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Analysts Debate the Haditha Investigation and the Appointment of Henry Paulson

NewsHour analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss the continuing fallout over allegations of civilian murders by U.S. troops in Iraq, Henry Paulson's appointment and the week's political news.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    But first, the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    The Haditha story and the others, Mark, where does it seem to be headed?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    Well, it seems to be headed, Jim, towards serious charges being leveled, and the consequences and the fallout are just enormous.

    I mean, first of all, just in the United States, if these charges are made and confirmed and they're — the sense of the United States, we've always felt that our purposes are noble, our ideals are high. This just goes right to the self-image of the country.

    It makes us, in a sense, at moral parity with those that we're fighting. It undermines, obviously, the relations with Iraq itself and its government. You can see its government asserting itself.

    There was no government at the time of Abu Ghraib to register its objections to that treatment and mistreatment. But now, just for its own identity, its own satisfaction of its own constituents, the prime minister has condemned the United States…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    And they're going to have their own investigation.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    They're going to have their own investigation. And on top of that, obviously, you've got — if Abu Ghraib was an enlistment incentive for terrorists, this could be a poster for insurgents, that the charge that the United States — this is what they are, they (inaudible) democracy. Actions always speak louder than words. And, finally, for the Marine Corps…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Tough for the Marine Corps, yes.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    … which is the nation's elite fighting force and which stands accused.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    David, how do you see it?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    I guess I do see it a little differently. I mean, we'll have the investigation, but I don't think it says anything about moral parity between the U.S. and its enemies.

    I mean, this was an atrocity. What our enemies do is a matter of policy when they do the same thing.

    And the second thing — and we're going to have an argument about it — is this is the context. What is the context in which these events happen? And to be honest, I think this says nothing about the American cause, and the American nature, and the nature of the American power.

    When you look at when these events happen, it tends to be in a certain sort of war, and that is guerrilla war with high-technology weapons. If you go back in history and you look where there has been massive violence, massive combat stress, but relatively few atrocities, you get things like the Civil War and World War II, where you have big armies fighting each other relatively separated from civilians.

    But when you get guerrilla war, with fast weapons, fast pace of battle, integrated with civilians, then you get these atrocities, and that's true here. It's true in Vietnam, but it's true in Africa.

    There have been cases where you've got armies fighting with high casualties with no atrocities. And then you get, in the same country, a guerrilla war, massive atrocities.

    So it's the nature of this kind of fighting. And these things happen when you get this integrated — you don't know who your enemies are. These guys are under tremendous stress, and some of them do horrible things.