Sunday, May 28, 2006
Such conduct necessarily leads to some rather disquieting speculation:
Photographs taken by American military intelligence have provided crucial evidence that up to 24 Iraqis were massacred by marines in Haditha, an insurgent stronghold on the banks of the Euphrates.
One portrays an Iraqi mother and young child, kneeling on the floor, as if in prayer. They have been shot dead at close range.
The pictures show other victims, shot execution-style in the head and chest in their homes. An American government official said they revealed that the marines involved had “suffered a total breakdown in morality and leadership”.
The killings are emerging as the worst known American atrocity of the Iraq war. At least seven women and three children were among those killed. Witness accounts obtained by The Sunday Times suggest the toll of children may be as high as six. “This one is ugly,” a US military official said.
Naturally, this raises the question yet again, in the most horrible terms imaginable, why are American troops still in Iraq? As I noted here in March, the explanations of liberal apologists for the occupation, whether agonizingly sincere or politically expedient, have already been embarassingly exposed as disconnected from reality, as both political parties have scurried away from any commitment to deploy troops to defend Iraqis from a civil war that threatens to engulf the country. In Haditha, our troops merely killed Iraqis directly on the ground as we have been doing in a more distanced, more depersonalized way from the air.
The incident is now being described as potentially the worst war crime since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, comparable to the Abu Ghraib scandal and reminiscent of the massacre of several hundred Vietnamese villagers at My Lai in 1968. But peace campaigners say the findings raise the prospect that other incidents reported to have involved the killing of "insurgents" actually involved the death of civilians. Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop the War Coalition, said: "It's clear that what happened in Haditha is a war crime. It would be idle to think this is the first war crime that has been committed in the last three years. It must be assumed that more of this is going on."
Haditha is just the most stark example of the primary accomplishment of the American invasion and occupation: the perpetual, indiscriminate infliction of death and destruction upon the people of Iraq. After 9/11, our appetite for the killing and dehumanization of Arabs has been insatiable, rationalized by the most transparently absurd justifications. Will the Marine gangsterism of Haditha finally exhaust this bloodlust?