Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sending a Message

Guy Raz reports from the "17 square mile" Balad Air Base in Iraq, which Raz tells us is the "second busiest airport in the world." Raz notes, "You may wonder why there's so much activity here. The Air Force says it's all related to the so-called surge of ground forces that started back in February." Raz talks to Brigadier General Stephen Mueller, who according to Raz, says "that while the Army's been ratcheting up its offensive operations, so too has the Air Force. So far just this year the Air Force has dropped more bombs over Iraq than in the previous three years combined..." Raz continues, noting that "Mueller estimates that this year alone, air strikes have killed about 200 of what he describes as al-Qaeda operatives. Now he concedes that the increase in airpower does have some collateral price. The Air Force doesn't officially track non-combatants killed by airstrikes, but the British based antiwar group Iraq Body Count...estimates about 50 Iraqi civilians are now killed by air strikes every month."

Yes, and several other sources put the civilian death tolls in Iraq far higher than IBC which relies solely on reported deaths. NPR's downplay of the massive death toll in Iraq is typical of the mainstream media in general.

Raz tells us that "the Air Force describes the use of air power in two ways - kinetic and non-kinetic power...Kinetic means destructive power like an airstrike...and nonkinetic means nondestructive power like this sound [roar of F-16]. These flyovers account for the majority of what's called close air support missions....a loud terrifying's a sound designed to remind Iraqis that their sky is controlled by the United States, and those F-16s can strike anywhere in their country within ten minutes." Raz states that "One officer I spoke with...described what he called 'modern gunboat diplomacy' in Iraq. He told me about a recent incident where an army commander...was trying to convince a tribal sheik to cooperate on some matter...nearby there was an F-16 hovering high up in the sky, ready to swoop down at moment's notice just to send a message, which it did - and the message was received. The sheik cooperated." (Guy closes it here).

Made me think of that scene in the Godfather where Michael is explaining how his father works:
Michael: My father made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
Kay Adams: What was it?
Michael: Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured the bandleader, that either his signature or his brains would be on the contract.

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