Tuesday, January 04, 2005

"Kind of a shame"

Why have things gone wrong in Iraq? Why hasn't it turned into the democratic paradise promised by the NeoCons before their illegal invasion? The Americans like to blame the resistance, but perhaps some of the answers can be found in an article in this week's Economist, excerpted and commented on by James Wolcott:

"There is only one traffic law in Ramadi these days: when Americans approach, Iraqis scatter. Horns blaring, brakes screaming, the midday traffic skids to the side of the road as a line of Humvee jeeps ferrying American marines rolls the wrong way up the main street. Every vehicle, that is, except one beat-up old taxi. Its elderly driver, flapping his outstretched hands, seems, amazingly, to be trying to turn the convoy back. Gun turrets swivel and lock on to him, as a hefty marine sargeant leaps into the road, levels an assault rifle at his turbanned head, and screams: 'Back this bitch up, motherfucker!'

"The old man should have read the bilingual notices that American soldiers tack to their rear bumpers in Iraq: 'Keep 50m or deadly force will be applied.' In Ramadi, the capital of central Anbar province, where 17 suicide-bombs struck American forces during the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan in the autumn, the marines are jumpy. Sometimes, they say, they fire on vehicles encroaching with 30 metres, sometimes they fire at 20 metres: 'If anyone gets too close to us we fucking waste them,' says a bullish lieutenant. 'It's kind of a shame, because it means we've killed a lot of innocent people.'"

Kind of a shame, killing the people you're trying to democratize, but after awhile, says the same lieutenant, "It gets to the point where you can't wait to see guys with guns, so you start shooting everybody..."

With characteristic dry English understatement, The Economist's embedded reporter (Economist pieces are unbylined) notes, "[W]hen America's well-drilled and well-fed fighters attempt subtler tasks than killing people, problems arise." Their contempt for Iraqis is undisguised and dramatically expressed: a soldier, confronted by "jeering schoolchildren," fires canisters of buckshot from his grenade-launcher at them, and marines busting down doors in Ramadi scream at trembling middle-aged women: "Bitch, where's the guns?" Small wonder, ventures the correspondent, that "many Iraqis are probably more scared of American troops than of insurgents."

And they wonder why Iraqis hate them...


If someone is wiling to die and kill innocents for their cause you have two choices - give them everything they want - or be as ruthless as them. Anything in the middle just results in a lingering coflict.

If you want to take the first option then you make such strategies legitimate and thus more common
If you take the second strategy it becomes hard to see the difference between you and them.

Both have negative concequences but one would hardly expect such people to have an "up side".

Posted by Genius : 1/04/2005 02:55:00 PM