Thursday, July 28, 2005

"No one wants to talk about Fallujah"

David Enders reports from the Cincinnati-sized city the U.S. military basically knocked to the ground.
I have heard Iraqis make comparisons between their occupation and the US occupation of Palestine, but it wasn't until I saw families walking through the kilometer-long checkpoint, from a parking lot outside Falluja to one on the other side, that it seemed apt.
The only video I know of from Fallujah is still up on the Diario site, and pretty much must be seen to be believed. (The video link is below the picture of the truck.)

Scilla Elworthy offers "A Better Way to Tackle Terror." Gee, do you think the Pentagon will listen to recommendations like, "Avoid, wherever possible, using more violence"?
The theme of humiliation recurs throughout reports and opinion surveys. A March 2004 poll sponsored by ABC News, NHK (Japan), ARD (Germany) and the BBC, with fieldwork by Oxford Research International, found that 41% of Iraqis thought the war had humiliated Iraq.

The act of scrawling an obscene insult -- "Fuck Iraq and every Iraqi in it!" on a bedroom mirror during a house raid -- may appear an isolated, inconsequential event, but a single act of this sort can reaffirm nationalist tendencies in an entire neighbourhood and colour its perception of the American mission.

United States Marines, searching for insurgents in Ramadi, randomly kicked in the doors of houses to shout at the women inside: "'Where's your black mask?' and 'Bitch, where's the guns?'" These soldiers were not taught in advance to respect human decencies and Iraqi cultural norms; the violation involved here is also of the honour of male family members, who in response are likely to seek retaliation for the mistreatment of their wives and sisters.

Humiliation and degradation are ancient and explosive weapons of war, and inevitably produce a backlash. In cultures where the concept of honour is profound, those who humiliate and dehumanise do so at their peril. In doing so, they put a much wider group of citizens at risk.

In Iraq, the sense of powerlessness of ordinary people under Saddam Hussein has been compounded by the humiliation of the invasion and the failures of reconstruction. Alistair Crooke, intelligence officer and former European Union security adviser, directly experienced the US assault on Fallujah. "If you haven't experienced it you can have no idea what it feels like being subjected to bombing of this kind", he says. "The houses which were destroyed had nothing to do with the resistance fighters, who slept in alleyways. And, because bombs were attached to doorbells, the US troops killed the first person they saw as a matter of course. This kind of trauma generates intense hostility", says Crooke. "Even if you are an observer, you can't trust your emotions."

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