Enduring Freedom At The Altar Of Infinite Justice

What do we tell the Iraqi people now? What reason do we give to the Iraqi people for our continued occupation? How do we explain the occasional errant bomb that tears apart a family? How do we explain the lack of security? How do we explain the dead bodies with holes drilled into their skulls? How do we explain to a 9-year-old orphan why her parents are dead? How do we explain what happened at Haditha?

On the morning of November 19, 2005, one United States Marine was killed by a roadside bomb in the farm town of Haditha. Shortly afterwards 24 Iraqi civilians were gunned down by the Marines in retaliation. The dead Iraqis included members of 3 families and 4 college students. The oldest victim was a 76-year old diabetic who used a wheelchair and the youngest victim was a 1-year-old girl. The Washington Post details the killings:

In the house with Ali and his 66-year-old wife, Khamisa Tuma Ali, were three of the middle-aged male members of their family, at least one daughter-in-law and four children — 4-year-old Abdullah, 8-year-old Iman, 5-year-old Abdul Rahman and 2-month-old Asia.

Marines entered shooting, witnesses recalled. Most of the shots — in Ali’s house and two others — were fired at such close range that they went through the bodies of the family members and plowed into walls or the floor, physicians at Haditha’s hospital said.

A daughter-in-law, identified as Hibbah, escaped with Asia, survivors and neighbors said. Iman and Abdul Rahman were shot but survived. Four-year-old Abdullah, Ali and the rest died.

Ali took nine rounds in the chest and abdomen, leaving his intestines spilling out of the exit wounds in his back, according to his death certificate.

The Marines moved to the house next door, Fahmi said.

Inside were 43-year-old Khafif, 41-year-old Aeda Yasin Ahmed, an 8-year-old son, five young daughters and a 1-year-old girl staying with the family, according to death certificates and neighbors.

The Marines shot them at close range and hurled grenades into the kitchen and bathroom, survivors and neighbors said later. Khafif’s pleas could be heard across the neighborhood. Four of the girls died screaming.

Only 13-year-old Safa Younis lived — saved, she said, by her mother’s blood spilling onto her, making her look dead when she fell, limp, in a faint.

Moving to a third house in the row, Marines burst in on four brothers, Marwan, Qahtan, Chasib and Jamal Ahmed. Neighbors said the Marines killed them together.

Marine officials said later that one of the brothers had the only gun found among the three families, although there has been no known allegation that the weapon was fired.

Meanwhile, a separate group of Marines found at least one other house full of young men. The Marines led the men in that house outside, some still in their underwear, and away to detention.

The final victims of the day happened upon the scene inadvertently, witnesses said. Four male college students — Khalid Ayada al-Zawi, Wajdi Ayada al-Zawi, Mohammed Battal Mahmoud and Akram Hamid Flayeh — had left the Technical Institute in Saqlawiyah for the weekend to stay with one of their families on the street, said Fahmi, a friend of the young men.

A Haditha taxi driver, Ahmed Khidher, was bringing them home, Fahmi said.

According to Fahmi, the young men and their driver turned onto the street and saw the wrecked Humvee and the Marines. Khidher threw the car into reverse, trying to back away at full speed, Fahmi said, and the Marines opened fire from about 30 yards away, killing all the men inside the taxi.

What happened at Haditha was not war. It was not a war crime. It was murder. It was murder in an environment established by the words of our leaders. The gloves have come off. You are either with us or against us. The evildoers must be punished. Wanted dead or alive. Bring it on!

Iraqi lives do not count. They are animals that populate the landscape that must be cleansed of terrorists. Our President does not see the countless bodies piling up at the morgues of Iraq every day. Instead he sees only "suiciders" on the one side and Iraqi politicians on the other who are making "progress" toward a "free" and "liberated" Iraq. The Iraqi people see it differently:

"They are waiting for the sentence — although they are convinced that the sentence will be like one for someone who killed a dog in the United States," said Waleed Mohammed, a lawyer preparing a file for Iraqi courts and the United Nations, if the U.S. trial disappoints. "Because Iraqis have become like dogs in the eyes of Americans."

What is the United States doing in Iraq? Where are the weapons of mass destruction? Why are we killing the Iraqis in order to set them free? Is this what Donald Rumsfeld meant when he said that democracy was messy?

The United States cannot write off Haditha and Abu Ghraib as isolated acts carried out by a handful of rogue soldiers. These acts cannot be written off using the "war is hell" argument either. If the reason we are in Iraq is not because of weapons of mass destruction, if the reason we are in Iraq is to liberate the Iraqi people, then we must have moral authority. But the United States does not have moral authority in Iraq. It never did. The cassis belli for this war was that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and was an imminent threat to the security of the United States. Once the WMD argument evaporated the United States lost any moral authority that it may have claimed in waging this war. You cannot in hindsight change your reasons for starting a war. Once your reason for launching a war is proved false the entire war becomes illegitimate. It is in the context of this illegitimate war that these acts of torture and murder are being carried out. Whether the Administration likes it or not, these acts are being carried out in the name of the United States of America.

It is time to end this folly and bring the troops home. Iraq is already plunging into civil war and the United States cannot be a party to it. The continued presence of the United States military will not prevent the daily killings that have now become part of the background noise of the Iraq war. It is time to end this illegitimate war.

It is time for the United States and Iraq to heal from this terrible upheaval that has been visited upon our times. The healing cannot begin until the United States ends its occupation of Iraq. It is time for the United States to regain its moral authority in the world. It is a long climb back from here but there is no other alternative. No more orphans. No more slaughter. No More.

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18 Responses to Enduring Freedom At The Altar Of Infinite Justice

  1. Great post, and I couldn’t agree more. As the details of this atrocity are thrust into the public spotlight in an unavoidable way, I hope more people will reach the conclusion you and I already have: It’s time to go. Now.

  2. Mash says:

    Betty, the more I think about it, more I am convinced that we do more harm by staying then by leaving. A UN mandated stabilization force might be more effective and less heavy handed. I think we have lost any moral authority to try to improve the situation.

  3. Ingrid says:

    Is it any wonder that the US has been accused of war crimes? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegations_of_war_crimes_against_U.S._officials . And these ones are before this administration. I believe that the US has done this so many times, dem or rep, that the idea is to just spin a story, go to war, and the American people will just accept it and support it. Unfortunately, the majority always did and always will. I have become so cynical and disillusioned since living here, I see things much more clearly in a way because I live here. The ideals that people grow up with in the US are just a collective historical memory and that is all. Thank goodness that there are plenty of good people and good things happening here otherwise I’d really feel hopeless. Well, more hopeless (as in, not feeling that there will ever be a change, I am not sitting around all forlorn or anything) than I already do.
    Ingrid

  4. M says:

    i couldn’t agree more, the US is certainly doing more harm by staying. And it never was about the weapons of mass destruction.

  5. xoites says:

    I don’t in any way condone the killing of civilians in a time of war, but a few things should be noted about what happens to soilders under stress.

    In order to stay alive in a combat situation your survival senses have to be maxed out at all times. Your body can accomplish this if you get angry and stay angry.

    This is actually a deep componant of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When soldiers come home from battle they have been under stress for so long that their brain is stuck in anger mode. It is not a switch one can turn on and off like a light switch.

    See: Ft. Bragg Killings Blamed On Stress.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/ 2…ain516500.shtml

    If you can come home and kill your wife after all this just imagine what you could do to people you do noty know. This is why war under all circumstances is a bad idea. The fact that this war was unnecessary and preemtive makes it quadrupely so.

    Federal Law states that if you commit a felony and a police officer runs over someone and kills them while responding to the crime you commit then you are guilty of murder. In other words if ANYONE dies as a direct or indirect result of your crime you are a murderer.

    George Bush invaded a soverign nation which is illegal and should certainly be classified as a felony. If anyone should be brought up on murder charges here it should be him.

    I have always advocated not only leaving but not ever going. Obviously i agree with you.

  6. Mash says:

    xoites, I agree that since this war is illegitimate that any actions carried out in that context must be attributed to the leaders who began this war.

    We have put our soldiers in a combat situation with no front lines and no clear rules of engagement. There is no clear enemy and we have dehumanized the local population.

    I am not surprised this kind of thing occurs. It is ultimately a failure of leadership. Any attempt to whitewash this and blame it on “rogue” soldiers would be a mistake.

  7. Robbie says:

    Great post, Mash. I was too upset to say anything about it when the story broke. Camp Pendleton, where the Marines are based, is located in Oceanside, CA. That’s just up the road from where I live.

    I used to work in O’Side ten years ago with several Marines that were the finest people I’ve ever met. This story broke my heart. What the hell are we doing to our soldiers??? :(

  8. Ingrid says:

    On that note Robbie, what on earth makes an other human being teach another human being to torture another human being? What kind of person teaches that to another?
    Ingrid

  9. dude says:

    dag nabbit, i have been racking my brain trying to get blogger to let me have an image as background on single posts, how’ed you do that?

  10. Mash says:

    dude, the image is the background for a table. The whole post is embedded in a 1-column table (each para is a row). For some reason, I had to nest the table into another table for IE to handle it properly though. :-b

  11. Mash says:

    Robbie, I debated about this post for a while. Finally I decided to approach it head on. Since writing the post, I read on another blog that the commanding General of these Marines is General James Mattis. The same General Mattis who once said this:

    “Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. … It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling,” he said at the forum in San Diego. “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil,” he added. “You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”

    I am now guessing that we’ve got a failure of leadership. This guy thinks its “fun” to kill people.

  12. Alfredo says:

    Once more, you’ve nailed it right on the head, Mash!

    Once your reason for launching a war is proved false the entire war becomes illegitimate.

    How many more reasons would this administration need to fabricate, and our compliant media disseminate, to try to justify the unjustifiable?

  13. Mash says:

    Alfredo, I am surprised the media does not call them on this very simple point. When my daughter makes up excuses for why she did something wrong I teach her that its called “lying”. :^o

  14. dude says:

    where are these truth telling politicians you speak.infer.allude to? i think they are maybe on Atlantis, deep under the Atlantic ocean… with elvis, jfk, and the grey men from the area 51 weather balloon.

    i have spent my entire life around politics and politicians and government types, the only thing that was ever close to the truth i ever heard was from an honest high end type who said they regreted the very day joined the service.

    expecting your politician to tell you the truth is idealistic, better to hope verizon will one day not screw us with imaginary taxes on our phone bills.

    PS: yeah, i looked at your source code, saw it was a table. am still trying to figure out a way for the image not to be repeated if the area is larger than image. the dudette says not possible with html, to use flash. the dudette thinks she is funny (damn know it all!!), i can barely Bold text by myself.. flash! haa haa haa:((

  15. Mash says:

    dude, truth telling politicians? where? Not here? Maybe they were moved to Syria with the WMD! :d

    But there are big lies and little lies…and this one’s a REALLY big lie.

    :^o:^o:^o:^o:^o:^o:^o:^o:^o:^o:^o:^o

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