It's looking like a skirmish in the Iraqi city of Haditha was a civilian massacre at the hands of US troops. There's really no other way to put it.
Our guys have been over there for three years now. They are overworked and overstressed. They are surrounded by death and destruction every day.
The Marines serving in Haditha last November had apparently lost one too many comrades to an IED and basically went apeshit. When the simian shit stopped flying, at least 24 Iraqis, including many unarmed women and children, had been cut to pieces by American weapons.
The rage of those Marines was justifiable. To say their actions were not would be a ludicrous understatement.
Building a democracy is no walk in the park. Both the American Revolution, which was about creating an independent country, and later our Civil War, which was about creating a united one, were as brutal and bloody as any conflicts.
But no one is going to accept that this bloodbath was a necessary step on the path to Iraqi independence. It was as senseless as the incident that sparked it.
One could hope for understanding from our allies and our Iraqi "hosts" that in war "things happen," but we would never accept that reasoning if the situation were reversed. Never.
Can we expect Iraqis just to forgive and forget? We should never expect anyone to do anything we're not prepared to do ourselves.
And the fact that there initially was a cover-up of this incident only hurts us more. The story that the dead civilians had been killed by the same IED that took out a young Marine didn't hold water since the victims were riddled with bullets, not shrapnel.
What we can expect, unfortunately, is that the longer we stay on in Iraq, the greater the potential is for more Hadithas, Fallujahs and Abu Ghraibs. The people who criticize a "cut and run" policy are just substituting obstinance for reality.
This war started bad and sloped downward at an exponential rate from there. It's time to extricate ourselves from our own mess.