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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Despair 

By now you have certainly read about the American soldier who shot a fucking faker twice in the head, in a church (oh, excuse us: a mosque), on camera, for breathing:
[NBC's Kevin] Sites saw the five wounded men left behind on Friday still in the mosque. Four of them had been shot again, apparently by members of the squad that entered the mosque moments earlier. One appeared to be dead, and the three others were severely wounded. The fifth man was lying under a blanket, apparently not having been shot a second time.

One of the Marines noticed that one of the severely wounded men was still breathing. He did not appear to be armed, Sites said.

The Marine could be heard insisting: “He’s fucking faking he’s dead — he’s faking he’s fucking dead.” Sites then watched as the Marine raised his rifle and fired into the man’s head from point-blank range.

“Well, he’s dead now,” another Marine said.

When told that the man he shot was a wounded prisoner, the Marine, who himself had been shot in the face the day before but had already returned to duty, told Sites: “I didn’t know, sir. I didn’t know.”
In the same article we get a sneak preview of the official investigation:
At the same time the incident was taking place in the mosque, a U.S. Marine was killed and five others were wounded when the booby-trapped body of a dead insurgent exploded. The judge advocate general heading the investigation of the mosque incident, Lt. Col. Bob Miller, told NBC News that depending on the evidence, it could be reasonable to conclude that the Marine was acting in self-defense.

“The policy of the rules of engagement authorize the Marines to use force when presented with a hostile act or hostile intent,” he said. “So they would have to be using force in self-defense, yes.”

But Miller added: “Enemy combatants — in this case, insurgents — who don’t pose a threat would not be considered a hostile.”
Our distinguished colleague Richard Cranium of the All Spin Zone links to an article in which several other Marines express their bewilderment that an investigation is even being contemplated:
"I would have shot the insurgent too. Two shots to the head," said Sergeant Nicholas Graham, 24, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "You can't trust these people. He should not be investigated. He did nothing wrong" . . . .

"It's all political. This Marine has been under attack for days. It has nothing to do with what he did," said Corporal Keith Hoy, 23.

Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Garza, 30, favored an investigation but like other Marines said the Pentagon (news - web sites) should weigh its decision carefully.

"He should have captured him. Maybe the insurgent had some valuable information. There may have been mitigating circumstances. Maybe his two buddies died in Falluja," he said.
And we have to agree. The Marine's action is perfectly in keeping with America's conduct of the war at this stage. As Juan Cole says:
I fear that the attitude of the other troops, which wasn't exactly shock, suggests that these sorts of murders of prisoners are not uncommon. (But they are not universal, or else there wouldn't be 400 prisoners. There would be no prisoners.) It does concern me that the wounded and bleeding guerrillas were just stacked up in that mosque awaiting medical attention, apparently for days. If there are many prisoners treated that way, then there really is an issue here with regard to US military policy. And, what is the difference between letting them bleed to death and putting a bullet in their heads?
His mistake, of course, was being caught on tape; American forces have been for the most part quite efficient in resticting the flow of information from Fallujah. Cole again:
The generally pro-American Saudi daily, Asharq al-Awsat, has a long piece on the sufferings of civilians in Fallujah, based on telephone interviews and eyewitness accounts by Iraqis. The article is extremely suspicious of American motives in having taken the Fallujah hospitals and in having kept the Red Crescent and other aid agencies away from the city. Do they want to get rid of all the bodies lying in the streets before anyone sees them, the article asks . . . .

[Interim PM Iyad] Allawi is gradually revealing himself as the pro-American twin of Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf, "Baghdad Bob," who used to deny that US troops were in Baghdad even though journalists could see the tanks over his shoulder. Now Allawi wants to deny that residents of a city that has been invaded and crushed managed to escape without a scratch unless they were active guerrillas. Col. Mike Shupp joined in this vaudeville act,
denying that there was a humanitarian crisis in Fallujah or that there was a need for Red Crescent aid.
No civilian casualties? Amazing what they can do with Photoshop these days:



U.S. Army critical care nurse Cpt. Marvetta Walker checks on a 9-year-old Fallujah boy who was wounded in the face and stomach, while at the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, Iraq Monday, Nov. 15, 2004. The boy was in critical condition. The hospital has been treating both American wounded as well as civilians from the Fallujah fighting. (AP Photo/John Moore; courtesy of Gunship Jesus.)

So: what more is to be said? The insurgency has long since spread to other sections of Iraq where violence is escalating. As of today, 1200 Americans are dead in combat. New dominos await "democratization," and the entire lunatic enterprise has won the seal of approval from a majority of the American electorate. Does it help to publicize the horrors of Fallujah if most Americans find them perfectly acceptable? Admirable? Heroic? We are not moral idiots; we cannot choose to be ignorant of atrocities committed in our names. But if all we can anticipate is more of the same, why read this? Why read this? Why read this? Or this? Or this? Or (as a special treat for Mr. Bush's "moral values" constituency, on the off chance that they dream at night) this:
She weeps while telling the story. The abaya (tunic) she wears cannot hide the shaking of her body as waves of grief roll through her. "I cannot get the image out of my mind of her foetus being blown out of her body."

Muna Salim's sister, Artica, was seven months' pregnant when two rockets from US warplanes struck her home in Fallujah on November 1. "My sister Selma and I only survived because we were staying at our neighbours’ house that night," Muna continued, unable to reconcile her survival while eight members of her family perished during the pre-assault bombing of Fallujah that had dragged on for weeks.
How is it even possible to read Riverbend?
They killed a wounded man. It's hard to believe. They killed a man who was completely helpless- like he was some sort of diseased animal. I had read the articles and heard the stories of this happening before- wounded civilians being thrown on the side of the road or shot in cold blood- but to see it happening on television is something else- it makes me crazy with anger . . . .

It's typical American technique- every single atrocity is lost and covered up by blaming a specific person and getting it over with. What people don't understand is that the whole military is infested with these psychopaths. In this last year we've seen murderers, torturers and xenophobes running around in tanks and guns. I don't care what does it: I don't care if it's the tension, the fear, the 'enemy'… it's murder. We are occupied by murderers. We're under the same pressure, as Iraqis, except that we weren't trained for this situation, and yet we're all expected to be benevolent and understanding and, above all, grateful. I'm feeling sick, depressed and frightened. I don't know what to say anymore . . . they aren't humans and they don't deserve any compassion.
There's the gratitude we've won from the "liberated" Iraqis. Not quite the rose garlands and parades and monuments in the town square we were told to expect, but it's a start, no?

How to proceed?

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