Monday, May 30, 2005

RIVERBEND nicely demolishes Thomas Friedman's pompous op-ed (now behind the subscription wall, but the abstract tells you all you need to know), asking why Iraqis demonstrated against the reported desecration of the Koran, but not about suicide bombings in Iraq.

Friedman wonders why thousands upon thousands protested against the desecration of the Quran and why they do not demonstrate against terrorism in Iraq. The civilian bombings in Iraq are being done by certain extremists, fanatics or militias. What happened in Guantanamo with the Quran and what happens in places like Abu Ghraib is being done systematically by an army- an army that is fighting a war- a war being funded by the American people. That is what makes it outrageous to the Muslim world.

In other words, what happens in Iraq is terrorism, while what happens to Iraqis and Afghanis and people of other nationalities under American or British custody is simply "counter-insurgency" and "policy". It makes me naseous to think of how outraged the whole world was when those American POW were shown on Iraqi television at the beginning of the war- clean, safe and respectfully spoken to. Even we were upset with the incident and wondered why they had to be paraded in front of the world like that. We actually had the decency to feel sorry for them.

I, in turn, would like to know why Thomas Friedman presumes to tell Iraqis who they should be protesting against when he has not (to my knowledge) written one word about the U.S. Marine Corps' recent decision to drop all charges against Lieutenant Ilario Pantano in connection with the execution-style killing of two unarmed Iraqis. After emptying the entire magazine of his M-16 rifle into the men, reloading and emptying the entire magazine again (50 - 60 bullets), Pantano propped a cardboard sign by the dead men's bodies, on which he had written: "No better friend, no worse enemy."

Pantano freely acknowledged mutilating the Iraqis' bodies with five dozen bullets and placing the sign on top of the car that the corpses were slumped against. He said he wanted the sign to serve as a warning to all Iraqis that they would meet the same fate if they did not respect and obey the Marines.

Pantano's attorney commented on the verdict as follows:

"You have an officer of unimpeachable integrity who said, 'These guys threatened me, and I killed them.' Ilario acted honorably in combat."

Why isn't Thomas Friedman writing columns about how perverted and twisted it is to use language like "unimpeachable integrity" and "acted honorably in combat" in connection with a Marine who riddled the bodies of two unarmed men with 60 bullets and then propped a taunting sign by their bodies to terrorize all others about the price they would pay if they challenged Marine authority. If that kind of action shows unimpeachable integrity and honorable behavior in combat, then those words have no meaning anymore.

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