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American 'civilians' killed, mutilated in Falluja were mercenaries

Tom Gittoes | 01.04.2004 11:07 | Anti-militarism

Much has been made of the killing of four American 'civilians' in Falluja, Iraq, for many bringing back echoes of Somalia '93 when dead US troops were dragged through the streets precipitating a US withdrawal. However, even if working for an illegal occupying power can be classed as 'civilian', these people were far from non-combatants.

The four dead people worked for Blackwater Security Consulting, a firm based in North Carolina, USA that 'has its roots in the Special Operations Community'1. Blackwater will deploy “with little notice in support of US national security objectives, private or foreign interests”2. So what were privatised American Special Forces doing in Falluja? Officially, they were "providing convoy security for food deliveries in the Falluja area"3. This obviously begs the question ‘who is dependant on food deliveries and why?’, but even if we assume the absolute truth of the official explanation, mercenaries in Iraq are known to be carrying out far less benign deeds. In February the Ecologist4 reported that ‘private security consultants’ in Iraq were testing special bullets that penetrate steel but ‘explode’ on contact with human flesh causing horrific injuries. They were testing them on real life Iraqis. Moscow Times Journalist Chris Floyd comments “these mercenaries are not always bound by the laws, regulations and codes of honour that govern regular military forces, so they’re free to do any dirty work the [US] administration wants kept off the books”5.

Of course these mercenaries nefarious deeds may have made them a legitimate target for the Iraqi resistance, but don’t justify the post-mortem parading and mutilation. However, it is perhaps wise to consider what would drive some of our fellow human beings to such acts of hatred? Maybe it is a case of brutalise a people enough and they will brutalise back; we all know the history of repression in Iraq; a brutal US-backed dictator, then when he fell out of favour a US led war. A US encouraged uprising that was betrayed as US forces allowed Iraqi helicopter gunships to crush the Shia, followed by ‘genocidal’ (to quote UN official Denis Halliday who resigned in disgust) US-led sanctions that killed upwards of 1 million people including over 500,000 children (the US blocked tonnes of humanitarian supplies that were approved by the UN and paid for by Iraq). The ‘no-fly zones’ apparently set up to protect the Kurds were nothing of the sort; RAF crew recount being ordered to return to base to allow incoming Turkish planes to operate over Iraqi Kurdistan, only to return several hours later and see columns of smoke rising from the Kurdish villages they were purportedly protecting6.

The White House blamed both ‘terrorists’ and ‘remnants of the former regime’ for the killings6. However it is becoming increasingly clear in the face of the cheering crowds that witnessed the lynching of two of the mercenaries’ corpses that the popular discontent with the occupation is far from restricted to small extremist groups. In response the US plays up talk of civil war, whilst a unity march of tens of thousands Sunni and Shia against the Occupation on the 19th March is ignored in the West. A BBC even stood in Baghdad on the evening of the 20th, the global day of protest and anniversary of the start of the Iraq war (phase 3, in reality) to proclaim ‘there have been no protests, but no celebrations either’. That’s a bit like standing in Germany in 1946 and proclaiming ‘there’s been no war here’, albeit on another scale. Everyday Iraq looks more like Palestine, with angry crowds denouncing the US and children throwing rocks at tanks and humvees. This probably shouldn’t be surprising since the occupiers are reportedly taking advice on how to subjugate a population from Israeli Special Forces troops. The Americans have opened a festering sore of hatred in Iraq that seems set to burn for many years, since the one thing that could placate it, meaningful democracy, is seen by the US as worse than leaving Saddam in power. Whatever happens, Iraqi anger seems to be boiling over the propaganda about a liberated population, leaving the establishment press to resort to the colonial tactic of calling Iraqis ‘barbarians’ and ‘savages’, softening the way for more bloodshed.


4. Floyd, Chris, Bullet Points, Page 19, Feb 2004, The Ecologist.
5. Floyd, Op Cit.
6. See Curtis, M (2003), Web of Deceit, Vintage.

Tom Gittoes
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Display the following 5 comments

  1. BBC waking up slowly — joe public
  2. Mercenaries in Iraq — squatticus
  3. American cilivians killed in Falluja — Michael Gandy
  4. Blinkered US ignorance — Ian
  5. re: Michael Gandy — Tom G