News and notes on America's continued delivery of
Thomas E. Ricks reports in Sunday's Washington Post that some U.S. military officers believe "the United States is prevailing militarily but failing to win the support of the Iraqi people. That view is far from universal, but it is spreading and being voiced publicly for the first time."
In related news, followers of Muqtada al-Sadr have reportedly stepped up their insurgency in southern Iraq.
Why these people don't just accept America's gift of liberty is beyond me.
"Some of the deaths of prisoners in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan have been ruled homicides. Others were attributed to natural causes. Many of the case are unexplained," John J. Lumpkin of the AP writes in a May 8 story. "Army officials say they are looking into at least 25 prisoner deaths since December 2002."
Although Bush says that he is sorry for “the terrible and horrible acts,” and Rumsfeld says that he takes “full responsibility,” the president continues to express confidence in his defense secretary, and the secretary says that he has no intention to step down. Which is to say, neither of these men foresees bearing any real personal cost whatsoever, aside from the momentary embarrassment, the political discomposure, and the time expended in spinning the issue for Congress and the public. Meanwhile the administration is working overtime to pin the blame on some low-level patsies so that everybody can get on with campaigning for Bush’s reelection.Goddamn Iraqis
Although no principle stands higher in military doctrine than that the commander bears full responsibility for the actions of his subordinates, neither of these two top military commanders has the decency to resign—not just on account of the prison disclosures, of course, but also on account of the plethora of actions by which they have abused their constitutional powers and brought everlasting shame upon the United States—and nobody is in a position to dismiss them except the spineless Congress, whose members would sooner cut off their arms and legs than impeach Bush for his war crimes.
And make no mistake: plenty of war crimes have been, and continue to be, committed for which these men, along with many other civilian and military agents of the government, bear full responsibility. After all, in violation of the rule the Allies enforced against the Nazis at the post-World War II Nuremburg Trials, they chose to launch an aggressive, unprovoked, and unnecessary war against the Iraqi people, and during the past year they have undertaken to impose U.S. domination on the conquered people by rampant military violence. That many Iraqis have fought back against their occupiers in no way justifies U.S. actions. Everyone has a right of self-defense. What would you do if your country had been occupied by murderous and sadistic foreign troops?
The worst U.S. crimes in Iraq have received far less press than the photos of U.S. soldiers having fun and games with the prisoners at Abu Ghraib—not that the prisoners were anything but terrified by these vile amusements—but the truly terrible crimes have not gone totally unreported, especially in the news media outside the United States.
Last May 11, one of the thousands of such stories somehow made its way into the New York Times. It told how on April 5, 2003, a home in Basra had been hit by a U.S. bomb that exploded and killed ten members of Abed Hassan Hamoodi’s extended family. British military officials said they had received reports that General Ali Hassan al-Majid—the notorious “Chemical Ali”—was in the neighborhood. Of course, the attack, which demolished a number of houses and killed twenty-three of their occupants, failed to kill al-Majid. (In the phrase “military intelligence,” emphasis should always be placed on the word “military.”) But one of the bombs brought an end to most members of Hamoodi’s family.
“Ammar Muhammad was not yet 2 when his grandfather pulled him from the rubble and tried to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but his mouth was full of dust and he died.” Seventy-two-year-old Hamoodi declared that he considered the destruction of his home and the killings of his family members to constitute a war crime, and he asked rhetorically: “How would President Bush feel if he had to dig his daughters from out of the rubble?”
U.S. forces have expended thousands of cluster munitions in Iraq, often in heavily populated places. (In the Karbala-Hillah area alone, U.S. teams had destroyed by late August last year more than 31,000 unexploded bomblets “that landed on fields, homes, factories and roads . . . many were in populated areas on Karbala’s outskirts.”) The toll among children, whose natural curiosity draws them to the interesting-looking bomblets, has been heavy.
get in the way of their own liberation.
Christopher Reed says the U.S. shouldn't be shocked that U.S. troops are abusing Iraqis given the country's current and historical human rights record.
Abuse was "part of the process."
Here's the Red Cross report on Iraqi prisons.
Since it appears that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners was systematic, it is a mistake to only blame individuals, and that includes Bush and Rummy.
Jim Lobe of IPS provides a valuable history lesson on U.S. power.
Here are some more links related to the war.