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Sympathy for the Occupiers
Democracy Now!: Ambivalent on Occupation?

Kim Petersen

December 24, 2007

I rode a tank
Held a generals rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah

– Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, "Sympathy for the Devil"

Democracy Now!
carried an extremely sympathetic interview on the 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company in Adhamiya, Iraq.1 The platoon refused to go out on patrol fearing that they might commit a massacre. People of good conscience would applaud this "mutiny" of Charlie Company.

The interview is with Kelly Kennedy of the Army Times, a newspaper geared toward US Army and US National Guard personnel and their families.

It is predictable that Kelly, a veteran, would impart a sympathetic view toward the men of Charlie Platoon. But her propaganda went unchallenged on the "independent,"2 left-leaning DN. For instance, she talked about "catching insurgents," a demonization of the Iraqi resistance.3 Iraqis have a legitimate right to resist occupation.

Kelly enumerated how 14 men out of probably 138 men in Charlie Company had been "lost" in 12 months and 31 people from a battalion of about a thousand people. Kelly found this to be "pretty extreme." Extreme? Unmentioned in the interview is how extreme the 14 or 31 occupation troops killed is in comparison to the over one million Iraqi people killed during the US invasion-occupation?"4

Viewers are told about a first sergeant McKinney "well loved by his men," who killed himself in front of his men. Viewers are not told about the Iraqis, well loved by their family, who are slaughtered in front of their family members.

Said Kelly, "Early on in this war, we did umm … have situations were, were troops did not behave properly … for these guys to, to stand up and say 'Listen we’re not, we’re not sure we can handle it right now,’ could be considered very courageous, in my mind."

Yes, if not courageous,5 then at least the moral thing to do. But the troops didn’t rise to the challenge. In other words, the troops were not courageous and behaved improperly — a naughty-child euphemism for murderous acts by adults. This obfuscation by Kelly went unchallenged by DN hosts Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales who were drawn to Kelly’s "really fascinating picture."

Kelly talked about the ordeals US occupation soldiers in Iraq cope with, helped by the strong bonding among soldiers. Therefore, after an IED attack killed some men, the incapacitated soldiers couldn’t sleep, reacted poorly, and needed medication. The platoon refused to go out on patrol … "mutiny." The army brass responded by splitting up the closely knit group and denying promotions.

"They are good guys," asserted Kelly. These guys were just "going out and patrolling and doing what they thought they were supposed to be doing — in their minds."

What does "in their minds" mean? Does the fact that the soldiers considered improper behaviors — such as occupying a people thousands of kilometers from the US, shooting them at checkpoints, barging into their homes during the night and, as Kelly admitted, "waking people" — the right thing to do "in their minds" exculpate the soldiers?

Kelly continued on about the "good guys":6

When they lost their five men, they (pause) think they gave up on the Iraqi people. If, if the Iraqi people weren’t willing to fight for them, (pause) then what was the point? They were so angry. They just wanted to go out and take out the whole city. They didn’t understand why they couldn’t finish up what they call the war, and the whole idea of counterinsurgency is that you’re supposed to be building relationships, but they’re trying to build relationships with people who obviously aren’t that concerned about them. So this idea of a massacre was just (pause) they were just so angry, they could barely contain it anymore.

DN host Gonzales wondered about "the soldiers finding that they’re on a mission to help a people, but they have so much hostility from the very people that they are there to help, the impact of that on their fighting ability or on the morale." Does Gonzales really wish to leave the viewers with the impression that he believes the soldiers are in Iraq on a noble mission to help Iraqis!? Does he want to portray Iraqis as ungrateful because of their hostility to foreign occupation? Should Iraqis be culpable for impacting the "fighting ability" and "morale" of their occupiers?

It sure is tough having to invade, kill, and occupy on behalf of a superpower. Kelly agreed, adding that the soldiers "never felt safe."

Maybe they did never feel safe.

Are Iraqi soldiers attaching electrodes to the penises of US soldiers in Attica? Are Iraqi troops raping American women? Are Iraqis occupying US soil and shooting Americans at checkpoints? Did Iraqis rewrite the US Constitution? Was the Criminal US president hanged under an Iraqi occupation? Did Iraqis wipe out the economic infrastructure of the US, causing great shortages of potable water and a lack of sewage treatment; destroy hospitals, expose Americans to disease epidemics and depleted uranium; destroy and defile American churches; allow the plunder of American antiquities; maneuver to grab control of US oil and natural resources for Iraqi companies; make refugees of 44 million Americans;7; etc.? If Iraqis were committing these improper behaviors on the soil of the United Sates of America, would these "good guys" be able to feel safe?

Why did the DN hosts seemingly defend the US occupation of Iraq through nauseating commentary and silence? Indeed, Charlie Company did the right thing by pulling back from committing a massacre. Nonetheless, while one should not demonize individual soldiers with a broad brush, certainly, creating sympathy for the minions of US military-industrial complex while totally neglecting the victims’ blood spilled by the troops is sending out a dark signal.

  1. Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales, "U.S. Soldiers Stage Mutiny, Refuse Orders in Iraq Fearing They Would Commit Massacre in Revenge for IED Attack," Democracy Now!, 21 December 2007. #
  2. DN calls itself "independent" while accepting large sums of money from foundations. #
  3. See Kim Petersen, "'Insurgents’: Hermeneutics Are Not a Substitute for Clarity!" Dissident Voice, 3 March 2006. #
  4. More than 1,000,000 Iraqis murdered," ORB, September 2007. #
  5. Kim Petersen, "An Act of Cowardice that Must Surely be Unrivalled in History: Challenging the Assumption of Valor," Dissident Voice, 29 July 2003. #
  6. Kelly thinks the soldiers are "good guys," but what do Iraqi civilians who live under the muzzles of M15s think? While primary blame lies with decision-makers in government, soldiers do bear culpability for war and killing. See Kim Petersen and B.J. Sabri, "American Violence in Iraq: Necrophilia or Savagery? Part 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5," Dissident Voice, 15 August-19 September 2005. #
  7. Amnesty International reports 4 million Iraqi refugees displaced by the invasion and occupation of their country. See "Refugee crisis unfolds amid global apathy," 21 September 2007. Based on population data from the CIA Factbook which reports the 2007 US population at 301.1 million and the 2007 Iraqi population at 27.4 million, by simple extrapolation 4 million Iraqi refugees would be the equivalent of 44 million US refugees. #

:: Article nr. 39509 sent on 24-dec-2007 18:18 ECT


Link: www.dissidentvoice.org/2007/12/sympathy-for-the-occupiers/

:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

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