Child-proof Iraq

US sniper perched on highAn American sniper at work.
Fallujah is often declared a Free-Fire Zone, which means soldiers are to shoot anything that moves.

I just watched a newly released documentary about OPERATION PHANTOM FURY, our military’s swoop into Fallujah. The documentary was called Caught in the Crossfire: The Untold Story of Fallujah.

I was already aware of the atrocities such as our use of chemical weapons, but I hadn’t considered the no-less-sensational: the plight of those who survived.

They were evacuated from Fallujah, a city the size of Cincinnati, without anywhere to go, step this way please, to the desert. There they subsisted without refugee camps mostly at the outskirts of their city.

After the fighting, they were asked to return to their homes, to find that there was little to which to return. Almost all the businesses were destroyed or damaged.

The footage gathered for this documentary was amazing, there were the mass graves into which the survivors were obliged to bury the bodies of their relations and friends. These were enormous trenches the size of boxcars into which everyone shoveled dirt after each layer of bodies. We’ve seen footage like that before. It was black and white and those forced to do the shoveling were German citizens held responsible for the piles of concentration camp dead.

There was footage of the checkpoints, where lines of people waited out in the cold for days, the men were separated from the women and in any part of this zone, brutal force was permitted and often used.

The most poignant image for me however was a simple domestic scene of a family returned to its home. In one shot a small boy was guiding his younger sibling down the stairs, navigating hand in hand around the rubble on the steps.

I thought about how American parents worry that their child might encounter an unprotected wall socket.

Putting aside the fears that Iraqi parents have that their child will venture outside and into view of American snipers, or into the path of an oncoming American convoy which has orders not to stop under any circumstance, or that their child might be attracted to a brightly colored unexploded cluster bomblet and pick it up; I hadn’t thought of the not child-proof rubble on the step.

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