The Null Device

Shock and awe in Baghdad

The Pentagon's battle plan for Iraq will involve hitting it with 300-400 cruise missiles each day, in order to demoralise the population. This is more than the total number of cruise missiles launched in the first gulf war's entirety. All areas will be targeted; which makes official statements about attempting to "minimise civilian casualties" rather hard to believe. (See also: "we had to destroy the village to save it")

Kudos to the first person to explain satisfactory why this is not terrorism. (via Stumblings)

There are 31 comments on "Shock and awe in Baghdad":

Posted by: Hobbes http:// Sun Jan 26 10:10:57 2003

Simple. Because they are Bad People (tm).

Seriously, I can see this demoralizing Iraqi citizens just like the WTC attacks demoralized Americans.

I would move, except every country is the worst in its own special way.

Posted by: Ben http://leviathan.weblogs.com Sun Jan 26 10:14:32 2003

Well if the WTC demoralised Americans, I'd hate to see them get worked up over something!

Posted by: BettyFnord http://www.ixpres.com/marxalot Sun Jan 26 14:20:25 2003

Terrorism is the violence that the other guy perpetrates on you. The violence you commit (whom ever you are) against others is always justified somehow (usually called self-defense). I've yet to see the word terrorism used in a way that defies this definition. Well, except in discussions about the word terrorism. In current news reporting, even military forces can now be subject to terrorist attack, something which used to be called a 'battle.' Used to be that civilians were the target by definition if an attack was to be deemed terrorism. You're not supposed to be able to terrorise soldiers you know...

Posted by: Ed http://asseptic.org/blog Sun Jan 26 14:22:02 2003

By definition, 'terrorism' is everything done against the American or allied countries government/dominant oligarchy's interests. Not the case.

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Sun Jan 26 14:56:00 2003

Good point, Ed; it ties in nicely with things like the RIAA referring to MP3 file sharing as "economic terrorism". I guess killing acceptable numbers of Iraqi peasants doesn't threaten global stability enough to qualify. (If they were killed whilst sewing running shoes in a maquiladora, the loss of infrastructure might qualify though.)

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Sun Jan 26 15:00:10 2003

Though if you asked the average person on the street who has never read Chomsky or been to a protest rally what the definition of terrorism is, I doubt they'd sincerely give such an obviously cynical and one-sided definition. Is there some folk definition of "terrorism" which encompasses attacks on the US, excludes deliberate bombing of Iraqi civilians, and is internally consistent with the belief that the holder is a fair-minded, decent and non-bloodthirsty person?

Posted by: Blair http:// Mon Jan 27 01:40:51 2003

Was a time when we went to the defence of countries that were attacked out of hand: now we're attacking out of hand.

Posted by: Graham http://grudnuk.com Mon Jan 27 03:07:04 2003

Let's put it this way, the US is hugely lucky the Vietnamese don't bear grudges the way they do in the Middle East.

Posted by: Ben http://leviathan.weblogs.com Mon Jan 27 03:14:36 2003

Not to mention the Koreans, the Serbians, the Grenadans, the Panamanians, the Chinese, the Libyans, the Lebanese, the Iranians, the Russians, the Cubans and everyone else the US has made war on in proxy or in person over the last century or so.

Posted by: alex Mon Jan 27 05:24:58 2003

Bob Hawke justifying the last Australian participation: "Big countries can't invade little countries and get away with it."

John Howard justifying the current invasion participation: *crickets chirping*

I'm convinced the .au connection secret US plans for global domination. Which may or may not involve sekrit UFO bases beneath Uluru and parliament house.

Posted by: Graham http://grudnuk.com Mon Jan 27 12:08:32 2003

You forgot the portal between Pine Gap and Area 51...

Posted by: billy http:// Mon Jan 27 12:23:59 2003

I think the united states should annex canada and mexico and unite south america and annex it, and then take over the world. Then we could have one supreme ruler over the earth. and cut cut out all this terroism nonsense.

Posted by: billy http:// Mon Jan 27 12:24:27 2003

i meant to type cut just once.

Posted by: Graham http://grudnuk.com Mon Jan 27 13:52:47 2003

Well, if the ruler was someone like Emperor Norton, that wouldn't be so bad...

Posted by: Ritchie http:// Tue Jan 28 11:08:24 2003

Pulled this from http://www.undcp.org/odccp/terrorism_definitions.html

Academic Consensus Definition:

"Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby - in contrast to assassination - the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat- and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperilled) victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought" (Schmid, 1988).

Note that this page contains several definitions of terrorism -

Posted by: Ritchie http:// Tue Jan 28 11:19:20 2003

According to the definition above, whatever the Western military forces do to Iraq will not count as terrorism simply because they are not (semi-)candestine organisations. However, if the plan is simply to rain cruise missiles on random parts of Baghdad, then it seems just as unjustified (and as tactically pointless) as the German bombing of London in WWII, or the retaliatory daylight terror raids conducted by Allied squadrons, which included the incineration of the militarily insignificant town of Dresden. If anything, raids like these strengthen people's resolve to resist. I can't believe they're going to do it again.

Posted by: Ritchie http:// Tue Jan 28 11:41:46 2003

According to the definition above, whatever the Western military forces do to Iraq will not count as terrorism simply because they are not (semi-)candestine organisations. However, if the plan is simply to rain cruise missiles on random parts of Baghdad, then it seems just as unjustified (and as tactically pointless) as the German bombing of London in WWII, or the retaliatory daylight terror raids conducted by Allied squadrons, which included the incineration of the militarily insignificant town of Dresden. If anything, raids like these strengthen people's resolve to resist. I can't believe they're going to do it again.

Posted by: Ritchie http:// Tue Jan 28 11:42:39 2003

Whoops - double posted by accident.

Posted by: Ben http://leviathan.weblogs.com Tue Jan 28 12:00:00 2003

Idiot! If it wasn't for double-posters like you the internet would be half as big and twice as fast!

Posted by: Graham http://grudnuk.com Tue Jan 28 12:28:15 2003

"I can't believe they're going to do it again."

Oh, it's all going to be /different/ this time. Yeah right.

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Tue Jan 28 12:50:26 2003

Ritchie: that's a technicality. Thousands horrifically maimed by the US Airforce do not differ from thousands horrifically maimed by al-Qaeda. The only reason terrorism is so defined is because that's the other guy's preferred means of committing atrocities.

In any sensible definition, Dresden was terrorism, and so will the proposed high-tech carpet-bombing of Iraq. (40 missiles a day at >US$1M a pop; stop to think how many starving children that could have fed. That's your tax dollars at work.)

Posted by: Ritchie http:// Tue Jan 28 21:02:50 2003

You're correct: In retrospect I should have said "I don't want to believe they'll do it again." It's simply too depressing to even contemplate.

Posted by: Dave http:// Wed Jan 29 04:30:02 2003

One "small" factual error in that story, at that rate of fire, the entire U.S. stockpile of cruise missles would be completely depleted in just over 2 hours. This military action is as ill advised as it can get, but how can we argue for a reasonable response if we allow sensationalistic, inaccurate reporting like this to be taken seriously?

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Wed Jan 29 05:47:04 2003

Wouldn't they have ramped up production significantly over the past year or so? Having 800 cruise missiles to spare for the first 2 days (and some left over in case of presidential indiscretions or other contingencies) wouldn't be too far-fetched.

Posted by: mitch http:// Wed Jan 29 09:55:31 2003

Haven't found any definitive inventory, but this page suggests that the US Air Force typically has a few hundred cruise missiles, and the US Navy, a few thousand. http://www.s-t.com/daily/04-99/04-14-99/d07wn290.htm

I also read that the cost per missile is about US$2m. Maybe it's all part of Al Qaeda's campaign to bankrupt the USA.

Posted by: kstop Wed Jan 29 12:29:04 2003

The keywords here would be "procurement cycle". There seems to be a policy of using a lot of Tomahawks just before the next planned upgrade. Also, see www.fas.org for inventories and such.

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Wed Jan 29 13:52:32 2003

Well, it worked against the USSR. (Bankrupting them, that is.)

Posted by: mitch http:// Sat Feb 8 06:01:44 2003

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/01/24/eveningnews/printable537928.shtml

The original article on "Shock and Awe". '... the target is not the Iraqi army but the Iraqi leadership, and the battle plan is designed to bypass Iraqi divisions whenever possible. If Shock and Awe works, there won't be a ground war.'

Debka on what to expect in reply: http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=233 http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=255

Posted by: mitch http:// Wed Feb 12 03:33:44 2003

On bankrupting the USA: "There will only be haphazard strikes that dissipate the enemy ammunition and waste its money." http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2751019.stm

Posted by: mitch http:// Fri Feb 14 05:28:47 2003

"The Bush administration wants to spare hardships to Iraqi civilians and to show that the real target of the bombing campaign is Saddam.

"It hopes that Iraqi citizens, in return, accept U.S. military rule during an interim period leading to the establishment of a democratic government. Bush officials also want, to the extent possible, to avoid civilian casualties.

"But not all senior Air Force officers agree with the limited target list..."

http://www.washtimes.com/national/20030213-69206024.htm

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Fri Feb 14 05:44:08 2003

Well, the ground troops are there to do a dangerous job. Also, they are professional troops, not even conscripts. The Iraqi civilians didn't get a choice. To have an acceptable number of Iraqi civilian casualties to make things safer/easier for invading troops would be obscene.

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