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Of the war's suffering - Johnny Jackson

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His name is Christopher Shore. He is a 25-year-old specialist in the United States Army, who has served in war-torn Iraq. And he is being charged with third-degree murder for his participation in the death of an Iraqi detainee.

A third-degree murder conviction could carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Reportedly, the Georgia native led an assault team in a night-time raid that ended in the death of an unarmed, Iraqi civilian.

While I have no real opinions about this particular case, which goes back several months, I have a real concern about what the case and those like it mean for those serving in the military.

As the saying goes, "They're damned if they do, and they're damned if they don't."

Remember the Abu Ghraib cases that put a spotlight on prisoner abuses once thought minimal in this day and age.

Action was taken in those cases. Although, some will argue the actions taken were not equal and not entirely just for those involved.

Military personnel, at the lowest ranks, are trained to have an allegiance to their supervisors and higher-ups, else they suffer the consequences of insubordination, sometimes as slight as push-ups, but sometimes as harsh as a court martial.

They are also asked to be responsible citizens who have an overriding humanity that, in so many instances, is blatant hypocrisy.

"God, County, and Corps" is the Marine mantra, but when does it go into effect? And when is the mantra interpreted versus circumstances on the ground - circumstances like Shore's?

On the one hand, it's fair to shed blood and antagonize the enemy to win the war. It is even acceptable - or it seems that way - to have collateral damage toward those ends, without recourse and with little regret.

But when and where is the line drawn for human rights in the rules of war? And why are those who seemingly fall on the wrong side of that line so often those who have little to do with creating their circumstances?

Why are the youngest troops and innocent civilians among the suffering?

Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at jjackson@henryherald.com or at (770) 957-9161.