Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Sisyphus Soldiers

The good troops push the rock up the hill, and the bad ones roll it right back down. The report on the most recent alleged U.S. atrocity in Iraq makes for sickening but important reading. WaPo:
A former U.S. Army soldier was charged yesterday with the rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman and the slayings of three of her family members in their home south of Baghdad in March, federal prosecutors said.

Several soldiers allegedly planned the attack over drinks after noticing the woman near the traffic checkpoint they manned in Mahmudiyah, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The soldiers allegedly worked out an elaborate plan to carry out the crime and then cover it up, wearing dark clothes to the home, using an AK-47 assault rifle from the house to kill the family, and allowing authorities to believe that the attack was carried out by insurgents, investigators said.

Former Pfc. Steven D. Green, 21, and other members of 1st Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, allegedly carried out the crimes on March 12. Several soldiers told authorities that Green killed all four people and that he and another soldier raped the young woman.

The plan worked, at least until soldiers began discussing the incident last month while they were going through stress counseling after two other members of their platoon were captured at a checkpoint and beheaded by insurgents. Army officials began investigating the day after hearing about the events in Mahmudiyah.

The case is the fifth in recent weeks in which U.S. troops have been accused of killing civilians in Iraq, a spate of incidents that has drawn attention to the way U.S. forces operate in what is often a complex and confusing battlefield. The rape and murder allegations against Green, however, detail a crime that appears to have had little if anything to do with the prosecution of the war itself.

According to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Gregor J. Ahlers, the crimes appeared carefully crafted. Soldiers told Army investigators that Green and another soldier discussed raping the woman and had previously been to her residence, about 200 yards from their traffic checkpoint. Before leaving for the house, they also said, Green and two others drank alcohol and changed into dark clothes.

One soldier was left at the checkpoint to man the radio, while four others headed to the home, armed with three M4 rifles and a shotgun, according to the document. With one soldier guarding the door, the three others entered. Green covered his face with a brown T-shirt, grabbed an AK-47 rifle from the house and herded an adult couple and a young girl -- who authorities estimated was 5 years old -- into a bedroom. Green then shot them, according to authorities.

"Green came to the bedroom door and told everyone, 'I just killed them, all are dead,' " Ahlers wrote. Green and another soldier then allegedly raped the other daughter before Green shot her two or three times in the head with the AK-47. Military officials estimated her age at 20, although neighbors and hospital officials in Iraq said she was 15. She apparently was set on fire in an attempt to hide the crime.
Yet another alleged atrocity the military pinned initially on insurgents or "terrorists." How many other incidents haven't come to light yet?

The idiots who continue to insist that "these things happen during war" have stumbled unwittingly onto a partial truth. Yes, this is part of every war, and that's exactly why preemptive wars carry a unique risk. When the inevitable atrocities occur, they can be just as damaging to the aggressor as defeat on the battlefield---particularly for a nation that defines itself by moral exceptionalism.

Anyone ready to argue that we can weather five or ten more years of reports like the one above?

24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The plan worked, at least until soldiers began discussing the incident last month while they were going through stress counseling after two other members of their platoon were captured at a checkpoint and beheaded by insurgents."

One has to wonder how much revenge possibly played in the beheading of the two platoon members. Tragic consequences, on all sides, for a tragically orchestrated preemptive war.

7/04/2006 10:16 PM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

Anyone ready to argue that we can weather five or ten more years of reports like the one above?

Five or ten years? TCR, the Arabs will fight us for 1,000 years if they have to. You're not listening - they want to end Israel. Doesn't matter how long it takes.

This is what we've signed up for. Any Americans getting tired yet of being yoked to Israel?

7/05/2006 12:13 AM  
Blogger Devang said...

Who's being the relativist here? The person who says we must support ALL the troops through this combat since the situation "demanded" such an outcome -or- the person who calls a massacre when he sees one.

Damn liberals and their relativism...

7/05/2006 12:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idiots are going to continue bleating that 1) all such reports are part of liberal backstabbing, and 2) the insurgents/terrorists/evildoers do worse things, and 3) it's all just fraternity hijinks -- what's the big deal? Count on seeing apologias from the right-wingers which cite at least one of these. I expect that fat twit Jonah Goldberg might give us a trifecta, and chant all three.
-- sglover

7/05/2006 2:12 AM  
Blogger Grodge said...

This story is consistent with History's Rhyme #14-- the price paid by the civilian popualtion at the hands of the occupiers.

The president has corroborated History's Rhyme #12 as well-- the continuance of the war for the "honor" of the fallen soldiers. July 4, 2006: "I will make you this promise, I'm not going to allow the sacrifice of 2,527 troops who have died in Iraq to be in vain," Bush said.

As always, I cannot miss CR's daily commentary. Good job. (Thnaks for the link to Barry Ritholtz too)

7/05/2006 9:20 AM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

This makes my heart hurt and feel shame.

7/05/2006 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a serious question. Why is it that when sweeping generalizations are made about races/religions/nationalities in the US the people are (correctly) condemned and explanations are made that "we understand that these people are bad apples and don't represent the good people of [fill in the blank]".

BUT, when the same sweeping generalizations are made by Arabs about American/Israel/Jews, why is it that instead of demanding that the Arabs acknowledge that the acts of a few do NOT represent those of the many, WE are asked to "correct" our behavior so as to not anger them?

7/05/2006 3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To answer the serious question posted by anonymous:

BECAUSE WE INVADED THEIR COUNTRY!

7/05/2006 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second that.
"BECAUSE WE INVADED THEIR COUNTRY! "
judyo

7/05/2006 8:11 PM  
Blogger Grodge said...

TCR strikes me as a believer in American exceptionalism: We are the last best hope, the Reagan-esque shining city on the hill.

The Iraqis are not Americans, and frankly, I don't have an opinion as to how they treat each other to the same degree as I care about how US soldiers act toward them.

The war crimes committed by men and women representing my nation, wearing my flag, matters to me. And it should matter to every American.

7/05/2006 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The standard is really simple. Substitute "American troops" for "Local police" for their behavior in Iraq and ask yourself: If the local cops raped a young girl and killed her family, what excuses would be acceptable?

7/05/2006 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"BUT, when the same sweeping generalizations are made by Arabs about American/Israel/Jews, why is it that instead of demanding that the Arabs acknowledge that the acts of a few do NOT represent those of the many, WE are asked to "correct" our behavior so as to not anger them?"

That Americans are often held to a higher standard is not an historical injustice; it's recognition for the democratic principles that we, at least in spirit and according to tradition, have held for ourselves. As unjust at the double-standard might be, I dread the day when the rest of the world no longer expects exemplary behavior from the USA, and I'm sad to say that that day seems to be drawing near.

7/05/2006 11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous said: BUT, when the same sweeping generalizations are made by Arabs about American/Israel/Jews...

Now I'm starting to understand the problem. I don't live in America anymore, I live in American Israel! Your tax dollars at work.

7/06/2006 12:16 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Hedley Bowes said...

"Freedom is messy" -Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld

7/06/2006 2:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"BECAUSE WE INVADED THEIR COUNTRY"

Hmmmm, an interesting concept. How long does the ability to paint the invaders as universally evil last? For example, muslims invaded Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Serbia, Austria and Hungary. Do citizens of those countries have a right, forevermore, to brand all muslims as evil, no matter what the actions of the particular muslim?

Just wondering.

Of course, I can add hundreds, if not thousands of further examples, if you like. Japan invaded China, et al in WWII. Germany invaded the USSR and pretty much all of Europe in WWII. Pretty much every country in Europe "invaded" at least one region of Africa/Asia. The Greeks under Alexander the Great invaded numerous countries as far east as India. The Spanish invaded virtually all of Central and South America.

I could go on and on. So, really, when does that ability end?

7/07/2006 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TP: “A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed ‘large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists’ to infiltrate the military.”

Anyone surprised given this President's bottomless compacity to screw stuff up and radicalism of the right. The Republican party today is in "name" only.

7/07/2006 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous above posted, "Hmmmm, an interesting concept. How long does the ability to paint the invaders as universally evil last? . . ."

To answer your question from the perspective of the invaded, IT LASTS FOREVER. Just ask the Italians what they think of the Muslims, or what the South Africans think of the Dutch, or what the Polish think of the Germans, and they'll tell you, provided no Muslims, Dutch, or Germans are within earshot. Don't fool yourself; the Muslim world will never hoist bronze statues of George Bush in their city squares.

7/08/2006 1:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How long does the ability to paint the invaders as universally evil last?

At least until the invader gets the f*ck out of the invaded country.

7/09/2006 1:33 AM  
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