End the Occupation | Sojourners

End the Occupation

Increasing deployment will only make the situation worse.

Events in Iraq dramatically reveal that the U.S. occupation is out of control. In April, U.S. Marines began a siege of the city of Falluja following the deaths and mutilation of four American private contractors. Intense battles ensued, including street-to-street fighting between Marines and Iraqi insurgents during the day, followed by attacks from U.S. gunships and jets at night. During the lulls in fighting, casualties were collected and the dead buried in the soccer stadium.

The U.S. was planning a final all-out assault, but at the last minute backed off and placed a former Iraqi Army general in charge of security. Heavy fighting and intense bombing throughout Iraq killed nearly 140 American troops and 10 times that many Iraqi civilians in April, with unknown hundreds more wounded.

One of the first journalists into Falluja after the lifting of the siege, London Observer reporter Patrick Graham, quoted Dr. Mohammed Samarae's descriptions of the casualties treated at his hospital. "Ninety percent of the injured were civilians - children, old people, women." The characteristics of the wounds show they were American inflicted, said the doctor. "We have had a lot of experience of U.S. weapons." Mustafa Hamid, a 22-year-old student, said, "All these people were killed because of four dead American soldiers…. The Americans are killing people who had nothing to do with the death of those four soldiers."

I was in London the first week of May. The lead story in the British media (and the U.S. press) was the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American and British soldiers. The painful irony escaped nobody - after going to war to liberate the Iraqi people from the brutality of Saddam Hussein and his torture chambers, some of the liberators are now accused of brutalizing and torturing Iraqi detainees - in the same Abu Ghraib prison used by Saddam.

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Sojourners Magazine July 2004
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