Now despite being a bit of a commie pinko liberal I feel that this is hugely important, and given that I'm from the first generation of my family not to have served in the armed forces since Waterloo, it brought upon me a welling up of proper emotion of the manly kind.
Then today I read this, and you know what? It makes me pretty damn sick.
I know that folk who go into a professional army don't have a natural disinclination to kill other folk: it is, after all, part of their job description. But surely they should be doing so only under orders. That is the point of discipline. Folk get to murder the opposition when properly ordered, and get called heroes for doing it. This is the point of an army. After all the murderous impulse appears to exist only just below the surface in some people, and society has to find a place for them.
But the downside or payback is that our heroes only kick the shit out of folk when ordered to by a senior who then takes responsibility for that order. Exceeding one's orders in these cases is not only a criminal act, it is an act against the very core of the forces: which is discipline.
So if there is a 'culture' of excess, are the top brass to blame?
In strict judicial terms I would have thought that the command has two options: either find your scapegoats, or be put in the frame for institutionalised murder yourselves. But I'm prepared for an International lawyer to put me right here.
Given that the US army seems to have platoons full of Patrick Bateman types too: finger-collectors and suchlike, I would imagine that the same malaise and situation is also true in America.
So my question is: should our heroes be given carte blanche to murder as and when they like (to keep in practice, so to speak) or are they responsible for their actions? And who is responsible: the officers who turn a blind-eye to a bit of callous Batemanism, because squaddies will be squaddies, after all? Or is it the murdering soldiers who have exceeded their orders themselves? Or is it the rest of us who are happy to let such actions go unpunished?
I mean, does it really matter: they're all foreigners, it's far away and in another country, and let's face it, the victims are all brown, and worse, don't believe in the baby Jesus as the messiah.
It's not as if it tarnishes the rep of our magnificent forces in the opinion of our media, or that it adds to the likelihood of greater and more trenchant opposition to our noble peacekeeping efforts to introduce the rule of law to these godless places.