Collateral damage: the "incident at Haditha"

Mother Jones
by Tom Engelhardt


Other than revealing just how overstretched the American military is in Iraq, such an 'incident' (as American officials liked to call such horrors back in the Vietnam era and still do today) is also a kind of confession -- of failure. If, as a soldier, you feel you are protecting anyone in an area, you do not simply slaughter random civilians, no matter how you may 'snap.' To commit such acts, these Marines must have concluded in the most visceral way that there simply were no Iraqis to protect in Haditha, perhaps in the Sunni provinces of Iraq altogether, perhaps in the whole country. You only slaughter the helpless face-to-face when even small children have become aliens, the enemy, so tainted by evil, by the killing of your people, that there's no hope for them. Think of it as on-the-ground military democracy, the grimmest sort of popular vote on whether you or the insurgents are winning the war...

Iraqi death by political abstraction

Future of Freedom Foundation
by Sheldon Richman


Try as they might, apologists for the war in Iraq won't be convincing when they insist that, at worst, the Haditha 'incident' (or was it a mishap?) was the unfortunate work of a few bad Marines. It was something much worse. When men trained to kill on a battlefield -- this wasn't the Salvation Army, after all -- are ordered into civilian areas where many residents see the troops as an occupying force rather than as liberators, what would you expect to happen? We hear war defenders complain that 'the enemy' doesn't identify itself. Why should it?

This is not another Vietnam

Unknown News
by Kevin Good


Say: This is not another Vietnam. Then repeat. After being caught in the act, the U.S. military in Iraq will receive core values training to correct the inconvenience of the My Lai massacre being exposed. I mean the Haditha massacre. This is not another Vietnam. The core values training course is titled, 'Greeted as liberators, Plan B.' Here's a synops[i]s. Cameras are still everywhere. Don't get filmed or film yourself doing something morbidly perverse, stupid and/or deadly. The news media has been intimidated for your safety. This is not another Vietnam...

Rose-colored view of history

Rocky Mountain News
by Paul Campos


After noting that Americans can be as barbaric as anyone, [New Republic editor Peter] Beinart argues that 'what makes us an exceptional nation with the capacity to lead and inspire the world is our very recognition of that fact.' ... What's disturbing about this claim is that illustrates how a person in a position of considerable public influence can simply concoct an imaginary past to suit the propaganda needs of the present war. Consider .... My Lai. Remarkably, Beinart invokes this massacre of between 200 and 500 Vietnamese villagers by American troops as an example of 'bringing killers to justice.' In fact, with one exception, none of the many soldiers and officers responsible for committing and covering up this mass murder were ever convicted of anything. The one exception, Lt. William Calley, was pardoned by President Nixon after spending three years under house arrest...

Informant: Thomas L. Knapp

Collateral Damage: The "Incident" at Haditha

"Those 24 dead noncombatants are not, in fact, an 'incident' at all, nor 'isolated,' nor - another of those then-and-now terms - an 'aberration.' Make no mistake, they are the essence of this war," writes Tom Engelhardt. "From the beginning, the continual slaughter of civilians, as well as the destruction of civilian property and livelihoods, has been the modus operandi of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq."


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