Friday, April 30, 2004
Insurgents = "Terrorists" ; Iraqis now = "The Enemy" . . .
Well, surprise, surprise. There are no flowers, candies, and cheers greeting the U.S. military in Iraq. On the contrary.
We all saw it coming. But right now (although "much progress is being made," of course, of course), the worst-case scenario has come to pass. Divergent (and formerly opposing) factions--Sunnis, Shias, foreign Islamists, former Baath Party members, and other Iraqi citizens--have united in the name of Iraqi/Arab nationalism to oppose a common enemy: US.
Everyone here seems more concerned with the 500 or so U.S. troops that have died in this war than with the 10,000 or so Iraqis that have died (ignoring the wounded, for the moment). I suppose this is understandable, on a certain level; but it also makes me ashamed to be a human being. We hear reports of 100 or so Iraqis being killed in an unprovoked military takeover of, say, Fallujah, and we maybe sigh a bit ("Sure is a lot of fighting still going on"); but we hear about 1 or 2 American soldiers being killed, and we're in tears, dreading what may come of this war . . .
It seems as though no one in Iraq is considered a "civilian" anymore, unless they fully support the U.S. occupation and even fully cooperate with the U.S. in fighting "the enemy" (i.e., other Iraqis defending their own country). So if you're a traitor, you're on the Good side; but if you're a "Patriot," then you're "Evil" and "The Enemy" and a "Terrorist."
The logic seems to be that once you pick up a gun, you're a "combatant." Fine. But if we accept this, then we need to stop mourning the deaths of our soldiers; and we also need to stop referring to the "private security" paramilitary/mercenary forces the U.S. government has hired to supplement the military troops as "civilians." And we need to stop referring to their deaths as "murders." It's all fine and good to decry the way those "civilians" (that is, mercenaries and former Special Forces operatives now acting beyond the control of any authority including the U.S. military) were killed and then burned and then dragged around and hung from a bridge. An atrocity, I agree. But where are the pictures of the children burned alive by napalm? Where are the pictures of the children literally torn to shreds by cluster bombs? And where is the outrage at those "atrocities"? (Never mind the fact that the number of Iraqis killed in this way is perhaps hundreds of times the number of U.S. soldiers killed. And never mind the fact that, in their eyes, such killings are simple justice--revenge for the savage, deadly, and unprovoked destruction of their country--no different from our response to 9-11 in bombing Afghanistan.)
I was astonished and appalled recently when I heard people (senators and military leaders) talking about how disappointed they were in the Iraqi police/security forces that the U.S. military has trained. Because these Iraqis refuse to participate in attacks on their own people, or--worse yet--defect to the "other side" (that is, their side), they are seen as "incompetent" and "a great disappointment."
Well, who's the "incompetent" and "disappointing" party here? I submit that it's the U.S. And the only thing surprising about this situation is that they were able to recruit Iraqis to kill other Iraqis in the first place. I suppose when you've been on the brink of starvation for 15 years of the most brutal sanctions in history, you'll do almost anything for some money. But if the roles were reversed (that is, Iraq had invaded the U.S. and then U.S. citizens were expected to shoot other U.S. citizens in the name of "security"), surely these defectors would be hailed as "true patriots" and those cooperating with the invading Iraqis condemned as "traitors."
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