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Blame Iraqi insurgents, not U.S. soldiers

Shane Maguire | Sunday, April 25, 2004

Sheila Provencher’s April 23 letter discussed the civilian casualties in Iraq and the American troops’ “excessive and indiscriminate violence” that allegedly led to these incidents. It is always tragic when innocent people are killed, especially women and children, but it is unfair to place the blame for such incidents squarely on the shoulders of U.S. soldiers. Our troops are not fighting a war on a defined battlefield against uniformed militia. Instead, they are battling enemies who refuse to separate themselves from the civilian population. These forces, not the Americans, deserve blame for the Iraqi civilian deaths.Provencher spoke of American attacks on a hospital and an ambulance. We saw a year ago that Saddam’s military hid weapons in hospitals and schools. In an Associated Press article dated April 24, 2004, Sgt. Aldo Hernandez related that insurgents attacked his unit by firing assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades at their vehicles. After Hernandez and his fellow marines sought cover, rebels poured out of nearby ambulances that they had been hiding in. One U.S. soldier tragically lost his life in the attack. The location of this battle was Fallujah, the same city Provencher spoke of. Maybe that is why U.S. forces chose the targets they did. Maybe it wasn’t because they were ordered to use tactics to “escalate the violence and compromise their own humanity,” as Ms. Provencher put it. Insurgents in Iraq are guilty of not only hiding in civilian locations, but also of using women and children as human shields while they fire their weapons from cover. Additionally, the insurgents surround their mortar stations with children to prevent coalition forces from firing on them. U.S. troops have reported the occurrence of these incidents in Fallujah, Qusayba, Husaybah, and Ramadi. The Italian military reported the same thing in Nasiriyah. There is a reason why the opposition resorts to such despicable acts – they know U.S. troops won’t fire at women and children. Contrary to Provencher’s belief, our troops do have consciences. She performs a disservice to the men and women serving in Iraq by accusing them of wrongdoing instead of blaming the immoral behavior of the Iraqi insurgents.

Shane MaguireLaw Studentoff-campusApril 25