The Horrors Done in Our Name


The London bombings hit home to me. Only two weeks ago, my wife was in the Kings Cross station while on a visit to that city.

It’s easy, and natural, to be upset at the images of carnage in the U.K. What people need to remember now, however, is that what happened in London, and what could just as easily happen in New York or Chicago or San Francisco, is a direct and predictable result of what the U.S. is doing in Iraq.

We recoil at the vicious, random killing of innocent men, women and children when they are our own, or our friends, but where is the outrage at the uncounted mass of innocent men, women and children who have been killed by the American invasion of Iraq, and the invasion of Afghanistan. In both places, thanks to military policies that stress the use of massive firepower, aerial bombardment and gunships in the name of keeping US casualties at a minimum, the toll of civilians is actually significantly higher than the number of actual enemy fighters killed by American forces.

Our leaders call this “collateral damage” but in truth, with this kind of military strategy, one would have to say the killing of an enemy soldier is more appropriately called the collateral damage.

And when a country opts to attack civilian targets as a policy, as our government has done, it must expect the same in return.

I’m not saying this is moral or justified. I’m only stating the reality.

Flying out to Oregon last week, I sat next to a man who travels the country working on repairing railroad track. He said he has a brother who is a Marine tank commander in Iraq, now on his second tour of duty. I asked him how it was over there, and he shook his head sadly. “My brother went over there all gung-ho,” he said. “Now, he’s just bitter. He says it’s not a war; it’s a slaughter. He says that the people he and his fellows end up killing are mostly just civilians and he hates the whole thing.”

If Americans were to hear this story more often, if our corporate media were to show us daily the civilian victims of American military actions in the same graphic detail that they are showing us the British victims of Al Qaeda terrorist actions, we would likely recoil at the horrors being inflicted in our name and might demand a halt to it.

Instead, we are offered sanitized reports on the war which focus mostly on the American casualties. We turn away from the true horrors of war and let the military do what it does, and try not to think about it too hard about the consequences.

So get ready folks. If the American people are willing to turn a blind eye to the horrors that our government is deliberately inflicting on Iraqis and Afghanis, we need to face the fact that we too will be attacked, not just our soldiers.


















CounterPunch contributor DAVE LINDORFF is a producer along with MARK MITTEN on a forthcoming feature-length documentary film on the life of Ted Hall and his wife of 51 years, Joan Hall. A Participant Film, “A Compassionate Spy” is directed by STEVE JAMES and will be released in theaters this coming summer. Lindorff has finished a book on Ted Hall titled “A Spy for No Country,” to be published this Fall by Prometheus Press.