Friday, January 23, 2009

US Airstrikes & Civilian Casualties: Then Vs. Now

Do you remember that Sesame Street game, "Which One Is Different?"

Well, it's time to play a grown-up version of that game --- although the consequences of this one are deadly serious.

For seven years, the Bush administration launched air strikes against militant Islamists, yet our mainstream media almost invariably wrote headlines similar to this one, from the BBC, in August 2007--- which were often accompanied by grisly pictures of injured/dead children --- emphasizing the civilians that were killed, over the objective of the strike:
Afghans 'Wounded In Air Strike'

About 50 Afghan civilians have been wounded in an air strike by US-led forces on a group of Taleban leaders holding a meeting in Helmand province.

Or this one, from October 2007, from the NY Times' International Herald-Tribune:

Afghan Officials Say Allied Airstrike Killed Civilians

A NATO airstrike Thursday on a village near the embattled provincial capital of Lashkar Gah killed between 25 and 30 civilians, Afghan officials in the area said. While NATO confirmed that an air strike had taken place in the area, where Taliban fighters have been battling NATO forces, it said the incident was being investigated and that the command was "unable to confirm any civilian casualties."

Or this one, from McClatchey ("Truth To Power"), from September 2008:

U.S. Strike Kills Civilians, Iraqis Say

At least eight civilians, all from one family and including women, were killed in a U.S. raid and airstrike Friday near Tikrit, Iraqi police and witnesses said

The attack, which a U.S. military statement said targeted a “terrorist” accused of running a bomb-making ring, was in the town of Dawr, northwest of Baghdad.

Or this one, from the AP, in October 2001
, just weeks after 9/11:
Airstrikes Kill More Civilians
American airstrikes meant to punish the Taliban spilled over Sunday into residential neighborhoods of the Afghan capital, killing 13 civilians — the second time in as many days that missiles have accidentally hit homes and killed residents.

Or this one, from the front page of the LA Times in March 2003:

Civilian Deaths From Airstrikes on Baghdad Fuel Rising Anger

Saman Atef was finishing a late breakfast Monday when he heard a long, whining whoosh. Before he had time to ponder the noise, three of his neighbors’ houses exploded in a rain of bricks, glass and dust.

In the instant the bomb or missile hit, four people were killed and 23 were injured, Atef said, and the people of his working-class neighborhood of northern Baghdad counted one more reason to feel angry with the United States.

Just before the midday attack, a robust-looking President Saddam Hussein had appeared on state television in military uniform and exhorted Iraqis to attack the U.S. and British enemy.

“Cut their throats and even their fingers,” Hussein urged. “Strike them and strike evil so that evil will be defeated.”

The U.S. war strategy has counted in part on separating the people of Iraq from the government of Hussein.

But the deaths and injuries from misdirected or errant bombs, or from shrapnel and fragments that spray into nearby homes even when the munitions find their intended target, are making more and more people believe that the United States is heedless of the Iraqi public.


Are you starting to notice a pattern here?

1) All these inflammatory headlines, and the stories that followed them, downplayed or ignored the fact that the U.S. (under Bush) was targeting militant Islamists. Instead, they focused primarily on civilian casualties.

2) The cowardly targets of these airstrikes made the decision to hide out among civilians, thus condemning them to being killed or injured when we attacked them.

3) "The World" condemned the (evil, warmongering, bloodthirsty) Bush administration, and all its appendages (including our soldiers), and alleged that all we were accomplishing was igniting hatred of the U.S.

Even the Obamassiah, as a candidate, said that if he were president, he'd prosecute this war very differently, and would stop the Bush policy of "air-raiding villages & killing civilians," which he said is "creating problems" for us:

My, my.

How things "change."

Today is January 23, 2009, and on his third day in office, The Obamassiah launched airstrikes against targets in Pakistan, in which at least 50% of the casualties were civilians.

So, let's see how the headlines read:

From the AP (via,, and The New York Times):
18 Killed As Suspected U.S. Missiles Hit Pakistan - Alleged U.S. Spy Planes Attack Militant Areas In First Strikes Of Obama Era

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Two suspected U.S. missile attacks killed 18 people Friday on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border, security officials said, in the first such strikes since President Barack Obama took office.

At least five foreign militants were among those killed in the strikes by unmanned aircraft in two parts of the frontier region, an intelligence official said without naming them. There was no information on the identities of the others.
[Ed.: (Q) If 18 were killed, and "at least five were 'militants'," what are the other 13 classified as? (A) In the Age of The Obamassiah, "unmentionables."]

And from

Two U.S. Missile Strikes Kill 17 In Pakistan, Sources Say

Seventeen people were killed Friday evening in two U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan's tribal region, said one government and two military officials.

They are the first such strikes since President Obama took office Tuesday.

Both hits were near the Afghan border, said local political official Nasim Dawar. The Pakistani military sources asked not to be named because they are not authorized to release such information.

The first strike, which killed 10 people, occurred about 5:15 p.m. (7:15 a.m. ET) in a village near Mir Ali in North Waziristan, the officials said. Seven people died in the second hit at 7:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. ET) near Wana, the major town in South Waziristan, 17 miles (27 kilometers) from Afghanistan, they said.

And from the LA Times:

Suspected U.S. Missile Attacks Kill 18 In Pakistan

The raids suggest that President Obama's administration will continue the campaign against Al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan.

Reporting from Islamabad -- In the first such strikes since the inauguration of President Barack Obama, suspected U.S. missile barrages today
killed at least 18 people in the lawless tribal region near the Afghan border, Pakistani officials said.

The two raids suggested that the new U.S. administration intends to press ahead with attacks against Islamic militants in the rural areas, even though the campaign has been politically costly to Pakistan's Western-leaning civilian government. President Obama indicated during the campaign for the White House that he would continue to carry out strikes against "high-value" Al Qaeda and Taliban targets on Pakistani soil, particularly if the Pakistani military were unable or unwilling to act.

And from the BBC (which, like our MSM, routinely decried "civilian casualties" in headlines and initial copy until, hm... January 20, 2009)...
Deadly Missiles Strike Pakistan

Two missile attacks from suspected US drones have killed 14 people in north-western Pakistan, officials say.

At least one missile hit a house in a village near the town of Mirali in North Waziristan, a stronghold of al-Qaeda and Taleban militants.

A second suspected drone attack has been reported in South Waziristan, killing five people.

And the venerable HuffingtonPost, that temple of journalistic integrity and rigorously-enforced editorial standards, somehow forgot to mention that there were any civilian casualties at all (here).
(Ed.: Of course, Expedio5x5 has full confidence Arianna will quickly instruct her impartial team of headline writers and editors to get right on it, and highlight all those civilian casualties, with the same vigor and prominence that they did whenever the Bush administration attacked militant Islamists.)


So let's review what we've learned today:

  • When the (evil, warmongering, bloodthirsty) Bush administration launched airtrikes against militant Islamists, our loyal, patriotic, truth-seeking and -dispensing mainstream news media rightfully framed them in the context of how many civilians were killed, and how Bush was causing "the world" to hate us.

  • However, when the noble, moral, holy, peace-loving, beyond-reproach Obamassiah administration launches airstrikes against militant Islamists, our MSM is correct in writing headlines and stories that reflect this (alleged) fact. And if civilians happen to be killed in the process, well... let's just bury that waaaayyyyyy down in the article, or better yet, let's not even discuss such unpleasantries. After all, with The Obamassiah's extensive knowledge of, and experience in military and national security matters, He knows what's best for America, and we are in no position to question, let alone subvert His efforts on our behalf.

But wait a minute --- isn't Pakistan is a sovereign nation?
Didn't The Obamassiah's constituency claim that the (evil, warmongering, bloodthirsty)
Bush administration was wrong to attack and kill civilians in nations that hadn't attacked us (Iraq, Afghanistan)?

Will this fact not cause The Obamassiah's most fervent supporters (even those outside the MSM) to view him as an evil, bloodthirsty warmonger, too?

Of course not. To the MSM, and the rabid anti-war, jihadist-appeasing, blame-America-first, Bush-Derangement-Syndrome left, if there were civilian casualties in an Obamassiah missile strike, well, they must have just been victims of militant Islamists having set up shop too close to them. And wowza!, did The Obamassiah ever show them we're serious about waging the war on... the war on... the war on... what, again?

Besides, our loyal, America-loving MSM would never, ever do anything that would unfairly depict a U.S. president's actions, least of all in a way that would potentially incite domestic and international hatred of our nation, would it? Or to affect the outcome of an election?

'Course not. The American MSM is, after all, the "fourth estate," the citizens' watchdog on government... the fair, impartial, patriotic institution, whose only obligation is to the truth. Right?



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