Friday, June 18, 2010

Army Major Nathan Hoepner is an American hero

Perusing a recent issue of Military Review, I came across this (PDF) article about a debate (and the results of that debate) among U.S. soldiers working the "Sunni triangle" of Iraq in 2003. Some wanted "the gloves to come off" and to start hitting, beating and otherwise torturing suspected insurgents. But Maj. Nathan Hoepner opposed such efforts, and wrote in support of his position:

As for “the gloves need to come off” . . . we
need to take a deep breath and remember
who we are . . . Those gloves are . . . based on
clearly established standards of international
law to which we are signatories and in part
the originators . . . something we cannot just
put aside when we find it inconvenient . . .
We have taken casualties in every war we
have ever fought—that is part of the very
nature of war. We also inflict casualties,
generally many more than we take. That in
no way justifies letting go of our standards.
We have NEVER considered our enemies
justified in doing such things to us. Casualties
are part of war—if you cannot take
casualties then you cannot engage in war.
Period. BOTTOM LINE: We are American
Soldiers, heirs of a long tradition of staying
on the high ground. We need to stay there.

Heroes are men and women who can keep their heads about them to do the right thing in difficult circumstances. Maj. Hoepner -- today he is a lieutenant colonel -- is clearly such a man.

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