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Friday, January 11, 2008


The air war in Iraq

Here's the lead from today's Los Angeles Times article about the latest airstrikes in Iraq (emphasis added):
U.S. warplanes hammered suspected Sunni militant hide-outs on the southern outskirts of Baghdad on Thursday as part of a wide-ranging military assault on Al Qaeda in Iraq around the country.

American aircraft dropped 49,000 pounds of bombs on the lush farm region of Arab Jabour, said military spokeswoman Maj. Alayne Conway, who called it "one of the largest airstrikes since the onset of the war."
So the mere suspicion that there were "militant hide-outs" was enough to launch "one of the largest airstrikes" since the war began. But way down in the 23rd and nearly last paragraph (it was the last in the copy I read in print), we get to this:
[Defense Secretary Robert M.] Gates said he believed that Al Qaeda in Iraq had been largely eliminated from Baghdad and Anbar province, and has been squeezed into northern provinces.
So AQI has been squeezed into northern provinces, and "largely eliminated" from areas further south, yet this circumstance warrants "one of the largest airstrikes since the onset of the war" south of Baghdad. Hmmm.

I was particularly amused by this section of the article:

A spokesman for an Awakening Council...said Thursday that civilians had been trapped in the Arab Jabour region by the heavy military activity in recent days.

Alaa Ithawi, the spokesman, said the Americans had told Arab Jabour residents to move 10 days earlier, but not all had done so. He acknowledged that extremists operated in the area, but said the bombings risked alienating more people.

"People are admitting there are gunmen, but to have civilians as targets is a crime against humanity," Ithawi said.

There was no way to confirm his allegations.
Which allegations couldn't be confirmed? That targeting civilians (or targeting a civilian area without making the slightest effort to determine if civilians are still present) constitutes a crime against humanity?

Out now! All out. And that means especially the air force. This story, incidentally, points to the fallacy of the argument that the U.S. can't withdraw "immediately." Sure, it will take some time just logistically to evacuate all the troops. But the U.S. could stop offensive (in both senses of the word) actions like this anytime they wanted. And the incident also points to the fallacy of the position of those, like most of the leading Democrats, who claim they want all troops out of Iraq "except for anti-terrorist activities." Because, as I've written many times before, all the actions of the U.S. armed forces are described as "anti-terrorist" in nature, just like the actions of the Columbian armed forces against the FARC, the Israeli armed forces against Palestinian resistance fighters, and many other struggles around the globe. The position of wanting to continue "only" anti-terrorist activities in Iraq is one more of those "last refuges of scoundrels."

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