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Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2003


SDF must expect the unexpected


While many consider the arguments of those for or against the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces to aid allied forces in Iraq, the question of what will happen should the SDF suffer casualties from U.S. "friendly fire" seems to have been ignored.

Of the approximately 58,000 American fatalities in Vietnam, thousands suffered this fate. All British "combat" deaths in the Persian Gulf War (1991) were reportedly at the hands of allies. I was in southeast Turkey and then northern Iraq in the 1990s, when the U.S. downed two of its own Blackhawk helicopters, killing Kurds, Britons, French, Turks and Americans. Going from village to village in the area thereafter and meeting the locals, I was more afraid of the Green Berets at my elbow than unfriendly locals or the possibility of an Iraqi attack.

How a friendly-fire incident could affect Japan's relationship with the U.S. should be considered before the possibility becomes reality. I wish a safe return to any SDF troops who are dispatched to Iraq.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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