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Monday, July 10, 2006

Ungrateful Wogs 

What ho! To paraphrase the old saying, fish and occupiers start to stink after three years:
Iraq will ask the United Nations to end immunity from local law for U.S. troops, the government said on Monday, as the U.S. military named five soldiers charged in a rape-murder case that has outraged Iraqis.

In an interview a week after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanded a review of foreign troops' immunity, Human Rights Minister Wigdan Michael said work on it was now under way and a request could be ready by next month to go to the U.N. Security Council, under whose mandate U.S.-led forces operate in Iraq . . . .

Analysts say it is improbable the United States would ever make its troops answerable to Iraq's chaotic judicial system.

Asked to respond to Michael's remarks, White House spokesman Tony Snow dismissed that as a "hypothetical game".

But Snow said: "We also understand Prime Minister Maliki's concerns and we want to make sure he's fully informed and also that he is satisfied, regardless of what the treaty situation may be on these issues, that justice truly is being done, and that he can make that demonstration to his people as well"
. . . .

The day before handing formal sovereignty back to Iraqis in June 2004, the U.S. occupation authority issued a decree giving its troops immunity from Iraqi law. That remains in force and is confirmed by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546 on Iraq . . . .

But a handful of new U.S. investigations into incidents, including the killing of 24 people at Haditha and the quadruple murder and rape case at Mahmudiya, have caused an outcry that prompted the newly formed national unity government to speak out.

Michael said commanders' failure to hold soldiers to account had fostered a climate of impunity: "One of the reasons for this is the U.N. resolution, which gives the multinational force soldiers immunity. Without punishment, you get violations."
Plainly there is something in the national character of the Iraqis that prevents them from appreciating the extent to which their daily lives have been improved by the arrival of their American betters. For further insight into this odd and troubling anthropological phenomenon, we recommend two recent studies: one by Arthur Silber (brought to our attention by Zemblan patriot J.D.) --
Meanwhile, our leaders like Bush and Cheney, and supporters of theirs like Barnes, live in circumstances as close to perfect safety as possible -- and they choose delusion over fact. They make certain that the horrors their policies have unleashed have no way of touching them directly, so they can continue to indulge in fantasy, and to refuse to acknowledge the agonizing death spasms of an entire country. And they do all this simply because they will not question their belief system, and because they refuse to admit they were wrong.

Can there ever be forgiveness for this kind of deliberate self-blindness, or for this refusal to acknowledge the unbearable pain and suffering their actions and their policies have caused so many countless, innocent people? We are not gods; the perspective of eternity is not ours. In the human realm, where life and the possibility of happiness are the indispensable primary values, forgiveness is not possible, nor should these barely human monsters expect it.
-- and another by Nir Rosen, an American journalist of Iranian extraction who is able to pass for an Iraqi, occasionally to his peril:
In reality both Abu Ghraib and Haditha were merely more extreme versions of the day-to-day workings of the American occupation in Iraq, and what makes them unique is not so much how bad they were, or how embarrassing, but the fact that they made their way to the media and were publicized despite attempts to cover them up. Focusing on Abu Ghraib and Haditha distracts us from the daily, little Abu Ghraibs and small-scale Hadithas that have made up the occupation. The occupation has been one vast extended crime against the Iraqi people, and most of it has occurred unnoticed by the American people and the media . . . .

I believe that any journalist who spent even a brief period embedded with American soldiers must have witnessed crimes being committed against innocent Iraqis, so I have always been baffled by how few were reported and how skeptically the Western media treated Arabic reports of such crimes. These crimes were not committed because Americans are bad or malicious; they were intrinsic to the occupation, and even if the Girl Scouts had occupied Iraq they would have resorted to these methods. In the end, it is those who dispatched decent young American men and women to commit crimes who should be held accountable.
(We are as always grateful to our wily colleague J. Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution, through whose kind agency we discovered Mr. Rosen's account.)

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