Occupations are always
deadly. The occupied are at constant risk of death, incarceration
and humiliation. It is important to keep this in mind when thinking
of the killings of Iraqi civilians at Haditha, Iraq. It is a
story that needs to be told, but it was not an unusual event.
It is just the first to escape the media bubble.
Last November the
death of a Marine in the town of Haditha sent his unit into
a frenzy of revenge. Twenty-four civilians, men, women and children
were killed in cold blood. A killing spree by the occupiers
should be roundly condemned but not treated as some sort of
The Vietnam War was
a watershed event in American public discourse. It was the first
time that masses of citizens publicly declared opposition to
a government decision to fight overseas. The significance of
an organized anti-war movement was not lost on the pro-war crowd.
They made certain
that tales of soldiers being spat upon and called “baby killer”
made their way into the popular imagination. The result is a
public propagandized into mindlessly supporting the troops.
Even the anti-war movement is culpable, never passing up an
opportunity to shout that they are against the war but not the
The words of Gen.
Sherman are still true. War is all hell. It is hell, and it
is soldiers who bring it on.
The hell has become
too much for even the Iraqi puppet government to bear. Prime
Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki stopped pulling
his punches after Haditha. After three years of non-existent
or muted criticism, he and his colleagues now feel comfortable
speaking truth to the powerful.
Maliki told Americans
what they haven’t been told by their government or news media.
Violence against civilians is “a daily phenomenon” carried out
by troops who “don’t respect the Iraqi people.” He added, "They
crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion.”
Maliki is clearly fed up with Uncle Sam. He went so far
as to declare that that the response to violence committed against
civilians would determine how long American troops might stay
In the United States
government there is silence about the endless killings of Iraqis.
Democratic Congressman Jack Murtha is one of the few members
of Congress who has called for a timetable for withdrawal. He
has been shunned by the wimpy Democratic leadership and denounced
Murtha played an important
role in making the Haditha killings public, yet he too will
only go so far in his condemnation.
Murtha then contradicted
himself. “I don't make excuses for them, I'm just understanding
what their problem is.”
Murtha’s problem is
that he is essentially a hawk. He voted in favor of the war
and now opposes it because of the harm it is doing to the operations
of the military. He should be commended for speaking out, but
opposition to the occupation should not rest on the Murtha world
view of a war that turned out not to be so easy.
The occupation of
Iraq is a crime against the people of that nation. They have
been killed, incarcerated, and tortured. Their resources have
been stolen, their infrastructure has been destroyed. Iraqi
children are more malnourished now than in the days of the evil
should always come from the perspective that the U.S. committed
a terrible act in March of 2003 when the occupation began. We
should be glad that the story of Haditha is now being told,
yet no one should think it is an isolated incident or that it
was caused merely by over stressed Marines who don’t know what
there mission is.
The Marines are quite
clear on their mission. Their mission is to subjugate Iraqis.
Sometimes that means subjecting them to fear and humiliation.
Sometimes it means busting a few heads and sometimes it means
you can start shooting and ask questions later if ever.
The military response
is to teach soldiers to mind their manners. They will now get
“values” training. The charm school effort will teach the following