US War Planes Bomb Samarra
Al-Jazeerah also showed footage of the US bombing of the city of Samarra (north of Baghdad) on Friday night or early Saturday morning, and the huge craters it produced, along with residential buildings reduced to rubble and a few corpses. It is annoying that al-Jazeerah (the mirror image of Fox Cable News) likes to tell these simple-minded stories of American perfidy.
It does not tell us, for instance, that the civilian residents of the two buildings hit had left before the raid. Moreover, al-Jazeerah would be in a position to tell us exactly what is going on in Samarra, which has been in rebellion for many months and hasn’t seemed to be under government control for a long time. There seem to be radical Sunni Islamists of some description in the city, who control some part of it, and who were thought by the Americans to be based in the apartment buildings they bombed. These radical Islamists are alarmed by the reemergence of ex-Baathists like Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib (who is from Samarra) into prominence and power, locally and nationally, and they attacked his house a while ago. But who exactly are they? How much of the city do they control? What do they say they want? Al-Jazeerah did not tell us any of this.
Likewise, the American journalists have been useless for this Samarra story. (And I don’t just mean that the cable news networks have turned themselves into The Hurricane Channel, and make sure to sprinkle some water on all their lenses; why can’t they do 1-minute updates on the storms 4 times an hour?) Samarra is a historically important city of 215,000 (though at one point recently 40% of its population is said to have fled). Its dynamics are significant to Iraqi politics. But the US wire services seem to just repeat whatever the US military says, though they will also quote from Iraqi medical officials about casualties.
This kind of report strikes me as fairly useless:
The U.S. military said a series of 230 kilogram bombs were dropped on “known enemy locations” near the city, about 95 kilometres north of Baghdad, in an operation called Cajun Mousetrap III, which began just after midnight Friday.
The military said about 50 militants were killed in the operation. There were no coalition casualties.
Residents said jet fighters targeted and destroyed two houses in separate districts, but the occupants had evacuated before the bombing began.
About nine Iraqis were killed and 40 injured in the fighting, said Jamal al-Qeilani from Samarra General Hospital.
I had to smile a little at the statement that in the course of dropping 250 kg bombs on an Iraqi city, the US military took no casualties (I don’t know why they say “Coalition casualties”– there are only American forces up there at Samarra, and the US air force is the only one dropping bombs on cities).
I don’t understand how they expected to inflict any significant damage on the guerrilla resistance if they announced the air raid before hand (which they must have, if the civilians mostly left). Is this symbolic warfare– the buildings are being punished for having housed insurgents? The US military looks more like the Israeli every day. And, doesn’t anyone besides me mind our military bombing a country that we occupy? How is that not a contraventions of the Geneva Conventions?
You can’t bomb buildings in a city without wounding or killing innocent civilians. The bombs turn windows and bricks into a kind of shrapnel and send them flying into the eyes of children and the chests of women. The radical Islamists in Samarra (if that is what they are) may be bad guys, who blow up innocent civilians, too. But there has to be a better way.