A Real American Hero

Camilo Mejia

“FORT STEWART, Ga. – A U.S. soldier who said he saw prisoners being abused in Iraq was convicted of desertion on Friday for failing to return to his unit after taking leave to the United States last year.

Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, … a nine-year U.S. Army veteran, was deployed to Iraq early last year and took a two-week furlough to the United States in October. He was gone for five months before surrendering to Army officials in March. He has filed an application for conscientious objector status.” (Source: Reuters)

Antiwar protestors are never popular when the war’s actually going on. Then, we’re scum. Un-patriotic, cowardly, self-serving scum.

Yes, now there can be romantic films made about people protesting against Vietnam and dodging the draft. But at the time, these people were made pariahs by mainstream society.

So, even though it’ll mean fuck-all to him, I’d like to take this chance to salute Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, a true war hero.

“I sit here a free man because I did the right thing,” Mejia said. “I have no regrets. All of us in uniform are on trial. The world is watching.” (Source: Reuters)

To take such a moral stand when all around your fellow soldiers are torturing, raping and murdering innocent Iraqis requires tremendous courage. I can’t even imagine the pressures involved in a long-serving soldier deserting, abandoning the whole framework of their life.

If only there were equivalent people of conscience at the head of the US government. Perhaps the lives of their own troops and Iraqi civilians wouldn’t be regarded so cheaply?

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Sabrina Harman, also facing trial on abuse charges (AP Photo/ABC News)

Look at the picture above.

Can you see the woman’s pretty face? Can you see her perfect American smile? Can you see the delight in her eyes as she gives a triumphant thumbs-up over the dead body of a fellow human being?

And how about this heartwarming shot?

Charles Graner + liberated Iraqi

“New pictures have emerged showing two US guards at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison posing with the body of a detainee who died in custody…

…Both are among seven former US guards at Abu Ghraib facing courts martial for allegedly abusing prisoners.”(Source: BBC News )

The only sane comparison that can be made for the horror of the above images is with the treatment of Jews by their Nazi murderers. To the Nazis, Jews were untermenschen, subhumans. When you view the people you kill as just animals, not like you, it makes the killing easy, makes it fun. Like sport.

It means you take grinning trophy photos with the corpses, like some proud hunter.

This is exactly the same mentality that the murderers of Al Quaeda have towards the people they target. For them, the thousands of innocents they slaughtered in the WTC attack weren’t humans, weren’t people.

It starts with a label: infidel, Argie, nigger, gook, towelhead. You reduce your enemy to an abstract being, a walking insult to your belief system who merely resembles a human. That’s the only way you can bomb, shoot, bulldoze and otherwise murder them. Is this an unchangeable part of human nature? I don’t know. But it does seem to be the basis of all wars.

“At least 37 people have died in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pentagon officials admitted on Friday.

While some have been classified as deaths from natural or undetermined causes, as many as 10 could be murder.

Several of those under investigation were found to have occurred before or during interrogation sessions.

At least two of the deaths occurred at Abu Ghraib, the Baghdad prison where US soldiers have been accused of beating and humiliating Iraqi inmates.”(Source: BBC News )

And as for the claims that these are merely isolated incidents:

“Yet it is not simply these images and details that are so shocking, but the overwhelming evidence suggesting that, far from being an isolated episode involving a “few bad apples” from Appalachia, as the administration claims, this abuse was part of a systematic, gloves-off approach to dealing with suspected “terrorists” in the post-9/11 world.

Compelling evidence is emerging that responsibility for the abuse goes right to the Pentagon, where an ultra-secret “black operation” was set up to run the interrogation process. This unit, under the direction of Stephen Cambone, under-secretary of defence for intelligence, reportedly used theories developed by an academic to guide the torture of the detainees.”(Source: The Independent)

I feel strange writing this because I don’t truly consider myself a pacifist. Many times in my life I’ve had to physically fight people, mostly racists who don’t happen to approve of my built-in sunblock. I’ve also got a pretty short temper and so have plenty of arguments (albeit not using my fists). So, I’ve fought in self-defence.

I can even, in a very nebulous manner, understand that there are some extreme situations where that principle could be extended to a nation and to national defence.

But the war on Iraq isn’t that kind of war. It is an illegal invasion of a non-aggressor country, bypassing any UN procedure. The furore about finding Iraqi WMDs evaporated as the real agenda, the US government’s pursuit of their vision of a 21st century American empire, as outlined in the PNAC.

Liberation was the slogan, occupation is the reality. Freedom and democracy were promised, torture and mass murder were delivered.

“US Military Police Specialist Charles Graner – who has been charged over the scandal – was named in several of the reports.

One detainee accused him of repeatedly throwing prisoners’ meals into the toilets and saying, “Eat it.”

Spc Graner, who appears in a number of the photos from Abu Ghraib, has said he was following orders.”(Source: BBC News)

He was only following orders. Does that ring a bell?