Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hello, I must be going

With all the discussion about withdrawing from Iraq, no one has mentioned just how this war is being conducted:

Author of the forthcoming book "Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment," Grosscup said today: "The Bush strategy for victory is about to begin. U.S. and Iraqi forces have surrounded the city of Ramadi. Food and water have been cut off. Next is the 'Shock and Awe' strategic bombing of the city, to be followed by 'mop-up' operations: ground troops, snipers and aerial 'support.' "It is the hallowed 'Fallujah' model, intended to bring 'stability' by flattening the city with civilian death and destruction. It is a 'clean' way to victory, one supported by Representative Jack Murtha, who would withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq but continue to engage the 'enemy' from far away and from 15,000 to 30,000 feet above with air power. By October 2004, this 'clean war' had killed close to 100,000 Iraqi civilians and thousands more since. But, as any enthusiast of strategic bombing would say, it is the price of victory and somebody has to make the ultimate sacrifice. Terror from the skies, anyone?"
And remember: if we kill someone with a 500 lb bomb (like the unnamed and now all but forgotten woman and child who died when we "took out" al-Zarqawi) that's always "collateral damage." If soldiers do the same thing with guns, in the same action, it's at best "regrettable," and at worst, a war crime.

It's all a matter of how impersonal the killing is.

The actual number of dead Iraqis as casualties of this war are unknown. The LA Times put the number at 50,000, which is 20,000 higher than the Bush Administration acknowledges. The Times points out that 50,000 Iraqis is proportionately equivalent to 570,000 Americans. Double that number, as the author assumes here, and you have a proportionate number equal to just over 1.1 million dead. 570,000 would be roughly equivalent to Austin, Texas when I lived there. The population of Houston proper is counted at about 2 million. Or, the equivalent of not just displacing, but killing, everyone in pre-Katrina New Orleans plus about 20%, or killing them all more than twice over.

Just to put those numbers in perspective.

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