Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Death from above

by Stan

The recent extrapolation of figures from the Lancet Report, in conjunction with further research in Iraq, conducted by ORB, a British polling agency, now puts the figure of Iraqi deaths due to the war since March 2003 at 1.2 million. This, in a country of 27 million, and alongside wounds that are often devastating (and unreported), as well as 4 million now displaced, gives us a true picture of what this invasion and occupation have wrought on the lives of Iraqis, both adults and children.

Hyper-reporting of Iraqi-on-Iraqi fighting and of suicide bombings has been uncritical and implies that the majority of these deaths are due to the innate deviancy of “these Arabs” (a suggestion in this undifferentiated, ill-explained, and often plain false reporting). We are seldom reminded of how many operations in which Iraqi kill and displace other Iraqis are conducted by US allies, the Badr Army in particular.

But the bigger story is the one that gets no coverage at all here, it seems, at least from the patri-cap media.

Bombing. That old standby of “great powers” when they cannot make any headway against recalcitrant natives. It is in progress now, and has been all along, in both Iraq and Afghanstan. The newest twist is the employment of pilotless drones, also counted by the Pentagon and its spokepersons at CNN as “precision” weapons.

We buy this lethal gadgetry for the Pentagon, and of course the Chinese and Japanese float loans to us to buy more. It’s expensive, so it makes some jobs. Since we don’t export much these days, the only things being hled inside the borders — so to speak — are these “dual-use” technologies (dual meaning civilian and military). So the one sector that is forced to stay inside the US with its “jobs” is provided a surrogate export market called the Department of Defense.

One must wonder, what exactly are we “defending” in Waziristan?

1.2 million dead. Think this kind of cynical math is new?

Here is a flash from the Clinton era:

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.

–60 Minutes (5/12/96)


Send this to your Democratic (or Republican) elected official, and ask why they are not cutting the money for the war. Tell them that this is the price of your vote.

from Death at a Distance: The U.S. Air War

Conn Hallinan | August 30, 2007

According to the residents of Datta Khel, a town in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, three missiles streaked out of Afghanistan’s Pakitka Province and slammed into a Madrassa, or Islamic school, this past June. When the smoke cleared, the Asia Times reported, 30 people were dead.

The killers were robots, General Atomics MQ-1 Predators. The AGM-114 Hellfire missiles they used in the attack were directed from a base deep in the southern Nevada desert.

It was not the first time Predators had struck. The previous year a CIA Predator took a shot at al-Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, but missed. The missile, however, killed 18 people. According to the Asia Times piece, at least one other suspected al-Qaeda member was assassinated by a Predator in Pakistan’s northern frontier area, and in 2002 a Predator killed six “suspected al-Qaeda” members in Yemen.

These assaults are part of what may be the best kept secret of the Iraq-Afghanistan conflicts: an enormous intensification of US bombardments in these and other countries in the region, the increasing number of civilian casualties such a strategy entails, and the growing role of pilot-less killers in the conflict.

According to Associated Press, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of bombs dropped on Iraq during the first six months of 2007 over the same period in 2006. More than 30 tons of those have been cluster weapons, which take an especially heavy toll on civilians.

The U.S. Navy has added an aircraft carrier to its Persian Gulf force, and the Air Force has moved F-16s into Balad air base north of Baghdad.

Balad, which currently conducts 10,000 air operations a week, is strengthening runways to handle the increase in air activity.