shooting in tal afar, iraq
January 19, 2005 3:11 PM   Subscribe

shooting in tal afar, iraq
what will become of these poor children?
posted by specialk420 (75 comments total)
I don't know what will become of the children, but it seems that situations like these happen once a week in Iraq. A car doesn't stop or slowdown when it approaches a checkpoint and gets fired upon. This is just one of the first times that there's been such graphic photos of the aftermath. It's a horrible situation and the army should try to do more to make it stop. Getting Iraq military or civiliians to yell at the cars that don't stop should be mandatory at all checkpoints.

I don't blame the soldiers much though, the alternative could be one of the cars exploding and killing several more than are in the car itself. That's happened before as well.
posted by Arch Stanton at 3:20 PM on January 19, 2005

I don't blame our soldiers either. I do blame our government for putting them in this situation.

There are now five more kids in the world who hate America. Probably a whole extended family of young people who are prime recruits for any kind of terrorist group.

I want to hear about the "flypaper" theory again.
posted by rks404 at 3:23 PM on January 19, 2005

one thing to keep in mind is there are hundreds if not thousands of kids in Iraq in this same situation.
posted by chaz at 3:27 PM on January 19, 2005

Ditto what was mentioned above, but also--I can't imagine these soldiers are going to walk away unchanged by this kind of incident either. Multiply this incident by a hundred, and you're dealing with a future wave of veterans more tramatized than anything we've seen since Vietnam.
posted by availablelight at 3:33 PM on January 19, 2005

I don't get it, if you're approaching a checkpoint and you don't stop then how can you expect them to not open fire?
posted by fenriq at 3:34 PM on January 19, 2005

A car doesn't stop or slowdown when it approaches a checkpoint and gets fired upon...

Except that it wasn't a checkpoint, per say. According to this Newsday article:
A routine foot patrol -- a dozen or so men from a platoon, carefully walking the dusky streets of Tal Afar just after sundown.

As a defense against potential car-bombs, it is now standard practice for foot patrols to stop oncoming vehicles, particularly after dark.
posted by exhilaration at 3:37 PM on January 19, 2005

I note your comments to the effect that 'if you're approaching a checkpoint and you don't stop...what else do you expect them to do'

I have worked VCP's (Vehicle Check Points) on operations where there were frequent 'runners' i.e. vehicles that did not stop.

There are a number of ways to deal with this situation without opening fire and without endangering yourself.

The most common is to get out of the way, let the runner through and allow the cutoff group to bring the car to a halt.

Nine times out of ten its a bunch of drunk teenagers in a 'borrowed" car. In this case it's a family with young kids - making me very much doubt that this family man decided to run a checkpoint for the sheer f*cking badness.

Much more likely he wasn't given a clear message,or wasn't given enough distance, to stop his heavily loaded vehicle.

He won't make that mistake again.
posted by fingerbang at 3:38 PM on January 19, 2005

fingerbang, were you doing these checks in a warzone? Because my thinking is that any car that barrels a checkpoint in Iraq is more than likely to be stuffed full of explosives.

exhiliration, thanks for the explanation. But the first photo caption has this "US soldiers in Iraq approach a car after opening fire when it failed to stop at a checkpoint." Can you understand my confusion?
posted by fenriq at 3:43 PM on January 19, 2005

fenriq, for whatever reason, there's obviously a huge misunderstanding here. Obviously this car wasn't rigged with explosives, and yet it still didn't stop. There is a huge misunderstanding, a cultural difference, call it what you will... but there's no use in denying it exists anymore. The question becomes how to fix the problem.

Obviously, hand-waving and shooting guns isn't working. I wouldn't really expect it to, anyway. They're likely yelling in a language that locals don't understand, and firing guns in a warzone isn't exactly some kind of secret code for "stop your vehicle."

I can't find the specific article I'm thinking of, but a journalist with an Iraqi driver tells the story of how difficult it is to drive around in Iraq, since there are multiple sources of authority, each giving multiple conflicting directions. Add to that the overwhelming paranoia of being arrested for no reason and shipped to Cuba if you do the wrong thing, and you've made it a lot more reasonable to avoid confronting the military at all costs.

On preview: Oh, so it was a foot patrol – well that's just great.
posted by odinsdream at 3:44 PM on January 19, 2005

"it seems that situations like these happen once a week in Iraq"

Actually, these kind of incidents usually happen several times a day. Here are some similar -- but far more gruesome -- pictures (1, 2, 3, 4) of an Iraqi civilian who had the misfortune of driving a black car on a black night. A soldier passed them to me, but I didn't think it would be an appropriate FPP and I certainly didn't want to send them to ogrish.

The great majority of these incidents go unreported by the media, but it is *VERY* commonplace. It can happen at checkpoints, or simply if you're too close to an armed convoy -- and in Iraq, every convoy is armed. It can also happen if you're driving too close to a vehicle you *don't* know is armed, such as contractors or military driving incognito. These people are all armed, are justifiably paranoid, and have the right of "self defense", which in Iraq often means firing randomly at whoever is nearby who appears to be a potential threat.

These deaths probably contribute greatly to the estimated 100K Iraqis who have died during the war.

Nighttime driving is the worst, and is generally avoided because of increased risk of attack. If you must drive, however, you drive like a bat out of hell. This causes problems, however, when Iraqi drivers turn a corner and suddenly run into Coalition checkpoints.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:49 PM on January 19, 2005

"what will become of these poor children?"

That's not entirely the question. The real question is "What will happen to hundreds of thousands of children, after their parents were killed or imprisoned by Americans?"

They'll grow up to hate Americans, of course.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:56 PM on January 19, 2005

fenriq, read the first hand description on Newsday. It was not a checkpoint. These soldiers were just stopping an oncoming vehicle late at night when it was very dark. Their effort consisted of firing off a few warning shots and the "warning shots" were immediately followed by the shoot to kill action.

These soldiers made a mistake and they should be punished.

And even if it was a checkpoint, exactly how many civilians need to die before we begin to question this policy of shooting up cars that fail to stop?
posted by nixerman at 4:02 PM on January 19, 2005

A car doesn't stop or slowdown when it approaches a checkpoint and gets fired upon...

Try this: you're driving at night in Iraq with your children in the car. Carjackings and kidnappings are routine in this area, and often brutal. There are a group of men in the shadows on the road ahead. You realize that they are going to block the road, trapping you and your family. As you try to think what to do, the men begin firing weapons.

'Gun it and pray' seems a reasonable response. Had the group been carjackers, it might even have worked.
posted by bitmage at 4:04 PM on January 19, 2005

After looking at those pictures, I think I have lost all sense of sarcasm for the next 30 minutes.

I sympathize with both the soldiers and the victims in that situation. You know those guys didn't want to kill innocent people, they were simply scared out of their minds that it was yet another car full of explosives coming for them. Its simply tragedy on all sides, almost a metaphor for the entire Iraq situation.

There will be a day when people realize that the hopeless ideals we had in store for Iraq will simply never come to fruition by America's forceful hand. I just wish that day were today.
posted by thanatogenous at 4:11 PM on January 19, 2005

If it indeed was a checkpoint, which was the basis of my original argument, then the military should find more safeguards to prevent this from happening. Currently, you have all sides reacting to a situation, the soldiers and the driver and the one with the gun is going to win. What needs to happen instead is to have enough signs in enough languages so that any driver that may be coming through there knows what is up ahead. It also possibly requires Iraq civilians or military will bullhorns screaming for them to stop, whatever it takes. Obviously waving hands and warning shots are not enough and tragedies like this have become commonplace.

I should have stated that instead of these happening once a week, I should have written that the mass media seems to pick up these stories once a week. Unfortunately, the military has yet to figure it out that 'it's a warzone' isn't a reason.
posted by Arch Stanton at 4:13 PM on January 19, 2005

Bitimage, yes absolutely. Also consider that American soldiers are probably considered just as dangerous and anyone else with a weopon there. "Gun it and pray" does seem an appropriate response-as long as you've turned around and are heading AWAY from the danger. Catch 22 all the way.
posted by snsranch at 4:17 PM on January 19, 2005

" I don't blame our soldiers either."

Yeah. They were just following orders right? Maybe you'd think differently if this were your family.

"These soldiers made a mistake and they should be punished."

At the very least they should be charged with manslaughter. Tough break when you are a kid who's been hired to travel to another country and murder people, but somebody has to take the wrap if those actually responsible for this retarded war won't.
posted by Rusty Iron at 4:23 PM on January 19, 2005

I read something about this a while back, I wish I could remember where I found it... there was some interesting information about how Iraqis, especially the ones who are less world-wise, have heard and seen so many examples of abuse by American troops, that when they see them doing patrols or manning checkpoints, they think the only way out of the situation is to run. In their mind, it may be a choice between taking your chances at being shot in a moving car, or being raped and murdered in Abu Ghraib, or one of the many other ignominious fates that are either rumors or reality.
posted by chaz at 4:24 PM on January 19, 2005

nixerman, thanks for the additional clarity. Given the situation, I can't say I would have acted any differently than the driver did.

snsranch, I'm not sure if Catch-22 is enough, I'm thinking Clusterfuck-22 is more like it.
posted by fenriq at 4:25 PM on January 19, 2005

This incident, like every similar incident in this war, would never have happened if George Bush had not made the decision to start a war of choice.

The blood on that child is also on George Bush's hands, and upon his heart. Think about that when he lays his hands on the Bible tomorrow morning.
posted by wadefranklin at 4:26 PM on January 19, 2005

what goes around comes around
posted by pyramid termite at 4:40 PM on January 19, 2005

Shitty situation for everyone involved. The only possible solution that I can see would be a complete ban on all cars, then for the Coalition to implement a bus system that covered all of the areas needed, no matter how much it cost. Drop Iraq police on the buses to keep bombers or hijackers from getting on (Or at least try to).
posted by Vaska at 5:12 PM on January 19, 2005

fenriq; agreed. In any case we all lose.
posted by snsranch at 5:24 PM on January 19, 2005

what goes around comes around

No. All too frequently, it doesn't. 'Depends on the arc of motion and any vector forces. In this complex situation, there are a lot of vector forces. Nobody can predict what this little incident will foster, from the right or the left. And if that doesn't worry Barbara's pretty little mind, why should it scare ours? Maybe one of those kids will grow up to be THE great Iraqi diplomat, or maybe one of them will grow up to lead the final victorious jihad. Thinking that you can know the outcome is what got us here. Let's not compound that error. In the words of the great surfer philosophers: "acknowledge, move on".

But hey, I hear there's a party in DC tomorrow. Smiles everybody, smiles!
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:29 PM on January 19, 2005

More dead people, eh?

So that means we are winning, right?
posted by EmoChild at 5:33 PM on January 19, 2005

If it makes anyone feel any better, when I was there the last time around, I "secured" a truck-load of pop-top luncheables and tossed all of maybe 10,000 of them to Iraqi troops who were marching (limping) home as I was trucking back to Saudi.
posted by snsranch at 5:35 PM on January 19, 2005

It is simply a no win for anybody.

Everyone in those photos may as well be Siamese twins now. Those soldiers and the children will be f*cked up for the rest of their lives with the memory of the killing of innocents. They will all wake up in the night see the faces of the dead.

My dad did 3 goddamned tours in Nam. THREE. He woke us up with his screaming all through out my childhood.

This Iraq shit is all sorts of bad. Like a whole bunch of bad put in a particle collider at let loose to go ape shit and slam into any and everybody.
posted by tkchrist at 5:41 PM on January 19, 2005

Poor solders; poor children...

How can anyone be "pro-life" and have voted for the neocon death cult that is currently running our country?
posted by EmoChild at 5:48 PM on January 19, 2005

tkchrist: I know man. I'm still losing friends and uncles to Vietnam. Suicide, O.D., most recently an uncle who died from ALS resulting from exposure to agent orange. Eventually we'll learn that there are better ways than war to solve things.
posted by snsranch at 5:48 PM on January 19, 2005

I'm going to go cry in the corner for an hour or two. I have no words.
posted by shawnj at 5:50 PM on January 19, 2005

"No win situation?"

That's like shooting someone in the back and having the courtesy to say you're sorry.

This is a loss--bloody fucking aggression situation (speaking as an American, we're the latter).

I never thought I'd say nice things about, but at least they have the spine to show what happens when an imperialist entity tries to "save" another country. And yes they are perverts, but (forgetting name of song on Elliot Smith's last album)--we're so far down the rabbithole now that maybe perv-porn-disgustingness is what we need, because we (Americans) deserve it.

/On preview, I'm sure ParisParamus and Steve@Linwood can explain this. "Nothing to see here! Just move along!"

//Second preview, the structuralist theory I studied in a PhD program didn't get me a job, but it does give me sympathy, to some extent, for these occupiers. I'm sure I would have done the same thing. But they've but put into a situation where they cannot help _but_ be murderers. And those kids? Just wait until they're old enough to load and carry an AK. Probably about 4 years.
posted by bardic at 6:14 PM on January 19, 2005

Homer Simpson voice; "Mmmm, Death Cult."
posted by snsranch at 6:15 PM on January 19, 2005

I disapprove of the Bush administration.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:31 PM on January 19, 2005

Um, I don't see how anybody can be "poor soldiers." These guys killed two innocent human beings and utterly destroyed a family. Their behavior suggests they have no real regard for Iraqi life. If they're going to go around shooting up Iraqi cars at night, with so little warning, they also have little regard for their mission wrt to keeping the peace. We should make an example of these guys, the way I see it.

But, of course, we won't. This will be considered a "tragedy" and forgotten about next week until the same thing happens again. Don't even bother writing your Congress critter. C'est la vie.
posted by nixerman at 6:34 PM on January 19, 2005

Kansas, drunk on 13 Nat Lights with a ounce in the baby seat, turns and chants

4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

Then passes out because she has to punch in at Wal Mart at 6:30 in the morning.
posted by orange clock at 6:40 PM on January 19, 2005

bardic; WHOA NELLIE!!!!!

"No win situtuation..."

1. We know who to blame; Bush + Red States = Death Cult, EmoChild already proved that.

2. War begets death and everlasting torment.

3. Classical warfare, in which there is a "winner" does not exist any more! Therefore, NOBODY WINS!

Prepare yourself for many decades of global warfare. There is much at stake and our American "Conservatives" (yea, right) won't let it go until every living being on the planet prays the crying baby jesus.

Tonights reading: 1984 and Fahrenheit 451

snarky pissed off at everything filter engaged; please forgive.
posted by snsranch at 6:41 PM on January 19, 2005

Just as I would expect to be shot if I possessed a gun in a confrontation with a police officer in the US, I would expect to be shot if I drove through a checkpoint in Iraq.
posted by sled at 6:52 PM on January 19, 2005

snsranch: Thank you for clarity. Long day for me.

/preview: Two amazing books, I agree.

This violation of fellow human beings was wrong, but the whole concept of volition is wrong when it involves a couple of parents driving home with their kids along with colliding into well-intentioned, and highly armed Americans who sure as hell won't be at a late at night "We Love Bush and the Military" Party on Thursday night.

//preview, um, Republicans can eat my fuck
posted by bardic at 7:07 PM on January 19, 2005

I'm curious sled: When, exactly, is the last time that you had to worry about a situation in which "if I possessed a gun in a confrontation with a police officer in the US."? When is the last time your country was invaded and a roadblock was set up every 50 feet? And then they drilled you in the cranium for trying to get to work or get home to see you family?

Frankly, I live in a county where that rarely happens. Then again, we haven't been invaded for a long time.

/preview: Economy of scale.
posted by bardic at 7:14 PM on January 19, 2005

It's so shocking to see the actual results of our invasion of Iraq. What's even more shocking is to multiply what we've seen here by the tens of thousands who have been killed by our bombs, the faceless numbers that nobody likes to talk about for fear of losing focus on the "democratization" process. It's so easy and convenient to imagine that we're improving their lives when we don't take into account the untold horrors that our efforts have caused.

Is this the best we can do? Was it really our objective to spread good will and democracy by killing tens of thousands of innocents? I can't fathom the reasoning behind any of this. If we're so powerful then why did we get so freaked out by a uranium purification program that didn't exist? How did we miss the WMD's and the purported link to Al Qaeda? And why are the people behind all these blunder so busy giving each other medals and awards?
posted by gallois at 7:31 PM on January 19, 2005

Off to play my guitar with nary a thought of this blight, even though, as an American, I am at least, in part, responsible for this tradgedy. Tra la la, la la la.

Back to reality. It's hard to have any fun knowing innocent people are dying, soldiers and civilians alike. I hate this crap!
posted by snsranch at 7:33 PM on January 19, 2005

snsranch: I don't blame you one fucking bit. I'm grading American lit papers, for what it's worth.
posted by bardic at 7:51 PM on January 19, 2005

someone should hijack the inauguration transmission/satellite feed and patch these pictures in.
posted by amberglow at 7:56 PM on January 19, 2005

and don't they even teach the soldiers how to say "stop" or "halt" in Arabic?
posted by amberglow at 7:58 PM on January 19, 2005

This "ownership society" that the President keeps mentioning...we have to own this, too?

Americans will be paying for these sins for a long time.
posted by felix betachat at 8:05 PM on January 19, 2005

i thought we were "liberating" the iraqi's?

good for the photographer who i am sure risked his life and career in getting these photos - and the truth out. god bless him and these poor children.
posted by specialk420 at 8:09 PM on January 19, 2005

Jesus, I'm hardly a pacifist--But why kill people when you don't have to? Why, as we we tax-paying semi-loyal Americans, let this shit happen?

Biden gets it. He's a bit of a douche, but him and Kerry (yes, that guy, who's also a bit of a douche, but thankfully lives within a "reality based" experience) only make sense now. (So glad Biden managed to indicate that there's about 4,000 scared "Iraqi's" with no idea) in place to ensure the new utopia is suppsed to have 120,000.

/On preview: Condi needs a trim.
posted by bardic at 8:39 PM on January 19, 2005

thank you wf. that is exactly right. this blood is on bush's hands. every drop of it. by rights it should surround him, raise and toss him in its waves, and cover his head when he can no longer swim.

I am sick in my heart, thinking of that man tomorrow, how he will stand with his palm down and twist his smirk out over the crowd, into the cameras where it will broadcast its poison to the whole world. I am sick from thinking that we as a nation have let him proceed. The re-election of george bush has injured my view of the safety and sanity of America more severely than the events of 9/11.
posted by damehex at 9:20 PM on January 19, 2005

BTW, the first time this happend in the Iraq War was back on March 31, 2003
DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- U.S. soldiers fired on a van carrying 13 women and children when it failed to stop at a military checkpoint in southern Iraq, killing seven people and wounding two others, U.S. Central Command said Monday in a written statement.

Four passengers were unhurt, the statement said. An investigation is under way.

The incident occurred around 4:30 p.m. (8:30 a.m. ET) when soldiers from the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division -- manning a checkpoint on Route 9 near Najaf --motioned for an approaching van to stop, but were ignored by the driver, the statement said.
Hey, war sucks. Who'da thunk it?

Hush, you libruls, we know what you think...
posted by wah at 10:09 PM on January 19, 2005


I posted this earlier in the day to Fark (of course not green-lit), and learned quite a bit about the levels of cynicism people are capable of.

I literally felt sick to my stomach after seeing this, and cried at work (I think the emotion was amplified due to having a young daughter myself).

The comments here are pretty much exactly what I was trying to express there as well (scared dad, trying to get the family home before darkness fell. Even if he heard the "warnign shots", it's likely he would run anyhow).

A few notes I felt worth mentioning:
It was not night (the sky was blue, the sun had just gone down, as evidenced by pictures #2 and #3).
This was not a check point (requiring a mandatory stop), it was a foot patrol.
The children will grow up with a love in their hearts for the soldiers who "liberated" them from their "stupid" parents (suggested by another as the only reason they didn't stop).

Sadness on so many levels...

Oh, and on preview: Hush, you warhawks, we know you don't think (or feel).
posted by numlok at 10:33 PM on January 19, 2005

It's the next four years that scare me.
posted by sophist at 11:27 PM on January 19, 2005

Kansas, drunk on 13 Nat Lights with a ounce in the baby seat, turns and chants

4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

Then passes out because she has to punch in at Wal Mart at 6:30 in the morning.

This is superb.

I have nothing to say about bloodspattered children that hasn't already been said here, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:24 AM on January 20, 2005

These pictures may mark the point at which the nation's perception of the war turns from necessary violence to horrible inhumanity.

The equivalent of the Kim Phuc pictures from Vietnam. I've previously felt kind of aloof from the war, it being thousands of miles away, but these pictures have personalized it for me.
posted by breath at 12:32 AM on January 20, 2005

If all they wanted was for the car to stop why not shoot a tire?
posted by dabitch at 1:02 AM on January 20, 2005

These pictures may mark the point at which the nation's perception of the war turns from necessary violence to horrible inhumanity

You poor deluded fool.

These pictures won't get further than the internets. America is willfully ignorant of the horrors it is causing.

My first reaction? Any sympathy I had for your nation after 9/11 is pretty much gone, sorry man but whatever happens now, you fuckers have it coming.

My second reaction? This goes for me in the UK too. I didn't do enough to stop this evil, needless war.
posted by fullerine at 1:23 AM on January 20, 2005

I count at least nine bulletholes in the windshield and hood of the car. Excessive to say the least.

on preview, fullerine we're you not one of the millions demonstrating against the war? Seems no matter how many we were, nobody listened. Can we say "we told you so" soon?
posted by dabitch at 1:25 AM on January 20, 2005

sorry, anger and frustration over the emotions stirred by those images made me phrase that poorly and someone will probably jump on me for it. I'll rephrase, the anti-war demonstrators wanted to avoid exactly this, lots of innocents dead, and the US no safer - in fact quite the opposite - from terrorism.
posted by dabitch at 1:31 AM on January 20, 2005

We didn't do enough, and because of that these kids' lives are now destroyed. We are just as guilty as every chickenhawk and seeing a screaming child covered in his parent's blood kind of brings that home. Our intentions were good but we failed.

Or to put it another way, wearing badges is not enough.

But hey, I have a whole day off tomorrow to watch american gladiators play WoW, perhaps that will help me forget that child's face so I can continue to look in the mirror without wanting to bawl my eyes out.
posted by fullerine at 1:49 AM on January 20, 2005

I've just thought of something we can do.

Every "FW: FW: FW: LOLZZ" link you get today with some funny flash movie or Jpeg in it, reply to all with the link from this FPP

Tell everyone you know.
posted by fullerine at 1:57 AM on January 20, 2005

I'm shocked, frankly, that so many people are so effected by these pictures. Not shocked like a Republican senator, perhaps, but really... how, exactly, do you think experts at medical statistics calculate 100,000+ dead Iraqis without a lot of civilian deaths?

That doesn't mean you shouldn't care... hardly. But do you need it all spelled out for you that a lot of innocents are dying every day, and that, statistically, a good amount of them are women and children?

As for coalition soldiers shooting (the common euthemism is "lighting up", btw) cars coming towards them at high speeds, this happens whether those soldiers are at a roadblock or not... and roadblocks, btw, are *not* meant to be fixed positions. That's a good way to be targeted and killed. Rather, roadblocks are usually meant to move around a bit. This causes confusion for Iraqi civilians, and leads to people dying... but then again, so do carbombers and Iraqi vehicles used as mobile mortar platforms. Roadblocks are put in place to stop such attacks... but every positive impact they have comes at a woeful price.

It's really easy to blame the soldiers, but they are trying to do their jobs, stay safe, keep each other safe, and go home alive. Every civilian vehicle that they light up could be a car bomber... and they don't shoot out the tires for the same reason that they don't generally aim for a person's nose, even though it's a lethal shot. Overkill works.

Rather than criticize soldiers for wanting to stay alive (and keep their friends alive) in a hostile country, why not criticize the bastards who put those soldiers there, and who made sure that our soldiers' every option in Iraq -- both peaceful and hostile -- was a catch-22?

In Iraq, no good (or bad) deed goes unpunished. Soldiers pay a large part of that price. Politicians and war profiteers don't, however.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:58 AM on January 20, 2005

This sort of stuff is why I do my best these days to neither watch nor read the news; after seeing those pictures I can say without exaggeration that I now understand why some Buddhist monks elect to oppose war by allowing themselves to be consumed by fire.
posted by Ritchie at 2:18 AM on January 20, 2005

fullerine, yes that makes me even more depressed. Millions took to the streets, people marched all over the world in bigger numbers than ever before but that wasn't enough. What could a badge-wearing non-violent believer in democracy really do?
posted by dabitch at 2:55 AM on January 20, 2005

Where are the warpigs? I clearly see the silence of the situational moralists who do not object to a checkpoint in somebody else's town and country -- heaven forbid it ever happen to them. Clearly this family should have slowed down and seen what the good guys who speak English, while the family themselves did not, had to tell them (dad you dummy!). Maybe they needed to chain up or be warned of a traffic jam ahead. Linguistically incompatible authority and machine guns are always your friend. Clearly. Always. Your Friend. That's why the military regrets the situation. Thank god they do. Somebody has to.

Regret the situation but blame the victim for being so stupid. How American and how patriotic.
posted by crasspastor at 3:57 AM on January 20, 2005

These pictures may mark the point at which the nation's perception of the war turns from necessary violence to horrible inhumanity.

The equivalent of the Kim Phuc pictures from Vietnam. I've previously felt kind of aloof from the war, it being thousands of miles away, but these pictures have personalized it for me.

That's exactly what I've been thinking breath. This must be spread far and wide. And no, not to help defeat the US military -- as this has already happened. The military's defeat was sealed by the ridiculous dauphin that will be swearing a meaningless oath tomorrow. But rather, it must be spread wide and broadcast throughout that the warmongering, hate consumed right has NOTHING to offer. This is what happens when the emotionally retarded design public and global policies.

Personally I can't wait to see these photos systematically ignored by Bush's cult of personality.
posted by crasspastor at 4:20 AM on January 20, 2005

and don't they even teach the soldiers how to say "stop" or "halt" in Arabic?

That would fit right in with the foresight shown by the prewar planning.

I read a story a couple of months ago about a soldier who had "lit up" several families because they ran checkpoints. His unit would hold up their hands to gesture to oncoming cars to stop, then shoot them when they didn't. He found out that that that gesture didn't mean "stop," it meant "hello."
posted by kirkaracha at 7:04 AM on January 20, 2005

Eventually we'll learn that there are better ways than war to solve things.

No, we won't. That's the saddest thing.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:31 AM on January 20, 2005

"I clearly see the silence of the situational moralists who do not object to a checkpoint in somebody else's town and country -- heaven forbid it ever happen to them."

That's just the point though... the soldiers in question are doing what they are supposed to do, but what they are supposed to do also kills a lot of innocent people.

This war should be stopped, and, indeed, if everyone who opposed it in the U.S. made an effort to shut it down, it could be stopped quite soon. We simply lack the desire, organization, message, or urgency, it appears...
posted by insomnia_lj at 9:12 AM on January 20, 2005

I can't believe someone actually posted 'THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!' and got away with it.
posted by darukaru at 9:12 AM on January 20, 2005

So, what do people who are against the war do? We had the protests, which didn't work. We had the election, which didn't work. At which point do people start picking up bricks?
posted by 235w103 at 10:16 AM on January 20, 2005

So, what do people who are against the war do? We had the protests, which didn't work. We had the election, which didn't work. At which point do people start picking up bricks?

The protests didn't work because most people in the US no longer take protest seriously, at least not when most protesters are young people, protests last for a couple of hours, and puppets and props are involved.

The election didn't work because John Kerry and the Democrats were unable to present a clear and consistent message of what they would do differently.

The "picking up bricks" mentality is precisely the type of foolishness that has cast a shadow of illegitimacy over the protests to begin with.

Rather than going low, Democrats need to take the high road now, more than ever. If we want protest to work in the US, we have to do it in a way that makes people take the protest seriously. Don't wear jeans and an offensive t-shirt. What if we could have several thousand people in business-casual attire show up, without offensive signs, without props and puppets, without "spectical," and hang out in a prominent place for a couple days? Or how about having thousands of anti-Bush Christians, well dressed in sensible attire, carrying Bibles, and marching with a tasteful, non-negative message? I'm convinced that most people would take these types of protest much more seriously than the most recent attempts. I'm a Democrat myself, but I would be embarassed to wear clothing or display bumper stickers hurling insults at the right or the President. I always thought showing respect towards others was one of the major strengths of the Democratic Party.
posted by crazy finger at 10:44 AM on January 20, 2005

the soldiers in question are doing what they are supposed to do

This is doubtful. Asking around I've found a consensus that the soldiers in question are essentially acting in a cowardly manner. Provided the first-person Newsday account is accurate, the distinct lack of time between the warning shots and lethal force is pretty much a crime. These guys were all too concerned with protecting their own skin and not completing their mission which was to preserve the peace--not shatter it.

If this had happened in America and the family in the car had been white suburbanites and the soldiers were replaced by young, inexperienced cops then there probably wouldn't even be time enough for a debate. As it is, it's just a few more dead Iraqis.
posted by nixerman at 11:11 AM on January 20, 2005

crazy finger nailed it.
posted by felix betachat at 11:52 AM on January 20, 2005

>>the soldiers in question are doing what they are supposed to do

>This is doubtful. Asking around I've found a consensus that the soldiers in question are essentially acting in a cowardly manner.

And just who are you asking?

The common procedure is that you try to signal the people to stop. You fire a few warning shots... and then you let them have it. Obviously, this process can happen PDQ when you have cars speeding along a highway at night.

Here's an example from just the other day, where Dutch peacekeepers shot up a car at a checkpoint and killed a civilian.

Now, the Dutch take their peacekeeping really seriously, and they aren't particularly agressive. They tend to operate under tighter restrictions as far as use of deadly force than our troops... but they still kill civilians at checkpoints, because, well, it's inevitable.

The problem isn't the soldiers. The problem isn't the Iraqis either. The problem is that our soldiers are in their country and, in order to reduce the level of violence, they've set up checkpoints. Would that violence be there in Iraq if we weren't? The answer, in most cases, is clearly no.

We went into another country for a fight, we're getting a fight, the enemy is everywhere and nowhere, and, as a result, a fuckload of innocent people are dying... and while it would be nice to blame just Bush, he couldn't wage this war without our money, our relative silence, and our grudging support.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:09 PM on January 20, 2005

insomnia_lj, except, you know, the two situations are hardly comparable. I am not talking in generalities about "the problem" in Iraq. In this specific case, in the incident described above, the soldiers acted in a dishonorable manner and it destroyed two innocent people and a family.
posted by nixerman at 4:18 PM on January 20, 2005

crazy finger, there's respect, which is good, and then there is complicity, which is bad. i'm not going to talk nice about the men in charge of our country, and that goes for democrats and republicans. i'm not going to let them define the playing field and fit all of their stupid stereotypes about democrats who do nothing to stand behind their principles. and i'm not going to behave in their classist, oppressive manner by dressing in their costumes instead of mine. sorry!
posted by Embryo at 5:03 PM on January 20, 2005

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