[eDebate] liberators as murderers

Jake Stromboli infracaninophile
Mon Jun 5 08:38:42 CDT 2006



The  Way Americans Like Their War


Could Haditha be just the tip of the  mass grave?

The corpses we have glimpsed,  the grainy footage of the cadavers and the 
dead children; could  these be just a few of many? Does the handiwork of the 
United  States' army of the slums go further?

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." And here the man handed me a U.S. military document 
showing with the hand-drawn outline of a man's body  and the words "trauma 

What kind of trauma is now  being experienced in Iraq? Just who is doing the 
mass killing?  Who is dumping so many bodies on garbage heaps? After 
Haditha,  we are going to reshape our suspicions.

It's no good saying "a  few bad apples." All occupation armies are 
corrupted. But  do they all commit war crimes? The Algerians are still 
uncovering  the mass graves left by the French paras who liquidated whole  
villages. We know of the rapist-killers of the Russian army in  Chechnya.

We have all heard of Bloody  Sunday. The Israelis sat and watched while 
their proxy Lebanese  militia butchered and eviscerated its way through 
1,700 Palestinians.  And of course the words My Lai are now uttered again. 
Yes, the Nazis were much worse. And the Japanese. And the Croatian Ustashi.  
But this is us. This is our army.  These young soldiers are our 
representatives in Iraq. And they  have innocent blood on their hands.

I suspect part of the problem  is that we never really cared about Iraqis, 
which is why we refused to count their dead. Once the Iraqis turned upon the 
army of occupation with their roadside bombs and suicide cars, they became  
Arab "gooks," the evil sub-humans whom the Americans once identified in 
Vietnam. Get a president to tell us that we  are fighting evil and one day 
we will wake to find that a child  has horns, a baby has cloven feet.

Remind yourself these people  are Muslims and they can all become little 
Mohamed Attas. Killing  a roomful of civilians is only a step further from 
all those  promiscuous air strikes that we are told kill 'terrorists"  but 
which all too often turn out to be a wedding party or --  as in Afghanistan 
-- a mixture of "terrorists" and  children or, as we are soon to hear, no 
doubt, "terrorist  children."

In a way, we reporters are  also to blame. Unable to venture outside Baghdad 
-- or around  Baghdad itself -- Iraq's vastness has fallen under a thick, 
all-consuming shadow. We might occasionally notice sparks in the night -- a  
Haditha or two in the desert -- but we remain meekly cataloguing  the 
numbers of "terrorists" supposedly scored in remote  corners of Mesopotamia. 
For fear of the insurgent's knife, we  can no longer investigate. And the 
Americans like it that way.

I think it becomes a habit,  this sort of thing. Already the horrors of Abu 
Ghraib are shrugged  away. It was abuse, not torture. And then up pops a 
junior officer  in the United States charged for killing an Iraqi army 
general  by stuffing him upside down in a sleeping bag and sitting on  his 
chest. And again, it gets few headlines. Who cares if another  Iraqi bites 
the dust? Aren't they trying to kill our boys who  are out there fighting 

For who can be held to account  when we regard ourselves as the brightest, 
the most honorable  of creatures, doing endless battle with the killers of 
Sept.  11 or July 7 because we love our country and our people -- but  not 
other people -- so much. And so we dress ourselves up as  Galahads, yes as 
Crusaders, and we tell those whose countries  we invade that we are going to 
bring them democracy. I can't help wondering today how many of the innocents 
slaughtered in  Haditha took the opportunity to vote in the Iraqi elections 
--  before their "liberators" murdered them.

Robert Fisk is a reporter for The Independent  and author of Pity  the 
Nation. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch's  collection, The  
Politics of Anti-Semitism. Fisk's newest book is The  Conquest of the Middle 

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