Monday, July 29, 2013


A plan by US military planners for the
A plan by US military planners for the "Tigris Woods Golf and Country Club" in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq. Photograph: US Army/AP -- the story of our persistent dreams in 2008
In the summer of 2003, when President Bush mounted an aircraft carrier to declare “mission accomplished” in Iraq, my sister-in-law had begun to peruse travel brochures offering scenic tours of the new Iraq.  "See their special brand of pyramid, in the ancient Fertile Crescent, with all modern amenities."   She is an excellent horsewoman, cares well for husband, kids and grandkids, but certainly not a student of recent history. 

Ten years later there are more daily bombs than destination boutiques in Baghdad—only half the city it used to be.   Our troops have cleared out with some of their weapons, having mothballed many of our military bases; yet so much violent baggage left behind, and carried back home.  The only tours, were our soldiers revolving “stop loss” tours of duty.   The advertised super-modern golf-hotel complex was never built.  The most giant fortified embassy in the world is now our monument in Baghdad.  Will any U.S. citizens ever routinely visit there again, outside its walls, in our lifetime?  
Soldiers were deployed throughout Iraq, in untenable occupations, unwelcome, trying to bargain between Sunni and Shiite factions, to gain some foothold by favors and firepower, never knowing who was real friend or enemy.  Fleeting allegiances only guaranteed to end in further bloodshed.  It drove the people crazy.  It drove our troops crazy.  The sad story of Haditha is one among too many.

his is from a “CBS 60 Minutes” 3-18-07 interview of Sgt. Frank Wuterich.
Haditha is a town of 70,000, in Anbar province, the heart of the Sunni resistance, where, among the residents, anti-American passions run high. In the months before Wuterich's unit arrived, other Marines there were suffering some of the heaviest causalities in all of Iraq, including the bombing of an armored vehicle that killed 14 Marines. Days before that, six Marines in Haditha were ambushed, tortured and killed. The enemy put it on the Internet where Wuterich and his men saw the bodies and the dog tags of their dead comrades.
The incident of 11-19-05 was first reported by Marine press release, in this way, “Bomb kills 15 Civilians and a Marine in Restive Province.”  Six months after the event the story began to change.

Sgt. Wuterich, who’d yet to have combat experience, was in command that day when an IED exploded one of the vehicles in his convoy, killing one of his men, seriously injuring 3 others.  A white taxi with 5 Iraqi youth inside was nearby.  Then, according to conflicting accounts, those 5 were shot either running away or standing in surrender posture hands behind heads; his men thought they were under threat, or just charged into surrounding houses, killing 19 Iraqi civilians, including 10 women and children, a man with a cane, and one in a wheelchair.  “The death certificates Colonel Watt [an investigator] examined were chillingly succinct: well-aimed shots to the head and chest.” Multiple Marine cover-ups and trial delays for the 8 Marines eventually charged, ensued.
Scene of  Haditha 11-19-05, apparently taken by soldier cell phone, shows white taxi and several dead Iraq civilians--Wikipedia photo

CBS continues--
 Wuterich finished his Iraq tour and, before he was charged, he was promoted by the Marine Corps. He's back home on a base in the U.S., and when 60 Minutes visited, he and his wife Marisol were planning a birthday party for one of their two daughters. Not long after, Marisol gave birth to a third little girl. Wuterich's enlistment is up, but he's being kept in the military, at a desk job, until his court martial.

"What I did that day, the decisions that I made, I would make those decisions today," he says.
"What I'm talking about is the tactical decisions. It doesn't sit well with me that women and children died that day," Wuterich says.
"There is nothing that I can possibly say to make up or make well the deaths of those women and children and I am absolutely sorry that that happened that day."

What was Wuterich thinking when he went to bed that night?
"That I'm not sure I want to go to sleep tonight, because I don't know what I'm going to dream."

Wuterich walks now a free man [as do the other Marines involved], not serving any time for his conviction, divorced by his wife by the time CBS updated this report on 8-17-07.  It’s probable that the conflict of that day in Haditha lives on within him.  For the families of those 24 Iraqi civilians of Haditha killed, the same is true.

Survivors of the Marine attack on the village of Haditha, Iraq---photo by Andrea Bruce for The New York Times

For a good summation of this tragedy of occupation violence, see this surprising article.

Added update 7-31-13, as can be added almost every single day.
Wave of Car Bombs Kills Dozens in Iraq   Excerpt---
"Militants among the minority Sunnis have been emboldened by the civil war in neighboring Syria, where the Sunni majority has been trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which is dominated by his Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiism."

Illumination by Kathy Brahney


Our Novena begins this Thursday, from Aug. 1st to Aug. 9th, with prayer below said every day at all Holy Trinity Parish gatherings and liturgies.  May many more church communities join in.

Lord Jesus Christ,
You filled your servant Franz Jägerstätter
with a deep love for you, his family and
all people.
During a time of contempt for God and
humankind you bestowed on him
unerring discernment and integrity.
In faith, he followed his conscience, and
said a decisive NO to the Nazi regime
and unjust war.
Thus he sacrificed his life.
We pray that you may glorify your
servant Franz, so that many people may
be encouraged by him and grow in love
for you and all people.
May his example shine out in our time,
and may you grant all people the
strength to stand up for justice, peace
and human dignity.
For yours is the glory and honor with
the Father and the Holy Spirit now and
forever. Amen.
(Prayer from the Diocese of Linz, Austria)



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