Sunday, August 07, 2005

Using civilians as war targets

I don't agree with the William Cook's choice of using 9/11 in the same CounterPunch article about civilians killed in bombings by U.S. forces, (and especially not the photo of the twin towers pasted onto the flattened landscape of Hiroshima). Nevertheless, I agree that civilians should never be targets.

It is worth noting that, had the United States not won (or withdrew) from the following wars, it would have been prosecuted for war crimes committed against civilian populations.


On the evening of February 13, 1945, an orgy of genocide and barbarism began against a defenseless German city, one of the great cultural centers of northern Europe. Within less than 14 hours, not only was it reduced to flaming ruins, but an estimated one third of its inhabitants, possibly as many as half a million, had perished in what was the worst single event massacre of all time. ... 700,000 phosphorus bombs dropped on 1.2 million people, 1 for every 2 people, where the heat reached 1600 degrees centigrade, in a bombing raid that lasted over 14 hours.

"Tokyo and 63 other Japanese cities felt the brunt of America's air power. ... For three hours waves of B-29s unleashed their cargo upon the dense city below.... the water in the rivers reached the boiling point.... 83,793 killed and 40,918 injured, a total of 265,171 buildings were destroyed and 15.8 square miles of the city burned to ashes." ... Then came Hiroshima. "... the bomb instantly vaporized, at a temperature of several million degrees centigrade, creating a fireball and radiating immense amounts of heat... Heat radiated by the bomb exposed skin more than two miles from the hypocenter... between seventy thousand and eighty thousand people are estimated to have died on August 6, with more deaths from radiation sickness spread over the ensuing days, months, and years."

The Germans "dropped 80,000 tons of bombs on Britain in more than five years"; America dropped over 100,000 tons in a month on Indochina, and between Lyndon Johnson and Nixon, America delivered "7 million tons of bombs on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos," far more than we, and the British, unleashed on Germany and Japan in all of WWII.

Cook goes on to cite 100,000 civilian casualties in Iraq, a number that seems highly inflated. Nevertheless, more reasonable calculations still place the number at a shameful 20-30,000.


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