Sunday, January 2, 2011

Robert Semrau Found Guilty of Killing Taliban

Robert Semrau was dismissed from the Canadian Forces for killing a wounded Taliban in Afghanistan.

If you support our troops, you may call this "A mercy killing", or "putting someone out of their misery". But if you are in the army, you are taught that this is "Shooting a wounded prisoner".

Why has Robert Semrau been dismissed from the Canadian Forces? Well, the military is really clear on the issue of shooting wounded prisoners. You don't ever do it. There are reasons why, I guess. I can think of two. The first is you don't want the enemy to do the same thing. In fact even if the enemy has done this (and I'm pretty sure it happens in all wars and on all sides), you still do not want to make it a policy to kill wounded and unarmed prisoners. It's also impossible to decide if a person is mortally wounded or not.

The Mark Semrau story smells of distraction to me. Why is the military making such a big deal about something that nobody else would really care about? They are taking an event that, without this trial, would be monumentally insignificant to the average Canadian, and turning it into a nationwide debate with a pretty intense spotlight.

Some of the comments I have seen left at the National Post and MacLean's, have been outright racist, and shameful to most Canadians. Often implying that the Taliban are no better than animals and that normal rules of combat that were OK for World War 2 are somehow inapplicable now. And that our only job in Afghanistan is to murder all the Taliban.

If the military was trying to whip up anti-liberal sentiments in Canada, they have certainly accomplished it. References to "libtards" can be found on web pages discussing this story. Also people are connecting this conviction of Semrau with the Pro-Choice movement. But this was not a case of stay-at-home liberals sitting in judgment of the nice conservative soldier hero. It was an entirely military thing, with no "liberals" or "pro-abortionists" or "anti-sealhunt" tree huggers involved.

The ultimate result of this trial is minimal. Semrau gets to leave Afghanistan, leave the military, and is reprimanded. But at the same time, he is kind of admired in the military and in Canada as a whole. He does not go to jail. I cannot know what is in Robert Semrau's mind, but the final result was not too bad for him, especially if he was getting sick of serving as an advisor to an Afghan Army unit. And I can think of a lot of reasons why he might be sick of what he was doing particularly if he does not like to see wounded Taliban laying there dying slowly.

As a result of this public trial, the Canadian military boosts its reputation as "fighting by the book" and maintaining strict battlefield discipline, which is something they had a lot of unwanted trouble with in Somalia.

The "support the troops" people in Canada get something to work them into a proper rage against Libtards and enviro-weenies, whether or not they were involved in this mess.

In the end, I don't really know whose side I come down on, but it seems to me like almost everybody wins, even the dying Taliban freedom fighter/terrorist. The only ones who have lost anything in this are maybe the liberals who ironically didn't have anything to do with it, but have now got the right wing nut jobs in an even greater frenzy against them.

1 comment:

  1. Although I was not surprised that the weight of opinion in reader comments came down in support of Captain Semrau, I was rather taken aback by the accusations that anyone who was at all critical of Semrau's actions was, at the very least an 'academic' and most likely a 'libtard' (or worse).

    The only thing that separates a disciplined military force from a bunch of thugs is the rulebook. And according to all the rulebooks, once a combatant is hors de combat, he is to be treated as a prisoner of war. 'Mercy killing' is not a defense in law.

    Whether ISAF force members could expect reciprocal treatment from the Taliban is immaterial. One can't help but speculate that those readers who accuse some of us being 'libtards' would take the diametrically opposite view to 'mercy killing' were an injured Canadian Forces member to be dispatched by a Talib.

    But, in the final analysis, this is a single incident in a larger war; an incident that had to be addressed simply because it was raised as an issue. No doubt, much more egregious, but unreported, crimes have been committed during the Afghan occupation; such is the nature of war.