Not too long ago, i reported some aspects of a terrorism conference I attended as the guest of the NYU Center on Law & Security.
One of the points that my friend and colleague Nir Rosen made was that the U.S. military had just become one militia among many in the eyes of many Iraqis.
This news that a group of U.S. military personnel may have sought out, raped a woman, and then killed her and several members of her family, including a child, to cover up the crime can’t do much for America’s “hearts and minds” effort.
And given the fear that many in Iraq have of the increasingly sectarian militias, this crime does just seem to make American troops somewhat like the rest.
We lost the moral high ground long ago, and serious people need to develop a strategy to recover our position. After my discussions in Oman last these last few days with various government officials, scholars, and strategists from the Middle East, I have some thoughts on how the U.S. might do this — but will share at a later time.
I know that there are many troops on the front lines trying to do good and noble things — as impossible a task as I think that is under the conditions — but they should be respected.
But the crimes at Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and in this rape and murder case demean the whole machine — especially the generals and civilian leadership in command who have set the tone for soldiers in this war.
— Steve Clemons