The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The ugly reality of war

Apr 14, 2003

On April 8, two cameramen were killed and three others wounded when a U.S. tank fired several rounds into the Palestinian hotel in Baghdad. The U.S. tank commander said his unit had been fired on. Journalists at the hotel insisted the shots didn't come from the hotel. In any case, people died.

That is the reality of war, and of this war especially – civilians die. Even the U.S. general in charge of public relations said it, although he tried to pretend that the only civilians who died are those who "put themselves in harm's way."

In this case, the ones who "put themselves in harm's way" were journalists with instant electronic access to radios, television and newspapers around the world. So it was hard for the U.S. military to pretend it didn't happen. But what about Iraqi civilians – put in harm's way by the U.S. decision to rain down tons of bombs every day on their cities?

In modern war, it's not just a question of soldiers defending themselves when they believe they are under attack. For many decades wars have meant bombs raining down death from the sky on civilians until the army gives up. In any combat zone, thousands of non-combatants – men, women, children – die or are severely wounded. No matter how "precise" the military claims their bombing, women and children die – so many that the military came up with a description to avoid the ugly reality: these deaths are called "collateral damage."

In this war, the dead are Iraqi civilians with no journalists or cameramen in the U.S. speaking for them. Even when journalists from other countries do so, people in the U.S. don't see the photos or easily find stories about them.

The purpose of war is to kill enough people to subdue the enemy.

In the case of this war, the enemy of the U.S. leaders was and is the whole Iraqi people.