Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **

** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website **
** Website by **

December 13, 2005

Tomgram: Dahr Jamail on the Missing Air War in Iraq

>From the destroyed Japanese and German cities of World War II to the
devastated Korean peninsula of the early 1950s, from the ravaged South
Vietnamese countryside of the late 1960s to the "highway of death" on
which much of a fleeing Iraqi army was destroyed in the first Gulf War
of 1991, air power has been America's signature way of war
<>. Once, it was also a
major part of Hollywood's version of war-making on the "silver screen."
More recently, however, air war has largely disappeared from
consciousness. It simply hasn't been part of war, as Americans see, read
about, or imagine it, on-screen or off. This is strange.

It's true that, with the exception of a small number of helicopters
downed by rocket-propelled grenades, the present air war in Iraq has
been fought without (American) casualties; it's also been fought largely
without publicity and almost completely without reporters. It's true as
well that there are certain obvious disadvantages to covering an air war
rather than a ground war. You can't follow in the wake of a plane
heading at supersonic speeds for a target many miles away; and it's
harder to "embed" reporters in the backseat of a jet, no less an
unmanned predator drone, than in a Humvee. This was true even during the
Vietnam War, although reporters there regularly hitched rides on
military helicopters to bases and hotspots around the country. As a
result, despite our memory of a single iconic photo of a napalmed
Vietnamese girl running screaming down a highway (and she had been
seared by a South Vietnamese plane), the fierce American air campaign in
South Vietnam was seldom given the attention it deserved. I know of only
a single exception to this: In 1967, the young Jonathan Schell managed
to talk himself into the backseats of Cessna O-1 forward air control
planes flying "visual reconnaissance" over a heavily populated coastal
strip of Vietnam's Quang Ngai province and in his New Yorker series and
subsequent book, The Military Half, he provided as vivid and devastating
an account as exists of the destruction of the Vietnamese countryside
from the air and ground.

It's worth remembering that the U.S. began its war of choice in Iraq
with a massive (and massively promoted) "shock and awe" air and cruise
missile attack on Baghdad. The administration was then proud of our
one-sided ability to inflict massive, targeted damage on that country's
capital and happy to have it televised. But ever since, the air war and
its urban destruction have been kept in the shadows, which might be
considered, if not evidence of the military equivalent of shame, then at
least, of an "out of sight/out of mind" mentality. Whether by design or
not, the U.S. military seems to have kept reporters off air bases and
aircraft carriers (after, at least, that first burst of air assault was
over). And with the exception of a few helicopter rides over Iraq
granted to favored reporters and pundits, usually with their favored
generals, reporters simply have not been up in the sky, nor have they --
for reasons I find hard to fathom -- bothered to look up for the rest of
us (as Dahr Jamail indicates in the piece that follows). As 2004 ended,
one TV journalist wrote me:

"My own experience of Iraq is that while we're all constantly aware of
the air power, we're rarely nearby when it's deployed offensively.
Perhaps that explains why we don't see it. One does ‘hear' the airpower
all the time though. Fighters and helicopters used to protect convoys;
helis shipping people back and forth to bases, or hunting in packs
across towns; AWACS high up. I've even watched drones making patterns in
the sky. So why don't we film it?"

It's a question that still hasn't been answered -- or even asked in public.

Yet our air power has been loosed powerfully on heavily populated cities
and towns in a country we've occupied. This has been done, in part,
because American generals have not wanted to send American troops -- any
more than absolutely necessary -- into embattled cityscapes in an
ongoing guerrilla war in which they might take heavy casualties (which,
in turn, would be likely to cause support for the war to drop at home
even more precipitously than it has). Still, it remains amazing to me
that Seymour Hersh's recent important report in the New Yorker, Up in
the Air <>,
is the first significant mainstream account since the invasion of Iraq
to take up the uses of air power in that country. The piece certainly
caused a stir here, becoming part of the suddenly quickening tempo of
debate about American withdrawal; but, as readers may have noticed, the
air war itself has received no more attention since its publication two
weeks ago than previously, which is essentially none. As I wrote
<> back in August 2004,
"You might think that the widespread, increasingly commonplace bombing
of civilian areas in cities would be a story the media might want to
cover in something more than the odd paragraph deep into pieces on other
subjects." You might think so, but based on recent history, don't hold
your breath.

As a result, strangely enough, it has largely been left to writers and
reporters not in Iraq to look up and give Americans a sense of what's
going on in the skies -- as Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist who
until recently covered the war from Baghdad and is now back in this
country, does below. /Tom/
An Increasingly Aerial Occupation*
By Dahr Jamail

The American media continues to ignore the increasingly devastating air
war being waged in Iraq against an ever more belligerent Iraqi
resistance -- and, as usual, Iraqi civilians continue to bear the
largely unreported brunt of the bombing.



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