Bush: Go ahead, Navy, burst the eardrums of all sea mammals

>If I remember correctly, that casualty number was arrived at by accepting every Taliban report of civilan casualties at face value and adding them up.

Regardless, there clearly has never been a war where one side took more care to, and was effective at, minimizing civilian casualties. Never. The fact that civilians died anyway just highlights the truism that “war is bad and shouldn’t be initiated unless someone kills a few thousand of your people and shows every sign that they will try to do so again if you don’t prevent them.”

“Regardless, there clearly has never been a war where one side took more care to, and was effective at, minimizing civilian casualties. Never.”

This claim is based on what evidence? Rumsfeld speeches?

Quotes on John Pilger:

“a single minded purveyor of an especially foamy-mouthed brand of anti-Americanism. To paraphrase something someone said about Noam Chomsky, Pilger hasn’t met an American foreign policy he can’t call genocide.” – Erik Wolpaw

“Pilger’s strength is his gift for finding the image, the instant that reveals all: he is a photographer using words instead of a camera” – Salman Rushdie

“John Pilger is fearless. He unearths, with steely attention to facts, the filthy truth, and tells it as it is … I salute him.” – Harold Pinter

Somehow, I find the latter two quotations more convincing.

Here’s a few more facts on this fellow you casually dismiss:

“Twice [Pilger] has won British journalism’s highest award, Journalist of the Year, for his work as a war correspondent. He has also been International Reporter of the Year and winner of the United Nations Association Media Peace Prize. His documentary films have won major prizes in the United States, including the George Foster Peabody Award, considered the highest honour in American broadcasting as well as an American Academy Award and an ‘Emmy’. In 1991 The British Academy of Film and Television Arts awarded him The Richard Dimbleby Award for a life time of excellence in television journalism and documentary filmmaking.”

Sounds like someone I wouldn’t casually dismiss as a liar, as you seem to be comfortable doing for no other reason than ideological disagreement.

Since Vietnam I’m not sure you can say there’s been a conflict the US has had a direct hand in where civilian casualties were deliberately caused outside of maybe a handful of incidents. There’s too much press, too much television, and too many expectations (created by the flaunting of increasing-quality precision weaponry) in the information age, even today in the current administration’s “screw you” atmosphere.

Any damn fool can come up with numbers… maybe if a trusted organization actually reported these numbers I might believe them.

I say we intentionally killed 50,000 civilians in Afghanistan. My facts are… my facts. You can go look them up if you want, I’ll stand here looking smart while you waste your time.

Civilian casualties will always be the result of war, much less a near-guerrilla campaign. If we had been the Soviets there’d be a half a million dead in the exact same situation.

Somehow, I find the latter two quotations more convincing.

Hey, go right ahead. Knock yourself out. As long as we’re tossing around Harold Pinter quotes, here’s another one:

Terrorism cannot be defeated by bombs, bullets or secret intelligence.

For your sake, I hope he’s more right about Pilger than he is about the value of intelligence in combatting terrorism.

Here are a couple of quotes from Pilger:

From page 1 of his most recent book, The New Rulers of the World:

Dissent is permissible within ‘consensual’ boundaries, reinforcing the illusion the information and speech are ‘free’.

Pilger is a fire hose of wild dissent, yet in direct opposition to his claims, he’s showered with trophies for it. Maybe if we didn’t live in a terrorist “rogue state” (Pinter’s words), Pilger would have gotten the two emmys he deserves.

This next one comes from this article:

Bush’s concealed agenda is to exploit the oil and gas reserves in the Caspian basin, the greatest source of untapped fossil fuel on earth and enough, according to one estimate, to meet America’s voracious energy needs for a generation. Only if the pipeline runs through Afghanistan can the Americans hope to control it.

Now I can’t say what Bush’s concealed agenda is, primarily because he’s concealing it. However, that doesn’t stop Pilger from stating his conspiracy theory as truth. This is the type of unsubstantiated hypothesis that, when presented as fact without any hard evidence, can only be considered hyperbolic nonsense by any reasonable person. And though I guess Salman Rushdie disagrees, that tends to mark Pilger as something less than a rigorous seeker of truth.

Also, both Pinter and Pilger continue to toss around the discredited 500,000 Iraqi children dead from sanctions figure, which further erodes my confidence in any numbers he may quote.

And:

You never answered my original question.

Well, you can’t make an omlette without breaking a few eggs…

And out of sight of television cameras, over 150 people were killed at a wedding by a stray bomb two weeks ago. Of course, once the television cameras arrived and the graves were counted, it turned out to be closer to forty people killed by a stray shell instead.

Although the one study guesses 3700 casualties, the folks at stats.org, re-evaluating the same data, put the figure at 1100. Human Rights Watch calculates 1000 deaths, Reuters totals 982. There’s a nice writeup at Operation Enduring Freedom: Why a Higher Rate of Civilian Bombing Casualties -- Project on Defense Alternatives

Every death is, of course, tragic. While some Americans may seem callous about foreign lives, I think you’ll find far more who grieve for innocent Afghans no less than they grieve for our own. It’s puzzling to me, however that the United States receives such disapprobation for these accidental deaths. I don’t recall hearing so many voices raised when the Taliban was busy killing and enslaving the people it brutally ruled. But the United States is powerful. It’s easy to blame the powerful. When bad things happen, they can be blamed for not acting. When they act, they can be blamed for all the bad things which result.

Incidentally, regarding someone else’s comment about the United States going to greater length than anyone else to avoid civilian casualties: A greater proportion of precision-guided weapons were used in Afghanistan than in any previous conflict. American troops had no indirect fire artillery on the ground. There were very few American troops on the ground at all. If you can figure out how the Taliban could have been removed from power and how democratic government could have been restored to Afghanistan with less harm done to the Afghan people, I’m sincerely interested.

“For your sake, I hope he’s more right about Pilger than he is about the value of intelligence in combatting terrorism.”

Yeah, intelligence really saved our asses on 9/11.

Intelligence has really brought Bin Laden to justice, has really rounded up Al Quaeda.

Intelligence has really stopped the suicide bombings in Israel.

Intelligence really helped the Brits stop the IRA.

Pinter’s point is damn right. We can’t stop suicide people who are willing to die for their cause with “intelligence.” Negotiated settlement is the only thing that can stop the violence. The Brits couldn’t stop the IRA from blowing the shit out of what they wanted to blow the shit out of. The only thing that put a stop to it was negotiation.

Fuck the CIA. The only thing they’re good at is stirring up shit around the world, breaking laws, and making more enemies.

>Negotiated settlement is the only thing that can stop the violence

Unless it doesn’t. And can’t. Even for the children.

Negotiations can only work if both sides are reasonable and have an interest in settlement; and each side is seeking to gain things that the other side is willing, and able, to give.

More Pilger from this article

In 1993, in the last days of George Bush Senior’s presidency, 18 American soldiers were killed in Somalia after the US Marines had invaded to “restore hope”, as they put it.

A current Hollywood movie, Black Hawk Down, glamorises and lies about this episode.

It leaves out the fact that the invading Americans left behind between 7,000 and 10,000 Somalis killed.

I was able to find an estimate of 6000 casualties, which I’m sure Pilger knows doesn’t equal “killed”. Every figure I can find puts the number of Somalis killed somewhere between 300 and 500. Here’s a quote about the source of those figures from Mark Bowden’s article in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Official U.S. estimates of Somalian casualties at the time numbered 350 dead and 500 injured. Somalian clan leaders made claims of more than 1,000 deaths. The United Nations placed the number of dead at ``between 300 to 500.‘’ Doctors and intellectuals in Mogadishu not aligned with the feuding clans say that 500 dead is probably accurate.

Even if you made the insane mistake of adding all the estimates together and then accidently pressed the “multiply” button and then got flustered and hit the “2” button, you still wouldn’t get to the low end of Pilger’s unsourced death estimate. Unlike Afghanistan, our conflict in Somalia happened almost a decade ago, which should have given Pilger plenty of time to get his figures straight, assuming that’s something he’s at all interested in.

We can’t stop suicide people who are willing to die for their cause with “intelligence.” Negotiated settlement is the only thing that can stop the violence. The Brits couldn’t stop the IRA from blowing the shit out of what they wanted to blow the shit out of. The only thing that put a stop to it was negotiation.

How many Irish suicide bombers have there been? Generally speaking IRA terrorists would drop a bomb somewhere and get the hell away. So the IRA could be negotiated with, but they weren’t nearlt as self destructive/suicidal. A whole lot of negotiating hasn’t gotten us anywhere between Israel and the PLO. Negotiations were used as misdirection while the Japanese planned the attack on Pearl Harbor. Negotiation is certainly preferable, but armed conflict has it’s place.

An opponent whose ultimate goal is the complete destruction of the west, whatever the cost, is not one prone to negotiated settlement.

Excellent notion. Why don’t you fly out to Lebanon and try to convince the Hezbollah of the benefits of negotiated settlement? Because they certainly seem to think violence is a more effective means of achieving their ends.

For that matter, what compromises do you think we ought to make with Osama bin Laden? He’s said that all Americans should be killed. Should we just kill half, so everyone’s happy?

“An opponent whose ultimate goal is the complete destruction of the west, whatever the cost, is not one prone to negotiated settlement.”

If we stopped supporting the fucking over of the Palestinians, nuts like Bin Laden would lose most of their support in the the Middle East.

We give these idiots all the ammo they need (literally and figuratively) with our policies and actions. We give them their popular support by acting like idiots.

We kill civilians, and they can argue we are murderers, thereby justifying their own attacks on us. Because we are murderers! Innocent people have been killed in our names by our military. We’re killing innocent people in order to get revenge for the deaths of innocent people. Nice way to start a cycle of violence, not solve it.

You have to be pretty fucking jaded to take this pose that innocent deaths are necessary. It’s not how you would react if it happened to your own family. As was mentioned earlier in this thread: the Golden Rule. If you would be outraged and thirst for revenge if some foreign country came into the USA and killed your entire family because they were hunting for militiamen, DON’T DO IT TO SOMEONE ELSE.

Man. I just read the Pilger article that Erik linked to. This guy really is a fruit loop.

In 1993, in the last days of George Bush Senior’s presidency, 18 American soldiers were killed in Somalia after the US Marines had invaded to “restore hope”, as they put it.

(…)

Like the victims of American bombing in Afghanistan, and Iraq, and Cambodia, and Vietnam and many other stricken countries, the Somalis are unpeople, whose deaths have no political and media value in the West.

I find all of this interesting because the Marines, and later the Army, went into Somalia to distribute food to starving people. The starving people apparently did have a great deal of value in the west, because westerners spent a great deal of money, and eventually 18 lives, trying to save them. Certainly coldblooded realpolitik didn’t motivate US involvement in the region.

Once American blood was shed, of course, Americans reevaluated their priorities. If anything indicates that Americans consider Somali lives less valuable, it’s that they left Somalia, and left the people there to go back to starving. Of course, that says more about American politicians than about the American military; the soldiers who fought there wanted to stay and finish the job.

If we stopped supporting the fucking over of the Palestinians, nuts like Bin Laden would lose most of their support in the the Middle East.

Naïve much?

You claim it’s naiive, but all we have power over is the clearing of our side of the ledger.

If we got our fucking act together, stopped supporting torturers like the Shah of Iran and the Israeli military, stop dropping cluster bombs full of mines over areas where civilian children have to walk, we would know we were doing our best to cease the conflict. At present we are using our military to create an illusion of control. Supposedly we control Afghanistan now. Do we feel safe? No. We are now on 24/7 terrorist alert. No matter what we do with our military, it ain’t going to solve this problem. Negotiation is the only way out.

Who, pray tell, do you think we should negotiate with? According to you our intelligence community couldn’t find its ass with both hands, so they probably don’t have Bin Laden’s cell in the rolodex.

We liberate a country from their oppressors and we’re accused of being murdering terrorists. We try to distribute food to a starving nation and we’re invaders. We distribute leaflets explaining our country’s position and we’re spreading our evil propaganda. Some people can’t be satisfied, be they Islamic fundies, or anti-american blowhards. If someone can’t be satisfied they, by deffinition, can’t be negotiated with.

The funny thing is, I would have agreed with all of that – well, the spirit, anyway – even after 9/11, until I went out and read what bin Laden was actually saying. Then I realized, from the man’s own words, that none of that matters. It matters to Noam Chomsky, but al Quaeda doesn’t give a shit. They hate us because we’re different, and we’re successful, and it’s as simple as that.

Incidentally:
We stopped supporting the Shah of Iran twenty years ago, when he got himself killed.

Surprisingly, more Arabs seem upset that we’re not intervening to stop the Israelis than are upset because we’re giving them aid. I don’t think just trying to ignore the Israeli/Palestinian conflict would make us many friends.

Cluster bombs aren’t full of mines. They’re full of bomblets. And we wouldn’t drop them where children have to walk if bad guys didn’t park their tanks there. Besides, relative to the number of real mines sprinkled around Afghanistan by the Soviets, the Taliban, and the various local factions there, I don’t really think there are enough dud bomblets there to make any difference. Estimates are that we left about 10,000 dud bomblets in Afghanistan. There were an estimated 5-10 MILLION landmines already there.

Finally, according to http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2002/9247.htm

Since 1993, the United States has provided over $35 million to support humanitarian mine action efforts in Afghanistan.

From the same site, we’re spending another $7 million to do mine clearance there this year.

Does the US get any credit for that, or are we somehow the bad guys there, too?

Someone’ll probably complain that we’re robbing the fledgling nation of its only natural resource.

Who knew that the children of hippies would turn out to be a bunch of boring, conformist apologists for the GOP who argue that gays are sinners (in the year 2002!), think war is cool, and advocate forcing children to take loyalty oaths. Lenny Bruce would be proud.

Shit, this is dull. Ciao.