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Snipers in Iraq
May 8, 2008 10:25 PM   Subscribe

Killing by the numbers. "In 2007 elite U.S. snipers executed an unarmed Iraqi prisoner in cold blood. Have the insidious tactics that led to atrocities in Vietnam reemerged in Iraq?"
posted by homunculus (46 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Just that FPP blurb is pretty fucking stupid.

"Insidious tactics" didn't lead to atrocities; combat fatigue (eg. having a couple dozen buddies blown away over the past few months), frustration / loss of faith in the mission, leadership failures, tit-for-tat games with the enemy, etc etc. did, & do.

And the next time I see the word "elite" on the internet I'm going to throw my iMac out the window.

Oh God, it's Salon, that explains ~everything~.
posted by tachikaze at 10:32 PM on May 8, 2008


elite
posted by pompomtom at 10:43 PM on May 8, 2008 [13 favorites]


Why would these elite American soldiers kill an unarmed prisoner in cold blood? The answer: pressure from their commanding officers to pump up a statistic straight out of America's last long war against an intractable insurgency.

Bullshit. Of all the reasons men do horrible things in war, I refuse to believe that "padding the numbers" accounts for them committing a crime for which they may well spend the rest of their lives in prison.
posted by Dasein at 10:43 PM on May 8, 2008


Have the insidious tactics that led to atrocities in Vietnam reemerged in Iraq?

To repeat tachikaze's sentiment,

oh SHUT UP. Is the front page of MetaFilter now in need of such a dumbing down that it requires headlines like those seen on the front of a tabloid?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 10:50 PM on May 8, 2008


Tough crowd tonight!
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:52 PM on May 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


>Have the insidious tactics that led to atrocities in Vietnam reemerged in Iraq?

What, imperialism?

More of a strategy than a tactic, isn't it?
posted by pompomtom at 10:54 PM on May 8, 2008


You know, if there was only some sort of pseudo-journalistic left-leaning website that articles like this could be posted and discussed on.
posted by tkolar at 11:13 PM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Outrage fatigue is an interesting and depressing process to watch. Sarcasm and irony replace sincerity, people who should be working towards the same goals turn on each other over tone and word choice. I feel it too. Fuck, I've felt it since I was twelve years old.

You've gotta kind of wonder what it takes to penetrate the wooly complacence of so many people in these hammered-by-horror days. One thing is sure, though: hysterics aren't going to do it. Just the opposite, in fact -- they make it less likely that people who are already disinclined to let the reality of what's going on in their name will interrupt their shopping to stop and think seriously about it. They even make people who already are angry and resentful more likely to turn on the screechers, and less likely to do anything constructive about whatever fresh plate of shit we've been served.

It's naive and foolish to point fingers at phantom conspiracies, but there has to have been at least a few triumphant conversations in expensively-woodpaneled rooms in the corridors of power at how effectively dissent and protest and real discussion of issues of life and death have been neutered and sidetracked in favour of the ol' cliched bread and circuses, refocused on word games and fake 'issues'.

Well played, oligarchs. You've got most of us either playing chicken-little, or pointing with scorn at the rest, or playing along, because it's always most comfortable to be part of the winning team. Or at least the team that keeps telling everybody it's winning. For a lot of folks (though few here, I admit), there doesn't seem to be much of a difference.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:27 PM on May 8, 2008 [27 favorites]


You've got most of us either playing chicken-little, or pointing with scorn at the rest, or playing along,

....or throwing the dominant party out of congress or electing candidates who say, at least, that they will end this war.

The wheels of American democracy grind slowly, but it's a mistake to believe that there are no consequences.
posted by tkolar at 11:32 PM on May 8, 2008


Speaking of Iraq, anyone following what's going on in Sadr City? According to news reports, there appears to be a major US-led military offensive underway that is resulting in a major humanitarian crisis. But it's difficult to discern exactly what's going on.
posted by ornate insect at 11:43 PM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


By the way, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, has been arrested, according to media reports quoting the country's defence ministry.
posted by ersatz at 12:04 AM on May 9, 2008


Violence is down because there are fewer to kill.
posted by hortense at 12:05 AM on May 9, 2008


Whats happening Sadr?
posted by hortense at 12:10 AM on May 9, 2008


We shall see, tkolar. At the moment I see one potential candidate who isn't deserving of the same kind of scorn and loathing with which every other candidate and American president in living memory should in a perfect world have been heaped, one of them who doesn't appear to be the same kind of pandering powerhungry piece of shit we've gotten so used to. I see people who seem to actually passionately believe that the systemic rot in the American system will magically disappear if they elect yet another politician cut from the same old filthy threadworn cloth. I find it puzzling.

But yeah, I also see people who, like me, have the slimmest spark of hope left.

But even I don't think that throwing out the Republicans in favor of the Democrats, or electing someone who say they will end the current war (or one of the wars, anyway), means a goddamn thing without some kind of fundamental change in the way things are done, the way politics is conducted, the media's endless thud-dullardry, the dominance of money, and a real will amongst the majority of the American people to do more than flop helplessly back and forth between RED and BLUE, when both sides in the artificial war of all against all have amply demonstrated that they have failed their citizenry.

Even if Mr Obama does win the election, I still, cynically perhaps, wonder if he is the man he portrays himself to be, and if he actually is, how much he can do to turn things around.

We shall see.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:18 AM on May 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


oh SHUT UP. Is the front page of MetaFilter now in need of such a dumbing down that it requires headlines like those seen on the front of a tabloid?

oh WAH! Did you even bother to RTFA?
posted by homunculus at 12:25 AM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lot of heads in sand upthread.
This ones for you Dassein
posted by adamvasco at 2:38 AM on May 9, 2008


or Dasein even.
posted by adamvasco at 2:39 AM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Violence is down because there are fewer to kill.

Violence is down because those doing the violence get the choose the time and place of their violence.
posted by three blind mice at 3:22 AM on May 9, 2008


The wheels of American democracy grind slowly, but it's a mistake to believe that there are no consequences.

Three words: Colin Powell's career.

If body counts really are being used again as a metric of success, then there goes another one of those "lessons of Vietnam" down the drain.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:44 AM on May 9, 2008


(Goddamn my prose is tortured all to fuck these days. 'What's up with me?' I ask myself, and I answer back: 'Fucked if I know!')
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:09 AM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


elite snipers, they like the elite republican guard? Like, really, really elite for the purposes of heightening your anger and hatred of them?
posted by twistedonion at 4:34 AM on May 9, 2008


Bullshit. Of all the reasons men do horrible things in war, I refuse to believe that "padding the numbers" accounts for them committing a crime for which they may well spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Actually, if you read the article, you'll see that a.)padding the numbers was very much a factor in the soldiers' interpretation of acceptable conduct. b)no one's spending the rest of their lives in jail. One non-com seeming to be quite responsible for these kills is, in fact, fully returned to duty.

I won't defend their behavior at all but the conditions that they're forced to serve under sound absolutely ridiculous. Fuck Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney.
posted by etaoin at 5:23 AM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Rummy retired, maybe you didn't get the email?
posted by fixedgear at 6:21 AM on May 9, 2008


Rummy retired, maybe you didn't get the email?

Oh, is that right--he retired did he? Well, I guess that means he's not responsible for the consequences of any of the choices he made while still in charge. I guess his 'accountability moment' has passed. Shucks.

/snark
posted by saulgoodman at 6:31 AM on May 9, 2008


Have the insidious tactics that led to atrocities in Vietnam reemerged in Iraq?

1) Yes
2) Not so much 'reemerged' as 'only stopped b/c there weren't any overt wars going on'
3) Next question?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:37 AM on May 9, 2008


Fuck Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney.

Fuck America. No need to pass the buck.
posted by chunking express at 6:57 AM on May 9, 2008


Fuck America. No need to pass the buck.

Really?
posted by Pecinpah at 7:40 AM on May 9, 2008


Fuck America.

We were already fucked when Bush won the first time and have been bending over for the last 8 years for more. Frankly, my arsehole is a bit sore so I wouldn't mind some Democratic lube.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:47 AM on May 9, 2008


Fuck America.

We were already fucked when Bush won the first time and have been bending over for the last 8 years for more. Frankly, my arsehole is a bit sore so I wouldn't mind some Democratic lube.


Yes, because Hillary leading you in a war against Iran will be such a nice follow-up...
posted by Vindaloo at 7:59 AM on May 9, 2008


THat's crazy talk, Vinadaloo. Ain't no way Hillary or anyone else is going to attack Iran any time soon, and everyone knows it. Ahmadinejad can go on talking big indefinitely, because he knows there is no penalty and it helps his standing at home and abroad. Even as this goes on in public, the real politicking is going on behind closed doors. We will reach some sort of private agreement with Iran re: nuclear development, and a more public one about the fate of Iraq and Iran's influence in that "country", because the ruling classes of both countries perceive correctly that there is nothing to win and everything to lose in an armed conflict.
posted by Mister_A at 8:07 AM on May 9, 2008


Yes, because Hillary leading you in a war against Iran will be such a nice follow-up...

Last I heard it was Bush saying they were bad guys. I think they'll just bomb them until they cough up some oil or Caspian Sea rights. And I doubt it would be Hillary doing it, either. She's a bit more savvy in the diplomacy area than Bush.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:59 AM on May 9, 2008


The half-empty bottle of diet Coke next to me is more savvy in the diplomacy area than the Goon.

Thou damn with faint praise, Marie.
posted by mephron at 9:07 AM on May 9, 2008


Frankly, my arsehole is a bit sore so I wouldn't mind some Democratic lube.

Yes, because Hillary leading you in a war against Iran will be such a nice follow-up...

How is Hillary going to lead a war with President Obama in office, exactly?

oh i went there
posted by Mikey-San at 9:34 AM on May 9, 2008


Thanks a helluva lot Mikey-San. I'll send you the bill for a new keyboard.
posted by illiad at 10:03 AM on May 9, 2008


Wait, so McCain isn't going to win?
posted by chunking express at 10:07 AM on May 9, 2008


Last I heard it was Bush saying they were bad guys. I think they'll just bomb them until they cough up some oil or Caspian Sea rights. And I doubt it would be Hillary doing it, either. She's a bit more savvy in the diplomacy area than Bush.

Interviewed on ABC's Good Morning America program, Clinton was asked what she would do if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons. "I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran," Clinton replied. "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."

Ah, yes. Good ol' calm, level-headed diplomacy.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:34 AM on May 9, 2008


Both Hillary and Bush love threatening Iran to score themselves political points. If you like diplomacy, perhaps this would be a better way to engage Iran BEFORE the missiles start flying.

"If elected president, Senator Barack Obama would meet with Iran's leaders and offer economic inducements and a possible promise not to seek "regime change" if Iran stopped meddling in Iraq and cooperated on terrorism and nuclear issues.

In an hour-long interview on Wednesday, Obama made clear that forging a new relationship with Iran would be a major element of a broad effort to stabilize Iraq. And he vowed to engage in "aggressive personal diplomacy" with Iran and other regional powers as he withdrew American combat forces in Iraq."

posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:48 AM on May 9, 2008


Back On Topic: At worst, the rules explicitly allowed the killing of unarmed Iraqis under certain circumstances, a particularly dicey concept given an enemy that does not wear a uniform and hides among civilians. Specifically, the snipers were allowed to shoot unarmed people running away from explosions or firefights. The chain of command was particularly frustrated by insurgents fleeing after attacks from roadside bombs, called improvised explosive devices. The notes from Army agents who later investigated the shootings said the battalion leaders, Balcavage and Knight, worried that the snipers had "let a lot of guys go after IED explosions." The snipers called these fleeing, sometimes unarmed Iraqis "squirters." Of course, it's not unusual for innocent people to run from explosions.

What unarmed civilian wouldn't run away from an explosion or a firefight?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:56 AM on May 9, 2008


The strangest part about that Clinton quote is that it's probably far more likely that Israel would attack Iran -- bomb something for example -- than vice-versa.
posted by chunking express at 10:57 AM on May 9, 2008


Further on topic: In addition to the vague rules of engagement and pressure to boost the body count, a furtive Pentagon unit, the Asymmetric Warfare Group, further blurred the soldiers' perceptions of what was acceptable. AWG was formed on Rumsfeld's watch.
posted by adamvasco at 11:34 AM on May 9, 2008


oh SHUT UP. Is the front page of MetaFilter now in need of such a dumbing down that it requires headlines like those seen on the front of a tabloid?

The only dumbing down happening here, as usual, is keeping head firmly in sand...or anus.

How's the view?

People just don't wanna be reminded what their moronic support of Our Leaders and Our Military causes, or has caused.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:39 AM on May 9, 2008


The strangest part about that Clinton quote is that it's probably far more likely that Israel would attack Iran -- bomb something for example -- than vice-versa.

There's this funny thing my dog does. I make menacing hand motions and he attacks my hand, sometimes quite painfully. Then my significant other menaces him with similar hand motions. He stares at her for a moment, perplexed, and then attacks me again.

I believe Clinton knows this trick.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:19 PM on May 9, 2008


"... Well played, oligarchs. You've got most of us either playing chicken-little, or pointing with scorn at the rest, or playing along, because it's always most comfortable to be part of the winning team. Or at least the team that keeps telling everybody it's winning. For a lot of folks (though few here, I admit), there doesn't seem to be much of a difference."
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:27 AM on May 9
"If you have never been outside the wire, you really have no basis [to judge]," said Hand. "You've never been in a life-or-death situation where you have had to count on the guy to your left and right ... You see stuff out there that no one back here is going to see."
posted by paulsc at 11:30 PM on May 9, 2008


I don't understand how your quote has any relevance to what I was saying, paulsc. I wasn't talking about war, or about soldiers, at all. *shrugs*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:56 AM on May 10, 2008


In big concession, militia agrees to let Iraqi troops into Sadr City
posted by homunculus at 12:51 PM on May 10, 2008


The elusive Iranian weapons
posted by homunculus at 9:41 AM on May 11, 2008


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