Haditha wasn't an anomaly, nor was Abu Ghraib. No, these weren't examples of "bad apples" as we'd all like to think. It's the whole tree that's infected, with hatred and its accompanying tyranny, and its apples, unfortunately, are red, white and blue and wear body armor.
Nir Rosen writes a horrifying picture of what's going on in Iraq in The Occupation of Iraqi Hearts and Minds:
In reality both Abu Ghraib and Haditha were merely more extreme versions of the day-to-day workings of the American occupation in Iraq, and what makes them unique is not so much how bad they were, or how embarrassing, but the fact that they made their way to the media and were publicized despite attempts to cover them up. Focusing on Abu Ghraib and Haditha distracts us from the daily, little Abu Ghraibs and small-scale Hadithas that have made up the occupation. The occupation has been one vast extended crime against the Iraqi people, and most of it has occurred unnoticed by the American people and the media.
If you only read one article today, read this one. As an American of Iranian descent, Rosen has been able to understand the day-to-day conflicts that arise when our troops, misunderstanding the language as well as the culture, attempt to occupy a region they once intended to "liberate".
It's a shame this won't be the lead story in the New York times or the Washington Post, or in every hometown newspaper in the country. Instead, the rest of America will sit down to hot dogs and burgers on the Fourth of July, surrounded by American flags, and have no idea what is being done in their name in a far off country where no one speaks "American English".
Three days after the operation, a dozen prisoners could be seen marching in a circle outside their detention cells, surrounded by barbed wire. They were shouting “USA, USA!” over and over. “They were talkin’ when we told ’em not to, so we made ’em talk somethin’ we liked to hear,” one of the soldiers guarding them said with a grin. Another gestured up with his hands, letting them know they had to raise their voices. A first sergeant quipped that the ones who were not guilty “will be guilty next time,” after such treatment. Even if the men were guilty, no proof would be provided to the community. There would be no process of transparent justice. The only thing evident to the Iraqi public would be the American guilt.
How much longer can we support troops who act in such a way? After Vietnam, our generals called for an all-volunteer army, and they got one. Unfortunately, when leaders demand their professional troops fight for a cause they cannot understand, the result is what Rosen outlines in this article.
But after a while no one will be able to distinguish the fruit from the rotten tree. For the Iraqis living under the tyranny, all they see are the American flags on the tanks and uniforms of their oppressors.