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January 29, 2008

New TomDispatch


Looking Up
Normalizing Air War from Guernica to Arab Jabour
By Tom Engelhardt

A January 21st Los Angeles Times Iraq piece by Ned Parker and Saif Rasheed led with an inter-tribal suicide bombing at a gathering in Fallujah in which members of the pro-American Anbar Awakening Council were killed. ("Asked why one member of his Albu Issa tribe would kill another, Aftan compared it to school shootings that happen in the United States.") Twenty-six paragraphs later, the story ended this way:

"The U.S. military also said in a statement that it had dropped 19,000 pounds of explosives on the farmland of Arab Jabour south of Baghdad. The strikes targeted buried bombs and weapons caches.

"In the last 10 days, the military has dropped nearly 100,000 pounds of explosives on the area, which has been a gateway for Sunni militants into Baghdad."

And here's paragraph 22 of a 34-paragraph January 22nd story by Stephen Farrell of the New York Times:

"The threat from buried bombs was well known before the [Arab Jabour] operation. To help clear the ground, the military had dropped nearly 100,000 pounds of bombs to destroy weapons caches and I.E.D.'s."

Farrell led his piece with news that an American soldier had died in Arab Jabour from an IED that blew up "an MRAP, the new Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected armored vehicle that the American military is counting on to reduce casualties from roadside bombs in Iraq."

Note that both pieces started with bombing news -- in one case a suicide bombing that killed several Iraqis; in another a roadside bombing that killed an American soldier and wounded others. But the major bombing story of these last days -- those 100,000 pounds of explosives that U.S. planes dropped in a small area south of Baghdad -- simply dangled unexplained off the far end of the Los Angeles Times piece; while, in the New York Times, it was buried inside a single sentence.

Neither paper has (as far as I know) returned to the subject, though this is undoubtedly the most extensive use of air power in Iraq since the Bush administration's invasion of 2003 and probably represents a genuine shifting of American military strategy in that country.

The rest.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at January 29, 2008 03:39 PM

I wonder if you could use the explosive material from unexploded bombs to make, you know, an IED or something.

Posted by: darrelplant at January 29, 2008 07:44 PM

darrelplant: BINGO--- The Law Of Deminishing Returns. NOW WE are winning the hearts and minds of, of, of????( figure it out, WE are there for the OIL, nothing more, nothing less. When committing ARMED ROBBERY, it's best to kill ALL the witnesses and share up with the CRIME PARTNERS)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at January 29, 2008 08:18 PM

What's with the bullshit notion that all attacks against our troops in our wars can be explained by studying local hiearchies? This is urban warfare: Iraq is a crucible of millions of acts of personal revenge.

If you drop 100k lbs. of bombs on someone, chances are you're going to murder an innocent person. We've done it literally millions of times. If you piss off just one victim who loses a loved one, that person may come after your troops indiscriminately. It only takes one human being to build an IED, only takes one to snipe.

Of course, we're not counting those persons pissed at other Iraqis. Saddam emptied the prisons before we invaded and murdered and raped quite often in Iraq while we were backing him. Plenty of people have scores to settle.

I've never seen the narrative of attacker identification challenged, even though it is as absurd as a flat earth or phlogiston. I suppose it is an essential justification in order to explain the staggering rate of civilian murder Bush has ordered, so it's never questioned.

Posted by: No One of Consequence at January 30, 2008 08:28 AM