Photo of dead Haditha civilians courtesy of Reuters and Hammurabi Organisation via Reuters TV
I have known pure rage, that primal emotion that can overwhelm the most rational of people. I have lusted for vengeance against a person who hurt someone close to me, and - if I had ever known that person's identity - I cannot guarantee that my desire to seek the proverbial eye for an eye would not have overridden my normal peaceful personality.
Many were the nights I railed against God and tortured myself with visions of hunting down another human being to exact my Louisville slugger vengeance, which - thankfully - passed after a period of time.
It was with deep sadness that I began to read the news accounts of the purported massacre in Haditha, in which a Marine unit killed as many as 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians. The dead included women and six children; some were shot in the head and some in the back, and the ugly words "execution-style killings" have been used by investigators to describe the November 19, 2005 incident.
The killings were reportedly a violent payback for the killing of Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, 20, of El Paso, Texas.
I feel sadness for the dead civilians, sadness for the American troops who face the impossible task of fighting a seemingly endless, miserable war, and most of all sadness for an America that is losing whatever moral justification it once tried to claim for the Iraq war.
The atrocities, however, in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib are only symptoms of a larger problem. The US finds itself in the middle of an unwinnable civil war, and is on the verge of widening that war into a major regional conflict by fanning the flames of hostility with Iran.
The very concept of a sovereign Iraq is a historical anomaly, as the country was created by the British after World War I. The Ottoman vilayets of Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra were lumped together for the benefit of British puppet King Faisal, and the nation has only been held together by a series of strong-armed rulers. American war planners who believed that they could maintain the fiction of a national Iraq either did not know Middle Eastern history, or were deluded by the hallucination that a few years of imported American political structures could somehow undo thousands of years of religious and ethnic traditions.
Without a dictatorial strongman to hold it together the nation of Iraq will implode. An international peace conference that creates separate states from the war-torn remnants of the Iraqi state is the only solution to what appears to be an inevitable Middle East war that will likely widen into a worldwide conflict over energy.
American troops in Iraq are undermanned, underfunded, and unwanted. It is time for them to come home, before horror stories like those in Haditha become everyday occurrences, and before the region devolves into an even bloodier contest for petroleum dominance.