Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
GOD SAVE HRC, FROM REALITY — Jeffrey St. Clair on Hillary Clinton’s miraculous rags-to-riches method of financial success; LA CONFIDENTIAL: Lee Ballinger on race, violence and inequality in Los Angeles; PAPER DRAGON: Peter Lee on China’s military; THE BATTLE OVER PAT TILLMAN: David Hoelscher provides a 10 year retrospective on the changing legacy of Pat Tillman; MY BROTHER AND THE SPACE PROGRAM: Paul Krassner on the FBI and rocket science. PLUS: Mike Whitney on how the Central Bank feeds state capitalism; JoAnn Wypijewski on what’s crazier than Bowe Bergdahl?; Kristin Kolb on guns and the American psyche; Chris Floyd on the Terror War’s disastrous course.
Didn't They Already Get Saddam? Was Killing Iraqi Children Worth It?

Was Killing Iraqi Children Worth It?

by JACOB G. HORNBERGER

A snapshot of the opening scene in the U.S. invasion of Iraq provides an excellent insight into the immorality and horror of the entire operation, from start to whenever it finally finishes.

According to an article in yesterday’s New York Times, at the outset of the invasion the U.S. military dropped bombs on a palatial compound in which Saddam Hussein was hiding. The article states:

"But instead of killing the Iraqi dictator, they had killed Mr. Kharbit’s older brother, Malik al-Kharbit – the very man who had led the family’s negotiations with the C.I.A. to topple Mr. Hussein. The bombings also killed 21 other people, including children, and the fury it aroused has been widely believed to have helped kick-start the insurgency in western Iraq."

Now, that episode has at least two important lessons.

First, prior to the invasion the popular mantra among U.S. officials and many private Americans was the need to "get Saddam." But as we often pointed out here at The Future of Freedom Foundation, it was never going to be just a question of "getting Saddam." Instead, it was going to be a question of how many Iraqi people, including children, U.S. forces would have to kill before they "got Saddam."

The article doesn’t state whether the U.S. military had actual knowledge that there were innocent people, including children, in the compound that it bombed. But it is a virtual certainty that they did have such knowledge. After all, if their intelligence was sufficiently good to know that Saddam was hiding in the compound, it had to be sufficiently good to know that there were other people living in the compound, including children.

Thus, when the U.S. military dropped those bombs, it had to be with the full knowledge that they would be killing innocent people in the process, including the children. And even if they didn’t "know" that there were innocent people in the compound at the time they dropped the bombs, they knew that there were dropping the bombs in reckless disregard of whether there were innocent people there or not.

The fact is that U.S. officials didn’t care whether there were innocents, including children, in that compound. Those children and their parents were obviously considered a small price to pay if Saddam Hussein had been killed at the outset of the war.

Of course, this attitude would match the attitude taken by U.S. officials throughout the period of the brutal sanctions that were enforced from 1991 to 2003. As tens of thousands of Iraqi children were dying year after year from the sanctions, the U.S. attitude was that those deaths were a small price to pay for ridding Iraq of Saddam Hussein. That’s why UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright, upon being asked whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi from the sanctions were worth it, she replied that yes – they were "worth it." She was expressing the sentiment of the U.S. government, a sentiment that manifested itself again in the bombing of the compound in which those Iraqi children and their families were killed.

Second, the killing of those children and their families is just one example of how U.S. foreign policy has engendered anger and hatred for the United States, which produces the threat of terrorist retaliation, which brings about the "war on terrorism," which results in more interventions, more massive military spending, and ever-increasing loss of liberty at home.

Let me repeat what the Times article said: "The bombings also killed 21 other people, including children, and the fury it aroused has been widely believed to have helped kick-start the insurgency in western Iraq."

Now, ask yourself: Why has the U.S. government been occupying Iraq for the past 5 years? Didn’t they already "get" Saddam? Hasn’t he already been executed?

The answer is that U.S. officials, having "gotten" Saddam must now "get" the "bad guys" in Iraq. And who are the "bad guys?" They’re the Iraqis who are angry over the killing of Iraqis, including women and children, who had to be killed in the process of "getting Saddam."

As they continue to bomb all these "bad guys," they continue to kill more innocents, including more Iraqi children and their families, which then incites more fury, which then causes more "bad guys" to join the insurgency. Those additional "bad guys" are then used as the excuse to continue the occupation of Iraq, an occupation that for obvious reasons will go on indefinitely.

To state what I consider self-evident moral truths, it was morally wrong and a grave violation of God’s laws to:

(1) attack a country whose government and citizenry had never attacked the United States;

(2) kill Iraqis, including children and their families, in order to achieve regime change in Iraq; and

(3) kill Iraqis, including children and their families, in order to spread "democracy" to Iraq.

One can only wonder whether the American people, in crises of conscience, will ever confront such issues.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.