Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Blood Money and Haditha

I know, The Nation has already declared that we have enough facts to make the assumption that there was a massacre in Haditha, but what say you that we actually wait until the entire story is revealed before we start shooting Marines? This excellent article dispels the myths being reported regarding "eyewitness" accounts of Haditha, as well as explaining how the of paying "blood money" in Arab-tribal culture may fit into this tale:

The logic in the British case [ed: another case where foreign troops were accused of a crime] and possibly in Haditha is simple: If the coalition did not have a fight with the insurgents, the deaths would not have occurred. The deaths cause a loss in the resources of the tribe. The tribe cannot file a claim with Zarqawi--he might chop their heads off--therefore it is the coalition that owes blood money. In the eyes of tribal people such as Haditha residents, this debt is owed regardless of who actually killed the 24 people in Haditha or the circumstances of those deaths. The payment of blood money is not an admission of guilt; it is a balancing of tribal obligations.

What tribal Iraqis would understand as blood money has in fact already been paid by US military representatives in Haditha. According to the May 31 New York Times payments totaling $38,000 were made “within weeks of the shootings” to the families of 15 of the 24 dead.

In the rush to declare that Haditha is another My Lai, may the facts be damned.

(I wrote this earlier, but for some reason it wouldn't post.)