Friday, July 13, 2007

The Other War: Iraq Vets Talk About Blowing Away Civilians

Much of the resentment toward Iraqis described to The Nation by veterans was confirmed in a report released May 4 by the Pentagon. According to the survey, conducted by the Office of the Surgeon General of the US Army Medical Command, just 47 percent of soldiers and 38 percent of marines agreed that civilians should be treated with dignity and respect. Only 55 percent of soldiers and 40 percent of marines said they would report a unit member who had killed or injured "an innocent noncombatant."
Democracy Now also covered this.
SGT. JOHN BRUHNS: When you’re in Iraq, you do not know who the enemy is. They know who you are. If you’re on a patrol in a market and somebody opens fire on you and the US military, I mean, if we respond -- if we return fire in that direction with overwhelming firepower and, let's say, a thirteen-year-old girl gets killed, you’re just going to have to assume right then and there that her father and her brother and her uncles -- they're not going to say, you know, Saddam was a bad guy and thank the United States for coming in here and liberating us. They’re going to say, “If the United States never came here, my daughter would still be alive.” And that’s going to cause them to join the resistance. And when they do join the resistance, President Bush says, “They’re al-Qaeda. They’re al-Qaeda.” But they’re not. They’re just regular Iraqi people who feel occupied, and they’re reacting to an occupation....

STAFF SGT. TIMOTHY JOHN WESTPHAL: You know, I support the United States military. I’m a soldier. I always will be. I’m tremendously proud of the men I served with. However, yes, I do believe that we need to bring our troops home right now, because all we’re doing is making more terrorists and more people who hate America.
Much more at both links.

From The Nation Editorial:
One day in January 2005, an elderly couple was driving down a road in Mosul, Iraq, when without realizing it they passed through a makeshift US military checkpoint. The checkpoint, recalled a sergeant who came upon the scene, was "very poorly marked." Yet, he said, the soldiers "got spooked" and opened fire. The bodies of the couple sat in the car for three days, the sergeant said, "while we drove by them day after day."

That incident was no Haditha or Abu Ghraib. It was a fairly typical day for Iraqis under US occupation....

If the President and his aides lie about the war with no consequence, if troops are deployed again and again to prop up a deteriorating occupation, if the rules of engagement guarantee frequent brutalization of noncombatants, then it is no wonder some soldiers conclude that their conduct has few limits. And it should come as no surprise that an occupation of this sort continues to inflame anti-American sentiment throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds. The problem is not a few "bad apples" (Bush's phrase after Abu Ghraib) but the occupation itself. It needs to end.
Meanwhile our reality denying third columnists our celebrating that one soldier at the Haditha massacre might get off and calling for the censure of Rep. Murtha.

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