America's Reign of Terror in Iraq
Our Jacobins have blood on their
by Justin Raimondo
www. antiwar.com. March 27, 2006
The U.S. is losing patience with the Iraqis,
averred Sen. John McCain the other day in Baghdad, going into
his favorite mode of self-righteous hectoring, warning them they
had better get on with the business of forming a government. The
senator cited polls showing declining support for the war, but
the lack of a government is not uppermost in most Americans' minds
when it comes to the war. Yes, we are increasingly cranky - about
the casualties, the cost, and the clear inability of American
forces to make a dent in the insurgency - and this impatient mood
is no doubt shared, in spades, by the troops on the ground and
their commanders, as reflected in the news of the latest American
atrocity coming out of that tortured land.
According to the Iraqi police, American
soldiers recently executed 11 people in Abu Sifa, a village about
60 miles north of Baghdad. Among the victims: A 75-year-old woman
and a 6-month-old child. The villagers were herded into a single
room, where they were all slaughtered without mercy. The Americans
then burned three vehicles, went after the villagers' animals,
and blew up the house: all of this is detailed in the Iraqi police
report, a copy of which was obtained by Knight-Ridder News Agency
and reproduced on their Web site.
This hellish scene was witnessed by Harat
Khalaf, a security guard tasked with standing sentinel over oil
pipelines, who saw a U.S. Chinook helicopter descend near his
home and - wisely - hid in some brush. He watched as the soldiers
stormed the house of his brother, Faiz Harat Khalaf, and heard
women and children screaming in terror. As the London Times reports:
"'Then there was a lot of machine-gun
fire,' he said last week. After that there was the most frightening
sound of all - silence, followed by explosions as the soldiers
left the house."
Khalaf and the villagers pulled the bodies
from the burning rubble, including "four women and five children
aged between six months and five years." The police report
states :"The American forces gathered the family members
in one room and executed 11 people." Here are some more details:
"Khalaf's account was confirmed by
a neighbour, Hassan Kurdi Mahassen, who also heard the sound of
the helicopters and saw the U.S. troops storming Fayez's home.
"After the soldiers left after apparently
dropping several grenades that almost completely destroyed the
house, Mahassen said, villagers went to the house searching in
the rubbles were they 'found them all [Fayez's family] buried
in one room. Women and even the children were blindfolded and
their hands bound. Some of their faces were totally disfigured.
A lot of blood was on the floors and the walls.'"
The Americans claim they were after a
member of al-Qaeda, a relative of the house's owner, and that
the structure collapsed in the firefight. The police report, citing
witnesses, says the house was destroyed after the soldiers entered
and exited it. The Americans say only four were killed, but the
Iraqi police count 11, who are named in the report.
An isolated incident? That's how the Pentagon
spins cases like this, but the growing list of American atrocities
tells a different story. On the day the horror of Abu Sifa was
revealed, Time published an account of a similar operation carried
out in the western town of Haditha, in which 23 Iraqi civilians
were murdered by U.S. troops, "including seven women and
three children still in their nightclothes," according to
the London Independent.
The official story, up until recently,
was that they were killed in a roadside bomb set off by insurgents:
this has now been retracted, and an official investigation is
underway. However the U.S. military still insists that the incident
involved a firefight initiated by an explosion: the civilians,
the brass aver, were "collateral damage." When the bomb
went off, a car near an American convoy was approached, and the
occupants were confronted and told to get out and lie face down
on the road. They ran and were cut down, amid gunfire coming from
Locals tell a far different story. According
to them, the Americans didn't order anybody to do anything: they
simply hauled them out of the vehicle and shot them like dogs
in the road. No gunfire was coming from anywhere other than out
of American gun barrels.
The Americans, by their own account, then
approached a nearby house, where they saw two people, a man and
a woman, rush out the back door. They shot the man, and the woman
got away. The locals, however, tell it this way: the couple first
crossed the soldiers' path inside or near the house, where the
woman, who was with her child, asked if she could be allowed to
flee. In a moment of benevolence - or simple humanity - the soldiers
agreed. Her husband, after a moment's hesitation, followed her.
They shot him in the chest.
The Americans entered another house, where,
they say, they found four men, brothers: one of them with an AK-47
and another reaching into a closet for a weapon. All four were
killed on the spot. A member of the family says the four were
forced into the closet, where the Americans shot them.
No one believed the Iraqis, and we heard
nothing of their side of the story until a local journalism student
shot a video showing that the bomb cover story could not be true.
It also demonstrated that the houses where the victims died didn't
have any exterior bullet holes and other telltale evidence of
a firefight: all the bullet holes were inside, where the executions
had taken place. That similar instances are happening in Iraq
even as I write seems beyond doubt; the only difference being
that video evidence debunking the official accounts is lacking.
As Iraqi death squads troll the streets
of Baghdad, kidnapping, torturing, and executing their sectarian
rivals, their American equivalents roam the countryside, doing
pretty much the same thing, albeit with more firepower and deadly
This proves the president's point about
Iraq being a "central front" in the war on terrorism,
although hardly in the way he intended. What it dramatizes in
vivid terms is that the Americans are the real terrorists, the
al-Qaeda of the West.
On 9/11, al-Qaeda rammed two planes into
the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon, killing
3,000-plus. Since the invasion of Iraq, we have killed tens of
thousands of Iraqis in a systematic rampage that seems to be accelerating
in terms of ferocity and firepower. U.S. warplanes have taken
to the air, raining bombs down on centers of insurgent activity:
more "collateral damage" is the inevitable result.
The revolutionary Jacobin doctrine of
global "liberation" preached by the president and his
neoconservative supporters has resulted in a reign of terror far
more destructive than that unleashed by Robespierre and Marat.
In Iraq - and, soon, perhaps throughout the Middle East - U.S.
troops are implementing what just a few months ago was called,
by administration insiders, "the El Salvador option."
In El Salvador, American "advisers" unleashed a wave
of terrorist attacks on civilians who supported the left-wing
insurgents, on the theory that this would dry up support for the
rebels in the countryside. As I wrote in November of last year:
"We aren't withdrawing from Iraq:
instead, the war is being intensified, with the so-called El Salvador
option unleashed, as predicted here some months ago."
Someone in the Pentagon had the bright
idea to "make the Iraqis pay a price" for resistance:
the plan, according to Newsweek, was to unleash special forces
assassination teams that would hunt down and kill the insurgents.
The Abu Sifa massacre may be the work of these American assassins,
and Haditha another example of these war criminals in action.
That the same administration openly advocating
torture in the name of fighting terrorism is now engaged in a
systematic campaign of terrorism on the ground in Iraq should
surprise exactly no one. These people - the U.S. government and
its hired thugs - have the moral sense of starving jackals. They
are starved for "victory" in Iraq, and have determined
to do just about anything to achieve it - including killing women,
children, anyone whose death will inspire submission in others.
This is the second phase of "shock and awe" [.pdf] -
shocked by the invasion, the Iraqis are now supposed to stand
in awe of their conquerors, awestruck by the monumental cruelty
of the occupiers.
The American advocates of terror and torture
as a means of "liberating" the people of the Middle
East at gunpoint are right, in a sense: there is no other way
to achieve the goal they have set for themselves. We have to become
a nation of torturers and murderers before we can build ourselves
As republican Rome morphed into an Imperial
monstrosity, cruelty became essential to the Roman character:
gladiatorial contests were staged for the amusement of the decadent
masses, and the Emperor himself attended the bloody festivities,
turning thumbs up or down on the unfortunate losers.
Today, Americans look on the Iraq war
as little more than a form of entertainment, a series of flickering
images darting across their television screens, disturbing but
no more real than the latest horror movie. Although we are not
quite as bad as the Romans - yet - in that no one seems to be
enjoying the show all that much (save, perhaps, for Max Boot and
Michael "Creative Destruction" Ledeen), we are inured,
like our Roman antecedents, to the moral meaning of what we are
seeing, numbed by our own powerlessness and a paralyzing indifference.
Infantilized by a culture of narcissism and insulated by our enormous
wealth, we place a comfortable distance between the actions of
our rulers and ourselves. The atrocity stories coming out of Iraq
seem unreal, as if they are happening in another dimension, and
certainly we bear no personal responsibility for the crimes being
committed in our name.
Or do we?