Triumph of cruelty

Aggression against the U.S. occupation force has exploded in an orgy of violence in Fallujah – and as almost always, the media has been there to provide the images

Sometimes conflicts are decided by images. This is especially true in so-called asymmetric conflicts, in which a highly ruthless and superior military force is confronted with a far inferior, but for all that elusive and often cruel opponent – and the media are always in between. When 18 U.S. soldiers were killed in Somalia in 1993 as part of the UN mission "Restore Hope" were shot down by a helicopter of type "Black Hawk" When some of the people were killed and their bodies dragged through the mud of the streets by a jeering crowd, this marked the end of the operation. Is the same thing happening in Iraq??

Triumph of cruelty

Even children are infected by the cruel celebration of triumph. Photo: al-Jazeera

Yesterday a U.S. military vehicle was destroyed by an explosive device on the road outside Fallujah. 5 US soldiers lost their lives. This means that 600 U.S. soldiers have already died in Iraq.

Much worse, however, because it was crueler and, as seems to be customary today, documented by live footage, was a raid on a convoy of civilian vehicles coming out of an American military base and heading for the center of the city. Two vehicles were hit by grenades in a busy shopping street and burst into flames. The attackers then riddled the vehicles with gunfire. At least four foreigners were killed, including three Americans working for the occupation forces. However, it is possible that US soldiers were also involved. None of the attackers was arrested.

As seen from photos, footage and eyewitness accounts, a jeering crowd danced around the cars in an ecstatic ritual of cruelty and humiliation of the victims, trampling on them in a haunting scene of triumph. Among them were children and teenagers. The charred bodies were pulled from the vehicles and silenced with shovels and kicks. Three of the bodies, still bleeding, were dragged through the city, while others beat them with sticks. Eventually, two of the silenced bodies were hung upside down from a bridge and pelted with rocks. One man carried a sign with a skull and crossbones symbol and the inscription "Fallujah is the graveyard of the Americans."

The U.S. government and military are trying to downplay the incident. Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, ared that the U.S. government will not be swayed from its course and will bring to Iraq freedom and democracy. In fact, although the incident is a high point of cruelty, it is by no means more significant in terms of security than other attacks and murders. But the images and the blatant joy they show and the bestial cruelty with which the crowd treated the corpses will be etched in the minds of Iraqis and occupying soldiers, and will inspire horror, disbelief and anger. But they will also remind the world public once again that the liberation of Iraq is not also a pacification. It is frightening not only to see those who actively participated in the cruel ritual, but also those who were uninvolved or curious spectators – and did not intervene, whether out of fear, indifference or silent approval.

Triumph of cruelty

The country has been indifferent and brutalized by decades of dictatorship, which could get away with anything and cruelly broke any resistance, by two wars and by long years of sanctions and poverty, but it has also been held together and banded together. A human life is not worth much, not even that of the liberators, who are seen as occupiers or even as the oppressors. It is not only terrorists and the followers of the dictatorship, it is also the "normal" It is not only terrorists and supporters of the dictatorship, it is also the people who do not experience the liberation as a gain and who can see a good future for themselves, who need scapegoats in order to experience something like triumph in inhumanity. Such a culture, such a mood characterized by murder, war, violence and despair, which can be found similarly in Afghanistan, cannot be quickly changed into a peaceful society by a regime change, especially if people continue to live in poverty. It will take many years before a real change occurs and the wounds are healed.

For U.S. President Bush, the analogy with the similar incident in Mogadishu, which became the turning point of the military mission, is particularly unpleasant. On 1. November, Bush had linked the occupation in Iraq to Beirut and Mogadishu in his weekly radio address, following attacks on four police stations and the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Baghdad, as well as an attack with numerous casualties in Fallujah. The deputy defense minister had just escaped an attack in Baghdad. One day later, on 2.11.2003, a transport helicopter was shot down near Fallujah, killing 16 soldiers.

Fallujah respectively. Baghdad, Bush wanted to say, will not become Beirut or Mogadishu. In both cases – a suicide bombing in Beirut in 1983 killed 240 U.S. soldiers, and 18 U.S. soldiers died in Mogadishu in 1993 (after the first attack on the World Trade Center) – the Americans under Ronald Reagan or. Bill Clinton withdrew. Bush said that America’s enemies believed for the past several decades that they could force the U.S. to retreat by striking hard:

Five years ago, one of the terrorists said that an attack could make America run in less than 24 hours. They have learned the wrong lesson. The United States will complete our work in Iraq. Leaving Iraq prematurely would only embolden the terrorists and increase the danger to America. We are determined to stay, to fight and to win.

But this is no longer certain, especially in election times. In addition, the Allies, especially Spain and Poland, are beginning to waver. Images such as those that have now come from Fallujah undermine the willingness to intervene in Iraq "humanitarian interventions", To sacrifice lives for freedom and democracy, in a war that has been imposed and legitimized with lies and tremendous prere.

Meanwhile, not only is Afghanistan again in danger, but unrest is flaring up in Uzbekistan, a U.S. ally that is just the opposite of a democracy but is supported by the U.S. government in classic Cold War style because the regime is cracking down on al-Qaeda. So similarly, the U.S. had created al-Qaeda and Taliban. Authoritarian ruler Islam Karimov is known for his disregard for human rights. His regime has mercilessly persecuted even peaceful Muslims. A report by Human Rights Watch has just been published, indicating that "the Uzbek government is arresting and torturing thousands of Muslims who peacefully practice their faith in Uzbekistan".

The organization speaks of an "religious persecution" and a "merciless campaign against peaceful Muslim dissidents". This refers to the organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is also banned in Germany and wants to establish a state of God in Uzbekistan and in the entire region, but has so far allegedly been peaceful and not affiliated with the militant Islamist group allegedly linked to al-Qaida "Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan" (IMU), which has carried out terrorist attacks in the past. It is possible, then, that it is the brutal crackdown on Muslims that has now led to a new wave of violence that has nothing (yet) to do with al-Qaeda, but which nevertheless strengthens militant Islamist and anti-American movements. The path between freedom and oppression. the support of authoritarian regimes is difficult and complex, but in no case can it be conducted in a black-and-white way of thinking, as the Bush administration did with the slogan "With us or against us" propagated and again put into practice.