January 15, 2006

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

The posts of several days ago that al Qaeda #2 Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a CIA Predator Hellfire missile strike seems to be incorrect, and the media, particularly anti-American media such as the UK's Guardian, were quick to jump on the fact that 17-18 "civilians," including women and children, died in the "botched" attack.

But was this truly an attack on civilians, and was it really botched at all?

In Europe and America, we tend to think of civilians as innocents, but in an area where many of the men in families are fighters loyal to the Taliban, where foreign fighters are interspersed with the local population and none of the combatants wear uniforms, that classification is an artificial construct.

It is now emerging that such may be the case here.

Via Fox News, the Associated Press is now reporting that the airstrike had a very good reason to target these specific houses:

Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader was invited to dinner marking an Islamic holiday at the Pakistani border village struck by a purported CIA airstrike, but he did not show up, intelligence officials said Sunday, as Islamic groups demonstrated across the country in protest of the 17 people killed in the missile strike.

The two Pakistani officials told The Associated Press that this could explain why Friday's predawn attack missed its apparent target, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Usama bin Laden's top lieutenant.

Al-Zawahiri sent some aides to the dinner instead and investigators were trying to determine whether they had been in any of the three houses that were destroyed in the missile strike that killed at least 17 people, one of the officials said.

Terrorists were targeted at these locations by what appears to certainly be human intelligence working in conjunction with aerial surveillance and targeting. Only a human source (or communications monitoring—perhaps by NSA?) would be able to find out that al-Zawahiri was invited to dinner at this home, and it is reasonable for a circling drone or any operators on the ground to surmise that a small ground of armed men arriving at the specified location at the specified time might very well contain their target. This was not a case of an intelligence failure, but a case of one fewer terrorists showing up for dinner.

Locals, of course, claim that they've never sheltered any Taliban or al Qaeda fighters, which flies in the face of all that is known about a region where the Taliban have been known to operate with the support of the local tribes. Even the left-leaning Guardian seems to refute this claim and support the theory that terrorists may have been in the homes:

One Pakistani official, speaking anonymously, told The Observer that hours before the strike some unidentified guests had arrived at one home and that some bodies had been removed quickly after the attack. This was denied by villagers.

The Fox-carried Associated Press article provides more detail:

Survivors in Damadola denied militants were there, but some news reports quoted unidentified Pakistani officials as saying up to 11 extremists were believed among the dead.

A senior intelligence official said Sunday that 12 bodies, including seven foreigners, had been taken from the village.

He said the bodies were reclaimed by other militants, but another Pakistani official told AP on Saturday that some were taken away for DNA tests. A law enforcement official in Washington said the FBI expected to conduct the tests to determine victims' identities, although Pakistan had not yet formally requested them.

I have no doubt that women and children were killed in this strike, but as information continues to develop, it also seems obvious that the group of terrorists monitored and targeted by the CIA were killed as designed.

The Pakistanis have every right to officially protest the strike, but it was almost certainly approved by Musharraf with a wink and a nod. Musharraf himself warned his countrymen in the wake of the attack:

In a speech shown Sunday on state-run Pakistan Television, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf did not address the Damadola strike directly, but he warned his countrymen not to harbor militants, saying it would only increase violence inside Pakistan.

"If we keep sheltering foreign terrorists here ... our future will not be good. Remember what I say," Musharraf said in the speech, which was made Saturday in the northwestern town of Sawabi.

It is a shame that women and children died in this attack, but the blame lies squarely on the fact that these families made the decision to invite terrorists into their homes. The villagers have no one to blame but themselves, and should perhaps consider inviting a better class of people to dinner.


Note: as a small technical note to the Guardian, the use of flares as reported by some eyewitnesses is inconsistent with the use of the Predator.

The Predator drone uses an integrated electro-optical, infrared, laser designator and laser illuminator sensor package, enabling it to see in the dark or through haze, smoke and clouds. Flares are neither carried nor needed by the Predator, and would not be used by special forces to designate a target.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at January 15, 2006 04:21 PM | TrackBack

While the point on the inability to discern a fighter in a war without uniforms might be well taken, the suggestion that the children of this area are not "innocents" is simply appalling. This is guilt by association of a staggering scale.

Posted by: The Heretik at January 15, 2006 06:30 PM

Yes, but a C-130 Specter Gunship would use what would look like "flairs" in certain situations--and actual flairs if locked on by a surface-to-air missile. Besides, in my experience with UAV's, I'm not exactly sure that the Predator--or even several of them could cause the damage that I've seen thus far.

I'm a huge fan of the "Big Gun Go Boom" design we employ here in the good Ol' U.S. of A. When it comes to damage, a Specter Gunship can certainly deliver.

Posted by: WB at January 15, 2006 06:35 PM

Perhaps I should clarify my position better: the younger children are innocents, and I feel unqualified sorrow at their loss. Older children (I am thinking of mid to late teens) often bear arms, plant explosives, and serve as suicide bombers throughout much of the world.

I also reiterate that if their parents didn't ask one of the world's most wanted terrorists into their home, then they would all still be alive.

Remember that as well.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at January 15, 2006 06:41 PM


Predators are armed with multiple Hellfire missiles, the same anti-tank missiles that are the primary weapon for Apache helicopter gunships. They indeed would have been capable of the kind of damage we've seen here, and have been used exactly in such situations in Afghanistan in the recent past.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at January 15, 2006 06:47 PM

"Yes, but a C-130 Specter Gunship would use what would look like "flairs" in certain situations--and actual flairs if locked on by a surface-to-air missile."

"Flairs"? Let's see. . . .

flair |fler| noun 1 [in sing. ] a special or instinctive aptitude or ability for doing something well : she had a flair for languages | none of us had much artistic flair. 2 stylishness and originality : she dressed with flair. ORIGIN late 19th cent.: from French, from flairer ‘to smell,’ based on Latin fragrare ‘smell sweet.’ Compare with fragrant .

flair noun 1 a flair for publicity aptitude, talent, gift, instinct, (natural) ability, facility, skill, bent, feel, knack. 2 she dressed with flair style, stylishness, panache, dash, élan, poise, elegance; taste, good taste, discernment, discrimination; informal class, pizzazz.

Try Flares.

Ignorant republicans, can't live with them, can't shoot them.

Posted by: Timothy McGrath at January 15, 2006 10:05 PM
"Ignorant republicans, can't live with them, can't shoot them.

Timothy, is that the sum of your contribution to the subject?

WB, an AC-130 has a crew and over "Packistan" unmanned vehicles are probably preferred. If a UAV is downed, there is no crew captured (or killed). Too, a HELLFIRE missile warhead is about five times more destructive than a single 105 MM round. (Five 105 MM rounds in rapid succession do not develop the same penetration or overall destructiveness that a single HELLFIRE does.)

Posted by: Old Soldier at January 15, 2006 10:50 PM

If Timothy Troll thinks that a tendency to misspell words invalidates a person's knowledge and insights, then he is going to have to ignore a large number of liberals and leftists--including many in academia. I knew one writer whose manuscripts were practically unreadable and required extensive editing before they could be published. And yet this man was known and respected around the world.

Posted by: pst314 at January 16, 2006 08:30 AM

The PARENTS of those children were responsible for them—by definition.

Generally I don't pretend to understand the value system of foreign cultures, including these Pashtun folks, but I'll go out on a limb and state that I'm pretty sure they probably love their children as I do mine. if I were having fighters over for dinner, the kids would be hustled off to a relative's the day before.

Although the deaths of these children are an unqualified horror, if their parents had any foreknowledge of the nature of these "guests," then quite frankly they deserve their grief.


Posted by: Peter Jackson at January 16, 2006 08:39 AM

Damadola is, I understand, only 4 miles from the Afghan border. I believe that is within glide range of a number of bombs, so the attacks could have been made from manned aircraft without actually having the men in Pakistani airspace.

Posted by: Glenmore at January 16, 2006 08:49 AM

The real crime here -- as it is when mosques and hospitals are turned into 'don't-touch' armories -- is the deliberate garrisoning of Jihadi fighters amongst civilians.

But don't hold your breath waiting for indictments from The Hague.

During the Cold War, ragtag communist insurgencies had somewhat of an excuse for fighting on the cheap -- the economies behind them sucked. And the Nazis tended to use other people as human shields.

But here, for all the trillions in petro-dollars handed to their Wahabi sponsors by the West, year in and year out, the sole contributions of the Jihadist 'fighter' to the history of warfare are the suicide bomber and the use of their own families as human shields.


Posted by: cosmo at January 16, 2006 09:02 AM

I'm sure Confederate Yankee did not mean that young children were not innocents.

I do suggest that there are conditions under which it is ethical to bomb when children are present, because otherwise children can become human shields to be used to carry out even more heinous deeds.

Not all who disagree with Confederate Yankee are trolls, but wishing Republicans speaking their mind could be shot at will is a repugnant and trollish remark that puts liberals in a bad light. You just scored a goal for the wrong team Mr. McGrath; the jokes on you.

Posted by: John B. Chilton at January 16, 2006 09:11 AM

I still don't think that looked like damage done by Hellfire missiles.

On the other hand, I don't think I saw craters, which I would expect if they had been 500 pound bombs.

Posted by: Anon at January 16, 2006 09:31 AM

I love it! If you're living in a foreign country, America has a license to kill you. That will no doubt help us spread peace and democracy.

Posted by: sgt baker at January 16, 2006 09:41 AM

The proper response to "can't shoot Republicans" is "cuz ya got no guns".

Posted by: boris at January 16, 2006 09:43 AM

Thought experiment:

Let's imagine that instead of Bush, Clinton were president.

And he used force against a compound which resulted in the deaths of women and children. Let's imagine what the Main Stream Media reaction would have been.

Oh wait, we don't have to imagine this.

If it had been reported that 1/2 of the Branch Davidians killed were black, maybe there would have been more outcry from the Left (which includes the MSM). But this act of militarized police brutality was done for a politically correct cause, while the minority status of the victims was not reported to the public. To the Cult of Clinton, their Great Leader could do no wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward at January 16, 2006 09:46 AM

Sgt Baker NAILED IT! What there basacly saying is, is racest, that if your brown-skin or not from are country, than we can kill you and that's ok. Just for fun. That's basacly what there saying.

LOL. Hey dhinger's, ever heard of not bombing kid's for fun? Oh, I forgot, you are just vilent and dumb.

Fact is, if terrists hide with kids and women, than that's there perogtive. They get to do that. In a war you never get to kill anybody but a soldier (a bad guy one). If he hide's with kids, than sorry, he get's to do that. Mabye he can take over the world that way, but that's the rule's that they set up, so.

Anyways, kudo's to Sgt Baker, great post. lol

Posted by: Jim at January 16, 2006 09:49 AM

I'm not sure what all the hoopla over this is. In any serious war that America has engaged in, the army/government has never had any compunction about not firing on any target contain enemy fighters, or crucial to the enemies war effort. In WWII we bombed factories, homes, churches what ever in the attempt to dislodge Axis troops from their position and cripple their war effort. Islamic terrorist are as insidious as Nazis, and if you think other wise I'm sorry for you...

But, unlike previous enemies, which where the cohorts of an organized government/military Islamofascists are basically criminal elements with in a society, or region of the world. Any on our soil are handeled with normal means of policing. Thous in foreign lands must be handeled in one of two ways.

one: by the police action of the respective country in which they reside.

Two: by military forces of the US

Our law enforcement has no jurisdiction out side our country. We can not arrest them in the hills of north Pakistan. Our army has jurisdiction where ever the hell we send them. Because their job is not legalistic but retributive/preventive.

Consider terrorist pirates, they respect no laws of any country, that they are in. They take will full action against the interest and safety of American and its people. In the old days when pirates where common any nation had the right to hunt them down at their discretion, terrorist are the same. If the Pakistani would go in and arrest them for us, and find the guys we want then cool we can just take them of their hands. but if they can't or won't then we are going to do it for them. If terrorist hide with their families and with "local natives" then it's the job of those natives to either assist us, or get out of the way.

Posted by: Vlad at January 16, 2006 10:12 AM

Fact is, if terrists hide with kids and women, than that's there perogtive. They get to do that. In a war you never get to kill anybody but a soldier (a bad guy one). If he hide's with kids, than sorry, he get's to do that. Mabye he can take over the world that way, but that's the rule's that they set up, so.

Actually, no.

If a combatant attempts to use civilians as shields, then the deaths of those civilians is the combatant's fault. Protected people and sites lose their protection when their status is abused.

(And, honestly, if someone wants to talk about spelling and grammatical errors...)

Posted by: Robert Crawford at January 16, 2006 10:13 AM




I wondering who the dumb one is again?

Posted by: Gary at January 16, 2006 10:18 AM


Great satire! Just as intelligent as the Kos Klucks Klan with DU-level English literacy.

Posted by: Tom Paine at January 16, 2006 10:23 AM

"In a war you never get to kill anybody but a soldier (a bad guy one)."

Unfortunately, we're not fighting "soldiers," we're fighting terrorists and guerillas - people who don't wear uniforms, don't obey the laws of war, and have no problems with driving explosives-laden vehicles into crowds of children and detonating them if it will draw the attention of the international media.

During WWII we carpet- and fire-bombed entire cities, killing and maiming women and children by the tens of thousands. So much for "you never get to kill anybody but a soldier." At least now we're able to limit our airstrikes to individual structures.

Regardless of the fact that our enemies don't wear uniforms, this is still war. People die, including innocents. If you're unable to deal with that, then I suggest you just head over to the middle East right now and surrender. Perhaps they won't saw your head off with a dull knife while chanting "Allahu Ackbar!"

Posted by: Kevin Baker at January 16, 2006 10:24 AM

It could have been worse for the children... they could have invited Michael Jackson to dinner.

Posted by: Laurence Simon at January 16, 2006 10:39 AM

Let me get the logic here. If I have a tank division and I add a couple of women and children I can't shoot it even if it is attacking me (remember the innocent civilans). If a regular infantry squad takes up residence in a house and uses it to shoot at me I can't shoot back, remember the innocent civilians. If a terrorist group is in a home building IEDs that will kill hundreds of innocent civilians I can't hit that house, remember the innocent civilians inside. What if they are planning a radiological attack on Boston say, sorry we can't stop them think of the innocents.

And if you are into grim humor, any large scale attack in American would be on a Democratic Party enclave. If OBL had actually gotten the 250,000 he had planned for, the Republicans would get one or two more seats in Congress and it certainly would be enough to make a close senatorial (Hillary-Rudolf?)race go Republican.

Now what if the government of Pakistan asked us to hit these houses for them (as I suspect happened), then what?

Finally the people in the tribal lands are caucasian and some are quite fair skinned, so race isn't the right issue.

It is intellectually easy being a moral poser, but what was previously said is also correct, if Bill had done this you guys would be finding ways to justify this raid. We killed thousands of innocent civilians during the Yugoslavian breakup. So, of course, that was an evil thing to do (somebody elses country, we weren't at war, we weren't provoked, unasked for and risking innocent women and children (and they are not white like us so it was racist)and we should have sat on the side lines wagging our fingers. IF you are going to condemn this condemn Bill please.

Posted by: David at January 16, 2006 10:44 AM

This reinforces the issue of the Geneva Accords and the concept of unlawful combattants.

When terrorists use human shields, the terrorists bear the moral guilt for the deaths of the human shields.

This is the nature of the enemy that will kill each of us if we surrender to them. The choices is stark. We must support our President and reject the Cut and Run democrats.

Of course, the media is on the side of the "innocent" victims "murdered" by "Bushitler"

Thank God for President Bush

Thank God for alternative sources of information.

Posted by: JoeS at January 16, 2006 10:56 AM

Guys! Jim's post was meant as satire. Look at the words used that are misspelled. A chucklehead such as the kind Jim was lampooning would not use the word, "perogative."

(I know, I know, the anti-war, anti-Bush crowd are so ignorant of history and nonsensical in their (lack of) reasoning, it's impossible to tell the difference!)

Imagine how tough it is for Scott Ott at Srappleface to actually make stuff up, real life is more ridiculous!

Posted by: dadmanly at January 16, 2006 11:06 AM

Dadmanly, you could be right, unfortunately I see enough genuine anti-war posts that have exactly the same look and feel. It is very hard to write a good parady of others when they are paradies of themselves.

Posted by: David at January 16, 2006 11:33 AM

I read somewhere over the weekend that al Zawahiri has a wife from the Mohmand tribe. By the tenets of the Pashtun Code, all the Mohmands are obligated to shelter him and protect him. It is this peculiarity of Pashtun cultural that UBL exploited 20 years ago. That's why Mullah Omar wouldn't hand him over. The Taliban is a Pashtun movement. Non-indigenous jihadis have been taking advantage of the Pashtuns since the Soviet invasion.

The Pashtuns are a fascinating people, inhabiting the badlands between Persia and the subcontinent, and always at war with somebody. The Durand Line means no more to them than the Mexican border meant to Geronimo, and the Pakistani Government in Islamabad controls only that portion of the "Federally Administered Tribal Areas" that its armed representatives are standing on at the time. The real powers on both sides of the border are the mullahs and the tribal and village elders. The Coalition is making progress on the Afghan side in converting the hostiles, but the renegades can always hightail it east back to their Pashtun sanctuary.

Zawahiri and the rest of his AQ bunch have no qualms about putting their wives and children and Pashtun friends at risk. They seek immunity from retaliation by surrounding themselves with noncombatants. That Fourth Generation/Asymmetric Warfare tactic usually works for them. Didn't work this time. Damn shame innocents were killed. In Damadola AND Manhattan. I haven't seen any Americans out dancing in the streets in celebration.

Posted by: Cannoneer No. 4 at January 16, 2006 11:53 AM

Three points:

1) Everyone should remember what we learned first from the books by Michael Scheuer (aka Anonymous), the CIA analyst who long led the agency's "Bin Laden Group" -- namely that opportunities to kill bin Laden in Afganistan as early as 1996 advanced by the CIA operations people were rejected by higher US authorities because the possibility of harming "civilians" including on one occasion members of bin Laden's own family could not be ruled out.

2) The inability or unwillingness of the Pakistani government to mount effective operations in Pakistan's Northwest provinces along with its refusal to allow US forces to operate there leaves the US with few practical means to capture or kill al Qaeda's top leadership, while affording them the luxury of a more or less permanent safe haven from which they can continue to direct operations against the West through the myriad of al Qaeda cells active in every Pakistani city. To give proper credit to Pakistan, it has helped track and arrest or kill scores of Qaeda men in the cities, but it may be essentially powerless to act in the mountainous frontier.

3) The reason for this powerlessness of the central Pakistan government is simple, although it never quite makes it into Western reporting for some reason: the tribal areas that extend the length of the Afgan-Pakistan border -- about 700 miles through some of the most rugged mountains in the world -- have never been under governmental control, not during a century of British rule in India and not since Pakistan's independence in 1947. In fact, even as a legal matter, the tribes retain a large measure of self-government and the tribes resent incursions by Pakistani police or troops and, being both warlike and armed, will often respond to such incursions by repelling them or retaliating. Right now, farther south, there is a drawn-out low-level civil war being waged by the Pakistani central government against separatist Baluchis, and not much would be required to inflame the Pathan tribes to the north. By and large, this means that the central government's police can expect to control the roads lewading west and north from Peshawar and a couple of hundred meters on either side of the roads, and the tribes otherwise rule.

The Bashaur district where the Predator attack occurred straddles the Afgan border amidst treacherous mountains on either side. It is populated by the Mohmands, one of the most belligerent of the Pathan tribes and noteworthy for its frequent and violent endorsement of a variety of religious hysterics over the past two centuries. Al-Zawahiri is know to have taken a Mohmand wife. It would not be a surprise if he has found refuge among the Mohmands, since he would fit right in. And going back to points #1 and #2, if he or bin Laden are hiding among such folks, there is no neat or simple way to get them. And there is certainly no way to get them that would entail less violence or less risk of unintended casualties.

Posted by: Publius at January 16, 2006 12:23 PM

In Vietnam, where I served from 31 May 1967 to 31 May 1968,as a medical corpsman at the 12th USAF Hospital at Cam Rahn Bay AFB, I treated Vietnamese nationals wounded by American soldiers during firefights and artillery barrages against VC guerillas and/or NVA soldiers. Now, these Vietnamese nationals were treated at our hospital, primarily, because they were government officials of the Thieu regime in Saigon or relatives of government officials.
They were the "hearts and minds" that the Johnson administration were trying to win over to our side. But these people, who were termed "collateral damage," were lost in that battle between the Americans and Communists.
So although it seems to be logical in a tactical sense to use the unmanned Predator to bomb the village of Damadola in the northwest frontier of Pakistan, in the diplomatic sense it has the effect of alienating the very people that the Bush administration wants to win over to our side in the war on terrorism.
I was also wondering if the human asset that the CIA based its intelligence on that al-Zawahiri would be there to celebrate the Feast of Sacrifice, the Muslim's observance of Abraham offering up his son's life to God, could have been a double agent and ginned up the information to create an international incident? Without firing one bullet, al Queada makes the Americans come across as callous and blundering. I know from the wounded grunts and spooks, the nickname we used for CIA agents that were wounded patients, in the hospital that the VC operatives in the Thieu regime, about half of all government officials of his regime were found to be in this category after the war,used a calculated policy of misinformation to prompt the American forces to commit acts like the one in Damadola, purely as a propanganda tool to turn these hearts and minds against the US.
I think that Confederate Yankee's comment that these villagers have only themselves to blame, which the Heretik characterized as "appalling," to me seems the unenlightened attitude of a civilian, who has never had to deal with the horrendous shrapnel and burn wounds that an airstrike, even if it is surgically precise, inflicts on civilians. I was shocked continually how shrapnel can tear apart the human torso so that the wounds resembled a shark attack and when doing dressing changes, I would have to suppress my gag response to do the dressing change. But war is by its nature that way and technological advances like the unmanned Predator still present the usual moral dilemma of taking away a person's life. And it standard practice that the civilians in the rugged northwest frontier carry an AK-47 for protection. But the tricky dilemma and question is: How do you determine that the people with the weapons are villagers, al Queada or nacro-terrorists involved in the lucrative black market economy of heroin trafficking?
Perhaps in the next couple of days after the DNA analysis by the FBI, we will have more information about the veracity of the American justification for this attack.
But even now as the debate continues between the pro-war and anti-war bloggers, the attack just re-inforces the Muslim community's perception in the region and the world that the American government could care less about "collateral damage." So American officers and operatives have to weight the various consquences and fall out in the media from these air strikes being forced to chose between the less of two evils, King Solomon's dilemma.

Posted by: George Hoffman at January 16, 2006 12:41 PM

Were they really that innocent??
The NYT has(had) a picture of an artillary shell from one of the destroyed homes posed with a young boy and an old man. It was orginaly captioned as part of a missle that we(or a country to be named latter) fired on the house. Now a lot of bloggers are flogging the NYT about it not being a missle but an artillary shell and saying that the NYT is not fact checking and identifying what type of ordinance is in a picture. The question isn't that the NYT had the caption wrong, the question is what is a 155mm artillary shell doing in a bombed out house in nowhere Pakistan. We didn't use that type of shell on the house, so was this maybe already in the house when we bombed it? Were these people actually arms dealers(this area is probably a well known area of arms merchants)supplying Taliban and Al Quida with there death supplies?? Was there some wheeling and dealing going on the night of the strikes. Yes the loss of innocent life is to be deplored but if the houses contained munitions that were going to kill more innocents in Afganistan, then the loss has to be weighed against the loss of more innocents.

Posted by: legacypt at January 16, 2006 12:54 PM

There is one thing that really bugs me about your analysis George. You treat Muslims as monolithic. Just look at the relatively small size of the protests in Pakistan. The protest seems to me to be a tribal protest, not a Muslim protest. We can (and do) make deals with one tribe while beating the hell out of a second (much, no doubt to the satisfaction of the first). That was what worked after Kabul fell in Afganistan.

And yes, George, as W. T. Sherman once put it, "War is crualty, you cannot refine it...." (he never did say war is hell). Sadly civilian non-involvement in war is a complete myth. So each war must be looked at through this lens. We could sit down and chat about whether Iraq was worth it, but with what is going on here I believe that the risk of civilian casualties is a sad but necessary part of life for us. These people they are protecting want to inflict hundred and thousand of casualties to Americans. They already got 2900+ with ten of thousand of serious and long term injuries. They lesson the tribe needs to learn is that we are serious.

Posted by: David at January 16, 2006 01:17 PM

Well I'm no big thinker, just a grandfather who was an infantryman some forty years ago. I have a pretty simple philosophy, there is a significant percentage of the world's Muslim population that wants to kill my grandchildren.
If the choice were totally mine I would ask them to change their minds, that has not seemed to work. Therefore I move to choice #2, kill them. Since I am unsure just which of the world's Muslims harbor this desire to kill my grandchildren I shall leave it up to those who now are charged with protecting my country.
Understand one thing, though. If it comes to a choice between killing every Muslim in the world or hurting one of my family member's pinkytoe, my vote is for saying bye-bye to the Muslims. Their choice. I vote for killing Mulims until the survivors decide to play nice.

Posted by: Peter at January 16, 2006 01:31 PM

In 1939 the British government was appalled at suggestions they bomb "private property" in the Black Forest that held arms manufacturing. By April 1945 after the Blitz and Coventry the Brits and Americans firebombed Hamburg and Berlin and Dresden killing tens or hundreds of thousands.

In 1940 the suggestion that Americans would firebomb Tokyo and other major cities killing 150,000 at a time would have met by appalled denials that Americans could even CONTEMPLATE such a thing. By August 1945 even the nuclear bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not match one night's death toll in massive firebombing attacks.

In both cases the Nazis and Japanese committed atrocity after atrocity, Coventry, London, the buzz bombs, the Holocaust, Lidice, etc matched with Shanghai's butchery on such a barbaric scale that even die hard Nazis who loved Hitler were appalled, or Manila (as bad or worse as Warsaw during the War) and Bataan and Wake Island and so on. And inevitably reaped total war by the Allies in return. Soviet soldiers did not overly concern themselves with German civilians. We won't with hostile tribesman OR their children. That's the logic of war.

Large elements of Pakistan has been conducting itself at war with the US and conducting atrocities. 9/11 deliberately targeted innocent civilians and we will be not overly concerned like the British, Soviets, and Americans against the Axis about the enemy's civilians in this war. If you make war against the US in such a fashion you'd better be prepared for the consequences. We will no longer after 9/11 turn back as Clinton did from bombing terrorists for fear of civilian casualties. I'd argue that the logic of war and escalation dictate that it's inevitable that we will ratchet up the killing. Since the US can kill a LOT more of them than they can of us, that's something that should give everyone pause and encourage a quick victory over the Islamists to save lives. If you want to avoid civilian casualties as much as possible Islamist fighters must be graphically and irrevocably defeated so that the idea that making War on the US is thought of as idiocy akin to marching down to the sea to hold back the tide.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at January 16, 2006 01:58 PM

As someone who writes a lot, and cannot spell worth a damn, I offer a tip.

Those of you who have Word or some similar word processing program which includes a spellchecker will profit by drafting your text using the word processor, editing, spell-checking, and then using cut and paste to drop it into the website.

Among other things, it actually gives you a chance to sound as if you were erudite. This in turn has the effect of intimidating into silence those debating you. LOL

Seriously, misspelled words do tend to distract from your argument, not unlike a miss in your engine while driving in heavy traffic. Best to keep it well tuned, if you can.

Posted by: Jrm at January 16, 2006 02:12 PM

Isn't it interesting how all the major media jumped immediately on the "innocent civilians, including children!!" story? I am relieved to see that I wasn't the only one muttering "What the f' were they doing having al Qaeda over for dinner?" It would be exactly analogous to having Hitler over to your house in 1944. Would the American press of '44 have presented Germans killed in similar circumstances as "victims" ?

You know what... this incident once again shows how the press is intent on framing the GWOT as a kind of police action. We are not "at war," but rather pursuing a tiny number of specific individuals who are the "criminals." The people they associate with cannot be assumed to be our enemy. Innocent until proven guilty sort of thinking. In 1944, no German eating dinner with Hitler would have been assumed to be "innocent." We understood that WW2 was not a "police action" meant simply to apprehend Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini.

Posted by: godfodder at January 16, 2006 02:17 PM

The sad fact is innocents will be harmed and killed in the war (or any war, for that matter). Knowing that, do we still fight, or do we let our concern for innocents stop us from fighting, or only let us fight when we are absolutely 100% sure we will not hurt or kill innocents?

To be sure, it isn't U.S. policy to indiscriminately kill innocents (if you think it is, you don't really understand U.S. military operations, nor the U.S. military and civilian command; otherwise, it's just a slanderous talking point). If you support the war (or defending the U.S.), civilian casualties every now and again is the unfortunate, ugly price. If you oppose the war, this is just another reason as to why one might.

But you cannot honestly argue the war is worth fighting but we cannot fight it without inflicting casualties amongst the innocents, or that inflicting casualties amongst the innocents abrogates the morality of our fighting. Try as hard as we might, every now and again the wrong person is going to be in the wrong place.

Posted by: Tim at January 16, 2006 02:20 PM

I think this particular story is one that highlights the importance of word choice in reporting and talking.

The use of "civilians" does not clarify between combatants and non-combatants. Combatants are targets, non-combatants are not, but both can be civilians. If we / media reporters / government / etc. started speaking in terms of combatants and non-combatants, that would help.

The difficulty in my approach is that the distinction between combatants and non-combatants is a legal one, that requires judgement and analysis. No reporter / editor is likely to want to make such a judgment. "Civilian" is a blanket term that is almost certain to be factual, so that becomes the misleading, default term.


Posted by: MG at January 16, 2006 04:27 PM


Where does 'children' fit into this explanation?

Posted by: ArthurStone at January 16, 2006 05:02 PM

London suffered under the blitz and many,many innocent men, women and children died.
The Allies eventually firebombed Dresden and Tokyo in WWII. Plenty of civilians died, women and children among them.As far as I know, that was the price to win that war.
No one "overthought" it.
The Islamofascists enemies we fight would kill every American child as they sleep.
We need to wake up. This is war. It's a shame wars have to even occur. They do. We didn't start this one.We did not place terrorists inside these houses.With Iran developing nukes, this is liable to get MUCH worse before it's over.MUCH worse...
It's time to dveelop a mindset, and the backbone, to do what we need to win, and survive as a culture.

Posted by: don at January 16, 2006 05:43 PM

When Al-Jazeera, Reuters, AP, and AFP start acknowledging Israeli civilians killed by Muslim extremists as casualties with the same alarm and outrage as the members of the pseudo-Islamic death cult, I'll start believing their reporters should not be targets as well as Al Qaida.

Remembering that it was "civilians" who kidnap and rape and kill in the name of their god (Fallujah, Beslan, Kabul, etc.) I do not have have any sympathy for the "civilians" who oppose us in this war. All of the so-called "suicide bombers" are all "civilians".

So until the "civilian" population chooses to separate themselves from the warriors, there is literally and figuratively no difference at all.

I'm just sorry they used such small weapons on a known enemy.

But I'm thankful to God that it's not *me* making the decisions--I'm not nearly wise and mature enough and our leaders are better off without any hot-headed, half-informed nuts like me calling the shots...

Posted by: jtb-in-texas at January 16, 2006 05:52 PM

Whenever an innocent person is killed by Americans in the conduct of the "War on Terror",I truly feel sorry that a life was lost.
Then I remember what it was like to stand on the smoking ruin of the World Trade Center.

Never Forget!

Posted by: FireFireFire at January 16, 2006 06:08 PM

Compare the arguments in this discussion board to the debate that raged in Israel after the killing of Shehada in the Gaza strip by a 1500 pound bomb. Shehada was target number one of the Israelis--a true terrorist mastermind and an organizational genius who had been behind some of the most spectacular suicide bombings during the current intefada.

A few weeks before the Shehada attack, Israeli intelligence had pinpointed a meeting place in Gaza of Hamas' entire military leadership. Since the building was (like everything else in Gaza) near civilians, the IDF chose a 500 pound bomb. It collapsed the top floor of the building, but left the first floor, where the meeting was taking place, undamaged--more than a dozen Hamas leaders escaped with minor injuries.

A few weeks later, human intelligence identifies that Shehada has arrived at his rarely visited house. His family is home and the surrounding apartment buildings are brimming with civilian life.

Now imagine that you are that air force general. You know that taking out the terrorist might save dozens if not hundreds of your citizens' lives. But you also know that an untold number of innocent civilians on the other side might be killed. What would you do?

The Israelis launched a 1500 pound bomb. It destroyed several apartment buildings. It killed 17 people, including Shehada's wife and eight of his children. And it killed Shehada too.

For months afterward, Israelis furiously debated the propriety of the attack. That debate was a lot more nuanced than the one going on in this discussion board. Real life human beings make these decisions and must live with the consequences. It's an enormously wrenching experience for those people and the society in which they live. There are no easy answers to what is right and what is wrong.

What can be pointed out is that since the Shehada hit, no Israeli terrorist assassination has had anywhere near the civilian death toll, despite frequent bombings in highly populated areas. That would leave one to believe that the Israelis have put into effect measures to reduce collateral damage even lower than before. They couldn't have done this if they were deaf to the public debate and outcry over innocent deaths. Making immediate black and white judgments makes you deaf.
(Since this posting is going on way too long, I've included the complete post at my website,

Posted by: SamJaffe at January 16, 2006 08:15 PM

The "innocent civilians" killed in this strike were collaborators, pure and simple. They were NOT bystanders. They were having the leadership of al Qaeda over to their house for dinner!! That makes them active participants in the global war on terror. Aid and comfort to the enemy IS a form of participation. When you wage war, you don't just attack the soldiers, but also the infrastructure that allows them to wage war.

Here's my question: were the civilians that worked in Nazi bomb-making factories part of the Nazi war machine? Were they "innocent?" Were we allowed to bomb those factories?? Even though civilians would surely die?

Posted by: godfodder at January 17, 2006 10:48 AM