More casualties of war: US soldiers charged in deaths of Iraqi civilians and fellow servicemen
By Joseph Kay
20 December 2004
The US military has charged seven soldiers, members of the same battalion, with murder in the deaths of four Iraqis and two US servicemen. The charges arise from incidents this August and September that reveal a great deal about the character of the war and its brutal consequences, both for Iraqis and for American soldiers.
Five of these men come from the same unit, Charlie Company of the 1st Battalion, 41st Regiment (1-41), which numbers about 150 soldiers. Evidence presented at the trials begun earlier this month indicates that several of the soldiers from Charlie Company cold-bloodedly murdered unarmed Iraqi civilians. The other two charged are from Bravo Company of 1-41. They allegedly murdered two of their fellow soldiers after returning from Iraq to Fort Riley, Kansas.
The crimes, of course, must be condemned and the perpetrators, if guilty, punished, but simply to denounce the soldiers—as the military prosecutors are doing—serves to obscure the larger question: what is the source of such horrific actions? While the media has reported the events, and has even voiced a degree of concern about the number of crimes charged to the members of one unit, it has not and cannot deal with the broader implications of the case.