The Great Silence

Nobody could even get stirred up enough to raise new arguments. General David Petraeus, the Supreme Commander of US forces in Iraq, as well as those senators that were allowed to ask him questions had nothing to offer but a repeat of the same old positions. In view of the situation in Iraq, supporters of the war like Republican John McCain are just as clueless as his two Democratic opponents Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But one wants to keep US troops in Iraq, while the other two want to withdraw them.

It would be worthwhile to have a look at the experiences of the 500,000 or so soldiers who have been stationed in Iraq so far. These have not been sufficiently documented even after five years of war. What they say about the systematically brutal behavior of these soldiers towards the civilian population in this endless war without fronts can only lead to one conclusion: the Iraqis need to be freed of this occupation as soon as possible.

Neither the military nor the US justice system has proved capable of controlling the troops, who for years have tended to take out their frustration and anger about fallen comrades on the civilians. No political leader in the US would dare to speak out about this: soldiers on the front lines enjoy an almost saint-like status. Just recently charges were dropped in the legal proceedings against US Marines involved in the massacre in Haditha, where in November 2005 24 civilians were murdered.

To be sure, not all US soldiers conduct themselves in such a manner. But evidently the combat mentality is tolerant of such conduct, and many consequently behave accordingly. And this has not only terrible consequences for the Iraqis. It also makes a peaceful reconstruction of the country very difficult. And this could later have an impact on the United Nations or the European Union, should they be required to assume more responsibilities by a new US president.

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