With the news that Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, the man who lead the squad which slaughtered 24 Iraqi civilians at Haditha in 2005, is set to receive 3 months detention for his actions, you have to ask, exactly what kind of message does this send to the Iraqi people and the wider Arab world?
Never mind the fact that insult was already heaped upon this horrific incident by Wuterich facing the lesser charge of negligent dereliction of duty, instead of the obvious murder charge this incident required. This monstrous injustice comes hot on the heels of the recent video which showed US marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban. One can only assume that with Wuterich receiving 3 months, the culprits in this video will probably be promoted.
Unrelated but also of concern is this reading list for junior officers in the US army. Why does it raise question marks? Well if you look to number 43 on the list you’ll see why. Yes, still recommended reading among junior officers in the US military is The Arab Mind by Raphael Patai. For those unaware of the books contents, the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker has a good overview of it here. Unfortunately Mr Whitaker’s article is from 2004 but you will notice at the bottom of the reading list, that it is from a publication dated February 2012. It appears the US military has not heeded Mr Whitaker’s sensible advice.
All of these things are worrying taken in isolation, but when considered together, we must return to my initial question, what kind of message does this send to the people of a region with which Obama had made improving relations a central tenant of his foreign policy?