US Army suicides up 80% since start of Iraq War

Suicide among young Army personnel rose 80% between 2004 and 2008, with 255 soldiers taking their lives in 2007 and 2008 alone.

, Global Post, March 8, 2012

US Military suicide rates over the years of the Iraq war

Suicide among young Army personnel rose 80% between 2004 and 2008, according to the Los Angeles Times. In the last two years that had data available for the study — 2007 and 2008 — 255 soldiers took their lives. The authors of the study, the Army Public Health Command (APHC), estimated that 25% to 50% of the suicides were directly related to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Suicide rates among active US Army personnel were decreasing between 1977 and 2003.

The number of suicides is “unprecedented in over 30 years of US Army records,” according to the APHC, and the increase in deaths parallels the increasing rates of depression and other mental health conditions among soldiers, reported The Daily Mail.

The study’s authors called the high presence of mental health disorders among enlisted personnel “sentinels for suicide risk,” according to The Baltimore Sun. From 2000 to 2008, adjustment disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders and substance-abuse disorders have soared among Army personnel. During the same time, the number of visits for mental health disorders in the Army nearly doubled.

“This study does not show that US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan cause suicide,” said Dr. Michelle Chervak, one of the study’s authors, a senior epidemiologist at the APHC, to ABC News. “This study does suggest that an Army engaged in prolonged combat operations is a population under stress, and that mental health conditions and suicide can be expected to increase under these circumstances.”

Why Was No One Punished for America’s “My Lai” in Iraq?

[Imperialist wars and occupations always operate with absolute impunity for the war crimes committed against civilian victims.  Imperialist wars attempt to win allies and supporters by concealing their imperialist interests behind banners of “democracy” or “human rights” or “freedom” for the targets of their aggression.  For this reason, when war crimes are brought to light through determined exposures, there are some who campaign that the occupiers be held to standards of “human rights.”  But imperialist war criminals are never brought to justice, despite heroic and determined efforts and sacrifices of such campaigners and activists.  But, in time, the people will take matters into their own hands and find the ways to  bring justice to the war criminals of imperialist wars and occupations.   — Frontlines ed.]
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The U.S. military presence in Iraq was marked by the callous American attitude toward civilians, and the thorough lack of accountability in the military justice system.
February 12, 2012

The plea bargain in the last Haditha massacre case handed down in January is a fitting end to the Iraq war. In the most notorious case of U.S. culpability in Iraqi civilian deaths, no one will pay a price. And that is emblematic of the entire war and its hundreds of thousands of dead and millions displaced.Sergeant Frank Wuterich, the squad leader who encouraged and led his marines to kill 24 civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha in November 2005, was the last of eight originally charged in the massacre. The others were let off on technicalities, or to help the prosecution. One officer, not involved in the killing but the coverup, was acquitted in a military trial.

The responsibility for these killings came down to Wuterich’s role, but he never actually went through a full trial. The military prosecutor opted for the slap-on-the-wrist of demotion to private for the 24 civilian deaths. Wuterich, who admitted to much more in a “60 Minutes” interview in 2007—including rolling grenades into a house filled with civilians without attempting to make an identification—copped only to “dereliction of duty.”

The episode was often compared with the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, in which some 400 civilians were executed by Lieutenant William Calley and some of his army unit in 1967. While the scale and circumstances are quite different, they do bear one striking similarity, and that is the reaction of officials and the American public alike. Continue reading

Critics of the State of Obama speech say “Not A Peep About The President’s Praise of Military”

by Laura Flanders, on the Counterpunch blog

The grades for the president’s State of the Union are in and the critics have been kind. In fact, it’s chilling to see just how few hits the President takes for couching his entire address in unqualified celebration of the US military.

US Marines' infamous descration of dead Taliban fighters

Speaking of the troops, Obama began: “At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations.”

Post-show pundits on cable news praised the president’s comfort with his Commander in Chief role but none saw fit to mention recent news of marines urinating on Afghan corpses, say, or Staff Sgt Wuterich walking free after participating in the killing of 24 unarmed men women and children in Haditha. Accompanying Obama’s next phrase, “Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example,” no one thus far has played the vile video. The critics have been kind.

The President chose to celebrate the military; the press chose not to raise a peep about the spread of militarism, yet US targets proliferate — abroad – with unmanned drones assassinating unconvicted suspects in innumerable undeclared wars. And militarism spreads at home. The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act makes indefinite military detention without charge or trial a permanent feature of the American legal system.  It’s kind of the critics not to mention that – or his four-year-old pledge to close Guantanamo, and to restore the “rule of law.”

Haditha massacre--These Ishaqi children were among the 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians killed by US Marines

“They’re not consumed with personal ambition… They work together,” continued the president (again, speaking of the troops.)

There are surely plenty of troops who would disagree. The tally is long of commanders and pigeon hawk commanders-of-commanders who’ve dodged responsibility, fingered underlings and permitted rank-and-file “bad-apples” to take the heat for US war crimes.

“Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn a thing or two from the service of our troops,” the President concluded.

There are indeed things we can learn; things that many US troops have begged us to learn in fact. Namely, that war dehumanizes the killer and the killed, and that war tactics have a habit of spreading from the war zone to the home. Successive generations have told us that military recruiters lie, and that “rules of war” exist only in legal minds. (Ninety percent of casualties in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were civilians.) Troops have begged us to learn just what we are celebrating when we celebrate “winning” and war.

Clearly we have yet to learn.

LAURA FLANDERS is the host of The Laura Flanders Show coming to public television stations later this year. She was the host and founder of GRITtv.org. Follow her on Twitter: @GRITlaura.

An interview with an Iraqi woman whose family was brutalized by US soldiers

[This voice of an Iraqi women on the US occupation must be heard.  As people in the US are being asked, once again, to support the war moves of the US and allied governments, the experiences she relates must be heard, in order to build the struggle and solidarity against imperialist war.  The views she expresses are drawn from her experience, and are not necessarily the views of Revolutionary Frontlines. We thank William T. Hathaway, the author, for submitting this article for posting.  — Frontlines ed.]

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by William T. Hathaway, author

SAMs for Uncle Sam,  from the book “RADICAL PEACE: People Refusing War”

Merna al-Marjan is a young Iraqi who is currently in Germany studying European history. We talked in her dormitory room, a spartan but functional cubicle in a building that embodies a hopeful change in European history: it was constructed in the nineteenth century as an army barracks but now houses university students. That’s progress.

On Merna’s small table sat a pot of peppermint tea and a plate of baklava. She’s short and plump with smooth skin the color of clover honey and deep anthracite eyes; she was wearing a long skirt of light cotton, a long-sleeved blouse, and a green paisley headscarf.

Hathaway: “Headscarves have become a controversial item of clothing here in Germany.”

Al-Marjan: “Yes, you can’t teach in the schools if you wear one. It’s OK for a teacher to wear a Christian crucifix but not a Muslim headscarf. I didn’t wear a hijab in Iraq, but I’ve started doing it here to show solidarity. It’s ridiculous to ban an article of clothing, a simple piece of cloth. What sort of freedom is that?

“The West has such a distorted view of Arab women. Well, of men too, but since I’m a woman, I notice that more.

“What really makes me mad is when Westerners use the way women live in the Muslim world as a justification for invading it ― either with their armies or their ideas. They’re convinced we should be like them. If they were happy, that would be one thing. They could say, ‘Here, follow our example.’ But they’re much unhappier than most of us are. Their marriages and families fall apart, their children commit terrible crimes, commit suicide. Their society is fragmented into these isolated individuals who have to compete against one another. It’s a wreck, but they’re trying to force it onto us. Continue reading

Iraq: US declared victory and got out of town before criminal indictments for war crimes were served

Exposing Government Crimes and Lies

Bradley Manning: Hero or Traitor?

by MARJORIE COHN, Counterpunch.org, December 26, 2011

When he announced that the last U.S. troops would leave Iraq by year’s end, President Barack Obama declared the nine-year war a “success” and “an extraordinary achievement.” He failed to mention why he opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. He didn’t say that it was built on lies about mushroom clouds and non-existent ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Obama didn’t cite the Bush administration’s “Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq,” drawn up months before 9/11, about which Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill reported that actual plans “were already being discussed to take over Iraq and occupy it – complete with disposition of oil fields, peacekeeping forces, and war crimes tribunals – carrying forward an unspoken doctrine of preemptive war.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also defended the war in Iraq, making the preposterous claim that, “As difficult as [the Iraq war] was,” including the loss of American and Iraqi lives, “I think the price has been worth it, to establish a stable government in a very important region of the world.”

The price that Panetta claims is worth it includes the deaths of nearly 4,500 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. It includes untold numbers wounded – with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – and suicides, as well as nearly $1 trillion that could have prevented the economic disaster at home.

The price of the Iraq war also includes thousands of men who have been subjected to torture and abuse in places like Abu Ghraib prison. It includes the 2005 Haditha Massacre, in which U.S. Marines killed 24 unarmed civilians execution-style. It includes the Fallujah Massacre, in which U.S. forces killed 736 people, at least 60% of them women and children. It includes other war crimes committed by American troops in Qaim, Taal Al Jal, Mukaradeeb, Mahmudiya, Hamdaniyah, Samarra, Salahuddin, and Ishaqi.

The price of that war includes two men killed by the Army’s Lethal Warriors in Al Doura, Iraq, with no evidence that they were insurgents or posed a threat. One man’s brains were removed from his head and another man’s face was skinned after he was killed by Lethal Warriors. U.S. Army Ranger John Needham, who was awarded two purple hearts and three medals for heroism, wrote to military authorities in 2007 reporting war crimes that he witnessed being committed by his own command and fellow Lethal Warriors in Al Doura. His charges were supported by atrocity photos which have been released by Pulse TV and Maverick Media in the new video by Cindy Piester, “On the Dark Side in Al Doura – A Soldier in the Shadows.” 

.  CBS reported obtaining an Army document from the Criminal Investigation Command suggestive of an investigation into these war crimes allegations. The Army’s conclusion was that the “offense of War Crimes did not occur.”

One of the things Manning is alleged to have leaked is the “Collateral Murder” video which depicts U.S. forces in an Apache helicopter killing 12 unarmed civilians, including two Reuters journalists, and wounding two children. People trying to rescue the wounded were also fired upon and killed. A U.S. tank drove over one body, cutting the man in half.

The actions of American soldiers shown in that video amount to war crimes under the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit targeting civilians, preventing the rescue of the wounded, and defacing dead bodies. Continue reading

Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq: “Message to Occupy Wall Street”

 [Wikipedia:  “The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) is an organization which campaigns in favour of women’s rights in Iraq, and against political Islam. It was founded in 2003. Its director is Yanar Mohammed, who is also a co-founder of the organization.”]
[Image from unknown archive.]Dear Occupy Wall Street,

The people of the world are watching you, following your news and hoping that – rather than just vent your anger and frustration – you achieve all of your dreams.

While democracy should guarantee all people an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives, you find yourselves forced to take to the streets, as politicians and bankers make decisions behind closed doors and hire an army of police to send you back home with nothing.

While a wealthy 1% ravages your jobs, health, and very lives, their focus is always on their banks and not on the welfare and future of innocent, unsuspecting millions of people. In times of growth, those banks are sustained by your labor, resulting in extravagant luxuries for the 1%; while their economic failures and crises deny you basic resources and economic rights.

This is the same 1% that pursued the war on Iraq without hearing the millions who marched – in the United States and around the world – expressing their opposition. While claiming democracy, the 1% builds vast armies to be launched not just against people all over the world, but also within their own borders. Continue reading

The Guardian (UK): “The US departure from Iraq is an illusion”

[The US insists that wherever its troops go, they must operate with impunity–immunity from prosecution or any accountability.  In time, this makes the going difficult for the local “native” politicians and administrators of war zones and military occupations, whose precarious illegitimate authority requires invoking national sovereignty and NOT total submission to foreign invaders.  So, despite the Obama administration pressing the imperial demand for immunity for US soldiers, the Iraqi government could not publicly submit.  Obama attempted to turn this defeat for imperial dictates into an announcement that he is pulling all US troops out of Iraq by the end of this year, thereby fulfilling his “anti-war” pledge of the 2008 campaign.  Which could, superficially, look like a win-win for warmakers and peacemakers–except for the fact that it’s not true, as this article from the British “The Guardian” explains. — Frontlines ed.]

39,000 soldiers will leave Iraq this year, but US military control will continue in such guises as security and training

, guardian.co.uk,

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Barack Obama has announced that US troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this year. Photograph: Khalid Mohammed/AP

Barack Obama has made good on one of his election promises, announcing: “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.” The Iraqis’ assertion of their sovereignty – meaning no legal immunity for US troops – was the deal-breaker, and 39,000 US soldiers will leave Iraq by the end of the year.

Jonathan Steele wrote that the Iraq war was over and the US had learned “that putting western boots on the ground in a foreign war, particularly in a Muslim country, is madness”. Yet this madness may continue in a different guise, as there is a huge gap between rhetoric and reality surrounding the US departure from Iraq. In fact, there are a number of avenues by which the US will be able to exert military influence in the country.

These can be divided into four main categories:

Embassy, consulates and private security contractors

The US embassy – the largest and most expensive in the world – is in a green zone of its own in Baghdad, supplied by armed convoys and generating its own water and electricity, and treating its own sewage. At 104 acres, the embassy is almost the same size as Vatican City. It is here that the US is transforming its military-led approach into one of muscular diplomacy.

State department figures show that some 17,000 personnel will be under the jurisdiction of the US ambassador. In addition, there are also consulates in Basra, Mosul and Kirkuk, which have been allocated more than 1,000 staff each. Crucially, all these US staff, including military and security contractors, will have diplomatic immunity. Essentially, the Obama administration is reaping the political capital of withdrawing US troops while hedging the impact of the withdrawal with an increase in private security contractors working for a diplomatic mission unlike any other on the planet. Continue reading

Israel to Deploy Unmanned Aircraft in North Iraq

The Israeli army has stepped up its military activities in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region and is planning to station a number of unmanned aircraft in the area in northern Iraq in cooperation with the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
Four of the aircraft will be stationed at the Khalidiyah airbase in the northern oil city of Kirkuk and two others will go to the airport in the city of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh governorate.

Israeli intelligence agents and military advisers, equipped with special transmission devices, are also being sent to Mosul to train security forces in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. Continue reading

Iraq: Result of US’ “nation-building” project faces new challenges

Protesters converge on Iraq capital

Thousands of Iraqis take to the streets across the country to protest against corruption and unemployment.
04 Mar 2011

“]Thousands of people have converged on Baghdad’s Tahrir, or Liberation, Square to protest against corruption and unemployment, despite a vehicle ban that forced many to walk for hours to the heart of the Iraqi capital. 

Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf reported from Baghdad that the situation was heading towards a stand-off, as security forces demanded the protesters leave, blocking their route across a bridge leading to the Green Zone, where the government has its base.

Concrete blocks were set up by authorities on all of Baghdad’s bridges ahead of the protests.

“What we’re seeing here is a bit of a test, of how the government will respond when these people clearly want their demands to be heard,” Arraf said.

The protests in Iraq are growing in size, partly because of the instability of the coalition government formed by Nouri al-Maliki, the country’s prime minister, Arraf said.

Iraqis are increasingly unwilling to accept the nature of the democracy that has emerged in years after Saddam’s regime was overthrown.

“This is a new democracy, it’s an unusual democracy, and it’s not exactly what people bargained for,” she said. Continue reading

Egypt’s Revolutionary Poetry

Protesters throughout the Middle East are using famous classical poetry as subversive chants against the government. Josh Dzieza on countries where verse still has power—and the Pete Seeger of Egypt.

Article - Dzieza Egypt Poetry

Matt Rourke / AP Photo While protesters in Tunisia chanted these words, written by the poet Abul Qasim al-Shabi, two weeks ago, Iraqi poets staged a reading in solidarity. In Egypt, where al-Shabi’s verses had become a rallying cry, Al Jazeera reported poetry readings in the middle of the protests at Tahrir Square.

Imperious despot, insolent in strife,
Lover of ruin, enemy of life!

You mock the anguish of an impotent land
Whose people’s blood has stained your tyrant hand,
And desecrate the magic of this earth,
sowing your thorns, to bring despair to birth

Abul Qasim al-Shabi

The readings and poetic chants in Tunisia and Egypt are only the latest instance in a long history of political poetry in the Middle East, going back all the way to pre-Islamic times, when the sa-alik (roughly translated as “vagabond”) wrote about living outside the tribal system. In modern times, poetry has been a tool for creating a sense of political unity, giving voice to political aspirations, and excoriating governments and leaders. Maybe most surprising to an American used to poetry’s increasing confinement to college campuses, poetry is a tool for galvanizing people to political action.

“Outside the West poetry is still very powerful,” says Muhsin Jassim al-Musawi, professor of Arabic literature at Columbia University. “It might not be very conspicuous, but it is there, an undercurrent, and whenever there is a need for it you will be surprised that people have something to say.” Postcolonial literary criticism has neglected the political power of poetry, says Musawi, focusing instead on the way narrative defines cultural and national identities. But when those identities are first being formed, he says, when people are taking to the streets in protest or trying to establish a new government, it’s poetry people turn to. It’s easier to rally around a verse than a novel. Continue reading

The deadly lie of ‘democracy’ in Iraq

Ahmed Habib, The Electronic Intifada, 18 November 2010

An Iraqi boy in a music school that has not been restored since it was destroyed during the US-led war on Iraq. (Julie Adnan/Reuters)

“It has been almost a million months since Iraqis ran to the polls, to fill holes in their souls with bloodstained ballots. Hundreds of candidates dressed up as maggots colored the liberal lining in occupied skies, and perpetuated the lies that there is democracy. Hypocrisy of the highest order, politicians blaming their failure on porous borders, while blindly following American orders on everything from defense to education. The death of a nation, systematic assassination and relentless dehumanization of millions of people. The burning of mosques, schools, hospitals and steeples for crumbs of rotten bread. Iraq is dead, shot in the heart and stabbed in the head.”

Excerpt from a new spoken word piece entitled, “Unfinished Letters from Iraq.”

Prior to the parliamentary elections in Iraq on 7 March of this year, all the major political factions running in the country’s nationwide elections declared the entire affair to be corrupt and not representative of the people’s will. They were preemptively cooking an excuse for any unwanted results that might emerge out of the charade. Independent reports corroborated their suggestions with testimonies of fake registration forms and leaky ballot boxes. However, the elections went through, and the results were applauded by other fake democracies around the world. Since then a constipated coalition-building process has left Iraq with no government for more than eight months.

In spite of the satirical sadness of it all, the liberal media, and Iraq’s desperate population, continue to hold on to the electoral proceedings with religious fervor. From outside Iraq, those who politically organized the occupation see the elections as justification for their complicity in mass murder. Meanwhile those inside the country try to cope with the immense loss of life by pinning their misguided hopes on the empty promises of one politician or the other. Continue reading

Report that British soldiers brutally abused Iraqi detainees at their “Abu Ghraib”

Blindfolded Iraqi civilians on their way to torture and abuse in British prisons in Basra

New York Times, November 5, 201

LONDON — A lawyer for 200 Iraqis demanding a public inquiry into what they have described as brutal mistreatment by British soldiers in a secret detention center near Basra told the High Court in London on Friday that the abuse amounted to “Britain’s Abu Ghraib.”  The assertion was buttressed with video recordings that appeared to show British interrogators bullying, humiliating and threatening a detainee.
The opening day of the court hearing featured some of the most sensational accusations made against the British forces in years of inconclusive lawsuits and official inquiries. At the heart of the latest court action is the contention that the abuses began on March 20, 2003, the day that British forces entered Iraq, continued almost until the last British troops withdrew in 2009, and were encouraged by army training procedures.

At least nine detainees are said to have died as a result of their mistreatment. Michael Fordham, the lawyer for the former detainees, said they had been subjected to beatings, starvation, sleep deprivation, electric shocks, prolonged periods of nakedness and sexual humiliation by female soldiers, sensory deprivation through the enforced use of hoods, earmuffs and blackened goggles, and exposure to pornographic DVDs. Continue reading

India: Demonstration called in Delhi to protest Obama’s visit

Obama speaking to US occupation forces in Afghanistan

Leader of War Mongers Looters and Exploiter of World People, US President Obama Go Back!

 

Join Demonstration at Jantar Mantar at 2 PM on 8 November, 2010

At a time when US imperialism has escalated the war against Afghanistan and is even extending this war by assaults by NATO forces led by it against northern districts of Pakistan, leader of warmongers, looters and exploiters of the world people, President of USA, Barack Obama, is visiting India from 6th Nov. 2010.

Since Obama came to power, US forces have increased their numbers several times over in Afghanistan. There are innumerable proven instances of deliberate targeting of innocent civilians by these forces in the name of “targeted” attacks on “enemy”.  In essence, US imperialism under Obama administration is continuing the Bush era attempt of a permanent base in Afghanistan from where it will interfere in central Asia. India should be in the forefront of opposing the US move. Let us use the opportunity of Obama’s visit to strongly demand that US and NATO forces immediately withdrawn from Afghanistan.

It was 2001 that US imperialism under Bush had launched its current war, which the world people were told was against ‘terrorism’. War was launched first against Afghanistan and later against Iraq. In reality wars were launched to further the quest of US imperialism for hegemony over the world’s oil resources and also to establish military dominance over the world.

In essence, the Obama administration is continuing the aims of Bush era but it has only changed rhetoric. US under Obama has made a mockery of his promises of withdrawal of forces from Iraq, keeping a huge army stationed there in the name of ‘aid’ to local troops. While Afghanistan is the main theatre of war, US continues a sharply aggressive stance on West Asia and Central Asia. On Palestine, Obama has no policy different from the earlier one and continues backing Israel against the just fight of the Palestinian people. Continue reading

Arab League demands justice after leaked war files reveal crimes against Iraqi people

ABC/AFP, Oct 30, 2010

The Arab League has called for those behind the “crimes against humanity” contained in leaked Iraq war documents published by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks to be brought to justice. “These documents and what they have unveiled… constitute a crime equivalent to crimes against humanity and violations against the Iraqi people,” said Ahmed ben Helli, the Cairo-based organisation’s deputy secretary general.

“We must pursue those who committed this crime,” in cooperation with the Iraqi government, he said, quoted by Egypt’s official news agency MENA. Mr Ben Helli called for more documents to be released.

WikiLeaks last week published nearly 400,000 secret US military documents which offer a grim snapshot of the conflict from 2004 to 2009, especially of the abuse of civilians by Iraqi security forces. The heavily abridged logs appear to show that the US military turned a blind eye to evidence of torture and abuse of civilians by the Iraqi authorities.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the documents reveal about 15,000 more civilian deaths in Iraq than were previously known.