Saturday, November 3, 2007

Guns, butter and blood baths: the quality of life in a war zone

by Weldon Berger | Oct 22 2007 - 2:52pm

The San Diego Air Show was in town a week ago and my residence was squarely in the flight path. The noise was nervewracking, and that's without the expectation that missile or bomb strikes were imminent. Imagine what Iraqis who live in the vicinity of the air strikes conducted by the US military must be experiencing.

As of September 30, US aircraft have conducted nearly 1,500 airstrikes in the country, up from fewer than 300 last year. The USA Today story on the increase says the figures don't include helicopter assaults, so add that apocalyptic noise into the mix atop the jets. (In Afghanistan, the number of air strikes has climbed from around 1,700 last year to more than 2,700 through September of this year).

One inescapable feature of air strikes is that they kill civilians. No matter how "smart" a bomb or missile may be, it can't account for bad intelligence or technical malfunctions or bad luck on the part of civilians who are in the wrong place at the wrong time (e.g., at home). Dead civilians are built into the equation. To US military planners, the deaths are unfortunate byproducts of necessary actions. To the propagandists for al Qaeda, the Taliban and the various Iraq insurgents, the deaths are red gold. To the friends and families of the victims, they're horrors. And every jet howling overhead is a reminder of them.

No one can live under those conditions and remain psychologically and spiritually intact, and the air strikes are only a part of an environment that includes the threat from imported and indigenous suicide and car bombers and US (and Iraqi) ground forces as well. People have been living with this for nearly five years now. Children have been born into it. I don't know which would be worse: to remember a life that for many people approached peaceful (under Saddam!) or to have known only the one they live now.

About a year ago I made a rough estimate, a conservative one, of the amount of blood spilled in Iraq as a consequence of the US invasion and occupation. I wish there were a way to force politicians who support the occupation, and equally those who don't but are afraid to vote to end it, to live with a physical reminder of it—to take a blood bath every morning, just as so many Iraqis do.

I've got it far better than most Iraqis, but medical and housing expenses are burying me nonetheless. If you like what I do and can afford to support it, please consider stopping by the site and contributing a few bucks.

About the author:

Weldon Berger is the gruff but soft-hearted proprietor of BTC News, the only progressive blog with its own White House correspondent. You can contact him at Vist the site for more from Weldon and other BTC News contributors.

Posted in full with permission of author.

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