If things run on schedule, Mr. Obama will announce tomorrow that he and his organization will be sending approximately 34,000 more U.S. troops to harass and sometimes kill men, women and children (as “collateral damage”) in Afghanistan. And then he has to sell his unpopular decision. If previous statements are any guide, his main excuse will be “We have to deny al’Qaeda ‘safe haven’.”
Any given day in Iraq includes a distressingly long list of casualties, but what about the stories behind those incidents? Here’s one from today which I thought warranted some expounding on:
Under the headline Terrorist hideout destroyed, a military press release touts the raid of a suspected “terrorist hideout”, the killing of a “terrorist” and the capture of 15 men.
How do we know it’s a terrorist hideout? Surveillance determined that the building contained “stockpiled food”, 12 bedrolls, and perhaps most damning of all, “men’s clothing”. How do we know the slain man was a terrorist? Well he was “near the target building” and made an unspecified sudden movement before being killed. Oh, and those 15 men who were captured? Well 3 of them were actually “wanted” for some crime or another. That would imply the other 12 were “unwanted”, wouldn’t it?
Here’s something conspicuously absent: weapons. Nowhere in the report is it alleged that this vitally important terrorist hideout, the destruction of which would, according to the story, “further degrade al-Qaeda’s terror network”, contained any IEDs, or explosive components, or the dreaded Iranian EFPs. Not one of these hardened al-Qaeda members was reported to be armed, and the story contains not one mention of a weapons cache, or even a single round of ammunition being present in the house: just food, and clothing.
And that “threatening” man somewhere near the building, the one so ably gunned down by Coalition forces? There is nothing in the story to suggest that he had a gun, or a suicide belt, or even a really pointy-looking stick. Just a guy, standing somewhere in Mosul, who made a sudden movement after being accosted by an unknown number of foreign troops. Now and forever though, he is a “killed terrorist”.
Says MNF Spokesman Major Hall â€œOur pursuit of these terrorists will continue to disrupt their ability to hinder the security, stability, and growth that Iraqi citizens are entitled to” Yet one must wonder how 15 unarmed guys in a building containing food and clothing posed such a dire threat to the citizenry of Iraq.
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.
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.
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?