Inured to war crime.

US soldiers TOSS a bakery in Fallujah
In a recent harder-than-usual puff piece report, the Stars and Stripes described a day of hunting insurgents in Fallujah.
Nevermind that Fallujah was supposed to have been pacified, razed to the ground more precisely, and barricaded to such an extent that only residents with approved retina scans could get back in. Nevermind. Insurgents are planting IEDs again, they’re sniping at our soldiers again, and we’re conducting patrols to stop them again.

On this patrol, an Iraqi sniper keeps popping up in a particular neighborhood. Our intrepid soldiers have become upset with the shopkeepers on the block because not one of them will rat on who’s doing the sniping. One of the shops is a bakery.

Here’s what our GIs come up with their down-home plan. “Toss” the bakery.

They blast the business’s lock, or drive into the door with their Humvee, then “toss the place,” throwing everything to the floor including bread, flour and utensils. The strategy being that maybe the bakery will reconsider collaborating with our soldiers.

Here’s the deal. Are you interested? Expecting Iraqi civilians to take a side is not only bad form, it’s a war crime. The tactic which the Stars & Stripes article paints as affable American ingenuity, is in reality an action that comprises three distinct war crimes. Violations of a code to which the American public has become inured, perhaps because of our media’s repeated pandering.

1. Coercing civilians to be our military scouts is forced conscription, a war crime.

2. Meting out collective punishment is a war crime.

3. Destroying civilian food is a war crime.

Such actions have long been designated as war crimes by international consensus, based on centuries of abuse suffered by civilians at the hands of soldiers. Since forever war makers have improvised many cruelties to visit upon uncooperative peoples, two testaments later there are codes of conduct to stop each one.

For the stubborn faint-of-mind: Yes, the Iraqis are supposed to adhere to the same laws and conventions. Yes, hiding behind non-combatants is a crime. But do you think their actions justify your commiting crimes?

Probably you remember a rule your mother taught you: Just because somebody else does it, doesn’t mean you have to.

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