Sunday, September 9, 2007

Iraq thoughts

A week ago, I watched Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich being interviewed on 60 minutes.

I believe that all the Marines except him have had the charges dropped in the killings in Haditha.

I believe that eventually, the same will happen for him. All the pro-war folks who say these guys are "innocent" will gloat and say that democracy has triumphed, and will demand apologies for the trial proceedings these Marines had to go through, and the defamation of their character.

That doesn't change the fact that 24 people are dead, some of them women and children. If that does not disturb you fellow American ("pro-life" Christian?), then I really have to wonder about you. These were people with hopes, dreams, ideas. These were people who loved, and people loved them. Everyone associated with them (family members, friends, business associates) are now MORE likely to become a part of the resistance toward the occupation of their country by foreign invaders.

Of course most Americans don't think of Iraqi's like that because to most Americans, they are the "enemy" (and most Americans don't want to think in terms of non-Americans as having the same hopes dreams and family lives as themselves)

The first five people killed were in a car. They were dragged out of the car, and according to Wuterich, they wouldn't do what they were supposed to do (i.e. docilely submit to the occupying force). He said, they (the Iraqi's) know what the deal is, and they weren't doing it. Eventually, supposedly they were fleeing, so they were killed. In the end, according to reports, they were just a bunch of guys in a car.

Can we see how ironic this is? We are supposedly there to be "spreading Democracy", and we are dragging people out of cars and shooting them.

Then, the patrol began taking rifle fire. Without seeing any indication of where the rifle fire was coming from, they set upon a row of houses, because, according to Wuterich that was the only possible place the fire could be coming from. This is where the bulk of the killings occurred. According to Wuterich's OWN WORDS on 60 minutes (not some liberal anti-war zealot, or some liberal news commentator), they opened the door and tossed grenades in to the room, NOT KNOWING WHO OR WHAT was in there.

I don't necessarily believe that the Marines killed these people in a pre-meditated manner and ruthlessly in "cold blood". To contemplate that they did that is a horrible thing. It tears at my soul to believe it would be possible (although I admit that it MIGHT be). These are guys who up till a few years ago had no more important things to worry about than drinking beer on a Friday night, playing football, and trying to hit on the honeys.

Being at the pointy end of the empire, facing down a hostile population, chafing under a foreign occupation, these things are going to continue to happen. I can't even imagine the fear, and the wondering of if you are going to survive from one day to the next, and survive long enough to get home to see your loved ones - this is why I find it hard to condemn them.

I recently completed reading Dr. William Polk's fabulous book Understanding Iraq (

In the book, he asks the question that with all of these things happening, including Abu Grahib, do Iraqi's see a QUALITATIVE difference in their lives under Saddam, and their lives under an occupying force saying they are here to spread democracy?

Certainly, infrastructure wise (i.e. electricity, sewage, clean water), they are not even back to pre-war levels after almost 5 years of war - and oh, by the way, WE are the ones who laid waste to their infrastructure.

Can Americans not see how ironic it is that we are supposedly spreading Democracy while doing the kinds of things we are doing in Iraq?

The "surge" was supposed to quell violence long enough for political reconciliation to take place. The jury is way out if the violence has been reduced. Clearly though, political reconciliation is NOT happening. The Iraqi's view their government as a joke - a US puppet. This is why they cannot get any unity or any reconciliation, especially from minority Sunni's.

Until the high level political stuff clicks, unfortunately despite some heroic work by our long suffering troops, not many of their efforts will amount to much. The two things are totally disconnected - the US presence on the ground, and the high level political happenings. Are their efforts making the lives in certain pockets of the country of Iraq better? There is no question that is probably true.

Does it matter in the grand scheme of things? Probably not.

I was pretty angry watching the 60 minutes piece. I had a hard time feeling much anger towards Sgt Wuterich though.

The people who should be on trial for recklessly plunging the US into an unwinnable war - the President and the Vice President (both of whom avoided active military service during their generation's war in Vietnam - Cheney saying that he had "other priorities" - we should NEVER forget that the persons sending our young men and women into harms way didn't think enough of their country to do the same) are sitting safely in their residences Washington DC.

And, the general consensus is that despite all of the bad news coming out of Iraq at how badly the war is going, and how it is reducing our military (and our nation's financial health) by the day, a lot of people feel that they are getting ready to engage ANOTHER country in a military action - Iran. How long can these "cowboys" be allowed to get away with this stuff?

There is no one who has the courage to stop them.

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