Wednesday, March 09, 2005

CAN RIVERBEND CALL IT OR WHAT? In a new post dated March 8, Riverbend of Baghdad Burning wonders what excuse the Pentagon will give for shooting up the car carrying Giuliana Sgrena and her agent, Nicola Calipari, to the Baghdad airport.

I have a feeling it will be the usual excuse, “The soldiers who almost killed the journalist were really, really frightened. They’ve been under lots of pressure.”

And here is the statement made by Dan Bartlett, White House communications czar, on CNN's "Late Edition" (as reported by ABC News):

White House counselor Dan Bartlett said Sunday the shootings were a "horrific accident," saying President Bush called Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi to offer condolences and promise a full investigation.

"As you know, in a situation where there is a live combat zone, particularly this road to the airport, has been a notorious area for car bombs, that people are making split-second decisions, and it's critically important that we get the facts before we make judgments," Bartlett said on CNN's "Late Edition."

Pretty close, no?

Of course, it's a live combat zone for Iraqis, too, and they also have to make split-second decisons. When they are approaching a checkpoint in a car. When they are accosted by a U.S. soldier. When they happen to be on a crowded street at the exact moment a suicide bomber strikes. But, says Riverbend, the Pentagon does not give Iraqis the same benefit of the doubt as they give themselves.

Iraqis are frightened and under pressure too- we don’t go around accidentally killing people. We’re expected to be very level-headed and sane in the face of chaos.
Riverbend also says that she and other Iraqis wonder why the insurgents kidnap innocent people, like journalists and foreign aid workers. Her conclusion? It's hard to tell who is a friend and who is an enemy.

I think its because the lines are all blurred right now. It’s difficult to tell who is who. Who is a journalist, for example, and who is foreign intelligence? Who is a mercenary and who is an aide worker? People are somewhat more reluctant to talk to foreigners than they were at the beginning.
Exactly the explanation U.S. military authorities always give when innocent Iraqi civilians are killed. "It's so hard to tell who's a civilian and who's an insurgent." The explanation is not completely unreasonable; perhaps we should acknowledge its reasonableness for the insurgents as well.

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