Thursday, June 01, 2006

It Is the Nature of This Sick War

A pregnant woman being rushed to the hospital to give birth is gunned down at an Army checkpoint; both mother and child die. Willy Pete (white phosphorus) is dropped on the civilian population of Fallujah, burning to the bone any flesh it contacts. Haditha. It is the nature of the Iraq War that American soldiers continue to commit what the civilized world considers to be war crimes.
Reading between the lines of a San Diego Union-Tribune article reveals Iraq is a hell for both American troops and Iraqi civilians.
Three years of breaking down doors and rushing into small, dark rooms where Marines might encounter a man with a gun or a family frozen in terror. Three years of chasing snipers who shoot and then fade into the crowds. Three years of seeing buddies dismembered or killed by roadside bombs when their big hope is to go home in one piece. ~ Rick Rogers, San Diego Union-Tribune reporter.
It is a mistake to pretend that atrocities are rare. It is the rare ones that get publicity. At Abu Sifa on March 15, 2006 American soldiers killed six adults and five children, one child was six-months old. (the official battle assessment claimed four dead - one woman, two children and one "enemy") According to reports, the Iraqis were bound and blindfolded before they were shot. As Dahr Jamail points out at Truthout, massacres have become the norm.

The killing of an Italian intelligence officer at an American checkpoint in Baghdad last year got headlines. But checkpoint shootings are common, the victims rarely have their fates noticed.

It would also be a mistake to pretend these atrocities don't take a toll on the Coalition soldiers forced by circumstances and superiors to preform them. Suicide and Post Tramatic Stress Disorder are epidemic with returning troops. Spc. Douglas Barber suffered with the memories of what he had done in Iraq. One day last January, Doug Barber embraced the muzzle of his shotgun and pulled the trigger.
All is not OK or right for those of us who return home alive and supposedly well. What looks like normalcy and readjustment is only an illusion to be revealed by time and torment. Some soldiers come home missing limbs and other parts of their bodies. Still others will live with permanent scars from horrific events that no one other than those who served will ever understand. We come home from war trying to put our lives back together but some cannot stand the memories and decide that death is better. We kill ourselves because we are so haunted by seeing children killed and whole families wiped out. ~ Douglas Barber, January 12, 2006 (four days before his death)
That this war is a disaster is well known. How disastrous has yet to be discovered. It is an unmitigated evil that corrupts all it touches.

Addition links: Story of a British soldier who tried to commit suicide by inducing a policeman to kill him from Scotsman. Predictable Atrocities by Wade Sanders. More on Douglas Barber from Bradblog and Doug Basham. Art is a detail of Massacre of the Innocents by Guido Reni, 1612.

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