He said the roof of the building was marked with the Red Cross symbol.
October 16, 2001 7:44 AM   Subscribe

He said the roof of the building was marked with the Red Cross symbol. Good idea. Maybe they should hire Jakob, he would tell them that the cross is ineligible and might be thought of as a target.
posted by tiaka (30 comments total)
while this certainly sad and likely accidental, there is a long history of organizations like Taleban hiding behind places like red cross buildings and "baby milk factories." the reality is, after what happened, anything is Afghanistan is fair game.
posted by nobody_knose at 7:56 AM on October 16, 2001

... the cross is ineligible ...

Perhaps the cross should start hanging out at cross singles' bars... ;-)

If its handwriting wasn't so illegible...
posted by yarf at 8:11 AM on October 16, 2001

The Muslims do not have a red cross. (nor the Israelis--Star of David) They have a Red Crescent. Why a Cross, the symbol for them of the Crusades. The nazis carted the gas used in ;killing chamgers about in vehicles marked with Red Cross.
Seems more Taliban bullshit.
posted by Postroad at 8:16 AM on October 16, 2001

nobody_knose: anything is Afghanistan is fair game. Is that *really* what you meant?

Taliban security chief Mullah Rohani in the article: "We are very sad because these things belong to the people.'' No they belong to the Red Cross who nicely tries to distribute them to the people that you oppress and murder. You are an evil fuck who i doubt has the capacity to feel compassion of any sort.
posted by danOstuporStar at 8:28 AM on October 16, 2001

It wasn't the Taliban who confirmed it Postroad, it was the Red Cross. But I don't know why many of you bother reading the news as you've already got all the excuses for all the potential outcomes. Why don't you just write them down here and we'll match them up with events as they arise.
posted by Summer at 8:31 AM on October 16, 2001

The Muslims do not have a red cross.

Postroad, have you actually read the article? It refers to a compound of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
posted by arf at 8:48 AM on October 16, 2001

My error. sorry. sorry too for the 6000 who died in NY.
I am a right-winged bastard who believes that the Taliban harbored, and continues to harbor, terror camps and their leaders and thus if there is damage done to innocents or stored goodies in an attempt to protect decent people in our country and in others, then that is a shame. But a necessary one. Gosh, we bombed Dresden and Hiroshima and the Nazis shot huge rockets into England. War has indeed changed since the trenches of WWI.
posted by Postroad at 9:06 AM on October 16, 2001

Also: thanks for the lame, superfluous, chip-on-your-shoulder Jakob Nielsen sideswipe. I doubt he pays any of us as much mind, for all his foibles.
posted by donkeyschlong at 9:07 AM on October 16, 2001

I am a right-winged bastard

Postroad: You said it.

Oh, and Dresden and Hiroshima? Both are some of the more egregious cases of indiscriminate killing of civilians. Thanks for pointing them out.
posted by mapalm at 9:28 AM on October 16, 2001

anything is Afghanistan is fair game
So if they kill the Northern Alliance by accident, that'll just be "war is hell" too?
posted by Zootoon at 10:08 AM on October 16, 2001

But I don't know why many of you bother reading the news as you've already got all the excuses for all the potential outcomes. Why don't you just write them down here and we'll match them up with events as they arise.

Or we could could tack to the wall every instance of a U.S. cruise missle coming within 3 miles of a civilian in attempt to paint our country as some sort of unjustified, blood-thirsty, racist aggressor.

Funny how as a whole, some people are readily open to what the Taliban has to say while at the same time being ultra cynical about anything our own government says or does.
posted by tomorama at 10:20 AM on October 16, 2001

danOstuporStar: believe whatever you like, jackass.

Zootoon: afraid so.

this is war and there are bound to be casualties. if we only acted when there was 100% assurance that there will be zero civilian casualties, we would all be speaking German right now and pledging out allegiance to the fuhrer or whatever other tyrant attacked us last.
posted by nobody_knose at 10:25 AM on October 16, 2001

Golly. I am old enough to remember when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Memory fades but I can not recall that a batch of folks said we ought not bomb them for fear we might hit a warehouse with food in it.
As for bombing the Northern Alliance: silly remark: we have befriended a not-so-nice batch of people but they are going to take lots of hits that our own people might otherwise take, and since they need us and we need them we are not going to shoot at them. ps: what has happened to the few folls being held by the Taliban that are Americans and/or people from other countries? Or doees this too not matter.
posted by Postroad at 10:27 AM on October 16, 2001

ok, nobody_knose that's one way to answer my question. it was a sincere question. it sounded like you were saying we should be bombing hospitals and refugee camps and i thought surely that was not what you meant so i sought clarification. apparently that is what you meant. my bad.

i too feel ICRC was collateral damage, as was the UN building hit last week. i too feel the taliban may protect legitimate targets behind civilian/humatarian "shields" (the explosions in Coram occurring nearly simultaneously to al queda's warning of "serious consequences if civilian homes are damaged" is very suspicious to me). but we must be cautious to limit civilian causalities as much as possible. i took that to be unviversally accepted. again, my bad.
posted by danOstuporStar at 11:24 AM on October 16, 2001

Postroad, it's important to understand that if we are indeed engaged in a war to free the world from terrorism, then we are fighting to protect the people of Afghanistan as much as the people of America, Canada or Great Britain. In a practical sense even moreso, because they have alread suffered much more than we have.
posted by Hildago at 11:58 AM on October 16, 2001

skallas: I'm loosely referring to the article in discussion but moreso speaking in general.
posted by tomorama at 12:33 PM on October 16, 2001

postroad: Don't let the whackos get you down. Your question was a valid one. The ICRC is known as the "Red Crescent" in Islamic countries, and any building in Afghanistan would have been designated with a crescent moon, not a cross. It may just be a mixup on ICRC's part in announcing the info. Maybe not.

As for apologizing for attacking Afghan terror camps, Hiroshima or Nagasaki, forget it. We've been down that road before, and only those who wish to ignore history will continue to insist that the atomic bombings of Japan were unjustified or ineffective. Only those who truly believe the terrorists were justified will oppose us delivering justice to them.
posted by darren at 2:16 PM on October 16, 2001

danOstuporStar: Please explain what about my response indicated to you that I was in favor of collateral damage? I merely said it was a sad part of war. Of course we should do everything to minimize it without compromising the greater good of routing out terrorists. Aside form the fact that it is just the right thing to do, why would it be in America's interest do any differently?

And when you throw around hostile flame bait like "You are an evil fuck," PLEASE don't pretend that you are interested in sincere and thoughtful dialogue. Your bad, indeed.
posted by nobody_knose at 3:00 PM on October 16, 2001

I remember so called 'friendly' fire during the Gulf War where something like a dozen Brits were killed by US bombing tanks with British flags stuck on the back. It may be a million bucks per bomb, but if they still hit aid warehouses and villages (hell, why isn't the Pentagon simply denying it if they didn't? Thats what they normally do), it seems like the accuracy is being over-hyped..

The head of the Red Cross's Afghan delegation in Pakistan said there were a coupla big Red Crosses on the buildings (also at the Red Cross site, here). Crosses would be easier to do than Crescent's, and I doubt the Taleban could see it that easy from the ground, and wouldn't do much about it as it was an international compound.
posted by Mossy at 3:51 PM on October 16, 2001

darren, I think you're making an assumption that isn't correct.

The ICRC is known solely as The International Committee of the Red Cross. It is an independent international organization. There is a sibling organization called The International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies, which represents local national organizations -- which are divided into Red Cross, Red Crescent, and Red Lion and Sword (in Iran).

Apparently the chaos in Afghanistan means there isn't a local organized chapter, so the ICRC was providing direct services. Their own press release instists th building was marked with a red cross.

Though the red cross was originally created (in 1871) as an inverse of the design of the Swiss flag, it was quickly augmented with designs that would be acceptable in Islamic regions, such as the red crescent and the red lion with sword. (In recent years the last has mostly disappeared.) Because some groups are petitioning for other symbols -- Kazakhstan wants a combined red cross and crescent symbol, and Israel's Magen David wants a red Star of David -- and the red cross symbol has actually been provocative in some areas, such as Chechnya, where it was apparently the excuse for the outright murder of aid workers by Islamic guerrillas -- they're considering adding a red diamond symbol that may be used both instead of adding endlessly to the list and in areas where one of the other symbols would be provocative. Interestingly, the American Red Cross opposes the diamond.

Note that the recognized emblems are actually written into the official Geneva Conventions, and technically has the force of international law, so changing it is a little more complex than just the IFRCS decreeing it so.

I do find it interesting given previous inter-religious legal conflicts in Afghanistan, such as the arrested aid workers, that the ICRC was permitted or felt safe using the red cross emblem on their buildings, but I'm willing to take their word that's what they were using.
posted by dhartung at 3:53 PM on October 16, 2001

Oh, btw, misuse of the red cross over the years has extended everywhere from On Her Majesty's Secret Service (the assault on the Alps compound was by "red cross" helicopters) to Serbian secret police doing ethnic cleansing. They don't take it lightly; and I'm sure they're perfectly willing to work with the US on identifying any facilities that are so labeled and are not authorized to do so.

And I see mossy slipped in there; but I'm a bigger karma whore, neener neener.
posted by dhartung at 3:57 PM on October 16, 2001

"Only those who truly believe the terrorists were justified will oppose us delivering justice to them."

Just so you know, I've stopped beating my wife.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:14 PM on October 16, 2001

ah, now i get it. only the first paragraph of my original comment was directed at you, nobody_knose. i wanted to know if you really meant 'everything in afganistan'. the "flamebait" second paragraph referred (stupidly i suppose since obviously he would never see it) only to the taliban security chief. hopefully this is cleared up and we can leave this thread in peace.
posted by danOstuporStar at 5:44 PM on October 16, 2001

danOstuporStar: so done.
posted by nobody_knose at 7:53 PM on October 16, 2001

darren said : "only those who wish to ignore history will continue to insist that the atomic bombings of Japan were unjustified or ineffective"

How about just plain wrong? 'Moral relativism' and the 'horrors of war' and 'collateral damage' and loaded, content-free expressions of the kind serve to distract us from the simple fact that nuclear weapons were dropped on civilian populations.

I'll not argue about the 'effectiveness' of dropping nukes on cities. But as far as justified goes, consider :

Truman's chief of staff, Admiral William Leahy, chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest J. King, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Admiral William Halsey, Rear Admiral Lewis L. Strauss, commanding general of the U.S. Army Air Forces Henry H. Arnold, General Claire Chennault of the Flying Tigers, Army Strategic Air Forces Commander Carl Spatz, and Army Air Force General Curtis Lemay, all challenged the argument that dropping the bombs were a military necessity.

Secretary of State Stimson, Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy, former Ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew, Navy Under Secretary Ralph Bard, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all took issue with the decision in one way or another.

In 1963, Dwight Eisenhower said "it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."

There were alternatives: Truman could have demonstrated the destructiveness of the bomb without murdering several hundred thousand civilians. He could have altered the insistence on unconditional surrender, which the Japanese felt threatened their Emperor. This was the main obstacle to Japan's peace party, a fact known by Truman at the time, thanks to interception of Japanese coded messages. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill advised Truman to allow the Japanese to surrender, keeping their Emperor system and their honor intact. These options were not pursued.

When Truman took charge, the stated policy of the US did not vary substantially from the unconditional surrender requirement.

General MacArthur advised that a full-scale invasion of Japan would be necessary even after the atom bombs were dropped. As many of Truman's political and military advisors informed him, the Japanese considered their Emperor to be a god. They could never permit his demise or that of his dynasty.

On June 9, 1945, Japan's Prime Minister Suzuki said "Should the emperor system be abolished, they [the Japanese people] would lose all reason for existence. 'Unconditional surrender', therefore, means death to the hundred million: it leaves us no choice but to go on fighting to the last man."

Truman set up a panel which released a report on 1 July 1946, United States Strategic Bombing Survey, which on page 26 states :

"Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated. "

Putting the pieces together, it becomes abundantly clear that even ignoring the fact that it was pure evil, it was not justified.

Right. I'm done. If this is ignoring history, I'm not a wonderchicken.

Tangentially, but interestingly, perhaps, medical facilities here in Korea are marked with a green cross, not a red one, or any of the other configurations mentioned by dhartung. I have no idea why. There is a Green Cross medical company, but there would appear to be no correlation.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:51 PM on October 16, 2001

U.S. admits mistakenly targeting Red Cross warehouse. The Pentagon statement said that U.S. forces "intentionally strike only military and terrorist targets, and regret any innocent casualties."
posted by Carol Anne at 4:55 AM on October 17, 2001

dhartung: Thanks for the info on the Red Cross and Red Crescent issue. Very informative.

And stavrosthewonderchicken, what are your sources for all this revisionist drivel? I started trying to refute your "historical facts" with source material, but the post became so unwieldy I didn't want to waste bandwidth. You've obviously been reading some self-published drivel trying to change the facts in the matter. Wanna fess up to what it was?

And as to the bombing being "wrong", let's just do some math: 80,000 killed in the two bombings, versus an estimated 1 million Allied and 3 million Japanes casualties that would have resulted from an invasion. Of that 3 million, 2 million would have been Japanese civillians. You do the math.
posted by darren at 8:50 AM on October 17, 2001

Ho HO!
From the very anesi.com site where you pulled the bomber command report:
Widely quoted by journalists who have never read it, usually in fuzzy arguments against the use of the atomic bomb. Had they read the report in full, they would not make their uninformed arguments. Read it for yourself and see!

Man, it must suck when your own source material refutes your arguments!
posted by darren at 8:58 AM on October 17, 2001

If you'd like to read the site author's arguments, try here.
posted by darren at 8:59 AM on October 17, 2001

'Man, it must suck when your own source material refutes your arguments' - maybe, darren, but stavros's source is the Survey, not Anesi's interpretation of it. But then 'it must suck when another person's interpretation of your source material contradicts your own' doesn't sound so compelling.

Of course Truman thought he was doing the right thing - he'd hardly say to himself, 'I'm about to do something unjustified - woohoo!' But the fact that he believed that dropping the bomb was justified doesn't mean that it was, any more than justice is done when a jury believes on the evidence before them that an innocent person is guilty and mistakenly convicts them.
posted by rory at 5:30 PM on October 17, 2001

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