Engagement of the Rules
Rod Nordland and Babak Dehghanpisheh of Newsweek believe that the US military simply cannot win hearts and minds in Iraq. That’s a pretty safe conclusion by now. Quite the opposite, it seems clear that more and more Iraqis simply hate the Americans, and especially American troops.
I personally agree that there may have been extenuating circumstances regarding the shooting of a wounded Iraqi guerrilla in a mosque by a marine (wounded guerrillas often lure US troops close and then blow them up). But most people aren’t good at seeing both sides of the story. If guerrillas had stacked four wounded American Marines up somewhere, and then a second set of guerrillas came in, and a guerrilla shot one of the unarmed, wounded Marines in the head on camera, I guarantee you no one in the American media would be talking about extenuating circumstances. This act would be seen as cowardly and perfidious, with no need for further investigation.
For a disturbing reflection on the impact of being embedded on journalists like Kevin Sites, see Peter Beaumont in The Guardian.
The authors dismiss the Lancet study finding 100,000 deaths caused by the Americans in Iraq, mainly by aerial bombardment of civilian city districts. They suggest that only 4000 Iraqis have been killed since May 1, 2003. But this estimate is based on counting all Iraqi deaths reported in the Western press, which I can tell you for sure is only a fraction of those reported in the Arabic press. Nor is the Lancet study as flawed as these authors suggest.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross has issued a blistering critique of the US for human rights violations in Iraq, while equally blaming the guerrillas.
And, acute malnutrition among young children in Iraq has doubled since the Americans invaded
So, no, they’re not winning any hearts or minds, and are unlikely to.