A number of e-mails came in on yesterday's post. Every one was positive but a few wondered if there was any negative reaction? There was one visitor who needs to go back and re-read what I wrote. He'll have a problem with anything I say and that's his problem. But if he wants to berate me for what I wrote, he needs to first grasp what it is I wrote. Should he read this, he's been blocked from my e-mail account so he'll have to find someone else to distort and gripe at.
Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts on today's headlines.
"U.S. Sends 1500 More Troops Into Iraq; Italy to Pull Out All Troops" (Democracy Now!):
In Iraq it now appears the United States will be unable to reduce the number of troops it has on the ground this year due to the increasing violence and the decision by several countries to begin withdrawing troops. On Monday, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, ordered the deployment of fifteen hundred more troops from Kuwait into Iraq. Meanwhile Italy has announced it would pull out its 2600 troops by year's end and South Korea plans to bring home one thousand troops. Once Italy pulls out, Britain and South Korea will be the only nations besides the United States to have more than one thousand troops in Iraq.
After the so-called election in Iraq, we were told that the number of troops would be drawn down. But that's not the direction that things are heading. The so-called coalition of the willing continues to dwindle and that means, if the United States is going to continue the illegal occupation, the United States will have to bear the obligation. People should be paying attention and asking themselves how much they're willing to tolerate because until we oppose the war in loud numbers with plenty of activism, the war will drag on (as Donovan sings).
"Over 50 Die in Series of Iraq Bombings" (Democracy Now!):
On Tuesday a car bomb exploded near a bus stop north of Baghdad killing at least twenty-five people. In Hilla, another twelve people died in a car bombing. And a third bomb killed ten people outside a Baghdad bakery.
Over fifty dead. This is the illegal occupation. There's not been a "turned corner" -- despite the many waves of Operation Happy Talk. There won't be, short of slaughtering every Iraqi, because an occupied people resists. Installing a puppet government (with exiles) doesn't increase credibility anymore than their being mouthpieces for the US administration. By the way, please read C.I.'s "NYT: "Files Contradict Account of Raid in Iraq" (Eric Schmitt & David S. Cloud)" and we need laughter so please read Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY ALMOST READY FOR BIKINI SEASON!"
C.I. passed on two items to Mike and I. Mike got the better of the two (and I'm betting C.I.'s enjoying picturing what we'll write on both.)
"Haditha Means Time to End Iraq War" (Ruth Conniff, The Progressive):
Point-blank shootings of a seventy-seven-year-old grandfather in a wheelchair, a three-year-old, and a five-month-old baby and mother, who was apparently pleading for mercy when she was killed, are some of the casualties. Not, as The New York Times first reported--giving the Marine Corps' official version of events--armed insurgents. The original Times story said that a roadside bomb aimed at a U.S. convoy killed 20 Iraqis, and a firefight between U.S. troops and insurgents killed several more.
According to a news analysis piece in Editor and Publisher, "U.S. Military Admits Iraq Massacre--Months After Press Reported it", Time magazine broke the massacre story in the United States last March, months after a video shot by a local journalism student and witness testimony to human rights groups had been reported in the Arab press. A.P. and Knight Ridder followed Time's lead.
Now more details of the Pentagon investigation are leaking out, showing My Lai-like behavior by Marines on a rampage in the insurgent-dominated town of Haditha.
That's about all I can agree with in Conniff's column. As someone who speaks with Iraqi vets and treats them, I'm not going to get behind the rest of it. There's an obvious analogy here that I avoided making yesterday (and will today) because it's so highly charged. However, the fact remains that people are responsible for their actions. The Bully Boy created the environment for what happened. One can argue he put the gun in their hands without much debate. But the trigger wasn't pulled by the Bully Boy.
I speak to vets who are pleased with what they did over there and those who aren't pleased, but their needs to be ownership of each individual's own activities. Take it back to childhood, if you need to, and your parents' questions of "Just because everyone else --" and it's quite clear that we live in a society where we do factor in outside factors (as we should) but we also have an obligation for our own actions. When counseling patients, we discuss outside factors, we also discuss their own involvement. With the permission of, and due to their request, the group session I do with vets each week, I will note that they are "appalled" by the Haditha actions. Some in the group have problems with actions they took part in. They are addressing those issues. But there is will be no attempts at dealing with actions by denying them or by turning over ownership.
Ambulances have been attacked in Iraq, health care workers have been attacked, innocents have been killed at check points. With every occurrence we are told that these are the casulities of war and that it just happens. To turn the horror of Haditha into another 'happen-stance' is shirking our own responsibility. Anyone who's visited this site, or read anything I've written for the gina & krista round-robin, knows I have no problem blaming the Bully Boy for anything. I blame him for the war, for lying us into it, for all the deaths, for the ongoing occupation. I blame him for creating the environment in which a horror like Haditha took place; however, that's not the end of the blame and to argue otherwise is to give a get-out-of-jail-free card to those on the ground and, which is the point the vets wanted me to make, to reduce everyone in the US military in Iraq down to nothing but unthinking pawns. Not everyone would participate in a slaughter and many have not.
Does that make them "better"? It makes them innocent of war crimes. Those participating in war crimes are responsible for their actions. So are their commanders and on up the chain of command. If you say "Well, it's not their fault" then forget chain of command because the issue goes no where -- it doesn't have to because when things happen that are not our falut, they aren't crimes, they are accidents.
We don't generally punish accidents. The participants should not be "scape goated" in the sense that they should not be punished and the punishment should end with them. But they should be punished. Denying that punishment is denying the value of the lives of the Iraqis -- those who were killed and those who still remain alive.
It also denies the fact that not everyone serving in Iraq is engaged in war crimes. Those who are engaging them need to be punished (with the punishment carried up the chain of command). By refusing to express the justified outrage over the actions of Haditha, we're honoring no one. Not the Iraqis who lost their lives and not the troops who haven't engaged in such behavior.
By acting as those "It's just one of those things that happen" we're encouraging other events while devaluing the service of others.
The war is immoral and illegal. That goes straight to the Bully Boy who lied us into war and keeps us over there. His practices should be exposed (including teleconfrences that we've only recently learned Donald Rumsfeld had with Abu Ghraib). We can feel sympathy for those who are put in a situation that leads to choices of how to respond. But the choices they make are their own and accountability includes being accountable for murder.
"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Electronic Voting and Citizen Journalism," The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue while Bully Boy strikes a pose appearing to be "troubled" by the Haditha slaughter. This as the Brookings Institute and the American Enterprise Institute find common ground as both present spokespersons who say the Bully Boy walks away from the scandal with no harm, no foul to his own image. Ann Clwyd, who both lives in a dream world and holds the post of the UK's human rights envoy to Iraq (a comical title in and of itself), falls back on the 'few bad apples' defense as she likens Haditha to Abu Ghraib.
While some fall back on mimimizing via denial and yet another wave of Operation Happy Talk, The Financial Times of London comments on both the revelations and the original cover up to address why comparisons are being made to the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Also raising questions is The Christian Science Monitor which wonders whether or not the military can investigate itself and notes: "There is no position in the Department of Defense akin to an attorney general - someone whose job it is solely to follow up on credible allegations. Under the current system, investigations are convened by local commanders, who have many other duties - and perhaps conflicts of interest."
Meanwhile, Reuters reports, "A preliminary military inquiry found evidence that US Marines killed two dozen Iraqi civilians in an unprovoked attack in November, contradicting the troops' account." Reuters also notes a "defense official," Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrzas, stating that "Forensic data from corpses showed victims with bullet wounds, despite earlier statements by Marines that civilians were killed by a roadside bomb that also claimed the life of a Marine from El Paso, Texas."
The apparent lack of accountability at the top may be why Nuri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister and puppet of the occupation, bandies around terms like "iron fist" as he declares a month long "state of emergency" in Basra.
With another view, Iraq's former foreign minister and current member of parliment Adnan Pachachi declared, "There must be a level of discipline imposed on the American troops and change of mentality which seems to think that Iraqi lives are expendable." Also dissenting from the group think is Iraq's ambassador to the United States, Samir Shakir al-Sumaidaie, who said of the June 25th killing of a cousin in Haditha by American forces, "I believe he was killed intentionally. I believe he was killed unnecessarily. The marines were doing house-to-house searches, and they went into the house of my cousin. He opened the door for them. His mother, his siblings were there. He let them into the bedroom of his father, and there he was shot."
Interviewed today by C.S. Soong on KPFA's Against The Grain, author Anthony Arnove (IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) stated of the allegations of the November slaughter in Haditha, "In fact they just underscore the fact that the longer the United States stays, the more harm it causes to the people of Iraq. The situation in Haditha is a symptom of an occupation. Just as the torture we saw exposed in the Abu Ghraib detention facilities is a sympton of a much deeper problem."
This as the Associated Press reports that American forces shot and killed two women, one of them pregnant, at a checkpoint today in Baghdad. Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, thirty-five-years-old, was being rushed to the hospital by her brother, Khalid Nisaif Jassim, with her cousin, Saliha Mohammed Hassan, also in the car. Both women were killed. The brother, who was driving, denies the US accounts that the area was a clearly marked check point. A US spokesperson e-mailed a weasel word statement to the Associated Press where they note that the woman "may have been pregnant." Naibha Nisaif Jassim was rushed to the maternity hospital (her intended destination) but both she and the child she was carrying died. A US spokesperson, emailing Reuters, called the deaths "a mistake."
AFP notes that "Over the past two days alone more than 100 people have been killed in a wave of bombings and shootings in Iraq." Noting another sadly common feature of the occupation, Reuters reports that forty-two corpses have been found dumped in the last twenty-four hours. Australia's ABC reports an attack in southern Iraq on an Australian military vehichle. The AFP notes an attack, in Baghdad, on a police station that lasted over an hour and led to the death of four civilians and the wounding of three police officers. Reuters reports a mortar attack in Baghdad that led to the death of nine people. In Muqdadiya, the mayor, his cousin and brother were all killed when the mayor's office was bombed today.
Though the heads of the ministries of defense and interior have still not been filled, the Turkish Press reports that three ministers will be replaced "because they do not have the proper qualifications or had not been cleared by the de-Baathification commission."
Reuters notes that CBS reporter Kimberly Dozier has had shrapnel removed from her head and remains in intensive care. Meanwhile the AFP reports that another journalist has been killed while he was leaving his home in Baghdad. Reporters Without Borders notes that sports reporter Jaafar Ali became "the third journalist to be killed in Iraq in the space of 48 hours and the 11th employee of the national TV station Al-Iraqiya to be killed since the start of the war in March 2003." This as UAE diplomat Naji al-Nuaimi left Iraq and returned home following his rescue from his two-week kidnapping that began May 16th. Finally, the AFP notes that "the latest indication that US hopes for a major troop drawdown this year were fading fast."
If you missed it, Cedric did address "The backstory" yesterday. (Sunny pointed out that I didn't provide links yesterday as I wrote I was doing. I was rushing and am tonight. Such is life.)