Mellowing out isn’t part of his repertoire » « Is atheism bankrupt? Rhetorical question Isn’t bombing a hospital and dismissing it as collateral damage the kind of thing the bad guys would do? Share this:PrintEmailShare on TumblrTweet Mellowing out isn’t part of his repertoire » « Is atheism bankrupt?
Marcus Ranum says
I never could figure out how bombing someone to adjust their politics is not “terror bombing”… I mean, the force that adjusts their behavior is: fear. It’s not like bombing is a convincing argument.
And bombing a bunch of doctors from MSF, that’s a great way to say you want to bring about helpful regime change.
I hate how the media yesterdaynwere carrying reports about how the russian bombing might be killing civilians and today doctors get bombed…. Like it’s just some thing thtlat happened. It wasn’t carelessness like the russians or anything, nossir. Just bombs doing their thing ya kno?
Oh, the west takes this very seriously which is way zero members of the US air force have ever been punished for these “mistakes”.
In fairness, the West tries to avoid civilian casualties, though not always with success, whereas ISIS and al Quaeda deliberately go for as high a body count as they can. And yes, the victims are just as dead, but if we’re assigning moral blame, I think that trying to reduce casualties counts for something.
yes. one point out of a possible 100
like spelling your name right on a test that you otherwise failed
Gregory Greenwood says
Haven’t you heard PZ? When ISIS kills innocent people, it is terrorism. When the Russian air force kills innocent people, it is a callous disregard for human life…
… But when the West kills innocent people, it is justice. Or the essential protection of our citizenry from attack, or a necessary step in beating the bad guys and helping the innocent (just not the ones we have already killed – broken eggs, omlette, etcetera, etcetera), or simply ‘collateral damage’, because that totally makes it OK for some reason. You know, just some unavoidable aspect of the way the world works. Well, avoidable if we weren’t going around bombing people but hey; let’s be reasonable about this.
The important point is that when we kill innocent people it is OK, because we have reasons – good reasons – for throwing that ordinance around. Being blown to pieces by a missile launched in the name of truth justice, and the American/British/French/NATO way is totally different from being blown to pieces by a bomb planted by a dirty terrorist, because reasons.
Lots of very good reasons.
Reasons I will tell you all about just as soon as I
make them upcollect my thoughts.
But they are good reasons. Yes siree – we use only the very best reasons when we blow up MSF doctors, you can rest assured of that.
I’ll get back to you about those reasons. Honestly. I mean, would I lie to you…?
Warning; this post was formulated in a plant that may be contaminated with trace amounts of concentrated sarcasm. Always read the label.
@eeyore: So, as long as we are not as bad as “them”, then it’s fine and we have the moral high ground?
Because I mean, killing people with bombs while pretending you care is so much better than… What exactly?
Remember that it took Wikileaks for us to have documentation of the extent of our brutality.
Our crimes are always justified, always serve a higher purpose or have some rationalization or some attenuation.
But their crimes? No such thing! They are just violent goons that deserve to be exterminated to the last.
It should have been obvious many, many years ago, but maybe it’s worth spelling it out loud: we are the bad guys.
some bastard on the internet says
If our failed attempts to reduce were followed by considerably more than a grandiose “mea culpa” (i.e., a significant change in the methods that led to said deaths), then I’d say it might count for something.
I agree with both @3 and @6.
some bastard on the internet says
*failed attempts to reduce civilian deaths
I hate it when I do that.
Naaaaaaah, by now the bad guys just claim that the hospital was filled with terrorists hellbent on either causing the apocalypse or enslaving all the good little
white christian westernDemocracy-Loving boysChildren (or both) and that anyone daring to even ponder whether everyone in the hospital truly was a terrorist is an anti-patriotic traitor who deserves to be bullied into submission by the thought-police shabiha brown-shirtsReal-True-Patriotic-Patriots-of-Authentic-Patriotism
Reminds me of the ‘unprecedented care’ or whtever the Israeli forces too while bombing the shit out of civilian areas of Gaza. Utter callousness is all I can see.
F.O., we don’t “always” have the moral high ground, but when we are doing battle with people who glory in civilian casualties, who cheer when busloads of innocent civilians are blown up, who send suicide bombers into crowded marketplaces and mosques specifically for the purpose of causing as much carnage as they can, the idea that we and they occupy the same moral plane is laughable. If I were commenting on a different blog in which people were all saying how the US is blameless and perfect, I’d have lots to say that they wouldn’t like either. But to say that the West, which has a policy of trying to minimize civilian deaths, is no better than groups that do everything they can to increase civilian deaths, is so morally bankrupt I hardly know where to start.
So we’ve achieved the goal of “good enough” and don’t need to try any harder than that, eeyore?
Marcus Ranum says
who cheer when busloads of innocent civilians are blown up, who send suicide bombers into crowded marketplaces and mosques specifically for the purpose of causing as much carnage as they can, the idea that we and they occupy the same moral plane is laughable
Oh, I’d bet that if they had smart bombs and F-15s they’d use them exactly the same way “the west” is. You need to consider the methods in terms of the strategic opportunity. They’re attacking civilian targets with low-end terror weapons exactly because they can’t attack military targets using advanced military weapons. The problem is that ISIS and A-Q want to “regime change” too, they just have more limited tools and that implies they’re limited in their target selection. They’d talk about ‘collateral damage’ also, if it came to that.
Unfortunately, this is how governments establish “legitimacy” – if you have an air force you’re “legitimate” and if all you have is IEDs you’re an “insurgent”
Genocidal maniacs clearly have a scale of “goodness” that only well trained observers can discern.
When Russia does it, we are outraged.
But when “we” do it, it’s collateral damage.
Microraptor No. 12, please show me where I said that we’ve achieved “good enough” or that we don’t need to try harder. Of course we need to try harder; even one civilian death is too many. But that’s a different point than the one I was addressing.
Marcus, I don’t disagree with you, but that’s not the point. The point is that we target ISIS and Al Quaeda; ISIS an Al Quaeda target civilians. That’s a fairly important distinction. Plus, is there any doubt in your mind that if Al Quaeda and ISIS had our nuclear arsenal, that they would have used it by now? That’s a fairly important distinction too. I suspect a couple of well-placed nuclear bombs could probably permanently pacify the Middle East, but we understand that it would be morally unspeakable to drop them, so we’re not going to. Neither ISIS nor Al Quaeda would have such scruples.
I’m not saying we always get it right or that we don’t have ethical issues of our own. Just that it’s bullshit to try putting us on the same moral plane as them.
Why exactly do you think “a couple of well-placed nuclear bombs could probably permanently pacify the Middle East”?
We’ve been conventionally bombing the Middle East for over a quarter of a century, civilians be damned. Hell, in 1988 a US Navy cruiser shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, killing all 290 on-board. What would two nukes achieve that decades of conventional ordnance haven’t, beyond a likely worldwide condemnation and backlash stronger than we’ve ever seen?
This is especially important since the only Middle Eastern country known to have nuclear weapons, if unofficially, is Israel, not counting the super scary future Iranian arsenal we’re all supposed to be wetting our pants over. And even if “it’s bullshit to try putting us on the same moral plane as” Al Qaeda and ISIS, it’s supremely fucked up to casually ponder something so disproportional–nuking the Middle East–that the U.S. actually has the ability to do right now.
Ronald Couch says
We blow up wedding parties. We blow up farmers. We blow up whoever we want because they are (if they are of military age) insurgents no matter what they were doing when we blew them up. People live in constant fear because they know that drones loiter high above them and can drop death down anytime we think they they might be on the wrong side.
We are in this place for no real reason. We went there originally to catch the guy who masterminded 9/11 and we didn’t find him until when, a year or so ago. And he wasn’t in Afghanistan. So why are we there right now? We have no business to be there killing people.
Reginald Selkirk says
No, it isn’t. The bad guys would claim they blew it up on purpose, and brag about how ruthless and cruel they are, because those are (to them) admirable traits. You know, pretty much what Dick Cheney would do.
HolyPinkUnicorn, I didn’t say we should actually consider nuking the Middle East, and if we actually ever did I would have the same opinion of it that you would. What I said was that for the West, using nuclear weapons is so morally unthinkable that it is off the table — as it should be — but that I doubted ISIS and Al Quaeda shared those scruples; if they had nuclear weapons they probably would have used them by now.
As for why I think it might work, moral atrocity aside, ISIS and Al Quaeda are both the products of the radical Islamism espoused and financed by the Saudi and Iranian governments, whether or not those governments continue to directly support them. If we really wanted to send a message, going after the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iran might therefore be the message to send, and a couple of well-placed nukes, one in Riyadh and one in Teheran might do the trick. Let me emphasize again, though, that I don’t advocate doing so because it would be a moral atrocity, which is a separate question from whether it might work.
Janine the Jackbooted Emotion Queen says
“We bombed some folks.”
” not counting the super scary future Iranian arsenal we’re all supposed to be wetting our pants over.”
Personally I would be happier if Iran never got nukes, because I don’t trust them not to use them.
Marcus Ranum says
for the West, using nuclear weapons is so morally unthinkable that it is off the table
How do you say that kind of dumbass shit, given that “the west” is the only people that have – to date – used nuclear weapons? And, in those cases, it was terror attacks against civilian concentrations?
Nate Carr says
If you think Americans aren’t cheering when civilians get killed in the middle east then you’re simply not paying attention.
At least one sitting US congressman, Duncan Hunter from California, publicly said in 2013 that if we were to go to war with Iran, that we should use tactical nuclear weapons.
A “moral atrocity” or not, the fact that you still name two cities to “do the trick” is repugnant (one of which is the capital of a strategic, if completely undemocratic, partner in the region, so there might be a few problems with that part of the message).
You may not trust Iran to not use them, but consider why they would even want them in the first place; that in the last fourteen years the U.S. has invaded and occupied the two countries directly to their east and west, while officially labeling them part of an “axis of evil.”
Pardon. That is, the rhetorical answer to the rhetorical question.
Jack Malchow says
The “bad” guys, target civilians on purpose. Car bomb just today. More damage than this ACCIDENT.
Nick Gotts says
Neither of those governments ever supported Al Qaeda or ISIS, so they cannot continue to do so. The Saudi government has supported groups with a similar ideology, but both Al Qaeda and ISIS are implacably hostile to the Saudi monarchy. The Iranian regime, being Shia, is on the opposite side of the Sunni-Shia conflict that now engulfs Syria, Iraq and Yemen. In Syria, it is supporting Assad, who is a Shia of sorts (Alawites differ considerably from Iranian Shias), but whose regime is secular in orientation.
Ronald Couch says
Hey Jack, are you positive it was an accident?
Nate Carr says
We do kinda have a history of bombing medical facilities.
Gregory Greenwood says
F.O. @ 5;
Quoted for truth.
I think that this is the hard truth that people are struggling so hard to process. We have been fed for so long – both by works of fiction and our own less than objective media outlets – upon a diet of the notion that the West is somehow an innately morally superior culture, that we always act for the ‘greater good’ (that in itself should set off alarm bells – the wretched notion that atrocities today can be justified in the name of a higher moral ideal for tomorrow has caused immense suffering throughout human history), and that whenever innocent people die due to our actions it either wasn’t really our fault or was somehow justified, that we baulk at the realisation that the current global conflicts involving the West are not tales of heroes versus villains, but of villains versus villains.
We need to get it through our collective skulls that we are not the Free Peoples, and ISIS aren’t Orcs. We aren’t the Avengers, and the Russian government under Putin is not Hydra. Reality stubbornly refuses to conform to the neat, pseudo-moral tropes of Hollywood blockbusters.
The story of the modern era (and indeed of most of human history, if we are truly being honest with ourselves) is much more grey than black and white, but if we are to bandy about terms charged terms like ‘good’ and ‘evil’, then that story is pretty clearly one of differing types and forms of evil battling it out for supremacy. Good seems to be on sabbatical, as usual.
You can’t think your way out of a wet paper bag.
Jack @ 28:
Ugh. Right, so for you, the answer to the question would be no. Yeah, three doctors doing selfless work, dead. No biggie as long as you can slap an “accident! It was an accident, honest!” label on it. I have news for you, Jack. That’s how to be a bad guy.
Marcus, No. 23, yes, we did use nuclear weapons — once, 70 years ago. Since that time, we took a pass on using them in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East, as well as during the Cuban Missile Crisis and during the entire Cold War. You got anything recent you want to talk about? I would say our current policy of not using them is more relevant than what happened once, 70 years ago.
Nate, No. 24, some Americans do cheer, but they’re not reflective of the fact that the Pentagon does, in fact, try to minimize civilian casualties.
No. 25, there is probably no idea so stupid that you can’t find a single sitting Congresscritter who supports it, but I would not confuse Duncan Hunter’s views with those of the administration. And much of global politics is repugnant, but that’s a fact of life.
Nick, No. 29, you’re missing the forest for the trees. While I agree with your assessment, the issue isn’t who is on which side of this bloodletting between violent Islamist groups; the issue is that this bloodletting between violent Islamist groups is happening at all because the Saudis and the Iranians both want to use violence to spread their brands of radical Islam. They may not have appreciated the full consequences of letting that genie out of the bottle, but they are in fact the ones who let that genie out of the bottle. And without their continued financing of what has now turned into a bloody war between Islamist factions, those fires might be dying down rather than being fanned.
Caine, No. 33, nice to hear from you again; I see that as usual you have little substance to contribute.
Apparently, in 70 years time, Western morals shifted so much, that it is now unthinkable to perform nuclear holocaust. Except for those westerners who do think of that, even up to and including members of congress. But they don’t count. Apparently.
#36: indeed, that is precisely what is so disturbing…apparently
Yah. So your point is?
@eeyore: I think you are trying to rationalize away the situation.
I think this because what you are doing is to pick up a specific perspective, one where “we” are better than “them”.
Let’s try a few different perspectives:
Who has done more damage?
Who has killed more people?
Who has used power for longer to destabilize the region?
How many of “ours” are actually cheering every time we kill a “muzzie”?
Why is killing people with intent worse than killing people because you don’t give a fuck?
We always adopt the one where we are the better.
And BTW, the ISIS is not brutal because they are cartoon-villains.
The brutality is part of their war strategy: it makes most people flee them in abject fear rather than fight them.
You don’t win a fight by preparing yourself against an imaginary enemy.
F.O., I am not claiming that our foreign policy has always been wise, benevolent or just. We have a lot on our conscience. That said, my underlying point stands that there is a major difference between trying to avoid civilian casualties — which we do — and trying to maximize civilian casualties, which is what ISIS does. The fact that brutality is part of their war strategy doesn’t mitigate the moral awfulness of it; if we were being brutal as part of our war strategy it certainly wouldn’t minimize it.
And most of the violence in the Middle East is Muslim on Muslim. And we have two choices. We can either withdraw and let the Muslim on Muslim violence escalate, with more situations like the Syrian refugee crisis as the result. Or we can acknowledge that as bad as we are, ISIS is just plain evil and has to be stopped. Neither of those two choices is a really great choice, but like I said to HolyPinkUnicorn, global politics is mostly repugnant and mostly consists of picking the least repulsive choice.
The British did lots of horrible things in India. They also abolished suttee, and owe no one any apologies for having done so. Good and evil exist in the movies; in real life it’s usually more complicated.
Ask Sam Harris, he knows how to whitewash it
Eeyore @3: In fairness, the West tries to avoid civilian casualties, though not always with success, whereas ISIS and al Quaeda deliberately go for as high a body count as they can.
We must be amazingly incompetent then given that we have killed considerably more civilians than ISIS and al Quaeda combined. You’re trolling, aren’t you?
Marcus Ranum says
You got anything recent you want to talk about? I would say our current policy of not using them is more relevant than what happened once, 70 years ago.
That bang you heard was your goalposts moving so fast they broke the sound barrier.
Pierce R. Butler says
eeyore @ # 20: … for the West, using nuclear weapons is so morally unthinkable that it is off the table …
According to memoirs written separately by both of Richard Nixon’s top aides, only the prospect of us dirty hippies rioting all over the country dissuaded Nixon & Kissinger from nuking Hanoi.
And please remember, the current jihad came about because Jimmy Carter – the “good” president – bought into his national security advisor’s plan to liberate eastern Europe by giving the Soviets “their own Vietnam” in Afghanistan – and the CIA spent hundreds of millions to recruit. radicalize, and mobilize a pan-Islamic front against the infidels. The US is not only not the good guys, but clearly not the smart guys either.
What is biggest distinction between the “sides” in this conflict? As I look at it, it is the words each used. the “other side” brags about the numbers dead we try to minimize the numbers dead to ourselves at least. We are much better at killing than they are and have many high tech tools for the job but the dead are just as dead for all that and in the end we will have to have some kind of political peace.
so we can rebuild until the next time
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
after reading several of eeyore’s comments, I get the impression xe is trying to keep us from focusing solely on this single incident; removing any abhorrence against the opponents in the conflict. It may sound like he is saying “this is better than what they do more repeatedly” or “this is just a single anomaly”, etc. Yet, I currently read it as reminders that “war is bad, both sides (not just ours) do bad stuff. let’s work on stopping it totally.”
I might be saying that eeyore is misinterpreting the OP as focusing soley on our mistakes as a way to give a pass to the opposition. When the OP is trying to do the reminder bit: that we make mistakes in our attempts to stop the “bad guys”. It is not saying we are the only ones killing civilians, yet we pay lame lip service” apologies in the form, “collateral damage”, rather than trying to make physical restitution and compensation for the damages.
Oops! Collateral damage, my arse.
“The bombing continued for more than 30 minutes after American and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed,” MSF said on Twitter.
“All parties to the conflict, including in Kabul and Washington, were clearly informed of the precise location (GPS coordinates) of the MSF facilities.”
Every time I hear that military actions were carried out for my country’s “interests” that resulted in civilian deaths, it feels like blood on my hands.
Also, fuck you for using my favorite Winnie the Pooh character’s name while spouting your fuckery.
Penny L says
If you are referring to either the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan, this simply isn’t true. The US military makes mistakes, but it goes out of its way to minimize civilian casualties. As stated above, maximizing civilian deaths is the terrorists’ strategy.
Highly misleading question, especially when the military isn’t yet sure what happened. Hamas, as an example, uses hospitals and schools and the like as bases of operation precisely because if those facilities are attacked, they can then call in the press and parade them through the bombed out hospital (while they themselves shoot indescriminately at heavily populated cities). Are the Taliban starting to use that playbook? Was this an errant strike? Did the military hit what they wanted to but had effects that weren’t anticipated on this hopital? Doing this type of investigation and asking these questions is something the bad guys don’t do.
Yes, it counts for something, but a half tick above “absolutely horrible” is still “extremely horrible”. Intentions matter, but the end result matters, too. The “enemy” targeting more civilians is a fact of life; it doesn’t mean we are allowed to target them as well, even on accident. Which this may or may not be.
you believe all the press releases you read and all of the none independent sources of casualty figures.
all of but a few who died when the missiles came crashing into the buildings were combatants and all of the people shot dead were the bad guys?
@Penny #49, @eeyore: What part of “illegally invading and bombing the shit out of a country” is compatible with “goes out of its way to minimize civilian casualties”?
Did you forget the part where the West armed the Taleban against Russia and Saddam against Iran, or that just doesn’t count?
Did you forget the part where we bully governments, assassinate people, support dictators, infiltrate and radicalize peaceful movements… You really think that this does not count against the death toll?
Remind me again, why did the US go to war in Iraq? Oh yeah, because 9/11!! Nooo, wait! Saddam has nothing to do with it. It’s because of the weapons of mass destruction! Actually no he doesn’t have any (but those we gave him and he used against Iran) SO IT’S BECAUSE HE’S A REALLY NAUGHTY NAUGHTY BOY!
Lies, lies and more lies and you still take their excuses.
What is more probable? That MSF allowed combatants to shoot from the hospital without telling anyone or that someone is trying to cover his ass over some really really bad move?
Anton Mates says
RLY. It’s odd, then, that the US built around 70,000 nuclear warheads during the Cold War. It’s odd that the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred. It’s odd that we currently have several thousand nuclear weapons ready to launch. Why exactly are we sitting on all these WMDs that we can’t possibly imagine using?
In fact, the only reason why the US hasn’t used nuclear weapons (more than twice, anyway) is that we’ve never needed to. No one’s invaded us in the last, eh, hundred years. Nobody’s conducted airstrikes on Dallas or sent ground troops from the Canadian border. And our government has proven many, many times that if we ever faced that sort of threat, we’d be shrieking and throwing nukes around like party favors.
Oh, and you know who’s never used their nuclear weapons at all, despite sharing a border with a country they really don’t like? Pakistan. You know who hasn’t started a war with any other country since their current government was founded in 1979? Iran. And you think we’re the trustworthy ones?
…yes, if we nuked the capitals of the two largest states in the Middle East, that would certainly send a message. A sort of…Death Star-ish message, in fact. I’m sure the world’s Muslims, and indeed the world’s everybody, would view America with great fondness and respect after that.
I don’t trust anyone not to use nuclear weapons. But, again, Iran has fought exactly one war since 1979 and Iraq started that one. Nor did Iran use chemical weapons against Iraq, despite losing a hundred thousand people to Iraqi WMDs. The US, on the other hand, managed to kill, disable and sicken a couple million Vietnamese with Agent Orange, and it’s used white phosphorus in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Seriously—the Iranian government is awful in any number of ways, but they spend a lot less time killing people in other countries than we do. I don’t want them to have nuclear weapons either, but if it was choice between Iran having them and the US having them, I know whom I’d pick.
Wait, did SLC changed nym again?
As for why he’d think that, it’s most probably because like too many people, he believes that launching nukes is tantamount to pressing the “I Win” button: slaughter millions in one fell swoop and the survivors will be too frightened to move against you. It’s basically the “logic” of a bully who fantasizes about cementing his dominant position by bringing a gun to the schoolyard, applied to whole nations.
Yeah, right, the Shiite Mullahs are financing the Sunni fanatics. Next you’ll tell us that the Vatican is secretly funding Trump’s “let’s gun down catholic migrants from the Great Wall of Mexico” platform.
In an unrelated matter someone I’ve been talking to on Disqus has been insisting that the people who threatened to bomb Sarkeesian couldn’t be terrorists and nor could the so called “Incel” community calling for mass murder attacks against women because neither is trying to force a government policy change.
This is an unfortunate reflection of our political culture that the media by and large laps up without question, that terrorism is narrowly defined as non state actors acting against states to force political change, never non state actors against other non state actors and certainly never state actors against anybody else in spite of the term “terrorism” having it’s origins in the French revolution as specifically a state act of terror against a civilian population.
Amazing how much easier it is to take the moral high ground if you bomb it flat in the first place.
Anton Mates says
In fairness, it worked exactly that way for al Qaeda. They killed thousands of Americans in a single day and we all went “Oh, shit, that was terrifying!! We must convert to Islam and never mess with any Arab country ever again.”
Or do I have that wrong?
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
While the USA simply labels everybody they kill “enemy combatant” and have therefore been justified in killing that person. They simply can never kill an innocent civilian because they never kill innocent civilians so everybody they kill was not an innocent civilian.
Civilian casualties in US-led war in Afghanistan. Conservative estimates
You know, either this “going out of their way to minimize civilian casualties is simply not true ORthe US military is so damn incompetent they shouldn’t be trusted with bow and arrow.
Either way, the death toll of the US in Afghanistan and Iraq is far higher than everything ISIS has yet achieved. Just because they conformm ore to the idea of cartoon villain doesn’t change the numbers.
Dreaming of an Atheistic Newtopia says
And this threat has been brought to you by Othering.
Penny L, #49
Did you even read shelly’s post just two posts above yours? It answers your laughably naive questions already:
The Taliban are bad guys and the U.S. and coalition forces are also bad guys. That is how the real world works. The good guys are the Afghans and Americans who would refuse to take part in this sanctioned mass murder or who at least speak up against it.
Smells like colnago80 / StevoR in here.
Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says
Oh, another accident the guilty party says they are really really sorry about?
Well, that makes it all well then. If they were bad, they wouldn’t say they were sorry.
Slithey Tove, No 46, yes, that’s pretty close to my position, and thank you for giving it a fair reading. I’ve said repeatedly that the US shares blame for the situation in the Middle East, and I haven’t said anything that could even remotely be construed as justification for bombing the hospital, but that’s not good enough for some who are outraged that I’m assigning blame to something other than the West. Because anything less than 100% blame for the US and its allies detracts from the meme that it’s all the fault of the West.
But life is a bit more complicated than that. I would like to live in a world in which we don’t have any wars, and in which violence is not used to resolve disputes. That’s not this world, and won’t be for a long time. Not engaging ISIS results in things like the Syrian refugee crisis that is wreaking havoc in Europe right now. Just because we unilaterally withdraw doesn’t mean the bad guys over there will play nice. ISIS is not going to listen to sweet reason; it’s either going to be defeated on the battlefield or create misery for many years to come. At the end of the day, I’m neither leftist nor rightist so much as a cold, hard realist who thinks that Machiavelli mostly got it right. Doesn’t mean I have to like it, but as with other realities in life, ignoring them or pretending the world is different than it is accomplishes nothing.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Oh stop that bullshit anti refugee right wing rhethoric right now. Nothing is “wreaking havoc” in Europe. The problem in Europe is NOT, and I repeat NOT Syrian refugees. The problem is a completely inadequate and hostile response of large parts of European governments.
Don’t you say! More complicated than “dropping a few nukes”?
If you want complicated then go back to the events that destabilized the entire region in the name of freedom and democracy. Looks to me like it didn’t fucking work. Why do you think that dropping more bombs will finally work? Here’s a hint: Not enough bombs dropped and not enough people killed are not the reasons why it didn’t work.
Marcus Ranum says
Don’t buy the “we had to bomb the hospital because the taliban had been shooting at us from it for hours” story. Here’s why:
The taliban aren’t particularly good fighters and are easy prey for regular troops. In order to survive they do a lot of fire and maneuver – they don’t sit in one spot and fire RPGs into the air. When the american PR says that’s what they were doing (“Taliban fighters had been routinely firing “small and heavy” weapons from the grounds of a local hospital”) it’s probably a lie; where were they firing at? If the ‘small weapons’ were close enough to do anything interesting to anyone interesting then they were close enough to be invested and attacked by ground troops. Bombing tactically is useful primarily in a combined arms attack – you use the bombs to shock the target then the ground troops go in and shooty shooty while they are disoriented. And a taliban ‘heavy weapons’ target would be an attractive target, indeed. The bit about ‘routinely firing’ is the bullshit because it implies that the hospital was already an active battle area, that someone in the vicinity was actually firing from the hospital at something worth firing at with small arms. Sure, if there was something like a set up antiaircraft gun or antitank gun that’d be a good static target for a bomber but it’d be a much more attractive target for a sniper team and a handful of special forces.
Practically by definition if there is small arms fighting going on, it’s too close for 20 minutes of bombing because there would be friendly troops also too close.
It’s just bomb happy americans.
The part that really sucks about all this is that this kind of bullshit goes on ALL THE TIME and EVERY DAY. It’s news b/c it’s an MSF hospital they hit but the day before it was probably a residential building, and before that a store and before that someone’s house, etc. Like the wedding party the Saudis blew up last week in Yemen. Bombing ‘close support’ is not really that close. And they’re using 1000lb bombs of high explosive – there’s a limit to how ‘precise’ you can get with 1000lb of high explosive. You can be sure that the prevailing attitude in soldier land is “darn we hit those MSF guys and now what we’ve been doing all year is being questioned. wish we hadn’t hit them.” No regret about all the other bombs dropped. This is not a story of close support bombing where bombers are striking concrete bunkers full of antitank guns and machine gun emplacements, WWII style. This is a story of airstrikes being delivered against residential neighborhoods because someone says their helicopter was fired at from somewhere down there.
This is the same shit the US pulled in Vietnam, for the same reasoning and it’s going to work the same for the same reasons.
Marcus Ranum says
Not engaging ISIS results in things like the Syrian refugee crisis
Destabilizing Libya and Syria in order to promote “regime change” is what resulted in the refugee crisis.
ISIS is a creation of the western powers’ destroying the political order of Syria and Iraq. The US (primarily) has been incompetently taking sides in a long-running religious war between Sunni and Shia (“if we kill a bunch on both sides and let them kill themselves ha ha ha ha”) and encouraging rebellions to replace old puppets with new puppets (see also: Egypt, Libya) and ISIS is a reaction to that. ISIS is not merely some pimple of evil that appeared without any context at all. ISIS’ genesis goes back to Bremer’s stupid de-baathification program when the US toppled Iraq and put the Iraqi army out of a job, and Zarquawi and Al Sadr began militarizing against the US occupation; that’s what started the ball rolling. The US created a massive power vacuum and ISIS is one of the things that appeared to fill it. It’s our wholly-owned subsidiary monster.
Going off on a tangent, here is another article that makes me nauseated:
“Slavery in America was much worse than you probably imagined”
Those who glorify antebellum Dixie are lower than whale shit, alongside those who glorify war.
Marcus Ranum says
The US military makes mistakes, but it goes out of its way to minimize civilian casualties. As stated above, maximizing civilian deaths is the terrorists’ strategy.
Except for the terrorists-in-uniform like the “kill team” guys or Sgt Bales or… well, no true scotsmen, amirite?
Okay: That is absolute fucking Bullshit.
It’s not the Western powers which destabilized Libya and Syria: it’s the Libyan and Syrian parasitic elites who for decades plundered their countries, treated their citizenry like serfs, deliberately imprisoned or murdered every idealist who would have done a better job at leading their country and relied on mobs of uniformed bullies to beat the population into submission until predictably the Libyans and Syrians got fed up and rebelled.
Marcus Ranum says
predictably the Libyans and Syrians got fed up and rebelled.
Didn’t you mean to say “predictably, the CIA-sponsored opposition saw their opportunity to provoke a heavy-handed government response, and tried to trigger a general rebellion”? In both Syria and Libya, the original ‘rebellions’ were relatively small, certainly not representing a plurality (or they would have worked better)
Citizen-driven rebellions usually succeed when elements of the standing army join the rebels. That’s usually a good indication that there’s enough dissatisfaction in the populace (populace also making up the military, right?) that a massive division happens fairly quickly. Usually, it’s a cycle of rebellion/repression that goes on for some time (there were about 7 rebellions in France leading up to the big one…)
Flash back to the Syrian and Libyan rebellions. Suddenly there is a fairly small armed force declaring they are in rebellion. Predictably and interestingly they get international media coverage. The government declares them criminal and says it will suppress them. Then the US government rushes them “non lethal aid” and “logistics” while US satellites like Saudi Arabia rush them guns and explosives. That is not a “rebellion” that’s a destabilization operation. It’s the standard playbook that the US has used over and over again. It’ll take a while for all the truth to come out, of course. In the case of the Libyan rebellion you can look into the story of Khalifa Hifter – the libyan rebel leader that the other libyan rebels shot… In Iraq it was Chalabi.
Yes, it’s hard to see immediately what resistance is organic and what is bankrolled destabilization from outside. Think back to when the Syria and Libya crises began. What you didn’t see was massive protests like in Egypt. It jumped directly to armed operators declaring a rebellion. Minute-men. Specops guys.
If you’re so naive that you believe those are organic rebellions, I pity you.
Eeyore@63 At the end of the day, I’m neither leftist nor rightist so much as a cold, hard realist who thinks that Machiavelli mostly got it right. Doesn’t mean I have to like it, but as with other realities in life, ignoring them or pretending the world is different than it is accomplishes nothing.
You have to be trolling!
“You” are not the subject of this conversation. Really. Never were.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Your own paranoia about Islam taints your analysis.
Anybody with a functioning mind knows Xian terrorists are a bigger threat in the US than Islamic terrorists.
Fixed that for you.
Gregory in Seattle says
Marcus Ranum says
US destabalization ops in Syria
Just the tip of a nasty shitberg
@eeyore – Just to add a little detail… The last few weeks Saudi Arabia has been bombing civilian targets in Yemen, with weapons sold to them by the British, and with military advisors from the USA. The only difference between IS and our friend Saudi Arabia is that the latter is more established. Now just wait until the Yemenites freak out, then accuse them like you do IS or Al-Qaeda.
First, as to me being an Islamophobe, would anyone care to make the argument that Islam is actually a good thing, that it would be a loss to the world if Islam disappeared tomorrow? And before anyone chimes in that Christianity isn’t so great either, you’re right, but that doesn’t exculpate Islam. The fact that there are other bad ideologies out there is not an argument for Islam. So, anyone, what’s the argument that Islam benefits the world? If you can’t think of one, maybe you shouldn’t bust my chops for thinking that having one fewer toxic ideology in the world would be a good thing. It’s not as good as having no toxic ideologies in the world, but it would be a start.
Second, Marcus Ranum, you’re half right. We shouldn’t destabalize regimes without something better to put in its place. If we’re going to rid the world of Saddam Hussein, Quaddafi, or Assad, we need to make sure that there will be a secure, stable government to put in its place. And that was our failing: Not having thought through what would come next. I don’t think we should have invaded Iraq at all, but if we were going to, our biggest failing was assuming that peace and stability would come on their own. At the same time, Hussein, Quaddfi and Assad do bear some responsibility for having destabilized their own countries long before we got there.
And finally, for those who don’t agree with my comments, what exactly would you do about the Middle East if you were president? As I’ve already said, we don’t have a lot of good options; if you think you’ve got one let’s hear it.
Well, the place will certainly look peaceful after everyone is dead.
lets not imagine that these militant Islamist groups just formed in the last 20 years or something or that the political boundaries of that region encompass centuries old ethnic and cultural in anything like completeness. The roots of go far far back . It has been repression and division for a very long time. In the modern era the beginnings can be seen in the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt in the ’20s and in it’s repression by the government in the intervening years.
It was ignorance and arrogance that got us actively with troops on the ground and planes in the air into this mess I see nothing in what we are doing that will lead to anything other than a return to a situation similar to what was there in 1950 certainly not an enlighten peace.
So you would like to fight poison with poison then? While “nuke the bad stuff” probably won’t qualify as an ideology it certainly is toxic.
How to fix the middle east? No idea, which is why I personally would be more inclined towards non-interference rather than constantly meddling. But a question: Why does the US president have to involve themselves in the middle east, exactly? I mean, humanitarian aid is always welcome but that’s not what this looks like. Surely “Number One” has means other than military grade hardware to achieve its goals abroad, yes?
I might agree that it would not be a bad thing if “another toxic ideology” disappeared. The thing is though you can’t make one go away with military repression unless you kill all who believe in it. It has been tried before and it only makes it the belief in its followers stronger and get you labeled as the bad guy it changes no minds or hearts to your way of thinking.
Robert Westbrook says
America takes its war against free healthcare seriously.
Uncle Froggy, I have not advocated killing all Muslims, and I would be just as horrified as everyone else here if anyone else were to advocate it. That was not my point. My point is that pointing out, accurately, that Islam is a toxic ideology gets one labeled an Islamophobe, even though there is no such similar dismissing as Christianphobic anyone who points out that Christianity is a toxic ideology. And since islam is a toxic ideology, why the rush to defend it?
I also agree with you @80 that the West had a role to play in the misplaced international boundaries in that region that are contributing to the problem, but at what point is that no longer a viable excuse? If those boundaries were misdrawn, there is nothing stopping the sovereign nations in the Middle East from voluntarily re-drawing them now, except that since the leaders of the Middle East mostly care about maintaining their own hold on power, that’s not likely to happen. But at some point, bad stuff that was done in the past stops being an excuse for continued bad behavior now. I’m told Charles Manson had a rotten childhood but that doesn’t excuse what he did.
Komarov, I favor non-interference with the following caveat: The problems “over there” have a nasty habit of spilling over and becoming our problems “over here”. Look no further than the current Syrian refugee crisis. It’s easy to say let’s just leave the area, but what happens once we’re gone? We are going to end up being responsible, and asked to pay for, the results, so if we can mitigate those results in advance, we should.
Statement from MSF:
“MSF is disgusted by the recent statements coming from some Afghanistan government authorities justifying the attack on its hospital in Kunduz. These statements imply that Afghan and US forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital with more than 180 staff and patients inside because they claim that members of the Taliban were present.
This amounts to an admission of a war crime. This utterly contradicts the initial attempts of the US government to minimize the attack as ‘collateral damage.’
There can be no justification for this abhorrent attack on our hospital that resulted in the deaths of MSF staff as they worked and patients as they lay in their beds. MSF reiterates its demand for a full transparent and independent international investigation.”
EEyore@78: First, as to me being an Islamophobe, would anyone care to make the argument that Islam is actually a good thing, that it would be a loss to the world if Islam disappeared tomorrow?
Islamophobes are not people who dislike or disagree with Islam. Islamophobes are the disgusting cretinous bigots who unload their hatred on people they think are Muslims. Such as a 14 year old boy, or Sikhs wearing turbans. You know. Other.
If the shoe fits, please do continue to wear it.
empty #85-86 said pretty much what I wanted to say, so I’ll just add the link: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/msf-response-spurious-claims-kunduz-hospital-was-taliban-base
“To be clear; not a single member of our staff reported any fighting inside #Kunduz hospital compound prior to US airstrikes Saturday morning”
eeyore no you did not advocate killing all the Islamist but you seemed to imply that we have to fight with military force because they are bad.
I was trying to point out the observed fact that you can not change minds by force.
Ronald Couch says
eeyore is after all just trying to be reasonable and point out that blowing up a hospital in a place we should not have been for the last 10 years really isn’t such a bad thing. Well, at least, not when you look at all the other bad things that are done.
Oh and by the way those other countries we’ve gotten involved in like Syria and Libya; our bombing and over throwing (in Libya) and trying to over throw in Syria really hasn’t caused the refugees, it is something intrinsic in the nature of the religion those people believe in. So everybody just chill out, please. I mean this is a reasonable request right?
But what were the US (and allies) doing there in the first place? It’s been pointed out before:
Hussein involved with 9/11: Lie
Hussein with WMDs: Lie
Turning an entire country into a warzone just to get bin Laden: Beyond words.
Besides, if ‘we’ keep accidentaliberately bombing hospitals and other vital infrastructure it’s difficult to see how it could get much worse without us there. What could possibly be the endgame otherwise? If you want to occupy a country to establish a new regime you are still going to need that infrastructure. If not get the hell out of there. Fewer bomb are generally progress, especially as said bombs have accomplished nothing since more are still needed, or so we are told.
Yet the US has used cluster munitions in the middle East for decades now which are precisely the opposite of a precision weapon.
Also, didn’t the OP make clear that the always humane US just bombed a hospital stuffed with civilians?
Please elucidate us as to how this action was designed to avoid civilian casualties.
@ 81 eeyore
There is indeed a voluntary process by which countries as varied as India/Pakistan, Vietnam/Cambodia and Israel/Everybody else have voluntarily redrawn foolishly drawn colonial borders.
It’s called “war”.
Perhaps you suggest that they follow the same pacifist, consensus driven path to international disputes paved by the ever-humane and considerate United States?
Grenada, Iraq, Cambodia. What was the US response to contentious international boundaries and lack of international consensus again? Oh yeah-war.
Penny L, #50
You think not killing little children is “going out of one’s way”…
They don’t even do that. The US has been merrily blowing little kids to bits en masse for all of this century and most of the last.
ck, the Irate Lump says
Chris Kyle and the glorification and celebration of his body count should be all we need to know about this, but people like eeyore continue to like to play dumb and pretend that the U.S. is somber about taking lives, while only those evil Muslims are celebratory about it.
Empty, No. 86, I’ll bet you that if you go back to the thread on that 14 year old boy who brought the clock to school, you’ll find I left a comment saying that what happened to him was inexcusable. Not only does the shoe not fit, it doesn’t even look like a shoe.
Maybe I’m not the one doing the othering.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
You are, until you stop with your pet phobia. Nobody is taking your seriously. You damaged your own words with with your own rhetoric against Islam, time after time. The only way to save yourself is to acknowledge and repent your phobia. Then shut up. But you won’t see that.
Penny L says
Talk about naive…
There is a war going on in Afghanistan, perhaps you’ve not heard. The US President has decided that “the way wars end” in the 21st century is for Western democracies to simply quit. So we pulled out of Iraq and two years later ISIS emerged. Afghanistan is shaping up quite the same way. The Taliban is reconquering territory in the country and just scored one of its largest victories, Kunduz. The situation on the ground is chaotic and very few people – least of all the people commenting on an internet message board – have a firm grasp on what is going on.
An investigation will determine whether the correct grid coordinates for the hospital were given, whether there was a communication breakdown, whether the attack was conducted within the rules of engagement, and will recommend punishment for those involved if there was negligence or malice.
The whole idea of “collateral damage” is that in a war buildings get hit and people get killed that are not parties to the conflict. But this is a uniquely Western idea – the purpose of Taliban operations is to create what we would call “collateral damage.” The purpose of Western operations is to kill those people who would commit these atrocities. And they are genuine atrocities.
I suppose you could call the Allies effort in WWII “sanctioned mass murder”, but when the alternative is Jewish genocide or Europe under the rule of a fascist regime, I and many others would call that effort justified.
Think about what the Taliban are fighting for here, in many respects it is worse than what the Germans and Italians and Japanese were fighting for in WWII. They are fighting for religious authoritarianism, for the inequality of women and minorities, for the right to kill gays, for the right to impose their worldview on the whole of Afghanistan. The US is diametrically opposed to these values and if I’m asked to pick a side, I’m going to pick the US. It would be lovely if we didn’t have to fight. It would be lovely if the Taliban would try to use reason and evidence to convince Afghans that their way of governance is the right way, but they don’t do that. They instead choose to fly planes into buildings and shoot little girls who just want to learn to read.
Saad – I have no idea why you want to morally equate the Taliban with the US, but it isn’t going to work because the facts just aren’t on your side. Moreover, your argument serves to legitimize and rationalize the Taliban. I’d ask you to take a few moments and familiarize yourself with that group, its history, its methods and its goals before you start another sentence with “yeah they’re bad, but…” They’re bad. Full stop. The US has done some bad things in pursuit of their goal of destroying that organization, like accidentally bombing a hospital, but they are not even in the same moral universe as the Taliban.
Try to imagine living under both regimes, as a thought experiment, the next time you want to equate the two.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
What’S your fucking evidence for that? Because your military says so and they’d never lie to you?
There’s no shred of evidence that the US is avoiding civilian casualties. THe US is one of thec ountry that completely refuses to sign bans on weapons that especially hurt civillians like cluster bombs, mines, depleted uranium. Those are FACTS.
Or does not “dropping a few nukes” already counta s “avoiding civillian casualties”?
REally, if I beat you, am I avoiding violence against you cause I don’T shoot you?
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Really? I wonder how that one started…
Yeah, and Santa brings the good little children presents. How often have US soldiers and responsibles been actually held responsible for breaking international law?
You know, if you actually knew anything about the history of WWII, you’d know that the Allies actually did pretty little to stop the Holocaust.
Q.E.D. You don’t know shit. Fascism stood for all these things plus the extermination of Jews, Sinti, Roma, Russians. Do you think gay people were happily fucking in the streets back in 1942? We’re talking about millions of people being murdered in industrialized killing centres called Konzentrationslager.
The country that attacks and destroys whatever country they choose to with little to no actual reason. Clearly indiscriminately killing hundreds of thousands just because they lived there is so much better and more moral than carefully choosing who you brutally murder. Ever heard of a false dichotomy? Here’Ss ome news for you: The world is not a fairy tale or 1960s sci-fi movie. There isn’t a good side and a bad side (and you can clearly see who’S bad becuase of how they dress).
Also, the USA isn’t diametrically opposed to those values. They are opposed to those values when they affect precious US citizens (preferrably the white ones). The rest of the world has learned long ago the we can go fuck ourselves and that your precious values mean nothing if somebody else has something that you want. Ever heard of a little country called Saudi Arabia? Theocracy that is the Taliban plus actual power of government? That’S your best buddy.
You can’t make omlette without breaking the eggs….
And since you’re in dire need of some history lessons: The Taliban are a US creation. The Taliban wouldn’t exist without the USA creating them, arming them, funding them, training them. So fuck your “moral universe”
@ Penny L
Yeah, you’re one to lecture us about being naive. Why was the US in Afghanistan and Iraq? Why do you think they were there? To bring the western gospel of secular democracy and peace to those benighted lands? To prosecute justice against the 9-11 killers by rolling tanks into Baghdad? How about weapons of mass destruction, remember those?
The United States has changed it’s stated reasons for being in both Afghanistan and Iraq several times leaving their actual motivations to be inferred by studying their behavior. If the US gave a squeaky monkeys fart about Islamists terrorizing local populations they’d be raising the matter with the medieval monarchy controlling Saudia Arabia-they don’t! Clearly they only care about waging war on ISIS in Syria as long as it’s them and their poodles leading the charge and not Iran or Russia.
The bustle of the Bush administration did send a clear message, we are willing to use overwhelming force and toss all of that democratic liberalism stuff aside if we don’t like you. We’ll toss you to the cackling torturers of Egypt’s security apparatus without a second thought, we’ll hogtie you, drag you off to a stateless hellhole and force food through your anus for even looking like you’re associated with the Taliban or Al Queda due process and democracy be damned. If you are found to be innocent we’ll give you jack shit and certainly no apology. We’ll straight up assassinate you if we don’t like you and if any kids are playing soccer where the drone strike spits it’s hellfire missiles well fuck them. We don’t understand the rules of that game anyhow.
Daniel Lieberfeld succinctly summed up the US post 9-11 motivations because someone had to in a world where the White House couldn’t maintain the same narrative for longer than a fortnight.
If you are naive enough to think the people doing that are “good guys” you’ve no business employing that word on anybody, ever.
Nick Gotts says
The Afghan government now says that
MSF said in a statement:
IOW, sounds like it was a deliberate, planned war crime, but the war criminals failed to ensure that their stories matched afterwards.
Nick Gotts says
Apologies, I see empty@85 and 86 has already pointed out the Afghan government admission.
Nick Gotts says
Your understanding of relationships of cause and effect appears to be misfiring. ISIS emerged out of the Sunni insurgency that followed the illegal American invasion of Iraq. The Mujahedin Shura Council, itself formed in January 2006, declared the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq in October 2006. That’s several years before Obama withdrew most US forces, which of course he did in accordance with a treaty the Bush administration signed with the Iraqi government. Presumably you think he should have broken the treaty, or bribed the Iraqi government, or organised a coup against them, rather than “just quit” in accordance with the treaty.
Marcus Ranum says
It would be lovely if the Taliban would try to use reason and evidence to convince Afghans that their way of governance is the right way, but they don’t do that. They instead choose to fly planes into buildings
Dumbass. The 9/11 perpetrators were mostly Saudis – there were no afghanis involved at all.
The problem in a nutshell:
Once you’re declared the Good Guy, you can do anything you want to fight the Bad Guy. Anything, even bad things.
What nincompoops like eeyore and Penny L refuse to understand, is that the guy doing bad things is the Bad Guy.
Which one again is the Rambo movie where he fights alongside the stalwart Islamic fighters against the Communists in Afghanistan? You know, those that now kill and behead and slaughter…
BTW, this is how US treats its
20 deaths, the pilots acquitted.
This is how white westerners in times of peace are treated.
How are brown dispossessed people treated under the fog of war?
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
That’S what you get from learning world politics by watching Indiana JOnes movies. Brown people come in two basic varieties: those who need killing* and those who need saving**
*quite often for their riddiculous opposition to our hero forcibly entering their territory, murdering their people and stealing their treassures
**Because we all know that the only source of oppression of brown people ever have been other brown people and they never got rid of them without white people liberating them
Penny L, #99
I’m not to label someone a good guy who kills scores of children and does it again even after being condemned for it. And then again and again. I know you have some incredibly low standards, but you really do lose your good guy status by repeatedly blowing up babies.
Also, where are the punishments? If I hit a car out of negligence and kill a child in it, I’m going to be facing the judge. The U.S. has killed thousands of people. Where are the criminal proceedings and jail time for the people who led to those deaths?
And I didn’t equate the U.S. with the Taliban. I live in the real world where two sides don’t have to be equally bad in order for both to be called bad. Yes, yes, one is not as bad as the other. That must be a lot of comfort to the families of the children blown to pieces. It could have been worse. Your son could have been killed by someone who hates women more than we do!
Oops, that first sentence should read “I’m not going to label…”
Penny L says
This is an unserious argument. What are the circumstances behind these “thousands” of deaths? Who killed them? Where?
The military has punished people like SSG Bales, and they have punished others involved with desecrating either dead bodies or Korans. Many of these cases don’t make national news and/or aren’t very well publicized, but they exist.
I assume you’re referring to the events described in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” which documents the way the US funded and armed Afghan insurgents to help defeat the Soviets in the 80s. It is a great book and you could probably learn a few things by reading it (I never saw the Tom Hanks movie). To suggest, however, that the Taliban wouldn’t exist without some action the US stopped doing some 30 years ago borders on lunacy.
Also note the racist undertone of your argument – those brown Afghan people are just pawns without the ability to think for themselves. The US sets their world in motion and they’re unable to change it. Bullshit. The Taliban exist – and ISIS exists – not because of any action or inaction on the part of the US, but because they are able to offer something to their adherent. What they offer is religious authoritarianism and death and terror, which from the perspective of most people are bad things.
I’ll leave your mistaken use of the word “illegal” alone for now because it is off-topic. Perhaps some day we can discuss whether or not Iraq was ever in compliance with the terms of the 1991 Gulf War ceasefire, among other things.
I really don’t understand the desire to link the withdrawal from Iraq with Bush – especially when it is flat-out wrong. The Obama administration was negotiating a status-of-forces agreement (SOFA) with the Iraqi government. Obama could have kept thousands of ground troops in Iraq. Lots of Iraqis wanted that (Malaki was against it, but could have been persuaded). All of Obama’s military advisors recommended keeping a force on the ground (something akin to what the US has had in Korea and Germany for decades), but he demurred. He campaigned on “ending” the war, not winning it or ensuring Iraq remained a stable country. So why not own up to that decision?
Furthermore, had that US force remained in Iraq it is quite likely that the sectarian aims of Maliki would have been thwarted to some – possibly a great – degree, and the tribal leaders in Anbar province would have had an alternative to ISIS. I know you desperately want to tie ISIS to Bush but Iraq in general and Anbar specifically was pretty stable when Bush left office (almost seven years ago, btw).
“Quitting” was Obama’s solution to the problem of Iraq. When the last US troops left the country ISIS was not very well known or very powerful. They have emerged in the last two years as a major player in the region and have effectively re-drawn the borders of Iraq and Syria (another debacle we’ve not mentioned). If you’d like to quibble about my use of the word “emerge”, fine. Doesn’t change the facts on the ground.
The US have been toppling democratically elected governments and replacing them with puppet dictatorships for a long time now. Face it, the US has never been the ‘good guy’, how much many USAnians poisoned by propaganda want to claim otherwise.
The fact that the US smiled benignly as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agencies enabled the militarized Madrasas where the Afghan war orphans who became the Taliban were being trained seems to have been lost on you. The US knew what was happening and they were fine with it because the newly radicalized militants were good for harassing the Soviets and threating Shia Iran on it’s borders in the 1980s.
So yes, the Taliban owes it’s existence and it’s ideology at least in part to US foreign policy of the time.
Penny L, #113
I’m actually granting you that each and every one of those civilian deaths was due to negligence and not intentional targeting. Then I’m asking the question why these aren’t considered cases of negligent homicide. It’s because U.S. is the good guys therefore its negligent homicide is actually collateral damage, isn’t it?
I wasn’t talking about people like Bales. I’m talking about killing people out of negligence.
To Eeyore, way up high on the thread (and I wish it were possible to “Reply” to posts here directly, as on Disqus): I know I’m in a minority of one here, but I think you’re quite right. Questions of moral responsibility when faced with absolute or (even relative) evil are very complex, and simplistic answers of “right” or “wrong” hardly ever apply. I’ve been thinking about this in the context of Nazi Germany, and the degree of complicity of passive bystanders (“Was there such a thing as a good German?”) Anyway, the way everyone jumped on you was more or less predictable (though Pharyngula tends to be less simplistic than most such blogs), but as I said I think your comments are unusually nuanced .
Marcus Ranum says
The military has punished people like SSG Bales
Hardly. He got what amounts to a slap on the wrist. Do your research.
The fact that an obvious and glaring war criminal like Bales gets a couple years for slaughtering a family tells you what the crew of the AC130 that rained 105mm high explosive shells on a hospital for over 1/2 hour expect to get. For sure the publicity surrounding the incident has ruined their chance of getting a medal this tour.
We are Plethora, Protectors of the Orb of Tranquility ~+~ Seated on the Throne of Fantasia says
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls @98,
This is really important advice and it should be repeated often: repent and then shut up and listen.
Genuine repentance generally begins with a thoughtful examination of conscience, followed by these three steps (each necessary in order to bring about real change):
1) Conviction: admitting your mistake; coming to terms with it and accepting in your heart of hearts that you have done wrong
2) Contrition: learning to see your mistake for what it is and abhorring it as such
3) Conversion: turning away from and earnestly seeking to avoid the mistake in the future
In some cases folks may be more comfortable going through this process with a facilitator of some kind, someone in whom they can confide and someone to whom they can openly disclose their mistakes. Either way, it’s vitally important to turn away from our problematic views (in this case Islamophobia) and to firmly resolve to avoid such in the future.
Jesus Fuck. How about pondering the fact that the thinking eeyore, Penny L and yourself are doing is far from nuanced, but plain ol’ bloodthirsty bigotry bound up in stupidity?
Nate Carr says
If we really punished the soldiers who commit atrocities, and the officers and politicians who order those atrocities why hasn’t anyone been prosecuted for war crimes over Guantanamo?
A “nuanced” statement from MSF:
“Today the US government has admitted that it was their airstrike that hit our hospital in Kunduz and killed 22 patients and MSF staff. Their description of the attack keeps changing—from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government. The reality is the US dropped those bombs. The US hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff. The US military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition. There can be no justification for this horrible attack. With such constant discrepancies in the US and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.”
—Christopher Stokes, General Director, Médecins Sans Frontières
Could you please post the link for that quote if you have it available?
Never mind, should have consulted The Google first. :)
Well, I think historians generally agree that the firebombing of civilian areas (Dresden, Tokyo, etc) were not necessary and didn’t confer a significant military advantage. Particularly Dresden. In fact, that bombing (which also killed a number of American soldiers held prisoner there) focused mostly on civilian areas of the city.
In fact, these bombings did have the aims of claiming the greatest number of lives. The first bombs would blast open buildings allowing for better aeration of fires from the incendiaries that followed. Then after a couple hours, they would send another wave of bombers to kill the crews trying to put out the fires.
So, yes, the Allies did undeniably engage in mass murder. The fact that we were fighting genocidal fascists does not wash away our own crimes.
Also, when we’re talking about the U.S. murdering civilians, it really isn’t a good tactic to bring up World War II…
@3: Just out of curiosity, how does bombing the only hospital in the region that provides trauma care and continuing to bomb it for at least 30 minutes after you know what you’re bombing consistent with “avoiding civilian casualties”?
Lilly Wust? Die Geschwister Scholl? Erich Kaestner? Maybe my at the time infant step-mother-out-of-law who served as a prop for the resistance movement (no one suspects a woman with a nice baby…)?
Conversely, one could ask whether there is any such thing as a good US-American knowing what we know about the US government’s use of torture and repeated war crimes. Maybe the 911 terrorists were right and the WTC was a legit target. If you’re going down that rabbit hole, where do you stop?
Probably of relevance is a press release from MSF in late September in which this quote appears: “MSF’s hospital is the only facility of its kind in the whole north-eastern region of Afghanistan, providing free life- and limb-saving trauma care. MSF doctors treat all people according to their medical needs and do not make distinctions based on a patient’s ethnicity, religious beliefs or political affiliation.”
Why would the US bomb a hospital? To deny its opponents medical care.
ck, the Irate Lump says
Penny L wrote:
I have to give it to you. The way you completely disregarded the will of the elected head of state is amazing, and sadly all too typical. Silly Malaki thought he was an elected leader and believed he could make a decision for the nation he was elected to, but you could just “persuade” him to play the puppet you thought you installed. It might surprise you, but people often take their nation’s sovereignty very seriously. So, when they think that their laws and society are being crafted in Washington, DC rather than locally, they get rather angry about it.
And the irony was that that quote came almost immediately after this:
So, which is it, Penny? Is it only the Afghan people who can think for themselves, but the Iraqis have to be lead from Washington? Or did you just think it was a good “gotcha”?
Please tell me that someone in the US military has a list of places they shouldn’t bomb. Yeah, ideally “everywhere”, but I’d reckon hospitals, children’s homes, etc would be at the top, even in this non-ideal world.
So, assuming the latest explanation is the correct one, is someone criminally negligent* in not checking the list or criminally negligent** in not writing it?
*amoral slime that deserves to be pissed on by everyone in the rest of the world in turn.
I’d need to be convinced that doing anything would be demonstrably better than doing nothing. Really, while we agree that Saddam and the Taliban were pretty despicable, it’s really hard to argue that what we’ve done is better. The US alone has lost more people fighting the wars than were lost on 9/11, not to mention the people lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. I really don’t see how an argument can be made that it would have been worse if we had simply done nothing after 9/11. To be honest, I used to think like you, where we have some moral entitlement or even obligation to do something rather than nothing in the Middle East, that we either come up with the best possible solution and make it happen or we have failed. But, I don’t anymore.
Re: Blattafrax (#131)
It’s a list of prefixes. It reads “US”. As long as there is a stripy thing waving over it, any installation is safe no matter what’s going on inside. If there isn’t it might perhaps be a terrorist threat and needs to be bombed (thoroughly) just in case. It could be a café, a hospital or a nursery school and still be a viable target.
Some historical perspective :
U.S. commanders in Vietnam placed no restrictions on ground or air attacks against Viet Cong or North Vietnamese hospitals a Senate committee was told yesterday by several Vietnam veterans.
In direct testimony and in letters, the veterans said hospitals often were considered targets rather than areas to be avoided as required by the Geneva convention on warfare.…
ck, the Irate Lump says
Don’t worry. The U.S. exempted itself from those silly things via the American Service-Members’ Protection Act of 2002. Attempting to charge and detain any soldier or elected representative with a crime in the ICC could effectively start a war against the Netherlands and/or any other country participating with this, if the President so chooses.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
See also the little Serbian town of Varvarin
How is it to “avoiding civilian casualties” if you bomb an insignificant bridge during a spring holiday when hundreds of people are out there and then fly a second attack when the resuce is working?
To be clear, that wasn’t the USA alone, that was all of Nato engaging in another illegal war…
Penny L says
SSG Bales received life in prison without the possibility of parole. I don’t believe in the death penalty…is there a punishment worse than this? What should he have received?
What war crimes have been committed in Guantanomo? There is a reason why Obama went back on his campaign promise to close that facility down on his first day in office. It might do you some good to research the reasoning behind that.
There is a difference between “leading” and supporting. Bush supported Maliki, conferred with him weekly while he was in office, and tempered his sectarian ambitions. Obama rarely conferred with Maliki and essentially abandoned him once Iraq became peaceful. Remember that both he and Biden claimed Iraq would be one of the foreign policy successes of their administration.
Also note that the US acted as an honest broker between the Shia and Sunni, for there is a deep mistrust and hatred there. For all of you who think you understand the dynamics of the region, if your analysis doesn’t factor in this critical fault line you’re doing it wrong.
This was exactly my point, and I almost referred to the Dresden bombing in my previous comment (Hiroshima would have worked too). Very few people in that day and age considered these “crimes.” The war crimes trials in Nuremberg (not far from where I live) did not even broach this subject. Lots of ink has been spilled in the years since debating the morality of targeting civilian production facilities, population centers, etc. but at the time the Allies were engaged in a total world war and their very existence was at stake.
Your use of the word “crime” reflects a modern sensibility, not the sensibility of the time which was codified in the Hague and Geneva conventions. Warfare is more precise now – at least as practiced by the major powers. GPS, satellite imagery, guided bombs, etc., all serve to make the carpet-style bombing of WWII/Korea/Vietnam a thing of the past. But it is impossible to get it right every time, especially when you are fighting an enemy that openly flouts the Geneva Conventions or the rules of warfare.
Once a country has made the decision to go to war – a decision that should not be made lightly, even in an “airstrike” war like Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, or Lybia – implicit in that decision is an acceptance of the fact that noncombatants will die. The only thing we can do is try to minimize that occurance, and the US has rigorous checks and procedures in place to do just that.
Ask yourself if the Taliban or Al Qaeda has lawyers on staff scrutinizing every suicide bombing, or whether they are pouring over satellite images trying to figure out how to strike a target without hitting the mud hut next door. The incongruence of that image tells you all you need to know about the morality of the war the US is fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
What’s your evidence the USA is doing that?
Like they did between the Israeli’s and Palestinians eh?
Pfft, the US has never been an honest broker.
you are telling the story, so why didn’t Obama close Gitmo down?
Why are there still a bunch of innocent people languishing there?
I guess then that innocent people captured in some foreign land and held for years and systematically tortured with little to no judicial procedure does not rise to the level of War Crime.
but we do it because reasons and excuses, we are afraid and angry and stubbornly stupid.
Of course, there’s nothing racist about describing the homes of Iraqis and Afghans as “mud huts”. The term “mud hut” is completely neutral, and does not in any way convey the idea that they’re all just primitive savages.
Excuse me, I think I’ve sprained an eyeball…
Nick Gotts says
Srsly? The place for that to be determined, and for a decision on what was to be done about any non-compliance, was quite clearly the UN Security Council, which was actively engaged in the search for WMDs in Iraq. The invasion was neither in self-defence, nor in accordance with UNSC resolutions (no, you don’t get to to say “We don’t like the recent resolution on this topic, and we know we couldn’t get a resolution authorising an invasion through the SC, so we’re going to launch the invasion on the basis of a superceded one”), therefore, it was illegal, and the Bush administration are major war criminals. (So is Obama, of course.)
That’s a flat-out lie. Bush signed the agreement under which the withdrawal took place. That he is “linked” to it is therefore obvious to all but the extraordinarily (and in this case deliberately) obtuse.
ck, the Irate Lump dealt with this @130.
Again, you are simply denying obvious facts: ISIS emerged under Bush. As for Iraq being “pretty stable” in 2009, according to Iraq Body Count (who use a conservative methodology):
So in Bush’s last calendar year in office, there were over 10,000 deaths from violence in Iraq. Pretty stable? As for the rest of the quote, that’s worthless speculation. But if you think that remaining US troops would have “thwarted the sectarian aims of Maliki”, then why would he not have seen that himself, and thus refused to be “persuaded” to allow troops to stay? It’s clear enough where the logic of your argument ends up: in bribery or coup to get the compliant puppet you want.
When you say something plainly false – in this case, that ISIS emerged years later than it did, so you can blame Obama for its existence – it is not a “quibble” to correct you. And indeed, none of this changes the plain fact that the illegal invasion of Iraq was a primary cause (not, of course, the sole cause) of the devastation now afflicting both Iraq and Syria. It played a major role in exacerbating the sectarian tensions in Iraq where, prior to the invasion, at least in Baghdad mixed marriages were common, and many people did not know their friends’ sectarian allegiances.
Penny L says
I refer you to this, of which you seem extrordinarily obtuse: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/04/us/politics/04military.html?_r=2&em&
Had Obama followed through on this course of action, ISIS would not have re-emerged to be the powerful organization it has become.
On to your next point:
Iraqbodycount.org states that Baghdad saw 1725 deaths in 2009. For a city with a population of 6.5 million (estimated by Iraqbodycount.org), this works out to an incidence of 26.5 deaths per 100,000. In 2008 in Washtington DC, Bush’s last full year in office, the incidents of murder per 100,000 was 31.4 (http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Washington-District-of-Columbia.html)
The numbers may not directly correlate – “deaths” and “murders” probably aren’t counted the same in the two data sources – so I won’t go so far as to say Baghdad was safer than Washington DC (the following year the murder rate in DC falls, and keeps falling, but for the previous seven years it was higher than the 2009 rate in Baghdad). I am willing to say that if you think Washington DC was “pretty stable” then so was Baghdad in 2009.
For comparison’s sake, Mosul was identified by Iraqbodycount.org as the most violent city in Iraq in 2009 with 799 deaths against a population of 1.8 million. That gives the city a rate of 44.4 per 100,000. Washington DC in 2002 and 2003 had rates of 46.2 and 44.0 respectively.
What’s it called when you get so obtuse that you become acute?
Penny L. @ 143:
Any particular reason you use 2008 figures for DC and 2009 figures for Baghdad?
Why restrict yourself to Baghdad?
As Nick pointed out IBC (which under-reports because of its methodology) reports more than 10,000 killings in Iraq in 2008 – that works out to about 32 deaths per 100,000. In 2008 the number of murders and non-negligent manslaughter in the US was 5.4 . And they say we are a violent country!
Seriously, even taking into account your ideological baggage, how on earth can you call that a stable situation?
Penny L @ 137
“Once a country has made the decision to go to war – a decision that should not be made lightly, even in an “airstrike” war like Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, or Libya – implicit in that decision is an acceptance of the fact that noncombatants will die.”
Please tell me who Syria, the Yemen, Pakistan and Libya are at war with. I’m not aware that any of them have declared war recently (although Pakistan may be technically still be at war with India). They have not even declared an “airstrike” war as far as I know.
I’d be interested to know what you think an “airstrike” war is? I’m not aware that Syria or the Yemen or Pakistan or Libya are carrying out airstrikes on London or Washington or Little Rock, so maybe it’s not actually an “airstrike war” at all. It seems to me that you only get to be part of an “airstrike” war when the US or one of it’s allies decides to bomb parts of your country to rubble. Coincidentally that is also the time when those pesky noncombatants start to infer that it is time for their implied deaths.
However, the good news is that now Russia seems to have joined the “airstrike” war in Syria, so now we can have a proper war with two sides bombing indiscriminately and before long it might even turn into a war between protagonists instead of proxies. Then you and Eyeore can start dusting down the old WMDs that the US has had consistently at the ready for over half a century.
Frankly, I’d rather you just stayed out of all of the civil wars around the world. especially the ones you engineered.
Note also that IBC is about the civil war’s effect on civilians. It elides anybody who was engaged in fighting. It doesn’t seem to be looking for murders in the usual sense (domestic violence etc), but more for civil war types of violence. And it bills itself as a lower bound; other methodologies find much higher rates of death.
Penny’s argument is that if you pick one of the better parts of country A and compare it against one of the the worst areas of country B, and they’re of similar awfulness based on measures that aren’t comparable, that proves country A is in good shape. Are you lying to yourself or just to the rest of us?
Not war crimes maybe, but imprisoning people without charging them or convicting them is illegal under both US and international law.
The reason is that the GOP were stamping their feet and the Democrats were to scared to lose votes by actually following the law.
Bullshit. The same acts of war committed by the axis were considered war crimes.
Are you so naïve? Or is it just plain dishonesty? Of course not. The war crimes tribunal was stages by the victors, and only addressed the crimes by he losers. The winners of course didn’t make a trial of their own deeds.
So how did bombing a city with no militaristic strategic purpose fall into this category? You are just showing yourself for what you are a ‘might makes right’ cheerleader and utter authoritarian.
A fuck you. We are not talking about hundreds of years ago, we are talking about an age in which people who lived are still alive today.
And fuck you again for your plain dishonesty. We are not only talking about some bomb that missed the target. We are talking about specifically targeting civilian targets. Dresden was not a ‘miss’ through old technology, it was a bombardment that achieved it’s goals perfectly.
If others flaunt the convention, that does not give you the right to flaunt it too. Your reasoning is that because criminals flaunt the laws, cops should do the same. You cannot act exactly the same way as the bad guy and still claim you are the good guy. Utter authoritarianism.
No they don’t, as has been pointed out to you repeatedly.
Hint: a lawyer is not there to determine the morality of things. They are there to legally cover the asses of the people involved. That should tell you plenty. Well, not you, you are clueless.
Penny L quoted the NY Times: “That status-of-forces agreement remains subject to change, by mutual agreement. . .”
Odd how Obama’s failure to unilaterally modify a bilateral agreement makes ISIL his fault.
But then that’s the way it looks when you believe that “We’re an empire now – we create our own reality.”
As for the first point, perhaps Penny can explain their argument, because the big quote says the opposite of what they’re trying to show.
Ever since the collapse of the Ottoman empire, the west (the UK and the US in particular) has been screwing up the Middle East. Virtually every dictator in the region has been installed or supported by the west, and occasionally one was deposed as well. The interests of the local people were never a concern.
The reason that Iran is in the Axis of Evil is not that it is a theocratic dictatorship that enables terrorism (Saudi Arabia is even worse) but because it is an exception to this rule: the revolution was against an marionette of the west, and ever since Iran refuses to bow to western demands.
P.S. Does anybody need to be reminded who first used chemical weapons against civilians in Iraq? Hint: it was not Saddam Hussein.
The good news it that the US isn’t calling it collateral damage anymore.
The bad news is that it means the US *deliberately* targeted the hospital building. They’re still trying to claim it was an accident, but every justification gets cast aside as MSF points out that it’s bullshit.
You should listen to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast “Logical Insanity” which is ostensibly about the decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but is mostly about everything leading up to it from Guernica and Nanking through the London Blitz as one thing led to another worse thing. He points out that the Allies should have known the couldn’t bomb Germany into submission. If the German bombing of Britain was ineffective in getting the population of a democracy to pressure the government bombing civilians in a dictatorship would have no effect on the German government. There was a massive (1000 aircraft if I remember correctly) American raid on Tokyo after the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.
Many years ago I read a book called the 8th passenger, written by the bombardier in a Lancaster crew that due to continuous changes in the rules flew more missions in their tour than any other crew. They participated in the Dresden raid and in an a subsequent raid on refugees from Dresden. The author considered the subsequent raid to be morally much worse than the Dresden raid. He deliberately missed the target during the Dresden raid, but dropped the bombs on target during the raid against the refugees.
In a podcast I no longer remember the name of AC Grayling talked about the fire bombing of Hamburg and Dresden. There is no doubt that the primary objective was to kill as many civilians as possible. He described the British night time bombing of German cities as a War Crime while the more precise American daytime bombing was not. However he considered the American bombing of Japanese cities (not just Hiroshima and Nagasaki) to be a war crime.
Even if the bombing of the hospitals turns out to be the result some sort of fuck-up due to faulty intelligence, the fact that it was a hospital should have made it off limits regardless. Ultimately there is no excuse. From what I have seen the American military values the lives of civilians at a tinny fraction of the lives of American military personnel.
Penny L says
It precisely supports my argument, which is that Obama owns the decision to pull US troops out of Iraq. He campaigned on it, touted it countless times, especially during his re-election campaign, and his Vice President went so far as to say that Iraq could be one of his biggest foreign policy achievements. It is only since ISIS began kicking the Iraqis ass and remaking the borders of the Middle East that partisans on the left have been saying “But it was Bush’s plan!” That may be true but it is also irrelevant. Obama wanted the US out of Iraq, and he got his wish (for a couple years anyway).
I wasn’t attempting to make a direct comparison, I was only trying to put IBC’s numbers into context. And you can call their numbers conservative but they also count things like fatal car accidents, knife murders, stranglings, etc. that are clearly not a direct result of the invasion or civil war, or insurgency, or however you’d like to characterize the US presence. Dig in to the actual data for 2009 if you don’t believe me. They also don’t put their numbers in the format (rate per 100,000) in which crime data is typically displayed. I assume they do that for a reason, to make the numbers appear more impressive than they would be if placed into context (although the numbers for 2006-7 would be horrific displayed in either way).
Finally @zen – I started to respond to you but it is clear that you’ve deliberately misread or mischaracterized almost everything I’ve written here. I’ll debate with anyone as long as they take my arguments at face value and in good faith, something you appear unwilling or unable to do.
Penny L says
Completely agree with the thrust of your question, perhaps you could ask the Nobel Peace Prize winner currently sitting in the Oval Office why the US is bombing these countries.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Hey, a US general has said they’D never ever hit a hospital on purpose (or, I dunno, keep bombing it for 30 minutes after they were informed that they were indeed hitting a hospital) so I guess that settles it, because the US military would never ever lie.
Oh, and there are also investigations. BY the nato, the USA and the Afghani government. Remember if you ever run over a child in the street to demand that you or your co-passenger get to investigate whether this was your fault.
That’s the most mind-boggling thing about this. And they’ll get away with it too. Classic case of the victor writing history.
That quote has Obama wanting to keep a “residual force” — tens of thousands of troops — in Iraq. Iraq refused, despite rather a lot of negotiations. At that point, what does Obama do?
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Oh, and here’s another short list of the USA totally not bombing civilian targets
I find the amount of news outlets targeted quite telling….
Penny L says
Stunningly simplistic thinking. Giliell, did you even read the article you quoted? It says this:
If this is true, and if the strike was not errant (meaning the aircraft hit what it aimed at, a fact only known to the people who released the bomb) then it was almost certainly not a war crime. Nothing in the rules of engagement or laws of war prevent a unit in contact from acting in self defence.
There were a few other things you could have gleaned from the article – like the fact that the Afghans called in the airstrike to a US special forces unit nearby:
The aircraft should have visually acquired the target based on information they received from the special operations unit in order to determine whether or not enemy fire was originating from that building. This is why an investigation is necessary, along with a review of the camera footage and radio calls, assuming they exist.
A few other things you’re assuming – that the hospital looked like a hospital from thousands of feet in the air, that the coordinates Doctors without Borders gave the military were correct (differing coordinate systems induce different types of errors), that the pilots of that aircraft were aware of the location of the hospital, that the call from the hospital in the first minutes of the battle was received by the right people and forwarded to the right people, things can get quite confusing in combat.
But here’s what really pisses me off about people like you and Saad. You’re not willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the military of a open, liberal democratic country who are fighting religious authoritarian thugs who want to kill as many innocent civilians as they can. If the US wanted to act like the Taliban they could carpet bomb (or nuke) the entire Af-Pak border and call it a day. You react like the purpose of that whole engagement was to create a situation in which the US could bomb a hospital and get away with it, just because they are that evil and that’s what they’re all about.
These kinds of incidents are aberrations precisely because the US only targets enemy forces and has rigorous checks in place to minimize them. They’re humans trying to do the right thing. As opposed to the Taliban who are humans trying to do the wrong thing at every turn.
Where are the investigations when the Taliban bomb innocent civilians? Where is the condemnation when they behead a journalist? Where are the calls for arrests of Taliban figures on war crimes charges? Where are the blog posts on Pharyngula when these things happen?
Understand that I’m not trying to absolve the US from guilt here – if these pilots or special operators acted inappropriately they should be charged and sent to a trial. I want a sense of balance in our rhetoric about these things. The Taliban are horrifically bad people but when they shoot a little girl in the head for wanting to go to school, we either shrug our shoulders or we try to figure out what the US did to make them the way they are. Let’s try holding them to a similar standard, even the most basic of standards. That’s where we should start.
BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAhAHahahahaaaa… *ahem* Sorry.
I believe that the Taliban is somewhat outside the jurisdiction of the Most Honourable Right USof A, so maybe you should take that up with the leadership of the Taliban itself. Offer suggestions in investigating their own war crimes, perhaps give them some suggestions based on the long, involved US experience in investigating and prosecuting their own war crimes.
Even if PZ wrote about these things, I’m not convinced that the Taliban rates too high a percentage of his readership, so the condemnation might not get out to the right audience. Just sayin’.
Sadly, though, I, too, must align myself with Saad and Giliell – I will not give the military of any country the benefit of any doubt when they go so far as to bomb a hospital, whether by accident or by invitation. If they’re so high mighty and moral, the fact that this is a hospital would discourage them from any such action, even if enemy combatants are firing from the grounds of the hospital, because that hospital serves a greater purpose, and if they’re so high mighty and moral and correct, then that greater purpose would supercede any thoughts of taking away the lives of a few enemy combatants. Because the price of bombing a hospital is just too damn fucking high. Unfortunately, it happened, and whether by accident or by invitation, there will be no benefit of the doubt as to the good intentions of those doing the bombing. I don’t give a fuck, they bombed a hospital. A rare, necessary hospital, for saving human lives. You can’t just logic that away.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
You really need to stick to ONE of the four version of events given by the USA so far. You quote all the things that support your narrative and ignore all those that don’t fit your narrative
BTW, the article notes correctly that even IF there had been fire from the Taliban (something MSF denies) the USA would have had to give a warning to the hospital .
Well, thank you for admitting that you want the USA to be judged by the same moral standards as the Taliban. Sure, that’s not the exactly the high moral ground of an “a open, liberal democratic country”, but if that’s what you’Re talking about…
Did you look at the last link I posted? Did you read the thread? Did you pay any attention in history classes? The USA are the biggest aggressor in this world. They have led more illegal wars than anybody else. They have disposed of multiple democratic governments and have and are supporting horrible dictators. They didn’t only torture people, they also keep their torture victims locked up. They do hundreds and hundreds extrajudicial killings via drone strikes. They have laws that protect their soldiers from facing consequences of committing war crimes. They have shown time after time again that they don’t give a fuck about international laws and the Geneva convention. Give me ONE reason why I should give them the benefit of the doubt?
So that’s it? Just because they’Re not committing he worst war crimes they could they’re innocent?
First of all, the USA have gotten away with many such incidences. Second of all nobody says that doing it because they can was their goal. As people have noticed, denying the enemy medical care is a military goal. Not a legitimate one by the rules of engagement, but hey, the end justifies the means, right?
Not really. In fact, not at all. The US doesn’t use* its nukes for one reason: fear of retaliation. Pakistan is a nuclear armed country, in case you’ve forgotten. And even if they can’t or won’t deliver their nukes to US soil, how happy do you think Russia, China, and the EU are going to be if the US demonstrates that it’s ready to launch its nukes. Again. The US doesn’t use its nukes because it doesn’t want nuclear bombs raining down on its territory and that’s the ONLY reason it doesn’t use them. Morality has nothing to do with it.
*For certain definitions of “use”. The US has certainly used its nuclear weapons to threaten and manipulate. And propagandize. For example, there are apparently rational people who will argue in all seriousness that because the US has not nuked a country, anything else it does should be given the “benefit of the doubt” and that the US must be assumed to be attempting to limit casualties. Which is sort of like saying that if someone breaks into your house, threatens you with a gun, beats and rapes you then shoots your roommate, steals your valuables and leaves without shooting you they should be praised for their restraint and given the benefit of the doubt because they clearly could have killed you too but didn’t, which means that they’re probably the “good guys” and possibly just “made a mistake.”
I bet the Taliban would be pleased as can be to be able to afford lawyers to “investigate” themselves and then clear themselves of any wrongdoing, just like the US has and does.
Penny L, #161
Deliberate bombing of Amiriyah shelter, killing more than 400 civilians
Wedding party bombing #1
In this one, the U.S. military denied that any civilians had been killed. Turns out 47 were killed. But they just denied it before waiting to see the results of investigations.
Wedding party bombing #2
A convoy of buses carrying civilians in broad daylight attacked by U.S. helicopters, killing 27 civilians including a child. A U.S. general said they will re-double their efforts to regain trust. That was in 2010.
The U.S. doesn’t give a shit about killing civilians. Look up the list of civilian killings since 2001 in Afghanistan. It’s clear as day. You can’t argue against cold hard facts and numbers. Apologies and “re-doubling” of efforts is just PR and damage control. Time after time, the U.S. has been horribly negligent when it comes to caring about Afghani civilian lives.
Drop this stupid strawman already. Nobody is saying the U.S. targets civilians just like the Taliban does. We’re saying they’re thoroughly careless about it. A world superpower with highly advanced military technology and far-reaching intel capabilities simply should not be obliterating a so many civilian lives on a regular basis. And the fact that they often deny the casualties and come up with changing excuses shows you they’re not a trustworthy force.
Oh, and also… you’re forgetting about the years of torturing. Can’t forget the torture. Good old open liberal country!
Remember, this is the country that tried to tell the world tying someone down to a table, covering their face with a towel and pouring water on it until they can’t take it anymore is not torture.
The default stance to have towards such a country when it kills children is of suspicion, not trust. Open your eyes already.
Actually, I am saying that. Well, maybe not like the Taliban, exactly, but this goes beyond carelessness. The US targeted that hospital. The buildings surrounding it were untouched. They continued bombing for half an hour after MSF told them what they were bombing. If it were a mistake, why the extra half hour of bombing. Even if they suspected that the call was a ruse by the Taliban, wouldn’t the safer thing be to stop and investigate rather than continue bombing. I’m sorry, but I must say that I don’t see this as anything but a deliberate targeting of civilians. Specifically civilians who were there for the purpose of healing all those who were wounded in the fighting. That, I strongly suspect, was the reason that MSF was targeted: Because they don’t put any political or religious test on who they will and will not treat but simply take all those who present themselves with the need for care. To the US, that makes them among those who are “against us” as Bush said.
Penny L says
Unlike you, I don’t have a narrative. If the bombing of this hospital was improperly conducted I want the people who did it charged with crimes. You and Saad are the ones convicting these people without an investigation.
Your analysis is not just wrong, it is completely ahistorical. The US and the US military have been the largest forces for peace and stability since the turn of the 20th century. Europe, North Africa, Japan, South Korea, etc., would all be ruled by authoritarian fascist regimes were it not for the US. The US fought against Soviet expansionism during the Cold War, had they not who knows how much more territory the USSR would have added to its totalitarian empire. There have been misadventures in the Middle East and South America and their foreign policy has not been perfect, but the world would look a lot different – and quite a bit worse – were the US not a superpower.
You want one reason to give the US the benefit of the doubt? Try living in North Korea. Or more precisely, try not to get yourself killed or tortured or sent to a concentration camp while living in North Korea. How about Afghanistan under the Taliban? Want to live there? I’ve no idea why you hate the US so much, but it is clouding your judgement on this issue.
Your first cited example completely belies this assertion.
If the US truly didn’t give a shit about civilians, they would not have done ANY target analysis at all, they would have simply bombed the shit out of Baghdad. The fact that there was a debate at all about this target shows that they do care for civlian lives, and they try to make the best guess they can.
Which is another point apparently lost to you – targets are usually struck based on educated guesses. No one can have perfect, real time intelligence about every target being hit on the battlefield – war is not like a Hollywood movie.
Or the information military forces have could be completely wrong, as it was in your fourth citation:
It appears that, in this case, US Special Forces made the mistake of trusting someone with an axe to grind. Also undermines your point that investigations in these cases never determine or punish those at fault.
And thanks to both you and Giliell for confirming my point. Neither of you have any interest in holding the Taliban accountable for their actions, you’re only concerned about what the US is doing wrong. I’ll never understand this kind of myopia. But I will start taking your arguments a little more seriously when you start criticizing the Taliban with the same amout of fervor which you have, apparently until now, reserved only for the US.
If it were a mistake, why the extra half hour of bombing
The person who got the message has to verify the message, then transfer it to the plane that’s conducting the attack, with likely a few intermediaries along the way. I can easily see that taking a half-hour, under the “horribly negligent” banner.
Penny pulls out the Dear Muslima defense. Awesome.
@170: That would be horribly negligent all right. How can the chain of command not be set up in such a way that bombing can be stopped immediately if further information comes in? What if you’re (genuinely accidentally) bombing the wrong people? For example, if your ground support accidentally entered their own coordinates instead of those of the enemy. What if the people you’re bombing just surrendered? Continued bombing would be a war crime and a disincentive for anyone to surrender to you ever again. If the system is really set up so badly that a bombing can’t be stopped then that’s both stupid and criminal.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
timeline of US military operations
All totally in the name of peace, freedom and liberty. Not to forget a few that they didn’t condict themselves but heavily supported like tha Bay of Pigs invasion, the Contras in Nicaragua or Pinochet in Chile….
No, you dishonest little shit. It really doesn’t.
Oops. Pull your head out of your ass and start actually reading shit without your huge American bias.
Nah, I won’t criticize the Taliban for America’s actions. I criticize the Taliban for the Taliban’s actions.
Not exactly. In fact, not at all. What it shows is that they care about getting caught and being held accountable for killing civilians. Do you think that if MSF had not said anything the US military would be going out of its way to say that they “accidentally” bombed a hospital and apologize? I see absolutely no evidence for such a claim.
Though given that the Taliban arose from groups the US supported or even founded in the 1980s in order to harass the Soviets when they invaded, there is an argument to be made for criticizing the US for the Taliban’s actions. A little out of date, perhaps, but still a viable argument.
Oh, yeah. Can’t forget Chile’s September 11…
Why won’t people trust the United States?! They care about people’s lives! Don’t you see how many times they say so? Surely that number is greater than the number of civilians they kill!
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Further confirmation that you’Re a complete idiot. Do you think the USA are better than the Taliban? If yes, they should be judged by a higher standard. Also, caring about ONE war crime does not mean being OK with other war crimes and ignoring them. It’S probably your problem, but my brain’s big enough to care for more than one thing. Subject of this discussion is the US attack on a hospital. Pointing to what others did wrong does not absolve them the least.
Yeah, you’re just OK with the people who perpetrated the act being the ones investigating it. Who are also the same people who have a special law that makes their soldiers immune to being prosecuted for war crimes…
Which would make them bloody incompetent at doing so and therefore not to be trusted with weapons
“Misadventures” in South America. “Misadventures”.
Hail the conquering hero, and all that. *spits*
You say, as though the US did not have its own torture programs and concentration camps. At least one of which Obama failed to shut down as promised. It’s true that the US is less likely to be after me per se than N Korea likely would be if I went there, but that does not mean that the US does not torture people or send them to concentration camps. Sorry to burst your privileged bubble.
Someone mentioned torture in the US?
rq: No, no one mentioned it. Plus it’s not true. And you don’t have to worry as long as you don’t commit any crimes the police won’t arrest you. Meaning it’s only “bad guys” who are getting tortured. Plus you should give the CPD the benefit of the doubt. After all, they aren’t nearly as bad as the Chilean PD under Pinochet. There, did I miss any excuses?
I didn’t catch that part from Penny.
There it is. Vile, noxious American exceptionalism. Fucking disgusting.
Neat. So when the Soviets do it, it’s totalitarian expansionism. When the US does it, it’s a misadventure or ‘imperfect foreign policiy’, which sounds harmless to boot.
I always thought a ‘diplomatic blunder’ was something like stepping on a diplomat’s toes and, rather than apologise, joking about their big feet. Turns out overthrowing governments or plain throwing bombs qualifies, too.
“Oh dear, that was your seat of government, was it? Well, my bad. And rest assured, I’ll be asking my underlings some pointed questions. (But that’s all.) No hard feelings, eh? Ta!”
No doubt surgical airstrikes, beg pardon, airstrikes on surgical units among other things, have improved the situation dramatically over the past 10+ years. Oh, wait. Are the Taliban still there? What happened, did the US run out of bombs?
In spite of everything I think you’re wrong here. The US doesn’t have to give a shit about civilians to do a quick check on their target. First, bombs are expensive. Second, there is always a risk, no matter how small, that the asset carrying out the strike gets into trouble or ends up causing trouble for other assets in the area. Those are even more expensive. Third, if the US are unpopular for precision-bombing civilian targets, just imagine what would happen if they did start levelling cities. Public Relations may not be a chief concern but they do feature somewhere in every organisation, including the military (and the Taliban). Then it’s just a matter of what the organisation thinks is good PR.
– How is bombing entire countries ‘holding the Taliban accountable for their actions’?
– Since the US are always claiming the moral high ground it only seems fair to point out when they fall into a pit of their own making.
– Reiterating the above: how has the bombardment in the middle east improved matters? Is there a significant improvement infrastructure has been razed by the US before the Taliban got around to doing it themselves? And while we’re at it is there any timeline or estimate on how much longer this will have to go on before the Taliban pack up, shake hands with the US president for a jolly good match and go home?
I’m kinda curious as to how exactly Pharyngula commenters are supposed to hold the Taliban accountable for anything anyway… Can we vote them out now or something? Are they reading the comments here? Do they give the least fuck what we think of them?
Citizens of representative democracies have perfectly legitimate reasons to be more concerned about the actions of their own governments than the actions of gangs of murderous lunatics on the other side of the world. They have both some possibility of exerting influence and some level of moral responsibility.
MSF: We received no advance warning of the attack
Why is MSF having to put pressure for an independent inquiry? Shouldn’t the U.S. welcome it? A U.S. investigation obviously and rightly can’t be taken seriously into its own wrongdoing. The innocent U.S. should welcome an independent one.
Since Penny hasn’t noticed they’re an idiot I guess we need to spell it out.
Torturing POWs is a war crime.
The US swore up and down that they weren’t POWs and that what it was doing wasn’t torture, but those were both transparent lies.
Penny L says
Thank you for confirming that you do, in fact, think the US is in a different “moral universe” than the Taliban. That’s a start.
Let’s talk about what standard the Taliban should be judged by. Should they refrain from targeting civilians? Should they have internal mechanism whereby extrajudicial civilian killings are prosecuted and punished within that organization? Should they allow open and free elections to determine their political leadership? Should they sign on as a party to the Geneva Convention? Should they be called to testify and explain their actions before a regulatory body? Should they allow media access to reporters who get to ask them questions without fear of reprisal? Should they disclose their funding? Should they wear clearly identifiable uniforms on the battlefield to distinguish themselves from non-combatants? Should they treat captured persons in accordance with the Geneva Conventions?
These are just off the top of my head – given some time I could put together a more comprehensive list of things the Taliban not only fails to do, but has no desire to do, and that the US does as standard operating procedure.
Again, I am not absolving the US military in the least. Unlike you, I am not convicting them before an investigation is complete.
I want to refute one other point you’ve made that the US protects its soldiers from war crimes prosecutions. That is demonstrably untrue, there have been plenty of soldiers prosecuted for exactly that. What the US does is prevent another jurisdiction from prosecuting its soldiers. The military has its own system of justice and people within their ranks are bound by it. That’s why Chelsea Manning is in a military prison, not a civilian one. It is a reasonable arrangement, were US soldiers subject to multiple jurisdictions with multiple standards for charging, trying, and deciding a case it would be unfair to US soldiers.
Your Gish Gallop won’t work for a number of reasons. First, I never claimed that every US military excursion overseas was “in the name of peace, freedom, and liberty.” Second, quite a few on the list you cite were for exactly those reasons:
Quick, name a country that the US invaded and did not give back to the people of that country? France? Germany? Spain? Kuwait? Korea? Japan? Iraq? Afghanistan? The US could have claimed each of these as its territory following successful military operations, but didn’t.
USSR expansionism was in furtherance of their goal of expanding the empire. They set up totalitarian client states – think every eastern European country – that were governed from Moscow.
In case you’ve not been following the discussion, we’ve already established that the US isn’t “bombing entire countries.” And holding the Taliban responsible for their actions would first require that we establish standards by which we judge the Taliban. On this message board at least, there don’t appear to be any.
I actually don’t disagree with the gist of your argument, that the US can’t remake Afghanistan or the Middle East in ways similar to the past (Europe, Japan, Korea, etc.). But that isn’t due to a failure on the part of the US, it is because the culture and norms of Afghanistan and the Middle East are so far apart from those of the the US – or any Western nation for that matter – that it renders the task nearly impossible. The Taliban exist in Afghanistan precisely because lots of people there support what that organization stands for. Ditto for ISIS. Its almost impossible to bomb your way out of that mess.
But on the other hand, the US (and its allies in Afghanistan) are the only ones trying to hold the Taliban accountable for their actions. No one else cares all that much because (a) 9/11 was an attack on the US and (b) the US carries most of the security load for much of the Western world anyway.
The detainees in Guantanomo Bay are not POWs. The Geneva Convention is very specific about what constitutes a combatant during wartime, and the Taliban/Al Qaeda fail that test on almost every level. Remember that one of the reasons those requirements exist is to incentivise people like the Taliban not to do exactly what they’re doing now: not wearing uniforms, hiding amongs the population, and (possibly) using a hospital as a staging base for an attack. You can’t flout the Geneva Conventions then cry foul when you fail to be protected by those same rules.
I agree that waterboarding is torture, but note that not even the Nobel Peace Prize winner President Obama has charged those interrogators with war crimes.
Torturing your random kidnapping victims is also frowned upon in civilized society. Which, apparently, doesn’t include the US.
The first one that came to my mind was Hawaii. Then northern Mexico. Then Puerto Rico. Then Florida. And no matter how evil I think the CSU, the fact remains that they were a declared country that the US invaded and took over. (Failed to completely reintegrate them too, though that’s a different story.) Heck, you named one yourself: Guantanamo. It’s not a whole country, but it is “US” as a result of invasion and occupation. Are you really so lacking in knowledge of US history that you don’t understand that most of the US is places the US conquered and did not “give back” to its people? Heck, the only reason I didn’t include all the US is that the initial states were the result of the UK invading and not giving back rather than the US per se. Other exceptions include, the areas in the Louisiana Purchase and Alaska (bought from other conquerors), but the only reason you find it hard to name a country the US invaded and did not “give back” is that those countries are now called the US.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Apart from dianne’S long list….
WTF? The USA regularly invades foreign countries, kills parts of the population, commits crimes, usually plunders their resources and just because they hand it back when they’ve sucked it dry, usually after installing a puppet govenment it’s really OK? You know, you can be imperialistic in more than one kind. Reaping the benefits while leaving the problems to the locals is one of them….
That’s like saying “hey, I returned your car after I stole it, took the radio, the seats, the fuel and crashed it”
I love that your defense of the U.S. is now taking the form “the human beings the U.S. tortured weren’t being classified as human beings who should not be tortured. Wow.
And the U.S. invades countries and kills many people but it eventually hands the mess back to the people to manage.
Just look what it’s come to. Give up already.
The U.S. is a warring nation that invades countries on a pretty regular basis, tortures people, and uses explosive weapons to kill children and suffers no consequences that a lot of other countries would do for doing the same.
Penny L says
You’re absolutely right, Hawaii was brought into the union kicking and screaming against its own will. I can’t believe I didn’t add that one to my list.
And you’re also right about Guantanamo Bay. I really need to do my research.
And the US completely went back on their word to pay Cuba for this land too, the bastards.
At no point did I say that, I simply pointed out that the detainees in Guantanamo Bay are not POWs. The US is absolutely wrong for torturing them, but not even a Nobel Peace Prize winner is all that enamoured with the idea of charging those interrogators with a crime. He’s had seven years to do it.
You’re absolutely right, the US should have allowed North Korea to decimate the South. Should have let Europe rot during either the first or second world war. Should have let Saddam Hussein rape and pillage Kuwait to his heart’s desire. Should have let the Taliban continue to rule Afghanistan.
As much as you might not want to believe this Saad, there are bad people in this world with power who desire to do some pretty horrific things. I, for one, am glad the US is there to keep some of these people in check. I’m also very glad that your opinion is, aside from being factually devoid, relatively uncommon in the world community.
Incidentally, is there a global power on the world stage today that you approve of?
‘S far as I can remember my history, the US was perfectly content to let Europe rot until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour. Then suddenly it was all about keeping the bad people in check… And I guess they were all about keeping the bad people of WWI in check, too, when they joined that war in its early stages… in December of 1917.
@ Penny L 9 October 2015 at 2:50 am
… are apparently not something you understand. They are inclusively protective of everyone, POW or otherwise. In fact, they are generally more protective of non-POWs. And it is debatable which category those detained might fall under. Also Afghanistan was and is a signatory. That means the Afghan Taliban at the time of the invasion. Not that that should be particularly relevant to the actual morality of actions.
And now look at those goal posts move…
Penny, you do realize that the vote on statehood occurred after Hawaii had been a colony for some time. Do you also believe that Hawaii threw itself at the US and forced the US to take it as a colony? The agreement over Guantanamo Bay was also made not with the current government of Cuba but with a previous government which was overtly a US puppet government. It’s true that the US didn’t make Cuba a colony the way they did Puerto Rico, but it’s also hard to see the Cuban government at the time being free to make or refuse to make any agreement with the US.
And yes, you should do your research, but really your grade school should be embarrassed at having taught you so little. Assuming you’re a US-American. If not, no reason that you should have to know the minutia of another country’s history.
In fact, IIRC, Castro asked the US to leave Guantanamo early on in his reign on the grounds that the agreement was made with a former government and no longer valid. The US basically said, “Nah, nah, you can’t make us!” Which was true but not exactly the sort of thing a government devoted to freedom and democracy and willing to “give back” any territory that didn’t belong to it would do.
A. Noyd says
Well, you know.
Boys will be boys.Superpowers will be superpowers.
Overthrowing democratically elected governments and installing fascist dictatorships counts as ‘misadventures’ now? Penny, a wholeheartedly fuck you, from the rest of the world to your “USA cannot do bad” authoritarian ass.
It just occurred to me…If we’re going to compare the Taliban’s morality to the US’s, it should probably be pointed out that the Taliban allowed MSF to operate without (as far as I know, anyway) harassment and certainly didn’t bomb their hospital. Now, who is morally superior here?
Hey, Penny, this one is for you – Amerika.
We Americans are so clumsy. Pardon us, will ya? We mean well, lol. :)
Anton Mates says
The United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, Penny, after white landowners overthrew the native monarchy. And 95% of native Hawaiians opposed annexation. But their opinion didn’t really matter, since they weren’t allowed to vote on it.
The Admission Act was sixty years later, by which time only about 10% of the population were native Hawaiians. And it was about whether Hawaii should become a state, or remain a US territory. Independence was not an option and never had been.
Did you actually read that page, Penny? Scroll down to the “Cuban perspectives” part. Notice that the Cuban government has wanted to end this lease for the last fifty-plus years–as long as the current government been in existence, in fact–but the US won’t allow it to end, on the grounds that an earlier government signed the treaty and it can’t be terminated unless both countries consent. And the US won’t consent.
That is, very literally, the US refusing to give a chunk of Cuba back to the Cubans.
While you’re at it, note the phrase “for the purpose of coaling and naval stations” in your quote. Even if you consider that treaty still valid, the indefinite detention and interrogation of several hundred prisoners is obviously outside its terms.
Your own Wikipedia quote says that a) the US is paying Cuba a comically tiny amount of “rent” that ignores the massive inflation in the American dollar over the last hundred years, and b) Cuba is not actually accepting these payments because they want the US off their island. Bastards indeed.
@Saad: I have to admit, I had never heard of the Ameriyah bombing before. How is that even possible? Oh, hmm….looking through the archives of various mainstream media, it does not appear to have been covered in the US at all. How surprising! Especially for a democratic country that investigates itself diligently, tries to avoid civilian casualties, and has a free press. It’s almost like the US is really an oligarchy which doesn’t care about civilian casualties (or tries to increase them for terror value) and is 49th in the world in terms of freedom of the press.
dianne@205: I clearly remember the Amiriyah bombing being covered on CNN and PBS during the war itself (and on CBC). You won’t find much on the web, since the bombing predates the web; you’d have to go leaf through some dead-tree databases to find out the response at the time. My recollection was that it was treated as a tragic mistake, the kind that the US tries so very hard to avoid when it bombs a city to bits.
Penny claiming the US always gives back countries it invades, whereas the mean nasty USSR would install puppet regimes…. that’s priceless.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
You think Penny L has ever heard ofa little something called the Monroe Doctrin?
Giliell @ 207:
:Snort: I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know how many ‘mericans are unfamiliar with that.
Nah, Penny’s heard of the Monroe Doctrine: The Monroe Doctrine was where the righteous US government bravely stood up to the evil European powers and told them that the US was going to protect the poor, backwards (not perfectly white) countries in the Americas and how the European powers would never be able to exploit them again.
Seriously, this is how it’s taught in some parts of the US. I’m very sorry.
Penny L says
That’s the second time you’ve referenced the Amiriyah bombing in this thread, and it still helps to make my point. The sources you cite state that the US looked at the intelligence they had and made a judgement call – one that turned out to be wrong, a fact no one is disputing. Neither side in a war has perfect information. That’s kind of the point, the other side always tries to deceive and misrepresent where it is strong and where it is weak. Amiriyah is a case in point where the intelligence got it wrong (partially wrong, there was a military communications antenna on top of the shelter).
Would you like me to list the non-military targets the Taliban has blown up? How about the Russians (most recently flight 17 in the Ukraine)? Or any of the other countries who have been to war ever. If your point is that war is horrible for civilians, you’ll get no argument from me, but I’d much rather be in a country the Americans are bombing than one the Russians (or pretty much anyone else) are bombing.
If your argument is 200 years old, you’re probably doing it wrong.
My open question was to name a country the US had invaded and not given back. Guantanamo Bay was one of the places Dianne named which clearly didn’t fit the bill. I fully understand that the dictator of communist Cuba who has been oppressing the people of that country for half a century wants that peice of land back, and I fully understand why the US would want to maintain a military base in a hostile nation that for a time was home to nuclear weapons pointed at the US.
And as long as we’re listing places the US has retained against the people’s will, fairness requires we list those places that the US has returned:
At no point have I stated that the US is perfect, but I do believe in Churchill’s quote that “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing…after they have exhausted all other possibilities.” You can say that of very few other nations on the world stage today, and you can’t say that at all for any of the other global superpowers.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Yeah, the poor, poor USA, they really, really, really need to defend themselves from thos threatening evil Cubans via military occupation of parts of Cuba. Because they could destroy the USA with something like universal healthcare…
I really admire your ability to define all crimes of the USA out of existence….
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
I’m also wondering how eventually giving back territory you invaded (and killed a bunch of people there) makes you the good guy. I always thought this invasion and occupation (and raping, murdering and pillaging that comes with it) thing meant you’re the bad guy…
Just FYI, if we’re all keeping up to date on who’s a sovereign state and who got their territory back and all that.
I doubt Penny wants to be in any country that is being bombed. At all. Even by the USAmericans. They seem to keep making these really, really bad judgment calls.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
BTw, today’s “Columbus Day”. Yep, the greatest nation on earth, loving peace and freedom established an official holiday for a guy who sold 10 year old girls as sex sleves and fed people to dogs…
… Strangely enough, living on land that they never returned to those they occupied.
rq @ 215:
Yeah. There won’t be any celebrations on the rez. On any rez.
Translation: “I know that the US didn’t return Guantanamo to Cuba when requested like I claimed that it did, but that’s okay because I’ve been told that Cuba is evil.”
Interesting that Cuba having once had nuclear weapons pointed at the US (long since withdrawn) apparently proves that Cuba is endlessly evil whereas the US having nuclear weapons continuously aimed at Cuba is apparently just fine.
Could we just let Columbus Day quietly die? Please? It’s a terrible embarrassment. If the US really wants a historical farce holiday, there’s still Thanksgiving. At least Thanksgiving has a semi-pleasant cover story.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
No, please,let it die with a BANG: Full acknowledgement that he didn’t, in fact, discover anything and that he was a murderous rapist and genocidal maniac.
Indians all over are still campaigning to have it replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Seattle went with that last October, and this August, St. Paul, MN changed over to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
My rez is in South Dakota, one of four states that don’t celebrate Columbus Day at all, recognizing only Native American Day. That’s one of the few good things I can say about SD. Given that the effort to eradicate Columbus Day started in 1977, we haven’t gotten very far. More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_Peoples'_Day
Stop bullshitting and actually read:
Which U.S. military personnel and American officials were penalized for this violation?
They didn’t make a mistake. They didn’t feel like warning that they’re about to bomb the shit out of a civil defense structure that was used by civilians. Why would you not warn them like you’re supposed and fully expected to?
Hey, just like this MSF hospital thing… I wonder if there’s possibly a pattern to American exceptionalism and racist neglect of others’ lives…
Why would I ask you to do that? We both know Taliban are awful people who don’t give a shit about civilian lives.
I don’t understand what point you’d be making.
Talk about an own goal there.
Giliell @ 219:
Yes, this. A fair amount of the opposition is from Italian people, who feel it’s a great disrespect to them, but why on earth would anyone want to be represented by a slaver, a rapist, and a murderer? The facts need to be shouted out all over the damn place, so people stop feeling proud of this monstrous* asshole.
*No, I’m not othering. Columbus did commit monstrous acts, all while being a regular human person.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
That’s like having a Hitler day to honour your German origin population….
Giliell@219: In principle I agree, but letting it just disappear might be more palatable to the “rah! rah! America!” crowd whereas they might be more inclined to fight full acknowledgement. OTOH, heck with it. They’ll complain no matter what. Let’s kill it publicly.
You’d think a lot of Americans would be all for erasing the man who led to America being invaded by Spanish-speaking people. The American Holocaust is one of the most sickening books I’ve ever read. There are a few accounts in there that have seared themselves onto my memory.
The following things are not valid defenses of American massacres like the shelter bombing, wedding bombings, and the MSF bombing:
1) The Taliban kill civilians on purpose
2) Neither side is perfect in war
3) America does good things too
4) American eventually leaves the country it
invades and occupiesliberates
5) But… but… what about our national security interests?!
6) They had to make the call
7) The U.S. military looked into it and turns out it was just a mistake
The only possible defense of a sort I see for the MSF bombing would be for Obama to say something like this: “We did wrong. We acknowledge that. A thorough root cause analysis will be performed to ensure that nothing like this occurs again, including firing those responsible, up to and including my resigning if necessary. Outside investigations will be welcomed and full cooperation given.” And then he would have to follow through and actually do all those things. Anything less is just lip service and no help in preventing a repeat of the event.
Saad @ 225:
Stannard’s American Holocaust is linked on United Native America. It is difficult reading. There’s a good article on the years following Columbus, and the persistence of the sentiment “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” here.
Apparently it bears repeating but: If you are wanting to be the good guy, don’t point to the bad guys saying what they do wrong, and then copy their exact behaviour. That makes you one of the bad guys.
Also, if you really believe that “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing…after they have exhausted all other possibilities.”, then you apparently think overthrowing democratically elected governments and installing puppet military dictatorships is a good thing.
I’m beginning to see the problem here: your definition of good and bad is different than ours, in your definition “good” means “good for American interests, and fuck other people.”
Read more: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/10/03/rhetorical-question/#ixzz3oMkl0ute
Penny L says
These are valid defenses – not necessarily defences that preclude prosecution, however – unless your idea is that wars don’t include any shooting. The Ameriyah shelter bombing that you keep harping on is good example. I really wish we lived in your utopia where military planners have perfect information and every bomb was dropped with exact precision and didn’t affect anyone it wasn’t supposed to, but we don’t.
I’m also waiting to hear which current global power you approve of, or is acting closer to your preferred ideal. You seem to have an unhealthy fixation on the failings of the US, tell me where you look for guidance.
Penny L says
Part of my problem is I don’t understand any part of your comment.
I’m saying the bad guys (Taliban) kill as many civilians as they can on purpose. The good guys (US military) kill very few and almost never on purpose. I’m saying if the good guys (US military) wanted to copy the bad guys (Taliban) there wouldn’t be any civilians left on the Af-Pak border.
I have no idea what you mean by this: “overthrowing democratically elected governments and installing puppet military dictatorships is a good thing.”
And pretty much fuck you for this: “your definition of good and bad is different than ours, in your definition “good” means “good for American interests, and fuck other people.” I never said or implied anything of the sort.
It’s very simple.
– You stated “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing…after they have exhausted all other possibilities.”
– The US has overthrown democratically elected governments and installed puppet military dictatorships.
Please explain to me how that is the “right thing to do”.
And by the way, you constantly make excuses for the US, by pointing out things done by the bad guys. Don’t be coy.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
You know, exhausting all other options before you do the right thing means you’ve already done a lot of wrong ones first….
Penny L, #230
LOL @ “keep harping on”
In a discussion about civilian killings due to American military actions, talking about an incident with one of the highest death tolls is not called “harping on”. It’s called focusing on the subject.
Second, how are you not getting this? They did not issue a warning before bombing a civil defense shelter like they were supposed to. And they know they were supposed to. And then they did it again with the MSF hospital. How the fuck is the conclusion of such horrific acts of civilian killings anything but: the U.S. doesn’t give a fuck about the lives of foreign civilians? They simply don’t issue warnings that they’re about to bomb a shelter that they knew was used by civilians and a hospital.
And I’m not fixated on the failings of the U.S…. Scroll up and look at the topic of this particular blog entry…
What’s your evidence for this? I mean, I haven’t heard a single thing that I like about the Taliban, but as far as I know they’re trying to take over Afghanistan to rule it not lay it to waste. Hard to rule the dead unless you’re Allah, so I’m guessing that they’re probably trying to terrorize as many people as possible into obeying them, trying to control as many lives as they can, trying to kill as many foreign invaders as they can, but I don’t see any motive for them to be killing as many Afghani civilians as they can. Also, as I noted above, the Taliban did not bomb the MSF hospital. It knew where the hospital was, it knew that it was full of foreigners and civilians–and yet, it was not the evil Taliban but the “good guy” US that bombed the hospital. Perhaps the US simply hasn’t exhausted its evil options and so isn’t ready to do the “right thing” yet.
chigau (違う) says
Apparently Churchill didn’t say that
Anton Mates says
So the US always gives people’s land back, except when it doesn’t for Understandable Reasons. As happened with most of the land that now makes up the US.
Ironically, the reason Cuba requested those weapons is that it had fought off an invasion by US-sponsored forces in the previous year. And the reason the USSR provided them is that the US had nuclear weapons pointed at Moscow. It’s all very understandable, isn’t it?
Does it? Then let’s celebrate the USSR, which has probably returned more land than any other state in history. Of course, you can’ t really return land unless you steal it first….
Churchill never actually said that, although American politicians seem to really wish he did.
Don’t be silly. The Taliban’s been in control of that area for over twenty years, and there are still civilians left. The Taliban isn’t trying to maximize the civilian death rate any more than the US is; it just doesn’t mind sacrificing a ton of civilians to get what it wants.
Really, when you have to represent the Taliban as worse than it is in order to defend the US, it’s time to stop defending.
Anton Mates says
Yeah, that’s because they don’t have one. The Israeli government uses the same rhetoric when it claims that Hamas is trying to maximize the civilian death toll, despite the fact that they could kill more civilians in one day with pointed sticks than they’ve killed in fifteen years with their crappy rockets.
Civilian casualties are just a means to an end for all these organizations and states, whether they’re trying to spread terror or “shock & awe.” None of them are actually aiming to Kill Everybody. Which is fortunate, since otherwise we’d all be radioactive ash by now.
The unlikely origin of that quote aside, I don’t understand why American politicians think that’s a compliment…
It’s like a restaurant proudly displaying a review that says your appetizer and entree will taste like shit but you can expect this eatery to get the desert right.
A. Noyd says
Anton Mates (#237)
You do have to wonder how much of that is shaped by American’s own callousness about bombing civilians. How do you continue to go up against the US (and the Russians before that) without being rather cavalier about civilian deaths?
Right? Whoever came up with it, the modern version of the quote is not a compliment. It’s a cynical condemnation of American foreign policy. The implication is that America is a perpetual fuckup that only gets things “right” by accident after wreaking a good bit of havoc, whereas actually competent nations know enough to do the right thing from the start.
Only that’s not even true because America is not an accidental bad guy. We do know what we’re doing; we wreak havoc on purpose because we feel justified in taking whatever advantages we can. Until it builds up enough to bite us in the ass and we have to backpedal.
Meanwhile, the Taliban, supposedly dedicated to killing all the civilians it can, has pulled out of Kunduz. They claim it’s to avoid further civilian casualties. I treat this claim with all the seriousness I would treat a similar claim from the US (i.e. none), but it does indicate that the Taliban is at least interested in appearing to be interested in limiting civilian casualties. So much for their being simple villains running amok with no plan other than to kill as many people as possible.