Winning "Hearts and Minds" Not a Goal of U.S. Occupiers

January 15, 2005

An article in "The Economist" magazine on December 29th reports that U.S. military actions in Iraq have completely isolated them from large segments of the Iraqi population.

The article, by an "embedded" correspondent, exposes the fascist and brutal nature of the U.S. occupation.

U.S. soldiers in Ramadi, the article points out, drive their humvees recklessly through the streets, disrupting traffic wherever they go. "Back this bitch up, motherfucker," one soldier screamed in English at an elderly taxi driver. On the rear bumper of each humvee is posted a sign in English "Keep back 50m or deadly force will be applied." Sometimes, soldiers fire on vehicles encroaching within 30 meters, other times they fire at 20 meters: "If anyone gets too close to us we fucking waste them," says one U.S. lieutenant. "It's kind of a shame, because it means we've killed a lot of innocent people."

Marines sometimes hide near the body of dead insurgents and kill whoever comes to collect it. According to the marine lieutenant: "It gets to a point where you can't wait to see guys with guns, so you start shooting everybody...It gets to a point where you don't mind the bad stuff you do."

Marines in Ramadi say they have killed 400-500 people, according to the article. A more precise estimate is impossible, because the marines rarely see their attackers. When fired upon, they retaliate by blitzing whichever buildings they think the fire is coming from: charred shells now line Ramadi's main streets.

"Sometimes it works in the insurgents' favor," said Rick Sims, a chief warrant officer. "Because by the time we've shot up the neighborhood, then the guys have torn up a few houses, they're four blocks away, and we just end up pissing off the locals."

In Fallujah, 40 miles east of Ramadi, the marines who survived the fierce assault on the town in November have a sardonic acronym for the skills it taught them: FISH, or Fighting In Someone's House. FISH involves throwing a hand grenade into each room before checking it for unfriendlies, or "Muj", short for mujahideen, as the marines call them.

American marines and GIs frequently display contempt for Iraqis, civilian or official, says the embedded correspondent. An 18-year-old Texan soldier in Mosul who, confronted by jeering schoolchildren, shot canisters of buckshot at them from his grenade-launcher. "It's not good, dude, it could be fatal, but you gotta do it," he explained. Marines in Ramadi who, on a search for insurgents, kicked in the doors of houses at random, in order to scream, in English, at trembling middle-aged women within: "Where's your black mask?" and "Bitch, where's the guns?" In one of these houses was a small plastic Christmas tree, decorated with silver tinsel. "That tells us the people here are OK," said a U.S. Corporal.

According to army literature, American soldiers should deliver the following message before searching a house: "We are sorry for the inconvenience, but we must search your house to make sure you are safe from anti-Iraqi forces [AIF]."

In the town of Baji, U.S. soldiers went house-to-house, breaking down doors searching for "terrorists." They ended up detaining 70 men from districts identified by their informant as "bad". In near-freezing conditions, those arrested sat hooded and bound in their pyjamas. They shivered uncontrollably. One wetted himself in fear. Most had been detained at random. The evidence against one man was some anti-American literature, a meat cleaver and a tin whistle. American intelligence officers moved through the ranks of detainees, raising their hoods to take mugshots: "One, two, three, jihaaad!"