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Just War Theories

For those of you who might have missed it, there is a lot of discussion about this video published on Wikileaks, apparently acquired from a “whistleblower.” The video is gun camera footage from Apache attack helicopters involved in the killing of two Reuters news employees, photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmag, in summer 2007.

The Army carried out an investigation into the civilian casualties that resulted from the events of July 12, 2007, and the final AR 15–6 report with, supporting documentation, some of it redacted, is up at the Central Command web site.

I agree with Bill Roggio that there is missing footage as no gunships would be cleared hot to shoot anybody carrying a weapon while just cruising around eastern Baghdad. With all of the many different militia hanging out in the city, good and bad, the often out of uniform Iraqi police, thousands of various security guards and just the average citizen carrying around AKs, half that city would have been mowed down.

From reading the CENTCOM documents, the Apaches, from Bravo Company, 1-227th Aviation Regiment, were supporting a large cordon and search operation and were responding to a troops in contact when they opened fire on the group of Iraqis that included the Reuters reporters. The trouble begins when the pilots saw the cameraman peer around the corner and mistook the camera lens for an RPG.

Photos recovered from the Reuters photographer’s camera show that he was snapping shots of a Humvee down the street 100 meters away. The time stamp on the photos show that they were the last ones he took before the Apaches opened fire, according to the reports.

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Today marks the 66 anniversary of the battle of Midway Island, a key engagement that, if it had gone the other way, would have potentially crippled the U.S. naval capability for good. I know you guys are more into looking at the future of defense, but sometimes I think it’s good to step back and remember how we got where we are.

From the Navy history center:

The Battle of Midway, fought over and near the tiny U.S. mid-Pacific base at Midway atoll, represents the strategic high water mark of Japan’s Pacific Ocean war. Prior to this action, Japan possessed general naval superiority over the United States and could usually choose where and when to attack. After Midway, the two opposing fleets were essentially equals, and the United States soon took the offensive.

Japanese Combined Fleet commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto moved on Midway in an effort to draw out and destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s aircraft carrier striking forces, which had embarrassed the Japanese Navy in the mid-April Doolittle Raid on Japan’s home islands and at the Battle of Coral Sea in early May. He planned to quickly knock down Midway’s defenses, follow up with an invasion of the atoll’s two small islands and establish a Japanese air base there. He expected the U.S. carriers to come out and fight, but to arrive too late to save Midway and in insufficient strength to avoid defeat by his own well-tested carrier air power.

Yamamoto’s intended surprise was thwarted by superior American communications intelligence, which deduced his scheme well before battle was joined. This allowed Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, to establish an ambush by having his carriers ready and waiting for the Japanese. On 4 June 1942, in the second of the Pacific War’s great carrier battles, the trap was sprung. The perseverance, sacrifice and skill of U.S. Navy aviators, plus a great deal of good luck on the American side, cost Japan four irreplaceable fleet carriers, while only one of the three U.S. carriers present was lost. The base at Midway, though damaged by Japanese air attack, remained operational and later became a vital component in the American trans-Pacific offensive.

This brings up an excellent point, though. My good friend Bob Dudney, the editor of Air Force magazine, recently wrote an editorial cautioning against Gates’ rhetorical punch at the services’ obsession with future technological developments — or “next war-itis” as he put it.

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(These factoids were forwarded to us by an associate. The original author is unknown.)

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners: men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr. noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Re-read the Declaration of Independence here.

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