“The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.”
-President Calvin Coolidge
"Why are the liberals always on the other side?"
– Jean Martin as COL Mathieu, French Army, “The Battle of Algiers” (1966)
Early in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations a pair of British Army psychologists reported that in their estimation combat in the 21st century global war on terror (GWOT) was every bit as stressful as combat in World War II. The reason being that despite the fact that friendly casualty rates in GWOT are a mere fraction of what they were during WWII, soldiers today have reason to fear being prosecuted by their own side for technical violations of the restrictive rules of engagement they are obligated to observe. Thus the normal combat threats of being killed, crippled or taken captive combined with the threat of being sent to prison on a trumped-up charge make the stress of combat today as intense as it was in any previous war. It makes this case in Israel noteworthy. If this sort of thing keeps happening to Western militaries how long before the soldiers quit? How long before the stress epidemic causes troops to refuse to support and defend a government/society that refuses to have their back and at least give them the benefit of the doubt? As it appears now a soldier would probably do less time for refusing to fight then he would were he convicted of unlawfully killing an enemy combatant, or even just roughing one up in the process of taking him prisoner.
“At the end of 2016 an Israeli court convicted an Israeli soldier (Elor Azaria) of manslaughter for killing an immobilized terrorist in March 2016. Soldiers and police are usually given the benefit of the doubt in situations like this, but Israel puts those accused of unjustified violence on trial or at least conducts an investigation and publishes detailed results. But this time there was a rare conviction and it has divided Israel. In part this is because many, if not most, adult Israeli males have spent some time providing security from Islamic (usually Palestinian) terrorists and are personally familiar with the stress and uncertainty of such situations. Palestinians have a different attitude. Palestinian leaders praise (and pay cash rewards to) any Palestinian who kills Jews (including women and children). Palestinians often use foreign aid (mostly from the West) to cover the cost of these rewards and pensions (for imprisoned killers and wives of dead ones). All that may count for something when it comes to Israeli public opinion but Israeli courts tend to stick to the immediate facts. That’s where it got interesting in the Azaria case.”
“The incident occurred in when two Palestinians used knives to attack Israeli soldiers and were shot dead, one immediately and the other later because a soldier (Azaria) suspected the wounded Palestinian was about to detonate explosives. Azaria was later arrested and accused of murder because an officer had already checked the wounded Palestinian for explosives. The arrest of the Israeli soldier caused a media and political controversy among Israelis who saw the arrest as a political stunt to appease foreign critics of Israeli security practices and the reality, to most Israelis, of how Palestinian leaders regularly broadcast lies about Israel to encourage such attacks. For example, Palestinian media regularly features accusations that Israel, not ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) was responsible for recent terror attacks in Europe and for the creation of ISIL itself.”