Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Unbelieveable II

Suicide bombings and roadside bombs are indiscriminate and bloody, slaughtering the innocent, right? And, in contrast, our 'surgical' methods minimize civilian deaths, right?

Wrong, apparently:

Air strikes and artillery barrages have taken a heavy toll among the most vulnerable of the Iraqi people, with children and women forming a disproportionate number of the dead.

Analysis carried out for the research group Iraq Body Count (IBC) found that 39 per cent of those killed in air raids by the US-led coalition were children and 46 per cent were women. Fatalities caused by mortars, used by American and Iraqi government forces as well as insurgents, were 42 per cent children and 44 per cent women.

Twelve per cent of those killed by suicide bombings, mainly the tool of militant Sunni groups, were children and 16 per cent were females. One in five (21 per cent) of those killed by car bombs, used by both Shia and Sunni fighters, was a child; one in four (28 per cent) was a woman. (1)

This is not about excusing the brutal tactics employed by terrorists in Iraq or elsewhere - it is about shredding the comforting myths put out that we're, somehow, better. It is an interesting concept - "Let's fight extremism and hatred by blowing up women and children. That'll surely reduce extremism and hatred." I think we really need to admit that there's no military solution to these problems and the war agaisnt terror has to be carried on by other means.

And consider this:
From 2004 to 2007, the overall tonnage of munition dropped from planes in the Afghan conflict rose from 163 tonnes a year to 1,956 tonnes, an increase of 1,100 per cent. Since 2001 the US air force has dropped 14,049 tonnes of bombs in Afghanistan and 18,858 in Iraq. (2)
That's an awful lot of slaughtered and maimed women and children.

I suppose the explanation is that the suicide bombers are targeting military or quasi-military sites, and civilians are less likely to be hurt in the process - whereas the military are pursuing insurgents/terrorists/whatever into civilian areas and fighting them there. I accept that argument, but the figures are still jaw dropping. It underlines the urgency of finding different ways to combat extremists and fanatics, because slaying women and children isn't going to solve that problem, only make it worse.

No wonder they hate us.
1 - " Iraq air raids hit mostly women and children," by Kim Sengupta, published in The Independent, 16th of April, 2009. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-air-raids-hit-mostly-women-and-children-1669282.html)
2 - ibid.

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