Posts Tagged ‘Collateral Damage Is People’

Daesh

 

What you find below is an expanded version of a comment we made elsewhere, Dear Reader, and we’d be really interested to know what you think.

Our "Collateral Damage Is People" t shirt is consistently one of our most popular.

Our “Collateral Damage Is People” t shirt is consistently one of our most popular.

As you know, we are profoundly against the current bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria, believing that the cost in innocent civilian casualties will be too high. We have long raged against the sanitisation of civilian casualties being sanitised as “Collateral Damage”. Collateral Damage is people, as the t-shirt says.

But everyone with half a brain supports preventing Daesh from behaving as they do. And people often ask, quite reasonably, “What else can be done besides bombing them?”

Well, there are no neat solutions, but here are some we should surely consider:

Stop selling arms and ammunition to Daesh – and to those who on-supply them to them. If we starve the group of armaments then they will find it harder to terrify their local population, and eventually become much easier to defeat with local forces.

The problem with this solution is we are not entirely sure who IS arming Daesh. Certainly they have some heritage armaments supplied to them by the West when they were fighting Assad and before they morphed into what they are now. These may have been supplied to them directly, or to other rebel groups that they have since defeated or subsumed. They may have been supplied through Saudi Arabia.

The study by the London-based small-arms research organisation Conflict Armament Research documented weapons seized by Kurdish forces from militants in Iraq and Syria over a 10-day period in July. The report said the militants disposed of “significant quantities” of US-made small arms including M16 assault rifles. It also included photos showing the markings “Property of US Govt.”

The report further found that anti-tank rockets used by Daesh in Syria were “identical to M79 rockets transferred by Saudi Arabia to forces operating under the so-called “Free Syrian Army” umbrella in 2013.

Iraqi Army soldiers fleeing Daesh attacks literally dropped most of their weapons. These weapons have now become part of the Daesh arsenal. The largely Shia soldiers were not well trained by US, and this duly led to their wholesale retreat from the rampant Sunni Daesh. Clearly, local forces need to be better trained, and above all armaments must not be allowed to fall into Daesh hands.

Lastly, criminal gangs of armament suppliers are illegally supplying Daesh with weaponry. A much more concerted effort needs to be made to cut off this supply chain and prosecute those involved.

Cut off their financial support.

Daesh receives money from a variety of sources in the Arab world, even from Western allies such as Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. This is because these countries see them as a bulwark against Shia influence in the region, specifically Iran. This financial support is not official, but nor is it officially interdicted effectively. Heavily leaning on our “allies” to stop having a bet each way as far as Daesh is concerned is long overdue.

There have been continual allegations that countries such as Turkey are profiting from an illegal trade in Daesh-controlled oil. (Which is why the first UK bombing attack was on an oil field.) It should also be noted Turkey denies these criticisms. But Daesh is selling their oil to someone … and that trade needs to be interdicted urgently.

But the simple fact is that many of the things we find so objectionable about Daesh – the subjugation of women, cruel executions for things we do not consider crimes, and a badly organised and chaotic legal system – are also features of much of the rest of the Arab world. Little wonder they do not seem as distressed about those matters as the West is.

Make the price of our trade and engagement with the Arab world that they take concrete and meaningful steps to sort out their own differences.

The Sunni v Shia conflict is a very old one. It flares up, it flares down. Yet Sunni and Shia Muslims have lived peacefully together for centuries. In many countries it has become common for members of the two sects to intermarry and pray at the same mosques. They share faith in the Quran and the Prophet Mohammed’s sayings and perform similar prayers, although they differ in rituals and interpretation of Islamic law.

As the Council on Foreign relations said:

Islam’s schism, simmering for fourteen centuries, doesn’t explain all the political, economic, and geostrategic factors involved in these conflicts, but it has become one prism through which to understand the underlying tensions. Two countries that compete for the leadership of Islam, Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, have used the sectarian divide to further their ambitions. How their rivalry is settled will likely shape the political balance between Sunnis and Shias and the future of the region, especially in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Yemen.

The dispute is currently in a “hot” phase, largely driven by the Wahabist philosophy that has held sway in certain parts of the Sunni Middle East since the 19th century, exported by Saudi Arabia.

We need to make it clear that we expect the Aran world to sort it’s own troubles out. That will not happen while we are always half-pregnant as regards military involvement in the region, veering from full-blown invasions to dropping a few bombs from on high.

We also need to make it clear that we will not engage, as if they are the same as our estimation of a state, with any state that places religious belief or theocracy above basic civil rights.

So, for example, we would maintain cool but not aggressive relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia and so on until they internally reform and cease their mutual jaw-boning.

If the Arab world wants to live in a medieval manner and a semi-permanent state of conflict then that’s their business. We will simply wait it out as best we can. Eventually, all conflicts exhaust themselves.

Developing our own energy independence – as the USA has now done – and improving our investment in non-fossil-fuel technologies would be a good start.

What is certain as of today is that Daesh wishes us to bomb them, know that we will slaughter civilians – gay and straight – in the process, and that we could do nothing better to help them recruit and maintain control in their areas. There are other courses of action, even though they might be more complex, more difficult to organise, and slower to take effect.

Nevertheless, they deserve serious consideration.

Please consider these arguments as you see Western bombs raining down on innocent civilians, or witness the next terrorist outrage on Western soil. We are being conned. By Daesh, by the countries of the region, and by our own short-sighted and incompetent political leadership.

Iraqi dead child is prepared for burial

A young Iraqi girl who suffered a violent death is prepared for burial. The photograph originally appeared at Salon.com some years ago.

I want you all to look carefully at this paragraph from a Yahoo report of a story on Obama’s television announcement that all US troops will be out of Iraq by Christmas. (The full report (jncluding Associated Press TV coverage) is here: http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/-/world/10693945/obama-announces-iraq-troop-pullout-by-end-2011/)

After nearly nine years, the deaths of more than 4,400 US troops, tens of thousands of Iraqis and the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars, Obama said the last American soldier would leave with his head held high.

Now, can you see anything wrong with that paragraph?

Am I about to contentiously argue with the President’s phrase “leave with his head held high”?

Actually, no: although I disagreed profoundly with the invasion, and consider Bush, Cheney, Blair and Howard to be criminals for invading without appropriate UN sanction, that is not the section my eye was drawn to.

With some notable exceptions – sometimes actions of deliberate cruelty, sometimes of wanton disregard for civilian safety – I believe the American troops in Iraq, and other Coalition forces, have acquitted themselves with dignity and courage in exceptionally difficult circumstances. Many good men and women have died or been horribly injured doing their political leader’s bidding, and thousands more have endured the psychological trauma of a bloody and frightening conflict, and their sacrifice should be respected. We should also remember the effects on their families and friends.

No, it is that phrase “tens of thousands of Iraqis”.

Have a look here, at the excellent and carefully accurate website Iraq Body Count: http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ It shows civilian deaths to be somewhere between 103 thousand and 127 thousand. This is a closely researched figure, as immediately becomes clear from a perusal of the site.

Other studies, including one by the respected Lancet journal, (although it has been contested), put the figure as high as 600,000+ deaths, and even as high as a million. Governments were quick to discredit the findings, although they did not mention the advice of the UK Ministry of Defence’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Roy Anderson, who had called the study “robust” and its claimed methods “close to ‘best practice’ in this area”.

What is clear to anyone but Blind Freddie (and those who choose not to see the truth), is that many, many more than “tens of thousands” of innocent Iraqi civilians have died or been maimed, certainly in the hundreds of thousands, not just by Coalition action, of course, but as a result of the breakdown in civil society that inevitably and predictably resulted from the allied invasion.

So why does a respected journalistic outlet play down the figure by subtly reporting “tens of thousands” of civilian casualties. “Hundreds of thousands” has a completely different emotional and rational impact. What is the reason for downplaying the body count? Mere lazy journalistic sloppiness? Or something more subtle, and insidious, and deliberate?

I think the people should be told. I invite you to re-blog this story, post it to your friends, and ask media outlets directly.

Because if history is written by the victors, we need to be doubly careful that we write it accurately. We owe that to the dead and injured – remember, they are people, not numbers – and to those who served.

You might also care to check out a shirt I designed some years ago reminding us that Collateral Damage Is People. I deliberately chose to illustrate it with a photo of my own daughter, aged about 2, playing happily in our kitchen. She is still alive, thank God. Other people’s daughter’s aren’t. How many families must be torn to pieces before we find better ways to resolve our differences?

http://www.cafepress.com/yolly.431431260

Collateral Damage Is People

Collateral Damage Is People t-shirt. Buy a shirt, change the world.