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The Ishaqi incident

Posted by Ashish Sinha on September 1, 2011

On March 15, 2006, American troops approached a house around 2:30 AM in Ishaqi to apprehend a potential Al Qaida in Iraq suspect. A firefight ensued joined by helicopter gunships. Next, according to the United States, the building was destroyed in the process of subduing the suspect. Local Iraqis were enraged and demanded an investigation. American military officials in Iraq declared that the accounts of townspeople who witnessed the events were highly unlikely to be true.

Yesterday, McClatchy reported on a  cable from the recent WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables. In the cable is evidence that disputes the United States official story. U.S. trained Iraqi police, neighbors, and a doctor’s inspection of the 10 civilians present a very different picture. In this, the United States forces enter the home while it’s still standing, handcuff the civilians, and execute them. In an effort to cover their tracks, the troops call in an air strike to demolish the building. The civilians killed include a woman in her 70s and children who are all 5 and younger.

The Ishaqi incident deserves the Pentagon’s full investigation and raises the reality that the men and women we sent to war are profoundly changed by the experience. In 2007, PSR physicans and health professionals created a report, Shock and Awe Hits Home, that began to detail the impact of war on our troops. Blast injuries, Polytrauma, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other mental health disorders are a few of the legacies that we will have to deal with decades after the last troops are withdrawn from Iraq.

Our obligation is to ensure that the veterans of our wars are provided with the help they need. That financial obligation was estimated in 2007 to range from $350 billion to $660 billion, during the lifetime of the veterans of these wars, depending on how long past 2007 the wars continued. The soldiers who were capable of the Ishaqi incident will some day come home to a world far removed from the one they are fighting a war in. The families they return to will have to deal with what is often a silent legacy of war.

The United States, as a whole, not only suffers these human and financial costs but also loses the ability to morally lead. This incident occurred with a backdrop of utter chaos in Iraq. 2006 marked what could only be described as nation-wide ethnic cleansing. A study by American and Iraqi epidemiologists in October of 2006 had found that the death toll as a result of the war had risen to 655,000. The degree to which violence decreased after the troop surge is more likely as a result of a population that had largely carved out more homogeneous communities through the deaths of neighbors who held different religious beliefs. The cost of that loss of life is incalculable.

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