Tuesday, October 14, 2003

This was written, maybe, by Norman Rush and you should click there and buy his new book. Even if he didn't send me this. Like i think, maybe, he did.

US soldiers bulldoze farmers' crops

US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops.

The stumps of palm trees, some 70 years old, protrude from the brown earth scoured by the bulldozers beside the road at Dhuluaya, a small town 50 miles north of Baghdad. Local women were yesterday busily bundling together the branches of the uprooted orange and lemon trees and carrying then back to their homes for firewood.

Nusayef Jassim, one of 32 farmers who saw their fruit trees destroyed, said: "They told us that the resistance fighters hide in our farms, but this is not true. They didn't capture anything. They didn't find any weapons."

Other farmers said that US troops had told them, over a loudspeaker in Arabic, that the fruit groves were being bulldozed to punish the farmers for not informing on the resistance which is very active in this Sunni Muslim district.

"They made a sort of joke against us by playing jazz music while they were cutting down the trees," said one man. Ambushes of US troops have taken place around Dhuluaya. But Sheikh Hussein Ali Saleh al-Jabouri, a member of a delegation that went to the nearby US base to ask for compensation for the loss of the fruit trees, said American officers described what had happened as "a punishment of local people because 'you know who is in the resistance and do not tell us'." What the Israelis had done by way of collective punishment of Palestinians was now happening in Iraq, Sheikh Hussein added.

The destruction of the fruit trees took place in the second half of last month but, like much which happens in rural Iraq, word of what occurred has only slowly filtered out. The destruction of crops took place along a kilometre-long stretch of road just after it passes over a bridge.

Farmers say that 50 families lost their livelihoods, but a petition addressed to the coalition forces in Dhuluaya pleading in erratic English for compensation, lists only 32 people. The petition says: "Tens of poor families depend completely on earning their life on these orchards and now they became very poor and have nothing and waiting for hunger and death."

The children of one woman who owned some fruit trees lay down in front of a bulldozer but were dragged away, according to eyewitnesses who did not want to give their names. They said that one American soldier broke down and cried during the operation. When a reporter from the newspaper Iraq Today attempted to take a photograph of the bulldozers at work a soldier grabbed his camera and tried to smash it. The same paper quotes Lt Col Springman, a US commander in the region, as saying: "We asked the farmers several times to stop the attacks, or to tell us who was responsible, but the farmers didn't tell us."

Informing US troops about the identity of their attackers would be extremely dangerous in Iraqi villages, where most people are related and everyone knows each other. The farmers who lost their fruit trees all belong to the Khazraji tribe and are unlikely to give information about fellow tribesmen if they are, in fact, attacking US troops.

Asked how much his lost orchard was worth, Nusayef Jassim said in a distraught voice: "It is as if someone cut off my hands and you asked me how much my hands were worth."

read it here

Comment: Every now and then we hear reports of "friendly fire" or other "accidents." They're not, and they're not "mistakes" or "bad judgment" by some troops or other, either. If I throw a match onto a mattress soaked with kerosene and it lights up, we don't call it an "accident." It's a predictable consequence, as are all of these: the Iraqi cops killed by "friendly fire," etc. When you occupy a nation by armed force, against resistance, the way you do it is to kill people every now and then. If you go around asking if they're the right people to kill, it's already too late. So right now the U.S. military is in the business of killing Iraqis or destroying their property: pour encourager les autres, as the saying goes.

It's important to understand, therefore, that despite what all the pundits and middle-of-the-road Democrats say, the United States has absolutely NO "responsibility" to help rebuild Iraq. That's like saying that after burglars have trashed a house, they have a responsibility to stay and help the householders clean it up--just love to have you guys around. Or after a rapist has impregnated a woman, he should move in and help her raise the child. No--the "responsibility" of the invader is to dis-invade and get OUT--and then, of course, pay what's owed to compensate for the destruction. Who should be rebuilding is the only people who did not support the invasion and consequent destruction--the U.N. With the money the U.S. owes for the job. But of course the U.N. cannot and should not possibly do this until the opponent of peaceful reconstruction, the guys who want to do it all their way for their own profit and fuck the Iraqis--namely the U.S. Bush Administration--are out of there. And if the U.N. can't do it either, that's too bad, history is sometimes disastrous. But the people who brought about the disaster in the first place can only pile more on top of it by pursuing the agenda that brought it about in the first place. That many Iraqis are grateful for the chance at building democracy is a good thing; but they won't have that chance in the present course of events, whether or not they realize that--as more of them every day are indicating they do.

U.S. Out. U.N. In.

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