War commentaries: Afghanistan & Iraq

If you rely on the mainstream media, especially in North America, for your understanding of the battles waged in Iraq or Afghanistan, the most you will get is place names, body counts and sound bites that rarely stray from officially vetted talking points. Here are a couple of antidotes.

Princess Patricia and the Taliban

By Eric Walberg
COUNTERPUNCH, June 4, 2008

News from Afghanistan makes no sense. On the one hand there are up-beat stories like the recent Canadian Operation Rolling Thunder in Pashmul, Kandahar. “I started the operation on a hospital operating table and I’m ending it with everybody coming back safely. I couldn’t be happier,” beamed Major Grubb, leading the 2nd Battalion of the bizarrely named Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry Company.

The few locals still living in Pashmul, the scene of this “liberation” campaign by the kuffar Canadians, either fled by foot or cowered in their dugouts before the fighting started. Most are poor farmers. Scores of locals, the “enemy”, were killed by the brave Canucks, who, just to clinch their “success”, called on US military air support to drop several bombs, including Hellfire missiles. Several dozen “enemy” were destroyed. Only one Afghan government soldier was hurt when he accidentally shot himself in the foot. No Canadians were even injured. Major Grubb acknowledged the operation isn’t a “permanent result” because the Taliban seem to have an unlimited supply of fighters willing to battle for Pashmul . . .

Read more . . .

What it means when the US goes to war

By Chris Hedges
ASIA TIMES ONLINE, June 7, 2008

Troops, when they battle insurgent forces, as in Iraq, or Gaza or Vietnam, are placed in “atrocity producing situations”. Being surrounded by a hostile population makes simple acts, such as going to a store to buy a can of soda, dangerous. The fear and stress push troops to view everyone around them as the enemy. The hostility is compounded when the enemy, as in Iraq, is elusive, shadowy and hard to find. The rage soldiers feel after a roadside bomb explodes, killing or maiming their comrades, is one that is easily directed, over time, to innocent civilians who are seen to support the insurgents.

Civilians and combatants, in the eyes of the beleaguered troops, merge into one entity. These civilians, who rarely interact with soldiers or marines, are to most of the occupation troops in Iraq nameless, faceless and easily turned into abstractions of hate. They are dismissed as less than human. It is a short psychological leap, but a massive moral leap. It is a leap from killing – the shooting of someone who has the capacity to do you harm – to murder – the deadly assault against someone who cannot harm you.

The war in Iraq is now primarily about murder . . .

Read more . . .

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