Runcible Blog

Old News

This is somewhat old news (Sept. 2002), but I thought it was an interesting article and still relevant to our upcoming Gulf War II. The Bombing of Afghanistan as Reflection of 9/11 and Different Valuations of Life by Marc Herold. From the article:
A weak president was able to turn this into the quick-fix of a revenge attack upon Afghanistan. A quick response was also desired by our culture with its penchant for the fast, the instant, the get-to-the-solution. A strong president would, instead, have stood tall and demanded the patience and resolve of the American public in tracking down the criminal perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, using the combined powers of the international intelligence communities.

There are those who would criticize the author for neglecting America's loss and focusing entirely on foreign deaths, but as the author states, "I have chosen, today as we remember, to focus upon Afghanistan because it is the lesser known of the twin tragedies. It is the 'Other' tragedy." If the mainstream media had done it's job of reporting the facts and providing a balanced story, there would be no need for articles like these. Here's a fancy graph: graph

"To say that the civilian deaths from aerial bombardment are unintentional is sophistry, because if there is a probability that the bombs will hit civilian targets, then ipso facto the civilian deaths are not unintentional. This is tantamount to saying that a drunk driver who did not intend to kill someone in an "accident" should be set free for lacking of such intention...aerial bombardment always already intends to kill civilians, despite the best intentions of military planners."

The above quote reminded me of a recent cable news anchor interviewing a retired general or some other "expert" and mentioning "...a war with Iraq could mean possible casualties..." Hello? "possible casualties" in a war? Of course there will be casualties, and lots of them! The problem is that Americans are largely blind to all the death that war brings. Even in the last Gulf War, the media was kept far away from the front lines, and most of the war footage was coming from the DOD, particularly all the video game "smart"-bomb cameras. Don't think the military isn't carefully controlling what we see. In an article entitled What Bodies?, Patrick Sloyan describes one battle in Iraq and the ensuing cover-up by the army. It is a literal "cover-up" -- the "Armored Combat Earth" movers' jobs are to go through the battle field and plow over all the dead bodies. Think about that. Finally, back to the original article:

"Washington's war on terrorism is primarily a euphemism for extending US control in the world. Following its bombing of Iraq, the US wound up with military bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar. Following its bombing of Yugoslavia, the US wound up with military bases in Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Hungary, Bosnia and Croatia. Following its bombing of Afghanistan, Washington appears on course to wind up with military bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and perhaps elsewhere in the region. Thus does the empire grow."

By all accounts, the "clock is ticking" toward a war with Iraq(even though the president originally said there was no timetable...). It may be too late to stop the clock, but it's important for Americans to see the real toll on human life that war takes and the priorities our culture (not to mention the culture of terrorism) places regarding the value of one person's life over another's. Do life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness not apply to the rest of the world's civilians?