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War Dispatch from the NYT

 

“It seemed a small miracle that no one was killed or even wounded here,” wrote reporter Ian Fisher in a Monday report in the New York Times on Sunday’s stunning attack by Iraqi guerrillas on a U.S. military convoy in Falluja, a city west of Baghdad in the part of Iraq American forces call the Sunni Triangle.

Miracle indeed, except that people were killed and wounded there. They just weren’t Americans.

As a matter of fact the attack on the convoy, which blew up an American truck carrying highly explosive Hellfire anti-tank missiles, resulted in the death of one Iraqi, by some accounts an innocent bystander. and also led to the wounding of several others, probably innocent bystanders too, when American troops at the scene retreated in panic, firing wildly in a 360-degree sweep as they departed the scene.

Fisher conceded in the 19th paragraph of his story that there were “reports, unconfirmed, that at least one Iraqi had been killed in the exchange of fire that erupted after American soldiers returned several hours later,” following the initial attack. He made no mention of people being wounded.

According a British newspaper, the Independent, six Iraqis were wounded and sent to local hospitals, where one died.

But then, the Times is apparently talking about American miracles, not general, all-purpose miracles.

At the Times, it seems, it’s really our God against their god, and if God is on our side, He only does miracles that affect our side.

A miracle is when our guys blow away Iraqis–it doesn’t matter that much apparently whether they’re guerrillas or just ordinary people–and don’t get hurt or killed themselves.

This is sports journalism, not international war reporting.

With sports reporting, you expect the local press to hype the home team, to cheer when our side makes a goal or a TD, and to groan and complain when the other side wins. In sports, God is on our side.

But war reporting is supposed to be different.

The trouble is, if readers incautiously read reports written in the style of the Times, they’ll end up being perplexed by the growing resistance to American troops and to the occupation among Shia people. They’ll end up wondering why all those men were dancing and celebrating after the attack on the convoy.

Fisher, in his article, went on to say that the security situation in Iraq is deteriorating, with Shiites as well as Sunni Iraqi’s joining the remnant Baathists in the guerrilla attacks on Americans.

How to explain this.

Well, one way is to look what God’s soldiers are doing as an occupying force.

Attacked, they fire wildly, killing anything that moves. They’re not just getting crazy; this is what they are being instructed to do by the generals in charge of the occupation.

They enter mosques and try to disarm local militias.

According to an Associated Press report, they may even be executing suspected enemies. Following the Falluja convoy attack, AP reports that a second American unit returned to the city, where it was attacked also, leading to the death of one soldier. The U.S. unit responded in standard fashion: “Paratroopers raked the area with return fire, then raided a mosque and houses looking for the attackers,” AP reports.

Subsequently, the AP reporter Tarek Al-Issawi, who visited a local hospital, writes, “The bodies of the two civilians killed in the Monday attack Ð an Iraqi and a Syrian truck driver Ð were taken to Fallujah General Hospital. The Associated Press saw that one of them, Iraqi Nazem Baji, had a gunshot wound in the back of his head and his hands were tied in front of him with plastic bands similar to those used by the U.S. military when they arrest suspects.”

It’s good bet that this incident won’t be viewed locally as a miracle, or even as an act of a vengeful god. It will no doubt be laid to a repressive and increasingly offensive army of occupation.

At least the Times and other American media should attempt to tally all the dead in these incidents, and with civilians dying right and left with almost every attack on Americans, refrain from calling actions in which no Americans die successes or “miracles.”

Maybe then we’d all have a better understanding of what’s going on in Iraq, and why there’s always so much dancing in the street after an attack on our guys.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. A collection of Lindorff’s stories can be found here: http://www.nwuphilly.org/dave.html

 

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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