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September 19, 2002
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When was the last time we bombed Iraq? 1991? 1992? How about 4 days ago. And again six days before that to name just a few. The US Bombing Watch page keeps detailed tabs on all bombing attacks by allied forces since March 9, 2000, but the bombing has continued since the end of the Gulf War [via rc3.org].
posted by mathowie (81 comments total)

 
The war has already begun, in every way but name only. You know, like that other one.
posted by owillis at 9:37 PM on September 19, 2002


This is news?

The fact that you all haven't been paying attention to what our government and military does doesn't mean it's something new - it only means your consumer minded mentality has been focused in a new direction.

While you were worrying about your portfolios and dot comm successes and failures, some of us were taking care of your REAL business at hand.
posted by matty at 9:51 PM on September 19, 2002


Yeah, I knew all those DoD briefs sitting in my mailbox where there for some reason. Please.
posted by owillis at 9:59 PM on September 19, 2002


July and September 2000, March 2001, December 2001, and March 2002. These, apparently, are the only months that multiple strikes haven't occured since early 2000.
posted by eddydamascene at 9:59 PM on September 19, 2002


I'm a reporter's daughter and a confirmed news junkie and I didn't know we bombed Iraq four days ago.
posted by swerve at 10:02 PM on September 19, 2002


Swerve, does that mean your daughter doesn't tell you everything that she reads about or just that you don't actually scour all available news sources?
posted by matty at 10:05 PM on September 19, 2002


You're taking issue with my grammar? What is your point, Matty, aside from being a troll and a bully? Do you have one?
posted by swerve at 10:08 PM on September 19, 2002


OK, before the crying begins let me make my point, loud and clear.

Enforcement of the 'No Fly Zone' has been going on since the end of the Gulf War. The media, and American society in general, lost interest. It didn't go away, and the people who fight in it every day of the year didn't go away either.

However, your attention span did.

Don't go crying 'warmongers' when activity in the Gulf has been pretty much, unfortunately, business as usual for the past 10 years.
posted by matty at 10:11 PM on September 19, 2002


Geez, matty, unclench already. It's not like we've been advertising these bombings. If they don't get any press we don't hear about 'em, and I haven't seen much press about them.

So where've you been reading about it?
posted by stefanie at 10:12 PM on September 19, 2002


My apologies, Swerve - I misread your post. I guess I meant to ask if your parents don't tell you everything about their jobs...
posted by matty at 10:13 PM on September 19, 2002


Hell yes, I'll go crying warmonger. The fact that I didn't know about it before doesn't invalidate my opinion now.
posted by swerve at 10:13 PM on September 19, 2002


Oh sorry, didn't realize the media defined reality. My coworkers and I have just been out fighting it.

I find it offensive that someone, such as Mathowie, has the hair raised on the back of his/her neck to find out that the bombings/fighting has been going on pretty much constantly since the end of the Gulf War.

Ignorance is no excuse.
posted by matty at 10:15 PM on September 19, 2002


All too often MeFi threads become bogged down in personal discourse...

I'm going to keep my personal discontent to myself on this issue from here on out on this one and let the rest of the MeFi community chime in with their own personal opinions on the issue at hand.
posted by matty at 10:18 PM on September 19, 2002


By the way, swerve's grammar is perfect, the syntax couldn't be clearer and her point is well made.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:21 PM on September 19, 2002


Well, for what it's worth (since I was asked): my father tells me very little. He's been doing national news since 1973 or so. I know he has sources, but I don't ask. He won't tell. He apparently doesn't tell anyone anything. He just changes the subject.
posted by swerve at 10:23 PM on September 19, 2002


Swerve: I'm a reporter's daughter(...)

Matty: does that mean your daughter(...)

On the other hand, matty's comprehension skills could be bettered.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:25 PM on September 19, 2002


matty - you don't have to be ignorant to still be stunned by the sheer mass of bombings accumulated on one page. I recal many many times hearing of this incident or that bombing - it barely gets mentioned. It sounds grave, but as you say it's 'business as usual'. Seeing all these incidents gathered in one place really packs a visceral punch - far more than a 5-line blurb in the paper every couple of weeks. I really had no idea it has added up to so much. Thanks for the link mathowie, it's added one more item in my 'grave things to ponder' list.
posted by kokogiak at 10:28 PM on September 19, 2002


Wasn't reported?
July 29, 2000
October 23, 2000
February 17, 2001
September 16, 2002

This was just a quick search on Google, if I had time, I bet I could find a link for every bombing.

Reported? Yes, just not always front page. You maybe weren't paying attention.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:28 PM on September 19, 2002


Matty, I see from your website that you're in the Navy. I understand that your perspective on these things is a little more close to home than for most civilians, but the tone of your comments isn't exactly helping people in this thread respect that. Maybe give a more thoughtful response next time if you expect any kind of productive discussion?

And are you really blaming each and every one of us for not scouring the news for items specific to the no-fly zone? I must read 10-12 online papers a day and unfortunately some things just don't get coverage. I agree it's a shame, but I'm not going to chalk it all up to my "consumer minded mentality."
posted by Karl at 10:29 PM on September 19, 2002


I'm with matty. This is not news to me. However, my front door is about two miles off the end of the runway of an Air Force base that regularly rotates squadrons of F-16 fighter jets to the Gulf to patrol the no-fly zone, so it's still a pretty big deal here.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:33 PM on September 19, 2002


You don't need to find a link for every bombing, Steve. It's already been done - by the link posted by Matt. It contains dozens of bombings and I defy anyone to say they were conscious of every single instance. It's not the bombing; it's the systematic, insistent nature of the same.

On preview: dammit, what kokogiac said, exactly!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:34 PM on September 19, 2002


I my point was that the media (in my links: CNN, Washington Post, Yahoo/AP & BBC) is reporting these bombings. I read about it every month or so. I don't understand how people could be so outraged. Because they didn't keep informed?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:45 PM on September 19, 2002


Hey Karl,

Thanks for perusing my admittedly amateur webpage. Again, I've decided it's time for me to keep my mouth shut on this issue as these mefi threads have a tendency to become personal - which is counterproductive.

The beauty and point of MeFi is to let everyone get their opinions and thoughs out there, which more often than not leads to a logical conclusion of the facts at hand.

I'm not blaming everyone for not being newshounds, I'm blaming everyone for not really caring until it's shoved in their face.

I've said enough already.
posted by matty at 10:49 PM on September 19, 2002


FWIW, I knew we've been bombing Iraq regularly. They seem to manage to announce it on NPR (that right-wing / left-wing / commie / corporate whore thing, yes, I've heard all those accusations leveled at them) rather regularly, while they don't spend much time on the subject it is announced. And this is just catching it on my commute, I have no other compelling reason to know or find out about whats going on in Iraq.

I think as a whole there are many people in America who do insulate themselves from world events, even unintentionally. Most people reading and participating with this site do not, as many issues get addressed here far deeper than any mainstream news source would.
posted by mutagen at 10:51 PM on September 19, 2002


Oh yeah, Miguel -

I just can't resist this one...

You felt it necessary to throw out there that my compreshension skills could be bettered because I misread that someone was the daughter instead of the parent.

"It's already been done - by the link posted by Matt"

Please note, I didn't post the link on bombings. Please check your reading skills.
posted by matty at 10:56 PM on September 19, 2002


Matty,

While you were worrying about your portfolios and dot comm (sic) successes and failures, some of us were taking care of your REAL business at hand.

Yes, while you were doing your job of putting yourself in harm's way to protect the interests of the United States, the American people were doing their job of keeping the economy moving. Portfolios and dot coms may not seem important compared to fighter jets but, if there were no portfolios and dot coms, who would pay for fueling and maintaining the jets?

Due to your heroic and often unsung deeds, the American people can focus on keeping the economy strong. If they had to constantly worry every time you destroyed an enemy installation in Iraq, they could not focus on their own jobs and then who would win? If you had to constantly worry about fluctuations on Wall Street while flying over Iraq, could you perform your job well? You seem like an intelligent person (who may be having a bad day) so I think you understand that a flame war on Metafilter will not help anybody deal with our problems in Iraq or on Wall Street.

I find it offensive that someone, such as Mathowie, has the hair raised on the back of his/her neck to find out that the bombings/fighting has been going on pretty much constantly since the end of the Gulf War.

I believe that the word should be 'his' neck as Mathowie is most certainly a man. You can find his homepage here. Please pay careful attention to his user number: 1. Please show a little more respect for this gentleman because, without Mathowie, none of us would be here.

Finally, Matty, Although I am not an American, I thank you for putting yourself in harm's way every day to protect my freedoms.

Peace.
posted by cup at 10:59 PM on September 19, 2002


[childish rejoinder]

No, Matt posted it. Matt as in mathowie the owner of MetaFilter (and a he, by the way). You're Matty. You'll notice your name has a squiggly thing on the end - called a Y - whereas Matt's doesn't.

Your reading skills are getting better, I grant you, but they're still not perfect. I hope the bombings in Iraq are just as imprecise, by the way.

[/childish rejoinder]
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:01 PM on September 19, 2002


matty, he meant me. Can we drop this whole personal crap thing and move on?

I wasn't aware of the continued bombings, as this was all news to me. Am I self-involved consumer whore for not reading the A38 page of my neighborhood paper everyday looking for gems like this?

I think this can be news to someone even though they keep up on current events. Does that make someone irresponsible? I hardly think so. Has it been underreported? Maybe, maybe not. Reporting on periodic bombing for the past 11 years would get old real quick.
posted by mathowie at 11:05 PM on September 19, 2002


matty: I'm blaming everyone for not really caring until it's shoved in their face.

Who is this everyone? Maybe if you laid off on the hasty generalizations your points would make more sense and I could quickly filter the tremendous noise from the signal in your posts.

Ironically, the fact that many (some?) aren't aware of the constant bombing and effects of sanctions in Iraq, among other things, makes this a fine and informative post. To blame the ignorant who could benefit from this information seems pretty ridiculous and very counter-productive. We all know something someone else doesn't. No need to call each other names or engage in reactionary arm-chair psychology. "consumer minded mentality?" Please unclench.

Miguel: It's not the bombing; it's the systematic, insistent nature of the same.

That really seems to be a good interpretation of the data. The gulf war never really ended, did it? It just heats up now and again.

cup: Portfolios and dot coms may not seem important compared to fighter jets but, if there were no portfolios and dot coms, who would pay for fueling and maintaining the jets?

Or perhaps how much of a need would there be for military in general if they weren't allowed to "protect" economic (oil in this case) interests. If government is truly the shadow of business then the military could easily be seen in many cases as the clenched fist of business.
posted by skallas at 11:09 PM on September 19, 2002


i don't think it's so much that people don't "keep informed". i personally was aware that there had been military action going on now and again. i simply didn't know the SCALE of the events. (on preview) and a very good point, cup.

honestly - yes saddam is an evil overlord, yes he has done some horrible things - but my god, could you imagine tolerating even one or two of those "strategic attacks" in the US?? it would never happen. and further, what's really been rubbing me the wrong way these days is the over-the-top doublespeak prose of the war propaganda. some of the very same arguments that are being made as a case against Saddam could very well be made against the US. it just makes me crazy.
posted by nyoki at 11:09 PM on September 19, 2002


Matty: I hate have to say I've enjoyed your contributions here enormously. All too often, debates here are conducted by like-minded or (which is almost the same) opposite-minded people. Your perspective, experience and conviction are very refreshing and not only ring true but got me thinking. Thanks for that.

This isn't a big hug; just a certain guilty feeling that you bullied swerve and that, instead of just attacking that, I deplorably bullied you back, by sticking up for Admiral Haughey. Neener neener stuff, right? ;)

posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:14 PM on September 19, 2002


I've personally known about these bombing runs for quite some time. In every instance I've read about it, the British and American planes patrolling the no-fly zone were shot at first. There have been some instances of close calls (I believe an air-to-ground missile missed an American jet by a mile or so). I know a mile sounds like a lot but not when you're going 600 mph. I think the fact that the Iraqis are still shooting at our planes shows how little respect and/or fear Saddam has of the U.S. and Britain.
posted by Ron at 11:52 PM on September 19, 2002


Everyone,

My apologies at coming across as 'bullying', but this subject just rings too close to home for me. People in my posistion get shot at every time 'we' do a strike. No one notices until WAY after the fact.

Why do we do it? Not because we're told to, but because we swore an oath to protect and defend. How that oath is implemented by our superiors is not up for my own personal criticism (sp?).

Anyway, I hope all of this cruel cross-bantering has led some of you to realize that there has always been a conflict going on in Iraq. The fact that you didn't realize it doesn't mean it hasn't been there.

I apppreciate everyone's insight and thoughts about the issue, but I'm inclined to comment on just ONE more thing. Someone stated, "American people were doing their job of keeping the economy moving".

I remember countelss times where my misinformed friends have thrown out that old cliche line of 'hey mister, I pay your salary, do as I say soldier!!' Umm, I pay all the same taxes the rest of you do, state and federal. In other words, I'm an investor, I'm a consumer, and I'm a fighter - your pocketbook has been no deeper than mine. I pay at the same gas pump, I shop at the same mall and the same grocery store. The only difference is that, when I REALLY go to work, I REALLY go to work.

Matty D.
posted by matty at 11:52 PM on September 19, 2002


[warm fuzzies] Miguel stuck up for me. I heart MeFi. [/warm fuzzies]

Matty: I'm sorry it angers you that I didn't know about this and that I'm reacting now. I respect our armed forces, which is why I don't want them coming home from Iraq in body bags.
posted by swerve at 11:56 PM on September 19, 2002


Ron,

You have no idea how close to the subject matter you really are on that whole 'within a mile' thing....

Swerve - quit crying. I'm not blaming you.
posted by matty at 11:59 PM on September 19, 2002


I recall, now this is from memory, that a U-2 was shot at and the pilot actually felt the shockwave from the missle. And that is a pretty fancy missle (for Iraq) to get close to a U-2 flying at 70 to 75 thousand feet.
posted by Ron at 12:09 AM on September 20, 2002


I, for one, find it strange that someone who is supposedly a "news-junkie" didn't know about this. It's been on the news quite often. In almost every one of news stories steve_at_linnwood linked to has a mention of how many strikes have been made or how much a routine this has become.
posted by lazy-ville at 12:14 AM on September 20, 2002


[pedal-back time]

If swerve were a man, would you keep telling her to quit crying? She's crying alright, but not with tears - she's crying out loud, for crying out loud! Do you really think she's afraid you're blaming her? And that she starts weeping as a consequence of this fear? Boy, you have an interesting perspective but you sure are a jerk as well!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:16 AM on September 20, 2002


Matty D, dude, that's ten posts already in this thread. Let it breathe a little. You know, cool your jets (!!).

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I'm a sucker for the easy punchline.

This may or may not be common news for many folks, but I didn't know about a good deal of this and it's a cool, informative site, so it works for me.
posted by The God Complex at 12:20 AM on September 20, 2002


This is news to me as well - i guess i'm not as informed as the average mefi reader. I knew that of course there was still conflict in the area, but this is a real shock as to how much. thanks for the link mathowie.

i wonder, does my ignorance extend beyond this particular region? is the USA bombing any other countries? and if so, would the media even tell me? i, like other people in this thread, feel shocked that at least some of these events weren't given prime-time media attention.
posted by escher at 12:21 AM on September 20, 2002


Ron,

Go one/two weeks earlier from the U-2 story and you'll be on the mark. Miguel, quit your crying - I just think he/she is a day late and a dollar short.

MD
posted by matty at 12:22 AM on September 20, 2002


People in my posistion get shot at every time 'we' do a strike. No one notices until WAY after the fact.

So people shoot at you when you fly over their airspace, against their will? They actually shoot at you when you "do a strike" on their territory? Wow! Can they not see you're striking at them for their own good?

I'm sorry but it's just so underwhelming to read how horrified you are by missiles passing you a mile wide while the Iraqi casualties, all unintended but real, keep mounting up. Did anyone force you to go into the armed forces? You knew you could get shot at, right?

I'm in favour of invading Iraq, for the record. It just sickens me to see you moan about how dangerous it is striking Iraq when we all know there's no real military competition to speak of. At the very least it's undignified.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:31 AM on September 20, 2002


Miguel,

Your right, it would be a lot more fun if the Iraqis got to kill some British and American pilots every now and then, you know just to keep it fair.

[/sarcasm]
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:35 AM on September 20, 2002


I'm really glad American and British fighters are bombing Iraq, because it protects our countries from being destroyed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
posted by skylar at 12:36 AM on September 20, 2002


God,

I've WAY overstepped my input on this thread. You're right, even 3 responses is overdoing it on my part.

I'll shut my trap now and let the thread run it's course, if it's not to late. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

MD
posted by matty at 12:37 AM on September 20, 2002


matty, you have an oddly leftish english classish style of statements for a navy guy.

In anycase I haven't seen much writing from military personnel, and I can see why you're bitter toward the treatment of the military by the government and by the people.

I also know about the strikes.

My only issues are with the reminders of English class (bleh) and some comprehension slips.

However. What will you have us do? Life must always go on.. it is true that we are a "consumer minded" society in general, as seems the tendency of wealthy, pampered societies.

I agree that our government is not ideal in its handling of military affairs and that public knowledge and power is lacking.
posted by firestorm at 12:46 AM on September 20, 2002


Your right, it would be a lot more fun if the Iraqis got to kill some British and American pilots every now and then, you know just to keep it fair.

And it's certainly fun and fair to civilians on the ground in Iraq, too, right?

How that oath is implemented by our superiors is not up for my own personal criticism (sp?).
The only difference is that, when I REALLY go to work, I REALLY go to work.

Pardon me if I don't break out the flag. Your duties as a human being didn't stop when you took your "oath".

I suggest that you haven't done a lick of REAL work until you begin to question and criticize, at some level, what your "superiors" order you to do. Until then, you function as a cog.

When enough people begin taking responsibility for their actions, and quit behaving like automatons, perhaps we'll be able to avoid another eleven years of senseless bombing.

Until then, more and more light (as shone forth by Matt's front page post) on this miserable little war is exactly what we need.

Britain and the United States are still bombing Iraq almost every day: it is the longest Anglo-American bombing campaign since the second world war, yet, with honourable exceptions, very little appears about it in the British media. Conducted under the cover of "no fly zones", which have no basis in international law, the aircraft, according to Tony Blair, are "performing vital humanitarian tasks". The ministry of defence in London has a line about "taking robust action to protect pilots" from Iraqi attacks - yet an internal UN Security Sector report says that, in one five-month period, 41 per cent of the victims were civilians in civilian targets: villages, fishing jetties, farmland and vast, treeless valleys where sheep graze. A shepherd, his father, his four children and his sheep were killed by a British or American aircraft, which made two passes at them. I stood in the cemetery where the children are buried and their mother shouted, "I want to speak to the pilot who did this."

posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:50 AM on September 20, 2002


And it's certainly fun and fair to civilians on the ground in Iraq, too, right?

Sure f&m, for every Iraq civilian killed they should get to kill one of us... f&m, you first....

...you haven't done a lick of REAL work until you begin to question and criticize...until then, you function as a cog
Do you have any idea of how the military works?
Who are you to question a serviceman's duty?
It is not the place of a member of the military to question the motives of their orders, but this don't make them a "cog" If this is what you belive, then you have a very warped sense of reality... but I could have guessed that anyways...

Pardon me if I don't break out the flag.
No, I am sure you are too busy burning it, to prove how right you are.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:04 AM on September 20, 2002


If it makes you feel any better Miguel, Iraq has shot down an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. Granted it was a year ago, but hey, chalk one up for Saddam. And there may be no real hardcore military competition from Iraq (but you never know) but getting shot at is getting shot at and I bet it isn't fun. And I know being bombed isn't fun either but Iraq is bringing it on itself by shooting at our planes in the no-fly zone. I get a feeling that someone might try to burn me on this one :)
posted by Ron at 1:09 AM on September 20, 2002


Matty: Why do we do it? Not because we're told to, but because we swore an oath to protect and defend. How that oath is implemented by our superiors is not up for my own personal criticism.

To me, at least, that's a pretty fine distinction you're making there -- the difference between "doing whatever they tell me to" and "upholding my oath by doing whatever they tell me to" seems vanishingly small from here.

Don't get me wrong -- I don't mean in any way to belittle the sacrifice you, or anyone in the armed forces, makes. It's your job to act as if our leaders are just and wise, and not ask questions when given orders. And as a demonstration of faith in your leaders such loyalty is impressive and even admirable.

However, questioning whether that faith is justified -- whether our leaders are, in fact, acting justly and wisely -- is on a different level. It has nothing to do with questioning your faith, commitment, or sacrifice.

It's your job to act, without question, as if our leaders are just and wise. It's the job of us plain old citizens (and you, in your off hours) to ensure it.
posted by cps at 1:27 AM on September 20, 2002


Steve_at_Linnwood, if I remember correctly, f&m has served in the military. Not that that's particularly relevant. I haven't, and I agree with him.
posted by ceiriog at 1:27 AM on September 20, 2002


If it makes you feel any better Miguel, Iraq has shot down an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. Granted it was a year ago, but hey, chalk one up for Saddam

Ron: it makes me feel better because it was unmanned but worse because of the loss of information, the expense and the effect on morale. As I said, I'm a hundred percent behind current U.S. policy (as is the government of my country - Portugal - unlike other shaky European allies or, come to think of it, most Americans) and I find offensive your implication that I would have anything but repugnance for Saddam and his regime. I'd like both destroyed as soon as possible, thank you very much.

My point here was for fairness and balance in argument. If it were up to me the Iraqis wouldn't have a single pea-shooter and the Allies wouldn't suffer a single headache, believe me. It's an entirely other thing, though, to pretend that headaches are casualties or that the loss of an unmanned aircraft is akin to the loss of life.

It's always undignified and demeaning for the Big Guy to come across as the victim, don't you agree?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:39 AM on September 20, 2002


It's much easier to get the picture on the bombing campaign by looking at short wire service reports organized by date than by looking at other sources:
Iraq is still being bombed - Global Issues Website

AFSC Guide to Iraq Bombings and the No-Fly Zones
"Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies has put together frequently asked questions about the illegality of the bombings in the no-fly zone. You can download the Bombing FAQ as a PDF document."

January 12, 1999: "We condemn the plans by the Clinton Administration and the Pentagon for a new massive sustained bombing campaign of Iraq which is likely to kill more than 10,000 people," stated Sara Flounders of the International Action Center. The plans for a new bombing campaign that would last several weeks have been made public in recent days by various U.S. wire services."

2002: Bombing Iraq: The Pentagon Prepares a Prolonged Campaign from Turkey & Kuwait

Voices in the Wilderness UK letter against bombing campaign

U.S. Bombing Campaign Against Iraq Is Legitimate - The Daily Nexus, UCSB
posted by sheauga at 1:41 AM on September 20, 2002


Tom Friedman, 9/18: Iraq, Upside Down "Don't believe the polls that a majority of Americans favor a military strike against Iraq. It's just not true." The first concern is undeterrable terrorists rather than deterrable Iraq.
posted by sheauga at 1:56 AM on September 20, 2002


skylar: I'm really glad American and British fighters are bombing Iraq, because it protects our countries from being destroyed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Yes, it does. After the inspectors were pulled out in 1998 when Saddam made it impossible for them to do their jobs, the US and British bombed suspected WMD sites, because there was no other way to address them.

Miguel: So people shoot at you when you fly over their airspace, against their will? They actually shoot at you when you "do a strike" on their territory? Wow! Can they not see you're striking at them for their own good?

The US and British flights are to enforce the no-fly zone. The Iraqis shoot at them. They shoot back. The no-fly zone is in place to protect the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south.

If we don't want to shoot and get shot at, we could stop enforcing the no-fly zone, and let Saddam's military commit genocide on the Kurds and and the Shiites. Sound good to you? No? Me neither.

Any ideas? Look, it's a stupid and ugly situation. But I don't see any way to resolve it as long as Saddam Hussein's in power.

foldy, I see you're still taking Iraqi propaganda at face value, while you don't believe a word the Bush Administration says. Did you even read the article? It's filled with stuff that's demonstrably false. Example: Anupama Rao Singh, Unicef's senior representative in Iraq, told me [...] "In 10 years, child mortality has gone from one of the lowest in the world, to the highest." No, it hasn't. In 1990 Iraq reported (if you believe them) infant mortality of 40 per 1000. That's not 'one of the lowest in the world'. That's very high compared with Western and Asian democracies, and typical of a third world country. And the infant mortality rate in 2000 was higher than most of other Islamic states, but far from the highest in the world (see previous link). (For comparison, in 1990 US infant mortality was 9 per 1000, Australian infant mortality 8 per 1000.)

Someone is lying, either the the 'senior representative', the correspondent, or both. And the Guardian's copyeditor is incompetent, this stuff is not hard to check. What else are they lying about?

I don't have the time or patience to sift through the article and find all the falsehoods but obvious errors like this make me unable to trust anything else the writer says.

Yes, I'm sure the situation in Iraq sucks. Sanctions have definitely caused harm, as they were supposed to. Suppose we lift them. What do you think Saddam is going to do with the money he earns from trade? Treat sick kids? Or build bombs? Can you think of any way out except 'regime change'?

And don't give me that winky eye thing. If you care about Iraqi kids, come up with a positive plan to save them that doesn't involve getting rid of Saddam with extreme prejudice.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 1:58 AM on September 20, 2002


Miguel: I agree. But a year ago we were the victims. I don't think we want to be the victims again. So I too agree we should invade Iraq, I think most people do (with the exception of most MeFi's). The government knew Al Qaeda was a threat but didn't realize how much so until it was too late. We shouldn't wait till it's too late with Iraq. BTW, sorry for the implication but it sounded to me like you thought it would have been better if we lost a few planes and men (no sarcasm).
posted by Ron at 1:59 AM on September 20, 2002


Ron: And I know being bombed isn't fun either but Iraq is bringing it on itself
There seems to be a growing misconception that Iraq (aka Saddam Hussein) is a person. The Sepherd and his children foldy mentioned certainly didn't bring it on themselves.

...by shooting at our planes in the no-fly zone.

The no-fly zones were established by the US and the UK and not the UN. Therefore as far as international law is concerned the Iraqis have every right to shoot back. Furthermore the idea that Saddam (or any government with the possible exception of Russia and China) poses an even theoretical threat to the US (as in attacking the country) is frankly incredible. He is homicidal not suicidal. Even Kuwait seems to think that Iraq is not a threat.

Slithy_Tove: This is the relevant table, and you are right it wasn't one of the lowest child mortality rates and it isn't the highest. But Iraq has moved from well under the regional average (see table at bottom) to well over double the average. Indeed it has gone from 50 to 130 the only country in the list to show such a huge increase.
Sanctions have definitely caused harm, as they were supposed to.
You mean that the sanctions were supposed to increase the child mortality rate?
posted by talos at 2:53 AM on September 20, 2002


The no-fly zones were established by the US and the UK and not the UN.
Please point this out, seem to remember the opposite to be true.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:58 AM on September 20, 2002


Steve: This is a BBC article about the legal status of the no-fly zones. Excerpt:

"...However, unlike the military campaign to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait, the no-fly zones were not authorised by the UN and they are not specifically sanctioned by any Security Council resolution."
posted by talos at 3:11 AM on September 20, 2002


talos: both the figures for infant and child mortality are relevant; infant mortality is the more widely used measure.

Sanctions are supposed to cause hardship. Else, what is the point? The sanctioned party is supposed to be convinced by the hardship to do what the sanctioning party wants. Sanctions are like boycotts, strikes, and similar non-violent actions in this regard.

No, they're not supposed to cause increased infant and child mortality, but if Saddam chooses to allocate his limited wealth away from health care and towards rebuilding his army and maintaining his antiaircraft batteries to fire on American and British planes, that's what's going to happen.

As for the 'shepherd and his children', I don't trust the article or its writer or the situation it came out of. As I said, the writer makes gross errors of fact. Does anyone doubt that there were Iraqi soldiers standing at the shepherd's elbow to make sure sure he said exactly the right thing? Iraq is a dictatorship, for god's sake. No one speaks freely to reporters. Reporters can't freely travel the country and seek out independent sources of information. And given that the writer makes other obvious errors, I really don't trust anything this article has to say.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:22 AM on September 20, 2002


Thanks for the usual balance and wisdom, Slithy. It's always the person who reads others more carefully and then thinks a while about it before answering (and gently but surely correcting) them that carries the most conviction and is most persuasive. Unlike the hotheads like me and, er, everybody else! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:53 AM on September 20, 2002


The no-fly zones were established by the US and the UK and not the UN.
Please point this out, seem to remember the opposite to be true.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:58 AM PST on September 20


Steve: This is a BBC article about the legal status of the no-fly zones. Excerpt:

"...However, unlike the military campaign to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait, the no-fly zones were not authorised by the UN and they are not specifically sanctioned by any Security Council resolution."
posted by talos at 3:11 AM PST on September 20

.
.
.
.
.
Steve?

O, he musta gone to sleep at last.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:55 AM on September 20, 2002


Umm... like, duh! I listen to NPR and I knew that we'd been duking it out with the Iraqis for months/years now. See, this is (theoretically) how it works -- they fire a missle, we fire back.

I guess lately we've been blowing other stuff up, radar towers, that sort of thing.

At any rate, my point here (if there is one) is that if you do listen to the news and not watch it on tv, then you'd probably know about this. It is kind of interesting to see it all compiled like this, though -- it might be interesting to do the same for suicide bombings or things of the like.
posted by ph00dz at 6:12 AM on September 20, 2002


Slithy, I find your take on sanctions a little disturbing. To regard comprehensive economic sanctions as a species of non-violent action is, it seems to me, to fall into the trap of assuming that "if it doesn't go bang, it isn't war." That's been a convenient discursive strategy for the U.S./U.K. to resort to, because it has let them prosecute a low-profile war without incurring mass outrage domestically. The Iraqis pay the price, and hey! They don't vote.

Sure, Saddam bears a large part of the responsibility for the way he directs his limited resources. But the sanctioning parties do, as well. They have prevented vital water and sanitation components from entering Iraq, for example. And it's interesting to think about our ethical responsibility in light of the fact that we know Saddam doesn't really care about his own people (beyond their utility in terms of keeping him in power). Are we justified, then, in saying "oh well... the sanctions-related carnage is Saddam's fault," or (as I believe) is it incumbent on us to find better ways of twisting Saddam's arm without holding his people under siege?

It seems to me that the options are: smart sanctions that impose pressure on Saddam and the Iraqi elite while sparing the lives of innocents, a strategy of containment that sees Iraq grant us the right to constantly monitor its WMD potential in exchange for a lifting of the sanctions, or a massive invasion that gets rid of Saddam.
posted by stonerose at 6:13 AM on September 20, 2002


I note that coercive inspections isn't on your list of alternatives. Any particular reason?
posted by sheauga at 6:34 AM on September 20, 2002


Slithy_Tove: It's a minor quibble: the passage quoted by foldy mentioned child not infant mortality... The numbers turn out to be similar so it's not important.

Sanctions are supposed to cause hardship. Else, what is the point? The sanctioned party is supposed to be convinced by the hardship to do what the sanctioning party wants. Sanctions are like boycotts, strikes, and similar non-violent actions in this regard.
Sanctions in this case were supposed to destabilize Saddam. In this they failed miserably. They were also meant to prevent him from re-arming. As long as the inspectors were on the ground in Iraq they were effective. The hardship caused by the sanctions on Saddam, personally, was zero.
As for the argument that Saddam choses to not buy sufficient medication, we've had this discussion before. I can only point out to the report by the International Development Select Committee of the UK House of Commons (Scroll down to "Comprehensive Economic Sanctions — Iraq") which seems to present a balanced version of the effects of the sanctions in Iraq and the causes of the humanitarian disaster taking place there.
In their conclusions they state among other things that:

There is a clear consensus that the humanitarian and developmental situation in Iraq has deteriorated seriously since the imposition of comprehensive economic sanctions. Whilst details are often difficult to come by or to verify, even those who wish to maintain these sanctions accept that children, the ill, the vulnerable in Iraqi society are suffering. It is as obvious that Saddam Hussein and his ruling elite continue to enjoy a privileged existence. Sanctions have clearly failed to hurt those responsible for past violations of international law. The deterioration of infrastructure, the limited supply of food, the absence of drugs all affect the poor to a disproportionate degree.

and goes on to suggest:

Whatever the wisdom of the original imposition of sanctions, careful thought must now be given as to how to move from the current impasse without giving succour to Saddam Hussein and his friends. Any move away from comprehensive sanctions should go hand in hand with measures designed to target the real culprits, not the poor of Iraq but their leadership. Possibilities include a concerted attempt to target and either freeze or sequester the assets of Saddam Hussein and those connected to him, and the indictment of Saddam Hussein and his close associates as war criminals. To bring to justice Saddam Hussein is also a humanitarian imperative and this should be done without delay.

To which I can add: Have an international arrest warrant against him and his top officials with the consent of other Arab countries. Charge as accomplices all who provided him with chemical and biological weapons capability in the first place. send him to Iran to be tried as a war criminal for the use of chemical weapons against the Iranians.
Give a UN seat to Iraqi Kurds. Don't bomb the population and infrastructure of Iraq yet again!
posted by talos at 6:52 AM on September 20, 2002


Sheaugha, nice link (as always!) That is a more robust version of the 'strategy of containment' I suggested. It's a good idea. Interesting, though, that it didn't include any mention of lifting the sanctions.
posted by stonerose at 6:55 AM on September 20, 2002


stonerose:

1. How would we make sanctions 'smart'? (real question, not rhetorical.) Right now, for example, we have chlorine sanctioned, so that water cannot easily be purified. This contributes to diarrheal diseases, typhoid fever, and so on. But if we allow the importation of chlorine, does anyone trust Saddam not to make it into chlorine gas-based chemical weapons? As long as Saddam is using his own people as human shields, so to speak, they, and we, are screwed.

2. How do we make Iraq grant us the right to constantly monitor its WMD? That's the whole problem, Iraqi bad faith is what derailed inspections the last time.

As for coercive inspections, that sounds like what Dubya's driving at.

talos: Yah, that's sobering reading. I agree, sanctions have failed. But what next? I think seizing Saddam's assets is pointless; he's a dictator, the whole country's wealth is his assets. As for declaring him a war criminal, and bringing him to justice -- well, which mouse will bell the cat? That is 'regime change'. To do that, you'd have to carry out a full scale war in any event.

I really don't want to go to war with Iraq. Attacking another sovereign state makes me queasy. Sanctions haven't worked. But let up on sanctions, and Saddam rebuilds his army, and probably WMD, and is even more of a problem. There is no clean and safe solution that I can see. Every possible course is messy, uncertain, and perilous.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:17 AM on September 20, 2002


So I too agree we should invade Iraq, I think most people do (with the exception of most MeFi's). The government knew Al Qaeda was a threat but didn't realize how much so until it was too late.

If we fought everyone who could be a threat, we'd be at constant war with a dozen nations. Instead, we pick the one back-woods country in the "Axis of Evil" that we (still) get much of our oil from.
posted by hyperizer at 7:47 AM on September 20, 2002


This really is the key point about Iraq. We've been at war for 12 years in a half-hearted way. More risk comes to our country by staying involved this way. We should just get the job done.
posted by PoliticalJunkie at 7:54 AM on September 20, 2002


A friend of mine was stationed in Saudi when he was on active duty a few years ago. He told me that just about every day, jets would leave with a full load of bombs, and always come back empty.
posted by pemulis at 8:08 AM on September 20, 2002


The sanctions need to be rethought, an inspection team consisting of scientists from neighbouring states and non-western states -Mandela's suggestion- (to disallow Saddam to play the anti-imperialist with the arab masses) could be easily set up. And if Saddam and his cronies cannot leave the country and have all their assets frozen (and believe me that hurts) they are weaker. Arm the Kurds so that they can defend themselves etc. There are ways to contain and weaken saddam. I think we can agree on this...
Our disagreement Slithy_Tove probably has to do with the following:
1. I do not believe that Iraq is a threat to anybody at the moment and the return of an inspector team can pretty much ensure that. It is certainly no threat to the US by any stretch of the imagination.
2. I do not for a second believe that this war will be fought for "democracy" in Iraq ( the west armed him, gave him WMD capability and protected him during his worst atrocities). It is not even in the agenda except as a PR campaign, since I can't see the Siites and the Kurds have much say on the matter due to "geopolitical" considerations.
3. This is about one thing: oil and the Middle East in general. Indonesia invaded E.Timor to western applause, Turkey invaded Cyprus and massacred its own Kurdish citizens with no reaction whatsoever, and the Rwanda genocide was allowed to happen without the slightest worry until after the fact. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are being run by pro-western dictators who are praised by the US. If Iraq and Kuwait were dirt poor agricultural countries no one would give a damn.
posted by talos at 8:40 AM on September 20, 2002


Steve-at: Who are you to question a serviceman's duty?
It is not the place of a member of the military to question the motives of their orders

Ever heard of the Nuremberg Trials? "I was just following orders" doesn't cut it anymore.

talos: Thanks for bringing in a little sanity.
posted by languagehat at 8:48 AM on September 20, 2002


So this broom, it vibrates?
posted by moonbiter at 8:51 AM on September 20, 2002


The US and British flights are to enforce the no-fly zone. (snip) The no-fly zone is in place to protect the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south

*cough*
Is this the reason for the no fly zone or the excuse?

Sadly, I don't think there is one government on this planet who cares about Kurds, Shiites, ..... (insert other minorities not living on "goldmines".
posted by ginz at 9:36 AM on September 20, 2002


Are inspections are actually under consideration as an alternative to war? - Some interesting commentary over at randomWalks

Five ways to lose an arguement about Iraq - Kuro5hin

1. Shoot yourself in the foot by insisting that there's never any justification for invading a sovereign nation.
2. Quote Scott Ritter as a definitive source of accurate information.
3. Argue that we have nothing to fear from Saddam's weapons
4. But we didn't object when Pakistan and India got the bomb, and they're more likely to use it than Saddam is. Why don't we change their regimes?
5. Everything the US does is bad
posted by sheauga at 9:44 AM on September 20, 2002


"Why don't we change their regimes?"

the question was rhetorical?

well, these two countries seem able to change 'regimes' by themselves just fine and dandy like.

"This is about one thing: oil and the Middle East in general. Indonesia invaded E.Timor to western applause, Turkey invaded Cyprus and massacred its own Kurdish citizens with no reaction whatsoever, and the Rwanda genocide was allowed to happen without the slightest worry until after the fact. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are being run by pro-western dictators who are praised by the US. If Iraq and Kuwait were dirt poor agricultural countries no one would give a damn."

byzantine, to say the least.

"1975...Fahds trip to Baghdad in june with talks with Iraqi vice-president. 'our brother siddam hussein'...efforts to mediate a settlement of a bitter dispute between Iraq and syria over the utilization of waters of the Euphrates River....As a result, Iraq was threatened with and, in the event, did suffer the loss of it's rice crop...Fahd also wished to ease the tension in the gulf posed by Iraq's territorial dispute with Kuwait..."

-David Holden.
posted by clavdivs at 10:26 AM on September 20, 2002


"the reason for the no fly zone or the excuse"

I spotted some talking heads on C-SPAN a while back who left me with the impression that the real reason for a no-fly zone is that it prevents Iraq from conducting long-range missile testing. In other words, essentially the no-fly zone is a holding operation which keeps Iraq from putting nuke or bio warheads on a big missile of its own and letting loose. However, googling around, I'm not finding anything that confirms whether I have the story straight here or not. It can't possibly be a comfortable position to be called on to guarantee that no stray Iraqi missile loaded with gosh-knows-what ever gets loose, especially given the stats on ongoing encounters:
2001.07.31: "Quigley said the number of provocations by Iraqi forces in the southern no-fly zone have reached 370 so far this year, compared with 221 in all of 2000. There have been 62 provocations this year to date in the northern no-fly zone, he said, compared with 145 incidents last year.

A provocation is any launch of ordinance of some kind -- surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery -- or the locking on by fire control system radar, he said." - US Mission to NATO
So if matty who's out there stuck in the sandbox is getting a little testy and losing his temper, it's understandable. My guess is the US gets one chance, and one chance only, to make its move, so it's best we take the time to patiently put our ducks in a row first. If we're really lucky, a political-diplomatic solution will emerge. If we're unlucky, we'll set off the first in a string of military actions that sends the world into an intractable state of economic depression. (1, 2) If we do nothing, the Iraqi civillians keep suffering, the 50 or so really "bad actors" in the Iraqi government (in the words of an inspector interviewed on TV) keep their jobs, and we accept the possibility of horrid, unexpected military / terrorist attacks by Iraq. In any event, the US will be blamed, not Mr. Hussein, so it's a question of acting as responsibly as possible. Given that no matter what we do, our friends and foes are going to suffer, it makes sense to be as clear as possible about the alternatives and what everyone involved would prefer. (Me, I'd prefer an effective inspection regime, preferably followed by an "Organization of Nuke and Bio Countries Dedicated to Zapping Nasty Proliferators Out of the Picture," aka Council on Weapons of Mass Destruction, but I'm not anyone of consequence here.)

And I still think that alternative fuel vehicles / pressure for a peaceful Palestinian state is the long-term solution. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration appears committed to making sure that the country goes totally broke fighting wars and loses all respect from Middle Eastern countries, in order to ensure that neither a Palestinian state, hydrogen / biodiesel transportation, nor sustainable development can ever happen. Onward, Lemmings!
posted by sheauga at 11:09 AM on September 20, 2002


dash_slot:

Yeah I had gone to sleep finally.

But I do stand corrected about the No-Fly Zones, thanks for pointing that out.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:57 AM on September 20, 2002


sheauga: I do suspect you're correct in that controlling missile testing is a sub rosa justification for the no-fly zones. See Flight Tests by Iraq Show Progress of Missile Program, NYT via FAS, from two years ago. Note also that the no-fly zone keeps Kuwait out of reach of his short-range missiles -- at least theoretically. And there's this gem from a prior political (and one suspects planetary) alignment: Germany Warns of Iraq Nuclear {Missile} Threat, noting that the BND suspected Iraq could adapt its missile technology to theater and inter-continental applications, putting Europe under fire, in just a few years. Then there's the matter of Iraq using the no-fly enforcement as a means of testing ever more complex and stealthy command-and-control systems. A costly one, to be sure.
posted by dhartung at 1:32 AM on September 21, 2002


Five ways to lose an arguement about Iraq - Kuro5hin

1. Shoot yourself in the foot by insisting that there's never any justification for invading a sovereign nation.
2. Quote Scott Ritter as a definitive source of accurate information.
3. Argue that we have nothing to fear from Saddam's weapons
4. But we didn't object when Pakistan and India got the bomb, and they're more likely to use it than Saddam is. Why don't we change their regimes?
5. Everything the US does is bad


With the exception of 2 and 5, seems like those are just arguments the author doesn't agree with.
posted by Summer at 3:15 AM on September 23, 2002


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