[Marxism] Re: Elusive sniper saps U.S. morale in Baghdad

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Sat Aug 6 12:53:37 MDT 2005

Today’s NPR weekend edition has an interview with Mike Heidingsfield, 
of the State Department’s civilian police advisory mission. I only 
caught part of it, but the issue of U.S. snipers being killed came up 
here, too. The interviewer, Scott Simon [?] indicated that he was 
surprised that U.S. snipers had been picked off by Iraqi snipers. 
Heideingsfield replied that this was a common feature of the war, 
particularly in large cities such as Baghdad, which had a lot of 
abandoned buildings.

SCOTT: The six marines who died earlier this week. A lot of people here 
don’t understand how six snipers could all be killed.

MIKE: Death comes in many forms here. We are not the only ones who have 
snipers, In fact, Iraq in general and Baghdad in particular, because of 
the decaying infrastructure and the enormous number of empty buildings, 
essentially provides a snipers perch in virtually every block. So the 
insurgents have that capacity. It’s just not limited to us.

Our level of knowledge about small-arms combat is due to the results, 
which are probably relatively high in casualties other than death. In 
other words, in Iraq it is part of the war consciousness of the 
soldier, but it is not part of our awareness as civilians.

The original sniper article is from The Guardian. It is not exactly 
mainstream, although it is certainly an important capitalist paper. I 
don’t think the purpose behind the article was to put up a single 
sniper as a strawman who, once defeated “the war is won.” [Nick]. The 
article itself says “Sniper fire is only of the threats for an American 
military that has suffered heavy losses this week.”

On the other hand, Nick’s indignation over the failure of the 
mainstream press to report ongoing assaults by U.S. and other 
“coalition” soldiers against the population is certainly valid. Even 
the filming of a cold-blooded murder in Fallujah was worked over again 
and again by the U.S. media in order to trivialize or justify the 
killing. Other evidence of the systematic assault by U.S. soldiers in 
Iraq dribbles out only when particularly egregious and public actions 
lead to an Article 32 investigation or court martial.

I won’t even bother to cite it, but today there was an article on a 
U.S. military unit extorting “rent” from some businesses in the Green 

There are dozens of cases where charges have been brought and the 
examining officers decided not to prosecute. Even these are only 
revealed when the examining officer is overruled due to the public 
exposure and long-range effect on the morale of the unit. We can only 
speculate on the number of cases where the examining officer says, 
“don’t prosecute” and is not overruled. Of course, under the Gonzalez 
memo and military policy, the examining officers may be correct. Any 
torture is allowed so long as the intent of the torturer is not to 
inflict pain for its own sake. In other words, declare that it is to 
get information and you are home free. This is why the Abu Ghraib 
“isolated individuals” were prosecuted. They were “funning.” The 
torturers and their commanders get Home Free cards.

As Nick points out, the overwhelming majority of cases are the known 
unknowns, as Rumsfeld might say. Only a fiction writer can capture the 
truths in this and any war.

Brian Shannon

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