Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Barrels to the Ground in Iraq

From Battle Lessons, in the Jan 17th New Yorker:

The Iraqis were shrieking, frantic with rage. From the way the lens was lurching, the cameraman seemed as frightened as the soldiers. This is it, I thought. A shot will come from somewhere, the Americans will open fire, and the world will witness the My Lai massacre of the Iraq war. At that moment, an American officer stepped through the crowd holding his rifle high over his head with the barrel pointed to the ground. Against the backdrop of the seething crowd, it was a striking gesture—almost Biblical. “Take a knee,” the officer said, impassive behind surfer sunglasses. The soldiers looked at him as if he were crazy. Then, one after another, swaying in their bulky body armor and gear, they knelt before the boiling crowd and pointed their guns at the ground. The Iraqis fell silent, and their anger subsided. The officer ordered his men to withdraw.

It took two months to track down Lieutenant Colonel Chris Hughes, who by then had been rotated home...


Anonymous said...

He was just lucky;

Once fanaticism starts and the crowd becomes angry in 99% of the cases if they have the advantage they will attack. The officer was lucky he did not get himself and his men killed. Remember even though the gesture was striking and "almost biblical" these are the same
terrorists or clan of fanatics that rape; behead and blow up innocent civilians. As a old army sergeant I think when given the order to "take a knee" thats where I'd aim at first. Just following orders; especially if they were closing in on me and my men.

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