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Volcana
Oct 26th, 2007, 01:20 AM
http://www.slate.com/id/2176464/#Correction



An Airstrike a Day Won't Keep Insurgents at BayIt might mean fewer dead Americans, though.

By Fred Kaplan
Posted Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007, at 7:02 PM ET

This month has seen the smallest number of Americans killed in Iraq than any other month since March 2006. But the reasons may have less to do with progress in the war than with the way we're now fighting it.
Just 29 U.S. military personnel have died in Iraq in October so far—down from 65 in September, 84 in August, 78 in July, 101 in June … You get the picture: Fewer, in most cases far fewer, than half as many American soldiers have died this month than in any previous month all year.
However, some perspective is warranted. First, all told, 2007 has been a horrible year for American lives lost in this war—832 to date, more than the 822 lost in all of 2006, and, by the time the year ends, almost certainly more than the 846 killed in 2005 or the 849 in 2004.
True, this month marks the second month in a row in which fatalities have declined, and that's noteworthy. But it doesn't quite constitute a trend, much less an occasion for celebrating.
Second, the slight increase in American fatalities this year, up until recently, is no surprise. When Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, announced a shift to a counterinsurgency strategy—in which his troops would move more aggressively against militias and live among the Iraqi people instead of hunkering down in their massive bases—he acknowledged that the strategy carried risks and that more American casualties would be one of the consequences.
So, what accounts for the decline in American deaths since the summer? It's hard to say for sure, but one little-reported cause is almost certainly a relative shift in U.S. tactics from fighting on the ground to bombing from the air.
On Sunday, U.S. soldiers were searching for a leader of a kidnapping ring in Baghdad's Sadr City. The soldiers came under fire from a building. Rather than engage in dangerous door-to-door conflict, they called in air support. Army helicopters flew overhead and simply destroyed the building, killing several of the fighters but also at least six innocent civilians.* (The bad guy got away.)
In other words, though the shift means greater safety for our ground troops, it also generates more local hostility. Striking urban targets from the air inevitably means killing more innocent bystanders. This makes some of the bystanders' relatives yearn for vengeance. And it makes many Iraqis—relatives, neighbors, and others watching the news of the attack on television—less trusting of the American troops who are supposedly protecting them.
In a conventional war, these consequences might be deemed unavoidable side-effects. But in a counterinsurgency campaign, where the point is to sway the hearts and minds of the population, wreaking such damage is self-defeating.
The U.S. Army's field manual on counterinsurgency, which Gen. Petraeus supervised shortly before he returned to Iraq, makes the point explicitly:
An air strike can cause collateral damage that turns people against the host-nation government and provides insurgents with a major propaganda victory. Even when justified under the law of war, bombings that result in civilian casualties can bring media coverage that works to the insurgents' benefits. … For these reasons, commanders should consider the use of air strikes carefully during [counterinsurgency] operations, neither disregarding them outright nor employing them excessively.
Yet since the surge began and Gen. Petraeus shifted the strategy to counterinsurgency, the number of U.S. airstrikes has soared.
From January to September of this year, according to unclassified data, U.S. Air Force pilots in Iraq have flown 996 sorties that involved dropping munitions. By comparison, in all of 2006, they flew just 229 such sorties—one-quarter as many. In 2005, they flew 404; in 2004, they flew 285.
In other words, in the first nine months of 2007, Air Force planes dropped munitions on targets in Iraq more often than in the previous three years combined.
More telling still, the number of airstrikes soared most dramatically at about the same time that U.S. troop fatalities declined. (Click here for month-by-month figures.)
It's not clear how many Iraqi civilians have been killed or injured as a result of these airstrikes. (Estimating civilian deaths is a difficult enterprise in any war, especially this one, where so much of the country is inaccessible.) However, it's a fair assessment that the numbers have risen substantially this past year.
The research group Iraq Body Count estimates that 417 Iraqi civilians died from January to September of this year as a result of airstrikes. This is only a bit less than the estimated 452 deaths caused by airstrikes in the previous two years combined. (These numbers are almost certainly too low, but they probably reflect the trends. For more on the numbers and on IBC's methodology, click here.)
It is a natural temptation to try to fight the Iraqi insurgents from the air. The fact is, the "surge"—an extra 30,000 U.S. troops sent to Iraq on top of the existing 130,000—was never enough to make a decisive difference. As the troops assumed a more aggressive posture against the insurgents, it was expected that they would find themselves in difficult spots, that they would take more casualties; and one thing American soldiers are trained to do in such circumstances is to call in air support. No one can blame them for protecting themselves.
However, air support has its limits. The senior officers of the U.S. Air Force, seeing which way the winds are blowing in modern warfare and Pentagon war planning, have been trying to figure out how to adapt to the art and science of counterinsurgency. Recently, they commissioned the RAND Corp. to come up with ideas. The resulting report emphasized the role that the Air Force could play in providing mobility, logistics, and medical evacuation. However, on Page 147 of the 150-page report, the authors delivered the bad news:
Although USAF [U.S. Air Force] can deliver relatively small weapons with great precision, it still lacks options to neutralize individual adversaries in close proximity to noncombatants or friendly personnel, to control crowds, or to prevent movement of people on foot through complex urban terrain.
The old adage about warfare—that it's easy to kill people, hard to kill a particular person—is doubly true of aerial warfare. And in counterinsurgency warfare, the consequences are counterproductive.
This leads to the critical question: How, in recent months, are the Iraqi people perceiving the U.S. military presence? How are they gauging the chance of success? Do they welcome the troops, or do they want them to leave?
1) If you think that was a cheap shot at Israel, I have to admit it was. However, I can argue my point is that we're no better than Israel, not that Israel is particularly bad.

2) Using techniques you KNOW are going to kill civilians is deliberately killing civilians. It is NOT defensive, and it is NOT the fault of your enemy. That doesn't mean it isn't justified, but it IS deliberately targeting civilians.

Donny
Oct 26th, 2007, 02:02 AM
I'd say Israel is using the American approach, not vice versa. We were just so good at it that we now outnumber the people whose land we took.

kiwifan
Oct 26th, 2007, 02:47 AM
http://www.slate.com/id/2176464/#Correction


1) If you think that was a cheap shot at Israel, I have to admit it was. However, I can argue my point is that we're no better than Israel, not that Israel is particularly bad.

2) Using techniques you KNOW are going to kill civilians is deliberately killing civilians. It is NOT defensive, and it is NOT the fault of your enemy. That doesn't mean it isn't justified, but it IS deliberately targeting civilians.

Your premise is bullshit. If they are targeting the enemy and they know that civilians are present, they're still targeting the enemy. :yawn: Your silly semantics don't change that reality.

As long as the enemy is going to hide behind the skirts of women and the toys of children and the buildings of "innocent" landlords...

...if we aren't going to leave... (which is my "solution" let them destroy each other for a few years and then we come back and destroy the winner :devil: )
...then bombs away. :shrug:

Donny
Oct 26th, 2007, 02:53 AM
Your premise is bullshit. If they are targeting the enemy and they know that civilians are present, they're still targeting the enemy. :yawn: Your silly semantics don't change that reality.

As long as the enemy is going to hide behind the skirts of women and the toys of children and the buildings of "innocent" landlords...

...if we aren't going to leave... (which is my "solution" let them destroy each other for a few years and then we come back and destroy the winner :devil: )
...then bombs away. :shrug:

You do realize that this line of thinking basically makes any moral high ground we'd have evaporate, right?

Terrorists could just as easily justify attacks on major American cities with large police or Coast Guard presences.

Sam L
Oct 26th, 2007, 03:06 AM
The problem is in Islamic countries, are civilians really just civilians?

http://static.flickr.com/117/304465290_d13681362c.jpg

kiwifan
Oct 26th, 2007, 03:14 AM
You do realize that this line of thinking basically makes any moral high ground we'd have evaporate, right?

Terrorists could just as easily justify attacks on major American cities with large police or Coast Guard presences.

We have no moral ground there.

We shouldn't be there at all, well other than to put Saddam and Sons' heads on sticks...

...once that was done, we should have left and we still should leave.

If we stay 10 years or 10 days the day after we leave they'll get on with their fun little "5 Way Civil War" :shrug:

We owe our soldiers our best efforts to keep them alive in that hell hole...

...that's pretty much my only concern "innocent American" GIs.

They don't deserve to be killed running into booby trapped buildings and weaving in and out of "civilians" who might not really be civilians once you put yourself in a position where they can actually harm you. Most terrorists and insurgents are "civilians", if you don't catch them in the act.

I don't believe in that "Heart and Minds" bullshit.

I don't believe in that we broke it we own it, bullshit either.

We left Vietnam, let them sort their own asses out and now they want us to come back and "feed them hamburgers". :lol:

Leave Iraq and come back when they want "our hamburgers".

Until that day, do whatever it takes to protect American soldiers, they're my top priority.

Iraqi Civilians should be intelligent enough to figure out if the guy next door is shooting at US Soldiers, they're building isn't going to be habitable much longer.

I'd rather that we left, but if we're going to be there...

Volcana
Oct 26th, 2007, 03:20 AM
Was the attack on the Pentagon on September 11th justifiable? The Pentagon IS a military base. Sure many of it's employees are civilians, but it's a military base.

Morality involves drawing lines, and applying those lines to EVERYBODY.

If the USA hires mercenaries, allows them to kill civilians, and argues that they are not subject to any law, then our opponents can kill civilians, and argue they are not subject to any law.

The terrorist argues that anything goes, that the end justifies the means, that collateral damage is acceptable. The civilized man applies to his enemies the standards he'd want applied to his family. This is why Saladin is an icon of civilized behave, and Richard the Lionhearted is condemned as a savage bythiose who actually know history.

Donny
Oct 26th, 2007, 03:30 AM
We have no moral ground there.

We shouldn't be there at all, well other than to put Saddam and Sons' heads on sticks...

...once that was done, we should have left and we still should leave.

If we stay 10 years or 10 days the day after we leave they'll get on with their fun little "5 Way Civil War" :shrug:

We owe our soldiers our best efforts to keep them alive in that hell hole...

...that's pretty much my only concern "innocent American" GIs.

They don't deserve to be killed running into booby trapped buildings and weaving in and out of "civilians" who might not really be civilians once you put yourself in a position where they can actually harm you. Most terrorists and insurgents are "civilians", if you don't catch them in the act.

I don't believe in that "Heart and Minds" bullshit.

I don't believe in that we broke it we own it, bullshit either.

We left Vietnam, let them sort their own asses out and now they want us to come back and "feed them hamburgers". :lol:

Leave Iraq and come back when they want "our hamburgers".

Until that day, do whatever it takes to protect American soldiers, they're my top priority.

Iraqi Civilians should be intelligent enough to figure out if the guy next door is shooting at US Soldiers, they're building isn't going to be habitable much longer.

I'd rather that we left, but if we're going to be there...

See, that's where you and I disagree. An Iraqi civilian to me is just as valuable as an American. In fact, a child's life, whether Iraqi or American, is more precious than that of a grown man, especially one that volunteered, essentially, to attack, invade and occupy other lands- it's not as if the Marines are a defensive force.

What you're implying is that the US defend itself from attack while engaging in an immoral act- which is itself an immoral act.

Sam L
Oct 26th, 2007, 03:35 AM
Most terrorists and insurgents are "civilians", if you don't catch them in the act.


:lol: :lol: :lol:

So true. I agree with your post totally although I think the US should stay a little longer to make the transition easier. But they have to go eventually anyway.

I like your idea of coming back and finishing the job.

kiwifan
Oct 26th, 2007, 05:07 AM
Was the attack on the Pentagon on September 11th justifiable? The Pentagon IS a military base. Sure many of it's employees are civilians, but it's a military base.

Morality involves drawing lines, and applying those lines to EVERYBODY.

If the USA hires mercenaries, allows them to kill civilians, and argues that they are not subject to any law, then our opponents can kill civilians, and argue they are not subject to any law.

The terrorist argues that anything goes, that the end justifies the means, that collateral damage is acceptable. The civilized man applies to his enemies the standards he'd want applied to his family. This is why Saladin is an icon of civilized behave, and Richard the Lionhearted is condemned as a savage bythiose who actually know history.

What does any of the above have to do with "returning fire on a building when fired upon"?

Dude, apples and oranges, big time.

Now that you've successfully muddied the waters...

If a nation declared war on the USA of course an attack on the Pentagon would be justified.

Collateral damage in Iraqi towns is inevitable because that's where the enemy is, standing in the middle of a bunch of women and children.

If you fail to distinguish between returning fire on the enemy building (the instant situation) and doing a 'rape, pillage and slaughter job' on the whole conquered city (your Crusades "reach"), hey we're back to your silly semantics not a moral dilemma.

This isn't a civilized situation. This isn't even a real war. This is a stupid police action. We're doing to them the same thing we did to the SLA here in the States; Patty Hearst just didn't happen to be in the building otherwise she would have been collateral damage.

As I've said before, we shouldn't even be fighting them anymore, but if we're going to fight...

fioredeliberi
Oct 26th, 2007, 09:59 AM
The best moral high ground is to completely kill and defeat and humiliate your enemy.
It's sad that iraqi civilians are killed, but if all the time you are worried about civilians, you will never kill any of the terrorists, and better the civilians get killed than you own soldiers. If too many US soldiers get killed because they want to fight in a way that doesn't risk civilians deaths, that would be even worse publicity wise for the war effort.
War is a complicated matter, and there is a lot of BS being spouted about what approach is right and wrong.

*JR*
Oct 26th, 2007, 01:15 PM
We have no moral ground there.

We shouldn't be there at all, well other than to put Saddam and Sons' heads on sticks...

...once that was done, we should have left and we still should leave.
Better that than the quagmire that we're in, but what the hell did Saddam and his 2 bastards do to us to justify an invasion guaranteed (had we done what you say) to create a bloody civil war there?

Yes, they sank the USS Stark in the 1987 Iran - Iraq War that we encouraged (killing 37 of our sailors) but the punishment we inflicted on them during the "liberation" of Kuwait in 1991 killed far more of (just Saddam's supporters) than that.

Sam L
Oct 26th, 2007, 02:52 PM
What does any of the above have to do with "returning fire on a building when fired upon"?

Dude, apples and oranges, big time.


He does that all the time.

ezekiel
Oct 26th, 2007, 06:55 PM
Was the attack on the Pentagon on September 11th justifiable? The Pentagon IS a military base. Sure many of it's employees are civilians, but it's a military base.

Morality involves drawing lines, and applying those lines to EVERYBODY.

If the USA hires mercenaries, allows them to kill civilians, and argues that they are not subject to any law, then our opponents can kill civilians, and argue they are not subject to any law.

The terrorist argues that anything goes, that the end justifies the means, that collateral damage is acceptable. The civilized man applies to his enemies the standards he'd want applied to his family. This is why Saladin is an icon of civilized behave, and Richard the Lionhearted is condemned as a savage bythiose who actually know history.


As a Serbian Canadian who has witnessed American destruction and deliberate civilian targetting and terrorism direct and indirectly and you are right that for American generals and all of their underlings anything goes and that's their main goal to terrorise civilians as they don't fight militaries as proven in the balkans and the Iraq . Is there anyone who will hold accountable ? No, they will just go into retirement. In fact American army has never engaged in direct confrontation with anything resembling an equal sized enemy or even a capable enemy, it never engaged serbian army directly contending to indiscriminate civilian bobmings and in Iraq they only went in after a decade of bombs, sanctions and deception where Iraqi army or what was left of it had no airforce, no navy let alone nuclear, biological and atomic bombs as claimed by Washington. Unfortunatelly we live in the world of force and big deceptions like very few times in history.

I have seen many videos from Iraqi resistance and huge majority of them is against american military targets, humvees, tanks , vehicles, helicopters and soldiers. By all means they are completelly brutal and unforgiving but then so is the American army as they target tv stations, trains, busses, schools, markets etc... The difference being that Americans and their allies counted on their real and perceived military advantage and ready made brutality to carry them to their goals of conquest. What is happening in Iraq is that iraqis, arabs will outdo americans in brutality and outdo them in their own game.

The jest of the issue is that after 9/11 , when US was attacked and could claim legitimate self defense the forces that control media and government in America and it's allies which is a zionist nationalist lobby and the war industry and mainstream media that immensely profited from war propaganda and spilled blood, they had ganged up together and completelly threw down their masks in order to occupy much of the middle east to control the energy resources of the planet and make Israel the only viable state in the middle east and a superpowr of sorts by destroying progressivelly all of its neighbors and enemies . And after occupying and enslaving balkans and middle east they would on to encircle china and russia and here comes the ironic part of a superpower that can't defend itself , can't defeat a 3rd world insurgency in 2 different places wants to boss everyone around and dominate all the resources and political discourse.

I don't see it lasting too long, US army is suffering terrible casualties notwithstanding enormous iraqi casualties but US is getting in serious debt which they are postponing by printing money and thus devaluing US dollar precipitously which causes economic downturn as most commodities are priced in US currency and there is much civilian turmoil as people are just sick of war and want to end it anyhow . On the other hand mainstream media has responded by completelly shutting down bad news especially from Iraq . Something will have to give in soon enough and people and lobbies in power won't give up power as they have too much going for them so at this point I don't see necessary changes becoming reality until there is a true calamity like a regime change in Washington that is uncorrupted from the past or some economic crash due to falling dollar which causes mass panic and forces people to bring changes about.

ezekiel
Oct 26th, 2007, 07:16 PM
The problem is in Islamic countries, are civilians really just civilians?

http://static.flickr.com/117/304465290_d13681362c.jpg

American/Zionist support for terrorism is entirely dependent on whether it can touch Israel or if they can sell themselves as friendly to muslims


http://www.truthinmedia.org/TruthinMedia/images/holbrooke-kla.jpg

sfselesfan
Oct 26th, 2007, 07:17 PM
The mass killing of civilians makes us terrorists IMO. Taking down the twin towers is as equally justified as what we're doing in Iraq every day. In my opinion, BOTH are wrong. It makes me disgusted that Americans are associated with this conduct. I want my morally upright country back.

I think we should fix our problems at home and let those in the middle east fend for themselves. We should never have gotten involved...like most other nations in the world.

SF

Volcana
Oct 26th, 2007, 08:18 PM
What does any of the above have to do with "returning fire on a building when fired upon"?
That wasn't a response to 'returning fire on a building when being fired upon.

However, there's always the option of sending in ground troops to clear out the building. Or, in the Iraq case, getting the hell out of a country we never should have invaded in the first place.

ezekiel
Oct 27th, 2007, 04:04 AM
That wasn't a response to 'returning fire on a building when being fired upon.

However, there's always the option of sending in ground troops to clear out the building. Or, in the Iraq case, getting the hell out of a country we never should have invaded in the first place.


do I understand there are countries US should have invaded instead ? Or is Iraq only bad as US can not win in military sense ? Iraq didn't come overnight, there were years of demonization and a decade of sanctions and bombings which was followed by invasion .
Will other countries and entities adopt similar tactics to stave off military aggression including bombing UN?