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February 20, 2009

Nothing Stupid And Cruel New Under The Sun

Here's baby neo-con Frederick Kagan speaking on Wednesday:

If anyone has seen pictures of Ramadi or Fallujah, they looked like Stalingrad. Not a single building standing. Streets filled with rubble. Cities absolutely crushed...

The interesting thing is that when we were fighting those battles and doing that damage, on the whole the Iraqis were not bitching about collateral damage...

For good or ill, Iraqis expect to fight in their cities. That’s where the insurgents dug in, Saddam Hussein planned to dig in to the cities or lure us into an urban fight. It’s sort of understood that the battlefield is going to be there...the Iraqis don’t on the whole say “darn it, you shouldn’t have blown up all of our houses.” They sort of accept that.

Of course, this lack of Iraqi objection to being killed has often been observed by the people killing them. It goes all the way back to the British occupation of Iraq during the 1920s, as Barry Lando (relying on the work of Priya Satia) describes it in his book Web of Deceit:

"The natives of these tribes love fighting for fighting's sake," Chief of Air Staff Hugh Trenchard assured Parliament. "They have no objection to being killed"...As one British commander observed, "'[Shiekhs] not seem to resent...that women and children are accidentally killed by bombs."

Interestingly, it also turned out the Vietnamese didn't mind being killed, as Gen. William Westmoreland explained in the documentary Hearts and Minds:

"The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient."

And obviously it goes without saying that Africans didn't really get sad about being enslaved, as Thomas Jefferson pointed out in Notes on the State of Virginia:

Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them.

ALSO: How nice to see Ramadi or Fallujah compared to Stalingrad, and thus the United States implicitly compared to Nazi Germany.

And I like the slangy Gen-X reference to potential Iraqi "bitching" about civilians being killed. If you read the whole quote, you'll see Kagan is comparing Iraqi behavior to that of Afghans, who apparently do "bitch" when their children are turned in small heaps of shredded flesh.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at February 20, 2009 07:57 PM

I would say the guy shooting back is registering a complaint with EVERY bullet.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 20, 2009 08:35 PM

I remember when you would get yelled at for even comparing Fallujah to Grozny, so it's good to see war-spruikers have got comfortable enough with themselves to go that extra mile, analogy-wise.

Posted by: RobWeaver at February 20, 2009 09:48 PM

I remember Michael Enright on CBC's As it Happens complaining (bitching?) about Bosnian "bitching" about UN protection the week before Srbrenica. He felt they were very ungrateful. Torked him off no end.

Posted by: empty at February 21, 2009 12:15 AM

the Iraqis don’t on the whole say “darn it, you shouldn’t have blown up all of our houses.” They sort of accept that.

Is he a dumb fuck or diabolic villain, that what I want to know.

Posted by: abb1 at February 21, 2009 04:47 AM

like lightbulb and socket, like outlet and plug,
they don't mind dying, we don't notice they're dead.

Posted by: hapa at February 21, 2009 05:20 AM

This is so typical-who is he expecting to have done the bitching? The Fallujah upper middle class?

Fallujah was great-wasn't it the case that some American mercenaries were killed and their corpses mutilated, so the city was destroyed out of pure spite?

Posted by: Seth at February 21, 2009 09:10 AM

Huh--so Ramadi was hit just as hard by Americans as Fallujah? I know the Lancet team said, in discussing the Fallujah outlier in their first paper, that there were other Iraqi towns and neighborhoods like Fallujah (that is, areas totally demolished by American firepower) but it's interesting to see partial confirmation of this by a neo-con.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at February 21, 2009 09:52 AM

It's nice to see that life has a certain symmetry to it. Here you have people who are just begging to be killed, and by some quirk of fate, they always meet up with those lovers-of-life who are more than happy to oblige their peculiarities.

Posted by: Happy Jack at February 21, 2009 03:08 PM

kind of hard to bitch when you're dead.

Posted by: karen marie at February 23, 2009 04:29 PM