Thursday, May 22, 2008

Other people's children

The New York Times reports that an American airstrike in Iraq killed 8 civilians including two children. I am going to reprint the entire article below, but can we just think about this for a moment? Does anyone out there have children? If your children were killed in such a manner, you would never forget it, never forgive it, no amount of "compensation" would make it better, and you would live with it every day for the rest of your life. But we don't give a second thought when it happens to people on the other side of the world. It is truly shameful that the American people, myself included, have allowed this war to go on for so long while we play political games like we have with the Democratic nomination all these months--thus letting the Democratic controlled Congress off the hook all this time.

PS--The photo above is not from this airstrike, but one last year. I can assure you there were plenty of images to choose from.

More later. For now, please read:

May 23, 2008

U.S. Airstrike Kills 8 Civilians in Iraq

BAGHDAD — Iraqi officials said an American helicopter strike on Thursday killed eight civilians including two children and an elderly man during an assault near the northern Iraqi town of Baiji.

American officials confirmed that two children had died in an American assault on Sunni insurgent suspects in the area and expressed regret. Iraqi officials, however, said the incident was likely to stoke anti-American resentment.

An Iraqi police official in Salahuddin Province said the American forces were carrying out an air assault in al-Mazraa village, near Baiji. He cited police officials in the village who said that the people were shot from the air while running away.

The American military said the dead civilians were two children traveling in a car used by suspected insurgents who showed “hostile intent.”

In a statement the military said it has begun an investigation, but said the targets of the operation were “known terrorists” and accused them of hiding behind civilians, “thereby endangering others around them.”

It said the deaths happened during a raid on fighters belonging to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the Sunni insurgent group in Iraq that American intelligence officials have said is led by foreigners.

The American military statement said that the suspects targeted had been operating a weapons storage facility and were believed to be associated with a suicide bombing network, and a senior Qaeda “facilitator” who helped foreign fighters in Iraq.

“Unfortunately, two children were killed when the other occupants of the vehicle in which they were riding exhibited hostile intent,” said the American statement, which was released in Baghdad.

Col. Mudhir al-Qaysi, of the Baiji police, said: “Baiji policemen went to the scene and found the killed family unarmed, and the bodies were burned and torn apart.”

Colonel Qaysi said the actions would reinforce the negative image of American forces locally. “The scene of the bodies is ugly and these acts are unacceptable,” he said. “We were hoping that the American army would seek to improve its image after many crimes carried out by its soldiers in Iraq.”

The deaths came only days after widespread anger in Iraq over the admission that an American sniper used a Koran as target practice near Baghdad.

American military officials say the sniper was disciplined and removed from Iraq but the Iraqi cabinet called for him to be prosecuted.

President Bush made a personal apology to Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

After the Baiji incident Col. Jerry O’Hara, an American military spokesman, said that the American-led coalition “sincerely regrets when any innocent civilians are injured that result from terrorist locating themselves in and around them. We take every precaution to protect innocent civilians and engage only hostile threats.”

The deaths follow a similar incident south of Mosul on May 10 in which American-led forces, targeting aides of what the Americans called a Qaeda foreign facilitator, opened fire on a suspect’s vehicle.

American officials said their soldiers fired three warning shots then opened fire when the driver refused to stop and they saw one man making “threatening movements.”

The shots killed a woman and child, as well as two armed men inside the vehicle. On that occasion the American military also expressed regret for the death of innocent civilians “during our operations to rid Iraq of terrorists.”

Update: Other People's Money One of the mysteries of the Iraq war is how little reaction there has been, in Congress and among the American people at large, to the incredible corruption and waste of taxpaper's money (not to mention waste of lives) that the war in Iraq represents. One of the leading reporters on that story has been my friend and colleague James Glanz, who reports on this once again in today's New York Times. In a piece entitled "Iraq Spending Ignored Rules, Pentagon Says," Glanz notes that an audit of $8.2 billion in taxpaper spending found that almost none of those outlays followed spending rules and that much of it was not accounted for. Few seem to give these kinds of stories more than a blink of an eye, even though we are constantly being told that there is not enough money for schools, transport, Medicare, etc. etc. War spending would seem to be a sacred cow, even in a nation where 2/3 of the population thinks the war in Iraq is a mistake. The lack of reaction reflects a strange passivity in a population that certainly is opinionated enough on any other subject you can name.


Woody said...

Yeah, let's not cast any blame to the terrorists who are hiding behind women and children and in mosques.

Michael Balter said...

This comment by our right-wing friend Woody is so typical. When it comes to episodes like Waco, conservatives understand immediately that blaming the Branch Davidian leaders for the deaths of dozens of children would be outrageous because the main blame lies with the decisions that Bill Clinton and Janet Reno made at the time. That's why Waco has become such a cause celebre for the right. When it comes to Iraqi children, however, this understanding evaporates.

Woody said...

I don't remember the Branch Davidians being used by terrorists to kill Americans.