Saturday, March 06, 2010

Beyond Duty


I have thought a number of times about an interview I heard on Monday morning on the CBC radio program The Current. The host Anna Maria Tremonti interviewed a former US army captain named Shannon Meehan. Meehan has written a memoir called Beyond Duty: Life at the Front Line in Iraq. He shared his life-changing story of calling in an air strike on a house in an Iraqi village which he was convinced was being used by insurgents. This was true, but those insurgents had forced a family to remain in the house for the appearance of normalcy. The parents and children were all killed. http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2010/201003/20100301.html

Meehan had previously lost men under his command in a booby-trapped house. And he followed proper protocol in this strike and probably saved lives as a result. He was not responsible for the actions of the insurgents who were ruthless in making this family stay in the house. Yet his life was changed by what happened. He pointed out that his superiors and many others have assured him that this is the sad cost of war and it wasn't his fault. While he understands all this, it doesn't change his profound regret. He became a father recently and admits that the pleasure of parenthood has been affected by the knowledge that his action resulted in the deaths of other children.

Tremonti was quite sensitive to Meehan's emotions in the interview, but asked whether this shines a light on the folly of war -- isn't there some other way? He wasn't sure how to reply to this and pointed out that he isn't the decision maker in that regard. Meehan also spoke of God a couple of times, as though for him this is a spiritual issue. I would agree.

Any comments or observations on this?

3 comments:

IanD said...

It's unfortunate that force if often our only recourse when diplomacy fails; or when terrorism is the opponent.

The imprecision of war has never had a more awful face than in this memoir.

Nancy said...

I do not really have a comment on this particular story, but it makes me think of last week when I heard Romeo Dallaire speak, at a conference I was at. He talked of his time in Rowanda. He told a story of going into a village and finding all dead except a 4 or 5 year old, who was wondering, Dallaire looked into the boy's eyes and saw the eyes of his own son in Canada-the eyes of a human being. It was then, that he realized that we are all human, no one is more human than another.

I am not stating it exactly as Dallaire did, nor am I really giving his whole speech justice, but I have carried away the line, "we are all human, no one is more human than another", we are all part of humanity and what we do with that humanity is what is key.

lionlamb said...

Another thoughtful response from Bill in the form of an email.

WHEN ONE IS OLDER AND THERE IS TIME TO SIT AND PONDER I OFTEN THINK WHAT WAR COSTS IN LIVES AS WELL AS FORTUNE AND THERE SHOULD BE A BETTER WAY TO RESOLVE DIFFERENCES LIKE NEGOTIATION.I KNOW THIS IS THE HIGH ROAD AND IF HISTORY CONTIUES TO REPEAT ITSELF IT IS VERY DOUBTFUL IF IT WILL EVER HAPPEN..IF ONLY WE COULD SPEND THE MONEY WARS COST ON IMPROVING THE LIVING FOR PEOPLE IN THE WORLD BY FEEDING THEM, HOUSING THEM ,TAKING CARE OF THEIR HEALTH AND THEIR SPIRITUALITY WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN. I WOULD VENTURE THAT THE WORLD BE A WHOLE IOT BETTER..SOME MAY NOT BE AS RICH BUT THE WORLD WOULD BE SO MUCH BETER OFFI .I INCLUDE IN MY PRAYER S EACH NIGHT ALONG WITH A LOT OF OTHER THINGS FOR THE SAFTEY OF OUR TROOPS AND THE PEOPLE OF AFGANISTAN,FOR THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN KILLED ,AND FOR HELP FOR THOSE LEFT TO MOURN.I. MAY BE A VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS BUT I DO PRAY FOR PEACE.I DO PRAY FOR GOD TO GO INTO THE HEARTS OF WORLD LEADERS TOLOOK FOR WAYS TO END THE NEED TO TAKE UP AND BUILD UP ARMS EVERY TIME I SEE A CONVEY COMMING DOWN THE HIGHWAY OF HEROES CARRYING ANOUTHER SOLDIER I HAVE TO STOP AND THINK WHAT WASTE..I GUESS WE CAN JUST HOPE AND CONTIUE T6O PRAYFOR A BETTER SOLUTION THAN WAR.