better than the terrorists we’re fighting (which we are). And by wringing hands over how “the left” will use this clip against America, “the right” are thwarting their own interests.
Put simply, it doesn’t matter who is going to use this clip and how; the fact remains that it is a powerful propaganda weapon, and the coalition forces let it fall to the ground, available for anybody to pick up. It is up to the Bush Administration to ensure that it stops handing the terrorists sticks with which to beat America with. If they can’t grasp this simple fact, it really is going to be a long fight.
Airborn Wins Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature
Congratulations to Kenneth Oppal, whose recent book, Airborn won the Governor Genera’s Award for Children’s Literature (English) this past Monday. In their verdict, the judges said:
To the winner goes considerable prestiege, not to mention a $15,000 cheque and a $3,000 grant to the publisher (Harper Collins) to promote the book.
Airborn is a good choice for this award. It’s a compelling story set in an alternate Earth dominated by airships. The hero, 15-year-old Matt Cruse, is a compelling narrator, and the whole story is flush with imagination. It’s well worth your read. I do have to ask, though: what is it with Mr. Oppal and bats?