Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Fuzzy Maths of "Killing Innocent People"...

In the wake of the London Blasts (40 dead, 700 wounded - the news articles tell us), these excerpts from an article from the Boston Globe (July 8, 2005):

In his initial reaction yesterday to the London transit bombings, President Bush decried "people killing innocent people." He said: "The contrast couldn't be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty and those who kill -- those who have got such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks."

....Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair said the "slaughter of innocent people" will fail to cower the British people, and Canada's Prime Minister Paul Martin called the attack an "unspeakable attack on the innocent."

It was all appropriate in the moment. In a greater context, there is a tragic hollowness. The world, of course, shares the sympathies of Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, who said the London bombings were a "despicable, cowardly act."

...We have rightfully mourned the loss of nearly 3,000 people on 9/11. We have begun mourning the loss of about 40 people in London. We have mourned the loss of 1,751 US soldiers, who, bless them, were following orders of their commander in chief. But to this day, there has been no major acknowledgement, let alone apology, by Bush or Blair for the massive amounts of carnage we created in a war waged over what turned out to be a lie, the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

These innocents never existed, either in Iraq or Afghanistan. "We don't do body counts," said both General Tommy Franks, former Iraqi commander, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. When Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt was asked about the images of American soldiers killing innocent civilians on Arab television, Kimmitt said: "My solution is quite simple: Change the channel. Change the channel to a legitimate, authoritative, honest news station. The stations that are showing Americans intentionally killing women and children are not legitimate news sources. That is propaganda. And that is lies."

Now that the mainstream media has started doing "body count" of innocent lives, it may be worth looking at some of the other earlier reports which recounted "killing innocent people"... I guess, in this media-rich age, our sensibilities get violated, and we mourn the deads, only when they are photographed in newspapers and TV channels. Apparently, terror and genocide (by individuals or states) becomes a reality, when one can attach a number to the deads...

During the time, when Afghanistan was being "bombed to stone ages", a news report of October 19, 2001 describes:

"The US bombardment of Afghanistan has resulted in an estimated 300 civilian deaths, and hundreds of injuries ...there is increasingly reliable evidence to show that many civilian areas, including schools, hospitals and entire neighbours have been bombed, whilst basic infrastructure, such as the country's already primitive water and electricity supplies, has been decimated. In the most notorious incident to date, an estimated 200 people were killed on October 11, when some 25 missiles and bombs wiped out the small village of Kouram...."

Another report on the continuing US invasion/liberation of Iraq by Project on Defense Alternatives, which relied "exclusively on western sources" reported:

  • A survey of Baghdad hospital records suggesting at least 1,101 civilian deaths and another 1,255 possible civilian deaths; reports from Basra Teaching Hospital of as many as 400 dead, "the majority civilians"; a report from a hospital in Hilla indicating 250 dead, both military and civilian; reports from hospitals in Najaf showing 378 dead, most of them civilians; and a report from a hospital in Nasiriyah suggesting 250 civilian deaths;

  • A report from Najaf Cemetery -- the principal burial place for devout Shiites in Iraq -- suggesting 2,000 excess burials during the course of the war;

  • Accounts of 37 individual incidents of war-time collateral civilian casualties suggesting at least 650 civilian deaths;

  • Reports (mostly from northern Iraq) of more than another 200 killed during the first month of liberation by unexploded ordnance, including land mines, and

  • Reports of 34 civilians killed by US troops during post-war protests and civil disturbances.

    During the NATO bombing during Kosovo war, an article in New York Times published excerpts of an interview with U.S. Air Force General Michael Short, who was in-charge of the NATO's 3-month long air-strikes. The article reported:

    "While NATO says it is not fighting against the Serbian people, General Short also hopes that the distress of the Yugoslav public will undermine support for the authorities in Belgrade.

    "I think no power to your refrigerator, no gas to your stove, you can't get to work because the bridge is down -- the bridge on which you held your rock concerts -- and you all stood with targets on your heads. That needs to disappear at 3 o'clock in the morning.""


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