Sunday, September 28, 2014

White House Fool Report: Less shocking and awful?

Resistance fighter Idris Kobane, from the Kurdish village of Kobane just inside the Syrian border. Photo by Robert Tait/The Telegraph.
Guardian, last Tuesday:
The first strikes landed just after 2am, directed at sites that Islamic State (Isis) has openly used and that had long been flagged as targets. The jihadis were no longer there though, having blended in with Raqqa’s civilian population, where they knew they would be safer.
I noticed some folks—well, Dr. Turk, of whom I'm a long-time fan—making fun of the allies for blowing up buildings and letting the enemy get away, but it occurred to me that could work as a good, if unconventional idea: Don't kill people (who include civilians), kill infrastructure. Not the way they did it in old Mr. Rumsfeld's day, of course, but....
By daybreak, the governorate building, an Isis command post for the past 15 months, a TV station and a Syrian military base had been destroyed. According to several residents who spoke to the Guardian, up to 30 people were killed. Most, if not all, were militants.
But that. They seriously messed up significant parts of the Daesh's ability to function, but the Guardian couldn't find any evidence of a civilian getting killed, and they did ask around. That's not a bad thing.

Yesterday's targets, too, per NPR, seem aimed at killing structures, not people:
In the latest coalition action, Saudi, Jordanian and UAE forces joined the US in launching fighter and drone strikes. According to the Pentagon
  • An IS vehicle was destroyed south of Hassakeh, Syria, along with several buildings used by IS fighters
  • An IS command and control centre near Manbej, Syria, was damaged
  • An IS airfield, garrison and training camp near Raqqa, the militants' capital in Syria, were damaged
  • Four IS armed vehicles and a position were destroyed south-west of Irbil, Iraq
And then there's this amazingly relevant bit in USA Today:

Before Tuesday, the only bombings most Raqqans were familiar with had been those of the Syrian government, whose forces have been battling the IS and other rebel groups for more than three years. But, as Hariri recalls, those bombardments had been rather imprecise. "When the regime airplanes come, you expect them to miss," says Hariri with a chuckle, "They go in any direction." The American-led strikes, however, were very precise, he notes.
As a result, civilian casualties were minimal: Other than the one woman who died of shock, none of the activists knew of any deaths.
That's not to say residents who oppose IS approve of the bombing.
"Just because civilians weren't killed this time, that doesn't mean that they won't be killed next time or the time after that," warns Hariri. He specifically notes the close proximity of the IS headquarters building to a number of civilian houses. Any number of these could have easily been hit during the bombing campaign, he explains, but none of them were this time around.
No, they weren't. I don't know why that wouldn't be on purpose.

They had all run into town? Gas mask and chest of drawers at Nusra Front base damaged by airstrike, Reef al-Mohandeseen al-Thani in Aleppo September 27; photo by REUTERS/Abdalghne Karoof.
I don't know what Obama wants, obviously, even if I sometimes give the impression I believe I do; I know what I want him to want, and I spend a lot of time trying to project it on him, by the Observer's Paradox logic I've discussed before, refocusing from his position to his trajectory/velocity as it were, in the hope of sort of contributing to making it so (as really happened, I believe, in the cases of the Affordable Care Act, the 2011 budget, and the invasions that didn't take place of Iran in 2012 and last year in Syria).

I want Obama to have a hard commitment that war, better not prosecuted at all, has to be made less harmful in any case; and I want him to convince the Pentagon (maybe even the CIA!) that he means it. Maybe it's true, in however limited a way—as I thought two years ago on the subject of drone warfare, you can read the evidence that way if you care to try.

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