In a recent exchange on lenin’s tomb, Sean Coleman, Ireland Campaign Manager, Sudan Divestment Task Force, wrote,
Now imagine the
Now, writes Tina Susman, the April murder of the teenage son of a
The 17-year-old had been struck by a bullet in the chaos that followed the explosion and was bleeding heavily. Within two hours, the boy was dead. Witnesses charge he was killed by
"Being that we are doing more operations in places where we were not before, and doing operations in large numbers, there is just more contact with the enemy and therefore more chance of people on the periphery being involved in that," said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a military spokesman in Baghdad.
According to counterinsurgency expert Kalev Sepp, "you just end up with another group of foreign occupation troops shooting civilians who they feel threaten them when their car drives too close to them."
If the anecdotal evidence is an indication, such deaths often occur after troops are shaken by roadside bombs, as occurred when The Times employee's son was killed April 17.
"They were confused and angry and suspecting anyone around," Mohammed said. "If a bird had passed by, they would have shot it."
"It's a psychological thing. When one
"I can't tell you that nobody got killed in that specific incident," Garver said. "In some instances, we're not able to know what really happened."
"You must be reasonably certain that your target is the source of the threat," the rules state.
Military officials have acknowledged, however, that the rules are sometimes broken in the heat of combat…troops "become stressed, they become fearful" on a battlefield where it is difficult to tell civilians from insurgents…"But I would say it's stress, fear, isolation, and in some cases they're just upset. They see their buddies getting blown up on occasion and they could snap."
And who could blame stressed and frightened kids from snapping under such conditions? Clearly they need to be disarmed and removed from harm’s way. At least if a concern for innocent bystanders is the point. What always seems to get lost in these news reports is that the IEDs and the snipers wouldn’t be attacking American troops if they weren’t there in the first place. Garver speaks of the insurgents as ‘the enemy’. But in reality, he and his troops are the enemy. The insurgents can’t just pack up and go home. They are home.
Last year, retired Lt. Col. Andrew J. Bacevich, a
Even the troops directly involved in incidents often cannot say if civilian casualties have occurred.
So it’s no surprise that nobody is doing body counts. Furthermore
The challenge of reaching an accurate tally has become more acute since the military surge began.
The Iraqi government, eager to show that the security plan is working, has stopped releasing monthly civilian casualty figures to the United Nations, arguing that Cabinet ministries collecting the numbers were inflating them for political purposes.
And yet nobody wants to believe the estimates of excess deaths resulting from the invasion and occupation of Iraq from the only reliable source there is – the cluster survey carried out last July by a team from Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health and Al-Mustansariya University Medical School and published by Burnham et al. in the eminent British medical journal The lancet last October.
Susman writes, for example, ‘Estimates of civilians killed…range from tens of thousands to as many as 600,000.’ In reality, Burnham did not estimate civilian deaths at all for quite sound reasons. For one thing, they thought it could endanger the interviewers to probe too deeply into such matters. For another, in this context, it is simply not possible to distinguish reliably between civilians and combatants. And since the resistance only exists as a response to the occupation, those killed fighting the occupation are absolutely no less victims of the occupation than those who die without taking arms against their oppressors.
In contrast, Iraq Body Count’s (IBC) claim that it can rely on the mainstream media - i.e. 65 journalists holed up in the Green Zone or 'embedded' with Coalition troops - to distinguish reliably between combatants and non combatant deaths in each and every case is beyond naive. It is wilfully dishonest.
In this connection, I want to emphasise a point Eli Stevens always makes.
In the news today, a car bomb in
So it never contributes to the IBC count. Obviously, this is not an issue with the Burnham team’s methodology.
Furthermore, Burnham et al did not estimate ‘as many as 600,000’ dead. They estimated about 655,000 excess deaths, although for statistical reasons, the true number could have been as low as 400,000 or as high as 940,000. And that was a year ago, a year moreover that has seen Iraqis dying at an accelerating rate. The current number of Iraqis who have died bec
While on the subject of Burnham et al again, apologists for the invasion have made a clumsy attempt to discredit their findings by suggesting that the sampling methodology deployed in the survey is subject to ‘main street bias’ (MSB). Interviewers were instructed to select a ‘residential street’ intersecting a main street, to select a dwelling at random, and to interview the household residing there and the next 39 households.
The MSB hypothesis relies on the assumption that the interviewers would have interpreted ‘main street’ as ‘principal thoroughfare’ and selected the first household in a street intersecting one of these that was itself a main street. It also assumes that car bombings and other killings would occur on these secondary main streets where markets are thought to be located. This is of course irrelevant, as those killed at a bazaar are not just those residing whose in the flat above it. Anybody buying or selling there is equally vulnerable, whether they live in the same building, in the same street, or somewhere else in the neighbourhood, or anywhere.
The 17 year old son of the LA Times employee lived
…in a middle-class neighborhood of split-level houses with balconies, driveways and cerise bougainvillea draping garden walls. The stroll took him down his quiet street to a commercial strip with small stores, butcher shops and cafes. Parallel to the strip is a median and then a highway, which passes beneath a concrete tangle of overpasses before heading to the airport. Blackened blotches are evidence of the frequency of attacks on troops patrolling it.One tragic incident showing, among other things, that in a city full of rampaging stressed and frightened US troops armed to the teeth, you don’t have to live on a main street to be a victim of the violence they have unleashed.