More On Land Warfare

Today in Slate, Phil Carter co-authored a good article on the incident in Fallujah I mentioned below. Eugene Volokh also has some thoughts, and Phil Carter provides additional commentary to his points. Those thoughts can be found here , here, and here . I won't try to dispute the legal analysis of the Conventions with Mr. Carter or Prof. Volokh, because I would lose. I rely on J for legal advice and analysis, and she know less about the Conventions than I do. It's a fairly arcane and specialized area of law, and I trust both commentators have reviewed the relevant passages and have sound bases for their opinions.

However, both of the learned commentators are missing a fundamental point. Nothing in the Conventions abrogates the right to self-defense. This is the crucial point that might otherwise be missed in the legal analysis of what status under the Conventions applied to the corpse in question. As neither Mr. Carter, Prof. Volokh, or I were present and in a situation to subjectively evaluate whether or not the terrorist in question was a threat or could reasonably be perceived as a threat, making the determination that the shooting was a crime is a bit premature. Mr. Carter appears to have taken this view in his article. I do not find that view supportable by the evidence I have so far seen.

In a situation like this, the idea that cameras can indeed lie should be kept foremost in the mind. The camera does not possess the capability to place the video in a larger context, which is what is needed right now. A 30 second video is incapable of providing all of the relevant information. All of the news reports I have read so far do not cover a great deal of the facts I would need to make even a preliminary decision on guilt or innocence. In some cases, the reports are contradictory and unclear on even the most basic level.

I'll reiterate my earlier point. If this marine can make the case that he was acting to protect the lives of marines, his own included, he has committed no crime under the UCMJ.


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