Irreconcilable Differences

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