Monday, April 19, 2004

Fallujah. Read. Ask yourself this same question. "Why four dead Americans are worth so much, while hundreds of dead Iraqis are worth so little."

From the Washington Post April 10, regarding troops attitude about the ceasefire: "Their troops were eager to plunge back into the fray after a two-day lull in fighting that was allowed by the U.S. military so that tens of thousands of women and children could leave the embattled city, about 35 miles west of Baghdad. "Given the virulent nature of the enemy, the prospect of some city father walking in and getting Joe Jihadi to give himself up is pretty slim," said Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, who commands the 5th Marine Battalion here. Jihadi is the Arabic word for Islamic warrior. "That's fine," Byrne added, "because they'll get whipped up, come out fighting again and get mowed down."
and this:
"The gunships relieved some of the stress on us, but now it's time to get moving," said Sgt. Daryl Hill, 38. "They took some comrades from us, but we can't sit back and grieve over our loss. It's payback time."

And this is what payback time means, thanks to references from Beth to wildfirejo, an English activist turned nurse/escort/witness in Fallujah. Read the account of her experiences.
And by Dave to Rahul Mahajan, another first hand account of the last week there.
Finally this article I am quoting in full,
Images of Civilian Dead, Wounded in Fallujah Become Anti-American Rallying Point by Matthew Schofield

BAGHDAD, Iraq - On television, the children are unmoving, dead in the streets, blood pooling and spreading underneath them.

On radio, announcers accuse Americans of attacking helpless civilians, not even allowing them to move for treatment of their bullet wounds.

Nura, 3, an Iraqi child wounded during fighting between US forces and Sunni insurgents is rushed into a public clinic by her father, no name given, in Fallujah, Iraq, Thursday April 8, 2004. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) In newspapers, the stories ask if the deaths of perhaps hundreds of innocent civilians is not a greater crime than the horrific deaths and mutilations of four Americans.

For the past week, those have been the images, sounds and words that Iraqis have been taking in as everything here has focused on Fallujah.

In this one week, Fallujah has come to symbolize for Iraqis everything that is wrong with the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

"When the four Americans were murdered, almost all Iraqis were horrified, and understood that the reaction must be strong," said Iraqi journalist Dhrgam Mohammed Ali, referring to the killing March 31 of four private security guards whose bodies were then mutilated, dragged through Fallujah and hung from a bridge.

"But now, we see women and children dying, trying to escape and not being allowed to, and many stop remembering the dead Americans. Instead, they wonder why four dead Americans are worth so much, while hundreds of dead Iraqis are worth so little."

There is no official toll of dead and wounded Iraqis in Fallujah since the U.S. Marines began trying to take control of the town four days ago. Estimates range as high as 450 deaths and more than 1,000 wounded.

But U.S. officials acknowledge that many of the dead were innocent civilians, and Fallujah, a town of 300,000 according to residents, but only 110,000 according to a year-old medical census, by Wednesday was a cause across much of Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt on Saturday again defended American tactics, saying that Marines had been fired upon from mosques and from crowds containing women and children. He said Marines had tried to avoid civilian casualties, firing back in dangerous situations only in self-defense.

Saturday, as residents started escaping the city, they told tales that are sure to inflame. The residents refused to give their names, saying that even talking to an American right now could endanger their lives.

But one, a doctor, said: "I was in my home for days, unable to leave, even to treat the sick, for fear of being shot. One morning, I decided I had to make it to the hospital, but just before I left, I saw my neighbor walk from his house. An American sniper shot him, once in the head. I was afraid to go out to him, to treat him. I watched him die."

Another, a young woman, asked why the Americans had to take out their anger on a whole city. "They are angry, yes, but we were not all guilty, and yet we were all punished. Every time they shot another man, his brother, his father, picked up a weapon and swore to kill Americans."

Kimmitt denied that the Marines had engaged in collective punishment. But the damage had already been done.

"On one level, many believe that two groups of foreigners have invaded to ruin a chance for peace, both Americans and the foreign fighters," said Iraqi journalist Abbas Ali Saki. "But also, more commonly, Iraqis are looking at the images of Fallujah, and wondering if they're looking at the future of the rest of Iraq, should we ever anger the United States."
(C) 2004 KR Washington Bureau

And we think we can make things better in Iraq.

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