"I found Private First Class Hayes with a woman under an empty carport. He pointed his M-16 at her head, but she would not stop screaming.
'What are you doing this for?' she said.
Hayes told her to shut up.
'We've done nothing to you,' she went on.
Hayes was starting to lose it, and we weren't even supposed to be talking to this woman. I told her that we were there on orders and that we couldn't speak to her, but on and on and on she bawled at Hayes and me.
'You Americans are disgusting! Who do you think you are, to do this to us?'
Hayes slammed her in the face with the stock of his M-16. She fell face down into the dirt, bleeding and silent. The woman lay still on the ground.
I pushed Hayes away. 'What are you doing, man?' I said to him. 'You've a wife and 2 kids! Don't be hitting her like that.'
He looked at me with eyes full of hatred, as if he was ready to kill me for saying what I did, but he didn't touch her again.
Then something happened that haunts my dreams to this day.
All the women were led back inside the house, and our entire platoon was ordered to stand guard outside. Four US military men who outranked us went inside with the women. They closed the doors. We couldn't see anything through the windows.
I don't know who the military men were, or what unit they were from, but I can only conclude that they outranked us and were at least at the level of a first lieutenant or above. That's because our own Second Lieutenant Joyce was there, and his presence did not deter them...
Normally when we conducted a raid we were in and out in 30' minutes or less. You never wanted to stay in one place for too long, for fear of exposing yourself to mortar attacks. But our platoon was made to stand guard outside that house for about an hour. The women started shouting and screaming. The men stayed in there with them, behind closed doors. It went on and on and on.
Finally, the men came out and told us to get the hell out of there.
It struck me then that we, the American soldiers, were the terrorists.
We were terrorising Iraqis. Intimidating them. Beating them. Destroying their homes. Probably raping them. The ones we didn't kill had all the reasons in the world to become terrorists. Given what we were doing to them, who could blame them for wanting to kill us, and all Americans? This sick realisation lodged like cancer in my gut. It grew, and festered, and troubled me more with every passing day. We, the Americans, had become the terrorists in Iraq." (Joshua Key, The Deserter's Tale: Why I Walked Away from the War in Iraq, pp 133-134)
Read this: "Australians have a 'quite robust' tolerance for battlefield casualties in Afghanistan, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said yesterday as the body of our latest casualty was flown out of the war zone for home." (Aussies 'accept' Afghan casualties, The Australian, 14/7/08)
And this: "Mr Fitzgibbon said he was trying to persuade his own daughter, in her first year of nursing at the University of Newcastle, to join up. 'If she joined the ADF she'd be remunerated and she'd have her HECS fees paid for her', he said. 'She would have a return of service obligation for 4 years after she completed her studies, and I'd be more than delighted for her to do so'." (Students to get taste of life in the military, The Australian, 14/7/08)
What a leader! What a dad! I'm lost for words.
If Ms Fitzgibbon does join up, this will surely inspire a stampede of politicians' offspring to step up to the plate, if I can use an Americanism Fitz must be hearing a lot while "in the US for meetings with defence suppliers, senior officials of the Bush administration and members of Congress..." (Aussies 'accept'... 14/7/08)
Oh, and Fitz's parliamentary secretary for defence, Mike Kelly, Member for Eden-Monaro, has been over in Israel paying his respects to his cousin-in-law, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert: "'We've talked about the future of settlements as security mechanisms and things like that', Mr Kelly said." (Friendly family feud with cousin Ehud, The Australian, 24/6/08) Settlements as "security mechanisms"? If anyone can enlighten me as to the meaning of this, I'd be most grateful. "... and things like that"? Tell me more.
You've got to feel sorry for Kelly Jr, though. Is it the A'D'F or the I'D'F? Decisions, decisions.