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Iraq's My Lai
by juan cole (reposted)
Friday May 26th, 2006 6:11 AM

Friday, May 26, 2006

Iraq's My Lai

Friday morning, guerrillas used a car bomb to kill at least 9 persons [later reports say 9] at an East Baghdad market, wounding 31.

AP had reported 13 killings on Thursday, including two US troops. Al-Sharq al-Awsat said 20 were wounded.

The neo-Baath Party (well that is most likely who it is) took revenge for the trial of Saddam over the killing of Shiite Dawa Party members for trying to assassinate him in 1982. The guerrillas kidnapped a judge from Dujail, where the massacre took place. Two Iranian truck drivers were also kidnapped.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat/ AFP say [Ar.] that Kurdish women are protesting how poorly they are represented in the Kurdistan regional government.

At Camp LeJeune, soldiers wounded in the Iraq War heal together, in an innovative program thought up by a wounded soldier.

The Haditha incident, in which US Marines are alleged to have killed between 14 and 24 civilians in cold blood, is becoming the My Lai of the Iraq War. Officers have been relieved of command, and murder charges may be brought. Somehow, though, this time the American public doesn't seem very interested in the story. My guess, is that many still have payback for 9/11 in their minds. The Vietnamese had never done anything to us. Of course, the Iraqis hadn't done much to us, either, aside from fighting back when the United Nations pushed them (quite rightly) out of Kuwait. But Dick Cheney has by innuendo and half-lies managed to convince the American public that in fighting the Iraqis, we are fighting the people behind 9/11, or at least people very like that.

I'm told that some green National Guard units in Iraq have responded to bombs going off in the vicinity by indiscriminately laying down fire all around them, which has been rather hard on any civilians in the vicinity. I fear large numbers of Iraqis have been killed in such ways. But at least in this sort of incident, the guardsmen were nervous and felt they might be under attack. Haditha sounds horrid. I have known military people all my life, and I think they are for the most part decent and honorable, and I am sure that Haditha--i.e. cold blooded murder of civilians--was an aberration.

A report from Tarmiyah doesn't hold out much hope that the guerrilla movement is going away soon. In the article, an Iraqi soldier asks for better arms, like rocket propelled grenades. He isn't thinking big enough. He needs to demand some tanks and helicopter gunships. The guerrillas have lots of RPGs to fire back with, but don't have tanks. US troops can't withdraw until the Iraqi army is better equipped, and I mean equipped.

According to secret documents gotten hold of by The Herald, British troops in the South of Iraq:
"have come under bomb, mortar, rocket and sniper attack almost twice a day since January, losing 12 dead to hostile fire . . . Despite government claims that the security situation has improved on the UK's patch to the point where up to 1000 troops can begin withdrawing from July, about 75 of the 269 attacks and four of the fatalities have occurred in provinces judged to be relatively stable."

In withdrawing from Maysan province in particular, the British are just declaring victory and going home. As if hundreds of thousands of displaced and sullen Marsh Arabs, many of whom have gone over to Muqtada al-Sadr, could be controlled by a thousand or two thousand foreign troops. Muthanna is probably quieter, but only because the Badr Corps Shiite paramilitary is powerful there.

If foreign troops are attacked almost twice a day on average in the relatively calm south, to how many daily attacks are US troops subjected in the turbulent Sunni Arab heartland?

The Iraq War was clearly illegal in international law, and this obvious conclusion seemed evident to then British Attorney General Lord Golsmith earlier on, too. If that is the case, why did Goldsmith suddenly change his mind and authorize the war in March, 2003? British generals would not have been willing to fight without such a finding, since they risked war crimes trials (they may still risk them in the European Union someday). At least the British authorities are investigating this matter. The United States has become so corrupt and monarchical that mere international law, even that signed into US law, is not even an issue, and what is important is how the president or the vice president or the secretary of defense "saw things." We have become a country of men and not laws.

posted by Juan @ 5/26/2006 06:20:00 AM