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I'm breaking all the rules tonight for this diary - I never post more than 1 diary a night, I never cut n paste, and I use more than one source and engage in analysis.

But this evidence of both the brutality by American forces in Fallujah, combined with evidence of not achieving the stated victory of "killing 1200 insurgents" and possibly forwarding the cause of civil war in Iraq, is just too important not to post.

The following excerpts are from a Channel 4 UK/Guardian documentary project on what really happened in Fallujah.

At around 8am, Tariq and I drove towards Falluja. We didn't believe that we might actually get into the city.

The American soldiers at the checkpoint were nervous. The approach to the checkpoint was covered in pebbles so we had to drive very slowly. The soldiers spent 20 minutes searching my car, then they bodysearched Tariq and me. They gave me a yellow tape to put on to the windscreen of the car, showing I had been searched and was a contractor. If I didn't have this stripe of yellow, a US sniper would shoot me as an enemy car.

By 10am we were inside the city. It was completely devastated, destruction everywhere. It looked like a city of ghosts. Falluja used to be a modern city; now there was nothing. We spent the day going through the rubble that had been the centre of the city; I didn't see a single building that was functioning.

The Americans had put a white tape across the roads to stop people wandering into areas that they still weren't allowed to enter. I remembered the market from before the war, when you couldn't walk through it because of the crowds. Now all the shops were marked with a cross, meaning that they had been searched and secured by the US military. But the bodies, some of them civilians and some of them insurgents, were still rotting inside.

There were dead dogs everywhere in this area, lying in the middle of the streets. Reports of rabies in Falluja had reached Baghdad, but I needed to find a doctor.

Fallujans are suspicious of outsiders, so I found it surprising when Nihida Kadhim, a housewife, beckoned me into her home. She had just arrived back in the city to check out her house; the government had told the people three days earlier that they should start going home. She called me into her living room. On her mirror she pointed to a message that had been written in her lipstick. She couldn't read English. It said: "Fuck Iraq and every Iraqi in it!"

"They are insulting me, aren't they?" she asked.

I left her and walked towards the cemetery. I noticed the dead dogs again. I had been told in Baghdad by a friend of mine, Dr Marwan Elawi, that the Baghdad Hospital for Infectious Diseases admits one case of rabies every week. The problem is that infected dogs are eating the corpses and spreading the disease.

As I was walking by the cemetery, I caught the smell of death coming from one of the houses. The door was open and the first thing I saw was a white car parked in the driveway and on top of it a launcher for an RPG.

I went inside, and the sound of the rain on the roof and the darkness inside made me very afraid. The door was open, all the windows were broken and there were bullet holes running down the hall to a bathroom at the end - as if the bullets were chasing something or somebody. The bathroom led on to a bedroom and I stepped inside and saw the body of a fighter.

The leg was missing, the hand was missing and the furniture in the house had been destroyed. I couldn't breathe with the smell. I realised that Tariq wasn't with me, and I panicked and ran. As I got out of the house I saw a white teddy bear lying in the rain, and a green boobytrap bomb.

Some of the worst fighting took place here in the centre of the city, but there was no sign of the 1,200 to 1,600 fighters the Americans said they had killed. I had heard that there was a graveyard for the fighters somewhere in the city but people said that most of them had withdrawn from the city after the first week of fighting. I needed to find one of the insurgents to tell me the real story of what had happened in the city. The Americans had said that there had been a big military victory, but I couldn't understand where all the fighters were buried.

After I saw the body I felt uncomfortable about sleeping in Falluja. The place was deserted and polluted with death and all kinds of weapons. Imagine sleeping in a place where any of the surrounding houses might have one, two or three bodies. I wanted out.

December 26

In the morning, I went back to find the cemetery and look for evidence of the fighters who had been killed. It was about 4pm before I got inside the martyrs' cemetery; people kept waylaying me, wanting to show me their destroyed houses and asking why the journalists didn't come and show what the Americans had done to Falluja. They were also angry at the interim President Allawi for sending in the mainly Shia National Guard to help the Americans.

At the entrance to the fighters' graveyard a sign read: "This cemetery is being given by the people of Falluja to the heroic martyrs of the battle against the Americans and to the martyrs of the jihadi operations against the Americans, assigned and approved by the Mujahideen Shura council in Falluja."

As I went into the graveyard, the bodies of two young men were arriving. The faces were rotting. The ambulance driver lifted the bones of one of the hands; the skin had rotted away. "God is the greatest. What kind of times are we living through that we are holding the bones and hands of our brothers?"

Then he began cursing the National Guard, calling them even worse things than the Americans: "Those bastards, those sons of dogs." It wasn't the first time I had heard this. It was the National Guard the Americans used to search the houses; they were seen by the Fallujans as brutal stooges. Most of the volunteers for the National Guard are poor Shias from the south. They are jobless and desperate enough to volunteer for a job that makes them assassination targets. "National infidels", they were also called.

I counted the graves: there were 74. The two young men made it 76. The names on the headstones were written in chalk and some had been washed away. One read: "Here lies the heroic Tunisian martyr who died", but I didn't see any other evidence of the hundreds of foreign fighters that the US had said were using Falluja as their headquarters. People told me there were some Yemenis and Saudis, some volunteers from Tunisia and Egypt, but most of the fighters were Fallujan. The US military say they have hundreds of bodies frozen in a potato chip factory 5km south of the city, but nobody has been allowed to go there in the past two months, including the Red Crescent.

Salman Hashim was crying beside the grave of his son, who had been a fighter in Falluja.

"He is 18 years old. He wanted to be a doctor or engineer after this year; it was his last year in high school." At the same grave, the boy's mother was crying and remembering her dead son, who was called Ahmed. "I blame Ayad Allawi. If I could I would cut his throat into pieces." Then, to the mound of earth covering her son's body, she said: "I told you those fighters would get you killed." The boy's father told her to be quiet in front of the camera.

On the next grave was written the name of a woman called Harbyah. She had refused to leave the city for the camps with her family. One of her relatives was standing by her grave. He said that he found her dead in her bed with at least 20 bullets in her body.

I saw other rotting bodies that showed no signs of being fighters. In one house in the market there were four bodies inside the guest room. One of the bodies had its chest and part of its stomach opened, as if the dogs had been eating it. The wrists were missing, the flesh of the arm was missing, and parts of the legs.

I tried to figure out who these four men were. It was obvious which houses the fighters were in: they were totally destroyed. But in this house there were no bullets in the walls, just four dead men lying curled up beside each other, with bullet holes in the mosquito nets that covered the windows. It seemed to me as if they had been asleep and were shot through the windows. It is the young men of the family who are usually given the job of staying behind to guard the house. This is the way in Iraq - we never leave the house empty. The four men were sleeping the way we sleep when we have guests - we roll out the best carpet in the guest room and the men lie down beside each other.

"Its Abu Faris's house. I think that the fat dead body belongs to his son, Faris," said Abu Salah, whose chip shop was also destroyed in the bombing.

December 27

I woke up at home in Baghdad around 9am. I had had enough of Falluja, but I still felt that I didn't understand what had happened. The city was completely devastated - but where were the bodies of all the dead fighters the Americans had killed?

...It was late afternoon when I drove out of Falluja and back to Baghdad, feeling that I had just scratched the surface of what really happened there. But it is clear that by completely destroying this Sunni city, with the help of a mostly Shia National Guard, the US military has fanned the seeds of a civil war that is definitely coming. If there are elections now and the Shia win, that war is certain. The people I spoke to had no plans to vote. No one I met in those five days had a ballot paper.

A week after I arrived in London to make the film for Channel 4 News, the tape of the final interview arrived by Federal Express. It was the interview with Alzaim Abu, who had led the fighters in the Shuhada district of Falluja and fought the Americans in the early battles in the city centre. We had been been trying to track him down for nearly three weeks. Then Tariq had got a call from him the night I had left for London saying that he would talk. thing stood out for me that explained the empty graveyard and the lack of bodies. He said that most of the fighters had been given orders to abandon the city by November 17, nine days after the assault began. "The withdrawal of the fighters was carried out following an order by our senior leadership. We did not pull out because we did not want to fight. We needed to regroup; it was a tactical move. The fighters decided to redeploy to Amiriya and some went to Abu Ghraib," he said.

The US military destroyed Falluja, but simply spread the fighters out around the country. They also increased the chance of civil war in Iraq by using their new national guard of Shias to suppress Sunnis. Once, when a foreign journalist, an Irish guy, asked me whether I was Shia or Sunni - the way the Irish do because they have that thing about the IRA - I said I was Sushi. My father is Sunni and my mother is Shia. I never cared about these things. Now, after Falluja, it matters.

My God.  What have we done?

Originally posted to grannyhelen on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 07:27 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I read about this today (4.00)
    You can watch a clip from the documentary HERE (that article has the link to the Real Player version).

    A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government. -- Edward Abbey

    by Page van der Linden on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 07:16:33 PM PST

    •  Thanks for the link! (4.00)
      I'm still a little shaken up after reading about this...

      "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

      by grannyhelen on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 07:23:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't get (none)
        How some people in the U.S. can't just think for a moment: "What would it be like if my city was destroyed like this, if my family was killed?"
        God help them, and us.
        •  Or (none)
          "What would I do to people who destroyed my city and killed my family?"
        •  The response I got (none)
          when I asked this question:

          "oh.  i'm sorry.  but the part where you're not george bush, and neither am i, means we can't know, doesn't it?  BUT... 9/11 called for it.  it did.  it, combined with other things.  he was right to go to war.  we are right."

          and this from the wife of an World Net Daily editor:
          "Let me know if you are open enough to really discuss the issue of the war.
          I know you are taking into consideration the vast amount of people who were
          exterminated by Sadam such as the Marsh People who were totally wiped out
          and the Kurds who seem to be nobody's favorite, and then there was the mass
          graves of his own people.  And what about those weapons of mass destruction
          that EVERYONE thought Sadam had?  I know you, too, must be bothered by the
          fact that the countries who did not stand with us after 14 years of promises
          to do so under the UN, turned out to be smuggling money under the so called
          "Oil for Food" act and that even the UN secretary's hands are bloody with
          the scandal.  Too bad the main-line media refuses to take these guys to task
          while trying to undermined the very leaders who actually are calling the UN
          to task. Makes you kind of wonder, hu!  And though I do not think that Bush
          is a saint (who of us are?)  you cannot actually be entertaining the thought
          of John Kerry as the leader of the free world when his corruption is
          documented with the blood of Vietnam POWs?

          What are you reading?  These photos prove none of the messages that are
          attached to them, Sharon.  In this age of propagandists whose aim is to
          destroy America, tell me you are not gulping this stuff down with out a
          thorough investigation.  I have many friends over there and this is just not
          the truth."

          There is more but it all sounds the same.

          The Christian Right is neither

          by TXsharon on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 07:04:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You poor kid (none)
            Sharon, I think I must be talking to some of the same people you are.  It is simply the most frustrating, maddening thing.  It's as if they dare not believe any actual facts, because that would be giving in to "The Left," which you know has An Agenda.  I don't even know what the damn agenda is but they do, and it ain't good, believe you me.
              It would be anti-Christian, anti-Republican, anti-American, anti-family values, anti-decency!  
            ...To believe in facts, and not spin.  
      •  "My God. What Have We Done?" (4.00)
        Thank you for this diary. Those words should ring for decades.

        But they won't. They didn't after the millions of deaths in Vietnam and Cambodia, and everywhere since. So may I add:

        My God. Who are we?

        •  Who are we ? (4.00)
          We are every empire
          •  i can't get this line out of my head (none)
            it speaks to human folly, the blindness of power, and the groupthink present everywhere, even in highschool cafeterias.

            Being a part of an empire culture that is just revealing it's corrupted innards is a terrible thing.

            All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

            by SeanF on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 01:11:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Remember RFK, from Aeschylus (4.00)
          The night Martin Luther King was killed, Robert Kennedy was campaigning for president in Indianapolis.  He was told the news just before he went onstage, and delivered the news to the audience.  His words are appropriate for news like this.

          My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: "Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."
           (Full text here)

          Don't ask a question unless you want to hear the answer.

          by Dallasdoc on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 10:02:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Dallasdoc. RFK : incredible words. (none)
            Thanks for posting. Brings back memories of a heroic time.
            •  Those words make me cry every time (none)
              RFK was truly a figure from a lost Golden Age of politics.  If only we could find a candidate with half of the intelligence, passion and courage he showed in 1968.  He's always been the ideal to which I hold a leader.  I'll find my candidate when someone reminds me of RFK.

              Don't ask a question unless you want to hear the answer.

              by Dallasdoc on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 06:49:47 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  I read this last night and am just sickened.. (none)
      no wonder troops coming home after taking part in that travesty are disturbed. There will be alot more joining them. We have to show our support by not allowing Repubs to cut veterans benefits. They are going to need serious physical and mental health care. As far as Fallujah and it's citizens, what can you say? We will reap what we have sown.There are dark days ahead for this country and that's the way it should be.We have committed atrocities against these people and we are all responsible. Maybe we didn't fight hard enough to stop this before it started, we weren't outraged enough! We allowed our Democratic leaders to get away with voting to allow this psychotic President to take us down this path of destruction. We even nominated someone who voted for this debacle to be our candidate!!  
  •  God will never forgive this shit. (4.00)
    Bush has good reason to fear the international justice system.  

    Some day (no doubt years from now) it would nonetheless be cleansing to see Bush et al (a la Pinochet) on trial in an American court of law.  

    •  62,041,268 Helpers (none)
      The angry (and only partially rational) part of me would like to see all those who voted for Bush/Cheney get summoned to testify at his trial to explain how they could vote for a man so completely clueless about the results of these actions taken on his behalf.  In a sense, they would all be unindicted co-conspirators.

      Frighteningly, even many on the wingnut branch of the punditocracy now think that the best possible solutions now involve a whole lot more bloodletting and may well result in full-blown civil war.  In today's New York Times, David Brooks crosses his fingers and just hopes for the best.  He concludes, "It may just happen that the decent people will somehow -- eventually -- win."  Not exactly a ringing endorsement of a successful policy.

      The horrors of war are likely to continue for a long, long while.  And the more brutal the insurgents become, the more brutally we will retaliate.  In a vicious cycle, there are no winners.

      •  All Bush voters (none)
        have blood on their hands, money, and bibles.
        •  all AMERICANS have blood on their hands (none)
          this is on all of us, not just the suckers who voted for Bush
          •  true (none)
            not because we are all culpable, but because the blood is there regardless. The sins of the fathers do visit the sons.

            All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

            by SeanF on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 01:12:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I wish (4.00)
              No. The sins of the sons visit the sons. As gut-wrenching as it is, this is nothing new. The US has a history of slaughtering civilians and supporting right wing terrorists that only seems to have gotten worse in the last twenty years.

              People talk about slavery and what we did to the Indians. How about what we did to Iran, Guatemala, Equador, El Salvador, Chile, Peru, Nicaragua, Vietnam, and probably more places than you can count.

              The system seems as corrupt right now as it ever has been, and we are all to blame right now for our own actions.

              It isn't just Bush voters. How many of the Kerry voters didn't demand accountability for the Iraq war? How many of us work for corporations that are exploiting other countries, instead of quitting on principle? How many of us spend more time watching television than fighting?

              At this point, I am just disgusted with everything. I don't know how to change it, and I don't know how to live with it.

              I am pro-life; end the death penalty.

              by Aguas de Marco on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 05:21:59 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Me too (none)
                I want to work toward change but it's getting so painful that I'm contemplating just turning everything off--TV, computer, newspapers...

                The Christian Right is neither

                by TXsharon on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 07:14:21 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  not with you (none)
                are you suggesting the only correct course of action is to drop out of society and live off the land? I love Noam Chomsky as much as the next guy, but the only question that is really interesting, which he ignores, is how does one weild power responsibly.

                All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

                by SeanF on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 12:20:35 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  I seriously discourage you from doing that (none)
                Maybe tone down, but do not disengage.  There is hope and we can make things better, if not perfect.    
          •  I have to disagree (none)
            I am free of sin.  At every opportunity I have spoken out about the atrocity this war is, since before it started until now.  If you say I'm guilty because I'm American, than I was only guilty until I learned that my actions have global impact and I changed my way of living.  
    •  Americans must learn to repent (4.00)
      Looking back over American history, I can find almost no evidence that the American people has any real capacity to feel guilt, remorse, or even self-criticism.  

      Southern states still proudly fly a flag associated with a war to maintain slavery.  We shrug our shoulders, look away a moment, and change the subject when the genocide of Native Americans is (rarely) mentioned.  We cannot even acknowledge our imperial history, and so cannot recognize our current imperial misadventures even when they're killing our sons and daughters.  Segregated societies, shamed for once into doing the right thing, are sneakily and steadily resegregating.  Bigots are pushed away from one group of victims, only to fall upon another with the same self-justifications.  The rich abuse and squeeze the poor, and every step forward is followed by a step back.

      What would we say to the Germans if they flew the swastika again, claiming the right "to honor our ancestors"?  Yet the Stars and Bars flies over state capitols in several of our cities.

      How can a "Christian nation" have no concept of repentance?  How can a nation that refuses to learn from the mistakes of its past ever hope to improve?  How DARE we claim to be the greatest nation on earth?

      Peace be with you.

      Don't ask a question unless you want to hear the answer.

      by Dallasdoc on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 09:25:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  better than most (none)
        i think Americans have a greater capacity to repetence than some other countries. can you imagine a Holocaust museum in Russia? or a government-sponsored Native American history museum in Australia? or the Japanese paying reparations to its "comfort women" while we at least paid some of our Japanese American internees?

        America is by no means perfect (i've read my Howard Zinn), but after traveling in some other countries, i think it actually does a better job of self-reflection than others. lord knows we still have much much more to repent for (the latest being IRaq), but compared to some previous empires i dont think we are by any means the worst.

        •  Why do you think that? (none)
          What evidence do you see that we have any meaningful capacity for repentance?  We are better than some empires, true--the Mongols were pretty bad--but we're far too prone to be self-congratulatory, and to wallow in our self-endowed sense of specialness.

          The British, French, Spanish, Germans.... all know more about the pitfalls of imperial ambition than we do, because they've had to come to terms with the loss of their empires.  Why can't we learn from their experience, rather than repeat their mistakes and revile them for their warnings?  Even the Japanese, who ignore their own history, at least learned that imperial ambition and warlike policies were very bad ideas.

          Don't ask a question unless you want to hear the answer.

          by Dallasdoc on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 11:03:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  imperial ambition (none)
            yeah, no one learns from history. and the next empire (whether it's china or someone else) will be just as bad as we are now. i was here in DC for the American Indian museum opening. that meant a hell of a lot to a lot of indigenous people, who remarked, as shitty as they have been treated, they know they are at least respected now and honored in the US for their contributions, unlike say...Australia. does a museum make up for what we did to them? hell no, but it's a better start than a lot of other countries.

            and i'm sorry, but the Japanese are way worse than us. the comfort women situation still enrages half of my family and the Japanese have absolutely never come to terms with their imperialism in Korea and China. and you must not know Japanese  politics very well, because the right wing is very very powerful and wants to overturn the pacifism of the Constitution and build nukes, glorifies their own imperialist past and they outright kill people who disagree. they make Pat Robertson and Tom Delay look positively saintly in comparison. i remarked on that to my japanese friend and he agreed that their right wingers were way worse than ours.

            •  Wow. (none)
              Maybe that's why they are our "friends" in Iraq, government-wise. The populace, (most of them in the protests we chose to show during the captvitiy of some of their citizens)seem to disagree with their government's policy regarding Iraq.
          •  our former allies can describe it better than we (none)
            Gunter Grass: "US betrays its core values"

            When I read this back in 2003, it was awful. Like a condemnation that rang to the core. Like some wonderful gift that we had that we threw away.

            All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

            by SeanF on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 01:17:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Hit the nail on the head. So insightful. (none)
        How much outrage would be displayed if the swastika was proudly displayed from SUV's. That's a thought. Condi Rice was one of those who said, hey it's o.k. to fly that flag: state rights, don't you know. Then we went and took a sovreign nation's flag and redesigned it. Our constitutional fathers are rolling over.
    •  He has good reason to fear God as well. (none)

      Creationism? Since when do we teach fables with science? - Anon.

      by Pescadero Bill on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 09:44:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This account is terrifying... (4.00)
    ...but the story it tells is not entirely unexpected. We all know that the military exaggerates the good news and minimizes the bad, and with no reporters on the ground in Falluja it was not possible to get a clear picture of what happened there. But news that terrible things happened in Falluja have been filtering out for quite some time.

    We need more reporting like this, and we need to get it onto the nightly news so all Americans can see what this war is doing to Iraq. We need to stop the Bush administration from lying about what is happening over there.

    History will judge us for this.

    •  I don't get it. (4.00)
      Why is the MSM ignoring this and other stories? I've heard it was because it is too dangerous for reporters to travel into much of Iraq. Well, if this is the case, then why not just give a few Iraqi journalists camcorders and let them capture the stories? The truth is that our MSM is more terrified of own government than they are of reporting the truth. Look what happened at CBS. PBS has also succumbed to pressure from this administration. A free press is one of the great checks against corruption, yet it is nowhere to be found.
      •  It is too dangerous to travel in Iraq (none)
        Too dangerous for American government propaganda, anyway.

        Don't ask a question unless you want to hear the answer.

        by Dallasdoc on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 09:51:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  "Definitely, Lord Copper" (none)

           "With regard to Policy, I expect you already have your own views.  I never hamper my correspondents in any way.  What the British public wants first, last and all the time is News.  Remember that the Patriots are in the right and are going to win.  'The Beast' stands by them foursquare.  But they must win quickly.  The British public has no interest in a war which drags on indecisively.  A few sharp victories, some conspicuous acts of personal bravery on the Patriot side and a colourful entry into the capital.  That is 'The Beast' policy for the war."

        'Scoop'  (1938)
        Evelyn Waugh

          Looks like those darn insurgents and dead-enders are messing with everybody's policy.  So, of course, it's just best to ignore them, right?


        "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." T.J.

        by BenGoshi on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 04:07:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is a shame - (none)
    but not a surprise.  No matter what happens the NeoCons will claim victory - hopefully it won't be too long til no one believes them.
  •  But the horror is not what is most interesting.. (4.00)
    ..the following comment is:
    At a checkpoint a hooded face came to the window; he was carrying an old AK47 on his shoulder and looking for a donation towards the jihad. There were six fighters in total, all hooded. The driver and Tariq both made a donation; I was frightened he would search the car and find the camera, so I gave him my Iraqi doctor's ID card, hoping that would work. He apologised and asked that we excuse him.

    Just stop me if this is too much, but the insurgents are setting up checkpoints??? More than that, then they waived a doctor through... that's a degree of organisation and, most importantly, a degree of legitimacy, at least in their own eyes.
    In this one point, you can sum up that we're losing. They had the confidence to freely set up a checkpoint. And the writer also made it sound as if it was a common occurrence. I think you can draw many disturbing conclusions from that fact.
    •  Insurgents have been setting up checkpoints for... (4.00)
      months. Remember Kenneth Bigley? He was beheaded by insurgents in October.. but before this, he managed to escape, but was recaptured at what sounds suspicously like a checkpoint..

      An insurgent checkpoint is also mentioned in these October and November articles. Plenty of other examples on Google, including this one from April:

      "Fatfat, an American citizen who is Lebanese by birth and a native Arabic speaker, said he is one of the few able to venture into Baghdad. He travels with Iraqis in unmarked cars, stashing his CPA badge in his sock.

      Like many in the CPA, Fatfat has had close calls.

      During April's rebel uprisings, he said, his car was stopped at an insurgent checkpoint in Baghdad one night. The masked men let him go when he displayed his Lebanese passport and swore he didn't work for the Americans."

      PS as a compete newbie, how do you put quotes in boxes like everybody else does?

  •  There's more (4.00)
    Fallujah horror stories retold
    1/4/2005 9:30:00 PM GMT

    The fighting in Fallujah may appear to have ended, but the after effects linger on. According to reports from the main hospital, more than 700 bodies have been recovered from the debris and rubble of what used to be people's homes and businesses.

    The director of the hospital Dr Rafa'ah al-Iyssaue states that it's the single most depressing situation he has even been in since the start of the war with dead bodies, including those of children, being picked up from the destroyed homes. Of the 700 corpses 'collected' so far more than 550 have been those of women and children. What male bodies have been uncovered most were elderly.

     According to the doctors at the hospital, many of the bodies found were mutilated, some with no arms or legs. While the bodies of two babies found are believed to have died from malnutrition. The number of bodies found are only from nine districts in Fallujah with some 18 others yet to be reached. The number of dead doesn't include those buried by civilians.[...]

    Reports like this have been coming out of Falluja since April 2004.

    Support the troops? BRING THEM HOME

    To thine own self be true - W.S.

    by Agathena on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 08:07:25 PM PST

  •  Life is a divine comedy (4.00)
    We took our eye off the ball, became seduced by The Simpons and worshiped American Idols, while we fawned over a kid who could throw a ball rewarding him like a king. All the while we allowed our government to represent the worst in our nation, as we bought into the myth sold to us by the Whirlitzer.

    May God have mercy upon all of us in this nation. As a nation we will reap what we sow.

  •  Apocalypse Now (4.00)
    There's a reason why all the people who have been in one say that war is hell.

    Because it is.

    When you loosen the moral code to allow for killing other human beings, something basic snaps in the will of most people.  What follows is ugly, repulsive and intensely violent.

    We opened that box and now the evils are flying around Iraq uncontrollably.  What has been loosed in the world is beyond us, beyond even our imagination.  

    There is no winning.  There never is in war.

    Just grieving, sorrow and hatred.  I feel them all.

    There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio. --Shakespeare

    by Mi Corazon on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 08:25:15 PM PST

  •  It is so hard to remain calm when things are so (none)
    wrong with the state of the nation.
  •  First thing we did was to bomb the hospitals n/t (none)
  •  Maybe they want civil war ? (none)
    It was well known that attacking Fallujah would divide the country even further. That plays into the hands of the US, more than anyone else. After all, we'll then be needed for stability.
  •  Where to start (4.00)
    America needs to treat Iraq like a country, not like its playground.

    America needs to treat Iraqis like human beings, not like its playthings, to be destroyed when it gets petulant.

    America needs to treat itself like a responsible adult, not a spoiled, ill-tempered, brat.

  •  BBC reported tonight (none)
    that thousands and thousands of Fallujah residents have still not returned to their homes because of the devastation and the lack of basic services.

    Sounds like it's a little late for us to bring on the death squads--the Sunni population is already being terrorized.

  •  great diary. Also, did you see ... (none)
    that the WMD search is officially "over" - of course, nothing was found:

  •  Thanks Granny (4.00)
    Shocking...and they are voting in a couple of weeks?

    educate 'em when they're young

    by Chamonix on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 09:11:46 PM PST

  •  Our First Atrocity Was in Fallujah (4.00)
    The day after Saddam's statue was pulled telegenically down in Baghdad, American soldiers had an unfortunate encounter in Fallujah that I remember as the first discordant note from the Wurlitzer's serenade.

    Apparently tanks had rolled into a square in Fallujah, to encounter some locals gesticulating and shouting.  Exact details never came out (to my memory), but shots were fired and 17 civilians were killed.  Iraqi translators were quoted in the press to the effect that Fallujah was well known in Iraq as the place most devoted to revenge and the culture of the blood feud.  They predicted that Americans would never be tolerated in Fallujah after that.  At the time, news like this was actually considered shocking.

    How far we've come.  And how low....

    Don't ask a question unless you want to hear the answer.

    by Dallasdoc on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 09:16:10 PM PST

  •  Anyone wonder when it all began in Falluja? (4.00)
    This is how it all began:
    MAHMOOD MAMDANI:  For the last week, I have been thinking of the city of Fallujah, and thinking about Fallujah has not been easy while one reads The New York Times. I looked for an article which would tell me something about the history of resistance in the city of Fallujah. I didn't find it in the Times. I found it in The Guardian in London, and the Guardian piece told me that this resistance began with the massacre of April 28, 2003, when parents and children in a school which had been occupied by American soldiers, had started demonstrating, and 18 of them were killed in cold blood, 60 were injured, and began the resistance to the US occupation in Fallujah. Before that, not a bullet had been fired.
    From Democracy Now

    There was also Bush's order "Heads will roll" after the desecration of the bodies of four American security guards. Falluja was made to pay for it.

    To thine own self be true - W.S.

    by Agathena on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 09:25:09 PM PST

  •  When in despair, turn to poetry (4.00)
    I'm sure you've all read this poem before, but it strikes me as so relevant to the story of Fallujah. The despair, the destruction, the emptiness of empires in the desert.

    Ozymandias by PB Shelley

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away."

    Permit us to question-to doubt, that's all-not to be sure. Richard Feynman

    by cosmic debris on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 09:47:43 PM PST

    •  Good Company for Yeats (4.00)
      The Second Coming

       Turning and turning in the widening gyre
      The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
      Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
      Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
      The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
      The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
      The best lack all convictions, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity.

      Surely some revelation is at hand;
      Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
      The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
      When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
      Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
      A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
      A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
      Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
      Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
      The darkness drops again; but now I know
      That twenty centuries of stony sleep
      Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
      And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
      Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    •  WH Auden (4.00)
      This one always makes me cry

          The Shield of Achilles
          W. H. Auden

          She looked over his shoulder
                For vines and olive trees,
           Marble well-governed cities
                And ships upon untamed seas,
           But there on the shining metal
                His hands had put instead
           An artificial wilderness
                And a sky like lead.

      A plain without a feature, bare and brown,
         No blade of grass, no sign of neighborhood,
      Nothing to eat and nowhere to sit down,
         Yet, congregated on its blankness, stood
         An unintelligible multitude,
      A million eyes, a million boots in line,
      Without expression, waiting for a sign.

      Out of the air a voice without a face
         Proved by statistics that some cause was just
      In tones as dry and level as the place:
         No one was cheered and nothing was discussed;
         Column by column in a cloud of dust
      They marched away enduring a belief
      Whose logic brought them, somewhere else, to grief.

           She looked over his shoulder
                For ritual pieties,
           White flower-garlanded heifers,
                Libation and sacrifice,
           But there on the shining metal
                Where the altar should have been,
           She saw by his flickering forge-light
                Quite another scene.

      Barbed wire enclosed an arbitrary spot
         Where bored officials lounged (one cracked a joke)
      And sentries sweated for the day was hot:
         A crowd of ordinary decent folk
         Watched from without and neither moved nor spoke
      As three pale figures were led forth and bound
      To three posts driven upright in the ground.

      The mass and majesty of this world, all
         That carries weight and always weighs the same
      Lay in the hands of others; they were small
         And could not hope for help and no help came:
         What their foes like to do was done, their shame
      Was all the worst could wish; they lost their pride
      And died as men before their bodies died.

           She looked over his shoulder
                For athletes at their games,
           Men and women in a dance
                Moving their sweet limbs
           Quick, quick, to music,
                But there on the shining shield
           His hands had set no dancing-floor
                But a weed-choked field.

      A ragged urchin, aimless and alone,
         Loitered about that vacancy; a bird
      Flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone:
         That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
         Were axioms to him, who'd never heard
      Of any world where promises were kept,
      Or one could weep because another wept.

           The thin-lipped armorer,
                Hephaestos, hobbled away,
           Thetis of the shining breasts
                Cried out in dismay
           At what the god had wrought
                To please her son, the strong
           Iron-hearted man-slaying Achilles
                Who would not live long.

      Heartsick about the war? Join the Women in Black

      by rhubarb on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 06:04:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Falluja sindrome (4.00)
    Check out this story:

    Marine on liberty dies in gunbattle with police
    Veteran of Falluja fighting did not want to go back to Iraq

    (CNN) -- A 19-year-old Marine from Ceres, California, shot and killed a police officer and wounded another before dying in a weekend gunbattle.

    Investigators said he may have been driven by a desire to avoid returning to Iraq.

    Andres Raya was scheduled to report back to Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, on Sunday after a weekend leave.

    Instead, police said, he went out with a semiautomatic rifle and drew officers into an ambush outside a liquor store in Ceres, a town of about 35,000 next door to his hometown of Modesto.

    Raya's mother told the Modesto Bee that her son "came back different" from his last assignment, which included service in western Iraq's insurgent hotbed of Falluja.

    "In speaking with family, they conveyed to us that their son did not desire to return to Iraq," said Lt. Bill Heyne, a spokesman for the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department.

    The ambush was recorded by a security camera outside the liquor store. Raya was shot and killed after a three-hour search, investigators said.

    Ceres police spokesman Jason Woodman said Raya had walked into the store and "was pacing around, acting strange."

    He walked back outside, fired a shot with his rifle and went back inside, telling employees he had been shot and to call police.

    "As he saw the officers, he immediately engaged in gunfire with them," Woodman said. He said Raya chased the officers as they pulled back, still firing his rifle.

    "It's very evident that he was intent on engaging these officers in gunfire, and that he was not concerned with the bullets that were going to be flying in his direction," Woodman said.

    Ceres police Sgt. Howard Stevenson was killed almost instantly when he arrived at the scene, said Art de Werk, the city's director of public safety.

    Another officer, Sam Ryno, was in serious condition at a Modesto hospital Monday evening.
    A statement from Camp Pendleton said Raya was on weekend liberty when he was killed. The Marine Corps is assisting police with the investigation, the statement said.

    Raya was a driver in the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment -- an element of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, much of which is serving in Iraq.

    According to the Marines, he had been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

  •  Knowing about Fallujah (4.00)
    A caller reached James Zogby's "Viewpoint" on WorldLINK TV last Friday. She marvelled at Colin Powell's reaction to the tsunami devastation, claiming he had never seen anything so completely demolished.

    "Hasn't he seen what we did to Fallujah?" she asked.

    What do you call feeding the poor, caring for the sick, and working for peace? Pro-life. What do you call opposing abortion? Pro-birth.

    by thecarriest on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 11:58:02 PM PST

    •  what I saw (none)
      I was in Fallujah days ago. Please don't take this as an attempt to refute or excuse the horrors reported above, but Americans were being cheered by residents as they returned to the city. There have been very few significant attacks on MNF-I forces or Iraqi security forces in the city in recent days. Iraqis continue to report weapons caches they discover in their buildings that they abandoned.
      •  smile to our face... (none)
        Many Iraqi's are going to smile and say they love us to our face. Then they'll turn around and rat  to the resistance. "Playing dumb" and "smiling at the master" are time honored techniques of suvival in an authoritarian system.

        The inability of the US military to understand these things is a contributing factor in the current debacle in Iraq. We still think that everyone loves us, and that we're spreading freedom.

        Apparently only 8,000 people have permanently returned to the

      •  Cheers from the human beings whose lives (none)
        were destroyed? I wonder if the people in this article participated in the cheering. I also wonder what they're using for substinance - you know, clean water and food. Guess the destruction of this city is all the "insurgents" fault. I know I couldn't cheer an occuppying force that destroyed my city and murdered my chldren, parents, and neighbors; but that's just me.
      •  And they elected Saddam with 99% of the vote (none)
        Suppressed people always smile fo massa with the gun.

        Snark aside, of course there is always going to be a percentage that love us and stand to do quite well under our scheme of things. There are those abused by the insurgents that welcome us. But remember, there were Tories in America that cheered for the British occupation in our revolutionary war and welcomed them back 30 years later during the War of 1812. The British military were heartened by their presence and the British press represented them as the American public's response.

        •  They are having free elections in a few weeks. (none)
          And the insurgents doing whatever they can to disrupt them--killing election workers, blowing up schools that would have been polling places, pouring asphalt in wells we and the Iraqis dig. We are fighting for freedom here--not the insurgents.

          I know you are speaking somewhat metaphorically, but no one in my unit was armed--while almost all Iraqis are. And we take great pains to treat them with respect and the acknowlegement that this is their country, not ours. Obviously, some Americans have missed that memo.

          •  Can you explain how it is that you know (none)
            the insurgents are not fighting for freedom?

            What do you think they are fighting for?  They are not all "foreign terrorists," nor are they even all "terrorists."  Many of them are just plain Iraqi citizens.  Not insurgents, just citizens defending themselves.

            If all Iraqis are armed, does that make all Iraqis insurgents, in your eyes?  And if it doesn't, then how do you tell the difference between an "insurgent," and an Iraqi who is trying simply to defend his family, his community, or his country from people he sees as occupiers?  Do you doubt that some Iraqis see Americans in this way?  Is it hard for you to believe that some Iraqis can see Americans as occupiers, without these same Iraqis being "terrorists?"

            •  To be honest, (none)
              I don't have a great understanding of who the insurgents are and what they are fighting for. I know that some here know better than me, but we are still trying to get a good handle on that. We do have some information.

              But when they are distributing propaganda that says anyone who votes or works for the elections will be beheaded, pulling election workers from their cars and shooting them in the street, and blowing up schools that would have been used as polling places, it isn't too hard to figure out that some of these guys are not in favor of a democraticly elected government.

              I would never assume that an armed Iraqi was an insurgent. Even in the International Zone, everyone is authorized an AK-47 for home defense. And there is the Iraqi Army, police, National Guard, goverment security forces, and private bodyguards, many of whom don't have distinguishing uniforms. Basically, if they seem to be trying to kill us on purpose, we consider them bad guys. I certainly don't question that most Iraqis want the US out as soon as possible. Most of them who are in leadership positions are working with the US embassy and military to figure out what "as soon as possible" means. I've got no beef with anyone who is making a nonviolent argument for sooner rather than later.

              I don't know to define "occupiers," but I can understand Iraqis wanting to manage their own affairs without us putting T-walls up all over the place. I'm looking forward to leaving myself.

              •  Thanks. (none)
                No one who is serving over there is in a good position.  It's a total mess, and much worse than we are allowed to know here in the US-- if it weren't worse, then why would the US be censoring news coverage so very much?

                I wonder, as do many people, what "democratically elected" can possibly mean with regard to the Iraq you're serving in right now.  With so many regions of the country unsafe, with so many people displaced, with so many people injured and in hiding, with so many people terrified to go out in the streets, or suspicious of their neighbors, or without ballots, or ignorant of where to vote... how can there be what we in the US might understand as "democratic elections"?  

          •  no elections (none)
            Dollars to donuts, they won't be voting in Fallujah.  The Sunnis are largely boycotting the election anyway, and even if they weren't...Allawi has already said that some parts of Iraq won't get to vote due to "security concerns."  

            And Rummy, of course, says any election at all is proof of success.  He probably doesn't remember (if he ever knew) that Iraqis regularly had elections under Saddam.  Few dared vote against him, but hey, any elections are good, right?

            Protons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic.

            by randym77 on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 07:35:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I do not mean to demean what you are doing (none)
            And I honor you for doing it. And I have no doubt that you and the rest of our professional military are respectful of the Iraqis and personally touched by the Iraqi people they meet. The "little picture" view of Iraq that you see is often touching. But the fact that we even have the setting for such touching moments is disgusting to me. In the big picture, the Iraq mission is not driven by the professional, compassionate, respectful, military you describe, but by our current batch of oil-centric politicians.

            The election in Iraq was never going to be "free". And trying to sell it here as a "free" election is a bit insulting. We can't afford a truly free election in Iraq at  this time. Only American approved groundrules are used. Only American approved candidates can run.  The constitution that the "winners" will write will be subject to our approval. Only a puppet-government, even if it is "Shia-dominated", eager to do business with America will be tolerated. Donald Rumsfeld has said as much.

            Call me jaded, but I think this is the true goal you are risking your life for. We need a constitutionally recognized Iraqi governemnt to sign over the oil to us. Once this is done, you will be sent back to your bases and the "little picture" Iraqis can then fester in what ever situation we leave them in. Whatever else your commanders have told you is what you need to hear, in order to do your job.  

            If America was occupied would you smile and cooperate with the occupiers, or be an insurgent? I think most would smile at the occupiers by day and pick up a gun with the insurgency by night.

            Whatever our differences, please be safe and return to your loved ones unharmed.

      •  Hello Winter Patriot! (none)
        Good to hear from you again!

        No one is doubting your own experiences.  What troubles me, however, is not the reaction of these people to Americans but to the Iraqis, who according to this article are poor Shias from the southern part of the country.

        If we want to leave this country in one piece without it drifting into civil war, I think it'd be a good idea if we analyzed some of the dynamics going on between these religious and ethnic groups, especially in matters of policing and use of force.

        BTW - hope you were getting some shut eye when I posted these, but I'd really appreciate it if you could read them and let me have your thoughts.  Part of a diary series I'm doing on MLK this week, leading up to the King Holiday on Monday.  As we had some discussions about MLK a while back, I'd really like to know what you think.

        Links are here:

        Martin Luther King: Liberal Patriot
        MLK on Nonviolence: How to Reform our Elections
        MLK on Nonviolence: Six Principles

        "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

        by grannyhelen on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 07:25:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for your post grannyhelen. (none)
    It is gut-wrenching to read. Are we insane or what? Makes me wonder seriously why my man Wes Clark thought it necessay to take Fallujah. This is high crimes at the least.
    •  He's the General (none)
      Maybe he has a fuller understanding of the situation. I'm sure you are very well-informed, but no doubt he understood the strategic objectives and intelligence better than we do. There is no doubt that war is horrible.

      I'm not saying don't question authority, just be sure you understand before you condemn.

      •  Strategic Objectives (none)
        unless it was to start a civil war we will probably never find out what they considered it to be. But outcomes are a different matter 300 000 Sunnis now unable to vote, A city destroyed, a large number of what appears to be war crimes, plus the American Army looking weak because, what six weeks later and they are still fighting insurgents in Fallujah and by my estimate one soldier a day dying there, and insurgents are now stronger and better able to blow up Americans and cause more damage with IEDs. I am not having a go at you but he did no you favours and unless the strategic comes to fruition soon a lot of damage to American Soldiers reputations is what Fallujah will end up being remembered for.
        •  Actually, (none)
          since the major ops in Fallujah there have been very few significant attacks there. Returning residents continue to find and voluntarily turn in weapons caches they find in their homes and other buildings.
          •  Sorry that was badly put (none)
            I meant major insurgent attacks in the rest of Iraq I was referring specifically to the six guys killed in the humvee (I think) and the two killed four injured in the (tank maybe)  sorry fuzzy on the details but they have happened recently so adding those to Mosul the appearance is better focused attacks by the insurgents making them seem stronger and better organised since the attack on fullajah.
            •  understood (none)
              Numbers of attacks are ebbing and flowing daily, but in recent days there is an increase, which is in line with what was predicted for months. The expectation was that attacks would increase before the election, since a (if not the) major goal of the attacks is to prevent Iraqis from voting. Reports of an Abrams tank being destroyed by an IED are false. A Bradley fighting vehicle was hit a few days ago, and reporters might be double-reporting that incident.
          •  not surprising considering everyone was dead (none)
            more or less who remained in town or in refugee camps out of town
  •  Can wars be fought without hatred? (none)
    I read this in the Guardian yesterday, which was illustrated with a photograph of the desecrated mirror ("Fuck Iraq and every Iraqi in it!") .  Then last night on BBC2 there was a documentary called Genocide under the Nazis .  There was a terrifying but moving interview with a man who had been one of the executioners when women and children were taken to the woods, stripped, and made to stand on the lip of a trench, so that they would fall in when they were shot.  The man admitted that that he had felt nothing, he had just accepted that this was part of war, and that these people were the enemy.  

    Is it possible to engage in war without regarding your opponent as less than human?  And if not, can there ever be a "just war"?

    •  recognition of humanity (none)
      Last week, a wounded man with a somewhat rare blood type was brought into the Iraqi hospital where I volunteer. The man needed blood, and the hospital didn't have any for him. However, two American soldiers, who had been wounded in battle but were conscious and in stable enough condition that they could donate blood, happened to share this man's type.

      Complicating matters was the fact that the man was an insurgent, injured while  participating in the ambush of a convoy. The two soldiers were told this when they were asked if they would be willing to donate. Both said yes, they would donate their blood to this man.

      Just an anecdote, but evidence that the answer to your first question is yes. As for the second question, I don't know.

      •  Go troll someplace else... (none)
        It's fascenating how you just happened to be everywhere in Iraq where things were going good... just last week.

        Laws of probability are saying you're full of shit.

        •  believe what you want, buddy (none)
          Sorry for suggesting some Americans are comporting themselves better than Nazis.
          •  The point was that this man (none)
            was not a Nazi.  He was just an ordinary German soldier.

            Only the best of us are incapable of evil under orders, as a notorious experiment once showed.

            My point was simply that war inevitably encourages us to think of the enemy as less than human.  I wonder therefore, whether a "just war" is an oxymoron.

            •  Individuals are "created equal." (none)
              But all societies are not. I think we've got a pretty good and decent thing going in the USA.

              I believe that a nation concieved in liberty and justice for all should reflect those values even when it is at war. When individuals or groups act otherwise, it is our duty as a society to figure out why that happened, and do what we can to ensure it doesn't happen again.

              I think, perhaps, the concept of war is too big and complicated to be labeled either just or unjust. I do wish it didn't happen.

              •  Yes (none)
                Agree with those principles.  I just doubt that a war can, in practice, can be fought with them intact.  I hope I am wrong.  Well, I know I am at least partly right, for reasons Granny H gives below.  And while we should "demand and expect" superhuman qualities of soldiers, it seems inevitable that they will not always be exhibited.  In which case waging war on the kind of hatred that fuelled the 9/11 attack was always likely to be counter-productive.

                But you give me hope.  Thanks.

        •  Representin' for Winter Patriot (none)
          I've blogged back-and-forth with him before, and I don't think he's a troll.  He's pretty respectful, and from what he's posted previously looks like he's here because he's open-minded and willing to see what we think.

          WP - lemme know if this is an accurate statement on where you're coming from.

          "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

          by grannyhelen on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 08:17:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks Granny H (none)
            I'm just a lonely American in Iraq, looking for some nonviolent discussion.
            •  You're welcome! (none)
              Did you see my other post above?  I've been doing an MLK diary series this week - look for my reply to your first post & you'll see some links to diaries on MLK and nonviolence.  Would love for you to read them and let me have your thoughts!

              "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

              by grannyhelen on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 08:44:10 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  You're smooth, Winter Patriot, (none)
              oh so very smooth.

              For the people reading his stuff, he's a great propagandist. With all the extremely polite [unusually polite] aw shucks, I'm just a mere human, and BTW, very lonely too, here in Iraq.  How I care about the Iraqis and "freedom."  Poor widdle me, some notions are far beyond my comprehension: I don't have a great understanding of who the insurgents are and what they are fighting for; I think, perhaps, the concept of war is too big and complicated to be labeled either just or unjust.

              Oh, and here is a story sure to tug your heartstrings: U.S. troops, donating blood to an "insurgent" who has been trying to kill, probably only moments prior to arriving at the hospital, those very blood donors.  Could Hollywood have come up with such a tear-jerker?

              I agree with Roastbeef above--wow, you've just been everywhere and know just about everything going on in Iraq [about the propaganda supposedly being delivered to potential voters, about which attacks were correctly reported and which were incorrectly reported, about celebrating Iraqis, about Iraqis finding and turning in weapons,] --to the point that it simply defies reason.  All this, and you have time to volunteer in the hospital as well.

              WP is a propagandist, pure and simple.  Note how easily he got almost everyone here concerned about "democracy" in Iraq, as if that was ever the main issue, as if the elections will provide what the Iraqis would consider a legitimate [defined as "not a puppet" of the U.S.] government.  Note how easily he manipulated everyone's sympathies.

              Well, I have some questions. Since you've bought into and are heavily promoting the "democracy" fairy tale, how do you explain the 18 [or so] bases being built in Iraq? Since you're so confused about the concept of "occupation," what would you do if a foreign country invaded the U.S. and started planting military basis everywhere?  What would you do if this invading force started to sell off/take over the U.S. assets to the proponents of the invaders?

              Just wondering.

              •  This thread keeps bringing this poem back to mind (none)

                Strange Meeting

                It seemed that out of battle I escaped
                Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
                Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
                Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
                Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
                Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared  
                With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
                Lifting distressful hands as if to bless.
                And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,
                By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.
                With a thousand pains that vision's face was grained;
                Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
                And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
                "Strange friend," I said, "here is no cause to mourn."
                "None", said the other, "save the undone years,
                The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
                Was my life also; I went hunting wild
                After the wildest beauty in the world,
                Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
                But mocks the steady running of the hour,
                And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
                For by my glee might many men have laughed,
                And of my weeping something had been left,
                Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
                The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
                Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
                Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
                They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress,
                None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
                Courage was mine, and I had mystery,
                Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery;
                To miss the march of this retreating world
                Into vain citadels that are not walled.
                Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels
                I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
                Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
                I would have poured my spirit without stint
                But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
                Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
                I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
                I knew you in this dark; for so you frowned  
                Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
                I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
                Let us sleep now. . . ."

                Wilfred Owen

              •  It's like that "What dogs hear"... (none)
                Far Side cartoon. "Winter Patriot, you're so very smooth... blah, blah, blah." Thanks, darlin'! <wink>

                how do you explain the 18 [or so] bases being built in Iraq?

                Must be some kind of war going on.

                what would you do if a foreign country invaded the U.S. and started planting military basis everywhere?

                Grab a rifle and fight 'em like hell. If, however, the U.S. was ruled by a dictator who tended to, say, gas American minority populations, I would be likely to side with the invaders and work with them to reinstate democracy.

                What would you do if this invading force started to sell off/take over the U.S. assets to the proponents of the invaders?

                If the invaders were pouring billions of dollars of aid into my country, I would be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt over the management of resources during a reconstruction. But I would audit them ferociously.

                •  This is not snark (none)
                  I am just questioning your answers:

                  What would you do if you were a member of one of the minority populations who would fail to win majority representation in a democracy, and who feared repression from an elected majority?

                  The most bitter wars seem involve minority populations oppressed by the majority.  Democracy does not guarantee freedom from oppression, sadly, and dictators can be elected.

                  And what if the invaders handed reconstruction contracts to their own nationals, when there were many unemployed and highly qualified engineers in your own country?  Would this inspire trust in the invaders?

                  The problems of Iraq preceded Saddam, just as the problems of the Balkans preceded Tito.  Dictatorships did not solve those problems, but nor did their overthrow.  Democracy can only be "reinstated" where it existed, and it depends the consent of the minority.  This consent relies on trust.

                  What is this war doing to establish trust between Iraqi minorities, majorities and occupiers?

                  •  Sunnis (none)
                    You are getting at what I see as the most critical thing we need to do in Iraq--to ensure that Sunnis are represented fairly.

                    The upcoming elections are not really "the" elections. I'm not completely up to speed but as I understand it they will elect some kind of a transitional assembly that will replace the largely U.S.-appointed interim government as the country continues down the path toward (something between utopia and a smoldering wasteland). I think that's kind of the excuse we are using for not having fully addressed this problem yet. If Sunni turnout is low (as is expected) due to a combination of the security situation in the Sunni triangle and the directives from Sunni leadership, it could be a huge problem. Iraqi leaders will have to bring the Sunnis to the table somehow, by appointing Sunnis to the assembly or other means. I am not sure what options are on the table, but I know embassy leadership is talking to Sunni leaders these days.

                    Now, this could be pure propaganda, but people are saying that polls indicate that even most Sunnis do want to vote if they are able. It's mainly Sunni insurgents that are keeping them from doing that, so the hope is that those who want to vote won't see the oppression as being due to the Shias or U.S. Anyway, that's just what the cheeses are saying, I can't back it up.

                    The contracting question is complicated. Factors include the cash-based economy, the fact that Iraqi contractors are big targets for the insurgency, and the urgency of contracting at the outset of reconstruction. We have a long way to go, but I think the situation has gotten a lot better. And there are a lot of local nationals working on projects over here--I don't have numbers, but jobs are available. You might be right that this is more of a problem for people like engineers rather than "less-skilled" labor.

                    We are trying to build trust by working together. I think we've done it within the interim gov't (duh, we appointed them) and most of the people we are working with on projects. I hope that as the reconstruction work continues and the U.S. guidance in State affairs fades somewhat, that trust will be strengthened. But that depends on broad Sunni political participation, not just that of those in the interim gov't.

      •  Yes, I know (none)
        that soldiers can and do act with courage and selflessness during war.

        But in any war, the lives of your colleagues are more valuable than the lives of "the enemy".  Isn't that why a soldier can write "Fuck all Iraqis" on the bedroom mirror of of one of the people he has come to liberate?

        •  Well, (none)
          a policeman responding to a crime in progress must act to preserve the lives of victims and bystanders before the life of the perpetrator. Does that mean that this policework is unjust? I think not, almost by definition.

          I don't think that just because you have a responsibility to one person's life over another's it means that you are dehumanizing them. It is true that it makes it more difficult to keep those values straight. But in some ways, it makes you realize how precious and fragile all human life is. I think that while war can bring out the worst in people, it can also brings out the best, amidst the horrors.

          The soldier who wrote that (assuming it was a soldier--I admit it probably was) was a fool who let his country down. That he was probably just sick and tired of being shot at does not excuse his action. We must expect and demand better of our soldiers.

          •  But... (none)
            There are signs of dehumanization of Iraqis going on among some in the US military:

            1. The "fuck Iraqis" in English on the mirror mentioned above

            2. The gunshot to the head that an American soldier did to a possible insurgent in Fallujah

            3. Abu G...that whole mess.

            Also, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the whole Torture Memo thing.  It's my understanding that the previous definition of torture went against the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and standing legal practices pertaining to interrogations of prisoners in the US military going back over 50-60 years.

            Has this thing "muddied the waters" between status of prisoners in Gitmo and Iraq?  Has the rhetoric coming from some on the far right - that we should "glass them" if the insurgency can't be handled - helped to dehumanize these people in the eyes of US soldiers?

            I would really like to understand your experience of these dynamics.

            "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

            by grannyhelen on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 08:34:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You ask big questions, GH :-) (none)
              They are good. I don't have any short answers. I am thinking about writing some diaries on my perspectives.

              Also, I did read what your last comment about MLK last time, and your recommends are on my reading list. I look forward to reading your diaries on him as well. MLK is a hero, and I regret that I am not familiar with much of his work beyond "I have a dream." But whenever I read or hear words from that speech, I am almost overcome with pride at being an American, and sadness at how far we have yet to go.

              Gotta go for a run with my team. Peace out.

              •  Email me (none)
                when you do write these diaries - I would really like to read them.

                I'm always available for an online chat whenever you wanna talk about MLK!

                Good luck with you day.

                "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

                by grannyhelen on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 09:15:24 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  A quick word to Winter Patriot (none)
                  Thank you for your honesty, curiosity, and devotion to duty.

                  I wish you well in the difficult days you now face.

                  My suspicions about this Iraq war run deep and strong, but my ill will is reserved for the current civilian leadership of this country.  The American military has done its job, and done it extremely well.

                  All the horrors that have occured in Iraq could have been foreseen and could have been drastically reduced by competent civilian leadership and planning.

                  For your sake, please remember that the enemy is anybody trying to get you killed; no matter what uniform (or suit) they are wearing.

                  Best wishes.

                One hand forward with a flower, one hand behind with the dagger.

                by Predator Saint on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 11:16:10 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  You are right (none)
            And I have utter respect for all soldiers who retain their humanity in Iraq.  
  •  El Mozote (none)
    The paralles of military "scorched earth" campaigns are disturbing.

    I just finished reading about the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador. The idea that we would consider funding groups that would be capable of doing another El Mozote, especially after reading about Fallujah, is horrifying.

    Please read the entire piece. The details are haunting and reads like a Hollywood movie.

  •  The attacks were illegal (4.00)
    From Juan Cole's blog:
    and the article cited:


    Jim McDermott and Richard Rappaport, both MDs and the former a sitting Congressman, summarize the violations of international law committed by the US military in its assault on Fallujah in November.

    Investigate alleged violations of law in Fallujah attack


    At the beginning of their recent attack on Fallujah, U.S. Marines and Iraqi National Guard troops stormed Fallujah General Hospital, closing it to the city's wounded and confiscating cell phones from the doctors. A senior officer told The New York Times the hospital was "a center of propaganda."

    Interviews with hospital personnel (which had revealed the extent of civilian casualties in an aborted April invasion) would not be a problem this time.

    U.S. forces cut off Fallujah's water and electricity. About 200,000 residents were forced to flee, creating a refugee population the size of Tacoma. Those who remained faced a grim existence; they were afraid to leave their homes for fear of snipers and they had little to eat and only contaminated water to drink.

    Public buildings, mosques and residences were subjected to assault by air and ground forces. The city now lies in ruins, largely depopulated, but still occupied by U.S. forces. Convoys sent by the Iraqi Red Crescent to aid the remaining population have been turned back. Diseases brought on by bad water are spreading in Fallujah and the surrounding refugee camps.

    The means of attack employed against Fallujah are illegal and cannot be justified by any conceivable ends. In particular, the targeting of medical facilities and denial of clean water are serious breaches of the Geneva Conventions.
    no life of lesser value than our own.

    Unfortunately, as a result of illegal U.S. actions, the former residents of Fallujah have lost respect for us. Without that respect, there is little our military can contribute.

    To prevent more harm, we should support: 1) a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Fallujah, allowing unrestricted access for independent relief agencies such as the Red Crescent; 2) an independent investigation into violations of international law in Fallujah, as called for by Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Nov. 16; and 3) a campaign to deny any further supplemental budget requests that may, in fact, fund war crimes.

  •  Who has a Torrent? (none)
    Here's the Guardian blurb.

    There is a 15 minute preview here.

    Two salient points: why does it appear people were shot in their beds? Where are all the bodies? There may be sound reasons, but the Pentagon has to cough up some answers.

  •  War is irony writ large.... (none)
    the name of the attack plan:

    Operation Phantom Fury

    how ironic, let me count the ways....

    Note to GWB, numbers don't lie, unless you lie about the numbers.

    by Ralfast on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 09:03:39 AM PST

  •  It's a Crusade! (4.00)
    Now all the shops were marked with a cross, meaning that they had been searched and secured by the US military.

    Oh, wonderful. Brilliant. Positively amazing. We're marking the houses that our troops have taken from the resistance fighters with crosses. That'll be so effective at repairing the perception of this as the start of an American Crusade against Islam that it makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

    Seriously, these people couldn't be more stupid if they tried. It's almost like they want to provoke the rebels in Iraq into bigger and bigger assaults.

    Its like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

    by RHunter on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 09:31:13 AM PST

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