Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Vultures are Circling

Sometimes people make me want to puke. I mean that. Just plain sick to my stomach. Those soldiers have been all but forgotten in that land of fun and sun Iraq, but now when it looks like there might be an oppurtunity to exploit a bad situation the self righteous, the ghouls, the useless naysayers who thrive on, revel in and feed off the suffering of others are doing a little jig.


Courtesy of Hugh Hewitt :

This Guardian article, written in August 2005, describes Haditha as it was a couple months before the incident. It is not pretty:

The executions are carried out at dawn on Haqlania bridge, the entrance to Haditha. A small crowd usually turns up to watch even though the killings are filmed and made available on DVD in the market the same afternoon.

One of last week's victims was a young man in a black tracksuit. Like the others he was left on his belly by the blue iron railings at the bridge's southern end. His severed head rested on his back, facing Baghdad. Children cheered when they heard that the next day's spectacle would be a double bill: two decapitations. A man named Watban and his brother had been found guilty of spying.

With so many alleged American agents dying here Haqlania bridge was renamed Agents' bridge. Then a local wag dubbed it Agents' fridge, evoking a mortuary, and that name has stuck.

A three-day visit by a reporter working for the Guardian last week established what neither the Iraqi government nor the US military has admitted: Haditha, a farming town of 90,000 people by the Euphrates river, is an insurgent citadel.

That Islamist guerrillas were active in the area was no secret but only now has the extent of their control been revealed. They are the sole authority, running the town's security, administration and communications.

A three-hour drive north from Baghdad, under the nose of an American base, it is a miniature Taliban-like state. Insurgents decide who lives and dies, which salaries get paid, what people wear, what they watch and listen to.

Scroll through this casualty list to meet the 20 Marines who lost their lives in August in this insurgent stronghold. They died in two separate attacks: 14 died "when a roadside bomb exploded beneath their Amphibious Assault Vehicle during combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq, on August 3, 2005," and six "sniper team members killed by enemy small-arms fire in an ambush outside Haditha, Iraq, on August 1, 2005."

I have no idea what happened there but it would be nice if these young men could get the same oppurtunity to defend themselves that Saddam Hussein is getting. People do crack, it happens. If charged with a crime these soldiers will have to face military justice.

I hope the people who oppose the liberation of Iraq will try to restrain themselves from using this incident for political posturing. But I suppose that is asking too much. It just amazes how some crackpot dictator can use his own population as target practice without a peep out of these people, but by God if the oppurtunity comes along to champion terrorists, defame the US military and criticize Bush they are never hesitant to jump right in there. And if they can inspire some more hatred, get a few more people killed, make the job of stabilizing Iraq that much more difficult..well I guess that is just icing on the cake.


chuck said...

The strange thing is that I expect many of these folks actually *want* atrocities to be committed. Just grist to the propaganda mill.

Unknown said...


too true. But I have wondered, after Abu Ghraib and three years of fighting, does it have the same effect?

I suppose we will find out.

chuck said...


Another thing: this action doesn't bother me as much as Abu Ghraib. Partly I have become hardened, but where Abu Ghraib struck me as mindless perversity, panties on head and all, the Haditha incident is understandable. As such things go the numbers of dead are not even that high. Coming under assault after an IED and losing comrades is bound to enrage folks beyond control at some point. The miracle is that there have not been more such incidents. It is not as if such things are a rarity in war, indeed, they are rather common.

Discipline must be enforced; strict discipline is required to prevent more such incidents. But it just strikes me as part of the tragedy of war. Shit happens.

buddy larsen said...

Cloisty, you see no difference between a lunatic sadist million-killing dictator with two worse sons waiting to take over the heart of the mideast and dedicate it to the destruction of the West, and the people who toppled him from power and are making great sacrifices trying to prevent a new world war over scarce resources from sparked off by a proven world-domination-crazed death cult?

No difference between a one-off crime being committed in the heat of battle by men who will be punished for it, and the same sort of thing multiplied by the tens of thousands being routinely done legally by order of the state, as a matter of policy?

And, minor note, why bring up paper-shredders--just look at the history and the numbers. But, since you did bring them up, where have you read that "most people" no longer believe that some of them were used to kill people?

truepeers said...

War is evil, and the rhetoric in support of it always full of lies and half truths; what serious person advocating for the war would ever have denied this Coisty? No doubt, the quantum of necessary evil and bad decisions could have been smaller, as we reflect on prosecution of the war in hindsight (even then, the estimates I've seen suggest the war is killing fewer, per annum, than did Saddam). But the essential question remains, was it a war of choice, matters of timing and the official casus belli aside? I have seen no serious argument that it was. Saddam and the sanctions were anything but stable and acceptable regimes, even from the perspective of a cynical realpolitik.

But of course there is much about the Middle East and present-day Islam that is unacceptable to the west if we are to prosper in the long run, and it may well be that any possible outcome in our relations with that part of the world was going to be far from ideal for a long time to come. Our choice was likely always between bad or worse. That's no excuse for not trying to change things by engaging the problem somewhat on one's own terms.

Arab Muslims are capable of increasing the degrees of freedom in their societies, step by step - this is indeed a human universal; the necessity of increasing freedom is one of the few principles of history; over the long run, if not always in the short, all societies must become freer or they implode and die (often at a cost to others), or they are defeated in war - and it would be insane not to encourage the growth of freedoms, just as it would be crazy to ever expect Arab Muslims to become like ordinary American republicans without assimilation in America. But it's always rather hard to paint a picture of what any people can become, until they have become it, or to understand how long the road to a change must be; so the situation, in anticipation of the war, and the predictions it endgendered, inevitably entailed false hopes and analogies. That's the nature of war, which is not a reason to outlaw war when it promises to be less evil than evil appeased and war postponed.

I once had my palm read by a man who claimed he was a Gypsy, as I'm sure he was. His predictions were forgettable, both for me and I'm sure by him. But I was impressed when, about five years later, he recognized me on the street, said hi and reminded me that he had read my fortune in a specific restaurant in the company of a woman whom he adequately described. It's funny the things we remember and the predictions that should be forgettable.

Like Chuck, I too am generally impressed by the discipline of the American soldiers and that there have not been more such killings.

Unknown said...


One time I came across a rant by some modern day Nazi and he sounded very much like George Galloway and here you sounding a lot like Michael Moore. Strange bedfellows.

Coisty Saddam was every bit as bad as anyone ever said he was, he was in violation of dozens of mandatory UN resolutions, he had turned the food for oil program into his personal slush fund and he was refusing to comply, he tried to kill a president, he offered Osama sanctuary.

I wonder if by the end of WW2, in which literally millions of civilians died if people still believed that it was necessary to take out Hitler and the Emporer of Japan? But the difference was in cities like Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Hamburg and Berlin the numbers of civilian dead were in the hundreds of thousands...not the dozen.

Al Gore said, back before he lost his ever loving mind, that sooner or later we would have to have a day of reckoning with Saddam and his regime. and for once, he was right.

BTW, Saddam killed more Muslims than the Crusaders did and the truth is people will probably never know the extent of his brutality...but he left behind him a dysfunctional society and that gives you a clue as to just how vicious he was. I remember after he was taken and he was doing his radio messages and he promised a thousand suicide bombers to be unleashed in Iraq. A nice gift for his people.

Syl said...

CNN had a report on this yesterday. I was surprised, but they interviewed two of their correspondents (and read something by another) who had been embedded at various times with these very men.

They had only good words to say about them.

buddy larsen said...

This is pretty dense material, Coisty. It basically amounts to a declaration that the Occident and the Orient are "East is East and West is West, and never the Twain Shall meet".

I hope you're wrong, there's evidence to both propositions, but if you're right, and "they' persist in trying to kill us, and we in the end have to go Roman on them, here's the question: Should we or should we not THOROUGHLY test the liberal proposition--*first*?

buddy larsen said...

I'll keep a lookout--

Unknown said...

Well actually most of the material pertaining to Saddam's atrocities against his own people were documented long before Bush came to office by human rights groups and asylum seekers.

No one doubted it then. No reason to doubt it now.

And as soon as I see neocon neoimperialist my eyes glaze over. Heard it all over and over and over and over again.

In short isolationism is best. I thought so too for awhile. The 90's cured me of that.

Unknown said...


The UN resolutions brought against Israel were not force or mandatory resolutions and yes, there is a difference. It is also true that the one man who did not stand trial for the first bombing of the WTC was in Iraq, 60 Minutes actually inteviewed him.

As for what can be done with these cultures? Who knows for sure..but I think that after years of trying and failing with everything else it is worth a try. The oil in the region allows these countries an access to wealth and power that could be very dangerous in the wrong hands.

truepeers said...

There is no evidence to back up the Western secular leftist and liberal argument that there are univeral values.

-well, without getting into a discussion over what we mean by values, there are indeed universal human traits. What society, for example, does not prescribe murder within its fold? What culture in the world is so different from the rest that it would provide evidence that we don't all descend from - and retain the marks of - a common human origin, an original language and religion?

Now, what we all share may be something minimal, but to deny the universal simply because one sees the great and growing import of diversity, or what have you, is just polemical, and robbing one of of the full picture.

My original point was that all cultures must progress in the direction of greater freedom over the long term, or die. History surely is an expansion, not a contraction, no? This is not to say that all cultures are equally modern or expansive, however.

Canadian culture is in trouble. But even we can turn things around. I'd say we are better off than some of the Europeans, of whom the Irish are surely not in the worst situation, are they?

buddy larsen said...

Actually Ireland is enjoying a terrific economic boom. I don't know exactly why, but if I were to look into it, I bet I'll find that it isn't a result of greater statism.

gumshoe said...


i've heard some combination of
Microsoft /IBM invesment
and infusions from the EU
"Leveling" boards.

but don't quote me,
it's likely 5 to 10 yrs back-dated.

buddy larsen said...

Har! Two of the first three articles: Ireland's Boom Has Caused Wealth Disparity, and, Ireland's Boom Has Caused Increased Smoking.

Back in the Great Famine, when one million people starved to death, there was more equality and less smoking!