Thursday, December 15, 2011

Never forget

Never forget that the war in Iraq and the ensuing occupation, which isn't really ending no matter what the president says, were horrific crimes against humanity -- that hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children died horrific, violent deaths because the Washington establishment chose to exploit the horrific, violent deaths of 3,000 Americans in order to carry out a horrific, long-planned "shock and awe" invasion of a country that had nothing to do with it. Anyone who supported that war and hasn't spent the last eight years begging forgiveness should be treated as a pariah, their lives made miserable as every day they are loudly and impolitely reminded that they have the blood of countless innocents on their hands.

It's often said -- by assholes -- that other cultures not lucky enough to be considered a part of the enlightened "West" do not value human life as much as those of us who, through the accident of birth, ended up being raised in the land of hormone-infused milk and tainted honey. But, you know: Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq again, Yemen, Somalia...

That's the macro level. Here's the micro version courtesy of the New York Times and one of its reporters who found a trove of U.S. military documents in an Iraqi garbage dump detailing an investigation into the 2005 Haditha massacre, in which more than 20 civilians -- including babies and grandmothers -- were coldly and calculatingly murdered by U.S. troops. One might be as struck as I at the, dare I say, almost oriental manner in which American soldiers and their commanders deal with human life. And, like me, one might tremble with rage at the regrettably startling fact that none of the top-level fucks responsible for the Iraq war has to worry about anything more than where their next six-digit speakers' fee will come from:
Iraqi civilians were being killed all the time. Maj. Gen. Steve Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar Province, in his own testimony, described it as “a cost of doing business.

The stress of combat left some soldiers paralyzed, the testimony shows. Troops, traumatized by the rising violence and feeling constantly under siege, grew increasingly twitchy, killing more and more civilians in accidental encounters. Others became so desensitized and inured to the killing that they fired on Iraqi civilians deliberately while their fellow soldiers snapped pictures, and were court-martialed. The bodies piled up at a time when the war had gone horribly wrong.


“When a car doesn’t stop, it crosses the trigger line, Marines engage and, yes, sir, there are people inside the car that are killed that have nothing to do with it,” Sgt Maj. Edward T. Sax, the battalion’s senior noncommissioned officer, testified.
He added: “I had Marines shoot children in cars and deal with the Marines individually one on one about it because they have a hard time dealing with that.”


When the initial reports arrived saying that more than 20 civilians had been killed in Haditha, the Marines receiving them said they were not surprised by the high civilian death toll.
Chief Warrant Officer K. R. Norwood, who received reports from the field on the day of the events at Haditha and briefed commanders on them, testified that 20 dead civilians was not unusual.
“I meant, it wasn’t remarkable, based off of the area I wouldn’t say remarkable, sir,” Mr. Norwood said. “And that is just my definition. Not that I think one life is not remarkable, it’s just —”
An investigator asked the officer: “I mean remarkable or noteworthy in terms of something that would have caught your attention where you would have immediately said, ‘Got to have more information on that. That is a lot of casualties.’ "
“Not at the time, sir,” the officer testified.
General Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar Province, said he did not feel compelled to go back and examine the events because they were part of a continuing pattern of civilian deaths.
“It happened all the time, not necessarily in MNF-West all the time, but throughout the whole country,” General Johnson testified, using a military acronym for coalition forces in western Iraq.
Given that the same establishment that backed the Iraq war remains in power today -- please, don't be fooled by nominal party affiliations -- chances are it will happen again. And again.


  1. Too sad.

    "one might tremble with rage at the regrettably startling fact that none of the top-level fucks responsible for the Iraq war has to worry about anything"

    Yeah. I got no love for 'the troops', but it's those rear-echelon bastards who started the whole thing who really need to be Nuremburg'd.

  2. thurnandtaxis11:20 AM

    Hi! I arrived at this post after googling the phrase "Vladimir Lenin's I-banking Successor," but despite its tenuous relevance stayed because I was captivated by the author's compelling commitment to historical and moral truth.

    On releasing the "Collateral Murder" footage, Julian Assange impressed me when he stressed that one of the most important things about it and the succeeding tranches of cables would be their exposure of the everyday squalor of war at exactly this "micro" level. Thank you Charles for putting that level firmly in view while the Times' online front page trumpets "Iraq War: 2003-2011" in its banner, as if introducing one of its authoritative obituaries for some noted statesman. "Iraqi Child: 1997-2005" never quite earned that billing.

  3. Anonymous11:49 AM

    "accidental encounters"?!? And to be clear, those are piece-o-Schmidt's words. Notable, too, is his choice to play up the Marines' supposed feefees, so they can share in the victimhood. UGH!

  4. Sir, I agree with your comments on Iraq; I also agree with your piece appearing today on Aljazeera about Pte. 1st Class Bradley Manning. What a middle-aged corporate financier (albeit perhaps not an entirely conventional one) with a legal education, who would characterise himself as a “libertarian conservative”, is doing agreeing with a self-averred anarchist set me thinking: could it be a common distaste for lies, hypocrisy and so-called, “facts on the ground” – lies which take on the character of, and become identified in the popular mind as, facts?
    I am sickened by the lethal cocktail of arrogance and pig-ignorance which informs the United States’ pursuit of its “national interests” across the globe; and which the media dignifies with the epithet, “foreign policy.” I commented several weeks ago: (NSFW; 18+) on another example - also published on Aljazeera - of manifest wrong-doing in a different theatre of US foreign adventure.
    Specifically, in the case of Bradley Manning (whose case is inextricably linked to the invasion of Iraq and to events flowing from that), I am incensed by his treatment at the hands of his own national authorities, which is as indefensible as is the “bubble” of immunity which seems to cocoon the real wrong-doers – those who perpetrated murder and other crimes; those who inadequately or incompetently oversaw those who committed the crimes; and those who colluded in their concealment.
    It's my personal opinion that, if Manning is proven responsible for leaking the documents in question and exposing the extent of the malfeasance perpetrated in the name of “freedom”, his gallantry deserves not incarceration and the kind of treatment not meted out even to suspected paedophiles or serial killers; but the Purple Heart.