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

London Trades Antiwar Leftist for Antiwar Rightist

London voters just voted out Ken Livingstone, the iconoclast left-wing antiwar mayor and replaced him with the iconoclast right-wing antiwar Boris Johnson.

Livingstone was a strong opponent of the Iraq War, and has spoken the connection between an imperialist foreign policy and terrorism at home. He has been a figurehead for the UK antiwar movement and the keynote speaker at several antiwar protests.

I don’t like Boris Johnson’s statements about Muslims, and I know I will get criticism from some of our readers for saying something nice about him, but here goes:

Johnson is not a neocon. In fact, he comes from the same sort of paleo-conservative roots as Pat Buchanan. He is opposed to British imperial dreams, and is in direct conflict with much of the UK Conservative Party.

In the last few years, he has been a strong opponent of the Iraq War, the rush to war with Iran, and Blair’s crackdown on civil liberties. Here are a few examples that we have run on Antiwar.com:

We must not let Bush wage war against Iran

I’ll go to jail to print the truth about Bush and al-Jazeera

Blair’s crackdown on freedom is an inspiration to tyrants

The war in Iraq was based on a lie – and policing Basra is an illusion

I remember the quiet day we lost the war in Iraq

Union Shuts West Coast Ports in Antiwar Protest

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union brought all ports on the US west coast in a one-day protest against the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Union said some 10,000 workers joined the antiwar protest, spurred in part by its belief that big shipping companies are profiting from the war.

“Longshore workers are standing down on the job and standing up for America,” said ILWU International President Bob McEllrath. “We’re supporting the troops and telling politicians in Washington that it’s time to end the war in Iraq.”

The San Francisco office of the ILWU sent over these photos of their rally in San Francisco (click on each for a larger version).

Scalia: ‘Torture Is Not Punishment’

In an interview on last Sunday’s 60 Minutes, Leslie Stahl asked if the term “cruel and unusual punishment” applies to someone “being brutalized by a law enforcement person,” Scalia replied:

“To the contrary, has anybody ever referred to torture as punishment? I don’t think so.”

The exchange continued:

“Well, I think if you are in custody, and you have a policeman who’s taken you into custody…,” Stahl says.

“And you say he’s punishing you?” Scalia asks.

“Sure,” Stahl replies.

“What’s he punishing you for? You punish somebody…,” Scalia says.

“Well because he assumes you, one, either committed a crime…or that you know something that he wants to know,” Stahl says.

“It’s the latter. And when he’s hurting you in order to get information from you…you don’t say he’s punishing you. What’s he punishing you for? He’s trying to extract…,” Scalia says.

“Because he thinks you are a terrorist and he’s going to beat the you-know-what out of you…,” Stahl replies.

“Anyway, that’s my view,” Scalia says. “And it happens to be correct.”

Long WWII Tours Not an Issue?

I think highly of Ivan Eland as a person and as a foreign policy analyst. His piece on today’s site on the danger of recruiting into the military people with bad records of behavior is on target. On the way to making his points, though, Ivan writes the following:

One problem is that when the U.S. is not fighting a war against what the American public perceives as a dire threat (for example, the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese during World War II) – that is, the war is one of choice, such as Iraq or Vietnam – the nation is unwilling to make the sacrifices needed to win. In World War II, serving more than 12 months overseas was not an issue.

Is he sure that these tours were not an issue? Or could it be that people didn’t dare protest because they feared being accused of being unpatriotic or even feared being punished if they protested? After all, many of them probably knew how Woodrow Wilson had handled dissent during World War I. Maybe they learned the lesson. There is far too much nostalgia about World War II but, interestingly, less so from people who were actually in it. When I was a child in the 1950s and 1960s, I couldn’t get WWII vets to say much about their experiences. Maybe they thought no one would really listen.

But we need to listen. Next time you talk to a World War II vet, make sure you don’t presume to know what he thought and felt.

Two final notes about Ivan’s use of language. First, nations don’t make sacrifices; people do. Second, any war a government engages in is a war of choice. Even if your side is attacked, going to war is still a choice. It might be a good choice, but it’s a choice.