What would that be like . . .

Marc Garlasco helped target laser-guided bombs during the Iraq invasion, and he claims in an NPR interview entitled “Assessing the Human Cost of Air Strikes in Iraq,” that the military does a careful calculation of how many innocent civilians will be killed for each bomb dropped. According to Garlasco, they’re VERY careful. If more than 29 innocent civilians are calculated to become “collateral damage,” they have to get White House approval.

What would that be like . . . .

FC [Field Commander]: Mr. President – we’ve got the 3rd highest ranking al’Qaeda commander in Iraq lined up in our sights, but if we bomb, we might kill more than 29 civilians. What should we do?

W [Dubya]: 3rd highest? Didn’t we already get him?

FC: Sir – this is the new, new 3rd highest in command.

W: Oh, well that sounds serious. I hate to butcher so many innocent Iraqis everyday. On the other hand, maybe that madman will someday muster the capacity to kill more than 29 people, so … let’s bring Dick in on this … Dick?

DC [Dick Cheney]: Look George, I thought we agreed that we were used to collaterally damaging Iraqi civilians by now, and that it’s worth it in our epic battle of good vs evil. After all, your predecessor set the precedent.

W: Huh?

DC: Remember the Leslie Stahl 60 Minutes interview with Madeline Albright?


DC: Where she said the death of 500,000 Iraqi children in pursuit of U.S. foreign policy was O.K.?

W: Ah, . . .

DC: Here, look at this video again – – –

W: Oh. Right. I guess if Clinton’s UN Ambassadors think 500,000 dead kids in pursuit of U.S. foreign policy is O.K. – – – – But don’t some of those Iraqis have families friends and loved ones who might turn into terrorists against us?

DC: No, they don’t. And anyway, remember, we agreed that all Iraqis are potential terrorists.

W: Oh yeah. Well go ahead FC. You have my authorization.

[Minutes pass]

FC: Sir – we obliterated the terrorist-nest village, but the madman seems to have escaped. Don’t worry, we’ll get him tomorrow. That’s one village that will never again harbor terrorists.

W: Weeee! Heck-of-a-job, FC! How many potential al’Qaeda recruits did we bring to justice?

DC: I’ve asked you before to stop asking that. Remember we aren’t supposed to keep count.

FC: Oops! They’re saying we targeted the wrong new 3rd highest in command. Apparently the real new 3rd isn’t in this part of the country. He was having a secret meeting with Condy.

W: Rat feathers! How many times have we missed like that?

DC: We don’t keep track of that either.

–And thanks to Fileman

One thought on “What would that be like . . .”

  1. African Americans should be PROUD and thankful to Reverend Wright for distancing himself and Black church from Obama, other serfs and war criminals in the employ of the Lobby.

    God Bless Jeremiah Wright and all decent men and women.

  2. Gee, what if the guy they wanted to kill was in a synagogue? “Sir, we didn’t think we needed to ask your permission, since our calculations showed that only 28 or 29 bystanders would be killed….”

  3. More than 20 Iraqis hurt after missiles fired near hospital

    The U.S. military on Saturday fired missiles at a target about 50 yards away from the general hospital in Baghdad’s Sadr City district, wounding more than 20 people and destroying ambulances, hospital officials said. …..

    The U.S. military also said that American forces “only engage hostile threats and take every precaution to protect innocent civilians.”

  4. Speaking of the Devil:


    One assumes that these casualties are in the “acceptable” range. And every one of them special in the sight of God, each a nail driven into the hands of the crucified Christ!

    One simply marvels at the callousness of ReichsChurch apologists, Neuhaus, Weigel and Novak who have supported this outrage from its inception and who have allowed their faith to be so utterly corrupted by ideology that they cannot raise their voices in unalloyed objection to occurance of this kind. And that in the teeth of the clearest possible guidance offered by Benedict XVI who has observed:

    “There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a ‘just war’.”


  5. Many people supported these wars and continue to do so for one simple reason hey are killing Arabs and Muslims.The other supposed reasons are nothing but execuses.Tese people accuse others ofhate but they themselves full of hate.500,000 dead Iraqi children “is worthy price to pay” and this was long before 9/11?!

  6. Gotta love the double standards. Terrorism and mass murder present a clear and present danger to the continuation of civilization, except when the West does it. Then it’s “for security”.

    1. It is terrorism is when the occupied repels the occupiers,when the opperessed fights back his opperssor,when the abused use the only weapons he has left to use.

  7. The “economy” is on the rebound and “Futures Traders Bet on Dollar’s Advance For First Time in Three Years…” Face it, Americans, for the most part, are hapless dimwits. In reality, the American economy is in shambles and it took $billions of Fed funny munny to bail out the Wall Street crooks and prevent a total financial panic from occurring.

    Remember all of that talk about food and grain shortages? It is all gone from the headlines and according to the “experts”, it was just a blip on the radar. 4$ gallon gas? Hey, not to worry, everything is fine in America and the world so just go back to sleep people and dream… And when you wake up and find that rebate check in your mailbox go out and spend it on a new HDTV so that you can watch the presidential election circus in high resolution.

    500,000 children? Just another day at the office for the cause of “Truth, Justice and the American way”.

  8. To gain some historical perspective, here is how Curtis LeMay, who developed US strategic bombing during World War II, justified the fire bombing deaths of 100,000 Japanese civilians in a raid on Tokyo in 1945. This is how the New York Times reported his justification for killing 100,000 civilians in 1945:

    "Maj. Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, commander of the B-29s of the entire Marianas area, declared that if the war is shortened by a single day, the attack will have served its purpose."

    In other words, killing 100,000 innocent Japanese civilians, men, women, and children, is perfectly acceptable so long as the war is shortened by a day.

    How different is this from the statement by Madeleine Albright or the current US thinking on "collateral damage"?

  9. This amoral obsession with “strategic bombing” began during World War II when US bombing campaigns in Germany and Japan killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. Dresden was bombed specifically to kill German civilians, men, women, and children. Civilians were actually targeted, “collateral damage” was the objective. Hamburg was fire bombed, killing men, women, and children. Tokyo was also fire bombed, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed for no military purpose, in the strict sense. These genocidal atrocities were meant to send a message to the Japanese government: Surrender or we will obliterate all your cities. This is blatant genocide. It was rationalized as necessary to save American lives, to prevent the potential deaths of millions of American GIs. But is this a legitimate reason for killing hundreds of thousands of women and children and innocent civilians? Why not nuke Iraq and Iran right now! That will save thousands of American lives! Can you imagine the number of American lives we can save if we nuked Iraq today! Of course this is spurious logic and even more dubious morality.

    This mindset, however, is ingrained in the American psyche. The ends justify the means. Kill all the native American Indians and we will build a paradise in the New World. Enslave African-Americans and exploit their labor to make America prosperous and wealthy. After all, they are subhumans. Kill German and Japanese civilians, men, women, and children, to bring humanity to the world.

    This meme did not originate with Madeleine Albright. She just has internalized this pathological American obsession. Remember, Albright was born in Czechoslovakia and only came to America as an immigrant. This psychopathological ends-justify-the-means meme was something she plagiarized or took from others, the Curtis LeMays and other bombers. She just mindlessly parrots this meme developed by others.

    This meme is ingrained in American history with a long pedigree. We are witnessing only its current or most recent manifestations. Remember the bombing of Belgrade in 1999 to create an “independent Kosova”, an ethnically pure Albanian statelet? How many Serbian children had to die for the criminal US creation of a Greater Albania?

  10. I have a hypothetical question. Not looking for an arguement I just want to hear what people think. Here is the question.

    If the military knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Osama Bin Ladan, Aymin Al-Zawahiri, and 20 other very top Al-Quida leaders who planned 9/11 were hiding in some residential neighborhood? What should they do? Assume that the top leadership is meeting to plan a new, even more deadly wave of attacks. Assume also the the military estimates that between 20 and 30 innocent people, most of them children will also be killed.” What is the ethical thing to do?

    1. As a hypothetical question, this is an intriguing one, though why such an operation should entail collateral damage is unclear. I would think the ethical think to do would be to go ahead with the strike. Clearly, from the standpoint of minimizing the loss of innocent life, it is the best option. But your rhetorical stratagem is transparent. You will attempt to pull a bait and switch by likening to all instances of American strikes on civilian targets to this one, irrespective of whether or not they a) were legitimate, b) actually took pains to minimize civilian deaths and c) accomplished anything of use to their ostensible beneficiaries.

      1. No, not pulling any bait and swtich here. I just wanted to see what people thought. I also agree that we should take great pains to minimize civilian loss of life.

    2. .

      If the military knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Osama Bin Ladan, Aymin Al-Zawahiri, and 20 other very top Al-Quida leaders who planned 9/11 were hiding in some residential neighborhood? What should they do? –Tim R.

      That's an easy one: Send in Delta Force or equivalent — they're trained to differentiate between civilians and "bad guys." NOT killing the kids should be especially easy.

      And you might just get more useful information than if you blew them and the neighborhood into air pollution with the habitual bombs.

      Also, it would be good in Mr. bin Laden's case to put him on open trial for the 911 attacks, since, according to the FBI wanted poster on him, he is apparently only a SUSPECT in the 911 attacks. In fact, you have to read between the lines to even conclude that – – –

      Directly from the current FBI poster, bin Laden is wanted for:


      And elaborating:

      <blockquote cite>"Usama Bin Laden is wanted in connection with the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. These attacks killed over 200 people. In addition, Bin Laden is a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world."

      Isn't it odd that the FBI doesn't even mention 911?

      Over sight? On it's most wanted ever?? And why did Mr. Bush de-emphasize his capture?

      Did attorney Ron Kuby have something when he quipped on attacking even just Afghanistan, "It's ironic to me that we can commit a nation to war, even world war, on less evidence than it takes to convict someone for smoking a joint in downtown Manhattan." –FOX NEWS, October 30, 2001, 11:54:21

      That's the sort of thing that would make a public trial very interesting — not to mention highly "American" — at least in the pre-G.W. Bush United States. Don't you think?

      1. Right on target is you accept the hypothetical at all.

        A $2,000,000 missile to neutralize thirty dire threats supposedly sitting in one place is one of the unstated cryptotypes. But cheaper rockets or bombs and air strikes are also there, as are spraying and praying in which a lot of innocent bystanders become the enemy only after they are killed.

        So part of the hypothetical as phrased is the hidden message–“Using tool X, which causes civilian casualties predictable in amount y, is morally justified”.

        Why worry?

        How about if they all could be more effectively killed with a trenching tool?

        But there are other hidden types–that anything is precisely predictable, including civilian casualties.

        Who are the objective statisticians cross-referencing claims in the past with the present, and investigating the predictability of the predictability?

        Finally, who the hell is “Osama bin Ladin” and why is he used in the hypothetical at all?

        Ah, I see–“the incarnation of evil” and the “direst of dire threats.”

        In next week’s hypothetical will it be an Iranian?

        Finally, stated functorially, where comes the predictability of, “if Z is allowed to continue to exist and plan, horrible event E, which is preventable, will happen. Can we kill a few score kids to prevent E and remain ‘ethical’?”

        And what is the predictability of missing Z, not stopping E, and killing innocent kids in amount y anyway?

        By the time Air Force pilots finish their training do you think they are about to enquire whether any of the numbers they are given to salve their consciences, if they have one, are valid.

        How about this hyptothetical–instead of killing y amount of what is implied are subhuman wog civilian children, rather to take out Incarnation of Evil Z will kill 1,000 friendlies, including Air Force pilots, and all their family and friends?

        Worthless hypotheticals like this have been popular since WWII.

        The ancients did it better, and mainly for entertainment, which also included the absurdities of lawyers.

        Did Free Fire Zones lose the “war” in Vietnam? The North Vietnamese likely had no trouble seeing exactly why that might have been true. The US military brass are still sitting in darkness covering their own moronic rearends with a fully inserted digit of what they happen to have at hand.

        Is it even imaginable these days that a nation might have a huge and useless technological military establishment that no longer can be used in large part because using it loses wars?

    3. How about 40,50, 1000,10000 or hundered of thousands of innocent civilians would be killed to avenge 9/11.Is 20 or 30 accepetable .Would you allow the other side to use the samr argument against you.Remember,that sdam was so bad that he used chemical weapons aginst Kurdish rebels but teh US used 2 atomic bombs aginst Japan to shorten the war and save American lives.But Sadam was not allowed the use the same reason!

    4. f the military knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Osama Bin Ladan, Aymin Al-Zawahiri, and 20 other very top Al-Quida leaders who planned 9/11 were hiding in some residential neighborhood? What should they do?

      Send in the “special ops/special forces” ground teams that we hear so much praise about and “surgically remove” (to borrow a popular piece of Pentagonese) the high-profile targets with minimal “collateral” casualties (even if there were “collateral” casualties from such a raid, they would be considerably fewer in number than in the aftermath of an air attack). Let the Pentagon put its money where its mouth is. Why on earth would offensive air power even be needed at all in this hypothetical situation?

    5. tell them the CIA has their next payment waiting for them down at the corner store and when they come down to pick up their checks they should handcuff them.

  11. This is the reason, in my opinion, why young men grow up such blockheads in the schools, because they neither see nor hear one single thing connected with the usual circumstances of everyday life, nothing but stuff about pirates lurking on the seashore with fetters in their hands, tyrants issuing edicts to compel sons to cut off their own fathers’ heads, oracles in times of pestilence commanding three virgins or more to be sacrificed to stay the plague,– honey-sweet, well-rounded sentences, words and facts alike as it were, besprinkled with poppy and sesame.

    Under such a training it is no more possible to acquire good taste than it is not to stink, if you live in a kitchen. Give me leave to tell you that you rhetoricians are chiefly to blame for the ruin of Oratory, for with your silly, idle phrases, meant only to tickle the ears of an audience, you have enervated and deboshed the very substance of true eloquence….

    [Tr. Allinson]

      1. Arbiter?

        A vexed question.

        You don’t have the time. And neither do I at the moment.

        1. Looking back, as I knew at the time, I had the privilege of hearing and reading Petroniuis with a very great, mild-mannered, soft-spoken man, Professor John Heller, who swam in Latin from the Remains of Old through Vesalius and beyond. I have not bothered to look at the Latin from which the above derives. It’s available online in fairly decent dress, and from a quick glance is lively enough and makes the point.

          The dead giveaway of the hypotheticalists in arguing for their case is how they craft the emotional limits for widest appeal.

          Meanwhile they spray-paint “Ethics” as their gang sign.

    1. So you blame our young men’s minds rather than the public education process itself?

    2. The fact that Hillary hired this monster back that quoted this comment, “500,000 dead Iraqi children was worth it”, which Madeleine Albright had quoted in 96′ about sanctions on Iraq and was soo wrong and then Clinton hired the monster back as a foreign policy advisor. This says much about Clinton.

      1. Clinton and Bush are two sides of the same worthless coin. But, though Clinton (and many before) prepared the ground, he could never have engineered the disaster that Bush and Cheney and the rest have engineered in a mere eight years.

        Fallon just voiced some nonsense about supporting Israel for “a thousand years”. Did you read that by any chance. Try not to think of the Third Reich.

        A thousand years ago there was no English language.

        So where to put Fallon on the scale of American blockheads?

        The Iranians are not impressed. Every day the Americans look more and more like the Mongols.

        1. …US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said Sunday that he hopes the time does not arrive when the US decides to discontinue sanctions against Iran and instead tries to solve the nuclear standoff militarily. “I hope the US does not get into a situation where we get into a military conflict with Iran,” Mullen told Channel 10. Concerning the Syrian nuclear faculty reportedly bombed by Israel and which the CIA said was being built with North Korean help, Mullen called the situation “troubling.” He went on to say that the US has “has been at Israel’s side for all of 60 years, it will be for the next 60 years, 100 years and 1,000 years.

          [Jerusalem Post]

        2. When Hitler began World War II proclaiming “a thousand year Reich,” he had no idea that the consequence of his aggression would be a Germany politically impotent for 60 years and now about to become a mere province in a European state. Hitler could not have imagined that the consequence of his “final solution” would be a Jewish state armed with a powerful psychological weapon that prohibits criticism of Israel’s own expansionist policy.

          Bush’s military adventure also will have unintended consequences….

          [Paul Craig Roberts November 25, 2003]

        3. In and of himself, Strauss seems at best a sophist, and a very slippery one at that.

          Only the Marxists, who at their best are cutting and unequaled political, social, and economic critics, saw through him quickly.

          Nor does one have to be a Marxist to say or recognize that.

          What makes Strauss and his followers so dangerous and effective in their incompetence is that he has a dialectic, as Xenos, for example, recognizes.

          Moreover, this dialectic mimics and matches the traditional American “religious” pathology in several important ways.

          What Xenos does not recognize, or, if he does, only implies, is that the dialectic is more or less completely presentist, and precisely tailored for popular American consumption and manipulation.

          Phrased this way the larger context also takes on significance.

          The Straussian dialectic is synchronic where the Hegelian dialectic is diachronic.

          There lies another correspondence with Hitler and the Nazis.

          It also explains, in a roundabout fashion admittedly, how someone like Mullen, whether he has read a word or Strauss or not, is so casual in defining a United States whose “Reich” will protect “Israel” for a millennium.

          As some of the contributors to antiwar seem to understand, the lunatics are in charge of the asylum.

          What does it mean, however, to realize your political structure is in the hands of certified madmen?

          How is that someone like Congressman Paul is not sufficiently a Constitutionalist to see that his strongest and best response at this moment is both structural and existential–to join Wexler and Kucinich and to lead other Republicans into joining similarly minded Democrats to impeach Cheney immediately?

          Has Paul in fact been bought off? Or was he only play-acting with the Constitution to begin with? Does he have a hidden agenda? Is he a lot less intelligent than some of his supporters take him for?

          Is he being blackmailed? No honest man can be blackmailed.

          I will leave all that to the Paulists to try to answer.

          To date, all they have accomplished so far politically, is to defuse and confuse what began as a strong antiwar movement, first with the election of Democrats to Congress, second with the presidential campaign.

          It is no defense to say that many of the Democrats, led or intimidated by Pelosi, seem to have gone the same route.

          Paul Craig Roberts, for one, and whatever one thinks of his political attitudes, or even his economic program, saw all this early and very presciently, and had the courage to stand up and say it.

          Not many seem to be listening to him.

          Without a Constitution there is no Constitution in common.

          Without a Constitution in common, and as the basis for further dialogue if only in the matter of limits, or lack of limits, according to which the American political process unfolds, there is really very little to talk about.

  12. Ah, but to tickle ears and numb mimes,
    and pick pockets, and sell a war,
    and kill civilians including millions of children,
    for young soldiers too are children…

  13. The hypothetical question of whether the US military would bomb a residence where it knew Bin Ladin and his top 20 aides were hiding even if meant killing 20 innocent civilians could have surprizing answers. First, amongst the military planners, moral concerns for the civilians would be non existant; we have come way past that point. Anyone who could even think about it, has had their career aborted a long time ago. We are now run by the obermensch, who are totally immoral. The only concern would be whether destroying the Al Quaeda, would put too much public pressure on ending the War on Terror. Bin Ladin is just too valuable to the Neo-cons to kill. Speaking of hypothetical questions, the debate question “What would you do if Iran attacked Israe with a nuke?” should have had the corollary (the much more likely scenario), “What would you do if Israel attacked Iran with a nuke?” I would pay $20 to hear Hillary answer that one.

  14. Maron! Talk about the incompetent pseudo-macho cheeches that are running the US Military and the Government, even the Outfit, which was not long on ethics outside certain simple rules, knew killing civilians was bad for business:

    Cosa Nostra enforced its will by force and violence. It broke the legs and heads of debtors running late on the “vigorish” due to their loansharks; it burned down buildings to terrorize its victims; it corrupted unions to enforce its edicts and ruined businessmen to coerce their unwilling co-operation. Men in the crime families, who broke the code of omerta or silence, were murdered without compunction. Informers, or rats as they were known, were slaughtered as a matter of course — a dead canary stuffed down their throat. A man obsessed with greed would die, and every orifice in his body would be stuffed with money as a warning to others. Someone who dipped into the Mob’s money would be found dead with his hands chopped off. Gigolos who indulged in extramarital affairs with the wives or girl friends of “wise guys” would be left dead, brutally mutilated, their genitals stuffed down their throat. When they left a message, Cosa Nostra did so in the knowledge that it would act as a deterrent to most potential transgressors.

    They rarely, if ever, murdered people outside the finite boundaries of their own criminal perimeters. The deliberate killing of law enforcement officials and civilians created too much heat and indignation from the public, and consequent police harassment.

    The murder of Everett Hatcher, a DEA agent, by an associate of the Bonanno crime family on February 28th, 1989, was a rare exception to a rule that was rigidly enforced.

    His killing exemplified the furor that could be created by this kind of stupidity. The DEA swamped New York with 400 agents and these agents, in conjunction with the local police, pressure and relentless FBI coercion, created so much trouble for the Mob, that they themselves removed Gus Farace, the killer, permanently, as a source of irritation….

    [Thomas L. Jones Act of Evil]


  15. Before a war military science seems a real science, like astronomy; but after a war it seems more like astrology.

    Rebecca West

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