Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Home of the Brave?

by DAVE LINDORFF

 

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).

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail