Saturday, May 27, 2006

What have we done to our soldiers?

In case anyone had any last, lingering doubts that Iraq is a parallel to that notable quagmire, Vietnam, we've just had the Iraqi equivalent of My Lai, in a place called Haditha. As with Abu Ghraib, it looks like the military command plans to blame it on the guys on the ground. And they wonder why they aren't meeting their enlistment quotas. Enlist, go to Iraq, a country where every household is allowed to have a Kalashnikov because there's no effective police force. Be in constant danger from IEDs and snipers, be entirely unable to tell the neighborhood regulars from the insurgents, and when you finally crack under the strain of losing one more buddy and shoot every Iraqi you can find, including an old man in a wheelchair and a 1 year old girl, it's your fault, and we'll send you to jail for it.

We did this to them, we the people of the United States. Even if we didn't vote for Dubya, and I didn't, we've sat by and muttered, and let this farce go on. These are our boys (leaving aside actual gender for a moment; besides, if there's been a woman in that squad I think it would have made the news). If they're like most Americans, they're kind, well meaning people who want to do the best job they can. Since they're Marines, we can further assume they are tough, seasoned professionals. They're even my neighbors: they're from Camp Pendleton, in California. And yet they did this: because we've put them in an impossible situation and left them there until they couldn't bear it any more.

When are we going to stop this? When are we going to impeach the President who got us into this? When are we going to admit that whatever happens in Iraq from now on is not up to us, and cut our losses? And by the way did anyone else notice the Iraqi foreign minister backing Iran's right to enrich uranium?? So much for a stable, democratic U.S. ally in the Middle East.


  1. Anonymous4:21 PM

    Remember the individual who said something along the lines of, "If we can't learn from history we are doomed to ..."

  2. Yes, George Santayana.

    I got to thinking about this whole incident. We may never find out what "really" happened here. I recall reading in an early story that the incident was unmentioned until a video taken by an Iraqi came to light. Trouble is, with digital video manipulation, you can't tell any more; I work with a guy who spent years in the advertising industry, shooting commercials, and he says with the right equipment, any video can be made to show anything, and it's absolutely untraceable.

    I'm now seeing that there are some photos (digital again, I'm sure...) taken by Marines on the ground in Haditha at the time; and some other Marines on the ground at the time whose cameras have unaccountably lost those photos.

    The really scary reaction was to a column in a site called (should you be interested in breaking news from the Persian Gulf). The columnist reported on John Murtha's reaction to Haditha, and her column was posted on a well known right wing web site (not named), where it got 119 responses: all accusing her and Murtha of un-American behavior and threatening them both in various ways, all assuming that any accusation of the Marines in Iraq was disloyal in some way. Ten percent of the wackos make 90 percent of the noise, but this is still disturbing.

  3. Anonymous1:00 PM


    It made me physically ill when Gore's advisers got him to call for a limited recount in Florida when he wanted a statewide recount, and it made me even sicker when Joe Lieberman threw in the towel and said to count the unlawful military ballots. I cringed when friends said it was more important to get it over with and accept Bush as president, even buying the notion that there wasn't a significant difference and that Bush would have to govern from the center. But PNAC was published in the 90s, and these people tried to foist it off on Clinton, who rejected it. It was the defining document for this administration - all they needed was an excuse.

    And you are right, it is in all our names, because it is the US military, not Bush's personal army, although I think he believes it is. Contemporary Americans are predominantly passive political couch potatoes who do become exercised about specific scenes in the show unfolding before their eyes, but they don't get off the couch. The solution for them is to watch a different channel. Reality is a tv show. That other reality sort of isn't, at least not in any compelling way. And even if it is, the last thing we collectively are inclined toward is taking action, I think in part because individual action is pretty much social suicide, and there isn't any broad-based action to join in with.

    Be really be interesting to see how November plays out. I think it will signal whether there is hope, or we are as a civil body politic honestly hopeless.

  4. All we can do is keep voting. If we allow them to discourage us from participating, they've won.

  5. Anonymous6:53 AM

    I agree. Personally, I'm not voting for anyone currently in office. Try a clean sweep, and see if anything improves.

  6. I feel hypocritical saying this, but I do plan to continue voting for Barbara Lee; after all, she was the only one with the balls to stand up and vote "no" on the Iraq war. That has to count for something.

    The trouble with the incumbents is that, with the current system of campaign financing, no one but a Tool of the Special Interests or a raving lunatic would run against them, so your alternatives tend to be limited and unappealing. Also in several of the races in today's California primary, the Democratic candidate ran unopposed, in which case I don't bother to vote because I have no choice. And what about those meaningless names you've never heard of, that run for the "Democratic party committee", and you're supposed to vote for six of them, and five of them are incumbents? I voted for the only outcumbent and left it at that.

    Ah, to be in Contra Costa County (well, only for election purposes, one wouldn't want to live there), where one could vote for the noble and virtuous Pete McCloskey, come out of retirement to joust against the Evil Richard Pombo. That contest is practically Shakespearean in its grandeur, even if Pete loses.

  7. Anonymous8:46 PM

    You get to vote for Barbara Lee? Damn, we're talking serious jealousy here. My rep is Tom Feeney, a pathetic lesser Tom Delay. I do get to vote against him, since a Democrat has decided to challenge, even though the district is a marvel of safe-seat machinations. They finally succeeded in putting me in a district that makes absolutely no sense for my community. On a good day they are merely anti-democratic bags of offal.

    Anonymous David

  8. Yes, and talk about a safe seat. The entire district is plastered with bumperstickers reading "Barbara Lee Speaks For Me".

    I'm sorry to say that Pete McCloskey lost to El Pombo. However, as someone pointed out, Pete took 30% of the vote against what is supposed to be a safe Republican candidate; if the Dems can put someone really strong up, maybe they'll dislodge the lout.

  9. Anonymous8:25 PM

    Well I live in Missouri. As far as I am concerned, none of these people should stay in office. Which me luck.

  10. Stephen, I wish you luck. More power to your voting arm: "outcumbents" forever!