Your Tax Dollars, Your Troops, And Your Government’s Morality At Work

Tal Afar, Iraq, January 18, 2005.


American troops just killed this little girl’s parents at a checkpoint.

Photo by Chris Hondros.

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20 Responses

  1. OK, this is a rare serious comment from me.

    The photo is powerful, but it says nothing; it has no context. I don’t know if the kid’s parents pulled out guns and/or bombs, mouthed off at some sicko who couldn’t stand being called names, or were just innocently walking by.

    The image gives no indication of place, so it could have been posed in a studio for all we know. Whose blood is that on the child, if it’s blood at all?

    Now, let me make it clear that my critique of the photo is in no way meant to justify American atrocities anywhere. But those of us who oppose our country’s criminal activities both home and abroad should not need to resort to inflammatory pictures that have no context.


    click the link at the bottom titled Tal Afar. It goes to an NPR presentation with the photographer with additional images and commentary.
    I don’t agree with the presentation you’ve made Ric but I do think people can look deeper and come to the same conclusion or perhaps take a fuller more meaningful lesson away.


  3. Ex –

    The photo came from a NY Times photo array referenced in this article at Common Dreams. It has a legitimate history. The Times photo array is here.

    Incidents of innocent people being killed by American troops at arbitrary checkpoints were not uncommon.

    You might also want to ask yourself why so few inflammatory pictures have shown up, and why the military is banning photojournalists throughout Iraq.


  4. OK, Ric, now you and Alfie have provided context for the photo.

    Now I can say without any reservations … It’s chilling.


  5. The Grumpy Lion blog doesn’t take reservations, so you’re okay.

    Doesn’t take prisoners either.


  6. alfie –

    Thanks for the link. I was afraid poor Ex was about to have a stroke. 🙂


  7. Ric is correct that we are “lucky” to get such a photo at all. I’m still waiting to see a picture of a returning casket.

    “Checkpoints”? We don’t need not steenking checkpoints. How’s that for chilling, Ex? Think there were any little girls in those random cars. Want more “chilling”? Read some of the comment responses to the video.


  8. There’s enough video out there between lawless mercenaries and idiot soldiers to turn ‘support the troops’ into ‘fuck the troops’.


  9. Evo –

    Here’s one.


  10. That’s a rare find. I can’t imagine that there was ever a war that had such minimal impact on the citizens of the country waging the war. Anyway, enough about that. I’ve shot my wad. Now it’s time to go to Sizzler for a nice ribeye, medium, and a couple mugs of beer. Then it’s down to the promenade, where we have mega-theater. I don’t know what I watch, but there are endless choices. Afterwards I can buy some clothes and maybe a new cell phone. My old one is scratched. Then I’ll drive home. Sure gas prices are high, but I don’t think we should let that affect our way of life. I’m just doing my job here on the home-front in the war on terror. SUPPORT THE TROOPS! (That’s what the sticker on the back on my Expedition says). Tomorrow is a new week. So little time, so much to buy.


  11. I keep buying and buying, but it doesn’t seem to help. Bush is still in office.


  12. Your job is guard a checkpoint.
    You tell an on coming car to stop, and it doesn’t stop. You then:
    a) Wait patiently for it to come closer
    b) Make it stop

    It’s very easy to sit here viewing the aftermath and say we have lawless soldiers and fuck them. Very easy.


  13. You tell an oncoming car to stop by giving a hand signal that means come ahead, because nobody told you that Iraqi culture has different signals and you’re probably too stupid to have thought of that yourself. Your commanders never taught you shit about Iraqi culture and customs, and the milieu they’ve provided you says Iraqis blew up the Trade Center, and the moral atmosphere of your fellow troops tells you that Iraqi lives are worth shit, so it doesn’t really matter whether you kill them or not. In fact ever since you got there you’ve been eager to kill a hadji or a raghead to prove what a man you are. And you’ve been specifically trained to overcome your feelings about killing people, more so than in any other conflict to date. So go ahead and set up arbitrary checkpoints in the middle of the night and make excuses to yourself for killing children and women and men just trying to take care of their families in a fucking war zone being run by foreigners who don’t respect you and don’t give a flying fuck about you, your kids, your wife, and would as soon shoot you as look at you.

    So, yeah, take care of these people by getting them the fuck out of there and back home and providing what they need to get back to normal lives, if they can, but screw the idea of them being heroes or being noble or doing anything good or useful or productive.

    And no, Philly, it’s not easy. It goes against everything I grew up with in this country. I see this country being pissed down the drain by the military and by the assholes in the White House and Congress, and I see people making excuses for the behavior of soldiers and I see soldiers getting away with rape and murder, and ex-soldiers working for merc outfits and killing people on little more than a whim, and I see the people in power saying it’s all okay and a culture that says it’s a war, shit happens, and it’s okay.

    Well it bloody well isn’t okay, and it bloody well isn’t easy to say it isn’t okay. Responsibility doesn’t just suddenly stop when it gets to the level of the soldier manning the checkpoint that wasn’t there an hour ago and will be gone in another hour.


  14. Ric, Just curious did you click over and listen to Chris Hondros’ commentary ?
    As a guy who loves looking at life through a lens and takes a lot of pics himself I love it when an image speaks. That said I personally found the interview as very additive to the series of images.


  15. I did listen. Thanks for providing that link. It’s usually interesting to hear from the people who were there when something happened, especially considering how many filters such things go through before we get them, if we get them at all.


  16. It is interesting that the military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to think the civilian population should willingly be mistreated in this manner and there is almost surprise that the insurgents are getting so much public support.

    From the POV of the “Innocent Civilian” they are being forced to take sides:

    Side A: Foreign language and culture, mocks them and shoots at you for fun (aegis video). Sets up arbitrary road blocks forcing you to change their daily life, and shoots at you, almost at random but apparently based on your response to gestures you dont recognise.

    Side B: Reasonably local, similar culture and trying to kill members of Side A.

    I know which side I would go on if I was ever in that situation.

    From a historical point of view you would have thought the Occupying forces could have learned at least some lessons from Northern Ireland, Vietnam, Malaya, Borneo, WWII, the American War of Independence……


  17. Sorry to reply to myself, but I think the parallels in these videos are quite, interesting:


  18. If there is one thing the politicians never learn it is the lessons of history. It becomes more apparent day by day that this country has elected some of its stupidest, most venal, and corrupt people to the Senate and House of Representatives. To expect them to understand history, or even to know history other than the popular tripe of lies and deceptions is to live in a cloud of delusion.

    Thanks for the clips.


  19. Every death, no matter how “justified” in the specific circumstance, can be questioned by the single cumulative fact – WE NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE.

    Why do we just let it slide that this is a fully unjustifiable war. There is no level upon which you can find justice in this massacre of a nation. The best justification you could muster is that Saddam was a piece of shit. But that had exactly ZERO to do with us going to war. He didn’t have WMD. He wasn’t on the verge of having them. He didn’t work with Al Qaeda; he hated them.

    What does it even mean that “the surge worked”? First of all, there is plenty of evidence that the lessening of killings had to do with factors other than us putting an extra 30,000 troops in there. But even if you want to say it was the surge that accomplished it – accomplished WHAT? The Iraqi government (most Shia) has been able to solidify power. Now they want us out. Why? Because they are friends with the Iranians. Remember those guys? The ones Bush is framing as our “new” enemies?

    Let’s cut the crap. We went in there for the oil. We wanted Americans to have unfettered access to the Iraqi oil fields. Prices of gas have quadrupled at the pump. Iraqis want us out. If we attack Iran it will double again. So even the hidden true reason for the war was an abject failure, not to mention that our country would commit such an immoral action on behalf of our corporations. You know, little annoying things like morals. But it’s people like US who hate America, right?


  20. Evo –

    It’s been instructive listening to Jonny Bomb Bomb explain the surge the last week or so. No matter how he twists and turns and spins, he can’t get past the fact that the violence was going down before the surge because the Iraqis themselves turned against the violence in the so-called Awakening. Of course one can wonder how long the awakened ones will ‘like’ us once we stop paying them.

    And one can also wonder how long the press will continue to give that pathetic old man a free pass instead of calling him out on his lies and bullshit.

    And I agree wholeheartedly with you on your first paragraph. More than that, I think every act of the United States in Iraq that resulted in death or damage is a criminal act. And further, the Americans are directly responsible for the deaths and damage attributed to the civil strife. America brought it on. George Bush and his whole crew are criminals and should be treated as such.

    Will they be? No. The entire leadership, including politicians and corporate executives involved, comprises thugs who will and do cover up for each other. And now that they have virtually complete control of the Justice Department under that toad, Mukasey, you can feel assured no warrants will issue, no arrests will follow, no trials will be held, and no one will be accountable for the destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the United States.


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