Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The United States will never be forgiven for this

Nir Rosen on Iraq, via ATR:
The Haditha massacre was compared to the Vietnam War’s My Lai massacre, and like the well-publicized and embarrassing Abu Ghraib scandal two years earlier, the attention it received made it seem as if it were a horrible aberration perpetrated by a few bad apples who might have overreacted to the stress they endured as occupiers.

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....

Americans, led to believe that their soldiers and Marines would be welcomed as liberators by the Iraqi people, have no idea what the occupation is really like from the perspective of Iraqis who endure it. Although I am American, born and raised in New York City, I came closer to experiencing what it might feel like to be Iraqi than many of my colleagues. I often say that the secret to my success in Iraq as a journalist is my melanin advantage....

My skin color and language skills allowed me to relate to the American occupier in a different way, for he looked at me as if I were just another haji, the “gook” of the war in Iraq. I first realized my advantage in April 2003, when I was sitting with a group of American soldiers and another soldier walked up and wondered what this haji (me) had done to get arrested by them....

Normally, I like to think, if I witnessed an act of bullying of the weak or the elderly, or the terrorizing of children, I would interfere and try to stop it. After all, a passion for justice is what propelled me into this career. It started when I arrived in the main base in the desert. Local Iraqi laborers were sitting in the sun waiting to be acknowledged by the American soldiers. Every so often a representative would come to the soldiers to explain in Arabic that they were waiting for their American overseer. The soldier would shout back in English. Finally I translated between them. One soldier, upset with an Iraqi man for looking at him, asked him: “Do I owe you money? So why the fuck are you looking at me?”
There's so much more, and it's painful and enraging to read. In Rosen's own small experience, he's seen so much needless cruelty and abuse. As he says, he only saw one platoon's work. Imagine what a whole army has done to Iraq.

I know we're all supposed to support the troops (except the bad apples, of course) but at what point do I get to say that sending inbred, barely literate hicks from Utah and Alabama to go police the fragile ethnic, religious, and cultural divisions in Iraq was a pretty fucking stupid idea?

1 comment:

Joshua Kubinec said...

I too have been mentally pondering this moral conundrum of yours that you've laid out in the past few setences and perhaps I can at least point you in a useful direction.

The whole "support the troops" argument is not about the troops. It never has been and never will be. It's more about using the troops as hostages to defend unpopular policies.

My advice to you is to never ever let anyone tell you that you don't support the troops. It's most likely an attempt to bait you into talking about things which have nothing to do with the war.

This is where things get sketchy for me because I haven't really been able to come up with any counters to the usual talking points, but I feel like the line of thought is headed in the right direction.