Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Numb to Haditha


Perhaps I am overestimating how much affect the Haditha killings will have, at least on Iraqi public opinion. In “Baghdad Numb to Reports of Massacre,” Ellen Knickmeyer and Omar Fekeiki describe the Iraqi capital’s lack of reaction to the news:

Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died in violence since the U.S. invasion in 2003, many from insurgent bombs and execution-like killings in the intensifying sectarian violence, making TV broadcasts most days a montage of sprawled corpses and weeping families. A fraction of the deaths are caused directly by U.S. fire.

"We have a Haditha every day. We have a Fallujah and Karbala every day,'' said Muhanned Jasim, a local merchant, citing two of the many landmarks for civilian death in the war, the 2004 U.S. offensive in Fallujah and insurgent bombings in the Shiite Muslim holy city of Karbala.

An antiques seller in central Baghdad, Jasim hadn't heard the news of Haditha, he said, because he no longer has electricity to power his television.

"We live in darkness,'' he said, fanning his face as the sweat rolled down. "What's the big news about Iraqis getting killed? We're powerless to change the situation."

It’s possible that, unless the Haditha killings are hung on someone higher-ranking than a sergeant and his men, the whole episode may not leave much of an impression on the Iraqi consciousness. It remains to be seen how the jihadis exploit this gift from the Americans in their propaganda.

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