Three points spring to mind:
1. Soldiers are supposed to kill people. It’s what they do, it is their reason for existence. If you are dumb enough to put soldiers in a situation where they can’t tell the enemy from the civilian, civilians will get killed. It is inevitable. The person who should be held responsible for Haditha, if there is indeed anything for which to hold anyone responsible, is President Bush.
2. Civilians killed by errant bombs are as unjustly dead as those killed by bullets fired by errant soldiers. To pretend that these Marines are potentially murderers while Air Force pilots can only be responsible for “collateral damage” is absurd.
3. The battle for hearts and minds has been lost. It’s over and it has been for a while. It doesn’t matter if the Haditha shootings were murders or the wholesale invention of Al-Jazeera, the result is the same.
The Occupation is a complete and utter failure, as I predicted from the start, and since the USA is going to pull out and declare victory at some point in the future, it might as well be now. The idea of “democratizing” Iraq was always insane, as the election of Hamas has now proved to those too historically ignorant to remember the four military coups required to save governments in Turkey and Algeria from democracy.
The only way to successfully occupy a country in the long term is to do it the way the Romans did. (If you think the German Occupation worked, I encourage you to compare a map of Greater Germany circa 1942 with one of the European Union.) Establish your people in the conquered territory and colonize. Since we can’t even successfully populate our own country these days and no American is yearning for a condo overlooking the Euphrates, the idea is a non-starter.
If this was a real war in defense of the nation, no one would be concerned with this sort of thing. But since it isn’t, I have no doubt that we’ll spend plenty of time and effort prosecuting good soldiers for doing exactly what they are supposed to do. The world is still the nasty, brutish place it has always been and no amount of “training” and pretending otherwise is going to change that fact.