Here Be Monsters
Our favorite ambassador, Ryan “um um um” Crocker understands how hard it is to sleep while bombs are falling on your house:
"It’s been a difficult few weeks, rockets are bouncing off your buildings, and maintaining focus can be an occasional challenge."
Of course, Um Um and his Blackwater guards will soon be able to get a good night’s rest again – the $736 million, 104 acre Embassy is almost ready for occupancy.
Outside the Green Zone walls, rest is harder to find. Each day, new reports of US air strikes on Sadr City can be found in Iraqi reports. We start to understand the human costs of these attacks when we read that:
More than 289 persons have been killed and 1448 others wounded since the beginning of armed clashes in Sadr City on March 25, an official source in the health ministry said on Friday.
Not only is the death toll from the siege and attacks on Sadr City horrific, apparently US forces are continuing to provoke the residents by launching new attacks “just hours” after Muqtada al-Sadr:
called for calm in the wake of the assassination of one of his top aides [and brother-in-law] in the southern city of Najaf.
Witnesses and media in the heavily Shiite Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, home to the cleric’s power base in the capital, reported heavy fighting between U.S.-backed Iraqi troops and al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia.
The witnesses said U.S. aircraft had been bombarding the area for hours, and media reported rockets slamming into houses and many casualties.
The DOD has even released a video of one such strike dated 4.11.08:
Here, for instance, are a few lines from a recent Los Angeles Times piece by Tina Susman on escalating fighting in Baghdad: "American helicopters fired at least four Hellfire missiles and an Air Force jet dropped a bomb on a suspected militia target… A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Steven Stover, rejected Iraqi allegations that U.S. airstrikes and gunfire have killed mainly civilians. ‘There might be some civilians that are getting caught, but for the most part, we’re killing the bad guys.’ ‘We’re very precise,’ he said, adding that many airstrikes had been called off when it was not possible to get a ‘clean hit’ that would avoid hitting noncombatants." Or this from Sameer N. Yacoub of the Associated Press: "The U.S. military said one of its drones launched a Hellfire missile during the night at two gunmen shooting at government forces in a different part of Sadr City." Or this: "Three US airstrikes in northeastern Baghdad have killed 12 suspected gunmen and wounded 15 civilians, Iraqi police and US military say."
Each of these came out while this piece was being written, as did this: According to the AP, air strikes in a remote province of Afghanistan aimed at a warlord allied with the Taliban may have killed numerous civilians. ("Other provincial leaders said many civilians were killed in the hours-long clash, which included airstrikes in the remote villages of Shok and Kendal… U.S. officials and the Afghan Defense Ministry have denied that any civilians were killed.")
Iraqi’s sleep is not only disturbed by the increased bombings. With late night raids as the SOP for US forces and the routine detention of Iraqis during these raids, families also face the fear that their loved ones will either vanish into detention centers for years – or worse. Bewert, in a diary at DailyKos, provides a harsh but necessary view of the treatment of many of those detainees in the first of a series of posts based on the autopsy results released under an FOI request by the ACLU. Rulings of "homicide" are frequent in these reports, but prosecutions of those responsible are rare. (h/t Compound F)
And while Crocker is looking forward to quiet nights, at Moon of Alabama we learn that Rahm Emmanuel is figuring out how to make the Iraqi’s pay to rebuild the Iraqi neighborhoods we are bombing:
"We’ve put about $45 billion into Iraq’s reconstruction . . . and they have not spent their own resources," said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.). "They have got to have some skin in the game."
As MoA’s Bernard writes “These people are monsters.”
PS – Rev Mike Kinman who firepups will remember for his moving post at the time of Ali’s death, has written to mention a project firepups might like to support. It was started by the Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation:
to get people to give all or part of the so-called "economic stimulus checks" they’re receiving from the government to organizations of their choosing that are working to alleviate global poverty. It’s not primarily a fundraising campaign — the emphasis is on exposing the lunacy of having an unsustainable economy based on overconsumption … and then to try to artificially bolster it, giving people money and asking them to go out and consume more! The consequences — economic, environmental and moral — are dire.We’ve already had 118 people sign up and more than $29,874 pledged to some pretty great organizations.
It’s called Give it 4 Good … and you can see more at www.giveit4good.org.