The Ceaseless Abuse of Iraqi Civilians

May 5, 2007

More than one-third of US soldiers in Iraq surveyed by the Army said they believe torture should be allowed if it helps gather important information about insurgents, the Pentagon disclosed yesterday. Four in 10 said they approve of such illegal abuse if it would save the life of a fellow soldier.

In addition, about two-thirds of Marines and half the Army troops surveyed said they would not report a team member for mistreating a civilian or for destroying civilian property unnecessarily. “Less than half of Soldiers and Marines believed that non-combatants should be treated with dignity and respect,” the Army report stated.

About 10 percent of the 1,767 troops in the official survey — conducted in Iraq last fall — reported that they had mistreated civilians in Iraq, such as kicking them or needlessly damaging their possessions.

                – The Washington Post

This is an unmentioned dimension of the Iraq war failure. It is often noted by Democrats that the abuses at Abu Graib, Guantanamo and Haditha undermine Iraqi public opinion of the United States. But here we can see it is not just the dilapidated infrastructure, lack of security, or supposed abuse which is responsible for Iraqi distrust. Daily harassment by US soldiers is also driving their distrust and hatred. This report from the US Army forces us to consider the following statistics from a month old ABC, BBC and USA Today poll in a very different light:

-Only 38% of Iraqis think the country is better of today than it was under Hussein.
-4/5 oppose the presence of coalition troops in Iraq
-51% think it is OK to attack coalition troops. Thats triple the number from a 2004 survey!
– 94 percent of Sunnis, 7 percent of Kurds and 35 percent of Shiites endorse attacks on coalition forces
– and 53% of the population believes that “from today’s perspective, and all things considered,” it was “wrong that US-led coalition forces invaded Iraq in spring 2003.”




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