Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More Grim Reality

Conditions in Iraq have worsened to the point that it is becoming increasingly difficult for independent journalists, who cannot afford extensive security asistance, to report first hand. Dahr Jamail, whose independent dispatches have been some of the best, can no longer function in Iraq. He does offer some of the correspondence from his sources to remind readers that conditions are hellish.
Oh Dahr, I don't know what to say about my wounded country. Every Iraqi wants to bomb himself because of this shit life. Now Iraq is nothing like it was when you were here last, as bad as it was then. It has become very difficult to find someone who smiles. Everyone is sad and crying. This is true and this is our life now. The problem is that I know everything because I am filming so many people who are suffering.


Iraqi life has changed into some kind of hellish disaster. Sectarian feelings are following us everywhere. Everywhere around Baghdad that you stop at any of the checkpoints, which are spreading all over, the men hold their guns in their hands. I assume each man knows how to use it, but the problem is: Is this guard a Sunni or Shi'ite? You cannot tell. The clashes I've been seeing haven't spared any of the areas in the city, whether they are Sunni or Shi'ite.

He concludes:

The fact is, for most Iraqis, there is little hope left, though polls show that more than 70% of them still want all occupation forces out of their country. I've long since abandoned asking myself the question: How much worse can it get in Iraq? My Iraqi friends and colleagues tell me that one of the more popular sayings in Baghdad nowadays is, "Today is better than tomorrow."

Americans, except for our troops, may not experience this hell directly but I think it's safe to conclude that as far as our occupation goes "today is better than tomorrow."

Weapons Inflation

A Chicago area Muslim was charged with plotting to use a weapon of mass destruction to attack a shopping mall at the height of the Christmas shopping season. His weapon: four hand grenades.

Hand grenades? Weapons of mass destruction?

By this definition, it's clear that Iraq surely had weapons of mass destruction. I mean, if a hand grenade fits the bill, then how about an artillery shell, a tank or a fully armed fighter plane, all of which were part of Iraq's pre-invasion arsenal? I can assure you that any of these weapons can cause far more casualties than a hand grenade. But I guess conjuring up the image of a casualties within a 15 meter radius wouldn't have had the same effect as the mushroom cloud that adminsitration shills warned about in 2003.

Not that a grenade (four actually) wouldn't have caused mayhem and panic in a crowded mall. Grenades, like all military weapons, are designed for maximum killing and injury. I'm pleased that dilligent law enforcement stopped plot before it went into action. But I do wonder about the terminology and charges. It would seem that just about any weapon that allows the handler to kill multiple people quickly is now a "weapon of mass destruction". Seems a bit much to me. I would have thought the term applied to, you know, nuclear, biological, chemical weapons or hijacked airplanse capable of killing thousands.

Personal experience tells me that grenades are as much a danger to the user as his target. I sure as hell couldn't chuck one far enough to keep me out of the kill zone during training (thank god they were practice grenades). In Vietnam, the same two grenades I put on my ammo pouch in January stayed there the entire time I was in the field. The few grenades we used during that time were tossed into bunker with the thrower safely behind a wall.

Inflating grenades into weapons of mass destruction devalues the term. More significantly, it frightens us into quivering submission, willing to allow authorities to do whatever they deem appropriate to protect us from mass destruction. I'm not suggesting we ignore killers but I think some perspective would help Americans understand the nature the threats that actually confront us.