Obviously, it would have been better for US standing if the video clip of Belile performing the Haditha song had never been posted to the Internet -- and better still if the song had never been written. But the real public diplomacy problem here isn't one individual's tasteless joke. It's that this country has conducted foreign policy in such a way that it's all too easy for foreign publics to assume that the tasteless joke is representative of American values and views.
To Belile's credit, he's offered a prompt and sincere apology for the offense his song gave. That's more than can be said for the way that US officials have handled the fallout from Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, 'secret prison' allegations, and many other events of recent years.
"Marine Sorry for Iraq Deaths Song" - BBC News, 15 June 2006
A US marine has apologised after a video spread on the internet of him singing a song about the killing of Iraqi civilians.
Cpl Joshua Belile, 23, said the song had been written as a joke and was never intended to cause offence.
The Marine Corps has described the song as "inappropriate" and is investigating the incident.
Cpl Belile denied the song had any connection with the deaths of Iraqi civilians at Haditha last year.
"It's a song that I made up and it was nothing more than something supposed to be funny, based off a catchy line of a movie," he said.
The chorus of the song, called Hadji Girl, reprises a popular line from the popular puppet movie Team America, a satire based on the US war on terror.
Both the film and Cpl Belile's song mock the language barrier between English-speaking troops and the Arabic-speaking world, using the phrase "durka durka Muhammad jihad" to represent Arabic speech.
Cpl Belile's song told the story of a US marine who meets an Iraqi girl while under attack in Iraq.
Instantly falling in love - despite the language barrier - he follows her home to meet her parents, only to find himself ambushed by her father and brother.
In the closing lines of the song, the focus of most attention, Cpl Belile's marine grabs the girl's little sister as he comes under attack.
"As the bullets began to fly, the blood sprayed from between her eyes, and then I laughed maniacally," he sang.
The song, cheered on by its audience throughout, ends with the marine returning fire on the Iraqis....
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which highlighted the song, welcomed his apology.
It added that the "inappropriate actions of a few individuals should not be allowed to tarnish the reputation of all American military personnel."
"Humor Attempt Falls Flat," by Chris Mazzolini - the Daily News (Jacksonville, NC), 14 June 2006
Cpl. Joshua Belile thought up the words to “Hadji Girl” in September while drinking coffee with buddies in Iraq.
It was just a joke, Belile says, a play on lines from a movie. His fellow Marines seemed to enjoy the song, so they got Belile up on a stage with his guitar.
Someone taped his performance, and now Belile stands in the center of a growing controversy, one that threatens to drag the New River Air Station Marine and his blackly humorous song into the debate about the alleged incident at Haditha and the war in Iraq....
Belile, a 23-year-old who lives in Jacksonville and serves with Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 167, said the song was meant only as a joke, based on lines from “Team America: World Police” and that he apologizes to people who may have been offended by the lyrics.
“It’s a song that I made up and it was nothing more than something supposed to be funny, based off a catchy line of a movie,” Belile said. “I apologize for any feelings that may have been hurt in the Muslim community. This song was written in good humor and not aimed at any party, foreign or domestic.”...
Belile said the song is entirely fictional and has no ties to any of the ongoing investigations about Haditha and other incidents of alleged troop misconduct.
“This is in no way, shape or form related to the events that happened at Haditha,” he said. “The song was written long before the events happened. The song reflects nobody’s viewpoint. It’s completely made up, it’s completely fictional.
“I think it was a joke that is trying to be taken seriously,” he said. “I think it’s a joke, and anybody who tries to take it seriously knows it’s a joke. People can’t just laugh at it and let it go.”...
"Marine Glorifies Child Killings" - Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 14 June 2006
WASHINGTON, 14 June 2006 — An Internet video showing a Marine singing a song glorifying the killing of Iraqi children was condemned yesterday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as “clearly inappropriate”.
CAIR called for an investigation after drawing attention to the video, which it says was posted in March on a website called YouTube.com and drew 50,000 hits....
The clip has now been removed from the Internet site that originally posted it. In recent weeks the US Marine Corps has been beset with controversy over the deliberate killings of civilians in Iraq, including the death of 24 people in the town of Haditha in November....
"Marine Apologizes to [sic] 'Haji Girl' Song," by Khalid Hasan - the Daily Times (Pakistan), 15 June 2006
...Here are the lyrics of the song which enraged many Muslims, in Iraq and elsewhere: I was out in the sands of Iraq/and we were under attack/and I didn’t know where to go/Then the first thing that I see is everybody spray painting Burger King so I threw open the door and I hit the floor/And suddenly to my surprise/I looked up and I saw her eyes/and I knew it was love at first sight/And she said/Dirka dirka Muhammed jihad/shurpa shurpa bakala/Haji girl I can’t understand what you say/And she said/Dirka dirka Muhammed jihad/shurpa shurpa bakala/Haji girl I love you anyway/And she said she wanted me to see/She wanted my to go meet her family/And I, I couldn’t figure out how to say/No, ‘cause I don’t speak Arabic,’ so/She took me down an old dirt trail/And we pulled up at the side shanty/And she threw open the door/And I hit the floor cuz her brother and her father shot her/Dirka dirka Muhammed jihad/shurpa shurpa bakala/they pulled out their AKs so I could see and they said Dirka dirka Muhammed jihad/shurpa shurpa bakala/so I grabbed her little sister/and put her in front of me/As the bullets began to fly/the blood sprayed from between her eyes, and then I laughed maniacally/I blew those little f**kers to eternity/They should have known they were f**king with the Marines.