Wednesday, 20 August 2003, 11:58 am
Column: Jay Shaft
U.S. and Terrorist Groups Both Kill Civilians - And Call It Necessary For Their End Result
By: Jay Shaft
Coalition For Free Thought In Media
The U.S. and many terrorist organizations engage in killing civilians to achieve their goals. When the U.S. kills civilians as part of a war they excuse it with the term "Collateral Damage" or "Incidental Casualties".
When a terrorist group or rebel group kills civilians in a fight or bombing, the U.S. denounces it as terrorism and atrocities.
We know that at least 7,500 civilians officially died in the "liberation" of Iraq. This is a very small number when various humanitarian aid groups have put the death toll as high as 10,000. A commonly accepted number is 5000 dead and over 20,000 injured.
If you count known figures on Iraqi military dead you get at least another 10,000 added to the death toll of liberation. http://www.occupationwatch.org/article.php?id=3
In the months since the ground war has supposedly ended, un-exploded cluster bombs and mines have killed at least another 1000-2000, many of them children. Thousands more have died since the ground war ended from injuries incurred during the "Shock and Awe" bombing campaign, or in street fighting.
In Afghanistan the UN reports 150-500 civilians a month dying from US cluster bombs that were dropped in retaliation for 9/11 in the Afghan version of Shock and Awe. Some demining agencies I spoke with have estimated that there could actually be over 1000 people a month still being killed and maimed with the majority being children and teenage boys.
The civilian casualty death toll in the air bombing and US invasion of Afghanistan is known to be at least 3000-6000 at the bare minimum. There is a great study by Professor Marc Herold which details the reported civilian deaths and injuries which I have used in writing several articles.
Marc Herold has also written a paper called Steel Rain: An analyisis of cluster bomb use by the US in four recent campaigns that is very detailed and shows the rate of failuire for the cluster bombs and how many were dropped in each conlict.
The Pentagon repeatedly denied the fact of civilian death during the bombing campaign and even when showed file footage and written reports by survivors, they refused to officially be held accountable for any casualties.
This was the prevalent attitude whenever reports came in that civilians were killed during bombings of Taliban areas by stray cluster bombs. Over 4,000 civilians are known to have died during the bombing and the figure could be as high as 10,000 according to some human rights groups. There will never be a true body count known for Afghanistan because of the remote areas that a lot of the people died in and the quickness with which most bodies were buried.
The U.S. refuses to count or acknowledge the civilian dead in either war, saying that it would be counter productive and achieve no pertinent outcome. Yet the U.S. is the first one to quote all the civilian deaths when a terrorist group or rebel group bombs a building or engages in street fighting.
The U.S. excused all the civilian deaths in Iraq with this statement from the Pentagon. "As long as the people of Iraq have been liberated our goal was achieved. If some civilian casualties occurred in the liberation, that was most unfortunate. You have some inevitable civilian casualties in any war. Civilians always die, that's a fact you can't deny. Everyone agrees on this. You have to look at the fact that Iraq has had a regime change and is now liberated. That makes any inevitable sacrifice worthwhile."
This comes after the over 1,000,000 deaths during the sanctions. Many died during U.S. demanded sanctions from starvation, disease, and lack of clean water. We knew that many were dying from simple lack of medications and medical supplies.
At the time Madeline Albright, the Secretary of State, was asked a simple question. "Do you think that sanctions that are estimated to have killed over 500,000 children and over 200,000 women are necessary to bring down Sad-dam Hussein?"
Her answer was "That is a price we are willing to pay."
A lot of terrorist organizations and rebel groups such as al-Qaeda, Hamas, the I.R.A., FARC, FNLA, Shining Path, and many others target civilians in much the same way.
Osama Bin Laden stated that civilian deaths are necessary to draw attention and support to al Qaeda. He stated that civilian casualties were "unavoidable in the war on the U.S. and western imperialists, and even necessary to our goal of toppling the fascist U.S. regime."
Sounds remarkably like the Pentagon's excuse and lack of acknowledgment in the civilian deaths during the liberation and even now.
I have interviewed many U.S. citizens who supported the war and support invading Syria, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, and other countries.
When asked how they feel about all the civilian deaths they all respond with almost the same answer.
"At least Iraq is liberated. You have to make sacrifices for freedom. Iraq is free now and they have democracy, it doesn't matter how the U.S. did it. As long as we freed Iraq, that's all that should matter."
For years the Irish Republican Army and splinter groups deliberately targeted civilians. Thousands have died in the bombings of Northern Ireland and England.
The U.S. officially denounced these actions and called for prosecution and even execution of those planning and carrying out the bombings and terrorist acts.
The U.S. worked with British Intelligence, Scotland Yard, and Interpol to actively hunt down these terrorists and bring them to justice.
Our ally Turkey has engaged in killing thousands of Kurds in their effort to stop the separatists and freedom fighters battling for their own country. Meanwhile right across the border in Iraq the U.S. was working with the Kurds fighting for liberation in northern Iraq's Kurdistan area.
The Kurdish resistance fighters in northern Iraq were engaged in the liberating of Iraq by U.S. forces and the Pentagon. Meanwhile we agreed with Turkey not to help them set up their own Kurd free state.
We know that U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Israel, China, Russia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bolivia, Argentina, and many other countries have killed and repressed millions in efforts to stop uprisings and freedom movements.
The U.S. is supporting many leaders who are outright dictators who brutally kill and repress anyone who speaks out or stands up for real freedom. You don't see these countries being liberated. At least not yet, as long as they support U.S. policy.
Today we send military support or weapons to the Philippines, Columbia, Pakistan, Turkey, Israel ( who killed at least another 40 Palestinians in the last month), Saudi Arabia, and many countries around the world. We know most of these countries are engaging in human rights violations and state sponsored terrorism. But the U.S. does nothing while millions die each year.
The U.S. is very selective in who it brands terrorists. Refusing to name themselves as the leader in state sponsored terrorism is the first step.
As long as the U.S. refuses to count the civilian dead in Iraq and Afghanistan and other war zones they are involved in, they have no room to call anyone a terrorist.
There are no excuses for killing innocent civilians, even when the end supposedly justifies the means. Liberating a country is no excuse to kill or maim. This is not bringing freedom and democracy. It only brings pain, suffering, and death to innocent civilians.
- Jay Shaft, Editor, Coalition For Free Thought In Media. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/coalitionforfreethoughtinmedia