Friday, July 28, 2006

Iraq III: Buckling Under the Pressure & More

The pressures that U.S. soldiers experience in Iraq are extraordinary, including remaining loyal to their fellow troopers when they believe that crimes are being committed.

On May 9 in Baghdad, Army Sergeant Lemuel Lemus watched three fellow soldiers kill three handcuffed Iraqis and a subsequent cover-up in which one soldier cut another to bolster their story that they had been attacked.

Interviewed by investigators, Lemus first stated that nothing untoward had happened, but relented on June 15 and in a sworn statement gave what he said was a truthful account. Four soldiers have been charged with premeditated murder. Lawyers for two of them, who dispute Lemus’s account, say the soldiers were given an order by a colonel to kill all military-age men that they encountered.

Asked why he had initially joined in the coverup, Lemus explained:
Peer pressure, and I have to be loyal to the squad.
More here.

Washington Post columnist Peter Beinert rightfully takes the Democrats to task for the way they gigged Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki this week:
After years of struggling to define their own approach to post-Sept. 11 foreign policy, Democrats seem finally to have hit on one. It's called pandering. In those rare cases when George W. Bush shows genuine sensitivity to America's allies and propounds a broader, more enlightened view of the national interest, Democrats will make him pay. It's jingoism with a liberal face.

The latest example came this week when Democratic senators and House members demanded that . . . Maliki either retract his criticisms of Israel or forfeit his chance to address Congress. Great idea. Maliki -- who runs a government propped up by U.S. troops -- is desperate to show Iraqis that he is not Washington's puppet. And the United States desperately needs him to succeed because, unless he gains political credibility at home, his government will have no hope of surviving on its own.

Maliki took a small step in that direction this week when he articulated a view of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict quite different from that of the Bush administration. His views were hardly surprising: Iraq is not only a majority-Arab country; it is a majority-Shiite Arab country. And in a democracy, leaders usually reflect public opinion. Maliki's forthright disagreement with the United States was a sign of political strength, one the Bush administration wisely indulged.

More here.

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