Wednesday, April 25, 2007

trying not to put my foot in my mouth

First things first: I'm against the war, and I am not defending the actions of the military personnel who covered up the circumstances of Pat Tillman's death.

However, intelligence is not generally considered the foremost skill of military employees. Many of them are young and their judgement is not always fully developed. You have young men with loaded guns using heavy equipment and items designed to kill people. In short, shit happens, and in the military, it happens a little more often.

Accidents happened; certainly some due to friendly fire, others due to less dignified reasons. In more paternalistic times, or when war was more supported than now, commanders would sometimes lie to the family about the cause of death in order to spare the dignity of the deceased. No one wants to hear their son died because he used a match to check the gasoline level in a jerrican, or looked down the barrel of a misfiring weapon. We laugh at these things when the Darwin Awards presents them, but if it's your spouse or child or sibling, it's not funny, and you wouldn't want anyone knowing.

I'm not saying Tillman's dignity was the sole concern of our present leaders. I believe that they considered that he was a well-known football player and that death due to friendly fire doesn't sound nearly as good as death in combat with the enemy. But even though this war is very media-driven, I still hesitate to posit they lied primarily to promote the war.

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