Winning Hearts and Minds in Iraq

From the generally pro-Iraq-war UK Telegraph:

Mazen al-Tumeizi, a Palestinian working for Al-Arabiya, one of the main Arab satellite television channels, was among 12 people – all believed to be civilians – killed in the incident on Haifa Street.

On Haifa Street, a main road in central Baghdad that has long been under the effective control of Saddam loyalists, there were several hours of gunfire during a United States mission to capture 21 men the Iraqi government described as terrorists.

A Bradley fighting vehicle was damaged by an apparent car bomb. A total of five American soldiers were wounded in the explosion and during the operation to evacuate the crew.

Later, a crowd of Iraqis gathered round the burning vehicle and some began dancing in celebration.

Tumeizi was describing the incident on camera when two helicopter gunships were seen flying down the street and opening fire. Tumeizi was hit by a bullet and doubled over, shouting: I'm dying, I'm dying.” About 50 people were wounded, the health ministry said, among them a Reuters cameraman and an Iraqi reporter for the Guardian.

Through the day, United States officers offered contradictory accounts of the incident and ordered an investigation.

“As the helicopters flew over the burning Bradley they received small arms fire from the insurgents in the vicinity of the vehicle,” said Major Philip Smith of the 1st Cavalry Division. “Clearly within the rules of engagement, the helicopters returned fire destroying some anti-Iraqi forces in the vicinity of the Bradley.”

However, witnesses said there were no Iraqi fighters in the area at the time.

Does the so-called Iraqi government have a view on this?

It doesn't really matter if this was policy or an error. Errors happen over time, and they have political consequences. We are gradually loosing territory on the ground in Iraq to various types of 'insurgents'. And I don't see how getting into bed with Baathists is helping us either.

We've seen this movie before, folks. It not only hurts while it's running, but it ends badly.

Here's a relatively mild Arab press version of the same incident,

US Missile Kills Journalist: Mazen Al-Tomaizi, a Palestinian television journalist working for Saudi news channel Al-Ekhbariya and Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya, was killed yesterday by an American missile as he was reporting live from Baghdad on deadly clashes between US forces and insurgents.

Most of the young Iraqi men and boys mingling around the burning wreckage of the US tank were unfazed by the clattering of an American helicopter gunship overhead. Moments later they were under fire.

Some had pointed to the Apache helicopter. Others jogged slowly from the burning Bradley fighting vehicle. None expected it would shoot at them. “I didn’t imagine the helicopter would fire on the crowd,” Reuters cameraman Seif Fouad said from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from two shrapnel wounds. He had been recording the scene and was standing near Mazen.

“I looked at the sky and saw a helicopter at very low altitude,” Seif said. “Just moments later I saw a flash of light from the Apache. Then a strong explosion,” he said.

The first explosion sent Seif crashing to the ground. “Mazen’s blood was on my camera and face,” Seif said. Mazen screamed to Seif for help: “Seif, Seif! I’m going to die. I’m going to die.”

A second blast hit some 15 seconds later, lodging shrapnel in Seif’s leg and waist as he was trying to pull Mazen from harm’s way. Seif’s camera, its lens stained with blood, filmed the chaos. Reuters footage showed the crowd to be made up of unarmed boys and men, two of whom were standing on top of the Bradley.

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3 Responses to Winning Hearts and Minds in Iraq

  1. I agree, it doesn’t matter if this was accidental…the consequence is unavoidable…but look on the bright side. You may not like that Allawi was a Baathist. But imagine how much less you’d like his significant CIA ties were you simply a citizen of Iraq? Wait a minute. Is that a bright side?

  2. Chris says:

    The Bush supporters were probably most indignant when, in the movie “The Patriot,” that British officer killed Mel Gibson’s son–quipping “He was a stupid boy”–and burned to death the spouse/fiancee of the elder son (soon to die himself). And the Bushies probably cheered the loudest when Mel joined with the Revolutionary army and slaughtered Redcoats and loyalists in consequence to all the brutality of the British toward his own family, with the joy climaxing when Gibson ran a bayonet through the neck of that British officer at Cowpens.

    But outrage and vengeance for senseless killing is only a legitimate privilege for us Americans, it seems. In Iraq, the Iraqis are expected to be docile and thankful to us when we strafe them. Those that resent our killing of their family and friends are therefore ungrateful SOBs and, if they take up arms to fight to defend their homes, beliefs, and loved ones, they are terrorists.

    So yes, situations like this have consequences. Which consequence seems more plausible for an Iraqi father holding the pieces of his toddler blown apart by a minigun: (1) “[smiling in rapture] This is only a small price to pay for my freedom. Thank you, America!” or (2) “[face distorted by rage] The Americans will pay, if it costs me my own life. I swear this by almighty God!”

  3. Not Chris says:

    Shit happens.

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