June 6, 2006
Haditha was quite a small massacre as US massacres go. The massacre in the first onslaught on Falluja filled two football fields.
The rightful furor over yet another US massacre, this time in the western Iraq town of Haditha, is somewhat belated since it happened in November and was instantly known to most Iraqis and Iraq watchers. Town representatives took evidence to the now puppet Iraq Prime Minister, Nuri Al Malaki near immediately. As for the comparison with My Lai, Iraq has suffered so many My Lai's resultant from the murderous, trigger happy, unaccountable troops, blink and you have missed one. What danger did a remote, rural wedding party pose, months after the invasion? Virtually every guest was multiply shot by American troops in cold blood. Inquiry? Apology? No chance. 'Even bad people have parties..' commented a US General of a slaughter where the youngest had not reached her first birthday. A survivor hiding in a ditch stated that soldiers stole jewelry off the bloodied, murdered women, dressed for celebration. 'We have a Haditha every day', merchant Mohammed Jassim told journalist Molly Ivens.
Haditha was quite a small massacre as US massacres go. The massacre in the first onslaught on Falluja filled two football fields; numerous bodies were buried in gardens and yards, the survivors unable to take their beloved to cemeteries for fear of being shot themselves. In the second siege of Falluja, figures vary, but six thousand is not out of the question. Families were reportedly shot trying to swim the Euphrates to escape the horror. Call them 'insurgents' and unquestioned mass murder is permissible. Call a town or village 'restive', 'insurgent stronghold', 'troubled' and genocide goes unquestioned. The horrors of Abu Ghraib too, were 'a few bad apples'. There are Abu Ghraib's throughout Iraq, secret, unaccountable. And it will be no surprise if the heavily pregnant woman, Nabiya Nassayef, and her cousin, shot at a check point last week posed some terrifying threat to the trigger happy terrorist in US uniform who shot her in the head as she tried to reach the Maternity Hospital in ancient Samarra, whose great, revered, eye wateringly beautiful, golden domed Mosque also became the invasion's victim. The numerous US 'pacifications' (to the grave) in Samarra are forgotten; Tel Afar's 'crusade' depicted in one image: a screaming child covered in blood, just old enough to stand, her entire family shredded by the liberators.
A detailed map of Iraq, seems to show more towns and villages subjected to reigns of US (and UK) terror, than not. There are almost certainly others unknown, since journalists are targets of troops (from day one - literally) and other elements thus independent travel now near impossible. But George Bush has apologized not for multiple massacres, but for his ridiculous, irredeemable, language. Prime Minister Blair has apologized for nothing. The legitimate government of Iraq is on trial and those regarded by many wise legal heads as war criminals, who have imposed horror in order of magnitude more than anything Saddam Hussein's government have been accused of, sit in Washington and Whitehall threatening Iran.
My Lai, by the standard of US regard for civilians in Viet Nam and neighboring countries was also a 'small' (three day) massacre. Like Haditha though, they were caught. The Peers Commission Report of 1970 stated: 'The precise number of Vietnamese killed cannot be determined but it was at least one hundred and seventy five and may exceed four hundred.'
'It is not productive to count Iraqi deaths', is still the ongoing US line.
Parallels between Viet Nam and Iraq, Haditha and My Lai are chillingly stark. Those on their own sovereign territory in both countries, living according to their culture, belief, history, were low life unspeakable. 'Untermenschen'. Jackboots still haunt corridors of power and their minions' feet on the ground far away. Imagine being iris scanned and fingerprinted to get in to your own town and wearing armband identity. Welcome to Iraq, US style. Welcome to Nuremburg.
America's My Lai's infest history. Philippines to Korea (just one incident was a three day blood fest, mowing down hundreds of men, women and children) from Afghanistan to Albania (latter: 1949-1953) attempting to install a pro western (ie pro-US) government. (William Blum's indispensable 'Rogue State' is a crash course to the rogue elephant in our global living room.)
The same US lexicon used for every global 'liberation’ has been dusted down to excuse the inexcusable, not accidental killing, but pre-meditated mass murder. After My Lai, Judge Robert Elliot stated: 'War is war and it is not unusual for innocent civilians ... to be killed. ' When Joshua slaughtered' the residents of Jericho he explained, the Bible does not record him charged with war crimes. Distinguished theologian Reinholt Niebuhr wrote of 'national history ... being shattered ... we thought we were a redeemer nation.' As Iraq, across Vietnam 'part maniacal. Part methodical .. killings took place .. rape, sodomy.. unspeakable cruelties ... a Nazi kind of thing.' Troops at My Lai remember orders to leave no one alive. In Falluja, men between fifteen and fifty-five who left their homes would be assumed terrorists and shot. In Vietnam they were assumed terrorists for being reluctant to leave when ordered and in both cases shot in numbers of magnitude anyway. Iraq and Vietnam's wanton massacres both declared 'abhorrent to the American people', 'aberrations', 'and tragedies’. Not hanging offences. US Marine History describes 'pacifying' those 'reluctant to leave their homes' with 'a hell of a lot of artillery.' Pentagon response as horror after horror emerged was to plant numerous stories about the torment and trauma of 'the nation's heroes' spattered with babies’ blood and brains. * Haditha's terrorists included a seventy seven year old amputee in a wheelchair, a child of one, shielded by his mother's body and six children under fifteen.
'We are here to kill dinks, that's our job', said a soldier of Vietnam. ' If you think of them as human, you can't kill them', said a soldier of Iraq. 'My hear bleeds, my soul bleeds, even my dreams bleed', an Iraqi friend remarked.
Haditha: Small massacre, not many slaughtered. Every one a name, a precious life, laughter, loves, altercations, aspirations - and like Americans, the right to: 'Life, liberty and the persuit of happiness.'
*Viet Nam references: 'Four Hours in My Lai', Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim.