The facts are not yet in, and the presumption of innocence attaches to Marines just as it does everyone else, but the compensation paid to the victims' families suggest that whatever happened in Haditha was a bad business.Shooting unarmed civilians--women and children--is murder if proved, an atrocity, and ought to be savagely punished. All true, no argument, but that is not the only concern, because what happened at Haditha, regardless of the circumstances, was a breakdown in fire discipline by United States Marines. And that is worrisome.Marines, especially experienced, highly trained volunteer Marines under the command of professional, battle-tested NCOs, don't break fire discipline.There is no excuse for what is alleged to have happened at Haditha, but there is an explanation, and I'm sure that stress and fatigue were major contributing factors. Those words aren't military boilerplate. They're the facts. Our forces have accomplished astonishing things in Iraq, but there aren't enough of them and much has been asked of them. They have performed superbly, they have been titanium, but stretched hard enough even titanium will snap.I don't think Haditha means that we're at the breaking point, but I think the breaking point is on the horizon. The various services have altered their deployment rotations in an effort to get people home more often, but we have only as many troops as we have and the mission is what it is. The obvious and ethical solution is a draft, but I accept that a draft is a political impossibility. If the number of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be substantially increased, then we must acknowledge that there is some limit to what we can ask of the troops who are there. At some point the limit must be fixed.Our people are all volunteers. For them the war has been three years in an extraordinarily jangly environment, always at risk of instant death from an IED but without an enemy to engage and defeat. No human organization can maintain this kind of performance under these conditions indefinitely. Sooner or later things start breaking. Systems break. Machines break. People break.Shit happens.We can do this for a while longer, but not forever. The sky isn't falling, but way out on the horizon someone just found a crack. That a combat patrol of highly trained volunteer Marines led by professional, seasoned NCOs might have broken fire discipline and shot unarmed civilians, even in the immediate aftermath of a fatal bombing, is a crack.I think the gentlemen calling the shots in the new Iraqi government have wasted much valuable time. I think the time available to them is a fixed quantity, too, and they're running out. I think it's imperative that they dedicate themselves to forming a functioning parliament and make an honest effort to govern their country. They have made a hash of things so far, and the price of their incompetence has been American casualties and a sea of Iraqi blood. Perhaps they should recall that if we all fail in Iraq, many American politicians will be "blamed," but many Iraqi politicians will be "shot in the head." Their dawdling reminds me of the dilletantes who played at governing South Vietnam, a country since erased from the map.