Thursday, June 01, 2006

Is Haditha Arabic for My Lai?

The body count is smaller, but the similarities are overwhelming. Unarmed civilians, mostly old people, women and children, slaughtered by a force of American soldiers. A massive coverup by the American brass. When the truth finally emerges, massive denial by everyone in a position of authority.

Like so many other similarities between the quagmire in the jungle and the quagmire in the desert, the massacre of civilians at Haditha has a disconcerting resonance with the infamous My Lai massacre of forty years ago.

A notable difference is that this time the Army brass was not able to cover it up for more than a year before the truth came out. But they didn't have good-soldier Colin Powell to help out this time around (Powell was in the Americal Division and helped to cover up the My Lai Massacre -- an almost-forgotten inconvenient fact that I believe was integral to his decision not to run for higher office).

Predictably the wingnuttery are squawking out about the massacre with their usual "we're at war, shit happens" crap -- and oh by the way it's all the fault of the liberal media for reporting it. And of course, Clinton for...well, just being Clinton, I guess.

Once again some low-level grunts will bear the burden -- as they should, if the reports are accurate, as they seem to be -- but those above them who created the climate of violence and the opportunity for murder will go untouched. Instead, the military is instituting something they call "core values" training.

Baby Doc the other day at West Point presumptuously (and preposterously) compared himself to Harry Truman, but he ought to recall one of the things that Harry Truman was famous for: A desk sign that said "The Buck Stops Here".

Der Monkey Fuehrer and his flying-monkey lackey Rummy Rumsfeld are at the top of the heap in America's military. Bush likes to keep reminding us that he's the commander-in-chief and, as The Decider, is keeping Rummy on the job.

That makes both of them responsible and complicit in the deaths at Haditha. When the news of My Lai finally crept to the surface and saw the light of day, it was a turning point in the minds of most Americans who up to that point had either supported the war, or didn't oppose it (those people who "didn't have a dog in the fight" -- i.e., had no one they knew in uniform and over there), and the anti-war movement picked up both mass and velocity as a direct result of My Lai.

Here's hoping that the complacent attitude on the part of those same uninvolved Americans will change with the continuing revelations about Haditha. Call me cynical, but I'm not counting on it. Not when those same people can be lulled to sleep with the belief that Little Lynndie England, The Tiny Terror of Baghdad, was solely responsible for those highly inventive torture techniques used at Abu Ghraib.