"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Monday, June 05, 2006

Preempting the backlash

Mark Dooley in the Sunday Independent preempts the opportunistic war critics in what is their rare moment of "I told you so":

"Get used to hearing the name Haditha, a city in Iraq's Al Anbar province. Last November, a homemade bomb exploded beneath a US military vehicle as it patrolled the city. It killed a 20-year-old marine, Miguel Terrazas."

Even the first line is a sour start to an article that gets progressively harder to swallow. 'Get used to' is (a more than likely, automated) unconscious slight at war critics. It suggests to the agreeable/susceptible reader that the anti-war crowd will use this incident adnausem, so disregard.

It is noticeable that while there is substantial evidence to suggest this event was subject to a considerable cover up, the deaths to be attributed to the ruthless insurgency, there is nothing alleged about the the military casualty version of events. On the other hand the Iraqi girl's described "reprisal" is of course shrouded in suspicion. "A group of Terrazas's comrades allegedly rampaged through Haditha, murdering 24 civilians. They included women, children, and invalids." Yet "a marine wounded by the roadside bomb said, "I think they were just blinded by hate. They just lost control."" Which suggests there is nothing 'alleged' about it.

While "Parallels are being drawn with the My Lai massacre of 500 Vietnamese by US troops in 1968. "It is apparently "a bad comparison because far fewer perished in Haditha." Which is in a sense fair, fewer people were killed, but as Chomsky noted: "My Lai was indeed an aberration, but primarily in the matter of disclosure. Though the press concealed the evidence of the massacre for over a year, the news broke through, largely because of the pressure of mass peace movement demonstrations." (The Washington Connection, South End Press, 1979, p.317)

But as with any publicised incident such as this the crucial issue of the matter is not the brutality of US/UK occupiers or the organised cover up of murder, "the fallout from Haditha could still seriously damage the American military." Which is, no doubt, the principle influencing factor in the massacre's cover-up.

One could be be forgiven for thinking that the role of the reporter in this instance would be to attempt to uncover a) Why this incident occurred b)Why the public were never informed c) Is this an isolated incident d) How far up the ladder did the cover up go e)...

Because as one should be fully aware by now, the role of the reporter is to a) Diminish the brutality of the crime b) Portray it as the work of a few bad apples c) Justify any cover up as essential to the success of the bigger picture d)...

As an experienced reporter Mr. Dooley reveals: "Those of us who support America in Iraq view abuses like Abu Ghraib and Haditha with disgust. The whole point of removing Saddam Hussein was to rescue ordinary Iraqis from cruelty. That is why it is sickening to watch the liberators resort to murder and torture. But we also recognise that only a tiny fraction of the US army posted in Iraq are sadists and thugs. The rest are brave and decent individuals who steadfastly believe in the moral cause of their mission.

Think for a moment what daily life is like for a soldier in Iraq. Each morning, you wake up wondering if it will be your last. You venture into the streets fearing that each passing car might explode, or that the woman approaching is concealing a suicide belt beneath her burka. Every marine knows what fate will supply if captured by a jihadi. They have seen the charred remains of their comrades dragged through the streets. They have watched helplessly as others are beheaded live on the web. And still they carry on, hoping that some day Iraq will stand proud."

While I am quite sure coalition soldiers are under intense pressure in Iraq and I am sure they feel a certain 'ill feeling' towards some sections of the Iraqi people, this should not be used to justify murder. This is of course a war of choice. Iraq posed no threat, and the humanitarian intervention purpose is a non starter given Western support for Saddam during his worst atrocities. I think I could predict quite accurately, without resort to searching all his previous work, that Mr. Dooley has never sought to justify 'insurgent' attacks on coalition troops, Iraqi police or Iraqi civilians on the grounds that many of this resistance have lost family members or friends to coalition bullets.

But he continues: "That is the attitude of most Americans stationed in Iraq, which is why they feel so betrayed by the butchers of Haditha. As General Peter Pace, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said, "They have not performed their duty the way that 99.9 per cent of their fellow marines have.""

"Human nature can only endure so much horror before it finally snaps. That is why it is miraculous there have been so few incidents like Haditha. Credit for that should be given to the US army in Iraq, but not to their political masters in the Pentagon."

Let us for a moment take Mr. Dooley's psychological diagnosis as true. These soldiers in Haditha simply could not endure any more horror, so they snapped. Since this is true, it is amazing that more soldiers have not snapped.

Unsurprisingly this version of reality does not stand up to the facts:

Iraqi Prime Minister recently told reporters violence against civilians was "common among many of the multinational forces".

Many troops had "no respect for citizens, smashing civilian cars and killing on a suspicion or a hunch", he added.

Robert Fisk on reshaping our suspicions: "I remember clearly the first suspicions I had that murder most foul might be taking place in our name in Iraq. I was in the Baghdad mortuary, counting corpses, when one of the city's senior medical officials - an old friend - told me of his fears. "Everyone brings bodies here," he said. "But when the Americans bring bodies in, we are instructed that under no circumstances are we ever to do post-mortems. We were given to understand that this had already been done. Sometimes we'd get a piece of paper like this one with a body.""

Dahr Jamail on what doesn't get reported: "Yet just like Abu Ghraib, while the media spotlight shines squarely on the Haditha massacre, countless atrocities continue daily, conveniently out of the awareness of the general public. Torture did not stop simply because the media finally decided, albeit in horribly belated fashion, to cover the story, and the daily slaughter of Iraqi civilians by US forces and US-backed Iraqi "security" forces had not stopped either."

A recent documentary recorded the confessions of US soldiers who served in Iraq: " He says that soldiers who served in his area before his unit's arrival recommended them to keep spades on their vehicles so that if they killed innocent Iraqis, they could throw a spade off them to give the appearance that the dead Iraqi was digging a hole for a roadside bomb."

RTE reported last week; "US military prosecutors are expected to charge seven marines and a navy serviceman over the death of an Iraqi civilian. The eight men are being held at Camp Pendleton in California, in connection with the 26 April killing of a Hamandiya man and a subsequent attempt to make him look like an insurgent by placing an AK-47 rifle near his body."

Since the preceeding content of the article doesn't hold water and in order to put the 'mini-massacre' in it's true perspective Mr. Dooley adds a little historical embellishment:

"When Saddam ruled Iraq, Haditha happened every day across the nation. But today, Iraqi leaders no longer govern their citizens through murder and fear. Instead, people like Iraq's new prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, are helping America wage war against a common enemy."

The US army were not "betrayed by a few 'sadists'" as the headline states, the US army were betrayed by their elected leaders and their faithful corporate sponsors.

Pointed out by Hugh Green at mostsincerelyfolks

Also available at Indymedia.ie