The 10,000th Haditha.
By Ted Rall
NEW YORK--Months after Time magazine reported that U.S. Marines
had carried out a My Lai-style massacre of at least two dozen
innocent Iraqi civilians, the average "support our troops"
American is waking up and smelling the butchery.
As usual, the U.S. government tried to cover up the mass
murder--it initially claimed that the victims were blown up by
an insurgent IED. But, as Time reported in March, the "civilians
who died in Haditha on Nov. 19 were killed not by a roadside
bomb but by the Marines themselves, who went on a rampage in the
village after the attack, killing 15 unarmed Iraqis in their
homes, including seven women and three children." As at My Lai,
the bloodlust was not easily sated. "The raids took five hours
and left at least 23 people dead."
Jane and Joe Sixpack are shocked. Congressional Democrats are
calling for an investigation and, for once, will probably get
one. Political analysts worry that the Haditha massacre could
hurt U.S. propaganda efforts even more than the infamous photos
of torture at its Abu Ghraib concentration camp.
So far reaction to Haditha has been the reverse of what you
might expect. Republicans and other pro-war types are running
around like it's the end of the world. Meanwhile the streets of
Arab capitals, recently ablaze over the Danish Mohammed cartoon
controversy, are quiet.
The reason is simple: For Iraqis, American atrocities are old
news, dating back to the invasion in March 2003 and a full
decade earlier. (U.S. planes dropped so many bombs on Iraqi
schools, hospitals and power plants during the 1990s that they
ran out of targets.) So are the boulevards of New York, San
Francisco and other cities where hundreds of thousands of
American lefties once marched against the invasion of Iraq.
"As the war in Iraq rages on," CBS News' Dotty Lynch asks,
"Where are the young people this time around? Where are the
campuses? Where are the new Tom Haydens and Sam Browns and where
are the Noam Chomskys, William Sloane Coffins and Daniel
Berrigans?" Well, Chomsky's still around. Over a million young
Americans, many of them college students, protested Iraq. They
certainly had allies in the media. (Hi.)
But The System is even less responsive to protest now than it
was during Vietnam. State-run media made fun of antiwar
activists as tattooed neo-hippies, called them treasonous and
refused airtime to Administration critics. When is the last time
a hard-hitting opponent of the Iraq war showed his or her face
on national TV? Those of us who raised our voices against this
war from the start, having fruitlessly complained about stories
of battlefield abuse reported by the European media, are
suffering from marginalization fatigue.
Meanwhile, in the "new" Iraq, Abdel Salam al-Qubaisy of Iraq's
Sunni Muslim Scholars Association says, U.S. massacres of
civilians occur routinely. "The American soldier has become an
expert in killing," he shrugs. Like many Iraqis, Baghdad
shopkeeper Mohammed Jawdaat says that U.S. troops have never
shown respect for the lives of Iraqi civilians. "Six months
ago," remembers Jawdaat, "a car pulled out of a street towards
an American convoy and a soldier just opened fire. The driver
was shot in the head. There were no warning shots and the
Americans didn't even stop."
Abd Mohammed Falah, a Ramadi attorney, says: "U.S. forces have
committed more crimes against the Iraqi people than appears in
the media. The U.S. defense secretary and his generals should be
sent to court instead of two or three soldiers who will be
Newspapers don't bother to report when the sun rises in the east
nor do they assign reporters to cover when dogs bite men.
Likewise, says Baghdad newspaper boy Imad Mohammed, Iraqi
newspapers haven't mentioned Haditha. Same-old, same-old
massacres of Iraqis by American forces are no longer news: "The
Americans see a Muslim go into a mosque and just assume he is a
terrorist. They either arrest him or blow it up."
Rami Khouri, editor at The Daily Star in Lebanon tells NPR that
Haditha is "not a huge story [in the Middle East]. It's getting
a lot of coverage in the United States, obviously, but most
people in the Arab world are against what the United States did
in Iraq...They say look, this was a catastrophe from the
beginning and they're not surprised that this is happening. They
kind of take it in stride because everything the United States
is doing in Iraq is seen as morally and politically
Most of the world's population--including virtually every Muslim
and about a third Americans--always believed that the war
against Iraq was a genocidal attempt to intimidate the Muslim
world and extort its oil at gunpoint. They don't see a
difference between Haditha and the thousands of other Iraqis
killed by U.S. forces since 2003. Because the entire exercise
was morally bankrupt from the outset, sold and perpetuated with
countless lies, all of the 200,000-plus civilians and Iraqi
soldiers who have died--whether by bomb or by bullet--were
effectively murdered by the U.S. military.
Haditha, where two dozen were executed, was merely the 10,000th
The morality-come-latelies still don't understand that nothing
good will ever come out of the U.S. war against Iraq. Marine
General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says
that massacres of civilians by U.S. soldiers do "not happen very
frequently, so there's no way to say historically why something
like this might have happened." Actually, similar incidents have
taken place in every war, including World War II. Pace's
statement is either a dazzling display of ahistorical ignorance
or a bald-faced lie--take your pick. Pace adds that if some of
his men committed an atrocity at Haditha, they "have not
performed their duty the way that 99.9 percent of their fellow
That's not what the Iraqis say.
Ted Rall is the editor of "Attitude
3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists
," a new anthology of webcartoons. Visit his website
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