American Views Abroad

Monday, March 07, 2005
Two contrasting reports on US forces in Iraq were shown on German TV in Weltspiegel yesterday. The first one was an exclusive report by a journalist who filmed and was witness to house to house fighting by the 82nd Airborne in Baghdad. The scenes showed an apartment being broken into and used by the troops for surveillance of the surrounding streets and rooftops. No one was home in the apartment and all damage to it and any other, irregardless of how extensive, is later compensated with $20. The journalist interviewed the soldiers on this detail who claimed their job was to shoot at any thing or person that looked suspicious. Would they shoot children they were asked. Yes they would. Certainly any 14 or 15 year old who had what could be a weapon would be shot. Later at night houses on a certain street were being searched and all the men and boys from a certain age were being taken away. The viewers watched as they banged on the door, entered and without explanation proceeded to search every corner and under the wailing and cries of the women took their men and boys away. Nothing was found and again no reason was given why that block of houses was subject to this treatment. Any car found on the street can be broken into, taken apart and searched. A red Mercedes was totally ruined though nothing was found in it. In another case, a taxi, weapons were found and the car was put on fire. There was also a scene of an Iraqi who was severely wounded by them. He got only sparse care and the journalist voiced his opinion that the soldiers were only giving that because he was witnessing this scene. He was thrown onto a truck and died on the way. The summary of this report on (in German) claims that the Iraqis are subject to suspicion, humiliation and are killed and this, in turn, leads to making more enemies than solving anything.

The second report was on wounded US soldiers who are also victims in this war which according to the Bush government is for democracy in Iraq. A German journalist was allowed to follow the wounded from Iraq to Landstuhl, the biggest US military hospital outside the US, where immediate medical care is given. From there special transport planes carry them back to the Washington area for extended and prolonged medical attention. The logistics are far better than, say, during the Vietnam War and thus there is less loss of life. The wounded are rapidly transported to Germany and the aim is to have them back in the US within a day or two. The journalist further reported on how until now America is more or less silent on its wounded and fallen soldiers. The coffins of the fallen are not shown on TV and little is being written or reported on the wounded in the US media. At the end of these reports the moderator added the fact that enlistment for the military was down and the numbers needed were not being reached.

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