Killing "Hajis" Where They Pray; Support Ft. Hood Soldiers
As soldier after soldier steps forward to reclaim his humanity in the midst of the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, we are getting a peek at the brutalization process which the Army employs to divorce young men from their natural resistance to doing the kinds of things required to maintain a brutal occupation. In Winter Soldier Jon Michael Turner gave a deeply personal account of his time in Iraq, admitting he had his first kill in April 2006:
"This man was innocent. I don't know his name... He was walking back to his house, and I shot him in front of his friend and father."
"a lot of raids and patrols we did at night around 3:00 in the morning... And what we would do is just kick in the doors and terrorize the families... If the men of the household were giving us problems, we'd go ahead and take care of them anyway we felt necessary, whether it was choking them or slamming their head against the walls."
Why don't we see this side of the war on television? Forget about it. Turner said that, "any time we did have embedded reporters with us our actions would change drastically. We never acted the same. We were always on key with everything, did everything by the book." Turner ended his testimony, at times struggling heroically to keep his emotions in check, by declaring:
"I am sorry for the hate and destruction that I have inflicted on innocent people.. I am no longer the monster I once was."
Now in a radio radio interview with Cindy Sheehan, Iraq veteran Ethan McCord lets slip almost as an afterthought a cadence he recalls from basic training, which is a song soldiers sing as the run or march to keep time and keep up bravado. McCord gained fame as the soldier who rescued two children who were wounded in an Apache helicopter attack on unarmed men attempting to evacuate another wounded man, in 2007 over Baghdad. Although most media commentary has focused on the attack just prior to this one, on a group of 12 men standing on a street corner, far less analysis has been devoted to the second attack, which is a clear war crime. Article 12 of the Geneva Conventions expressly prohibits firing upon the or those attempting to evacuate them. This is considered one of the most serious of all war crimes. McCord recounts the cadence on the Sheehan show:
we went to the market where all the hadji shop, pulled out our machetes and we began to chop, we went to the playground where all the hadji play, pulled out our machine guns and we began to spray, we went to the mosque where all the hadji pray, threw in a hand grenade and blew them all away.
Now as Obama draws down what is being called the "rebranded occupation" to the 50,000-troop permanent American presence, bolstered by what Jeremy Scahill calls the "coming surge" in private security contractors, it is interesting to note what has been accomplished amid the daily grind of sectarian violence extracting horrific casualties on a daily basis. Seumus Milne of the UK Guardian writes:
The horrific cost of the war to the Iraqi people...and the continuing fear and misery of daily life make a mockery of claims that the US surge of 2007 "worked" and that Iraq has come good after all. It's not only the hundreds of thousands of dead and 4 million refugees. After seven years of US (and British) occupation, tens of thousands are still tortured and imprisoned without trial, health and education has dramatically deteriorated, the position of women has gone horrifically backwards, trade unions are effectively banned, Baghdad is divided by 1,500 checkpoints and blast walls, electricity supplies have all but broken down and people pay with their lives for speaking out.
What is abundantly clear is that the US, whose embassy in Baghdad is now the size of Vatican City, has no intention of letting go of Iraq any time soon. One reason for that can be found in the dozen 20-year contracts to run Iraq's biggest oil fields that were handed out last year to foreign companies, including three of the Anglo-American oil majors that exploited Iraqi oil under British control before 1958. The dubious legality of these deals has held back some US companies, but as Greg Muttitt, author of a forthcoming book on the subject, argues, the prize for the US is bigger than the contracts themselves, which put 60% of Iraq's reserves under long-term foreign corporate control. If output can be boosted as sharply as planned, the global oil price could be slashed and the grip of recalcitrant Opec states broken.
SUPPORT ACTIONS FOR SOLDIERS TAKING PLACE THIS WEEK; NO REDEPLOYMENT FOR WOUNDED WARRIORS OF THE 3RD ARMORED CAV, FT. HOOD: This week both veterans and active-duty soldiers (engaging in political activity on their own time and out of uniform, yes it is legal, soldiers still have rights) are calling for support in their attempt to keep wounded warriors from the 3rd Armored Cav from redeploying to Iraq again this month. From Under the Hood Facebook page, the Ft. Hood coffee house at the center of the growing GI resistance:
Despite President Obama’s fallacious claims that the war in Iraq is winding down, the 3rd ACR is gearing up for yet another deployment! Furthermore, many Soldiers facing deployment are known to be unfit for combat due to injuries sustained in prior tours. The Peace Movement must not let this stand! One of the units notorious for sending PTSD casualties on deployment after deployment is the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas. As Obama seeks applause for “ending” the war in Iraq, there are busloads of GIs suffering from PTSD, TBI and MST waiting to ship off to another tour in Iraq this month. For this deployment, however, Fort Hood soldiers have begun standing up. Soldiers inside the unit are reporting a bleak situation regarding the mental health of many of its troops, and have begun organizing with other veterans and supporters to inspire those troops to exercise their right to refuse to let their lives be thrown away.
On July 30, approximately 30 active-duty soldiers, veterans, military families and supporters held a rally outside the gates of Fort Hood with a large banner directed at Colonel Allen, commander of 3rd ACR, which read “Col. Allen ... Do Not Deploy Wounded Soldiers!” Demonstrators also carried placards that read: “Tell the brass: Kiss my ass!” and “They lie, we die!” The demonstration was at a main entry point for the base, so thousands of active-duty GIs and their families passed by the demonstration. Many also joined after seeing the demonstration. Fort Hood Military Police sent vehicles and troops to intimidate the demonstrators, fearing a growing movement
Please leave a message for Col. Allen, "No deployment for the 3rd Armored Cav." Base switchboard: 254- 286-6823 Unit email: firstname.lastname@example.org