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Old 04-07-2003, 09:09 AM   #651
DanielR
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Well, as long as noone objects this off-topic...
Quote:
Brian Avery, the 24 yr old ISM volunteer who was shot in the face, today...
I'm afraid my response will sound trivial.

It's unfortunate and I feel sorry for the guy. That said, I'd wait for a more elaborate account from the IDF before forming my opinion on what happened there. The eye-witnesses say there was no gunbattle, the IDF says there was. In my mind, so far it's equally possible the ISM volunteers weren't aware of the real situation in that area, or that IDF is looking for excuses, so I'd go for neither just yet.

About the bias you see in the words "Palestinian-backed": if this is indeed a fact, then personally, I find no bias in this. It seems reasonable that this organization would be supported by the Palestinians. I agree that it's "spinnable", but it doesn't seem that the articles you referenced do that.

Daniel
 
Old 04-07-2003, 01:29 PM   #652
Neil Mick
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But Daniel:

As I pointed out with the protestors article:

bias isn't necessarily spinning untruths. Bias is about presenting an event and emphasizing certain elements, over others.

With the protestors, we're presented with the inconvience of the traffic jam, coupled with motorist's impressions of the morality of the action.

With the ISM, we're told that the volunteers, a "Palestinian-backed" organization, may have interceeded between themselves and a 2-way gunfight.

You see the inference? The press is implying that the ISM is working in concert with the Palestinian militants (did you ever run across the ISM while you were serving, Daniel? What was your experience with them?)

Today, I read an AP-article that mentioned Brian Avery briefly. It only said that "allegedly," he was shot in a gunfight.

And so, with not even a detailed story to cover themselves, the Israeli army gets their spin heard over the testimony of witnesses, at the scene.
 
Old 04-07-2003, 02:02 PM   #653
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Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
With the ISM, we're told that the volunteers, a "Palestinian-backed" organization, may have interceeded between themselves and a 2-way gunfight.

You see the inference? The press is implying that the ISM is working in concert with the Palestinian militants...
Truthfully, I didn't see this inference in the two articles you mentioned. I guess it's a matter of perception.
Quote:
And so, with not even a detailed story to cover themselves, the Israeli army gets their spin heard over the testimony of witnesses, at the scene.
But don't you think it's better to conduct a thorough investigation (ballistic analysis and what not) before producing a detailed story?

I have no personal experience with the ISM volunteers. My opinion on this is being formed as we speak.

Last edited by DanielR : 04-07-2003 at 02:11 PM.

Daniel
 
Old 04-07-2003, 11:53 PM   #654
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Hmm, that is interesting. The ISM volunteers generally feel that the increase in incidents in Palestine are not accidental: they feel that the violence is a none-too-subtle message, from the IDF:

stay out of our way.
 
Old 04-08-2003, 01:22 AM   #655
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That's an interesting theory. I wonder where in the army heirarchy the ISM volunteers feel this message originated. It shouldn't be too hard to find out what the orders that individual soldiers get with regards to ISM volunteers (if any). Plenty of individual soldiers are left wing enough to report any obviously illegal orders, and they have certainly done so in the past.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 04-08-2003, 03:57 AM   #656
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I don't know: mostly I overheard it in interviews with ISM members.

This article might interest:

Robert Fisk: It seemed as if Baghdad would fall within hours. But the day was characterised by crazed normality, high farce and death

08 April 2003

It started with a series of massive vibrations, a great "stomping" sound that shook my room. "Stomp, stomp, stomp," it went. I lay in bed trying to fathom the cause. It was like the moment in Jurassic Park when the tourists first hear footfalls of the dinosaur, an ever increasing, ever more frightening thunder of a regular, monstrous heartbeat.

From my window on the east bank of the Tigris, I saw an Iraqi anti-aircraft gun firing from the roof of a building half a mile away, shooting across the river at something. "Stomp, stomp," it went again, the sound so enormous it set off alarms in cars along the bank.

And it was only when I stood on the road at dawn that I knew what had happened. Not since the war in 1991 had I heard the sound of American artillery. And there, only a few hundred metres away on the far bank of the Tigris, I saw them. At first they looked like tiny, armoured centipedes, stopping and starting, dappled brown and grey, weird little creatures that had come to inspect an alien land and search for water.

You had to keep your eye on the centipedes to interpret reality, to realise each creature was a Bradley fighting vehicle, its tail was a cluster of US Marines hiding behind the armour, moving forward together each time their protection revved its engines and manoeuvred closer to the Tigris. There was a burst of gunfire from the Americans and a smart clatter of rocket-propelled grenades and puffs of white smoke from the Iraqi soldiers and militiamen dug into their foxholes and trenches on the same river bank further south. It was that quick and that simple and that awesome.

Indeed, the sight was so extraordinary, so unexpected -- despite all the Pentagon boasts and Bush promises -- that one somehow forgot the precedents that it was setting for the future history of the Middle East.

Amid the crack of gunfire and the tracer streaking across the river, and the huge oil fires that the Iraqis lit to give them cover to retreat, one had to look away -- to the great river bridges further north, into the pale green waters of that most ancient of rivers -- to realise that a Western army on a moral crusade had broken through to the heart of an Arab city for the first time since General Allenby marched into Jerusalem in 1918. But Allenby walked into Jerusalem on foot, in reverence for Christ's birthplace and yesterday's American thrust into Baghdad had neither humility nor honour about it.

The US Marines and special forces who spread out along the west bank of the river broke into Saddam Hussein's largest palace, filmed its lavatories and bathrooms and lay resting on its lawns before moving down towards the Rashid Hotel and sniping at soldiers and civilians. Hundreds of Iraqi men, women and children were brought to Baghdad's hospitals in the hours that followed -- victims of bullets, shrapnel and cluster bombs. We could actually see the twin-engined American A-10s firing their depleted uranium rounds into the far shore of the river.

From the eastern bank, I watched the marines run towards a ditch with their rifles to their shoulders and search for Iraqi troops. But their enemies went on firing from the mudflats to the south until, one after another, I saw them running for their lives. The Iraqis clambered out of foxholes amid the American shellfire and began an Olympic sprint of terror along the waterside; most kept their weapons, some fell back to an exhausted walk, others splashed right into the waters of the Tigris, up to their knees, even their necks. Three climbed from a trench with hands in the air, in front of a group of marines. But others fought on. The "stomp, stomp, stomp" went on for more than an hour. Then the A-10s came back, and an F/A-18 sent a ripple of fire along the trenches after which the shooting died away. It seemed as if Baghdad would fall within hours.

But the day was to be characterised with that most curious of war's attributes, a crazed mixture of normality, death and high farce. For even as the Americans were fighting their way up the river and the F/A-18s were returning to bombard the bank, the Iraqi Minister of Information gave a press conference on the roof of the Palestine Hotel, scarcely half a mile from the battle.

As shells exploded to his left and the air was shredded by the power-diving American jets, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf announced to perhaps 100 journalists that the whole thing was a propaganda exercise, the Americans were no longer in possession of Baghdad airport, that reporters must "check their facts and re-check their facts -- that's all I ask you to do." Mercifully, the oil fires, bomb explosions and cordite smoke now obscured the western bank of the river, so fact-checking could no longer be accomplished by looking behind Mr Sahaf's back.

What the world wanted to know, of course, was the Question of All Questions -- where was President Saddam? But Mr Sahaf used his time to condemn the Arabic television channel al-Jazeera for its bias towards the US and to excoriate the Americans for using "the lounges and halls" of Saddam Hussein to make "cheap propaganda". The Americans "will be buried here," he shouted above the battle. "Don't believe these invaders. They will be defeated."

And the more he spoke, the more one wanted to interrupt Mr Sahaf, to say: "But hang on, Mr Minister, take a look over your right shoulder." But, of course, that's not the way things happen. Why didn't we all take a drive around town, he suggested defiantly.

So I did. The corporation's double-decker buses were running and, if the shops were shut, stallholders were open, men had gathered in tea houses to discuss the war. I went off to buy fruit when a low-flying American jet crossed the street and dropped its payload 1,000 metres away in an explosion that changed the air pressure in our ears. But every street corner had its clutch of militiamen and, when I reached the side of the Foreign Ministry, upstream from the US Marines, an Iraqi artillery crew was firing a 120mm gun at the Americans from the middle of a dual carriageway, its tongue of fire bright against the grey-black fog drifting over Baghdad.

Within an hour and a half, the Americans had moved up the southern waterfront and were in danger of over-running the old ministry of information. Outside the Rashid Hotel, the marines opened fire on civilians and militiamen, blasting a passing motorcyclist onto the road and shooting at a Reuters photographer who managed to escape with bullet holes in his car.

All across Baghdad, hospitals were inundated with wounded, many of them women and children hit by fragments of cluster bombs. By dusk, the Americans were flying F/A-18s in close air support to the US Marines, so confident of their destruction of Iraq's anti-aircraft gunners that they could clearly be seen cruising the brown and grey skies in pairs.

Was this what they call "rich in history"? General Stanley Maude invaded Iraq in 1917 and occupied Baghdad. We repeated the performance in 1941 when the former prime minister Rashid Ali decided to back Nazi Germany. The British, Australians and Arabs "liberated" Damascus from the Turks in 1918. The Israelis occupied Beirut in 1982 and lived -- not all of them -- to regret it. Now the armies of America and, far behind them, the British -- a pale ghost of Maude's army -- are moving steadily into this most north-eastern of Arab capitals to dominate a land that borders Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

As night fell, I came across three Iraqi defenders at the eastern end of the great Rashid Bridge.These three -- two Baathist militiamen and a policeman -- were ready to defend the eastern shore from the greatest army known to man.

That in itself, I thought, said something about both the courage and the hopelessness of the Arabs.
 
Old 04-08-2003, 03:56 PM   #657
Hogan
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Neil - can I ask you a question ? I noticed you have a "tally" of "current civilian killed" in your signature. I was wondering, does this include the number of civilians killed by Saddam Hussein during his reign ? Or at least tortured ?

Did you know that the biggest murderer of muslims in the world is Saddam (or "SaDAMN" as Prexz Bush I called him) ?

I was just wondering whether your concern for recent civilian deaths in Iraq is of recent origin or not....

Have a good one....
 
Old 04-08-2003, 04:41 PM   #658
Neil Mick
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A good question.

My concern for Iraqi's heightens when my tax-dollars are funding their illegal murders.

My concern during the '90's was also noted (tho somewhat muted), as Sanctions were also killing Iraqi children.

Regarding Hussein's despicable human rights record,

...Sigh.

Once again: yes, Hussein is (was?) a murderous leader who needs to be brought to justrice.

1000 people illegally murdered is not, IMM, the way to peace and justice in the region, however.

But, for your interest (and, it seems, the regular call to show that, yes: Neil must acknowledge that Hussein (who killed the bulk of his victims during a time when he was the darling of the US media, and Administraton) is evil),this website may prove illuminating, about Hussein's crimes.

Last edited by Neil Mick : 04-08-2003 at 04:44 PM.
 
Old 04-08-2003, 05:28 PM   #659
opherdonchin
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Actually, on a sort of similar subject and just out of curiousity: does the number include civilian casualties caused by Iraqi gunfire? I was wondering about this when there were reports of mortars being fired into Basra and reports of civilians being fired at as they attempted to flee the city. I decided not to ask in order not to be inflammatory, but I am sort of curious if those have been counted.

Another thing I'm curious about on this same issue is how many civilian casualties you (Neil or anyone really) think would be 'reasonable.' Clearly any at all are tragic. At the same time, people before the war were talking about tens or hundreds of thousands.

I guess the real question for me is: what sort of numbers are consistent with the American and UK claim that they are making every effort to prevent civilian casualties and at what point do I start doubting that these claims are being made in good faith.

This is not, by the way, to say that I believe either Neil's minimum number or his maximum number. In the Newsweek article I read about the site producing these numbers, the site's author basically admitted that while his numbers were well documented, they were also probably wildly inaccurate.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 04-08-2003, 06:40 PM   #660
Neil Mick
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Quote:
Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
they were also probably wildly inaccurate.
Wildly inaccurate because they don't "tell the whole story." That was the rest of his quote: he meant that there are many more deaths UNreported. If the reports were accurate, the numbers would be much higher.

iraqbodycount.net uses two references before it actually makes a count: all from reputable sources. Go to their website: all the papers are mainstream.

Last edited by Neil Mick : 04-08-2003 at 06:43 PM.
 
Old 04-08-2003, 06:49 PM   #661
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Yes, but the sources from which those papers draw their numbers for any particular report are not necessarily credible, and are often the same source for both papers. The papers make it clear who they're quoting, but that information isn't (and probably shouldn't be) taken into account when doing the counting. It sounds like it's a reasonably good effort given what's available, but I wouldn't trust it over much one way or the other. I suspect the real body count could easily be between a third of what's reported and three or four times what's reported.

Your interpretation of what he meant when he said "don't tell the whole story" is one possible interpretation. I had a different one.

In any case, you've ignored most of my post and dwelt on a minor point, I think.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 04-08-2003, 06:56 PM   #662
Neil Mick
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I have also heard about "truckloads of bodies" reported. How do you count that?

Opher: I notice that you always question casualty counts, and frankly: I find it disturbing...what's the difference? It's a lot of people who died violently, under horrible conditions, OK?

There are other historical incidents where the number was questioned, and I think you know to which 1 I refer. Ppl have questioned #'s for those deaths in my earshot, and I had little patience for them, either.
 
Old 04-08-2003, 07:06 PM   #663
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I would surmise that the estimates are probably correct as any source.

 
Old 04-08-2003, 07:14 PM   #664
Neil Mick
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Thank you, Kevin.
 
Old 04-08-2003, 07:15 PM   #665
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Quote:
Neil wrote:
what's the difference? It's a lot of people who died violently, under horrible conditions, OK?
That's a strange question from someone who has the casualty count as his signature, isn't it?

I tend to question numbers that I know were generated with political intent and are presented as facts. Casualty counts would be just one example. As far as the holocaust reference goes, I think it is important for each person to figure out which number they believe. Six million is a big number, and it would behoove each of us to know where it came from and why he should believe it and to question the agenda of the person who generated that number. However, to say that my skepticism regarding casualty counts generated by either side is the same as holocaust denial seems like a bit of a strange jump. Or perhaps I misunderstood you?

Still, my questions from the previous post stands: what sort of numbers are consistent with the American and UK claim that they are making every effort to prevent civilian casualties and at what point do I start doubting that these claims are being made in good faith?

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 04-08-2003, 07:35 PM   #666
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I think given the magnatude of the war and the fact that Bagdhad alone is a city of 5 Million that this is actually a "reasonable" expectation of civilian casualities.

I think we are doing our best to minimize casualities...if we weren't, then we would be conducting operations from afar (airstrikes). We would have fewer american casualties, but the cost would be more iraqi lives.

I appauld the effort and the over all compassion that soldiers seem to be conducting this war under.

This is the first war I have been a part of that I have not once heard the term "RAGHEAD" or "GOOK" or any other term we have used in the past to de-humanize the enemy. Trust me, the military has definitely shifted to a new paradigm than in the past!

 
Old 04-08-2003, 07:53 PM   #667
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Quote:
Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:

I tend to question numbers that I know were generated with political intent and are presented as facts. Casualty counts would be just one example.
And so, you reveal your bias.

I know, and you know, that statistics is an inexact science. MOST statistics are relative, and presented with some bias in mind: sometimes by the very nature of how the data was gathered.

In the final sum, a more exact figure will probably come down the tubes, in about 50 years: well after we're all gone, probably.

So, attacking a method of gathering war-casualties vis-a-vis their built-in fallacy is, my friend: what I call a political agenda.

I fully acknowledge the political motivations of this posted figure: I want the war to stop. Maybe people who see these numbers will realize that people are dying, illegally.

How about you? What's your political agenda?
 
Old 04-08-2003, 08:02 PM   #668
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And, if you're waiting for the "other side's" counts, you'll probably be waiting a long time.

Gen. Tommy Franks: "We don't do body counts."

Kind of makes you wonder why, doesn't it?
 
Old 04-08-2003, 08:50 PM   #669
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Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
So, attacking a method of gathering war-casualties vis-a-vis their built-in fallacy is, my friend: what I call a political agenda.
Neil, but what about objectivity? I remember the Palestinian Authority reporting hundreds of dead in the Jenin operation, and, well, I didn't believe that for a second. I'm not comparing that to the source of the numbers you present, I'm just saying that questioning a method of gathering seems to be natural in certain cases, doesn't it?

Daniel
 
Old 04-08-2003, 09:09 PM   #670
Neil Mick
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Quote:
Daniel Rozenbaum (DanielR) wrote:
Neil, but what about objectivity? I remember the Palestinian Authority reporting hundreds of dead in the Jenin operation, and, well, I didn't believe that for a second. I'm not comparing that to the source of the numbers you present, I'm just saying that questioning a method of gathering seems to be natural in certain cases, doesn't it?
In certain cases, yes: and, it depends upon your reasons, for questioning the methods.

And, regarding Jenin: aside from decrying the # of deaths, I have also heard Israeli politicians state that it wasn't a "massacre." Numbers were manipulated both ways, and who knows? Our descendents may one day uncover a mass grave, telling the true tale...

There is no such thing as TRUE "objectivity," just as there is no true "average" lifestyle. Numbers, however, give a rough estimate of orders of magnitude.
 
Old 04-08-2003, 09:27 PM   #671
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Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
In certain cases, yes: and, it depends upon your reasons, for questioning the methods.
I agree. The reasons for questioning though might depend on the reasons for presenting the numbers.

About Jenin - in case you're interested, here'sIDF's response to Amnesty's report This is not an argument, just a source of additional info. As a personal opinion, I imagine it would be hard to hide a mass grave in such a densely populated area.

Anyhow, knowing your position regarding the war, I don't have a problem with the numbers in your signature.

Daniel
 
Old 04-08-2003, 09:49 PM   #672
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I don't have a problem with the numbers in your signature either. I also, like I said, accept the methods and the numbers as reasonably generated in the circumstances. I also accept the claim by people quoted in the Newsweek article that these numbers are barely even good to an order of magnitude. Like Neil pointed out, there are probably many deaths that are overlooked. Like I pointed out, eye witnesses often have an agenda.

I sort of agree with Kevin that these fit with my idea of a 'reasonable expectation' of civilian casualties, but I really don't know too much about these things. It certainly doesn't seem surprisingly low to me, but it also doesn't seem surprsingly high. I was wondering what other peoples opinions were.

I think Gen Franks made the remark you keep quoting, Neil, in reference to Iraqi military deaths and not civilian deaths. His implication was that he did not see the success of the war in the number of enemy killed. It was a very different comment than what you are making it out to be.

Another thing, Neil. I'm not going to address the veiled ad hominems or your efforts to 'reveal' my bias one way or the other. I don't see the point.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 04-08-2003, 10:03 PM   #673
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It's not veiled, and it's not an ad hominem.

I expressed my statement with no ill-will, read it with no sarcasm intended.

Personally, I do think that you have a bias, but I have no agenda in trying to reveal it. If you feel that I am trying to attack you: my apologies, that isn't my intention.
 
Old 04-08-2003, 10:05 PM   #674
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Quote:
Opher wrote:
I sort of agree with Kevin that these fit with my idea of a 'reasonable expectation' of civilian casualties, but I really don't know too much about these things. It certainly doesn't seem surprisingly low to me, but it also doesn't seem surprsingly high. I was wondering what other peoples opinions were.
It is rather clear that the allied forces are very careful in avioding civilian deaths. A very prudent thing to do, considering the importance of gaining the support of the population once the old regime is gone. I imagine most of the deaths are from the bombings, but another important factor to notice is reports of Iraqi combatants posing as civilians. This greatly increases the danger to the civilian population as soldiers become more inclined to use deadly force (probably a great simplification on my part).

Daniel
 
Old 04-08-2003, 10:16 PM   #675
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Sure, they're careful (with certain exceptions, and if you do not count the "accidental" shelling of the Palestine Hotel, where journalists were residing), but it's the symbolic aspects of this war that are the most distressing, IMM.

(Also ignoring the point that, no matter how careful: they were still killed under circumstances of an illegal occupation. Even if the number was "1," that person was killed in violation of int'l law).

Using Israeli-made cluster bombs, on an Arab, civilian populace...? Storming the cradle of civilization...?

These symbols will feed the fires of Islamic anger, around the world. Couple that with the inherent message for 3rd world nations to get nuc's ASAP, and you spell a recipe for a threat to peace that OBL could only wish for, IMM.
 

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