American Terrorists

This will most assuredly not be my most popular post. For those of you who read it and think that I am criticizing our troops in Iraq and elsewhere, you have missed the point.

Once again it seems that we have not learned our lessons and history is repeating itself. I am talking about terrorism in the form of war atrocities being committed by American soldiers on foreign soil.

The Recent History

Most people my age have heard of the My Lai Massacre. For those who have not, here is a brief history. On March 16, 1968, a platoon of Americal Division infantrymen entered the village of My Lai (actually a series of 4 hamlets) in Quang Ngai province (central Vietnam) andmylaimassacre.jpg systematically killed hundreds of civilians, mostly women and children. They had been told by their commanders that all civilian personnel should be out of the village by 7am that morning. They weren’t. Some were herded into an open ditch and executed with automatic rifle fire. Others like one infant referred to during testimony, were used for target practice.

He fired at it with a .45. He missed. We all laughed. He got up three or four feet closer and missed again. We laughed. Then he got up right on top and plugged him.”

Between 347 and 504 were killed. The army did everything it could to cover up these events but a persistent ex-soldier finally got the attention of Rep. Morris Udall with a letter that was ignored by the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon. In the ensuing investigation, of the 26 soldiers originally charged, only one was convicted. Lt. William Calley was sentenced to life in prison for premeditated murder. He served 4 1/2 months.

250px-tigerforcekanvalley2.jpgAnother lesser known but perhaps worse case of American atrocities involved a 45 man platoon of 101st Airborne soldiers known as Tiger Force. Between May and November, 1967, operating in the Song Ve River area of Quang Ngai province, this platoon committed continuous criminal acts against innocent, unarmed civilians including:

  • the routine torture and execution of prisoners
  • the routine practice of intentionally killing unarmed Vietnamese villagers including men, women, children, and elderly people
  • the routine practice of cutting off and collecting the ears of victims
  • the practice of wearing necklaces composed of human ears
  • the practice of cutting off and collecting the scalps of victims
  • an incident where a young mother was drugged, raped, and then executed
  • an incident where a soldier killed a baby and cut off his or her head after the baby’s mother was killed

This platoon was part of the 327th Infantry Regiment and the commander had told the Tigers that he wanted at least 327 bodies. According to accounts, a celebration was held when that number was reached. Years later, after the conclusion of a detailed investigation which included confessions of participants, the army quietly closed the case with no convictions. (Read Tiger Force by Michael Sallah and Mitch Weiss)

Iraq

The Nation Magazine has published a series of in-depth interviews with 50 combat veterans of the Iraq war from across the US. In the interviews, veterans have described acts of violence in which US forces have abused or killed Iraqi men, women and children with impunity.

A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi… You know, so what?”

Please read the Raw Story posting of the whole story. It is a must read.

“Through a combination of gung-ho recklessness and criminal behaviour born of panic, a narrative emerges of an army that frequently commits acts of cold-blooded violence. A number of interviewees revealed that the military will attempt to frame innocent bystanders as insurgents, often after panicked American troops have fired into groups of unarmed Iraqis. The veterans said the troops involved would round up any survivors and accuse them of being in the resistance while planting Kalashnikov AK47 rifles beside corpses to make it appear that they had died in combat…the army also planted 9mm handguns and shovels to make it look like the civilians were shot while digging a hole for a roadside bomb.” The list goes on and on.

I understand that the troops are put in impossibly stressful and violent situations. I also understand that there are going to be civilian casualties. I have been there, done that.

But we as Americans cannot sit back and accept these acts when it is our guys and condemn them when it is someone else. We are supposed to be better than they are. We are supposed to set an example. We are supposed to represent what the whole world can respect and strive to emulate.

Baghdad is a city of millions. There are a few thousand enemy insurgents. The vast majority of the population is not out planting bombs and shooting GIs. They are innocent, unarmed civilians who we are supposed to be protecting so they can ultimately enjoy some peace. We are not supposed to be killing them, tearing apart their homes and destroying their lives! And we are definitely not supposed to then try to cover it up by making it appear to be their fault.

These are not issues that are created by the soldiers in the field. These are policies formed at the very top and passed down. Commanders are well aware of these events. If they are not, if they are that ignorant of what their line troops are doing, then they should not be in a position to command.

No, they are aware of and in some cases condone these acts of violence. Ultimately our soldiers end up suffering guilt, Post Traumatic Stress and worse from being involved in these things. And we already know about the miserable treatment they can expect for these problems.

The military is turning our young soldiers into depressed, even suicidal citizens who will never be the same. They need to be held accountable for it and an effort needs to be made to insure that American soldiers are not trained or forced to participate in these atrocities again.

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Explore posts in the same categories: America, Iraq, Terrorism

2 Comments on “American Terrorists”

  1. Capt Fogg Says:

    Thanks for posting that. I once got into a fight with a local candidate – a retired Colonel – who not only insisted that there were no atrocities committed by Americans in Viet Nam, but that I was a traitor, and by extension John Kerry was a traitor, for suggesting it.

    People chastise me for not flying the flag any more, but that incident was the beginning of the end of flag worship for me. It looked too much like a bloody bandage after that.

    But we still don’t give a damn – look at what we did to general Taguba for telling Rumsfeld about the rape and torture at abu Graib- only a little of which has ever been broadcast. We make up heroes and don’t talk about the murders of civilians.

    This July 4th I put out the skull and crossbones flag. It’s the new America where dead men tell no tales.

  2. nytexan Says:

    Thank for for a great post.

    The My Lai Massacre should have been the beginning and the END to Americas total disregard for humanity. Every time I think of this time in history, I am stuck with the photo of the naked toddler running in fear. And yet we still see children running in fear. Have we and our military learned nothing from our history? I think not.

    For Americans to sit by and act like everyone is a casualty of war is allowing America to be the destructive force in the decline of humanity.

    With the level of PTSD on the rise and the military disregard for mental health issues and denying the troops rest it does not shock me that our soldiers can not tell right from wrong.

    I agree with Capt Fogg
    “We make up heroes and don’t talk about the murders of civilians.”

    The orders that the troops must follow from twisted and sadistic leaders is beyond comprehension. Americas motto of “truth, happiness and prosperity ” has become “lie, deceive and steal what you want”

    I now have the American flag upside down on my blog because America is truly in distress.


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