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None Dare Call It Murder
by Harold Williamson
September 15, 2004

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"Charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500"

                                      -- Capt. Willard from the movie Apocalypse Now

A 21-year-old British soldier, Kevin Lee Williams, who served in Iraq as a trooper with the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, has been charged by the British government with the crime of murdering a civilian in Iraq.  This charge is the first of its kind to be leveled against a British soldier for allegedly killing a civilian in Iraq.

Trooper Williams stands accused of shooting Hassan Said in August of last year while arresting him in the town of ad-Dayr in southeastern Iraq
, but little has been made public about the incident. According to the Associated Press, the Ministry of Defense was reviewing the case because "charges were dismissed by the soldier's commanding officer.  This meant the case could not be tried by court martial."

reported that when asked about this at a news conference, Prime Minister Tony Blair said he deplored the act but at the same time praised the work of the British soldiers in Iraq.  Blair's statement conjures up images of the movie Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola's dark allegory of the Vietnam War, where a highly decorated U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel was charged with murder because he had divorced the regular army in order to fight the war in his own way.

According to The New York Times, American commanders have recently begun a series of military operations to regain "control" over large sections of the country that were lost in recent months to the Iraqi "insurgency" -- an "insurgency" that comprises both Sunni and Shiite Muslims, who hate the United States more than they hate each other, claiming sovereignty over their own country.

On Sunday September 12, as many as 110 people were killed in Iraq and over 200 wounded.  The worst casualties were in Baghdad where 37 people were killed, and in Tal Afar where 51 people died.   One incident involved a curious crowd that surrounded a burning American Bradley fighting vehicle being fired upon by an American helicopter gunship killing at least 15 Iraqis, including a 12-year-old girl and a Palestinian reporter for al-Arabiya, and wounding  50 more.  Another incident occurred on Monday when an American sport utility vehicle was fired upon and the area was sprayed with bullets by American soldiers, killing at least one civilian and wounding three more.

According to, at the time of this writing there have been a minimum of 11,797 civilians killed as a result of military intervention in Iraq.  However, there will never be an official Iraqi body count because according to the former chief military planner General Tommy Franks, "We don't do body counts."  That certainly shows how much we care, doesn't it?

Since this was a war of choice and not of necessity, there is no absolution in classifying these casualties as "collateral damage."  It is a simple fact that these people died as a result of the extremely dangerous conditions created by the United States and Great Britain.  There seems to be a universal human characteristic to be unable to recognize one's own criminality, which would include U.S. complicity in the massacre of 10,000 Shiites by Saddam Hussein while the U.S. stood idly by after first inciting the rebellion.

Guilt does not sit solely with the insanely violent cabal of ideologues in the White House and at 10 Downing Street.  Those living in America and the UK who have supported this "preemptive" war can start by looking in the mirror.  It isn't necessary to have personally fired a weapon to be guilty of murder by bureaucracy.  And it is particularly true that in a democracy where the people supposedly govern themselves and pay taxes to buy bullets and bombers, there is no such thing as an innocent civilian.
It's no small wonder why they hate us, and why it is almost a certainty that there will be another terrorist attack in the United States because of U.S. hegemony in the Middle East..  Think about that if you plan to vote to re-elect George Bush.

Requiem aeternam.

Harold Williamson is a Chicago-based independent scholar. He can be reached at:  Copyright 2004, Harold Williamson

Other Articles by Harold Williamson

* It Isn't God Who is Crazy
* Don't Trust Anybody Over Thirty
* Faith in the Postmodern World
* Remember Who The Enemy Is
* Obscenity, A Sign of the Times and the Post
* Thinking Anew: A Do-It-Yourself Project
* America's Blind Faith in Government
* Think Tanks and the Brainwashing of America
* Bully for the Bush Doctrine: A Natural History Perspective