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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Putting a Price on Canadians

From the Washington Post:
Carlson ruled that Schmidt "flagrantly" disregarded a direct order to hold his fire, displayed a lack of flight discipline and ignored the rules of engagement.

"Your actions indicate that you used your self-defense declaration as a pretext to strike a target, which you rashly decided was an enemy firing position, and about which you had exhausted your patience in waiting for clearance from the Combined Air Operations Center to engage," Carlson wrote. "You used the inherent right of self-defense as an excuse to wage your own war."
So, according to the commander of the Eighth Air Force (Carlson), Major Schmidt waged his own war, killing four Canadians and wounding eight. His punishment? A fine of $5,672, or $1418 per Canadian life. Or maybe it was $1000 per life, with $209 for each of the wounded? No jail time. Is it any wonder that Bush had trouble getting participants for his "coalition of the willing" when our own military is allowed to kill allied soldiers basically with impugnity?

There were other issues involved in this April 2002 terrorist attack on Canadians in Afghanistan. Schmidt and other pilots were flying long missions, and were popping amphetamines under orders. Not to mention the sheer pointlessness of having deadly jets flying around-the-clock missions over the poorest country in the world, just looking to shoot or be shot at. Schmidt is clearly being made a bargain-basement scapegoat for an entire rotten policy. But that the only punishments being administered for four dead and eight wounded Canadians is a $5672 fine will surely be seen as a travesty in Canada.

Chalmers Johnson, in his book Blowback, describes several incidents where the U.S. military has kept its personnel from receiving any serious discipline for very serious crimes. Marine pilots killed 20 Italians by flying too low and slicing through a cable supporting a gondola at a ski resort. Soldiers raped a 12-year-old girl in Okinawa. And others (I don't have the book in my hand anymore!). And people wonder why they hate us.