If they turn up the volume of bad news high enough, we’ll pull the plug just to have some peace and quiet. That’s always been the goal, of course, but now they’ve got a new woofer to play with:

In El Paso, Texas, the father of Marine Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, whose death from a roadside bomb is the event said to have precipitated the Marine shootings at Haditha, said simply: “I don’t even listen to the news.” This may be the widespread reaction as the Haditha story overwhelms all else–enough, I don’t want to hear about it.

And there begins the Iraq Syndrome…

The missions in Iraq and Afghanistan grew from the moral outrage of September 11. U.S. troops, the best this country has yet produced, went overseas to defend us against repeating that day. Now it isn’t just that the war on terror has proven hard; the men and women fighting for us, the magnificent 99%, are being soiled in a repetitive, public way that is unbearable.

And that’s the key. To cover it, as we’ve done here, in order to find out what went wrong is one thing; to exploit it in hopes of delegitimizing the entire war, and in particular the heroism of the rest of the troops in the field, is something else entirely. And it’s already begun, both on television and in print. But here’s the silver lining in a very dark cloud:

Opinion polls put support for the war below 40%. Still, it has become obligatory now as a nod across the political spectrum to the corrosive Vietnam Syndrome, to reassure that one’s opposition is only to the war, not to the men fighting it.

Really? How does that work?

If nothing else good comes from this incident, perhaps at least it’ll spell the end of the knee-jerk compulsion from some quarters to insist they “support the troops” while ignoring or dismissing out of hand their every accomplishment. I’ve always thought part of the reason Bush is despised so viscerally is because pacifists no longer are permitted to blame the soldiers who actually carry out the killing; as Henninger says, America is too ashamed of how Vietnam vets were treated to allow that again. So Bush becomes the lightning rod, taking not only his own heat but the heat that would have been spent on the troops themselves if this were 1970. Here’s a perfect illustration from the Nation’s editorial:

A generation of future US military officers were taught the details of the My Lai massacre as a particular lesson: What makes war crimes is criminal leadership. Whatever the responsibility of the unit commanders in Haditha, it is George W. Bush as Commander in Chief who has sent the clear message that human rights abuses and violations of international law are justified in the “war on terror.”… What we need is not the “picture of what happened” promised by the White House but a full-scale investigation both of the massacre in Haditha and of the climate of impunity that allowed it to happen and to be ignored for so long.

Even here, after they’ve pronounced the Marines guilty, they’re afraid to blame them for what happened. It’s Bush’s fault: he created the “climate of impunity,” he “sent the message,” and never you mind that magnificent 99% to which Henninger refers whom the so-called message never reached. Murtha does the same thing, blaming the “exhaustion” the Haditha Marines felt from having been deployed for so long — because, after all, the 99% who don’t shoot babies aren’t tired in the least.

Or, as Cox & Forkum put it:


Today there’s news of a new supposed massacre. Dan Riehl and Newsbusters are suspicious, and rightly so, I think, for precisely the reason given by the Commissar. The fringe left will use this to lend credence to every new claim of atrocities made against U.S. forces, no matter how anecdotal. They might finally have gotten the war crime they’ve been waiting for.

More from Victor Davis Hanson and Ben Stein, who’s keeping things in grim perspective. Meanwhile, the Iraqi PM is walking a fine line. His first responsibility is to his people, of course, but I wonder if he realizes what effect this incident could have on the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. Or is that the point?

Update: Here’s some actual news on Haditha: investigators want to exhume the bodies of those killed for examination. Will it happen? Here’s what Time reported on Monday:

The families say they cooperated fully with the NCIS, but drew the line at exhumation; investigators’ requests for the bodies to be dug up for forensic examination were flatly turned down by the families. Islam doesn’t permit bodies to be disturbed after burial.

Update: In case you didn’t know, the Ishaqi “massacre” story is several months old and has been reported on by media both foreign and domestic. How incredibly convenient that the BBC would be handed new evidence just as the Haditha story is taking off.

The U.S. military denies the allegations.

Update: In case you’re not drawing the proper parallels, the AP is here to nudge you along.