Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches

August 10, 2006

Destruction, Death, and Drastic Measures

*The Damage in Lebanon — and Beyond*

The idea that you can solve social and political problems militarily
from the air is, on the face of it, ludicrous. The historical record is
filled with the dead dreams
of air power
solutions to ground-based problems. But that stops no one.

Just yesterday, for instance, as part of the new American operation to
— somehow — seize control of the situation in civil-war wracked

Baghdad, American forces launched an attack on Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi
militia in the capital’s heavily populated Shiite slum, Sadr City. As a
Bloomberg News Service

piece put headlined its piece: “Iraq, U.S. Forces Raid Sadr City to Calm
Baghdad.” Aha. “Calm,” it seems, was to be imposed not just by ground
troops but from the air by helicopter assault (though even the best

of the operation offer few details on just what those helicopters did).
We do know that this calming raid managed to kill three people,
including a woman and a child, wound others, and destroy three homes. It
also left the Iraqi Prime Minister
a good deal
less than calm. Simply firing into urban areas this way should be
considered inconceivable rather than, as now, a problem-solving approach
to the disaster that is Baghdad.

In Lebanon, here’s what “precision” bombing seems to mean. “On Saturday
, an Israeli offense
consisting of more than 250 air attacks dropped 4,000 bombs within seven
hours… The total death toll from the attacks is approaching 1,000. One
third of those deaths are from children under 12.” I don’t know who is
counting all this or whether such figures are accurate, but there can be
no question that parts of Lebanon are being turned into little more than
rubble; that with main highways and bridges destroyed, unmanned aerial
drones and
F-16s overhead, airports shut down, and the coastline blockaded,
supplies are not arriving; that hospitals are at the edge of closing,
and that a staggering percentage of the country of only 3.8 million are
now refugees — abroad, in Syria, or simply on the move and homeless in
their own country. Christian areas
of Lebanon are
now being bombed — for this, see a vivid, and horrifying post by Juan

— and the bombing campaign is widening with, for instance, ever more
central areas of Beirut being hit. It seems that even some Israeli
pilots are having qualms
the targets being offered. The message is, I suppose, precise enough,
even if the bombs and missiles aren’t: Nowhere is safe; there will be no
refuge. In Baghdad as in Lebanon, this, it seems, is where the Bush
“crusade ” has indeed
left us all. It’s a place without pity or, evidently, a shred of mercy.
It is no place for diplomacy
nor even for words (so much more precise and yet frustrating than
bombs). Hezbollah’s “words” are, of course, its rockets which land

across northern Israel.

And our President? He’s evidently unfazed by the spreading chaos in the
Middle East (and perhaps sooner or later in our wider world). Recently,
Steve Holland
a Reuters correspondent, took a more than vigorous bike ride with Bush
around his Crawford vacation home. (“‘Riding helps clear my head, helps
me deal with the stresses of the job,’ a sweat-soaked Bush said after an
hour-and-20-minute ride that shot his heart rate up to 177 beats per
minute at the top of one climb.”) Holland reports that the occasion for
the ride was the President’s sense that “a U.N. resolution on southern
Lebanon was essentially complete.” George Bush, it turns out, does not
bike in silence. Here’s an example of his bike-riding exclamations.
Think of it as well as a presidential Rorschach test: “‘Air assault!’ he
yelled as he started one of two major climbs, up Calichi Hill, which he
named for the white limestone rock from which it is formed.”

Dahr Jamail, who has in the past covered the American war in Iraq for
Tomdispatch, gives us a sense of what the view from Damascus (and
Lebanon) looks like at the moment – of what it actually means to shout
“Air assault!” in the Middle Eastern equivalent of a crowded room. /Tom/

*Destruction, Death, and Drastic Measures*
By Dahr Jamail

Damascus, Syria — “I care about my people, my country, and defending
them from the Zionist aggression,” said a Hezbollah fighter after I’d
asked him why he joined the group. I found myself in downtown Beirut
sitting in the backseat of his car in the liquid heat of a Lebanese
summer. Sweat rolled down my nose and dripped on my notepad as I jotted

Read More

(c)2006 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr’s Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://DahrJamailIraq.com website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger’s Photography Media http://jeffpflueger.com . Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr’s dispatches via email.

More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at http://dahrjamailiraq.com

(Visited 57 times, 1 visits today)

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *