Empty Days

Saturday, April 10, 2004



Fallujah overkill

Re under-reported air-raids on Fallujah. Actually, per Russian news cued from Arab media, F-16's bombed overnight and then on Friday, thus before and after brief ceasefire and civilian exodus Friday - hence prominent pictures of dead babies on Al-Jazeera. Also same sources suggest two US helicopters downed over Fallujah Friday.

It is noteworthy that not much of this is being reported in USA. The blunt reality right now is that while our tv networks count every soldier killed, over there in Iraq they're watching their folks being wasted by the hundred. While during the invasion last year there was perhaps enough hope for Iraqis that all the "collateral damage" was worth it, today this particular hope is gone. Security? Well, it never quite materialized.

Apparently US mil is denying air-strikes. At the same time Al-Jazeera reporters inside Fallujah say they've been shot at by Marines. Once again it's the logic of war we've learned last April: you're either a friendly journalist or an enemy journalist, and the US command does not always tell the truth, to put it mildly.

Either way one thing is clear: the force used against Fallujah is actually pretty overwhelming and is likely purposefully so - otherwise too many marines would die. So that's the price for every US life out there: "collateral damage". (Ben-Hur, the film: "one Roman is worth four Arabs".)

I am not sure this logic makes any sense in a post-war "liberated" Iraq...

***

Update. I've spent some time today looking for non-western images of what's been happening in Fallujah. Air-power brings a lot of destruction. Arab tv is zeroing in on disfigured corpses and broadcasting this back to Iraq. Propaganda, yes. We don't see any of this, not a whiff - that too is propaganda. Some radical-lefty site posted these pictures en mass and while the usual crowd at the site expressed their usual ideological outrage (too much hate in this ire at the "american zionists"), some stray poster exclaimed in shock that "it's not possible that our US troops could have done that! where are your proofs? arab tv always lies" etc.

Well, that sort of blind innocence is also kinda ugly - we never see these violent pictures here, and as a result tons of people genuinely believe that "precision weapons" are in fact designed to avoid indiscriminate killing. Absurd as it may seem, that's what lots of people actually believe. See no evil, hear no evil - believe your leaders, believe your team, they can do no harm. But a pilot in an F-16 doesn't see the people he's going to bomb, and the artillery man doesn't see where his round gonna fall. But people will die regardless. Does it matter that their death is mechanical rather than a massacre by machete?

Picturing the enemy as a sort of two-dimensional bogey-man easily identifiable by any well-meaning GI is an old military propaganda trick. And it works like a charm, always - just keep the images away and all your clinial accounts will be believed and applauded.

There are persistent reports that Arab journalists are having their cameras confiscated or broken by US troops. This is probably true - these images inflame the minds, so it's a propaganda tool. Plus Arab tv crews ar viewed as enemy by the Americans - just because they are viewed as friends by the insurgents. Simple logic - and there is no respect for freedoms of the press on the battle-field.

Yet it took the outcry of the whole Arab world to stop the bombing of Fallujah. Arab tv may lie a lot but it's better to have arab tv where it counts than to have no news at all.

US is not winning right now.





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