Back to previous post: Ramping Up To The Next One

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: The Girls of Dublin Town

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

March 16, 2006

Lessons Learned
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 02:59 PM * 46 comments

Today is the 38th anniversary of the My Lai massacre.

For those who don’t recall:

Two tragedies took place in 1968 in Viet Nam. One was the massacre by United States soldiers of as many as 500 unarmed civilians—old men, women, children—in My Lai on the morning of March 16. The other was the cover-up of that massacre.

U.S. military officials suspected Quang Ngai Province, more than any other province in South Viet Nam, as being a Viet Cong stronghold. The U.S. targeted the province for the first major U.S. combat operation of the war. Military officials declared the province a “free-fire zone” and subjected it to frequent bombing missions and artillery attacks. By the end of 1967, most of the dwellings in the province had been destroyed and nearly 140,000 civilians left homeless. Not surprisingly, the native population of Quang Ngai Province distrusted Americans. Children hissed at soldiers. Adults kept quiet.

Today’s news: U.S. launches largest Iraqi air assault since 2003 invasion.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — American and Iraqi forces on Thursday launched the largest air assault operation since the invasion of Iraq nearly three years ago, the U.S. military said.

More than 50 aircraft and 200 tactical ground vehicles are involved in Operation Swarmer, supporting more than 1,500 Iraqi and U.S. troops near Salaheddin province, a restive region north of the capital regarded as a hotbed for insurgents.

What else do we know? This came from a comment by cmk, a frequent contributor here:

Just heard from a friend in Texas whose nephew has been in Iraq for a week.

His unit has had eleven killed.

First week.

Just seemed a thing to mention in this context.

But … we hear from official sources that we’ve only lost seventeen troopers since the first of the month: nine Army, six Marines, two National Guard. No single unit has had eleven killed.

Someone’s fibbing.

I don’t think it’s the friend’s nephew.

What else do we know? We know that about 8,000 of our all-volunteer troops have deserted since this debacle began. They’re voting with their feet. Where did they go? Back home, or working at Burger King under an assumed name? I couldn’t tell you.

We just launched the biggest air assault since the start of the war. Too bad Bush was so stoned during Vietnam that he didn’t hear that that trick never works. Rumsfeld and Cheney were around, but they were on Nixon’s staff and took away the wrong lessons. “If only those peace activists hadn’t stabbed us in the back….”

One of officers at My Lai was Lt. William Calley. While he was the lowest ranking officer present, he was the only one to be tried and convicted. In March of 1971, after the longest court martial in American history, he was found guilty of the murder of at least twenty-two Vietnamese civilians. But that wasn’t the end of the story:

Opinion polls showed that the public overwhelmingly disapproved of the verdict in the Calley case [OPINION POLLS]. President Nixon ordered Calley removed from the stockade and placed under house arrest. He announced that he would review the whole decision. Nixon’s action prompted Aubrey Daniel to write a long and angry letter in which he told the President that “the greatest tragedy of all will be if political expediency dictates the compromise of such a fundamental moral principle as the inherent unlawfulness of the murder of innocent persons” [AUBREY LETTER]. On November 9, 1974, the Secretary of the Army announced that William Calley would be paroled. In 1976, Calley married. He now works in the jewelry store of his father-in-law in Columbus, Georgia.

My Lai mattered. Two weeks after the Calley verdict was announced, the Harris Poll reported for the first time that a majority of Americans opposed the war in Viet Nam. The My Lai episode caused the military to re-evaluate its training with respect to the handling of noncombatants. Commanders sent troops in the Desert Storm operation into battle with the words, “No My Lais—you hear?”

Aubrey Daniel was the prosecutor. Read Aubrey’s letter. Really.

You’ll recognize a couple of the names from My Lai today. An Army officer named Colin Powell helped in the cover-up. And a journalist named Seymour Hersh helped break the story. Later, Powell was Secretary of State and Hersh helped break the story at Abu Ghraib.

The rest of the Abu Ghraib photos have been released. Have you seen them? There’s full motion video.

Let’s talk about Hearts and Minds for a minute: U.S. military airstrikes significantly increased in Iraq

Stories of American missiles hitting the homes of innocents are passed between Iraqi men at teahouses and during Friday worship services.

“Residents worry that their homes will be bombed at any time,” said Hussein Ali Jaafar, who owns a stationery shop in the town of Balad, north of Baghdad, which was targeted by bombs or missiles at least 27 times between October 2005 and February 2006. “Most of the bombing is unjustified and random. It does not differentiate between militants and innocent people.”

A tribal sheik who lives on the outskirts of the troubled Anbar town of Ramadi, who asked that he be identified as Abu Tahseen instead of by his full name out of fear of possible retribution, said that the strikes create more insurgents than they kill because of the region’s tribal dictates of revenge.

“They (the Americans) think: `As long as there are resistance fighters operating in this spot, we will wipe it out entirely,’” Abu Tahseen said, using the term for insurgents favored by Iraqis sympathetic to their cause. “As you know, our nature is a tribal one, and so if one from us is killed, we kill three or four in return.”

Good going, guys. We’ve already dropped more tons of bombs on Iraq than we did on Nazi Germany. Over in Vietnam, over the course of ten years, we killed around 70,000 civilians. In Iraq we’ve managed to kill around 100,000 civilians in just three years.

We’ve been having fewer and fewer of our troops killed, though. Officially we lost 99 KIA in October ‘05, 86 in November, 68 in December, 64 in January ‘06, 58 in February, and only 17 so far in March, halfway through the month.

How are we managing that, given that there’s a full-blown civil war in progress over there? One way might be by retreating to cantonments and shooting anyone who gets within 500 yards. Taking a defensive posture.

Another way might be by lying about the casualties.

All depends on what the objective is.

I do wonder what Bush’s objective is. Is it really an attempt to hasten the arrival of Christ on earth by setting up the Apocalypse? Is he nuts?

I don’t know. But I do know that the current situation — civil war, thousands dead, quagmire — was predictable, and predicted. And the people who were predicting it were called traitors at the time for doing so.

Comments on Lessons Learned:
#1 ::: Cryptic Ned ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 11:37 PM:

But I do know that the current situation — civil war, thousands dead, quagmire — was predictable, and predicted. And the people who were predicting it were called traitors at the time for doing so.

And they are being called traitors today for admitting that things that are happening are in fact happening.

#2 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 11:38 PM:

Over in Vietnam, over the course of ten years, we killed around 70,000 civilians.

I think that statistic is at least an order of magnitude too low. Perhaps two orders of magnitude.

#3 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:06 AM:

Jim MacDonald,
Do you have a link for the desertion statistics, please? I'd like to have it for my next futile argument at work.

#4 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:12 AM:

I cringe every time I hear about our military using aerial bombing. There are few better ways of causing needless casualties than dropping large bombs indescriminately on populated areas. It doesn't matter how smart the bombs are, if the people ordering them to be dropped are morons.

I only hope that the truth is getting around rural America as the troops come home to tell what is really happening over there. If Bush can't muster poplular support for an invasion of Iran, even the Republicans won't vote for it. Just look at how popular opinion killed the Dubai deal. Republicans in Congress are afraid of catching Bush's bad numbers in an election year. Though, you never know. He might just go in without an act of Congress, but I still like to believe that there are some laws that Bush won't break. (I hope there are.)

#5 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:18 AM:

I do wonder what Bush’s objective is. Is it really an attempt to hasten the arrival of Christ on earth by setting up the Apocalypse? Is he nuts?

If that is indeed his purpose, then yeah, he's wacko. But I am dubious that what we see in all of this is George Bush's objective. Other people (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove) make the real decisions, and they tell Bush stories in language designed to elicit his approval of what they do.

Or maybe not. Maybe it is Bush's design, Bush's choices, Bush's wars.

#6 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:21 AM:

Aerial bombing: It worked so well in the Blitz and in Vietnam...

And, about the Abu Ghraib photos. I honestly don't know how three-quarters of the US population sleeps at night, knowing that they did nothing to stop that. I just don't get it.

#7 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:22 AM:

This really disturbed me (from U.S. military airstrikes significantly increased in Iraq):

'Comparing the total number of bombs and missiles dropped from one year to the next isn't possible because the Central Command releases began late last year to refer to "precision guided bombs" or "precision guided munitions" instead of the actual number and type of bomb used.

'"The change in nomenclature reflects internal angst about whether or not it is appropriate to give the specific types of ordnance dropped,'" said Air Forces spokesman Maj. Robert P. Palmer in an e-mail exchange.'

So, they have nothing to hide?

#8 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:24 AM:

[Folksongs are still our friends. Disseminate at will.]

Farewell to all our country’s fame,
Farewell our ancient glory,
Farewell even to our Army’s good name,
So famed in martial story.
Now blood runs o’er the desert sands,
And cash bleeds like an ocean,
To mark where Cheney’s empire stands.
Such a parcel of rogues rules our nation.

What force or guile could not subdue
Through many greedy ages,
Is bought now by a coward few,
For Halliburton’s wages.
Al-Qaeda’s bombs we could disdain,
Secure in freedom’s station;
But Bush’s fears have been our bane.
Such a parcel of rogues rules our nation.

I would I’d never seen the day
When treason thus could sell us.
But Diebold’s hacks have made it plain,
No matter what they tell us.
With all my power, ‘til my last hour,
I’ll make this declaration:
We’re bought and sold for Saud’s black gold.
Such a parcel of rogues rules our nation.

#9 ::: jrocheste ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:33 AM:

There are few better ways of causing needless casualties than dropping large bombs indescriminately on populated areas.

Do you remember how the 'smart bombs' were going to ensure that no civilians died?

And yes, I'm sure, absolutely sure, that the figures are being fudged and the American people are being lied to.

#10 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:41 AM:
in Vietnam, over the course of ten years, we killed around 70,000 civilians.
I'm russhing out of the house for urgent things now, but civilian deaths in Vietnam during the US involvement numbered millions. How many from which causes I or someone would have to check out.
#11 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:44 AM:

I just heard this one on the radio the other day on WXRT: "We Can't Make it Here" Lyrics

[From the middle of the song... the whole thing seems too long to post]

Will work for food
Will die for oil
Will kill for power and to us the spoils
The billionaires get to pay less tax
The working poor get to fall through the cracks
Let 'em eat jellybeans let 'em eat cake
Let 'em eat sh$%, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force, or join the Corps
If they can't make it here anymore

And that's how it is
That's what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper
Read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind
If you're listening at all
Get out of that limo
Look us in the eye
Call us on the cell phone
Tell us all why

#13 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:53 AM:

James MacDonald:
Thank you, the print-outs will make a nice flapping sound as I shake my fists at the ceiling and grind my teeth.

#14 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:57 AM:

More from the Knight-Ridder piece:

Osama Jadaan al Dulaimi, a tribal leader in the western town of Karabilah, a town near the Syrian border that was hit with bombs or missiles on at least 17 days between October 2005 and February 2006, said the bombings had created enemies.

"The people of Karabilah hate the foreigners who crossed the border and entered their areas and got into a fight with the Americans," al Dulaimi said. "The residents now also hate the American occupiers who demolished their houses with bombs and killed their families ... and now the people of Karabilah want to join the resistance against the Americans for what they did."

#15 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:08 AM:

I'm wondering if some fraction of those listed as deserters were actually casualties or suicides.

#16 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:17 AM:

"I honestly don't know how three-quarters of the US population sleeps at night."

A little American Idol, a little Ambien, a little self-righteous delusionary thinking to damp down any remaining doubts, and hey, no problem!

#17 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:22 AM:

Here's a Google Answers thread that puts civilian casualties of the Vietnam War at 2 million each for North and South. Including Cambodia and Laos would put it even higher. It quotes Agence France Presse from 1995. Apparently the civilian casualty totals in the North were obscured for morale reasons.

I poked around more, but the main things I found out are that the numbers are difficult to pin down, and it's hard to know which conflicts to include in the count.

#18 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:25 AM:

I know very little about these things, but is it possibly that the dead are not being confirmed dead and are showing up in the numbers as MIA rather than KIA?

#19 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:45 AM:

it doesn't appear that anyone making any decisions have learned any lessons. Or for whatever reason, they've ruled those lessons irrelevant.

One lesson I know was learned by the defense department, which has an official policy of NOT counting or reporting civilian causalties that they themselves inflicted. Nice quality control going on there if we don't even know when we screw up other than to check the news.

Hearts and minds, yessir Mr President, we'll tell you about all the hearts and minds that we win.

We just won't tell you about all the hearts and minds that we lost by our own incompetence, accidentally attacked and killed because of bad intelligence, laziness, bad training for our men, and abuse.

whoop. whoop. Genius alert. Genius alert. Whoop. Whoop.

#20 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:47 AM:

I should have said two million civilian deaths, not casualties. The line from the Agence France Presse is "Selon Hanoi, il y a eu pres de deux millions de morts dans la population civile du Nord et deux autres millions dans celle du Sud." According to Hanoi, there were nearly two million deaths in the civilian population of the North and two million more in the South.

From what I read, this is the highest estimate among the many that are out there.

#21 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 04:06 AM:

I wonder how Seymour Hersh feels. To have to break the news on My Lai and Abu Graib -- is he proud to have been able to do so twice, or does he wish it hadn't been him the second time? Are My Lai and Abu Graib book ends to his presitigous career? Are they truly great news stories (which they are) or do they weight him down. Does Abu Graib make him despair of the world ever changing? Maybe he just sensibly doesn't think about it.

When Abu Graib broke for the first time, I did a little bit of research on Lt. Calley. I feel oddly sorry for the SOB. He was hung out to dry, like the seven low ranked soldiers for Abu Graib. He was guilty. But what we know is that if you put a person in a situation like what Calley was in, or what England was in, they turn into sadists. Perfectly normal, healthy young people become monsters. I believe (Jim, check me on this) that we also know how to stop this: a clean chain of command and officers who do not tolerate sadism.

It's not legal to obey illegal orders, so it can't be legal to give illegal orders, right? Which makes Bush and Rumsfeld and a large number of others in that chain of command guilty as hell.

#22 ::: Gareth Wilson ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 05:06 AM:

"Those troops detained more than 30 people and found five caches of weapons on the operation's first day, but no significant firefights had resulted."

Seems OK to me. Could you explain again how this resembles My Lai?

#23 ::: Francis ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 05:19 AM:

Re: desertion statistics, the numbers of desertions by that link are actually falling.

Desertion numbers have dropped since 9/11. The Army, Navy and Air Force reported 7,978 desertions in 2001, compared with 3,456 in 2005. The Marine Corps showed 1,603 Marines in desertion status in 2001. That had declined by 148 in 2005.

#24 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 05:27 AM:

"There are few better ways of causing needless casualties than dropping large bombs indescriminately on populated areas."

Don't worry, these aren't needless casualties.

The insurgency in Iraq, like the Vietcong was, is too popular, too intertwined with the population. But if the population is removed, hey presto, no more insurgency.

Therefore terror bombing, therefore the creation of city wide ghettos, therefore death squads.

Terrorise the population, remove the population either by killing them or by locking them up, control their movements and you control the country.

As long as the permanent bases are secure and the oil is under control, it won't matter that the rest of the country is in shambles.

Next stop: Iran.

#25 ::: John Dallman ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 06:19 AM:

Meanwhile, one starts to wonder if the US ever means to leave. Here's a very revealing quote:

'In response, the US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad accused Mr Sadr of hypocrisy in taking ministerial jobs in government. He said: "You cannot be a part of the government while at the same time you issue statements demanding that we leave."'

The original Guardian story is here

Now, maybe I missed a change of plan, but I though that the public aim was that the US would leave as soon as the Iraqi government asked it to do so?

#26 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 08:04 AM:

"Why do they hate us? They hate our freedom."

W's facile explanation for 9/11 ignores a history of imperial arrogance by a country which still sees itself as the Great Republic, the light of freedom to the nations. Yet the cause of freedom is not advanced by bombing villages, hospitals, houses; freedom is not won by the deaths of children, the elderly, the frail, and all those who cannot outrun a bomb or a bullet.

Freedom is not won by torture, by holding prisoners without charge, by shooting up wedding parties, or by wearing flight suits and looking martial. Freedom begins with the recognition of what it is not, and of what its absence means. Freedom, ultimately, knows the difference between pride and arrogance.

#27 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 08:17 AM:

Seems OK to me. Could you explain again how this resembles My Lai?

How would you know? My Lai was reported at the time as a victory: 128 Vietcong killed, only one GI wounded. It took over a year for reports of what really happened to start filtering out.

Compare, if you will, "...officials suspected Quang Ngai Province ... as being a Viet Cong stronghold" with "Salaheddin province ... regarded as a hotbed for insurgents."

The My Lai massacre took place 16MAR68.

In November, 1969, the American public began to learn the details of what happened at My Lai 4. The massacre was the cover story in both Time and Newsweek. CBS ran a Mike Wallace interview with Paul Meadlo. Seymour Hersh published in depth accounts based on his own extensive interviews. Life magazine published Haeberle's graphic photographs.

But that wasn't the point: the point is that escalation is happening, and that by a funny coincidence we're doing this major op on the anniversary of My Lai.

#28 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 08:33 AM:

Martin Wisse:
I really, really hope this wasn't the plan from the start... but it certainly looks like the current plan. I still believe that Cheney is overestimating the US military capabilities and morale if he really thinks they can pull another one in Iran: the military is already overstretched, plagued by desertion and bad recruitment, and in Iran they'll find a proper army with huge international ties (hezbollah, Syria) and a really infinite amount of "fighting martyrs"... nothing like the casual guerrilla they are currently facing in Iraq. If they don't fix Iraq properly first, they won't be able to use bases there at full regime, that is absolutely necessary (unless they manage to recruit the saudis in this folly).

The only real option is, this time around, to fully involve NATO. That's what Bush is desperately trying to do, and that iranian fool is falling for it by giving him perfect excuses. I hope Merkel and deVillepin will be smarter than that.

#29 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 09:04 AM:

I did a report on Calley and My Lai for a history class, long ago. I wound up feeling sorry for the guilty bastard, too.

When the news broke about Abu Ghraib, I noted to a friend of mine that Abu Ghraib seemed, in a specific way, worse. My Lai had the highest levels setting impossible objectives with "I don't care how you do it, just do it," the middle levels going "will nobody rid me of this meddling priest village," and the results... well.

With Abu Ghraib, the methods employed by the torturers seemed to come from QUITE a few layers up the chain of command. Deespite the show trial, once again, focusing on someone as low down the chain as they could find. This time it wasn't even an officer!

I wasn't even born when My Lai happened, and i recognized the similarities.

Couldn't say I was shocked. "Saddened" will have to do.

#30 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 10:20 AM:

. But what we know is that if you put a person in a situation like what Calley was in, or what England was in, they turn into sadists.

You can't have a blanket, universal statement like that right next to a side particle about an SAS guy who leaves the British army in disgust and not expect a "Huh?" or two. Not everyone turns into a monster.

The thing is that if you put people into situations like that long enough, they will be reduced to their core personal morals and their core military training. Hopefully, they've been trained to the point where they simply do the right thing. Most military and police fiascos occur because people didn't have the training to deal with a situation. Abu Graib seems to me a classic example of people with practically no training being thrown into a grinder and horrors are the result.

People revert to their training if they have any. They are reduced to their morals if they don't.

The problem with morals is that in situations where war has been your day-to-day experience for months or years, where your day-to-day mode of living is to kill and see your friends be killed, where you are living a daily, constant nightmare, then morals can be pretty hard to find, emotions win out, and then you've got an international incident.

I just read an article saying that fully one-third of all the personell coming back from Iraq, coming out of the US military and back to the states, are getting mental health conseling of one sort or another. Apparently, the pentagon has decided that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is real and they want to deal with it now, rather than have a massive problem 10 years from now.

Once you've hit that level of stress, you've got little to hold on to but the training that's been drilled into you. And if no one trained you, you're just flapping in the wind.

#31 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 10:47 AM:

As far as casualties in Iraq: check the obituary pages in the newspapers. The LA Times is running six to ten military deaths daily.

Proposed project for people who have nothing better to do with their time, all over the country: go to your local library, go back to the first day of the invasion, and start collecting deaths in Iraq or people who were wounded in Iraq. Names, dates, units if given, places if given. Send to places like MoveOn and People for the American Way. Or start a central site: the Iraq Memorial Wall. I think we'd get better numbers that way.

#32 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 10:59 AM:

I remember hearing comments from Rumsfeld when he was first nominated that reminded me of the "McNamara paradigm" and hoping that he would never be in a position to try out his theories.

I keep watching this country make the same mistakes. I wonder if the level of outrage is muted because we've seen it before, predicted it long ago, and so when it finally happens it is somewhat anticlimactic.

#33 ::: Toni ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:16 PM:

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

-Voltaire, philosopher (1694-1778)

#34 ::: Gag Halfrunt ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:41 PM:

Over at Back to Iraq, Christopher Allbritton suggests that 'Operation Swarmer' is just a big PR stunt:

“Operation Swarmer” is really a media show. It was designed to show off the new Iraqi Army — although there was no enemy for them to fight. Every American official I’ve heard has emphasized the role of the Iraqi forces just days before the third anniversary of the start of the war. That said, one Iraqi role the military will start highlighting in the next few days, I imagine, is that of Iraqi intelligence. It was intel from the Iraqi military intelligence and interior ministry that the U.S. says prompted this Potemkin operation. And it will be the Iraqi intel that provides the cover for American military commanders to throw up their hands and say, “well, we thought bad guys were there.”

#35 ::: jrocheste ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 03:39 PM:

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

-Voltaire, philosopher (1694-1778)

Thank you. I'm going to print that out and stick it on my office door.

Sad, though, isn't it -- my initial reaction to a little bit of brilliance is 'Gee, that would make a great Bumper Sticker'.

#36 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 03:46 PM:

'Operation Swarmer' is just a big PR stunt:

It does seem to be an odd mismatch: (1) The biggest air assault since the beginning of the war, and yet (2) they encountered no resistance after 24+ hours (did anyone even shoot back at the americans) and (3) all we have to show for it is 30 people captured.

There's something rotten in my MRE.

#37 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 03:55 PM:

It sure sounds like a PR stunt. (Anybody got a duck? Yeah, sure, over here...) X number of helicopters, no air firepower, 1500 soldiers combing through largely empty buildings. I'm inclined to guess it's also meant to provide training for the Iraqi troops. In fact, everything they originally said about it is probably bullshit, like most of their initial claims. (Slam dunk? WMD? Nukes? Smiling happy liberated people? We don't engage in torture?)

#38 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 01:12 AM:

I only heard a`few minutes of All Things Considered tonight, but it sounded like they were laying out a clear argument that Rumsfeld should have been fired years ago. Of course, why stop there?

#39 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 01:08 PM:

Fired years ago? Rumsfeld should have been tried and convicted years ago.

Meanwhile, Bomb Iran (.mp3) from the Capitol Steps.

#40 ::: Captain Slack ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 08:44 AM:

Do you remember how the 'smart bombs' were going to ensure that no civilians died?

"Don't you know that the smart bombs are
So clever, they only kill bad people?"
— Danny Elfman, War Again

#41 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 09:41 AM:

Can we arrange extraordinary rendition of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rove to, say, the Hague? I had in mind something like a 20-foot container with bunkbeds and a portapotty or two. And a couple of cases of MREs and retort water.

It's probably better conditions than received by those they rendered.

#42 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 01:13 PM:

Impeach W. Bush. Try him for war crimes.

I think this is the sign that the war is lost; the politicos don't want to put enough troops on the ground to win it, never did, so they're bombing instead.

#43 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2006, 05:37 PM:

a story on Yahoo news sounds like we might be getting closer and closer to possible mai lai style incidents.

#44 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 04:26 PM:

From 17 March (this thread):

Seems OK to me. Could you explain again how this resembles My Lai?

How would you know? My Lai was reported at the time as a victory: 128 Vietcong killed, only one GI wounded. It took over a year for reports of what really happened to start filtering out.

Today:

U.S. probes more claims of Iraq civilian killings

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military is investigating the deaths of nearly a dozen Iraqi civilians during a U.S. raid near Balad in March.

...

The March 15 incident took place in the Abu Seffa district of Ishaqi, a town 10 miles north of Balad.

Iraqi police said 11 people were killed in a U.S.-led raid against a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq site. The dead included five children -- the youngest 6 months old -- as well as four women and two men, the police said.

The U.S. military reported there had been deaths, including of civilians, but provided a lower casualty count, saying an insurgent, two women and a child were killed.

At the time, U.S. military spokesman Tim Keefe said U.S.-led forces staged the raid and came under fire as they approached a building, and air support fired on the site.

"Coalition forces returned fire, utilizing both air and ground assets," Keefe said, according to The New York Times. The target building was destroyed along with one vehicle.

A Balad police official told CNN at the time that witnesses claimed that U.S. soldiers kept an entire family in a room before spraying them with bullets randomly.

U.S. soldiers destroyed the building and also killed livestock belonging to people in the house, the official said.

Police found bullet casings in the house that would only have been used by U.S. soldiers, the official asserted.

A BBC report on Thursday ran video of the apparent aftermath of the incident, obtained from a Sunni political group. The BBC says the video shows dead bodies with gunshot wounds.

"U.S. soldiers kept an entire family in a room before spraying them with bullets randomly...U.S. soldiers destroyed the building and also killed livestock belonging to people in the house...."

That, my friend, is how it resembles My Lai.

#45 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 08:06 PM:

Does anyone else feel sick to their stomach that we're still in Iraq four years after this was originally posted?

#46 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2010, 12:44 AM:

Rainflame: I can't explain what I feel.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="http://www.url.com">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.















(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.