We have embarked on an occupation that is as damaging to our souls as to our prestige and power and security.
This piece has been adapted from the introduction to the just-published book, Collateral Damage: America’s War Against Iraqi Civilians by Chris Hedges and Laila al-Arian (Nation Books, 2008).
Troops, when they battle insurgent forces, as in Iraq, or Gaza or Vietnam, are placed in “atrocity producing situations.” Being surrounded by a hostile population makes simple acts, such as going to a store to buy a can of Coke, dangerous.The fear and stress push troops to view everyone around them as the enemy. The hostility is compounded when the enemy, as in Iraq, is elusive, shadowy and hard to find. The rage soldiers feel after a roadside bomb explodes, killing or maiming their comrades, is one that is easily directed, over time, to innocent civilians who are seen to support the insurgents.