US Marine Ross Caputi in a remarkably honest piece deeply understands what he did to the Iraqi city of Fallujah:
It has been seven years since the end of the second siege of… Fallujah… – the US assault that left the city in ruins, killed thousands of civilians, and displaced hundreds of thousands more; the assault that poisoned a generation, plaguing the people who live there… with cancers and their children with birth defects.
It has been seven years and the lies that justified the assault still perpetuate false beliefs about what we did.
The US veterans who fought there still do not understand who they fought against, or what they were fighting for.
I know, because I am one of those American veterans. In the eyes of many of the people I “served” with, the people of Fallujah remain dehumanised and their resistance fighters are still believed to be terrorists. But unlike most of my counterparts, I understand that I was the aggressor, and that the resistance fighters in Fallujah were defending their city.
It is also the seventh anniversary of the deaths of two close friends of mine, Travis Desiato and Bradley Faircloth, who were killed in the siege. Their deaths were not heroic or glorious. Their deaths were tragic, but not unjust.
How can I begrudge the resistance in Fallujah for killing my friends, when I know that I would have done the same thing if I were in their place? How can I blame them when we were the aggressors?
It could have been me instead of Travis or Brad. I carried a radio on my back that dropped the bombs that killed civilians and reduced Fallujah to rubble. If I were a Fallujan, I would have killed anyone like me. I would have had no choice. The fate of my city and my family would have depended on it. I would have killed the foreign invaders.
Travis and Brad are both victims and perpetrators. They were killed and they killed others because of a political agenda in which they were just pawns. They were the iron fist of American empire, and an expendable loss in the eyes of their leaders.