Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Falluja, Murder, War and Condy Rice

Hi Everyone,

We seem to have exhausted interest in deconstructing the Bible or the writings of Madison and Jefferson. So back to the news analysis:

The US military in Iraq are nearing the end of the initial phase of their conquest of Falluja. The plan seems to be to cut off the city, clear it block by block and then start setting up a stable local administration there. One should be forgiven for wondering why this wasn't the plan a year ago. One should also be forgiven for suspecting that the Bush administration wanted to delay a nasty, ugly fight until after a closely fought election.

Speaking of nasty, ugly fights. A US Marine was filmed shooting a severely wounded Iraqi prisoner in the head and then jokingly saying, "He's dead now." Great image. I heard about the story on NPR this morning and saw an edited version of the video on CNN this morning. However, the story is being buried deep in the nested bowels of the news network websites. You can read the CNN version of the story here. BBC version here.

Now, I'm not naive about war. This sort of thing (shooting of unarmed, wounded prisoners) happens in war. It is part of why war is generally regarded as a horrible, waste of life, property and sanity. It is also exactly the kind of thing that those of us who were opposed to an invasion of Iraq predicted would happen and those supporting the invasion in Iraq denied would happen and still insist are exaggerated by liberal press that is out to get Bush. And let us not forget that as terrible as it is that a US soldier committed a war crime against Iraqi prisoners, this also effects the soldier in question. He is probably a perfectly normal guy, well brought up, with loved ones and a life waiting for him in America somewhere. But now this young man will have to live with a terrible crime that War has brought him to commit. Even if he is acquitted, will he ever be the same? What of his comrades who witnessed the event? Now multiply that many many times and ask it again.

Pro-war folks seem to have an idealized view of American troops. Americans never commit war crimes. American soldiers only shoot bad guys, never miss and usually let the bad guys get the drop on them first. Then the happy, well adjusted American G.I. get surrounded by crowds of excited local children who receive handfuls of Hershey's chocolate bars. This is, of course, nonsense. The problem is that about 50% of Americans believe it, or rather feel they NEED to believe it.

It is against this backdrop that Bush has appointed a replacement for the outgoing Secretary of State, Colin Powell. The new Secretary of State will be Condaleeza Rice. This appointment probably won't result in any changes in foreign policy. US foreign policy has long been dictated by a group of "Neo-cons" based in the VP's office and the Defense department. What Rice's move to the State department will do is end the squabbling between that department and the Department of Defense.

One thing we can see from Bush's new cabinet appointments is that each time he has had a chance to "reach out all Americans" Bush has refused to do so. His appointments in Justice Department, State Department etc have been clear signals that he intends more of the same. As I have said before, Bush's idea of reaching out is to invite his opponents to change their opinions.


Bell Curve said...

Yes, and moreover we learn that he is appointing more sycophants to these posts, instead of people who may be more qualified to do these jobs.

Gaoshan said...

Basically, the State Department has been muzzled. Congratulations to Cheney and the neo cons... they have managed to subvert liberty even more than before!

As for that shooting in Fallujah. Consider the following:
The soldier who did the shooting was wounded the day before by a booby-trapped body (one of his squad-mates was killed). The soldiers are taught that the most dangerous enemy is a severely wounded one. A block over, on the same day, another squad had sustained casualties (including a fatality) from another booby-trapped body. The soldier said that the guy was "faking it" (it being death, presumably) prior to shooting him. I would guess he thought that the guy was "faking it" for a reason... perhaps to blow a grenade or something? Who knows for sure.
Given all of these facts and possibilities, plus the usual trauma that that kind of fighting (door to door urban fighting) apparently can induce, is it unreasonable to give the kid some sort of benefit of the doubt?
Yes it is awful and yes it cannot be simply ignored but there ARE, to my eye, extenuating circumstances.

FYI... I am totally against the war.

Raised By Republicans said...

Yes Gao Shan. I'm open to the prospect of extenuating circumsances and the presumption of innocence.

I think this is a tragedy all the way around for the men on both ends of the weapon (guy at the trigger and the guy who got killed).

For our purposes (since we know neither man), the question is whether we should have seen this coming. I think we should have and most people who I know who were against the war were at least in part thinking of this kind of event as reason for opposing the war.

US West said...

I would hope RBR, that it isn't just incidents like that reported in Falluja that would cause people to be against war. Things like the Abu Gharib abuses were foreseeable. And lest we forget, no one gets to see the caskets or body bags coming home and we don't bother to keep body counts of Iraqis. So for 99.6% of the population, war is academic. Unless you have lost some one in Iraqi or know someone there, life goes on as always. It isn't our buildings getting blown up, after all.

It disturbs me how exercised people get of the loss of 3000 lives in New York as if we had not taken out millions is Japan, Vietnam, Latin America, etc through our own version of state sponsored terror. I never realized, for instance, how we carpet bombed all of Japan and then, dumped 2 nukes just for good measure. And let's talk about the damaged and destroyed men and WOMEN who returned from Vietnam and the years of pain they have endured.

So I can think of all sorts of nasty, ugly reasons to oppose war. And how about the biggest one. IT IS JUST WRONG!

Now let's talk Condi. This was leaked before the election. So it is no big surprise. And what Bush is doing is instituting Group Think. I have heard that not even Dick Cheney talks during cabinet meetings. I know cabinets get reshuffled. But this sees to be a mass exodus. You took people, who thought they were going to serve, and you muzzled them and refuse to entertain their ideas. Great management skills. That must have been what ran all his businesses into the ground. And what kills me, is the PR machine makes this sound like a good thing. ""Bush is very sure of what he wants and it looks like he is resolute." I listened to an NPR reporter, who sounded oh so thrilled, to be attached to this White House, trying to deliver the White House talking points on the leader who doesn't like any opposition. The poor reporter sounded like he wanted to gag.

And while we at it, let's look at the latest Congressional antics. So we change party rules so we can keep Tom Delay? How does this help them? You really want a guy who may be indicted for corruption sitting as your majority leader?

The Far right is in a tailspin because it looks like Specter will Chair of the Justice committee. I never thought I would breath a sigh of relief at the sign of Specter. And does anyone know much about Senator Reid (other than he grew up without indoor plumbing) who is the new Senate Minority leader?

Raised By Republicans said...

Hi US West,

I agree with you that this shooting is not the only reason to oppose the war. The expectations of things like this, though, is part of (but not the only part) of why I opposed the war.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of reasons I opposed the war in the first place (that come to mind right now and in no particular order).

1) deterrance works, so EVEN IF Iraq had WMDs it is uneccessary to invade
2) If Iraq had WMDs detterence would have failed because Saddam would have nothing to lose if he faced removal from power - so the only way I could see Saddam using WMDs against us would be if we invaded him.
3) War is a nasty, dirty business that kills, destroys and corrupts on a mass scale. It should be undertaken when it is the ONLY way to solve a problem that is EVEN WORSE!
4) I knew that a prolonged occupation of Iraq would be neccessary after the war and I expected it to be just as messy as it has turned out to be. Now we're stuck, we've limited our options instead of expanding them.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I hate to say it, but against the backdrop of the heavy fighting (and casualties) in Falluja and the atrocities committed by the terrorists and insurgents in Iraq, the murder of one wounded Iraqi fighter by a Marine doesn't really merit being lifted out of the "nested bowels" of the news network websites.

Just because it was caught on tape doesn't make it newsworthy. Meanwhile (of course) the fair and balanced Al-Jazeera network made a meal out of that tragic footage while refusing to show the video of the kidnapping and murder of Maragaret Hassan (director of CARE int'l in Iraq) by the insurgents--a crime that was newsworthy.