Time to Oppose Our Troops' Actions


At what point will we have to admit that in order to fully oppose the Iraq war, we have to also oppose our troops' actions?

On Saturday November 6, US forces pounded Fallujah, and razed a civilian hospital. "Witnesses said only a facade remained of a small Emergency Hospital in the centre of the city," reported the BBC News on the day of the bombing. "A nearby medical supplies storeroom and dozens of houses were also damaged as US forces continued preparing the ground for an expected major assault."

The Geneva Conventions are quite clear that the bombing of hospitals constitutes as a war crime:

"Article 18: Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict. 

"Article 19: The protection to which civilian hospitals are entitled shall not cease unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy. Protection may, however, cease only after due warning has been given, naming, in all appropriate cases, a reasonable time limit and after such warning has remained unheeded. The fact that sick or wounded members of the armed forces are nursed in these hospitals, or the presence of small arms and ammunition taken from such combatants and not yet been handed to the proper service, shall not be considered to be acts harmful to the enemy."

Clearly no warning was put forth by the US military prior to the bombing of this hospital. And now that the troops have hit the ground running, more war crimes have been committed, and in fact captured on film.

Sadly, the images taken by a NBC news crew embedded with US soldiers fighting in Fallujah which show the execution of an unarmed Iraqi prisoner -- is not an isolated incident. 

Writing for his blog, ex-Navy Seal, Matthew Heidt, explains the odious rationale for executing an unarmed prisoner of war: 

"The shots fired at the 'unarmed' terrorist in that mosque in Fallujah are called 'security rounds.' Its (sic) a safety issue pure and simple. After assaulting through a target, put a security round in everybody's head ... There's no time to dick around in the target, you clear the space, dump the chumps..."

Amnesty International doesn't necessarily buy the rhetoric Heidt and others use when defending the murder of an unarmed prisoner. In a statement released after the televised event, the group said they were, "deeply concerned that the rules of war protecting civilians and combatants have been violated in the current fighting between US and Iraqi forces and insurgents" in Fallujah.

The Geneva Conventions also spell it out quite clearly in the document's opening paragraph:

"Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat (out of combat) by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely," it says.

"The following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

-- 'Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture 

-- 'The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."

And it adds that "the wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for."

So again, how can one oppose war but support our troops' war crimes? Wanting our troops to come home at once is one thing. But failing to oppose the atrocities they are carrying out on behalf of the US government is another.

Joshua Frank is the author of the forthcoming book, Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, to be published by Common Courage Press.


  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Conflicts And War, Fallujah, Geneva Conventions, Iraq, War
Views: 5840

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Older Comments:
BOB FROM FRANCE said:
Yousuf,
Ground yourself in reality, marines don't treat wounded. And, the hollywood crap you are writing is just that, crap. Believe your sick manifestations about how things happen there. True Islam does not insight anger with fabricated stories. Reporters spend most of their time with their heads in the sand trying not to get shot by the very guys in question. Whatever!
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ISMAIL FROM UK said:
No sympathy for those invade, murder and torture innocent men, woman and children. No sympathy for the animals who fire on ambulances and health care professionals. In short, no sympathy for American terrorists and their vassals.
May they be punished in this life and the hereafter.
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YOU FROM NEVER LAND said:
every person has different belives and different hearts for other human beings. so whatever kind heart do you have please stop the hate.
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IT DOESN'T MATTER FROM SOUTH AFRICA said:
people are dying by the hands of their enemies, they call these people terrorists. I don't understand why they call muslims terrorists and they are not terrorist. I think terrorist is one who terorize a nation or people. so who are those kind poeple. Those people are all red people their history is full of terorizing other nations throughout thier history. Today we muslims are dying it is all oka, because peradise is waiting for us. we are not here in this world to live in lexuary we are here only to help our people and to follow the guides of the creator. this world is for those who wants to win it but the world that will come is for those who are not using thier power in killing children, women and innocent people for no such reason. God knows why he let everything this way. lets pray to all muslim countries to become united.
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MOHD. SAQUIB FROM INDIA said:
WE REMEMBER BADR OUR CHILDREN WILL REMEMBER OFBADR & FALLUJAH.THE KILLINGS OF INNOCENT HUMANS-MAY BE AN INNOCENT IRAQI OR A SOLDIER , THEY HAVE THEIR BELOVED ONES , BELOVED WIFE ,SMALL CHILDREN,MOTHER, YOUNGER BROTHER,YOUNGER SISTER ,WAITING AT HOME IN AMERICA OR IN BAGHDAD OR IN KARBALA.NOW ITS ENOUGH STOP THE HATRED , WORK TO REMOVE POVERTY,SUFFERINGS OF THE NEEDY,WORK TO STOP THE TEARS.GIVE THEM BREAD & NOT BULLETS.ALLAH LISTEN TO US ,HELP THEM ,GIVE THEM&US DIGNITY ,SELF RESPECT,GIVE PEACE&PROSPERITY---AAMIN
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FARHAN FROM AUSTRALIA said:
What American troops are doing is not different to the ridiculous slaughter of innocent kidnappees in Iraq.. both examples of animalistic cruelty and a total lack of conscience & morality.


"After assaulting through a target, put a security round in everybody's head. There's no time to dick around in the target, you clear the space, dump the chumps..."

Thats a 'great' American soldier's words. And then they ask God to bless America??
You've GOT to be having a laugh! Wake up!
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YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
I am grateful that a growing number on both sides in the conflict would appear to be encouraging honorable conduct. I am grateful that both sides appear more willing to question their own side's mistakes. The more honorable the "other side" shows itself to be, the less concerned I am about the "other side" winning. The less honorable "my side" shows itself to be, the less interested I am in supporting its alliances.
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HASHIM FROM UK said:
So many monstrosities being committed, so many Human rights violations, the worst part is we can't do anything about it. The U.N is with Bush, and the world will have to sadly revolve around them. I just wish we can all do something, without becoming militants!!!
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AHMED ASGHER FROM BAHRAIN said:
Sonja: it is you who do not know what goes on in Iraq since your government chose to illegally invade that country knowing full well that Iraq was no match for its military might. This invasion was sold to you as Saddam having WMD. Remember that? or have you forgotten already? When no WMD was found, regime change was justified, then fight against terrorism: knowing full well Iraq did not do 911 and then offcourse your gallant reason of bringing democracy to Iraqis. Do you not know any shame? whilst you sit in your cosy home innocent people are being killed and all because of your stupid phoney war against a weak country. Iraqis have full right to defend their country the way they choose to drive the invading brutal US army out of their country, just as any decent American would do, if America were to be invaded by a foreign military force. Is this too much for your brain to handle?

The US is committing genocide in Falluja and it should be brought to justice - no one should be above the law otherwise you will become more than the rediculous barbarians you already are in the international community's eyes. Not that you care because of your arrogance. and that will be your total downfall, insha'Allah, the sooner , the better. Amen. and you can keep your bloody democracy to yourselves. Thanks but no thanks.

Mike: stop your silly excuses. Your troops are there illegally in the first place. These guys have every right to fight American troop the way they know because they are no match for the US military light thus they naturally use other tactics. They are brave whereas your troops are cowards. Hiding from miles away and dropping bombs whilst using latest technology against ill-armed fighters but they have a good reason to fight and that is that they belong to Fallujah and Iraq whereas your troops do not belong there. All the rest are words and excuses.

Harold: this is not a war but a brutal invasion. War is .. more to follow
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IDRIS BANKSTON FROM USA said:
As salaamu alaykum!
The atrocities of war are common-place but
the inhumane taking of defenseless lives is
unforgivable. Someone is beheaded
because there is so much aggression
running rampant. The aggression is allowed
to take place because the 'aggressers' want
to kill everything that moves. Allah will punish
those who are guilty of these crimes
Inshalla, there will be peace in the east
once again.
Peace and Blessings
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HANS FROM UK said:
Sonja G and her fellow trolls ask "what crimes did out troops committ ?"
You invaded a country which never attacked, destroyed a society which did you no harm and murdered over 100000 Iraqi men, woman and children. There are no Taliban types in Fallujah so quit inventing lies to justify your stupidity. Some of the war criminals in your masochist army even take pictures of torture and rape and burn them on CD to share with friends and family as "trophys." In short they are WAR CRIMINALS, and for you to deny and defend them despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary proves that you are a morally bankrupt, backward and evil people.
Every dog has its day, the Americans are having theirs, but when they fall there will no tears or sympathy just relief and reassurance that mass murdering thugs and gangsters wont be around to torment defenseless nations and peoples.
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YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
On the other hand, the "jumma raid" at the mosque of Abu Hanifa is seemingly rather insane. That seems like the sort of action that ought to be opposed by whomever is in support of our troops. That sort of thing actually sounds like some kind of a conspiracy (by Coalition forces) to cause sectarian strife throughout Iraq. Ya Allah! If the interim government has sound reasons for doing that sort of thing then perhaps now would be a good time to share one or more those reasons with the news media. May Allah will that the authorities be well guided.

Until Iraq is at peace the Coalition arguably amounts to somewhat of an insurgency itself. Until peace prevails in Iraq nobody in Iraq has a monopoly on legitimate authority. Otherwise why might the "other foreign insurgents" along with "their collaborators" seem intent on continuing their violent resistance? My limited understanding of Islamic doctrine leads me to imagine that there might be a motive for such resistance beyond simply opposing foreign occupation. Perhaps the Coalition and its supporters might wish to consider whether or not such a premise might seem to have a ring of truth to it. Can an amir be appointed while a civil war is in progress? If not then what state must first be attained? What then might indicate who would be qualified to serve as amir? Also when would either side seem likely to let the other side bring about peace if Islamic governance is the goal of either side?

Allah hafiz. (That hope is meant for everybody concerned.)
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ABDUL FROM US said:
This is for MIKE:

Mr. Mike , Iraq was invaded and attacked first and Coalition called it a WAR, therefore the countries who called war are supposed to follow Geneva conventions and must be under International Court/law of war crimes.

A war is called fair or legitimate when other country is self defensive, gives warning, attacks. Is it fair to attack a country which is under UN sanctions, defensless.

Come on Mike , be fair.


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RICHARD FROM USA said:
Mr. Frank has made some good points. It will not heard and or understood by the average American though. Americans are taught by their government to believe that they are above international law. Also comments such as these are condemned by the US government and media as the words of someone that is unpatriotic, a traitor, or even a terrorist.
I have a very close relative in the military and last year they received a briefing on what makes an organization or individual a possible terrorist. "Any group or individual who speaks out against US policy should be treated as a suspected terroist". These words came out of the mouth of a Major General in the US Airforce. You can see this policy enforced in the civilian world quite regularly by the number of detentions that the US government has done in the name of the "war on terror". No charges, no trials, just detained indefinetly.
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ABDUL FROM US said:
Who / Which country is going to oppose?When our own muslims in middle east(so called) are a part of it(Iran in future).Muslims or their countries are sold for their love for money and power.

Opposition Parties(muslims) like in Iraq, Iran etc.are responsible for their own countries destruction.

Why blame non-muslims when we dont have unity cannot/take care of ourselves,In Minnesota Eid-ul Fitr was celebtrated on two days (SHAME).If some Mid-east people think we have to follow saudi days- Here is my suggestion-They should follow the sunrise and sunset times there not local and do things accordingly(They should do prayers , meals, jobs, 7-8 hrs early,take holidays on fridays,sleep in afternoon,)nonsense.
May ALLAH show us right path.


Now they have entered mosques and other religious sites.It is not far they will enter the holiest sites and I wiil not be surprised those leaders wont care.
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JOHN HOLMES FROM UNITED STATES said:
Thanks for your honest report our government is always lying to us
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MARY FROM U.S.A. said:
A well written article by Josh Frank exposes war crime and genocide in the name of spreading democracy. But the whole world know why the occupers are there. These are all lies and history will judge them very, very harshly. A gentle and compassionate leader is far, far superior than a cruel and aggressive leader. All those who have committed these war crimes should be brought to justice. And all those who agree in joining hands in war against the Iraqi nation are partners in crime.
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HAROLD POLING FROM UNITED STATES OF AMERICA said:
I know a lot of people say it but i have lived it when you are at war a lot of things that arent nice happen (that is the nature or WAR) but when somone is trying to kill you things happen that might be regretable remember this they are beheading people WE ARENT, the KILL CIVILIANS intentionaly WE DONT (befor you think it, how did the person lying on the floor in the video get wonded? thats right shooting at our soldiers), and lets not forget BLOW THEM SELVES UP WITH YOU. So please support our troops because they are in the fight of there lives and they need us.

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MIKE FROM USA said:
The Genevea conventions and Laws of war also dictate that any hospital, school, or religious building being used to stockpile weapons, commit attacks, or plan attacks is fair game. Where is the commom sense in this article. In a war if someone is shooting and trying to kill you from inside a hospital, would you fire back? Come on this is just common sense.
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DRF.M.QURESHI FROM INDIA said:
good article but you wasted your energy in wrting it as your crying will go to deaf ears
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HUMAN BEING FROM WHOLE WORLD said:
Americans think they are the only nation on the earth and have the right to abuse other religions , kill other nations...
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MOHAMED FROM TANZANIA said:
Congratulation Frank now Preseent Bush should change the way he handle Iraq and he must draw his troops in Iraq.
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SALIM CHISHTI FROM USA said:
bismillahir rahmanir raheem

The US government is well aware of the attitute of the US citizens. The government wants this war and they know that the citizens are still sitting on the fence about it. They still remember the domestic turmoil caused by the Vietnam War atrocities that were shown to the public and how that ended the war. So now they are thinking about removing these "embedded" reporters for fear that if the US public finds out about the truth of what is happening in Iraq the tide of public opinion will turn against this war as well.

But Bush and his cronies cannot afford that. Make no mistake about it, the American public will only see what the government wants them to see. And they will be sold a bill of goods because it is close to the "holiday" season and all attempts will be made to mollify them and lull them back into complacency so that it doesn't affect the sales.

And now we see atrocities on both sides. The murder of Margaret Hassan and the murder of the wounded prisoner both point to the degredation of the human character that Rasul Allah (SAW) said would be the at the beginning of the decline of our deen.

Opposing the actions of the troops is the correct thing to do, but remember it in the context of the warlords, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the god that they worship - the dollar.
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YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
In August of 1998 the Taliban without warning began indiscriminately shooting men, women and children in the streets, homes, markets and sanctuaries of Mazar. The killing frenzy continued for two days. Nothing that moved about was spared - not even goats or donkeys. No one was allowed to bury the corpses for six days. Dogs were eating human flesh and reportedly going mad. Should the Coalition consider that sort of thing a permissible way of discouraging independently minded Muslim populations from resisting central authority? Or might the people doing the shooting have to call themselves Muslim for such measures to be considered acceptable? Granted, Mullah Omar had only approved the killing for two hours rather than two days. Sometimes such things seem to have a way of getting out of control.

God willing at least a few of the people who were responsible for the atrocities at Abu Ghraib will be put to death. In the meantime perhaps consider trying to keep regrettable acts committed in the heat of battle by true warriors in perspective. It's of course entirely up to you. In response to the author's question, concerning when we should oppose the actions of our own fighters, my thinking would be that we should do so when their actions seem likely to undermine their own efforts to serve the cause for which they have sworn to fight.

Also, if you might by some chance want ME to do things as YOUR amir says then perhaps consider appointing ME to serve as YOUR amir. If you make me your amir then before Allah I swear to do exactly as your scholars say I should do or promptly surrender my appointment. If you are disinclined to agree to my one condition (to make me your amir) than feel free to leave me behind. Otherwise, I would merely insist that we do things my way - democratically in Allah's name.

Allah hafiz wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. Salaam - insha'Allah.
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SONJA G FROM USA said:
What atrocities are our troops guilty off??? Remember the .. the are fighting in Fallujah."The characteristically arbitrary, if not insane tone of Wahhabi/Taliban "governance" was clearly in evidence: An order dated November 1 "gives vendors three days to remove nine market stalls from outside the city's library or face execution. The pretext given is that the rebels wanted to convert the building into a headquarters for the 'Mujahidin Advisory Council' through which they ran the city."
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HANS FROM UK said:
Good words Mr.Frank, but I fear they fall on silent fears. Americans feel they are above the law, they seek to selectively enforce laws and conventions which they themselves rarely honor, but infact violate on a routine basis as in Iraq.
Why else would they seek to grant immunity to their war criminal troops from the ICJ ?
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