Friday, January 28, 2005

Expletive deleted

I've had to retype this post now, because blogger sucks.

Before the election down south, the British medical journal Lancet (peer-reviewed and everything) released a study estimating that 100,000 Iraqi civilians had died during the occupation. What attention did the free press of the world's greatest democracy pay to this troubling assessment?

[crickets chirping]

Actually, it's much worse than that - if the press had simply ignored the study, that would have been one thing. Instead, the press actively undermined the public perception of the survey's accuracy. Doug Ireland has the details.

Can we all please cut the bullshit about "clean" wars and "smart" bombs? Even if a relatively small bomb hits its intended target, these things explode. The fatality-causing radius for a small laser-guided bomb is something on the order of 30m. The injury-causing radius is much larger. Bombing anything in an urban environment is going to kill people unnecessarily. Especially when the entire war is unnecessary, but that's another issue...

More broadly, we have to understand what militaries do. Any military - US, Canada, Iceland, whatever - destroys things. The better the military, the faster and more efficiently they fuck shit up. Militaries are really not meant for humanitarian intervention. Especially in a case like Iraq, where policy is apparently to fight a war and keep the peace at the same time, which as anyone can grasp are two diametrically opposite goals.

Before the Russo-Japanese War 0f 1904-5, the Russian foreign minister opined that Russia needed "a short, victorious war" to unite the people and quell dissent. What the Czar got was catastrophic defeat which nearly sparked off the Bolshevik revolution twelve years early. If our leaders should have one thing tattooed on the inside of their eyelids, it's "Wars Are Never Painless". Of course, in most administrations, cabinets, and palaces, that kind of talk is dismissed as defeatism anyway, so it's probably all for naught.

I've been reading John Stoessinger's "Why Nations Go To War", which has an interesting account of the Iran-Iraq war - news flash: Hussein was a nasty guy. But a question popped in to my mind: the US was willing (or enthusiastic) to support Iraq in it's desire to capture the western Iranian oil fields during 1980-89 (mainly later in the war, after some startling Iranian successes.) As you can see in this map, Iran's oil industry is almost exclusively concentrated in the Iraqi border regions. So why was Husseins posession of Iranian oil okay, while Hussein's posession of Kuwaiti oil sparked off one of the largest conflagrations in decades?

I'd always been skeptical about the notion that the US induced the First Gulf War by giving Hussein the green light... I may have to reconsider.

No comments: