Another Winter of Discontent
Perchance I wasn’t alone among readers of Saturday’s Projo opinion pages in recalling Mac’s piece on NRO back in 2004:
In fact, the entire Winter Soldiers Investigation was a lie. It was inspired by Mark Lane’s 1970 book entitled Conversations with Americans, which claimed to recount atrocity stories by Vietnam veterans. This book was panned by James Reston Jr. and Neil Sheehan, not exactly known as supporters of the Vietnam War. Sheehan in particular demonstrated that many of Lane’s “eye witnesses” either had never served in Vietnam or had not done so in the capacity they claimed.
Nonetheless, Sen. Mark Hatfield inserted the transcript of the Winter Soldier testimonies into the Congressional Record and asked the Commandant of the Marine Corps to investigate the war crimes allegedly committed by Marines. When the Naval Investigative Service attempted to interview the so-called witnesses, most refused to cooperate, even after assurances that they would not be questioned about atrocities they may have committed personally. Those that did cooperate never provided details of actual crimes to investigators. The NIS also discovered that some of the most grisly testimony was given by fake witnesses who had appropriated the names of real Vietnam veterans. Guenter Lewy tells the entire study in his book, America in Vietnam.
What brought that to mind, of course, was an op-ed by a couple of Brown professors:
LAST WEEKEND, we joined hundreds of young veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan gathered near Washington, D.C., for the Winter Soldier Hearings: Iraq and Afghanistan. In a packed conference auditorium, under the glare of lights and the cameras of the BBC and other international and national media, former and active-duty troops brought the day-to-day reality of the war home to hundreds of people attending this historic event. They gave eyewitness accounts of what they saw and did with their units during the invasion and war whose fifth anniversary is upon us, as well as in the now six-year-old occupation of Afghanistan.
After decades of pining, the American Left is now full-boar reviving the ’60s era, although they haven’t gone quite so far as accusing our boys in the military of regular gang rapes of civilians. Still, those offering testimony do provide a veritable banquet for anybody drooling to undermine America’s efforts overseas:
The veterans told of:
• U.S. troops raiding home after home after home in which no insurgent activity or evidence was found, terrorizing the families inside.
• U.S. troops kicking, butt stroking and clothes-lining Iraqi prisoners of war, whom they were told to always call “detainees” so that Geneva Conventions did not apply.
• U.S. troops spraying machine-gun fire into homes after hearing a single shot from somewhere in a village.
• U.S. troops throwing urine-filled bottles and feces-packed food at people walking along the side of the road.
• U.S. troops shooting farmers working in their fields at night (to take advantage of the erratic electricity to run their irrigation systems) simply because they were out after a U.S.-mandated curfew.
• U.S. troops commanded not to stop for pedestrians, and instead to run over anyone or anything in the road as their convoys roar down highways;
• U.S. troops commanded to destroy boxes containing entire archives of birth certificates of the people of Fallujah, after a U.S. scorched-earth campaign in that city in 2004.
… they emphatically declared in their testimony that crimes against the people of Iraq at the hands of the U.S. armed forces were not isolated incidents of pent-up resentment or a matter of a few bad apples spoiling an otherwise healthy barrel.
The acts were habitual, repeated and officially promoted or condoned.
The authors/anthropology professors, Catherine Lutz and Matthew Gutmann, suggest that we American citizens must “demand more honest media coverage of the war.” Odd, then, that they cite Iraqi survey data from 2007, instead of the just-released, and much improved (from American’s perspective) 2008 iteration (PDF). Funny that, with the 2007 data apparently before them, they refer generally to an “overwhelming majority of Iraqis [who] want the U.S. to leave the country, and to do so immediately,” even though that 47% of respondents were outnumbered by the combined 53% who answered with some form of “remain until…” (a total that is now 63%).
That observation leads to others that bring into question the objectivity of the survey itself, which is annually sponsored by international media organizations. New this year was a question about credit and blame for improvements or lack thereof in security. Those who answered that security had improved were given the following parties on which to lavish credit:
- Iraqi Army (13%)
- Iraqi Police (18%)
- Muqtada Al-Sadr (5%)
- Awakening Councils (8%)
- Iraqi Government (26%)
- Other (30%)
While those who’d stated that things had worsened could allocate blame to the following:
- US forces operations (20%)
- Militias (13%)
- Al Qaeda (9%)
- Neighboring countries (6%)
- Politicians/political groups (11%)
- Iraqi Government (9%)
- Parties and their militias (18%)
- Other (18%)
What a respondent answered if he blamed al Qaeda militias affiliated with political groups and sponsored by neighboring countries is anybody’s guess, but clearly only a small minority of the minority (26%) who said that the security situation had become worse blame the United States.
And on and on the thread of tweaks goes, leaving one in little doubt as to how a neo cultural revolution can be built upon air… and some fond memories.