Monday, March 29, 2010

Black Hearts

Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent Into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death, is an excellent book by Jim Frederick. It describes with an honesty that is all too rare what it was like for soldiers in a part of Iraq after the American invasion, the dilemmas faced by these men and how and why some of them descended into what Frederick calls "madness." In particular, their madness led them to gang rape a 14 year old Iraqi girl and kill her family, father, mother, brother, and her to try to make the event look like it was undertaken by the insurgents. Here is one interesting passage:

"When the Americans invaded, the people in the neighborhood and throughout the region were optimistic. The U.S. bombing campaigns had ruined what little infrastructure there had been under Saddam, but the people were sure that the Americans wold bring not just peace and democracy but all of the electricity and water they would ever need, as well as new roads and sewer pipes. But soon, as they waited and waited, they realized...that was not going to happen - and that's when the trouble started. The area began to fall apart from neglect and violence....
"In the fall of 2005, the people of Yusufiyah started seeing a lot more Americans, but even this brought no relief. It was no exaggeration to say, in many locals' eyes, that the Americans were as bad as the insurgents. Not only did the locals not feel protected, they felt persecuted. The patrols the Americans ran were brutish. 'When they came to search a house, they would come without warning,' remarked Abu Muhammad. 'They would throw a flash-bang grenade by the door, storm in, scare the whole family.' The Americans would break things or even steal money and jewelry as they upended the house looking for evidence. They'd leer at the women, point guns at the men, shout at them in English. If the homeowners were lucky, after the soldiers had found nothing, they would get an insincere apology...."

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