In Fallujah, Hysteria Repeats Itself

Blast the beasts and children: An Iraqi surgeon sews up a young victim of U.S. air strikes on Fallujah in 2004.

While the big dailies tear themselves away from the Israeli-Palestinian death dance to focus this morning on another U.S. "surge" against Iraqi rebels in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, the residents of Fallujah, west in the desert, are once again being squeezed to death.

We bombed the hell out of Fallujah in April 2004 and again that fall. The next year, we found out, thanks to Human Rights Watch, that Camp Mercury, outside the desert city, was home to our self-described "Murderous Maniacs," who routinely tortured Iraqi civilians for amusement — our soldiers called it "fucking" them. We bombed a hospital to rubble and refused admittance to aid workers. Exactly two years ago, Fallujah was such a madhouse of destruction that Americans were fighting with Americans.

Guess what? We're doing it again to Fallujah. This war has gone on so long that the tragedies are being re-enacted in full. And the Pentagon is spinning this latest Fallujah tragedy of increased chaos and misery into yet another fairy tale of "stabilization."

If you want to measure our progress in Iraq, just keep an eye on Fallujah, where hysteria keeps repeating itself. With such a pattern, no wonder our own hospitals are overloaded with stressed-out, freaked-out, mentally ill U.S. soldiers.

Things could always be worse, and they are if you live in Fallujah. The U.N. news service IRIN reports this morning:

A month-long security crackdown is preventing aid workers from getting to displaced families in the central Iraqi city of Fallujah and its outskirts, while a curfew imposed by US forces is restricting residents’ ability to go out and buy much-needed supplies.

"We are living like prisoners, lacking assistance at all levels. Aid support, which last year was always here, can’t be seen any more. We depend solely on ourselves, drinking dirty water to survive, even knowing that our children are getting sick from it," said Muhammad Aydan, 42, a resident of Fallujah, some 70km west of the capital, Baghdad.

Water? Forget about it. Electricity? Only if you have your own generators and fuel. IRIN continues:

Local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) said they had been denied entry to Fallujah by the Iraqi and US military as a security crackdown in the area, which started on 21 May, could put their lives at risk. The NGOs have called upon security forces to help in the delivery of aid to families who are in dire need of assistance.

"We have supplies but it is impossible to reach the families. They are afraid to leave their homes to look for food and children are getting sick with diarrhea caused by the dirty water they are drinking. We have information that pregnant women are delivering their babies at home as the curfew is preventing them from reaching hospital," Fatah Ahmed, spokesman for the Iraq Aid Association (IAA), said.

"[What is happening in Fallujah] is a crime against the right to live. Such behavior is seen by locals as a punishment for recent attacks on US troops, but innocent civilians are the only ones who are paying," Ahmed added.

Oh, yeah? Here's how the Pentagon's permanently embedded reporter Tim Kilbride of the American Forces News Service spins it, writing only five days ago:

Expanded cooperation with the Iraqi police and army and the introduction of provincial security forces are helping stabilize Fallujah, Iraq, and the surrounding areas, a coalition commander said yesterday.

In fact, we're even winning the Iraqis' hearts and minds, according to Marine Col. Richard Simcock, commander of Regimental Combat Team 6:

U.S. cooperation with the [Iraqi] police is beginning to manifest in a neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach in Fallujah, Simcock said. He called this approach "a district-type plan."

He explained, "We'll go into certain districts and establish neighborhood watches, … and we're finding that to be very, very successful."

"Success" is in fact the key word in this "district-type plan." The Pentagon propaganda continues:

The success of the joint fight against insurgents in Fallujah is driving the enemy to increasingly target the Iraqi security forces instead of U.S. troops, Simcock noted. Their weapons of choice, he said, are improvised explosive devices and suicide-vest bombs.

One reason for the shift in targets, the colonel explained, is that the insurgents "see that the tide is changing, that the support of the Iraqi people [is] coming over to the coalition force side."

Except from those who are still alive.

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