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Iraq: more bombs « Previous | |Next »
November 9, 2004

Iraq has lost about 100,000 people during the American invasion and occupation. Almost all were killed by coalition air strikes. More deaths are on the way now that the US assault on the Sunni city of Fallujah has begun. Early reports indicate that two bridges spanning the Euphrates River plus two hospitals have been captured.

Why raze the hospitals to the ground? To play down Iraqi civilian deaths and to pretend that the military strike is surgical, efficient and clean? Jean at Body and Soul thinks this is a real possibility.

The Guardian captures the US spin on the US assault on the Sunni city of Fallujah that seems to accepted by the American media:

"...a city the size of Brighton is now only ever referred to as a "militants' stronghold" or "insurgents' redoubt". The city is being "softened up" with precision attacks from the air. Pacifying Falluja has become the key to stabilising the country ahead of the January elections. The "final assault" is imminent, in which the foreigners who have infiltrated the almost deserted Iraqi city with their extremist Islam will be "cleared", "rooted out" or "crushed". Or, as one marine put it: "We will win the hearts and minds of Falluja by ridding the city of insurgents. We're doing that by patrolling the streets and killing the enemy."

We can expect ever more carnage since the US message is resist us and we will destroy you. Fallujah has to be destroyed in order to save it. Australia is a party to this laying waste to a city.

The standard defence by the Australian Government is that as Iraqis are better off without Saddam Hussein, so the killing of Iraqi civilians is justified. Does that mean the 'Coalition of the Willing' can kill as many Iraqi's as Saddam and still claim legitimacy?

The kind of military overkill in Fallujah is part of the geo-political strategy of 'staying the course.' The US is doing this in the same way as France stayed the course in Algeria in the 1950s, as the US stayed the course in Vietnam in the 1960s, and as the Israelis are staying the course in occupied Palestine. Staying the course in these cases means adopting a military solution to political problem. That strategy does not achieve peace or security in a situation of a war of national self-determination.

So argues Richard Polk over at Juan Cole's Informed Comment. The other option is Vietnamization involving creating and train the army of the client regime, equip it and then turn the war over to it. Polk says that the best best the US might gain from this option "is a fig leaf to hide defeat; the worst, in a rapid collapse, would be humiliating evacuation, as in Vietnam."

The best option says Falk is for the US to choose to get out rather than being forced. His arguments are compelling. Have a read when you have a moment.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:30 AM | | Comments (5)


100,000 slain Iraqis? How many World Trade Centres does that equate to? (Not that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11).

Rumsfeld feigns outrage against insurgents who "chop heads off" - shock, horror! As gruesome as decapitation is, how can it possibly compare to the massive carnage inflicted by US WMD that have killed and maimed so many Iraqi civilians.

Your figure of 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths (besides being based on a study that's been largely discredited) is made even more ridiculous by your statement "Almost all were killed by coalition air strikes..."

The study in "The Lancet" made the following points:

1. Unknown number of deaths due to reduced health care services as a result of the war.
2. Unknown number of deaths attributable to breakdown in law and order.
3. Unknown number of Iraqi on Iraqi deaths due to suicide car bombs, IED's, etc.
4. Unkown number of deaths of Iraqis who WERE ACTUALLY SHOOTING AT AMERICANS (Terrorists...or maybe you prefer Michael Moore's "Minutemen.")

The outrageous claims of 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians will be a figure that will never die. Like the 100,000 Iraqis who "died" during the first Gulf War that after a careful study done by the UN was found to be closer to 7,500, your contention that they died in coalition air strikes is ludicrous.

The numbers of Iraqi's killed do vary a lot ranging from the estimate of the British Foreign Secretary that the number of civilian deaths at 10,000. 14,000-16000 at IraqbodyCount to the Lancelet's 100,000. I'm happy to put a big question mark over the 100,000 until something more authoritative comes along.

I was wrong about the air strike claim and I stand corrected.Thanks for pointing the mistake out.

The point of the post was not about numbers, which are going to be dubious. The post was to use the above to question a standard argument.I quote:

"The standard defence by the Australian Government is that as Iraqis are better off without Saddam Hussein, so the killing of Iraqi civilians is justified. Does that mean the 'Coalition of the Willing' can kill as many Iraqi's as Saddam and still claim legitimacy?"

At what point does the legitimacy start wearing thin? It is a question that both left and right can and should address.

My way of addressing the issue is to say that with Fallujah Iraq has changed from occupation to civil war. Iraqi's are now fighting Iraq's.

And there is no way the US can win this militarily.A political problem needs a political solution.Richard Falk suggests one in the linked article.

So what is wrong with his suggestion?

From your side what has to happen before the US says enough is enough? Before it is not worth it. Does Iraq have to become another Vietnam situation.

The Viet Nam analogy is way out of line. I've done numerous posts about the willingness of the Iraqi people to fight for their country against the few Saddam bitter enders and the REAL enemies of both the Iraqi people and the US...Zarqawi and his islamofacists and so-called "foreign fighters" sneaking in from Iran and Syria (and probably a goodly number from Saudi Arabia).

Your argument presupposes an infinite number of terrorists and foreign fighters. What is going on underneath the radar of the media is something truly revolutionary and extraordinary. I'm sure you'd agree that, for any "insurgency" to be successful, there must be at least some kind of base of support amongst the people. THERE IS NO SUPPORT FOR ZARQAWI'S JIHADIS OR FOR THE REMNANTS OF SADDAM'S FEYDAHEEN MILITIAS!

Witness Najaf. Sadr, while in control, was extraordinarily unpopular. His brand of radical Islam was rejected by the people of that city who welcomed the Iraqi National Guard (symbol of the illegitimate government?) with open arms. Najaf today is being rebuilt and it's people EVERY DAY show their gratitude and support for the Americans on patrol there.

Mr. Polk tries to draw parallels where none exist...besides, who would we "sit down" with? Zarqawi? Excuse me, but that's a load of crap. Any President who trusted that murderous thug should be impeached, tarred and feathered, and run out of the country on a rail.

Face it..there is no Ho Chi Mihn, or as John Kerry called him, the "George Washington" of Viet Nam (one more reason that slug shouldn't have been let near the White House.) This "civil war" you and Mr. Polk speak of is not yet a reality...although I'll grant the possibility IF we can't get all factions of Iraq to participate in the January elections.

I'd point out that the other American "stooge" Mr. Karzai in Afghanistan was elected by 55% of the people last month in what every observer has agreed was a free and fair election. Mr. Polk in his editorial talks about the "illegitimcy" of the Iraqi government in the eyes of the people. In fact, every survey I've seen pegs the number who accept the government of Mr. Allawi at 60-65% (more people I dare say who accepted George Bush as the "legitimate" President of the United States.)

This does not address your concern about civilian casualities. What do you do when the fighters in Fallujah deliberately use civilians as human shields? Their purpoes? To use people like you in the west and the arab media to do what they themselves cannot do...defeat the US on the field of battle. Why are you so willing to do their work for them. Whose side are you on?

For make no mistake...there ARE sides to be taken here. This IS a black and white, us VS them, good VS evil war. The nuances and gray areas drop away to reveal stark and unmistakable choices.

I wish it wasn't so.

'To use people like you in the west and the arab media to do what they themselves cannot do...defeat the US on the field of battle. Why are you so willing to do their work for them. Whose side are you on?'