How Much Is Your Child Worth?

by James Glaser
November 27, 2003

In a report from Baghdad, Rory McCathy of the Guardian Newspaper writes, the United States Military has paid out over $1,500,000.00 to Iraqi civilians for "negligence and wrongful death claims filed against American Soldiers."

While by American court standards $1.5 million is not much, in Iraq this amount of money can pay off thousands of claims. In a statement by the US Military in Baghdad, "The US pays claims for personal injury, wrongful death and property damage," "Payments will only be made for non-combat related activities and instances where soldiers have acted negligently or wrongfully."

In one area south of Baghdad controlled by the 82nd Airborne Division, an Officer said a total of $106,000 had been paid out to 176 claimants since July. That is a $602.00 average.

McCathy reports that, "No American Soldier has been prosecuted for illegally killing an Iraqi civilian and commanders refuse even to count the number of civilians killed and injured by their soldiers.

Now remember President Bush has told us we are bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq. What he has not told us is that because of American orders issued by the US-led authority in Baghdad in June, Iraqi Courts are forbidden from hearing cases against American Soldiers or any other foreign troops or foreign officials in Iraq. American troops can kill and destroy without the worry of consequences.

Human Rights Watch concludes that US troops were operating "with impunity. The individual cases of civilian deaths reveal a pattern by US forces of over aggressive tactics, indiscriminate shooting in residential areas and a quick reliance on lethal force."

This type of action by our troops only hurts them in the long run. More Iraqis will be joining the resistance because of the way are troops are now acting. As an example of the cases we are paying for, McCathy writes about one case where a couple were killed in front of their three young daughters when an Abrams tank ran over and crushed them in their car.

Now any Iraqi that was on the fence and most likely many of those that wanted us to be in Iraq have gone to the other side because of actions like this one. You have to remember that most of our troops are young and scared and will do anything to stay safe. In war there are always a certain percentage of the troops that "get off" on shooting a few of the "enemy," even if those enemy are only kids.

We have gone down this road before and it can be a long one. The more we kill, the more they kill. I don't care if you are in Iraq or New York, when a child or young mother gets killed, some one is to blame. If our troops are killing civilians, they should be held responsible for their actions as those actions are getting many of their fellow soldiers killed.

Our own Military admits that there are over 10,000 claims against us. "Families have come forward with accounts of how American soldiers shot dead or seriously wounded unarmed Iraqi civilians with no apparent cause. In many cases their stories are confirmed by Iraqi police investigations.

How would you feel if your loved one was killed by an American Soldier for no reason and you went to the police and they told you that it was illegal for the Iraqi courts to even bring up a case like this?

I don't know why some soldiers do it, but some shoot unarmed civilians for no apparent reason. Maybe it is out of frustration, maybe it is revenge, or maybe it was for some sick sort of fun. All I know is that it does happen and it does happen a lot more often that anyone would ever believe.

I do know however that when troops get into this pattern of killing their Officers have lost control and at that point any occupation falls into chaos. This is the situation that breeds suicide bombers and that is happening over in Iraq right now. You kill a person's loved ones and they will lead a donkey into town with a rocket strapped to its back, or drive a car filled with explosives into a police station because they are so filled, not with hate, but grief.

Sure Iraqis are killing Iraqis, but when I think about it, if the United States was occupied by a foreign power, I would think about killing any Americans that collaborated with that foreign power. We are talking Nationalism here and that is powerful. Americans fail to understand that many Iraqi people love their country just as much as we love ours. Those people hate to see foreign troops on Iraqi soil, just as much as you or I would hate to see foreign troops on American soil.

I hope and believe that Commanding Officers will remove those troops from Iraq that are killing civilians. I am sure those killings sicken those officers as much as it does the rest of the men and women in the unit that witness these crimes.

Indiscriminate killing goes on in any war and will happen with any army, no matter how great their training and discipline is. What the our Military should know, and from my own experience, I believe they do, killing innocent civilians is counterproductive to the mission. It will get more soldiers killed and the only way to stop it, is to remove with shame, those troops doing it.

I have seen many soldiers that have fallen into this type of killing at VA Hospitals that are now paying a life sentence of mental instability for their actions. It is hard enough to deal with the horror of actual combat and any deaths you might have been forced to inflict on the enemy, but to just out and out shoot unarmed civilians is something a person cannot forgive themselves for or even understand why they did it.

BACK to the Politics Columns.