“U.S. forces unlawfully fired the heavy-caliber machine-gun bullet that killed British newsman Terry Lloyd after an Iraqi civilian put him in his car and attempted to take him to the hospital when he was wounded shortly after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, a coroner ruled Friday,” reports the LA Times. “U.S. authorities denied wrongdoing and said the Marines deployed in southern Iraq during the early days of the war were following the rules of engagement.”
It seems worth observing that it’s extremely unlikely we’d be having this discussion or that there would be any sort of investigation at all were the dead person here an ordinary Iraqi rather than a western journalist. Acts of wanton murder against Iraqi civilians do get reported and to some extent investigated, but an Iraqi who’s killed in a firefight is bound to be labeled an insurgent, simply ignored, or written off as “collateral damage.” Meanwhile, the controlling legal issue is not whether or not the dead person was guilty of something, but merely whether or not the troops in question were following the rules of engagement. The highest law of the land is, in effect, “don’t make an American with a gun afraid” under circumstances where the Americans with guns are ill-equipped to actually assess what’s happening because they don’t, for example, speak the local language.
Such is life under foreign military occupation, and it’s no wonder that people don’t enjoy it, whether or not the occupiers come to town professing their sincere desire to help and whether or not the occupiers’ professed desire to help is, in fact, sincere.