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Kyndra Rotunda on Right of Soldiers to Engage in Self-Defense
By Amy Wong

Kyndra Rotunda, professor at George Mason University Law School, has a feature article in the Christian Science Monitor that analyzes and critiques the Pentagon’s 2005 Standing Rules of Engagement (ROE).  The new rules, Rotunda contends, “make it harder for U.S. troops to boldly counter hostile acts, and they specifically allow commanders to limit the right of soldiers to defend themselves!” Why is our government placing unreasonable restrictions on U.S. soldiers?  Rotunda claims that the U.S. government wants to win the “hearts and minds” of the civilian population.  Despite its good intentions, the government’s efforts are foiled by soldiers’ reckless ways, which have often led to collateral damage and innocent civilian deaths.  The media reports on local killings, investigations escalate, troops look trigger-happy, and concerned commanders are now taking these restrictions seriously by limiting soldiers’ ability to defend. However, Professor Rotunda makes a really excellent point in her feature article:  Holding fire may appease CNN, but it can only delight and encourage America’s terrorist enemies and protract the war in Iraq.”   She illustrates one case in point, in which a key Al Qaeda commander, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, drove free and clear through two checkpoints without getting a scrape on his body because soldiers were busy trying to “positively identify” him.  Considering how infamous terrorists are for strapping bombs to themselves, both checkpoints could’ve been blown to smithereens along with our soldiers.   Luckily, none of this happened.  What happened was that terrorist morale was bolstered; and Zarqawi, more notorious than ever, continued to wreak havoc.  We successfully, though inadvertently, sent a message to our enemies that we’d been neutered.  This may have been effective in terms of making Iraqi civilians feel safe and comfortable, but it’s put our soldiers in a very unsafe and uncomfortable position.  Furthermore, current military procedures are subjecting Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers to the hateful wrath of empowered terrorists.   There must be a better system or course of action, right?  What might it be?  Note:  Professor Rotunda is going to follow up on her thought-provoking article with a book that will explore the legal issues related to the war on terrorism.


Posted on: 03/07/2007 06:23 AM | Number of feedback 4


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