An Iraq vet interviewed

GNN has an interview with a former US Marine, two-tour veteran of the Iraq war. He comes across as a very well educated and thoughtful person and makes some interesting points (there is a brilliant moment where a fat arsehole in an SUV yells abuse at him in traffic because he had a ‘support Kerry’ sticker before the last election next to his Marine Corp badge – the armchair patriot shouted at him he was a ‘flip-flopper’, unaware he was yelling at a two-tour vet. Illustrates the dangers of spin and jingoism).

But it is also dreadfully disturbing; he describes convoy duty and the way it was routine for the Marines to assume any and all Iraqis were enemies and therefore potential targets they could shoot at; seems the charge of being trigger happy which is often levied against US troops is actually their operational policy. I can understand how beleaguered troops get into this mind set, seeing it as basic survival, suspect everyone, be prepared to blow people away when you have no idea if they are armed or not just to be on the safe side. But it doesn’t excuse it on moral grounds – other forces their don’t operate on that method and since this leads to the repeated killing of unarmed civilians it does make you wonder why the hell more troops aren’t being pulled up for war crimes.

It also demonstrates the complete futility of the invasion of Iraq; if your army operates on the assumption that everyone in the country – the people they are there to ‘liberate’ allegedly – hates you and wants to kill you then how can your operation ever actually work? So all that is accomplished is mass bloodshed and increased hatred on the part of both the Americans who serve there and the Iraqi civilians they’ve bullied, maimed and killed. Doesn’t operating on this principle of all civilians being enemies (they even cheer sometimes when they pass a dead Iraqi) actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Since you shoot unarmed civilians repeatedly and make it clear you despise them all is it a surprise you have a population who hate you and want to kill you? And this isn’t the nutter fundamentalists who sneak in over the border from Iran to stire up trouble, just ordinary civilians who have come to hate them because of just this sort of attitude and action. No wonder the US didn’t dare to criticise Israel’s methods in the Lebanon recently. But disturbing as this is, I recommend reading this article; it is honest and pretty thoughtful as well as disturbing.