Combat is brutal. It can be dehumanizing or it can be, as Aristotle wrote, ennobling. It can reduce man to brutal and bestial conduct or it can demonstrate courage, self-sacrifice and the recognition that there is more to life than self.
The late Congressman John Murtha vociferously claimed his military credentials and service as a Marine, despite the fact that it was largely in a reserve billet. He was the leader of an accusatory force that demonized a group of American fighting men in the Middle East. The murder charges were false and the accused were uniformly exonerated, but not before their lives were negatively impacted and they were subjected to massive vilification in the media.
I'm not sure what to make of this:
AWOL, Fearful, Plea Bargaining, But Guilty?
There is nothing wrong with being fearful enroute to war. There is something seriously wrong about going AWOL for several weeks with your main squeeze. That triggers suspicion in my mind about basic character.
Did this rogue platoon commit atrocities? The pictures I've seen so far don't really offer much but depictions of combat casualties. I can ascertain nothing about the circumstances leading to the deaths. I can tell nothing about the civilian or military linkages of the bodies. I can only reserve judgment and wait for a trial.
But, there have been enough instances of fabricated scenarios to make me have doubts. There have also been instances of terrible situations in which leadership failed and evil was done. Abu Ghraib and My Lai come all too readily to mind.
Then one other thing jumps out at me.
We can't control our name. We are born into a family and that bestows an identity. Can a name be predictive of behavior, of mindset, of culture?