Cops and Robbers, Purple Fingers, Democracy In Tall Afar

1st Armored Division Soldiers conduct a combat patrol in Tal Afar, Iraq in their M2 Bradley fighting vehicle.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon

Editors note: The photograph above was taken in February 2006 at a time when Bush was reporting Tall Afar as an Iraqi success story.

I think Bush saw the city as an example of the Iraqi version of “no child left behind.”

The headline reads: “Gunmen Go On Rampage In Iraqi City” above a story by Joshua Partlow in this morning’s Washington Post. It seems that the Malaki/Bush/Cheney/Halliburton Democracy left a few legal and procedural fundamentals out of their Police Academy training manual or perhaps they are using a revised Middle Eastern version of the Chicago Police manual which allows for the summary execution of Sunni suspects following violent episodes.

In the Chicago version you’re only allowed to beat them up, in Tall Afar though, this is civil wartime, and the Shiite police and their auxiliaries have gone on yet another orgy of reprisal and revenge, killing as many as 70 Sunni suspects, men, women and children, some as young as fifteen, with a bullet to the back of the head in the Mesopotamian democratic tradition so reminiscent of other great democratic leaders like Saddam and Stalin.

Such is the nature of the Bush/Cheney grand corporate democratic experiment in Iraq that the people with whom we have allied ourselves are equally as brutal and as fully capable of the same extremes of violence and terror as the “evil extremists” with whom we have sworn holy war.”

“Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas” it is said, and we have been living in this doghouse of national self delusion long enough to pride ourselves on the shock and awe, violence and death that our “compassionate conservatives” are able to dispense in a matter of hours and can deliver anywhere in the world on a pretext of their choosing, or at the behest of whatever multi national corporation has sufficient clout in the halls of government to determine what is in the “national interest.”

So here we are in the midst of an escalation oops, surge, in their futile involvement in the Fertile Delta, sending ever more of what they have been determined to be our fully expendable American youth to die amid the filthy corrupt realities of the modern, oil saturated Arab world. All the while our boy Junior adds daily to his litany of pious pronouncements on peace and freedom for a part of the world where there is little respect for peace and no respect for liberty because 13 centuries of Islamic fatalism and authoritarian rule have not allowed, and may never allow either.

As the bullets and shrapnel fly and the bodies are stacked in great rotting piles and the Mothers of Iraq and the Mothers of America weep in endless screams of pain and anguish our congress plays political games in a disgusting, half ass tug of war with President Puke that makes me want to offer Monica Lewinsky a chance to perform just one more public service so that we might at long last give the Republicans and the Democrats something to get stirred up about enough to impeach this criminal son of a bitch.

I talked briefly with a young man today who is leaving for Army boot camp in a few days. We were introduced by his friend’s father who is a close friend of mine from my favorite watering hole, the local pool hall. The young man is 19, fresh of face and rosy cheeked, not an ounce of guile in his spirit and ripe for the slaughter. As we spoke I couldn’t shake the feeling that I might never see the kid alive again. I wanted to cry as I shook his hand and told him to pay attention and cover his ass.

I have lived through more than a half century of nearly constant war, serving in one as a reluctant participant, bearing witness to the rest as a psychologically tormented observer. I am  personally sick to death of war and violent death in all it’s forms, no matter the excuse.

I am sick of reading of war, hearing of war, writing of war and speaking of war and I know that all of the knowledge of war that comprises so much of my own human experience has only created in my soul a world in which I no longer have a thirst to live. I will take to my eternal grave the knowledge and stench of war and death and in my dead ears will dwell the clamor of the agonized keening of all the victims of war of human history.

The hell with it, I need a drink.

Bob Higgins
Worldwide Sawdust

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About BobHiggins

Lifelong liberal of the Tom Paine wing. Marine Vietnam vet. Have worked as a photographer, cab driver, bartender, carpenter and cabinetmaker. Now retired on a Veterans Disability program I spend my time writing and editing and complaining. Ahh the Golden Years.
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8 Responses to Cops and Robbers, Purple Fingers, Democracy In Tall Afar

  1. elmercreek says:

    Well put Bob!

    I saw George McGovern speak this summer and I don’t know if it’s an original quote or not but he said, “I’m tired of seeing old men dream up wars for young men to die in.” It’s always the young men that have to answer the call isn’t it. I’m always struck when I look at pictures from Iraq or the Viet Nam war and see how young the troops are.

    I just read a wonderful book called War, The Lethal Custom by Gwen Dyer. A must read if you want to understand why war has been with us forever.

    Thanks again Bob for sharing your outrage. Like the bumpersticker says, If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention!

  2. Ginny Cotts says:


    That is putting the raw emotions many of us have into powerful words. Thank you, Bob. I am forwarding to some family and friends with whom I have shared, or heard, similar laments.

    I may just as well start with a double. Les has just added another book to my reading list. 🙄

  3. Belly up to the bar folks – we’re drinking with Bob tonight.

    Awesome post Bob. I think sometimes we’re running out of words to say how much this sucks. You said it all here. Thank you.

  4. Bob says:

    Thanks to all of you for kind words, and for taking time to say them here.
    These kids all the victims need the support of all of us to keep them alive and unmaimed by the madness and bestiality of war.
    I’d like to share this as well.

    Worldwide Sawdust

  5. The first drink is on me. We live in times where combat and elections are kinda the same. What the hell happened to my America? A toast to my brothers in green! Bob, thanks for this post. AWESOME! I hope you don’t mind, but I am gonna put this up as a guess post at The Katrincrat Blog. I think a lot of people would like to read it. As well as they should read it!

  6. Darrell Prows says:

    (I called this “PTSD” when I first wrote it.)

    When kids in this country go to a tough school, they spend far too much time thinking about violence. How would I react if this breaks out? Where can I look for help at if I’m threatened? If me and my homeys are all in it together, won’t we all be safer? If I have a gun, and I’m willing to use it, doesn’t that kind of make me the king of the world?

    Kids here think these things in small settings that are surrounded by a huge society that presents what we have all come to think of as normalcy. For most of us, there is simply no need to be fixated on where the next danger is going to come from, and what tactics we are going to use to survive it. Our kids, then, at least have a way to get from where they started to where the rest of us live. They don’t have to be tough guy gang bangers, but for many that still looks like the path of least resistance.

    Imagine life, then for people struggling to survive in societies like Lebanon, the Palestinian culture, Afghanistan, Iraq and any other country where full blown threats to life have pretty much plagued pretty much the entire population decade after decade. One looks at the situation of the Irish and manages some hope that there can be a road out of what must strike the psyche, and even the collective psyche, as being perpetual danger. Generally, though, we can easily see that living every waking moment of life in a “war zone” that engulfs the entire geographical sphere of ones existence is going to have a warping effect. When reality consists of people killing and people dieing, how do you just step aside and say “let’s just raise the kids and stop all this worrying”?

    I suppose that the question becomes “how deeply into this sort of cycle of violence can a place and a people go before there no longer is a road to recovery?” This seems to be something that humanity really needs to get a handle on before we go around, in the name of “helping”, bringing conflict and warfare to places that drastically need less violence.

    Can we honestly say to the average Iraqi “You have no further need to spend time thinking of killing and death because your daily life is now so fundamentally safe that no one presents a realistic threat to you and yours”? It bears remembering that those now of an age to be raising teenagers come from a society that has known non-stop death and destruction since they were teenagers.

    Reagan recruited and armed Saddam Hussein to exact revenge against Iran for the Embassy hostage incident. The warfare between Sunni Iraq and Shiite Iran lasted most of a decade, and consumed a nearly unimaginable quantity of wealth and lives. All of the while, and up until 2003, Saddam and Iran each kept up an unrelenting campaign against their respective Kurdish regions. Then there was the adventurism into Kuwait, and our invasion in response. This was followed by our blockades, and Sunni Iraq violently subjugating Shia Iraq. Finally, we came along in 03 and enabled Kurds and Shiites to exact revenge against their Sunni neighbors for more than twenty years worth of grievances.

    Is it reasonable to expect a society of active warriors to just shed the only mindset they have ever experienced? Short of a simultaneous door-to-door search of the entire country, there is no way to deprive the average Iraqi of what is perceived to be the tools necessary for self defense, and is also the means by which they can kill our soldiers just for being there.

  7. Ginny Cotts says:


    The books on this have not made it onto my list. I simply don’t know if I can ever bring myself to read them, no matter how important it is to me.

    I know that there are also children who live in extreme poverty, hunger and illness. Some live in both. Forgive me but that is when I wonder the most why anyone believes in a just and merciful God.

  8. Darrell Prows says:

    Yes, millions of them live like that. Millions of those also don’t make it.

    Even Bill Gates says that his desire to work on these issues exceeds his means. Collectively, however, our ability to create a world far better than that which we now know presents vast potential.

    This is a theme that I try to keep most of my focus on.