Friday, May 21, 2004

Wedding Guests Tell their Story

It is difficult lately, with one outrage piled upon another, to control the rage at what Bush's adventurism has done to my country's reputation in the world. One can only take too much of being physically sickened. The folks at the Guardian published interviews with survivors of the wedding party US troops attacked a couple days ago. Not for the weak of heart.

Again we see a description of a beheaded child.
"The bombing started at 3am," she said yesterday from her bed in the emergency ward at Ramadi general hospital, 60 miles west of Baghdad. "We went out of the house and the American soldiers started to shoot us. They were shooting low on the ground and targeting us one by one," she said. She ran with her youngest child in her arms and her two young boys, Ali and Hamza, close behind. As she crossed the fields a shell exploded close to her, fracturing her legs and knocking her to the ground.

She lay there and a second round hit her on the right arm. By then her two boys lay dead. "I left them because they were dead," she said. One, she saw, had been decapitated by a shell.

"I fell into the mud and an American soldier came and kicked me. I pretended to be dead so he wouldn't kill me. My youngest child was alive next to me."
She played dead to survive, and the soldiers were right there. I didn't see the soldiers being so close. Could they not see they were shooting women and children?

Weeping is not enough. Or is it that we cannot weep enough? Certainly our soldiers themselves appear not to know what they have done. Or care? I will be charitable and suggest that the conditions for them in Iraq may be grinding the humanity from them.

Major General James Mattis, commander of the 1st Marine Division, was scathing of those who suggested a wedding party had been hit. "How many people go to the middle of the desert ... to hold a wedding 80 miles (130km) from the nearest civilisation? These were more than two dozen military-age males. Let's not be naive."

When reporters asked him about footage on Arabic television of a child's body being lowered into a grave, he replied: "I have not seen the pictures but bad things happen in wars. I don't have to apologise for the conduct of my men."
No more comment. I don't have the stomach.