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Poetic and Psychotic

Iraq as Disneyland

by BRIAN CLOUGHLEY

I’ve just had an email from a friend in the Green Zone. He has not set foot outside the compound since he’s been there, and probably never will. Helicopter to and from the airport only. Welcome to free Iraq, and especially to liberated Falluja.

The New York Times reported that "Residents trickling back to Falluja . . . enter a desolate world of skeletal buildings, tank-blasted homes, weeping power lines and severed palm trees. Sullen and anxious, tens of thousands of residents have passed through stringent checkpoints to find out . . . whether their homes and shops were reduced to rubble or merely ransacked . . . people have to file through huge coils of razor wire and a gantlet of armed marines to pick up their supplies. On the road . . . Lt. Col Patrick Malay . . . watched the scene with satisfaction. "This is how I like it, just like Disneyland," he said. "Orderly lines and people leave with a smile on their face"."

They are not happy, you unfeeling, ignorant trog. They are utterly miserable and they hate you for destroying and looting their city and especially their family homes. They loathe the US and the Western world – and it is you and your ilk who are responsible for their hatred. It will take centuries before Fallujans come to terms with the fact that Christian barbarians smashed and obliterated their dwellings and shops. Iraq and the entire Middle East will never recover from your president’s illegal war and his chaotic military occupation of a country that presented not the remotest threat to America.

The Director of Falluja hospital told the BBC that "about 60% to 70% of the homes and buildings are completely crushed and damaged . . . Of the 30% still left standing, I don’t think there is a single one that has not been exposed to some damage." Maybe Disneyland should create a Falluja display to include real dogs eating real human corpses and happy Iraqis wandering round the rubble with Goofy to fill dirty cans with even filthier water. Perhaps LtCol Malay could act as technical advisor to Disney on how to present slaughter and destruction attractively. He could be joined by the carefree LtCol Tim Ryan who (blogger Billmon points out) had a piece in the Tacoma News Tribune on January 18 describing his happy life : "From where I sit in Iraq, things are not all bad right now. In fact, they are going quite well . . . In the distance, I can hear the repeated impacts of heavy artillery and five-hundred-pound bombs hitting their targets. The occasional tank main gun report and the staccato rhythm of a Marine Corps LAV or Army Bradley Fighting Vehicle’s 25-millimeter cannon provide the bass line for a symphony of destruction."

How poetic. How liberating. How psychotic.

The ‘Falluja problem’ began on the night of April 28, 2003, when soldiers of the 82nd Airborne opened fire on a demonstration, killing about 20 people in a crowd protesting seizure of their local school to be headquarters of the invading troops. It is claimed, of course, that shots were fired from the crowd. Maybe they were. But there is a solution to this, which obviously has not been taught to US troops.

When shots are fired, the commander of troops facing a riot identifies the shooters and the prime mover in the demonstration. The shooters can be shot at once, by aimed fire, but they are difficult to spot. On the other hand, the leader is usually easy to pick out – he is the noisy fellow, shouting and turning to the crowd and urging them on. He is dangerous – and he wants the soldiers to kill lots of civilians because that would suit his purpose very well. So the commander (in my youth it was usually a nineteen-year old second lieutenant) first gets an interpreter with a loudhailer to warn the crowd that if it does not disperse it will be fired on. (This very rarely works.) When his warning fails he orders a rifleman – one, and one only – to shoot the rabble-rouser dead. I remember the procedure very well : "Number three rifleman : at the man in the red shirt in the front center of the crowd – one round – FIRE!" Bang. And – it’s amazing, but it almost always happens – the crowd runs away. What you don’t do is to spray the crowd with bullets, because this tends to create a certain feeling of resentment that might last for a couple of centuries – and if you doubt this time-frame just ask any Sikh about Jallianwalah Bagh, a massacre in 1919 when Indian and Gurkha troops fired on a crowd on the orders of a British brigadier. It is still fresh in their minds.

But it seems that US military crowd control in Iraq consists of spraying crowds with bullets, just as at Jallianwalah. The 82nd Airborne simply could not deal with a mob by doing other than trying to kill everyone in sight. It knew no other solution. It was not trained to cope with such situations. Why should it be? Airborne soldiers, like Marines, are assault troops. They should not be allowed to undertake internal security operations. And it was Marines, supported by massive, relentless, demonic airstrikes, who destroyed Falluja after the stage of hate was set by their equally gung-ho predecessors.

The evil that has been wrought on Iraq by Bush and his demented coterie is in no fashion better exemplified than by the death of the city of Falluja. Its annihilation was said to be essential – or so we were told by one of these peculiarly robotic military officers who seem to be churned out mercilessly by US training institutions, like talking sausages, programmed to utter fatuous comments at the drop of a salute.

One particular robot sausage proclaimed that his mission of mass destruction had been wonderfully successful. In November Marine LtGen John Sattler said his troops had "taken away this safe haven" of Falluja, which he stated was the base for the entire Iraqi uprising (he called it "rebellion") against US occupation troops. The Marine offensive, he said two months ago, has "broken the back of the insurgency" across Iraq. "We have", he announced proudly, "liberated the city of Falluja . . . the enemy is broken."

Following General Sattler’s declaration that his enemy was broken there was a massive increase in ferocious anti-US attacks throughout the country. In the weeks after he mouthed his idiot words, over 150 US soldiers have been killed and scores more maimed. A few hundred Iraqi fighters against occupation have died. And hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Iraqi civilians have been slaughtered – but who the hell cares about them?

As for "liberating" Falluja, it would be interesting to know what General Sattler’s definition of "liberation" might be. Does it include total destruction of cities and creating hatred of his country for evermore?

Where do they get these generals from?

Disneyland, probably.

BRIAN CLOUGHLEY writes on military and political affairs. He can be reached through his website www.briancloughley.com