Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
SHOCK AND AWE OVER GAZA — Jonathan Cook reports from the West Bank on How the Media and Human Rights Groups Cover for Israel’s War Crimes; Jeffrey St. Clair on Why Israel is Losing; Nick Alexandrov on Honduras Five Years After the Coup; Joshua Frank on California’s Water Crisis; Ismael Hossein-Zadeh on Finance Capital and Inequality; Kathy Deacon on The Center for the Whole Person; Kim Nicolini on the Aesthetics of Jim Jarmusch. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the Faltering Economic Recovery; Chris Floyd on Being Trapped in a Mad World; and Kristin Kolb on Cancer Without Melodrama.
"We were told specifically that if there were women and children to kill them."

Murder, Incorporated

by Chris Floyd

While the lumbering giants of the American media make their clumsy bows of obeisance to the presidential paymaster filling their corporate goodie bags with tax cut candy and merger massage oil, a few snippets of unsalted truth about the real world continue to spill from the croker sacks of the lean and hungry provincial papers.

Last week, it was the Savannah Morning News unearthing an attempted terrorist bombing by a U.S. soldier in the gaterous moral swamp of Jeb Bush’s Florida. This week, it’s the Ithaca Journal in upstate New York, bringing news of Big Brother Georgie’s old-fashioned approach to warfare:

Ordering soldiers to kill women and children.

This revelation–entirely unremarked by the larded lords of the Fourth Estate–came in a homely profile of young Army Private Matt Guckenheimer, just returned to the bosom of his family after a tour of service in Afghanistan. While retailing some of his experiences during the much ballyhooed "Operation Anaconda," Guckenheimer artlessly spilled what was surely meant to be a secret order from his superiors.

"We were told there were no friendly forces," Guckenheimer said. "If there was anybody there, they were the enemy. We were told specifically that if there were women and children to kill them."

Let that sink in for a moment: American soldiers were told to kill women and children. "Specifically." To kill a child. To put a bullet in the brain of, let’s say, a two-year old girl. To hold the barrel of a rifle to her tiny temple and pull the trigger. To watch as the tender plate of her skull, the delicate bones of her face, her large bright inquisitive eyes were all obliterated in a burst of red mist. "We were told specifically to kill them." "Women and children." "To kill them."

So that’s the kind of warfare being waged by those notorious two cowards, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. When their own generation was on the firing line, in Vietnam, both men ardently supported the war–but disdained to fight in it. For his part, Cheney was too busy with his long bootlicking rise to power: "I had other priorities," he has loftily proclaimed.

Meanwhile, Bush’s daddy got his drink-addled little boy a cushy stateside berth in the Texas National Guard–but even then, Junior couldn’t stick it. He bugged out for an entire year of his duty–desertion in wartime, a capital offense, if you’re not rich and well-connected. Fortunately, his service records for that period were "scrubbed" by General Daniel James, former head of the Texas National Guard, who is now head of the entire nation’s Air National Guard — courtesy of his appointment by a grateful George W. Bush.

Now these two armchair warriors, Bush and Cheney, ensconced safely behind the greatest phalanx of personal protection ever seen in history, are sending out a new generation of young people to kill and die. Like their predecessors in the Vietnam War, they are twisting the faith and idealism of patriotic young soldiers and turning them into instruments of murder.

And for what? Certainly not to "bring the perpetrators of September 11 to justice," the ostensible purpose of the war. Those perpetrators are still roaming free–and are even more dangerous than ever, according to Cheney himself. No, the main reason why Private Guckenheimer and his comrades are being ordered to murder women and children could be found last week in a headline buried in yet another obscure province of the American Empire–a brief business story from the BBC:

"Afghan Pipeline Given Go-Ahead."

And there is more of this to come; much, much more. For even as Private Guckenheimer was making his quiet revelations, the Commander-in-Chief was loudly proclaiming a brand-new military doctrine for the United States:

Sneak attacks–like Pearl Harbor, like September 11.

Speaking at West Point military academy, Bush first praised the soldiers in Afghanistan "who have fought on my orders." (***"We were told specifically that if there were women and children to kill them."***) He then announced that from henceforth, the United States will "impose preemptive, unilateral military force when and where it chooses," the Washington Post reports.

For the first time in its history, America is now openly committed to offensive military aggression against any perceived threat designated by its leaders, the unelected White House occupant told the cadets. Bush said that "60 or more nations" presently lie under this dread edict–all potential targets of his "kill the women and children" orders.

What’s more, Bush said this new military bellicosity will be accompanied by aggressive diplomacy aimed at forcing other nations to adopt American values–that is, the Enron-style "crony capitalism" foisted on the United States by a corrupt elite and their political bagmen. Bush called this pustulant system–now suppurating before our eyes, as corporation after corporation, including Cheney’s own Halliburton, are caught cooking their books–"the single surviving model of human progress."

So there you have it. Just like bin Laden–another unelected leader who claims divine sanction for his actions–Bush will send his forces to strike without warning at anyone he believes is an enemy. Just like bin Laden, Bush considers innocent women and children to be legitimate targets of his holy wrath. Just like bin Laden, he seeks to impose his own limited, barbaric worldview on other nations, for his own power and profit.

What quadrant of hell is hot enough for such men?

Post Script

Guckenheimer has since qualified his disturbing revelation. Perhaps shaken at seeing his words in cold print (or shaken ***by*** someone who saw his words in cold print), Guckenheimer wrote a letter to the Ithaca Journal modifying his remarks. He now says the soldiers were ordered to kill only those women and children who showed unspecified manifestations of "hostile intent."

The orders did note that even "very young children" (of unspecified age) were being trained as soldiers by the heathen Mohammedans, and so could not be "just dismissed as noncombatants," said Guckenheimer. "But this does not mean we were ordered to kill noncombatants such as babies."

Well, thank God for that. It is indeed a saving grace that U.S. ground forces were actually not ordered to kill babies. That would be a very serious breach of military protocol ­ everyone knows the killing of babies and other innocent parties is reserved for the launchers of "smart bombs," "daisy cutters," B-52s, CIA drones and other purveyors of faceless, long-range death.

Glad we could clear that up.

Chris Floyd is a columnist for the Moscow Times. He can be contacted at cfloyd72@hotmail.com