Posted from the U.S.
According to an AP reporter, we have this story:
"ROME (AP) - Italy demanded answers Saturday as former hostage Giuliana Sgrena was taken off a flight from Iraq wrapped in a plaid blanket and hooked to an intravenous drip for a shoulder wound inflicted when American troops fired on a car taking her to the Baghdad airport. The Italian agent who negotiated her freedom was hit and died in her arms.
The shooting at a U.S. checkpoint in Baghdad stoked anti-war sentiment in Italy, where the public was widely opposed to the government's decision to send 3,000 troops to help U.S.-led efforts to secure the country from a violent insurgency. President Bush promised a full investigation"
"The details of this situation have been described in so many different ways that it’s very difficult to get a clear picture of what happened—and mainstream media has predictably ignored Sgrena’s radical anti-war background...The inmates of Democratic Underground are beside themselves with glee, of course, accusing our soldiers of murder with no evidence. (But don’t forget, they support the troops!)"
Michelle Malkin takes the side of "word of US troops than an Italian anti-war journalist".
The BBC takes a different view:
"Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena has suggested US troops deliberately tried to kill her moments after she was released by her kidnappers in Baghdad"
and adds to it...
"This is a serious diplomatic incident between the US and Italy, says the BBC's David Willey in Rome"
It sounds like the core issues of Easongate live on. In this case we are hearing directly from Ms. Giuliana Sgrena, who survived the incident. Her Italian agent savior was killed in the gunfire which does appear to have come U.S. troops. It also seems that the debate revolves around not if American soldiers fired upon her, but why, and if it was intentional (that targeting question again) or accidental. Liberals will now paint the American troops as bloodthirsty devils, while harder right Conservatives will say it is all an Italian communist plot and that the U.S. can never do wrong. I wonder what Eason Jordan would say about all of this.
Here is a thought: take some American kids in their teens and twenties, and arm them to the teeth. Drop them into a hell where at best their Iraqi "friends" on the ground likely only hate them and wish them death and a speedy trip out of their land (bodybag or otherwise). You are vastly outnumbered, and you have no real idea who is the enemy, because there is no clear front line - in theory you already "won" the war. You don't understand the language, the customs, and wish every minute you were back home. At any moment you can be blown up by a car bomb, suicide bomber, or be captured and beheaded on a global webcast. You are shot at from all directions. Your own government has not made it clear when all of this mess will end, and simply staying alive, keeping your buddies and platoon brothers alive, matters most. Maybe you believe in the mission, maybe you don't. You do know that being alive matters, and that getting home, if home can ever be returned to after being in that hell, is a high priority.
Put me in that position and I would open fire on anything that came within a few hundred yards of me. I would take no risk on my safety, or that of my friends. Eat lead and die you scumbags would be my motto. Fear would practically replace any philosophy that drives me now. Raw fear could make me do almost anything, right or wrong. I never want to take that test. To have restraint in Iraq is to almost be superhuman, to put one's own life beneath that of an unknown, unseen enemy. Who among us is that saintly? For a soldier on the ground I can not believe that it ever really is about politics - it is about what is happening at that moment, who is coming at me now, and what I must do next. There is You, and there is the Other. If the Other is no Friend, shoot.
The Bedouins have a custom that basicallys says that if you approach a Bedouin tent on your camel, dismount and approach in a very slow, friendly manner from several hundred yards away (I heard this story from a relative who spent time with them in the desert). This indicates that you mean to do no harm. If you come charging in, those in the tent may open fire on you - you are the Enemy. This is a Law of the Desert, and a tested Law of Survival. From this mindset, is there a guilty party here?
Put me in that car with the freed hostage and I would hope that somehow intel would let the Americans know who I was and what was going on and that I was no risk. I would wish that they could hear me scream when the bullets hit the wrong people. I would be mad as hell right now. Someone killed my savior, my hero.
If I was an Italian I would blame America - stupid trigger happy cowboys. As an American, I wonder if the truth on the ground, the real ugly, nasty, whatever it is is, truth, can ever be known. Politics is not truth, patriotism is not truth, and point of view is not truth, although it is a relative perception of truth.
The confusion, the fog of war. What do soldiers talk about when only other soldiers are around, when the lights are dim, and they revisit places they promised never to go back to. Is it democracy? Is it freedom? Or is it the path their bullets took in moments of terror and fear?
I wonder now if American troops in Iraq, as they adapt to the Iraqi desert environment with all of its dangers, have learned, directly or through experience, the Bedouin Laws of Survival In The Desert. Morally neutral (from a Western perspective), primitive in their directness aimed at enhancing one's survival, these Laws live comfortably in the fog.
When asked if asked if the car was going too fast when the US troops opened fire, the freed Italian hostage said: "We weren't going particularly fast given that type of situation."
Not particularly fast for those escaping harm, but possibly too fast for the Desert and Its Laws.