[Marxism] Counterpunch: "Bring them home before they kill again"

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Nov 18 04:02:41 MST 2004

Rationalizing Atrocities
Bring Them Home Before They Kill Again

It is depressingly predictable how "worked up" the Pentagon brass gets
about an atrocity committed in gross violation of the Geneva Conventions
when the crime is captured on film, as happened during this recent
Fallujah action in the case of an NBC pool cameraman showing the
execution by a US Marine of a wounded Iraqi captive, and the apparent
execution of several other wounded captives later on.

But does anyone seriously believe that this particularly ugly atrocity
is the only one that occurred during the assault?

The casual way it was done, in front of the embedded cameraman, makes it
clear that quite to the contrary, this must be standard operating
procedure for the American soldiers, who weren't even worried about
about the possible consequences of their being photographed. (Remember,
the executioner was not alone, and none of his colleagues tried to stop

How surprised should we be at this bloodthirsty and criminal behavior?
The goal of the assault on Fallujah was not the capture of a city-the
normal situation in a war. It was the killing of all the insurgents who
were in the city.

Consider this. The approach taken to this assault was first to ring the
city with a cordon of over 10,000 heavily armed troops, supported by
virtually the entire fleet of U.S. warplanes in the Iraq theater-F-15s,
F-18s, A-10 Warthogs and helicopter and fixed-wing gunships. Women and
children were allowed to leave the doomed city, but all males "of
fighting age" were turned back if they tried to leave.

You have to ask: turned back for what purpose? 

If the goal was to capture potential guerrillas, here were the men and
boys trying to leave, offering themselves up to be arrested,
investigated, interrogated and even held in detention. But instead of
this, they were turned back to face the coming attack (this action in
itself was a major violation of the Geneva Conventions, which require
armies to allow non-combatants to leave the scene of fighting). If they
were really fighters, did it make sense to send them back into Fallujah
where they could pick up weapons and possibly kill U.S. soldiers? If the
goal was to capture insurgents, then these unfortunates would simply
have to be captured later, accomplishing the same thing, but under much
more dangerous circumstances for both them and for their U.S. attackers.

Clearly the real goal all along was something else: to kill them
all-insurgents, potential insurgents, and any other "fighting age" males
(that included little boys as young as 15!) unlucky enough to be
residents of Fallujah.

That such horrors are going on in our name should be no surprise. This
war was never about "liberation." It is about conquest.

That so little is being said about it here in the U.S. is a crime.

"Support the troops" we are told. 

But we cannot do that, if the troops are engaged in criminal behavior.

Surely no American would wish harm to the many thousands of good men and
women, boys and girls who have been snatched away from their families
and their lives to fight Bush's war in Iraq. We want them all home safe,
immediately. But no one should be blindly adopting a slogan that implies
supporting what the troops are doing in Iraq, which we know includes
atrocities worthy of the German SS.

It should be clear to any thinking person that the U.S. cannot win in
Iraq. Unable to defeat the insurgency in there, the U.S. has turned to
terror and to military tactics--the executing of wounded and captured
fighters, the turning back of refugees, the denial of water and food to
people in Fallujah, the barring of ambulances and medics from the scene
of battle, the deliberate destruction of medical facilities and the
capture and closure of hospitals--that are on their face war crimes. Yet
in adopting such tactics, the U.S. is ensuring that it cannot win
either. The criminal behavior of American troops in Fallujah, so
reminiscent of the behavior of Serbian troops in Bosnia, now broadcast
over all of the Middle East, merely encourages more Arab and Iraqi
fighters to enlist in the growing anti-American jihad. 

And let's face it, the confining of fleeing, unarmed males to Fallujah
on the eve of the assault of that city, and the return of fleeing
unarmed men and boys during the heat of battle (reporrted widely in the
U.S. media), is no different than the herding up and execution of adult
males in Sbrynica by Serb militia. The Serb war criminals, who had no
air force, had to kill their victims by small arms fire. All the U.S.
war criminals (and here I'm referring to the colonels and generals and
Defense Department officials who set the policy on refugees) have had to
do is force them to stay trapped in the killing zone. 

If you want to support the troops, bring them home. 

Nothing else is going to save them, either from the enemy, or from the
criminal policies of their own leadership. 

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the
Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns
titled "This Can't be Happening!" to be published this fall by Common
Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff
can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff at yahoo.com


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