Saturday, March 06, 2010
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?