America’s Inherent Resolve to Destroy

We should expect conflicts in which adversaries, because of cultural affinities different from our own, will resort to forms and levels of violence shocking to our sensibilities.

— Department of Defense, 1999, with thanks to William Blum

One quote has reverberated throughout the United States decades of decimations of the lands of others. Journalist Peter Arnett, reporting from Vietnam, in a piece published on 7 July 1968, quoted an American officer saying of the provincial capital Bến Tre: “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” He was referring to the decision to bomb and shell the town no matter what the cost of civilian lives, in order to rout the Vietcong.

The US led “coalitions” of recent years have, it seems, moved on from destroying towns, now entire sovereign nations are laid to waste to free, liberate, and democratize them. The cemeteries and ruins of much of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya are recent silent witness to this munificence, with Syria set to be the latest centre of the eye of the storm.

ISIS/ISIL/IS has replaced the Vietcong and the “town” is where ever the liberating bombs, missiles, drone strikes blast homes and humanity across the entire country and of course in neighbouring Iraq, bombed in the name of protection and salvation for 24 years — approaching a quarter of a century.

In context, prior to the illegal invasion of 2003, from 1993 onwards, wrote John Pilger (7 August 2000):

The Royal Air Force, together with the US, bombs Iraq almost every day. Since December 1998, the Ministry of Defence has admitted dropping 780 tonnes of bombs on a country with which Britain is not at war. During the same period, the United States has conducted 24,000 combat missions over southern Iraq alone, mostly in populated areas. In one five-month period, forty one per cent of casualties were civilians: farmers, fishermen, shepherds, their children and their sheep – the circumstances of their killing were documented by the United Nations Security Sector”, it was: “the longest such campaign since the Second World War.”

The Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain in a breathtaking lie, even by UK Minister’s standards told Parliament on 2 May 2000: “As I have told the House on many occasions, we are not conducting a bombing campaign against Iraq …”

On 6 July 2000, commentator Jonathan Power pointed out that: “the Pentagon says more than 280,000 sorties have been flown in the near decade since no-flight zones were imposed on Saddam in the north and south of the country.”

Turkey has now given permission for the US to use the country’s Incirlik air base “after months of negotiations”, according to the BBC. Since the US also used the base during the 1991 Iraq war and in 2001 at the start of the attack on Afghanistan, it has to be wondered what further horror is planned for Syria.

In the last forty eight hours Turkey has enjoined in bombing Syria and has also bombed northern Iraq. There are unconfirmed reports of Turkish troops in Aleppo.

In spite of the UK Parliament voting not to become militarily involved in Syria, it transpired this week that British Air Force pilots have anyway been bombarding Syria in defiance of Parliament. They simply swopped their uniforms and fighter jets for those of countries who were involved in the attacks.

Although the US has been terrorizing Iraq and Syria since 8 August 2014, they took until 15 of October to dream up another silly name for another mass slaughter and announced that “Operation Inherent Resolve” was: “officially designated as the name given to US military operations against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.” The name is intended: “to reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the US and partner nations … to eliminate ISIL …” Heaven help the people of Syria and Iraq.

The US military is clearly not a superstitious body; 15 of October was not an auspicious day for Empire. On that day in 1793, Queen Marie Antoinette of France was condemned to death and executed the following day; Napoleon 1st began his exile on St Helena.

In 1863, following his defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War, General Robert E Lee proffered his resignation to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

The population of Syria is just 22.85 million; it is being assaulted by the US, population 318.9 million, Turkey population 74.93 million, the UK with a population of 64.1 million, plus a few other less visible and enthusiastic members of the “coalition”: Jordan, Canada, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The UAE stopped flying in December, reportedly after a dispute over the US not providing sufficient combat air rescue. By 6 February the US had mounted 946 air strikes in Syria, with Jordan, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia completing just 79. (News, websites.)

The number of weapons rained down on Syria between August 2014 and June 30th 2015 is staggering. According to the US Department of Defence:

2014:

August: 211
September: 760
October: 1,641
November: 1,407
December: Unaccounted for

Total: 5,886

2015:

January: 2,308
February: 1,756
March: 1.600
April: 1,685
May: 2,010
June: 1,686

Total: 11,045

The average cost, August 8 2014 to June 18 2015 is $9.2 million a day for the 315 killing days. To 22 June this year “Targets Damaged or Destroyed” in Syria and Iraq include 98 tanks, 325 trucks, 472 staging areas (these are illustrated with a tent, so presumably could be displaced families mistaken for “terrorists”) 2,045 buildings, 1,859 “fighting positions” (again, as Iraq, how many people gathered for a wedding, funeral, waiting for transport were designated “fighters” from the safety of 35,000 ft?) 154 oil infrastructures and “other targets” 2,702. Total 7,655.

The carnage is ongoing. The most recent are on 21 July with ten airstrikes on Syria and 15 on Iraq, on 24 July eight on Syria and 19 in Iraq, and 25 July, nine air strikes on Syria and 22 on Iraq with drones also being used. The “assessments” of that destroyed is tragic and sometimes farcical. In Iraq “an ISIS excavator” for example, could it not just be some soul mending a road? Two “ISIS bridges” near mortally damaged Fallujah — Iraq is divided by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers — the great soaring engineering triumphs that are the country’s bridges are the arteries of the nation’s body. Now they are designated “ISIS bridges” and destroyed – again.

As Syria’s President Assad said today (26 July) in an address to the nation: “The West calls it ‘terrorism’ when it hits them, and ‘revolution, freedom, democracy and human rights’ when it hits us.’”

Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger's Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.) Read other articles by Felicity.