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Sabra. Shatila. Falluja.
April 8, 2004 5:31 AM   Subscribe

Sabra. Shatila. Falluja? At least 280 people killed. 400 more wounded. Many more buried in the rubble. A city with 300,000 civilians and no food. No water. Nowhere to bury the dead. No place to run. No end in sight. Only one camera crew is currently in Falluja. These are the pictures that are being broadcast across the entire Arab world. So... which is worse? Is it justifiable? An act of liberation? A horrific mistake? Or is it a war crime?!
posted by insomnia_lj (68 comments total)

 
Send the al jazeera link to your congress persons. I don't see how anyone could be proud of that.
posted by jmgorman at 6:27 AM on April 8, 2004


Please don't turn this into a propaganda battle of which side can produce the most horrific photos.
posted by Meridian at 6:32 AM on April 8, 2004


The US President and his administration are a disgrace.
How Postroad, Kablam and others holding similar political philosophies to that administration can justify doing so is beyond me.

And in the "home of the brave and the land of the free" I'm 100% certain those images will not be shown willingly.

*feels sick*
posted by tomcosgrave at 6:41 AM on April 8, 2004


"War is hell."

On both sides, I am sad and nearly crying. How do we make this right? How does Iraq survive and not descend into a Islam-based theocracy? How does America keep (regain?) any sense of honor and still protect our interests?

Keep in mind that I'm not saying that all of our interests should still be our interests. I am saying that we're there, we're in it, and we can't just disappear and let the place fall into a worse situation than before...

(Pardon the slight babble there. I'm hearing Ms. Rice's testimony while looking at these pictures, remembering that the two aren't actually connected and still shaking my head...)
posted by andreaazure at 6:42 AM on April 8, 2004


How does America keep (regain?) any sense of honor and still protect our interests?

Getting the hell out of where your President lied your way into invading? That'd be a start towards protecting Americas most vital interest - its people - because right now you can bet there are people looking at those images and deciding when and where to attack the US.

"War is hell."

It's not war. The war ended last year. This is murder. America will get nowhere, and get there fast. For reference, see the Vietnam war.
posted by tomcosgrave at 6:49 AM on April 8, 2004


see the Vietnam war

By that I mean the attacks on villages, the huge amount of civilians killed etc etc. America had no real interest beyond the political philosphies of a few megalomaniacs being there, and the same applies here.
posted by tomcosgrave at 6:51 AM on April 8, 2004


*Yawn*

People die in war. News at 11.
posted by eas98 at 7:04 AM on April 8, 2004


I'm just wondering...

The difference between Iraq and Vietnam is that in Vietnam, it was North Versus South and we were there aiding one side. When we gave up, basically the North won, but the country was still ruled by Vietnamese. Of course, in a larger context it was the US vs. the Soviets and capitalism/democracy vs. communism/party dictatorship.

In Iraq, however, there are so many fighting factions that would only consider themselves tangentially Iraqi. For example, the Kurds in the north. Iraq was an artificially created country.

If there is a war in Iraq (after the US leaves, or before), it will not be a 'civil war', as everyone likes to say, but a regional conflict, as other countries step in to aid those people whom they support. Iran, of course, being the biggest threat.

At this point in time, the US presence is a pretty good deterrent to other countries to get involved. If we pull out, however, or continue to show our weaknesses (which we can't avoid), then I fear other countries will be emboldened and the conflict will grow.

I hate being a pessimist, but at this stage I can't see any other alternatives. The whole middle east hates us and our presence there is puny, despite our military strength. People are starting to see that and that's why the tension and conflict is heightening.
posted by PigAlien at 7:04 AM on April 8, 2004


Ok, substitute 'thinking out loud' for 'wondering'.
posted by PigAlien at 7:05 AM on April 8, 2004


*Yawn*

People die in war. News at 11.


you fail the turing test, eas98: i find it impossible to believe an actual human being expressed that sentiment about what we're seeing here.

can anyone recommend the best way to contribute to any sort of relief fund for those caught between the hammer and the anvil in iraq? can i just give a donation to the u.n. or the red cross and hope that it gets used toward relief effortsi n iraq?
posted by lord_wolf at 7:31 AM on April 8, 2004


Photographs of dead children-- it's just horrible. It breaks your heart. With that said, we know nothing about what caused the deaths of those particular children-- were they caught in crossfire between U.S. and Iraqis? Were they killed by a U.S. bomb? Does a photo of a dead child look different if he was killed by a bullet from a U.S. soldier or by the mukhabarat? My point is simply that propaganda can (and will be) used on both sides of any conflict. In guerrilla warfare both sides are at fault for putting civilians in danger: The guerrillas hide in civilian areas (schools, mosques) to protect themselves, and sometimes the armed forced will attack those places. I pray that this conflict is resolved with as little loss of life as possible.
posted by gwint at 7:37 AM on April 8, 2004


what tomcosgrove said...get us out of there now, and indict and impeach those who got us entangled in this horror.

lord_wolf, the UN still hasn't come back to Iraq after the 2 bombings they suffered, as far as I know....I think the Red Crescent (the islamic Red Cross?) might be able to do anything, if anyone can.
posted by amberglow at 7:37 AM on April 8, 2004


And in the "home of the brave and the land of the free" I'm 100% certain those images will not be shown willingly.

You can bet your sweet ass they won't be shown. If they don't dare show images of coffins coming back, they sure as hell won't show images of dead foreign kids.

...besides which, there's sports to cover! How can you possibly expect war coverage when there's so much sports to talk about?
posted by aramaic at 7:39 AM on April 8, 2004


get us out of there now

That would only make it worse. If the US walked away right now, the whole country would descend into various forms of nightmare. What's happening now is sad, but it could be (will be?) 10x worse. We'd all get to watch as Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan & Iran all start fighting for their own little piece of the Iraqi pie, with Kurd, Shiite & Sunni warlords taking on all comers.

GWB got Iraq into this mess, so he had damn well better get Iraq out of this mess.
posted by aramaic at 7:48 AM on April 8, 2004


Hey, know what? That's what Hitler's army used to do in my (then occupied) country. Every time the resistance had a success they called them terrorists and then went and burned a village (with everybody in it) to teach them a lesson. Know what happened to Hitler? Know what happened to Germans, for that matter? (keep yawning eas98)
posted by acrobat at 7:48 AM on April 8, 2004


amberglow: We can't just leave. It isn't that simple. Iraq would become Middle East Battleground 2005-2010 with all parts wanting a piece. It is oil-rich, has three distinct groups with regional ties (and lets not forget the Kurds), AND has historic signifigance for religions.

We made a mess there trying to deal with another mess. If we up-and-leave, we will be almost as bad as Saddam was. (We won't be killing people just because they are a different religious sect than "we are", but still...)

I strongly disagree with how the Bush Administration got into this. But the fact is that we are there. We can't just vanish. How do we fix this?

* Do go we crawling to the UN? Better hope Kerry wins, because there is no way Bush will. (I think the conservatives on MeFi can agree with that...)

* Do we bomb the place and let God / Allah figure it out?

* Do we start the draft and double or triple the troop deployment there?

* Do we shut down the Iraqi society and try to achieve "lockdown"? (No freedom in sight, but at least there are fewer deaths...)

I don't claim to have the answer. But I do claim that I am asking the right question, unlike many people in Washington, on TV, and around the world. Do NOT focus on Bush. Focus on the situation. If you want to focus on Bush, do it on 11/2/04.
posted by andreaazure at 7:53 AM on April 8, 2004


This will not be our Vietnam...it will be our Palestine.

There are no words for the pain of those photos. They bring the war home, and show exactly why people will fight to the death.

You can bet damn sure, however, that the Bush Administration won't let any photos be shown. For most of the people over here, it just wouldn't be...proper.

And as far as the mercenaries go, they accepted the risks knowingly when they took the job. That's a helluva lot different from innocent children.

It's time the American populace gets its collective head out of its ass, and does something about this monster in the White House. He disgraces the office. He, his vice president, and his cabinet should be impeached. In a perfect world, we'd have someone with the balls to actually attempt it.
posted by Beansidhe at 7:53 AM on April 8, 2004


...besides which, there's sports to cover! How can you possibly expect war coverage when there's so much sports to talk about?
posted by aramaic


Oh, that's a good point.

GO BRUINS.
posted by andreaazure at 7:54 AM on April 8, 2004


Sorry...I'm angry.
posted by Beansidhe at 7:56 AM on April 8, 2004


But, seriously, all the US had to do to keep things calm was to put their money where their mouth was. Which they didn't. They didn't care for the country or the people to start with (no electricity, safety, work, fair treatment), they cared fuck all about democracy (democracy? Ha ha!). They didn't manage to control the resistance so they unleashed their rage on the people. And some people, when they cannot live free and with respect, prefer to die honorably, that is, fighting the enemy with whatever they've got. You want to help? Demand from your leaders to treat the occupied people like human beings. It's a good starting point and it'll make a hell of a difference!
posted by acrobat at 7:58 AM on April 8, 2004


On second thought, maybe it's too late already
posted by acrobat at 8:00 AM on April 8, 2004


You can bet damn sure, however, that the Bush Administration won't let any photos be shown.

This statement makes no sense. We've just all seen them. They are accessable to anyone with a web browser. They probably won't be shown on U.S. media, but then again, has the U.S. media ever shown photos of dead children? Might stilll be taboo. Not sure.

But, seriously, all the US had to do to keep things calm was to put their money where their mouth was

No, the situation was always much more complex than this and you know it.
posted by gwint at 8:06 AM on April 8, 2004


That's exactly what I meant...they won't be shown on the televised media here.
posted by Beansidhe at 8:12 AM on April 8, 2004


* Do go we crawling to the UN? Better hope Kerry wins, because there is no way Bush will. (I think the conservatives on MeFi can agree with that...)


On the contrary, there is some evidence that that is exactly what the Bush administration will do. I'm not certain which is more telling, that Bush would backtrack enough to even beg the French for help to keep order, or the incompetance that created this mess in the first place.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:19 AM on April 8, 2004


Of course, in a larger context it was the US vs. the Soviets

No it wasn't, unless by "larger context" you mean the fantasies of the "best and the brightest" who were running the show on our end. It was the Vietnamese kicking out the latest in a long series of occupiers. The funniest part was where we accused North Vietnam of being a puppet of the Chinese, when it's the Chinese who ruled Vietnam for a thousand years and who the Vietnamese consider their historic enemy. We were just a temporary nuisance (like the Crusaders in the Middle East).

How long until we achieve a My Lai in Iraq?
posted by languagehat at 8:20 AM on April 8, 2004


Here's a question - if full democratic elections were allowed for the Iraqis, and an Islamic party won, should the election be allowed to stand?

I've always wondered at that - especially after what happened in Iran all those years back..
posted by Mossy at 8:36 AM on April 8, 2004


should the election be allowed to stand?

How is that a question? If it's a fair election, then of course it should be allowed to stand.
posted by aramaic at 8:44 AM on April 8, 2004


Just as a point of reference, something similar happened in Algeria.
posted by salmacis at 9:01 AM on April 8, 2004


A brief history lesson for LanguageHat

From PBS.

1950
China and Soviet Union Pledge Additional Financial Support to Hanoi
1955
China and Soviet Union Pledge Additional Financial Support to Hanoi

Sounds like the Soviets were helping to me.

And that's just the first google link under "Soviets Vietnam" Google is your friend.
posted by swerdloff at 9:11 AM on April 8, 2004


I don't get it - you post pictures of dead children and attempt to draw some parallel to deliberate massacres of civilians. That doesn't even remotely follow.

The fact that civilians have died doesn't in itself a war crime make. Civilians die in war. That's just the way it is. They wouldn't be dying if the insurgents hadn't decided that they preferred theocracy to democracy. There's no alternative now to this fight. But we can choose not to be irresponsible in the comparisons we draw, thereby betraying our total lack of understanding of the nature of war and war crimes.
posted by Dasein at 9:13 AM on April 8, 2004


Here's a question - if full democratic elections were allowed for the Iraqis, and an Islamic party won, should the election be allowed to stand?
posted by Mossy


We don't have full democratic elections in the US for this very reason. (No, I am not making a Florida 2000 reference.) We have seperation of powers, and this is an important thing.

Divide Iraq into 6 roughly-equal parts, east-west for one line and upper third and lower third for another line. Run elections in each of those and you'll see different groups in power. By sharing power, even the minority political groups can have an important say.

I mean, look at the US Senate. Each state gets 2 votes. How is that democratic? It isn't. Rhode Island has the same say in the senate as California, even though California has many, many more voters there.

Diversified power makes sure that some things move slowly. Slow movement is bad for radical ideas, and that is both good and bad.

(Warning, left-leaning comment ahead...)

Good because it would be difficult for extremists to take power.

Bad because we need a radical shift in the US as to how to "harden our ports" and "harden ourselves" against terrorism and that isn't happening...
posted by andreaazure at 9:58 AM on April 8, 2004


What we're seeing in the last few days can actually be seen as progress, in that it positions Iraq operations more squarely in the broader strategic war against Arab and Islamic extremism, which really began in 1993 with the first bombing of the World Trade Center and the decision by Hamas and others of similar worldview to reject the Oslo Accords entered into by Arafat and Rabin.

Saddam was an enemy worthy of destruction, to be sure, but he was only one island in the archipelago. There was always a risk that the Ba'ath die hards and Shi'ite extremists would try to retake power in Iraq once the CPA cedes authority -- probably better to be fighting them now than later, and in Iraq rather than somewhere else.
posted by MattD at 10:13 AM on April 8, 2004


but then again, has the U.S. media ever shown photos of dead children? Might stilll be taboo. Not sure.


maybe not dead, but it certainly showed children flayed alive by napalm. once upon a time, when US journalism still had brass balls and hadn't been cowed into submission.
of course nowadays that would be considered, ahem, "shrill", and possibly treasonous. only the US-passport-carrying or US-uniform-wearing dead deserve human compassion now.
dead Iraqi kids? collateral damage. they probably didn't love freedom enough to greet the troops as liberators.

Civilians die in war. That's just the way it is. They wouldn't be dying if the insurgents hadn't decided that they preferred theocracy to democracy.

these civilians wouldn't be dying if the Bush people (and their fans) hadn't decided that the Iraqis are free, in a post-Saddam Iraq, to have the government America wants. the damn peaceniks had told you, before Iraq Attaq began, that Saddam belonged to a secular Sunni minority in a highly volatile, religious region (that's why America liked him so and armed him -- because he was kryptonite to the neighboring ayatollahs, remember?).
it's safe to say that a nice big chunk of the Iraqi population does not share secular ideas. maybe they want theocracy.

their country. their oil. their government. not America's or anybody's else.

(this of course never makes violence acceptable. but they're free to have the President they want, at this point. maybe the Karzai trick won't work in Iraq this time around, who knows)


I wish all the history teachers around here would go back and read that funny little Pandora's box story.

posted by matteo at 10:16 AM on April 8, 2004


An Adventure in Real Life!

"Hey Mr. Michaels - what are those pictures?"

"They're casualties of the battle in Falluja?"

"Are they American?"

"No - they're Iraqi children."

"Oh, then who cares?"
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:55 AM on April 8, 2004


There was always a risk that the Ba'ath die hards and Shi'ite extremists would try to retake power in Iraq once the CPA cedes authority -- probably better to be fighting them now than later, and in Iraq rather than somewhere else.

Is this as opposed to not fighting them at all in the first place?
posted by y2karl at 10:57 AM on April 8, 2004


The funniest part was where we accused North Vietnam of being a puppet of the Chinese
posted by clavdivs at 11:36 AM on April 8, 2004


amberglow: We can't just leave. It isn't that simple...
I think we can, by immediately giving all power to the UN and keeping just some soldiers there as a part of a multinational peacekeeping force. The way things are going there's going to be an Islamic Republic anyway, unless we kill most of the population. Our puppets are worthless. We went where we shouldn't have, and did (and are still doing) the wrong things to make it work. It's a losing proposition, and I think the sayings, "You made your bed; now lie in it" or "We have to see it through" are crocks. They shouldn't be applied to sovereign countries that we invaded, full of millions of people. Let Iraq become what it wants to, and we can claim that at least we got rid of Saddam. Everyday that we stay there, we're turning more and more of the public against us, and won't win. In fact, I'd say we've already lost, and anything else or more that we do is either inflaming the Arab public all over the region, or ruining Iraqi lives with our heavyhandedness. It's over, in my view.
posted by amberglow at 12:39 PM on April 8, 2004


swerdloff: Don't try to teach your grandmother how to suck eggs. Fifty bucks says I've read a lot more Vietnam histories than you have. I never said Russia and China didn't help Vietnam in its struggle against the US; I said it was Vietnam's struggle, not theirs, and it would have been carried on to a successful conclusion with or without their help—which is something you can't say, for instance, about the American and Greek wars of independence, both of which would have sputtered out without foreign aid. (Do you consider America to have been simply a French puppet in its struggle against England?)

Learn how to read actual books instead of quickly scanning Google hits and maybe you'll have something worth saying.
posted by languagehat at 1:16 PM on April 8, 2004


The funniest part was where we accused North Vietnam of being a puppet of the Chinese

Well I'm your huckleberry, could you provide some link or even a text that says or implies this your statement concerning "Chinese puppet". I do have several books on the subject as well as class notes.

Perhaps you could tie in the Chinese support for the Khmer Roughe and how China attacked Vietnam in 1979 and moreover how the United States did nothing, in fact, remained neutral to some extent, when Vietnam invaded Cambodia, a war of liberation which the U.S. thought was a war of aggression despite recently released documents that Ford. and Co. knew of the slaughter.

(Do you consider America to have been simply a French puppet in its struggle against England?)

I do, to some extent, considering the waffling the French showed concerning anything close to major support until the latter stages of the revolution.
France had her "Interests" too.

both of which would have sputtered out without foreign aid.

concerning the American Revolution, it would have sputtered out if Gen. Washington would have failed at Trenton.
posted by clavdivs at 3:34 PM on April 8, 2004


Sabra. Shatila. ooo I wanna take you
Bagdad, Falluja come on pretty mama
Muqtada al-Sadr baby why don't we go
Tikriti woah....
posted by m@ at 3:36 PM on April 8, 2004


Here's another picture from Falluja which we won't see in the U.S. media...



Absolutely riveting wartime photography is being made in Iraq. Apparently, however, we're not mature enough to see it. I challenge any of you to find the complete raw footage of the Falluja lynchings anywhere on the Internet. I haven't been able to find it... not on http://reuters.feedroom.com , which shows "raw" Reuters footage (which they haven't censored). Not on even on Kazaa.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:45 PM on April 8, 2004


We really need a war images blog. Someone with a cheap capture card and a decent satellite setup could do this. Afterall, this is supposed to be a democracy, how are we supposed to make decisions about war without information? Even if that information is "graphic."
posted by skallas at 5:03 PM on April 8, 2004


how many future terrorists did you create today mr. president?
posted by specialk420 at 8:38 PM on April 8, 2004


Can Bullets and Bombs Establish Justice in Iraq?

In an April 7 press briefing, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld described the Iraqi resistance fighters as a few “thugs, gangs, and terrorists.” Minimizing the scope of the resistance, he characterized it as consisting of “a small number of terrorists and militias coupled with some protests.” (Rumsfeld routinely speaks of all Iraqis who oppose the U.S. occupation as terrorists.) Moreover, in the briefing, he and General Richard Meyers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, referred repeatedly to al-Sadr as a murderer. Yet no legitimate court has convicted al-Sadr of murder. To be sure, a certain Iraqi count is said to have indicted him. What should we make of such an indictment? Who composes that court, and how did those persons gain their positions? Clearly, the court has no power to enforce any decision except with the approval and cooperation of U.S. occupation forces. One might have thought that the world had seen enough kangaroo courts during the days of Stalin and Hitler to have acquired some suspicion of judicial integrity in extraordinary circumstances. Yet U.S. authorities display no appreciation of what genuine justice requires for either its determination or its enforcement. There is absolutely no rule of law in Iraq; U.S. forces simply do as they please.
posted by y2karl at 9:12 PM on April 8, 2004


how many people did you kidnap today mr. Sadr
posted by clavdivs at 9:31 PM on April 8, 2004


It seems a little unlikely to me that Muslims around the world are going to say, "Oh, well, they only knocked some holes in the mosque wall. This isn't really so bad. And, they had every right to do it in international law."

Juan Cole
posted by y2karl at 10:35 PM on April 8, 2004


meanwhile dear leader goes on vacation
"Bush spent the morning watching national security adviser Condoleezza Rice's televised testimony to the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, then toured his ranch with Wayne LaPierre Jr., chief executive of the National Rifle Association, and other leaders of hunting groups and gave an interview to Ladies' Home Journal."
posted by specialk420 at 11:08 PM on April 8, 2004


how many people did you kidnap today mr. Sadr

Yeah, man. I'll be pissed if the American people re-elect Muqtada al-Sadr in November. Not again.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:17 PM on April 8, 2004


*Yawn*

People die in war. News at 11.


From your lips to God's ears, eas98.

Yeah, I know you were trolling. And if I didn't both fear and suspect that there are groups of people in the U.S. right now who pretty much see it that way-- including the gang in charge of the White House-- I would have ignored it.

I was talking with a friend of mine, a New Yorker, a week or two ago, and the question came up again: How is it that Bush and his cronies didn't anticipate this? Didn't they know that there would be bagged corpses coming home to America, didn't know that Iraq would go up in flames? Did they really believe the stuff about flowers thrown at the feet of the conquerers? To which she replied, I think that they don't care about killing people. They just don't care.

Been remembering that, recently.
posted by jokeefe at 2:22 AM on April 9, 2004


Updated casualties at Falluja... 450 Iraqis killed, over 1000 wounded. Still no end to the fighting.

It should be noted that Guernica cost the lives of 1700 people, so the Bush administration still has to play catch-up. They're fast learners, however!
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:06 AM on April 9, 2004


it should be noted your a troll with no grasp of history.

i was going to keep that private and tell you on your "Journal" but the option of anonymous(which will be screened) is fetid and signing up is not an option.
posted by clavdivs at 10:26 AM on April 9, 2004


it should be noted your a troll with no grasp of history.

Are his numbers wrong? Is there a reason why his analogy is completely invalid? Would you mind sharing that reason with us?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:44 AM on April 9, 2004


Most people do not even know that the ancient Basque village Guernica exits, let alone that one third of its citizens were senselessly slaughtered or wounded in little more than three hours. On April 26, 1937, German bombers attacked Guernica, an open city. The unprovoked attack began at 4:30, the busiest hour of a market day. The streets were jammed with townspeople and peasants from the countryside. Never before in modern warfare had noncombatants been slaughtered in such numbers, and by such means.

For the Guernica mission the Condor Legion was equipped with airplanes consisting of three German types, Junkers and Heinkel bombers and Heinkel fighters which were loaded with 3,ooo pounds of bombs weighing up to 550 pounds each along with more than 3,ooo two-pounder aluminum incendiary projectiles (Fisch 1983).

From 4:30 to 7:45 in the evening the squadron poured an uncontested, continuous rain of bombs and gun fire on Guernica. Normal procedure would have been to observe the fall of the bombs and record the exact location of their explosion, yet there are no reports of accuracy for this mission. Villagers who were not immediately killed fled to the fields to take refuge, only to be ravaged by plunging machine gun fighters.


One of these things is not like the other. . .

How many differences can you find, kids?
posted by David Dark at 11:22 AM on April 9, 2004


U.S. forces pressed their drive against insurgents in the Sunni Muslim bastion of Fallujah after trying to suspend the operation and allow talks on bringing relief supplies to the battered city.

"The suspension of offensive operations lasted for 90 minutes but it is over," said Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, a battalion commander, adding that planned talks with local tribal sheikhs never came off.

Major Pete Farnum said: "We went into pause but the enemy kept attacking us on the western side of the city. We had to defend ourselves so we asked for permission to return to offensive operation. This was granted."

One lieutenant, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "Basically the situation has escalated since we rode into Fallujah. At first, the plan was to shake hands with the people and engage the enemy where we find him. But when we came in here, all we faced was the enemy."

Marine officers repeated an earlier call that women and children should seek safety outside the city, and head towards the south, as cars filled with women, children and the elderly headed out of the city.

Japanese Prime Minister Stays Resolute on Iraq

"We tell you that three of your children have fallen prisoner in our hands and we give you two options -- withdraw your forces from our country and go home or we will burn them alive and feed them to the fighters," the group said.

Koizumi's government pledged Friday not to give in, condemning the kidnappings as "an intolerable, inhuman criminal act" and insisting the government was doing all it could to secure the hostages release.

"I cannot help feeling indignation," said Koizumi, one of the Bush administration's closest allies on Iraq. But "if we comply with the demand of the terrorists, it will be exactly what the terrorists want."
posted by David Dark at 12:07 PM on April 9, 2004


Spain on High Alert Following Videotaped Threat of More Attacks

In Spain, despite the beginning of the Holy Week holiday period, security forces are on a high anti-terrorist alert. The seriousness of the alert has been underlined after a video tape made by Islamic militants was found threating more attacks unless Spain withdraws its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
posted by David Dark at 12:16 PM on April 9, 2004


How many differences can you find, kids?

Let's see...Fallujah is the town in Iraq where Americans and Iraqis are killing each other, and Guernica is the tapestry at the UN they had covered because they couldn't bring themselves to stand in front of it while they sold us a war they knew was premised on complete and utter bullshit.
posted by trondant at 12:50 PM on April 9, 2004


and Guernica is the tapestry at the UN they had covered because they couldn't bring themselves to stand in front of it while they sold us a war they knew was premised on complete and utter bullshit.

Actually, Guernica is a painting (now in Madrid at the Reina Sofia) by Picasso; the tapestry is a woven reproduction of it. The rest of your statement is exactly right tho. : >
posted by amberglow at 1:22 PM on April 9, 2004


I must admit finding it a little suprising that simply viewing pictures of dead children is such a shock to some people. Thousands of tonnes of explosives have been dropped on Iraq by the US and UK for the past 12 years. Some of them have killed innocents.

This is what happens when you drop bombs on people. These pictures were what I saw in my minds eye when the 'shock and awe' footage of Baghdad was all over the news. It is stomach churning and vicerally wrong, IMHO.

I can only guess that the profits of Halliburton are not majorly effected by this rising level of destruction. As I have no doubt said before, Iraq the failed state is more of a danger to everyone than Iraq under Saddam, another Afghanistan in the making.
posted by asok at 1:33 PM on April 9, 2004


clav, that seems awfully harsh even if you don't agree with the analogy.

Incidentally, you haven't replied to the last couple of e-mails I've sent you. Is your hotmail account still functional?
posted by languagehat at 3:51 PM on April 9, 2004


well, at least Mr. Dark sees the truth.

(buys Mr. Dark a meta-beverage of his choice)

LH, play your games elsewhere.
no need to reply. The accont is closed.
posted by clavdivs at 9:55 AM on April 10, 2004


Even our puppet Governing Council is pissed at us now: The Iraqi Governing Council early today issued a statement demanding an end to military action and "collective punishment" - a reference to the Fallujah siege. -- from here
posted by amberglow at 10:11 AM on April 10, 2004


LH, play your games elsewhere.

Jesus. Has somebody hacked clavdivs' account? This doesn't sound like the guy with whom I carried on a very friendly correspondence a year or so ago. Maybe I should have Matt run an identity check...
posted by languagehat at 12:02 PM on April 10, 2004


Maybe I should have Matt run an identity check...

by all means. Start a MeTa thread if you like.

no need to reply.

I see you have a need.
posted by clavdivs at 3:10 PM on April 10, 2004


war is hell. blah blah blah. But anyone who says this is missing the point, once you start a war, you pick your battles. You listen to people. You study history.

The US leadership is incompetent. It is doing a bad job in Iraq. These kids didn't have to die. It didn't have to be like this.
posted by chaz at 3:51 PM on April 10, 2004


Has somebody hacked clavdivs' account?

Evidently by one very bipolar dude, languagehat...

From TPM:

I mentioned a few days ago that a friend of mine who spent a career in US military intelligence specializing in counter-terrorism is now in Iraq working as a contractor providing security for companies and NGOs.

I received this update from him this morning ...
The fighting two nights ago was loud and widespread throughout the northern and northwestern parts of Baghdad ... areas such as Yarmouk, Sadr City had almost continuous gunfights and rocket attacks. When we heard US forces using the main gun on M-1 tanks at 1 AM we knew it was serious insurgency at hand. The night is no longer the refuge and domain of the Americans. I have to tell you although the wide open areas of Iraq give a false sense of security. Even though much of this is unseen to most people the situation has gone from bad to really bad to unbelievably bad! Westerners are getting hit everywhere. Security companies escorting CPA, themselves and other Westerners are now on the menu for all the armed resistance groups. There was a report of a massive ambush by one security firm that tried to drive in from Amman. Reports have 25-40 gunmen opening up on them. They lost all of their vehicles and had to be given a mercy lift by a passing Iraqi minivan. Several other firms lost western security personnel killed this week in drive-by ambushes and even a seige by the Sadr Militia. Several NGOs, security firms and military bases were literally under siege for days in Kut, Nasiriyah and Baghdad. The boldness and sophistication of the attacks is staggering and it is clear that every one of the resistance fighters and Islamic militiamen have taken heart at the ease of inflicting damage on the Westerners. The abductions of the Japanese hostages is a sign that we have entered a new phase of bad as abduction requires a permissive environment for the hostage taker.

I refer to this entire mess as the second Intifada of Iraq. The first Intifida was last August in Fallujah when US soldiers killed 15-17 Iraqis and Fallujah fell into revolt. Vehicles are being hit where they are easiest to find and the security firms who are here to protect the Westerners are taking casualties because the US Army and Marines are literally stretched thin throughout the country and quite over their own capacity to stop the violence. The resistance's combat operational center of mass is and will continue moving from known mass resistance organizations (such as uniformed Badr Brigade) to small leaderless or autonomous teams or supporters who are now deciding to do what they please to the first target available. Those targets are easy ... Westerners. Any and all. This burst of energy won't last long though ...


It is not an optimistic assessment... And neither is Juan Cole's:

Fallujah Bloodbath threatens US-Appointed Iraqi Government with Collapse

Not only has what many Iraqis call "the puppet council" taken a stand against Bush administration tactics in Iraq, but individual members are peeling off. Shiite Marsh Arab leader Abdul Karim al-Muhammadawi suspended his membership in the council on Friday. A Sunni member, Ghazi al-Yawir, has threatened to resign if a negotiated settlement of the Fallujah conflict cannot be found. Old-time Sunni nationalist leader Adnan Pachachi thundered on al-Arabiya televsion, "It was not right to punish all the people of Fallujah, and we consider these operations by the Americans unacceptable and illegal." For him to go on an Arab satellite station much hated by Donald Rumsfeld and denounce the very people who appointed him to the IGC is a clear act of defiance. There are rumors that many of the 25 Governing Council members have fled abroad, fearful of assassination because of their association with the Americans. The ones who are left appear on the verge of resigning.

posted by y2karl at 5:00 PM on April 10, 2004


Iraqi Violations of the Laws of War During the Present Conflict

"Perfidy: On numerous occasions, Iraqi forces have feigned civilian or noncombatant status to deceive the enemy. For example, on March 29 at a U.S. military roadblock near Najaf, an Iraqi noncommissioned officer reportedly posing as a taxi driver detonated a car bomb that killed him and four U.S. soldiers. Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said at a Baghdad news conference that such attacks would become "routine military policy." The Iraqi military has also used civilian buildings to shield itself from attack. For example, Iraqi forces reportedly fired on coalition troops from a hospital in Nasyriah. The building, in which U.S. Marines found weapons, stockpiles of ammunition, military uniforms and chemical suits and masks was clearly marked as a hospital by a flag with a Red Crescent symbol.

International law prohibits attacking, killing, injuring, capturing or deceiving the enemy by resorting to what is called perfidy. The essence of perfidy is an act that invites the enemy's respect or reliance on the laws of armed conflict in order to gain advantage by betraying that trust. For example, when active and hostile combatants pretend to be civilians, feign surrender or appropriate the Red Cross/Red Crescent symbol, they are abusing the protections of the law to get their opponent to let down their guard at the moment of attack.

Perfidy poses particular dangers because it blurs the distinction between enemy soldiers, who are a valid target, and civilians and other noncombatants, who are not. Soldiers fearful of perfidious attacks are more likely to fire upon civilians and surrendering soldiers, however unlawfully.

Civilian Shields: During the first Gulf War and during U.S. air strikes in 1997, Iraq compelled civilians to shield military targets; there have been reports that it has done the same in the present conflict. The use of civilians, including a state's own citizens, as human shields to protect military objectives from attack is a violation of international humanitarian law amounting to a war crime.

The Iraqi military has also used civilian buildings to shield themselves from attack (or, perhaps, to try to maximize civilian casualties). For example, Iraqi forces reportedly fired on coalition troops from a hospital in Nasyriah. The building, in which U.S. Marines found weapons, stockpiles of ammunition, military uniforms and chemical suits and masks was clearly marked as a hospital by a flag with a Red Crescent symbol.

Execution Squads: Security forces loyal to Saddam Hussein have allegedly been executing Iraqi civilians and soldiers perceived as disloyal to the regime. If true, this constitutes a war crime. Security forces have also extrajudicially executed alleged army deserters - while not a war crime, such acts are probably unlawful under Iraqi law and are clearly human rights violations.

Last week in Iraqi Kurdistan, Human Rights Watch interviewed 26 Iraqi soldiers who had deserted their units. Some said they knew of execution squads of 10-12 men drawn from regular armed forces and from Military Intelligence, though they had not seen executions themselves. One eyewitness to an execution said that on March 26, ten deserters were brought to an open field where a colonel had gathered other units to witness the execution. "This is what happens to betrayers of our nation," the colonel told the assembled troops, according to the witness. He then began shooting the alleged deserters one by one; other members of the execution squad joined in. The colonel then ordered the bodies to be dragged up onto a hillside so the soldiers would have a better view of the corpses. Some of the Iraqi soldiers described inhumane punishments including being beaten, or being forced to crawl across stones on their bare knees or backs. One showed the scars on his back from this punishment. Their officers frequently warned them that they would be executed if they tried to escape.

Abuses of Prisoner of War (POW) rights: The Iraqi government has thus far not allowed the International Committee for the Red Cross to visit American POWs - something the Geneva Conventions require. It has also filmed and interrogated POWs before cameras. According to the Third Geneva Convention of 1949, a detaining authority in wartime has a clear obligation not to parade POWs, or allow them to be exposed to the public. The prohibition is not a blanket ban on any image whatsoever of a POW; for example, it would not extend to incidental filming of POWs, when journalists are documenting broader military operations. But a detaining authority in wartime has a clear obligation not to parade POWs, or allow them to be exposed to public curiosity.

If reports that Iraqi forces executed coalition prisoners after their capture turn out to be true, that, of course, would also constitute a war crime.

Mr. Chairman, these and other ongoing Iraqi violations lead me to two broad conclusions. First, the United States and the international community must continue to make clear that Iraqi officials and commanders will be held accountable for grave breaches and other very serious violations of the Geneva Conventions.

That may sound like a non-controversial statement. But keep in mind, there are those who believe that the Geneva Conventions and other international legal instruments have no practical impact on those, like the Iraqi regime, who disdain rules and norms of every kind. I understand their skepticism, but believe it to be wrong. Iraqi conduct could well have been far worse in this war had it not been for the existence of internationally accepted laws of armed conflict and the threat of punishment for violators.

For example, if Iraq indeed has weaponized chemical or biological arms, I think it is interesting that it has not yet used them in this conflict. Even if it hasn't fully cooperated with the International Committee for the Red Cross, it is interesting that it has permitted that organization to remain in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. Iraqi officials may well feel that they still have an interest in appealing to public opinion in other countries; and they may well fear the possibility of prosecution. This reminds us why these norms are so important; it is why they need to be defended and enforced.

My second conclusion flows from the first: Because the Geneva Conventions are such a useful tool in stigmatizing and deterring atrocities, the United States has an interest in upholding them in its own conduct. The extraordinary power and influence of America's armed forces means that every action they take in the field sets a standard that others will emulate. I believe the United States must set a gold standard when it comes to compliance with the laws of war. That is the best way to ensure compliance by others, and to preserve America's authority to complain when its adversaries don't play by the rules.

In Iraq, that means U.S. and coalition forces must be proactive in preventing the media from filming Iraqi POWs in intrusive ways. It means refraining from attacking civilians and civilian objects even for the purpose of affecting morale, taking all feasible precautions to minimize incidental harm to civilians and civilian objects in attacks on military targets, and avoiding the use of weapons, like cluster munitions, that pose the risk of excessive civilian injury and death, especially near populated areas. It means according POW rights to captured Iraqi combatants unless a competent tribunal determines they are not entitled to POW status (as coalition forces are doing, rightly, in Iraq, but did not do in Afghanistan). It means ensuring that allied forces inside Iraq, such as Kurdish and other opposition militia, treat prisoners humanely and afford them full POW rights. And it means providing security for civilians in all areas occupied by coalition forces. Should evidence arise of war crimes or serious violations of the laws of war by any U.S. or allied personnel, those should, of course, be investigated and, if appropriate, prosecuted vigorously as well.


Past Iraqi Crimes

Under the leadership of President Saddam Hussein, who seized power in 1979, the Iraqi government has committed a vast number of crimes against the Iraqi people and others. The victims of such crimes include up to 290,000 persons who have been "disappeared" since the late 1970s, many of whom we believe have been killed.

Human rights organizations and independent monitors have had almost no access to government-controlled areas of Iraq. However, the evidence that has been gathered about some of the crimes-particularly the "Anfal campaign" against the Kurds - is of sufficient quality to stand up in legal proceedings.

Following the post-Gulf War Kurdish uprising, and the withdrawal of the Iraqi military from northern Iraq in October 1991, Human Rights Watch investigators traveled to the region to document Saddam's crimes. Some 350 witnesses and survivors were interviewed. Mass graves were exhumed. And Kurdish rebels were convinced to hand over some 18 tons of documents that they had seized from Iraqi police stations. These documents were airlifted to the United States. They contain a treasure trove of information that will be invaluable in any future trials of the Iraqi leadership.

Although existing evidence about other serious human rights crimes and violations such as those ongoing against the Marsh Arabs and southern Shi`a populations is more limited, indications are that these campaigns have been similarly centrally organized. A change in government in Iraq will hopefully give access to a vast amount of information about those crimes as well.

Attacks against the Iraqi Kurds: The government's notorious attacks on the Iraqi Kurds have come in phases. Between 1977 and 1987, some 4,500-5,000 Kurdish villages were systematically destroyed and their inhabitants forcibly removed and made to live in "resettlement camps." Commencing in the spring of 1987, thousands of Iraqi Kurds were killed during chemical and conventional bombardments.

From February to September 1988, the Iraqi government launched the official "Anfal" campaign, during which Iraqi troops swept through the highlands of Iraqi Kurdistan rounding up everyone who remained in government-declared "prohibited zones." More than 100,000 Kurds, mostly men and boys, were trucked to remote sites and executed. These killings constitute acts of genocide. The killings, forcible and arbitrary transfer of populations, and chemical weapons attacks amount to crimes against humanity.

There is voluminous evidence of the Iraqi government's responsibility for these crimes in the documents seized in northern Iraq after the first Gulf War. Perhaps most dramatic are audio tapes of remarks by Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as "Chemical Ali," the Iraqi official in charge of the campaign against the Kurds, from a number of meetings with senior Ba'ath Party officials in 1988 and 1989. In one segment he exclaims: "I will kill them all with chemical weapons! Who is going to say anything? The international community? *#*@ them! The international community and those who listen to them."

Repression of the Marsh Arabs and other Shi`a: During the early years of the Iran-Iraq war, the Iraqi government arrested thousands of Shi`a Muslims on the charge of supporting the 1979 revolution in Iran. Many have "disappeared" or remain unaccounted for; others died under torture or were executed. This campaign was followed by the forced expulsion of over half a million Shi`a during the 1980s to Iran, after the separation out of many male family members. Some 50,000 - 70,000 men and boys were arrested and imprisoned indefinitely without charge; most remain unaccounted for.

After the Gulf War, in southern Iraq, members of the Shi`a majority rose up in revolt against the Iraqi leadership. In response, thousands of Shi`a were imprisoned without charge or "disappeared" in state custody. Hundreds were summarily executed. Many Shi`a shrines and institutions were demolished by government forces. In the southeast, after tens of thousands of Shi`a Muslim civilians, army deserters, and rebels sought precarious shelter in remote areas of the marshes that straddle the Iranian border, Iraq's military and security forces shelled and launched military raids against them. Systematic bombardment of villages, widespread arbitrary arrests, torture, "disappearances," summary executions, and forced displacement reduced the Marsh Arabs from more than 250,000 to as few as 40,000. Large-scale government drainage projects virtually wiped out the Marsh Arab economy and, along with severe repression, forced the displacement of at least 100,000 of the Marsh Arabs inside Iraq. More than 40,000 others fled to Iran.

Forced expulsion of ethnic minorities from Kirkuk: Since 1991, Iraqi authorities have forcibly expelled over 120,000 Kurds, Turcomans and Assyrians from their homes in the oil-rich region of Kirkuk and neighboring towns and villages. The systematic forcible transfer of the population-a process referred to by the authorities as "Arabization"- has been accompanied by the resettling of Arab families brought from southern Iraq to replace those evicted.

General repression, large-scale "disappearances," and other crimes: In addition to abuses particularly aimed at the Kurds and Shi`a Muslims, the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein have suffered a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including political imprisonment, torture, and summary and arbitrary executions. In addition, a ubiquitous network of security services and informants has suppressed independent civilian institutions and terrorized the Iraqi population into virtual silence. Torture techniques have included hangings, beatings, rape, and burning suspects alive. Thousands of political detainees have died under torture. There have also been a staggering number of "disappearances. In addition to the Shi'a and Kurdish cases described above, "disappearances" have included: an estimated 8,000 Barzani males removed from resettlement camps in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1983; 10,000 or more males said to have been separated from Feyli Kurdish families deported to Iran during the 1980s; Shi`a Muslim clerics and their students from al-Najaf and Karbala; over 600 Kuwaitis and third country nationals who disappeared after their arrest during the occupation of Kuwait; members of other targeted groups, including communist and other leftist groups; Kurdish, Assyrian, and Turcoman opposition groups; out-of-favor Ba'athists; and the relatives of persons in these groups.

The use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war: Iraq used chemical weapons extensively, starting in 1983-1984, during the Iran-Iraq war. It is estimated that some twenty thousand Iranians were killed by mustard gas, and the nerve agents tabun and sarin. Both Iran (1929) and Iraq (1931) are parties to the Geneva Protocol that prohibits the use of asphyxiating, poisonous, or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials, or devices, as well as the use of bacteriological methods of warfare. The use of asphyxiating, poisonous, and other prohibited gases is a war crime.

Occupation of Kuwait and related abuses: During Iraq's occupation of Kuwait in 1990-1991, Iraqi forces committed systematic and gross abuses of human rights. During the initial takeover of Kuwait, hundreds of persons were killed or wounded and thousands detained. Iraqi soldiers and militia committed countless acts of theft, rape and assault on civilians, as well as summary executions, "disappearances," and torture. Human Rights Watch believes that many acts committed by Iraqi agents during Iraq's occupation of Kuwait constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

There is clearly a need for justice for atrocities committed by the Iraqi authorities in Iraq and neighboring countries. Countless Iraqis have lost loved ones to these crimes; many have no information about how their relatives perished. When Saddam's regime falls, they will demand answers, and they will demand accountability. If they cannot get answers and accountability under the law, they may well take the law into their own hands. The stability of a post-war Iraq thus depends on a credible process for bringing to justice those responsible for past crimes.

Such a process will also be vital to creating a culture of respect for the rule of law in a post-war Iraq. It will be a wonderful thing for Iraqis to see the surviving leaders of Saddam Hussein's regime, men who were once untouchable and all-powerful, humbled before the law, and confronted by their victims, in a fair and open trial. If such people are punished in a summary, extra-judicial way - or, at the other extreme, permitted to remain in positions of authority -- then in a real sense nothing will have changed in Iraq."
posted by clavdivs at 7:33 PM on April 10, 2004


Chaos, killing and kidnap

American troops in Iraq were last night locked in the most ferocious fighting since the war as the toll of Iraqis killed climbed to 460 and the military admitted it had lost control of two southern towns.

On the eve of the anniversary of Saddam Hussein's fall from power - a moment the US had imagined would be marked by celebrations - Iraq's fragile security began to fall apart.

In house-to-house fighting to regain control of Falluja, the death toll of Iraqis was 330. The Americans have lost 36 soldiers this week, the worst casualty rate since the fall of the regime. At least 13 foreigners, including one Briton, were kidnapped in different incidents, the first time that western civilians have been held by insurgents in Iraq.


Vietnam's Lessons Then And Now

" 'No one starts a war, or rather no one in his senses should do so,' Clausewitz wrote, 'without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to achieve it.'  Mistake number one in Vietnam. Which led to Clausewitz's rule number two. Political leaders must set a war's objectives, while armies achieve them. In Vietnam, one seemed to be looking to the other for the answers that never came.

...I had gone off to Vietnam in 1962 standing on a bedrock of principle and convictions. And I had watched that foundation eroded by euphemisms, lies, and deception."

My American Journey, Colin Powell


Bush and Blair have lit a fire which could consume them

This revolt shows every sign of turning into Iraq's own intifada, and towns like Falluja and Ramadi - centres of resistance from the first days of occupation - are now getting the treatment Israel has meted out to Palestinians in Jenin, Nablus and Rafah over the past couple of years. As resistance groups have moved from simply attacking US and other occupation troops to attempts to hold territory, US efforts to destroy them - as an American general vowed to do yesterday - have become increasingly brutal. Across Iraq, US soldiers and their European allies are now killing Iraqis in their hundreds on the streets of their own cities in an explosive revival of the Middle East's imperial legacy.
posted by y2karl at 8:21 PM on April 10, 2004


Iraqi Battalion Refuses to 'Fight Iraqis-- It was the first time U.S. commanders had sought to involve the postwar Iraqi army in major combat operations, and the battalion's refusal came as large parts of Iraqi security forces have stopped carrying out their duties.
posted by amberglow at 10:26 PM on April 10, 2004


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