Dying in Vain in Iraq


The White House finally presented one of the most timeworn and meaningless rationales for continuing the wrongheaded war and occupation in Iraq. It is a rationale that so-called patriots pull out of their hat (or perhaps they pull it from that part of their body where the “sun don’t shine”) when all other rationales have proven to be false. It is also a rationale that any thoughtful parent, friend, sibling or other relation of a GI hopes they will never hear. On March 31, 2004, as news of the deaths of five GIs and four US non-military “security” personnel filtered through the wires, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told the press: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those victims. But we will not be intimidated. And the best way to honor those who have lost their lives is to continue to show resolve.”

In short, Mr. McClellan means that the killing and dying will continue. That resolve he’s speaking of is the resolve of men and women sitting in their leather-cushioned chairs in boardrooms and government offices around the United States and behind the well-guarded walls of the Green Zone in Baghdad. In fact, the Empire’s main point man Mr. Bremer echoed the White House’s comment in his own statement. At a graduation ceremony for the Iraqi police (the next group of Iraqi targets of the resistance), Mr. Bremer told these men that the dead occupiers in Iraq had “not died in vain.” The GIs who were killed were fulfilling an obligation they may have regretted they ever made. Dying for a cause you don’t believe in is a hard thing to do.

As for the others, they didn’t die in vain either; they died in Iraq for a big paycheck. These guys weren’t innocent bystanders, mind you. They worked for Blackwater Security Consulting and were most likely looking for trouble. This firm is one of the many nominally private companies doing the US government’s dirty work in Iraq and elsewhere around the world where Washington thinks its direct involvement might cause even more problems than that caused by so-called civilians. Like most other firms of this nature, Blackwater (and I quote from their website) “has it roots in the Special Operations community and continues to sustain the skills that have been acquired over the years as effective tools that will support both national and commercial objectives.” In addition, it maintains offices in McLean, Virginia very near the CIA headquarters. In other words, the men that they hire are trained killers.

According to various news and government releases, there is fifteen to twenty thousand private security “consultants” in Iraq right now. Add to this anywhere from 500 to 3000 CIA agents and more than 100,000 servicemen and women and one has to seriously question the myth perpetrated by Washington that things are stable in that country. Tell that to the GIs who don’t want to be there.

An AP report flashed out of Iraq and available for a while on the New York Times website as a video report, stated that one of the corpses had a US passport and another had a Department of Defense ID card. In addition, the reporter was told that the men were armed and driving through Fallujah. One can only conjecture exactly what or who these men were looking for. If prior counterintelligence activities are any indication, it is quite reasonable to assume that they were involved in some kind of operation designed to hunt out the resistance and kill them. According to a former Special Forces member now in Baghdad and quoted in the Washington Times on October 6, 2003, military contractors guarding ministries on behalf of coalition authorities have killed Iraqis who were trying to loot or attack the buildings.

“It’s Iraq,” he said. “You’re accountable to nobody. But I guess ultimately you’re accountable to the U.S. military for what happens.”

If that’s the case, then there can only be more bad news for the Iraqis, especially those who resent the US occupation of their country. Already, US troops have killed several thousand of their countrymen. There’s bound to be more as the US pays tribute to its dead by remaining where they are not wanted and should never have been.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is being republished by Verso.

He can be reached at: rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu



Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com