I was reading through PsychoanalystsOpposeWar.Org and found the internet links to this story, which I'd first seen on The Hour. We all saw this coming; this is hardly the first time soldiers have fired first and and asked questions later, and it is almost expected that American soldiers will. According to a story uncovered by reporters working for Time magazine, U.S. marines sent to "liberate" the Iraqi people responded to an improvised explosive device that flipped a military vehicle by butchering the people in the three houses closest to the explosion. (View related video here.) The B.B.C. has also touched on the issue, signalling a growing British unease with their continued contribution to the occupation; the B.B.C. story isn't specific to this one incident, but instead provides an overview of what American soldiers are doing to people on the ground in Iraq.
This story should not come as a suprise. America sent its sons and daughters to war. To persuade them to go, America convinced their sons and daughters that they were going to liberate the populace of the country that they were in fact attacking. To persuade them to go, America convinced their sons and daughters that they would be welcomed as liberators by the people they were in fact occupying. To persuade them to go, America convinced their sons and daughters that they were doing the "right thing" by marching off to war. To persuade them to go, America spoon-fed their sons and daughters a pot of bullshit that those sons and daughters still believe to be the truth. And I cannot imagine what psychological damage that has done. But I can guess.
Indoctrinated by the American military-industrial complex and posted to a patrol route in an isolated desert country, cut off from any reliable information to the contrary, this troupe of Marines probably still thinks that they're protecting the Iraqi people. But faced with the cognitive dissonance that results from believing that your platoon was dispatched to protect people, and finding that those people would as soon kill you as look at you, these Marines likely became steadily more and more fed up with being attacked by the people whom their commanding officers insisted they were deployed to protect. Faced with the verbal attacks that their cause is drawing from home, they became demoralised. And confronted with snipings against their comrades, deadly explosions resulting from either I.E.D.s or suicide attackers, and an Iraqi populace who verbally protest against the Marine's prescence, all on a daily basis, their nerves likely frayed. And so, when they were blown out of their seatbelts and recovered to find themselves wounded, they simply attacked the first group of Iraqis they could find.
Iraq, dubbed "The New Viet Nam" ever since the "end of major combat operations" was declared, now has its My Lai.
America, where are you now?
Don't you care about your sons and daughters?
America, you've made murderers out of your sons and daughters. And these people will eventually be coming home. For their sake, I hope you're prepared for another generation of young people wandering around shell-shocked, with limbs missing, always looking over their shoulder, and always just one wrong look away from killing someone. But given the way you treated the veterans of the campaign you waged in Viet Nam, that hope is slim at best.
This is all particularly troubling to me in light of recent admissions that something I long suspected is, in fact, true.
Militaries often engage in exchange programmes whereby troops from one nation's military will be assigned to another's. Soldiers involved trade places in order to learn the expertise of their allies and identify weaknesses in their own military's training, procedures, and command structure. For the duration of the exchange, the troops are effectively under the command of an allied foreign country.
As it happens, Canadian troops who were embedded in American and British combat units as part of military exchange programmes at the time that the invasion of Iraq began were not withdrawn from those units; Canadian Armed Forces personell were, in fact, deployed in Iraq the moment the invasion began, and have been there ever since. In spite of Ottawa's strong stand against America's invasion, and the fact that were did not send our own military to support it... we did nothing to keep individual soldiers from taking part in a gross war crime.
The recent hostage incident only underlined this situation. Two Canadian nationals held hostage in Iraq were freed during a raid by a multinational force; according to British and American officials, the raid included the involvement of Canadian personell. The resulting press coverage caused a minor international incident on its own. Some Americans are quite baffled at the situation up here; one American official reportedly stated that he was puzzled at our reaction, that if the Americans had such a success as this they'd have had Wolf Blitzer at the scene to cover the story that day... their befuddlement underscores the cultural divide that seperates our nations.
If any American gun nuts ask you why Canadian government is trying to hush up details of Canadian involvement, and why the British are suddenly saying very little about it, there is a very simple explanation availible for them:
- Firstly, there is a long-standing policy in the Canadian Armed Forces that special operations troops are deployed in secret, operate in secret, and withdraw in secret. The Canadian Special Forces are commando units, and for the security of their missions and safety of their personell, the details of these unit's activities and specifications are never officially revealed. Frack sakes, even their Latin motto "Facta non verba" translates as "Deeds, not words" and underscores the silent, cloak-and-dagger nature of such units. To publicly acknowledge their involvement brings media scrutiny to them and that is considered a potential breach of security.
- Secondly, and more importantly from our politicians' point of view, our people are not supposed to be involved in your dirty little war, and a public admission that some of them are even in the same region of the world as the American occupation forces brings a great deal of embarrassment to Ottawa. Right now, with American support for the war at an all-time low and Canadian opposition to the conflict looking quite justified, the current administration in Ottawa does not want to be in a position of having to admit that they left Canadian troops at risk in a conflict that we opposed and specifically wanted our troops kept out of.
This is all quite disturbing from a Canadian's point of view, more so because with Americans having been accused using white phosphorous and American naval officers conducting a criminal investigation of the Haditha incident, having our troops on the ground makes it look more and more like we are accomplices in a massive crime.