Thursday, June 29, 2006

Who is murdering Iraqi civilians? (Norman Geras)

As Norman Geras correctly points out (on Normblog), some people seem to forget who is actually doing it. (See also here.) For example, whose work was this?
A coordinated wave of suicide attacks and remote-controlled bombs rocked the contested northern oil city of Kirkuk on Tuesday, leaving at least 22 people dead and wounding 43. .....
In a now familiar insurgent tactic, police and passersby who came to help were hit by a remote-controlled car bomb, which killed 13 civilians and wounded 17
Some people even seem to forget how many Iraqis are being systematically and continuously murdered by the so-called "insurgents." For example, when Congressman John Murtha created a political earthquake in November 2005 by calling for US withdrawal from Iraq, he said that "Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency." Actually, no. For several years now, the primary targets of the "insurgency" and the vast majority of its victims have been Iraqi civilians. And US abandonment of Iraq would have even more catastrophic consequences for Iraqis, leading almost certainly to an all-out civil war (which might be accompanied by intervention from neighboring states) and possibly to a victory by the coalition of fascists and theocratic fanatics at the heart of the "insurgency." It is understandable that, from the perspective of a US Congressman, the lives of US troops would take precedence over the lives of Iraqis. But at least we should keep the realities of the situation clearly in mind.

--Jeff Weintraub
Norman Geras (Normblog)
June 28, 2006
Wanton murder

Report of June 26:
A motorcycle packed with explosives detonated in the middle of a crowded market in Baquba, killing at least 18 people and wounding 20 others Monday evening, Iraqi police said. .....
The square is considered a Shiite holy place, and many of the victims were believed to be Shiite women and children...
A short time earlier, a bomb exploded in a Hilla market, killing at least six people and wounding at least 56 others, police said.
Report of June 23:
A car bomb targeting the mostly Shia population of Basra, in the south, left five dead. .....
[T]he Basra car bomb ripped through a market and nearby petrol station. Police said at least five people were killed and another 18, including two policemen, wounded.
Report of June 21:
The tortured bodies of two US soldiers were recovered in Iraq yesterday, after the two privates had been captured last week in an insurgent attack. An Iraqi official said they were "killed in a barbaric way", and an Islamist website claiming the killing for the al-Qaida group in Iraq suggested they had been beheaded.
Report of June 16:
A suicide bomber with explosives hidden in his shoes attacked a Shia mosque in northern Baghdad today, killing at least 10 people...
The bomber, who also injured 20 other people, struck just before Friday prayers at the Buratha mosque, where at least 85 people were killed on April 7 in an attack by four suicide bombers.
Report of June 13:
A coordinated wave of suicide attacks and remote-controlled bombs rocked the contested northern oil city of Kirkuk on Tuesday, leaving at least 22 people dead and wounding 43. .....
In a now familiar insurgent tactic, police and passersby who came to help were hit by a remote-controlled car bomb, which killed 13 civilians and wounded 17
Report of June 9:
That was followed about an hour later by a blast at a fruit market in the same area... Two women were among the 13 who died when the bomb detonated at the entrance to the market, severely damaging several shops, police colonel Ahmed Abod said; at least 39 people had been wounded.
A car bomb also exploded in Kadhimiya, a Shia area of north-western Baghdad, killing seven people and wounding 17, police said.
Report of June 5:
A group of students on their way to end-of-year exams were among 21 people massacred by gunmen at a bogus checkpoint in Iraq's restive Diyala province yesterday, in one of the most shocking sectarian attacks in the country in recent weeks.
That's just a small number of reports from June 2006. As is now all too well known, I could easily have added to them. (See here, for example, those links which are for incidents in Iraq.) But they suffice as a backdrop against which to highlight what I want to, which is an argument by Gary Younge from a couple of days ago. He's writing about 'the slew of alleged atrocities committed by the US military in Iraq', and in this context he says:
To treat even these few incidents as isolated chapters is to miss the broader, enduring narrative. For these are not the unfathomable offshoots of this war but the entirely foreseeable corollaries of it. This is what occupation is; this is what occupation does. There is nothing specifically American about it. Any nation that occupies another by force will meet resistance. For that resistance to be effective, it must have deep roots in local communities where opposition to the occupation is widespread. Unable to distinguish between insurgent and civilian, occupiers will regard all civilians as potential insurgents and all territory as enemy territory.
And he concludes:
If the wanton murder of civilians is what it takes to complete your mission, there is clearly something wrong with the mission.
Let me make it clear that my point in drawing attention to the reports with which I began is not to draw attention away from any atrocities that have been committed in Iraq by US soldiers. At Haditha and elsewhere, if there have been transgressions of the laws of war by American personnel, then they should be investigated and prosecuted. What is breathtaking about Younge's piece, however, is the structure of justifying advocacy it contains. He talks of the wanton murder of civilians in order to delegitimize the US occupation, while passing over the fact that, almost daily, wanton murder is being committed by forces opposed to the occupation, and as a way of defeating not only the occupation itself but also political arrangements democratically voted for by the Iraqi people. It's just as if this weren't happening or else had no troubling moral implications in Younge's head. No, on the other side of things, there is just 'resistance' - almost like a natural phenomenon, beyond right and wrong, good or evil. How come it doesn't occur to him that if 'the wanton murder of civilians' - week in and week out - is part of the resistance to occupation, then there is 'clearly something wrong' with this so-called resistance? And how come he doesn't then go on to ask what it would mean if this so-called resistance were to enjoy the triumph of bringing about a coalition withdrawal? How come there isn't a two-sided assessment of the aforesaid 'mission', informed by all those wanton murders with which I began? It seems that wanton murder in Iraq doesn't show up on Younge's radar unless it's Americans who are responsible for it.

Of course, it's possible that Gary Younge is just a fiction put about by supporters of the Euston Manifesto.

Apropos... see André Glucksmann:
[T]he Iraqis have gone to the polls three times, each time in greater numbers, and they don't seem to regret the fallen dictator. Should the GIs and their allies now depart in a hurry, the way they did in Somalia? Even the most anti-American governments like France are crossing their fingers and hoping that they won't, and that the coalition won't abandon the terrain to the throat-slitters.