Home of the Brave?



Several years ago, I warned that as the Bush/Cheney administration sought to reduce politically problematic casualty rates in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would resort to increased use of air attacks to combat the growing insurgency in Iraq and the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.

I also predicted that the result of this switch in tactics would lead to higher civilian casualties in those two countries.

We’re now seeing those results.

In the latest reports from Iraq, we had 15 women and children slain, mostly in their homes by rockets and bullets fired from helicopter and fixed-wing gunships which were allegedly in pursuit of some supposed “al Qaeda” fighters, and as many as 17 civilians killed in Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood when US forces called in air strikes after seeing a group of men they deemed to be hostile. Again those airstrikes ended up killing more civilians than alleged enemy fighters.

The casual use of the term “air strikes” belies the horror of what is happening. It’s one thing to call in airstrikes during a battle out in the desert or the mountains, where the enemy is isolated and readily identified. It’s another to call in the bombers and gunships in the heart of a densly-populated city. Such tactics are guaranteed to kill innocent people in large numbers.

In Afghanistan, meanwhile, where there is even less media coverage than in Iraq, the casual slaughter of innocents by American forces has become routine–so much so that even British officials are complaining. The US command simply “regrets” the “loss of innocent life,” making it sound like the after-effects of a natural disaster, when it fact the killings are the predictable result of the cold calculus of mass murder by a technologically advanced military inflicted on an impoverished Third World country. It is unacceptable to argue, as the Pentagon does all the time, that the enemy “uses civilians as shields.” Maybe they do, but that’s the reality, and the military has to accept it, not ignore it. If a gunman is holding a baby, you can’t just shoot the baby and blame the gunman.

In both countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, the slaughter of civilians by US forces has been so outrageous that even their puppet leaders have been compelled to speak up, demanding that the US stop being so aggressive and indiscriminate.

The problem is, if the US stops using its gunships and its fighter-bombers to do its fighting, it will have to either quit and go home, or put more troops out on patrol, where they are vulnerable to attack. In fact, the Pentagon may not even have that option. Already, it has been reported that troops in Iraq have coined the term “search and avoid” for missions where they go out under orders, but then spend their time avoiding danger.

What would one expect? The rank-and-file troops know that the war is lost in both countries, and that the American public doesn’t support what they are doing anyhow, so who’s going to want to die for that? You’d have to be a real chump to let yourself be killed just to provide political cover for a politically challenged president and vice president–especially a president and vice-president who famously ducked their own duty during the Vietnam War.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s newest book is “The Case for Impeachment“,
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@mindspring.com



Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

October 07, 2015
Nancy Scheper-Hughes
Witness to a Troubled Saint-Making: Junipero Serra and the Theology of Failure
Luciana Bohne
The Double-Speak of American Civilian Humanitarianism
Joyce Nelson
TPP: Big Pharma’s Big Deal
Jonathan Cook
Israel Lights the Touchpaper at Al-Aqsa Again
Joseph Natoli
The Wreckage in Sight We Fail To See
Piero Gleijeses
Jorge Risquet: the Brother I Never Had
Andrew Stewart
Do #BlackLivesMatter to Dunkin’ Donuts?
Rajesh Makwana
#GlobalGoals? The Truth About Poverty and How to Address It
Joan Berezin
Elections 2016: A New Opening or Business as Usual?
Dave Randle
The Man Who Sold Motown to the World
Adam Bartley
“Shameless”: Hillary Clinton, Human Rights and China
Binoy Kampmark
The Killings in Oregon: Business as Usual
Harvey Wasserman
Why Bernie and Hillary Must Address America’s Dying Nuke Reactors
Tom H. Hastings
Unarmed Cops and a Can-do Culture of Nonviolence
October 06, 2015
Vijay Prashad
Afghanistan, the Terrible War: Money for Nothing
Mike Whitney
How Putin will Win in Syria
Paul Street
Yes, There is an Imperialist Ruling Class
Paul Craig Roberts
American Vice
Kathy Kelly
Bombing Hospitals: 22 People Killed by US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan
Ron Jacobs
Patti Smith and the Beauty of Memory
David Macaray
Coal Executive Finally Brought Up on Criminal Charges
Norman Pollack
Cold War Rhetoric: The Kept Intelligentsia
Cecil Brown
The Firing This Time: School Shootings and James Baldwin’s Final Message
Roger Annis
The Canadian Election and the Global Climate Crisis
W. T. Whitney
Why is the US Government Persecuting IFCO/Pastors for Peace Humanitarian Organization?
Jesse Jackson
Alabama’s New Jim Crow Far From Subtle
Joe Ramsey
After Umpqua: Does America Have a Gun Problem….or a Dying Capitalist Empire Problem?
Murray Dobbin
Rise Up, Precariat! Cheap Labour is Over
October 05, 2015
Michael Hudson
Parasites in the Body Economic: the Disasters of Neoliberalism
Patrick Cockburn
Why We Should Welcome Russia’s Entry Into Syrian War
Kristine Mattis
GMO Propaganda and the Sociology of Science
Heidi Morrison
Well-Intentioned Islamophobia
Ralph Nader
Monsanto and Its Promoters vs. Freedom of Information
Arturo Desimone
Retro-Colonialism: the Exportation of Austerity as War By Other Means
Robert M. Nelson
Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster
Matt Peppe
Misrepresentation of the Colombian Conflict
Barbara Dorris
Pope Sympathizes More with Bishops, Less with Victims
Clancy Sigal
I’m Not a Scientologist, But I Wish TV Shrinks Would Just Shut Up
Chris Zinda
Get Outta’ Dodge: the State of the Constitution Down in Dixie
Eileen Applebaum
Family and Medical Leave Insurance, Not Tax Credits, Will Help Families
Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure
“Boxing on Paper” for the Nation of Islam, Black Nationalism, and the Black Athlete: a Review of “The Complete Muhammad Ali” by Ishmael Reed
Lawrence Ware
Michael Vick and the Hypocrisy of NFL Fans
Gary Corseri - Charles Orloski
Poets’ Talk: Pope Francis, Masilo, Marc Beaudin, et. al.
Weekend Edition
October 2-4, 2015
Henry Giroux
Murder, USA: Why Politicians Have Blood on Their Hands
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Lightning War in Syria