Battle for Haditha Film Review

Docudrama Reenacts Alleged Marine Massacre of Innocent Iraqi Civilians

On November 19, 2005, a roadside bomb detonated by Iraqi insurgents exploded under a vehicle killing Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas, while wounding a couple of his comrades. This was the Battle for Haditha. The IED attack allegedly outraged about a dozen of the other Marines from Kilo Company riding in the convoy, and later that same day it is alleged they went on a rampage in the vicinity, slaughtering 24 innocent civilians living in the City of Haditha.

Though the incident was originally covered-up, it came to light about four months later only because part of the massacre had been captured on videotape by a student with a camera. As a result, several soldiers were relieved of duty, court-martialed, and shipped back to Camp Pendleton where they are currently facing murder charges.

The Battle for Haditha
The Battle for Haditha

But was their overreaction warranted, given the stress they were under from the day-to-day rigors of patrolling the streets of a village where they were treated as invading enemies rather than like liberators as promised by Vice President Cheney?

And wasn’t their predicament compounded further by the military’s use of stop-loss order as a hidden draft to force soldiers to re-enlist and serve longer tours of duty? Aren’t all things now fair in war, anyway, given America’s recent disavowal of the Geneva Conventions?

These are the fundamental human rights questions posed by Battle for Haditha, a super-realistic docudrama which takes a long look at ethnic cleansing from both the perspective of the cleansed and from the point-of-view of the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity. Shot in Jordan, the film stars numerous veterans of the Iraq War, so it has a feel so authentic, I initially believed I was watching actually footage shot on the front lines of the conflict.

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A patriotic reminder to support the troops, regardless of the transgression, since it’s Bush fault that they’re sitting ducks in a godforsaken desert where they’re the only available outlet around for every terrorists’ anti-American impulse.

What’s next, a picture suggesting that we have to excuse the Abu Ghraib excuses, too, as reasonable interrogation tactics?

Remember when your mother warned that playing all those gruesome video games would desensitize you to violence? Now witness Exhibit A: Battle for Haditha, showcasing Generation Kill’s all volunteer army in all its glory.

Collateral Damage

When a Time magazine reporter began questioning the event and the involvement of the Camp Pendleton unit, commanded by Lt. Col. Chessani, the case became controversial.

Congressman John. P Murtha fueled the controversy at a news conference. Murtha accused the Marines of having “killed innocent civilians in cold blood.” These allegations were made before the facts were established.

The U.S. Marine Corps views the attacks as a standard military procedure and all leaders in Chessani’s chain of command defended himn and the Marines in the Camp Pendleton unit by dismissing the accusations made by Murtha.

Insurgents may have staged the event. They may have also opened fire on their own civilians to frame the U.S. Marines. Chessani’s word should have held considerably more weight than Murtha’s.

Unfortunately, the pressure from Murtha to find someone to blame built up, and a decorated veteran faced up to 30 months in prison and administrative action after which he would be discharged without honor.

He remained on duty at Camp Pendleton since the charges were made and planned to retire after the ordeal.

Chessani was deployed to Iraq on three occasions. He holds a Bronze star, and is an American hero. He should be receiving a hero’s welcome and returning home, but after four years he is only berated by the unappreciative citizens he swore to protect. They were not there and cannot even fathom the consequences of war.

Battle for Haditha

Very Good (3 stars)
Unrated
In English and Arabic with subtitles.
Running time: 93 minutes
Studio: HanWay Films

Kam Williams
Kam Williams is a popular and top NewsBlaze reviewer, our chief critic. Kam gives his unvarnished opinion on movies, DVDs and books, plus many in-depth and revealing celebrity interviews.Sadly, Lloyd Kam Williams passed away in 2019, leaving behind a huge body of work focused on America's black entertainment community. We were as sad to hear of his passing as we were overjoyed to have him as part of our team.