Last year, there was a terrible tragedy in Afghanistan when US forces mistakenly hit a Doctors without Borders facility. But in war, as in other places, tragedies occur. And when there are a million factors leading up to the end result, with small bits of negligence or carelessness by lots of people involved, it's sometimes hard to lay the blame on someone. But for some reason, society just loves to find a scapegoat.
The NY Times ran an op-ed yesterday, that honestly has so much wrong with it we could discuss the faults for days. In the fine print at the end we see the author is also counsel for Doctors without Borders. With a dog in the fight, it appears the content is far from unbiased.
One of the more striking comments was "Given the loss of life and damage to a hospital which, by definition, is a protected site under the law of armed conflict, it is hardly surprising that many view these [administrative actions, not criminal] actions are inadequate." Wow...that is pretty Old Testament. But to an author who so flippantly accuses the military of not using western standards of justice, shouldn't we ideally require a showing of criminal conduct that caused the loss of life (and property damage) before anyone thinks about picking up the pitchforks and torches to go after an individual personally in a criminal court?
Fighting a war is an inherently dangerous task. Practicing medicine, even in US hospitals, can be as well. Would the medical community really prefer a strict liability standard when it comes to their profession? If there is a loss of life in the hospital or clinic, should we go ahead and gin up a grand jury to investigate to make sure the dozen people involved in the matter are handled adequately, from a criminal perspective? And if that process isn't open to the public and press to comment review and comment on, then someone must be hiding something?
To say "the Pentagon is compounding the tragedy by treating the case as less grave than it is" is quite absurd. As if the military does not routinely court-martial servicemembers for substantiated cases of negligent derelictions of duty up to and including homicide courts. To suggest the Army must court-martial one or more soldiers just to deliver a sufficient public scapegoat is quite the opposite from a western ideal.