The value of Human Life?


Just good ole banter?

The US marines have pursued aggressive tactics in flashpoint town Sangin in southern Afghanistan.  The BBC’s Paul Wood, embedded with US Marine Battalion 3/5, reports on the continuing fight against the Taliban.

“Come on, come out come and play,” said the marine sniper. He spoke as he looked through his telescopic sight at a Taliban “spotter” who had just jumped behind a wall some 800ft (262m) away. The man was not armed but was talking into a radio.

“Got P-I-D [positive identification],” said the sniper. “Cleared to engage”. There was the suppressed crack of a silenced sniper round. The man fell to the ground.

“Enemy KIA (killed in action). Doin’ the dead man dance.” “Good shooting, bro,” came the reply. It was the 50th kill for this sniper team.

I do not for one second claim to know or understand what it must be like to be in the above situation, nor am I claiming the moral high ground. But whatever your politics, beliefs or position on the merits of the military action in the region, the snipers comments are difficult for me to embrace. Yes the snipers are under orders and yes their lives are also being threatened but human life is still being taken with seemingly little regard or respect. Perhaps it is just a ‘sniper coping strategy’ to ease the mind, but it still does not make it easy for me to understand the rhetoric.



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2 Responses to “The value of Human Life?”

  1. wellyousaythat Says:

    There’s a scene in Hill St Blues when a sniper in Lt Hunters squad kills a hostage taker and shouts out an inappropriate comment. Lt Hunter, although being a militaristic police officer censured the young man. The reason; showing some respect and dignity for human life.

    A generation bought up playing computer games where killing is the imperative may, unless given a moral compass, view the taking of life in simplistic terms. However I grew up watching war movies & cowboys and ‘indians’ and playing with toy guns but retained a deeper understanding if human life.

    Maybe we reap with our young men what we sew

    • captainkirk Says:

      Good spot, I remember the episode well. It is quite striking how the USA can project one image of itself on film and another in reality.

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