Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness

Fifty Iraq War veterans have gone on the record with The Nation Magazine about their experiences in Iraq. It is a very disturbing and telling piece about why our presence there is fueling an insurgency that grows daily. Convoys run by private contractors and guarded by Humvees race through crowded streets at sixty miles an hour running over pedestrians, crushing cars and firing on anyone and everyone deemed dangerous. When an IED goes off every armed soldier in the convoy fire at everything they see. Houses are raided and men of “military age” are rounded up and sent off to jail. While raiding a house the homes are ransacked and furniture smashed. Patrols are sent out and according to the article, “…many veterans said the killing of civilians deeply disturbed them, they also said there was no other way to safely operate a patrol.”

Many veterans said racism is rampant. Soldiers are bunkered down and separate from the Iraqi population unless out on patrol or escorting a convoy where apparently their only contact with Iraqis is at the end of an automatic weapon. The civilians are dehumanized in the eyes of the soldiers and thus easier to kill. Most interviewed said the guilt did not start until they had returned home.

What choice do our soldiers have? They are sent out into an environment where an attack can come from any direction. I have heard this referred to as “360/24/7.” Three hundred sixty degrees, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Every day it just gets worse.

We are terrifying and killing innocent Iraqi civilians on a daily basis. It is routine. It is systematic. It makes no sense. The only way to stop it is to withdraw our troops. Even if the “surge” were to somehow work this would not change how we are conducting an immoral and unjust war.

Here is an animated map that shows only coalition deaths in Iraq.