Sunday, September 12, 2004

Taking their responsibilities seriously

While the Americans are continuing to kill civilians in Fallujah and elsewhere, the British at least are taking their responsibilities to Iraq seriously. More than 40 British soldiers are now being prosecuted in civilian courts, for everything from assault and beatings to torture and murder. Looking at the descriptions of the cases, they're not just prosecuting for deliberate and calculated actions - people are being charged for deaths resulting from negligence (stray bullets during a firefight) and misunderstandings (a man shot while reaching into his jacket for his gun license) - things the Americans wouldn't bat an eyelid at. The clear intention is to send a mesage that civilian deaths are unacceptable, that Iraqis will receive the full protection of the law from their occupiers, and above all, that justice will be seen to be done.

The contrast with the American attitude that the lives of Iraqi civilians matter less than those of trigger-happy and panicked US troops, and with their denials, foot-dragging, and slap on the wrist sentences over Abu Ghraib couldn't be any clearer.