blogorrhoea
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
 
TIME FOR MY MEDICATION

I think some time away from the Mac and the newspapers is indicated, lest hyperblogorrhoea and associated acute dismarrhoea rot the viscera.

Back after an exclusively corporeal coupla weeks, blogsters!

 
 
ON THE MAKING OF BLOWBACK

I am one who believes that any war against Iraq would have nothing to do with the 'War On Terror' in which name it would be waged. Not in terms of intention, anyway.

In terms of consequences, the two might well be connected, of course. After all, when the bin Laden PR machine weighed in on S11, it stressed a history of US belligerence against Muslems and US occupation of Muslem soil to make its case. Bin Laden must've thought that this would resonate with popular sentiment, or he would'nt have made so big a deal of it. And I dare say he knows his audience at least as well as anyone at Langley's Middle-East desk knows it. He obviously doesn't care about 'collateral damage' (40 000 might have died on S11 and he knew there'd be large-scale military reprisals) and he's obviously no friend of Saddam's or the House of Saud. Indeed, he might be on the verge of seeing the US (and friends) topple at least one of those, and, if his luck's in, leave lots of photogenic death and destruction while they're at it. All grist for the al Qa'ida PR mill.

Which all puts a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer , concerning some controversy to do with Iraq #1's body count, into significant context.

On erstwhile Census Bureau demographer Beth Daponte's best (and hitherto unrepudiated) estimates, Iraq #1 cost 158,000 Iraqis their lives (118 000 civilians and 40 000 conscripts - 'conscripts' because most of the professional 'Republican Guard' survived the war).

Daponte was duly "reprimanded by her government, and saw her report rewritten and her career sidetracked," and is quick to assure the powers-that-be she "has no intention of trying to estimate Iraqi deaths again."

"The University of Chicago-trained sociologist says she got permission to speak to any expert and use the best data from any source. She recalls she was given a few months, rather than the usual few days. She says she expected that her findings, like all others, would be printed in an unclassified report. Her conclusion: 86,194 men, 39,612 women, and 32,195 children died in one year as a direct and indirect result of the U.S.-led attack and the ensuing Shiite and Kurdish rebellions. About a quarter, 40,000, were Iraqi soldiers killed in 'combat' (apostrophies mine - incinerating helpless conscripts from beyond the horizon ain't combat according to my Concise Oxford). The rest were civilians, including 13,000 who got caught in the cross fire. About 70,000 civilians died after the war due mainly to the destruction of water and power plants."

Daponte's final word on the matter?

"Nobody has ever said the numbers were wrong."

The article explores the notion that foreign deaths might not make the political waves at home that American deaths might. Well, of course they wouldn't. Neither would they here. Indeed, Adam Smith made mention of this universal phenomenon over 200 years ago. That said, whilst parents may not be able to imagine the ghastly deaths of 32 195 children, they sure as hell can imagine the death of one. And I reckon they'd have a good idea as to whom they'd blame - not to mention how enduring would be their hatred - if that child were killed due to the deliberate dropping of bombs.

The incinerating, crushing and disembowelling of Muslem children on Muslem soil ain't the goal of the White House, of course. But the political (and empirical) fact remains that America will try to avoid large-scale civilian slaughter only up to the point that American lives are not put at additional risk.

Am I alone in suspecting that those who planned S11 were hoping that the Bush/Cheney White House would react to that outrage precisely as they are doing? That every child who dies under an American bomb raises the stocks of the very people against whom the White House purports to be waging its war?
 
 
AUS DER WEISS HAUS

If John Howard's social vision has about it that fifties feel, then I submit the 16 December issue of New Statesman shows us there's something disconcertingly 1940s about the vision of US military advisor Richard Perle.

Get a load of this: "No stages. This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq . . . this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war . . . our children will sing great songs about us years from now."
 
political economic and cultural observations in the register of dismal dilettantism

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