Sunday, June 04, 2006

Hanging My Head In Shame

If this is true, which I unfortunately believe it is, we have lost any pretense of a higher moral ground. To be on the level of Saddam Hussein is not what America envisioned when it was all gaa-gaa over the war. Now it's more like gagging.
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | US confronts brutal culture among its finest sons: "Some American veterans have expressed little surprise at the latest revelations. 'I don't doubt for one moment that these things happened. They are widespread. This is the norm. These are not the exceptions,' said Camilo Mejia, a US infantry veteran who served briefly in the Haditha area in 2003.

American veterans have told The Observer of a military culture that places little practical emphasis on avoiding civilian casualties in the heat of battle, although they also point out the huge problems of urban fighting against a tough enemy that often hides within the civilian Iraqi community.

'In these circumstances you would be surprised at how any normal human being can see their morals degenerate so they can do these things,' said Garrett Reppenhagen, a former US sniper.

Mejia, who has served time in jail for refusing to return to Iraq for a second tour of duty, said there was widespread prejudice against Iraqis in his unit, and that Iraqis were routinely referred to as 'Hajis' in the same way that local people during the Vietnam war were called 'gooks' or 'Charlie'.

'We dehumanise the enemy under these circumstances,' said Mejia. 'They called them gooks in Vietnam and we called them Hajis in Iraq.'

Mejia described an incident in Ramadi when his unit was manning a roadblock near a mosque. When one car refused to stop, US soldiers opened fire on it. Then the American unit came under fire from elsewhere. In the resulting firefight, however, no insurgents were killed while seven Iraqi civilians stuck at the roadblock died. No weapons were found in the car that had refused to stop. 'There was no sense in it. There was no basic humanity. They were all civilians and we didn't kill any insurgents,' Mejia said.


From the shootings of civilians in Nasiriya by marines during the US advance to similar shootings by the Third Infantry Division on the outskirts of Baghdad during the so-called 'Thunder Run' into the city, the same pattern has reasserted itself. Indeed, within weeks of the fall of Saddam's regime it expressed itself in the moment that many now see as the starting point of the insurgency: the firing by US paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division into a noisy demonstration in Falluja."
Moral high ground? I don't think so. As a veteran I honestly don't believe that I, or anybody I served with, would have committed these atrocities. This is a crying shame.

How do you live with yourself after you shoot a child on purpose? And why would you want to?

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