Irreconcilable Differences

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The
screens were lit up. The show was on. It was curtain time — again.
Iraq’s puppet government, flanked by its masters, staged a press
conference to announce that they had killed Iraq’s most wanted man
du jour. Well, at least most wanted by the occupation forces.

Al-Zarqawi
had been raised to mythical proportions by the U.S. occupation authorities
who desperately tried to explain away the growing insurgency and
their own failure to diffuse it. The quandary for the authorities:
Now that al-Zarqawi is gone how will they explain the seamless continuation
of the insurgency?

In
fact, al-Zarqawi had repulsed and angered the core of the insurgency
which saw his tactics as counter-productive and had begun to marginalize
him altogether.
It is more likely that al-Zarqawi was "given up" by the
insurgency to rid itself of a public relations and recruiting liability.

In
Washington, Donald Rumsfeld surfaced to beat his chest about the
al-Zarqawi killing. We were shown video of the air strike, scenes
of its aftermath and the placid death mask of al-Zarqawi. Rumsfeld
praised the efforts of U.S. forces in tracking down and killing
al-Zarqawi whom he classified as a terrorist responsible for the
deaths of many innocent Iraqis. There was no mention of the daily
slaughter of innocent Iraqis by U.S. forces in Haditha and other
parts of Iraq. There was also no mention of Lt. Ehren Watada.

At
Fort Lewis, Washington, U.S. Army Lt. Ehren Watada announced that
he will refuse to deploy to Iraq.
"The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people
is not only a terrible moral injustice but a contradiction of the
Army’s own law of land warfare. My participation would make me party
to war crimes," explained Watatda. Even more refreshing was
Watada’s observation that his moral and legal duties were to the
U.S. Constitution, "not those who would issue unlawful orders."

American
forces are praised for killing al-Zarqawi and preventing the deaths
of even more innocent Iraqis. These are the same American forces
which are coy about their own murder of Iraqi civilians. Army Lt.
Watatda refuses to kill innocent Iraqis. The defense department
says he cannot do that. Lt. Watatda will be prosecuted for refusing
to kill innocent Iraqis. Marines at Haditha will be prosecuted for
killing innocent Iraqis.

What
is wrong with this picture?

June
9, 2006

John
M. Peters [send him mail]
is a practicing attorney in Michigan.

John
M. Peters Archives

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