3. It Doesn’t Protect the Innocent
The first manly virtue is to protect the weak. Women and children first may be considered chauvinistic in some circles, but… good. Who cares about those circles, anyway? More from West in The Wrong War :
However, coalition and Afghan rules covering crime and punishment lacked purpose, consistency and reliability. A few kilometres south of Jakar, an 11-year-old boy often waved at passing patrols. The Marines took to chatting with the boy, who pointed out a trail the Taliban occasionally used. A few weeks later, the Taliban executed him and his brothers, sisters, mother and father. Although shocked neighbours knew the identities of the gang that had gone to the farm in the middle of the day, no one would testify.
The tragedy illustrated a disquieting truth: American military doctrine didn’t know how to confront evil. On the one hand, the Taliban were portrayed as extremists who stoned women to death, burned schools and whipped men. On the other hand, the generals indicated that most Taliban were misguided youths.
“In the Taliban ranks,” Gen. Stanley McChrystal said, “there’s a tremendous number of fighters and commanders who would like to come back in.” Among the fighters who might come back in were the local Taliban farm boys who murdered the 11-year-old and his family. The American military and judicial systems were so tied up in political knots that in Afghanistan there were no coalition trials for murderers or terrorists. If they renounced the insurgency, the coalition would give them jobs.
Worse, Afghans as a society denied that fellow Afghans were capable of evil. The locals knew the killers. But there was no penalty for murder if committed in the name of Islam.
(By the way, the above quote is worth considering before conservatives like Sean Hannity put McChrystal on a pedestal just because he is critical of Obama.)
Our only concern for the innocents in Afghanistan seems to be the politically motivated desire to avoid collateral civilian deaths. But by instituting the most restrictive rules of engagement since Vietnam, we have given the Taliban and al-Qaeda incentive to use human shields.
And by making American soldiers, Marines, and airmen stand around and let this happen, we murder their martial spirit, and ask them to be less than the men they are.