Thursday, January 17, 2008

The air war

The U.S. military conducted more than five times as many airstrikes in Iraq last year as it did in 2006, targeting al-Qaeda safe houses, insurgent bombmaking facilities and weapons stockpiles in an aggressive strategy aimed at supporting the U.S. troop increase by overwhelming enemies with air power.
[. . .]

The U.S.-led coalition dropped 1,447 bombs on Iraq last year, an average of nearly four a day, compared with 229 bombs, or about four each week, in 2006.
[. . .]
The greater reliance on air power has raised concerns from human rights groups, which say that 500-pound and 2,000-pound munitions threaten civilians, especially when dropped in residential neighborhoods where insurgents mix with the population. The military assures that the precision attacks are designed to minimize civilian casualties -- particularly as Petraeus's counterinsurgency strategy emphasizes moving more troops into local communities and winning over the Iraqi population -- but rights groups say bombings carry an especially high risk.
"The Iraqi population remains at risk of harm during these operations," said Eliane Nabaa, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq. "The presence of individual combatants among a great number of civilians does not alter the civilian character of an area."

The above, noted by Lloyd and Martha, is from Josh White's "U.S. Boosts Its Use of Airstrikes In Iraq" (Washington Post). The air war is not a way to 'win' the illegal war, it is a way to wipe out entire segments of the population. It is a way to kill people -- including many innocent civilians -- and hope to terrorize the people of Iraq so much that they'll go along with whatever the US wants. It is meant to confuse them, to terrorize them (it is terrorism) and to coherce them. There is nothing humane or legal about what is being done. Is a last resort for bullies who can't get their way and decide from the comfort of the White House that just killing entire segments of the people is fine since nothing else has worked.

Nothing will work and the beefed up bombings are included in that. It's the desperation factor from the White House as it sinks in that the illegal war will be the hallmark of the legacy and they resort to any tactic that might bring the levels of violence (towards the US in Iraq) down enough that they can slink off, crawl away on their bellies, saying, "When we left the White House, we were 'winning'."

This is what tax dollars are spent on instead of health care, instead of reparing the United States. The money is poured into bombing innocent people, into attempting to blackmail and terrorize a people. It's disgusting and it can't be prettied up by the press no matter how much some might want to try.

It's collective punishment and it's against international law. And it demonstrates just how lost the illegal war is that 'democracy' comes via bombing raids.

People can close their eyes or offer justifications all the want but the realities of the illegal war aren't going away. Leila Fadel's "Kuwait still wounded" (Baghdad Observer, McClatchy News) offers realities observed next door in Kuwait:

But popular support for the war next door has waned. While Saddam Hussein's capture and execution were welcomed in Kuwait the deterioration of a nation caught people off guard.
A Kuwaiti friend explained it to me in simple terms.
"Before they had water, now they do not. Before they had electricity now they do not, before they had security now they do not," she said. "This was not liberation or democracy."
Her mother sat nearby.
"They liberated us after they gave Iraq the green light to invade,” she said. “This is not friendship."

In the New York Times this morning, Stephen Farrell offers "Bomb Attack by Woman Near Mosque Kills 8 in Iraq:"

A woman carried out a suicide bombing near a Shiite mosque in Diyala Province on Wednesday, killing at least eight people. The attack provoked Shiite militiamen to use mortars against a nearby Sunni village in retaliation.

Like Farrell, Garrett Therolf and Kimi Yoshino (Los Angeles Times) note that this is the fourth female 'suicide bomber' in the Diyala Province since November and they note:

Female suicide bombers remain rare, but the U.S. military said they are an increasing threat."We have indications that Al Qaeda is trying to recruit more female suicide bombers," said Col. Donald Bacon, a U.S. military spokesman. "They think that the female suicide bombers can infiltrate defenses more easily or they may have more chance for success in their operation. They tend not to be searched as closely."

The best recruting tool for Iraqi violence aimed at the US remains the ongoing illegal war.

Brandon notes this from Tina Richards' Grassroots of America:

***Forward Far and Wide***
Government attempting to restrict use of National MallTake action right now to defend free speech rights!
NPS has Declared a February 1st Deadline. Don't Delay!!!It Only Takes an E-Mail!!!
At a public meeting called by the National Park Service on Saturday, January 12 in Washington, D.C., representatives from Grassroots America, the Partnership for Civil Justice, ANSWER Coalition, Nicaragua Network, and others demanded that there be no new restrictions placed on the right of the people to access the National Mall for free speech activities.
The National Park Service (NPS) is undertaking an initiative similar to that launched to exclude protests from New York City's Great Lawn. It will be used to further restrict or ban protest on the Mall from current levels. This is a component of a nationwide campaign of corporate-sponsored organizations working in partnership with government entities that claim that protests, rallies and demonstrations harm grass or "green space" or "natural resources" and must therefore be restricted or banned or shunted off to designated protest pits.
I refuse to ever be placed into a protest pit. Freedom of speech is not restricted to a specified place. It is guaranteed under our Constitution and extends across America. The Bush White House plans to complete this process by January, 2009, the very last month that Bush will remain in office. It is his final strike to our Constitution.
(NPS prefers email)
NPS/DSC/Planning -- National Mall Plan
12795 W. Alameda Pkwy
Denver, CO 80225
It is urgent that people around the country take action to stop the plan of the Bush Administration's Interior Department to obstruct free speech rights for mass assembly protest in Washington, D.C.
The Jan. 12 public meeting was intended to have low attendance to allow the government to claim public involvement while simultaneously excluding it. When confronted with the fact that they had done no legitimate outreach about the public meeting to the hundreds of thousands of people who have actually used the National Mall, the President of the Trust for the National Mall responded that she had sent notice to the Board of Trade! The NPS issues 3,000 permits a year for the use of the National Mall, but there has been no effort to notify any of those organizations about the proposed changes. Their attempt to exclude people from this process could not be more clear.
At the hearing the officials tried to quiet the outraged voices of the people, to change the topic of discussion, and to dismiss their concerns. They did, however, keep saying, just send us a message on-line. That is what we are asking everyone to do today.
The government is trying to end the public "comment" period by February 1, 2008. We are demanding that a moratorium be declared so that the people of this country can have an opportunity to disseminate and register their voice. The National Mall belongs to the people, not the government. Speak now so we keep it that way.
Grassroots America is attempting a mass mailing to those members without email.
Please click this link to make your donation right now.
"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part, you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!" - Mario Savio
Tina Richards
Grassroots America, A Non Profit

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