SocraticGadfly: 1/8/06 - 1/15/06

January 13, 2006

Is the U.S. Army a terrorist organization?

That’s exactly what this Asia Times column argues.

If you go by a common-sense definition of terrorism as “deliberate killing of civilian populations for psychological effect,” or something similar, I’d have to say the column is correct.

And the evidence is there in Iraq. As columnist Michael Schwartz explains:
As one American officer explained to New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins, the willingness to sacrifice local civilians is part of a larger strategy in which US military power is used to “punish not only the guerrillas, but also make clear to ordinary Iraqis the cost of not cooperating.” A marine calling in to a radio talk show recently stated the argument more precisely: “You know why those people get killed? It's because they're letting insurgents hide in their house.”

This is, by the way, the textbook definition of terrorism — attacking a civilian population to get it to withdraw support from the enemy. What this strategic orientation, applied wherever US troops fight the Iraqi resistance, represents is an embrace of terrorism as a principle tactic for subduing Iraq’s insurgency.

Expect this to increase in the future, Schwartz says. The U.S. plan to “Iraqicize” the war covers only ground troops. Because the Iraqi forces have no armor, let alone high-tech weaponry, that means more use of U.S. airpower. And that means more accidental casualties, despite our boasting about our vaunted precision weapons. And, as Schwartz hints, many of those casualties may actually be deliberate.

The Army attitude appears to be, “If we have to crack some more civilian eggs to make terrorist omelets, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Support our troops? I support getting them all out.

Support our troops? I’ll support Army and Marine ground force privates, NCOs and field officers. Above that, or anybody in the planning of this horror, no. They deserve no support. If it’s terror elsewhere, it’s terror when we do it.

January 10, 2006

Bruce, it's about time you got tapped

Finally, and by a margin of less than 2 percentage points, 1980s Cardinal ace closer Bruce Sutter goes into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The honor is long overdue; Sutter was in his 13th year of eligibility.

For mastering and popularizing the split-fingered fastball, the one really new pitch in the last 30 years, Sutter deserved consideration as a baseball pioneer alone.

But, for being a closer ironman back in the days when you often pitched more than one inning out of the bullpen, Sutter needed to be seen for what he was — the best fireman of his era.

Goose Gossage had a lower ERA, but, with the exception of one year, Bruce pitched more innings per year. And, although Bruce had a somewhat higher ERA, much of that comes from spending his early years at the pitching-not-so-friendly-confines of Wrigley Field.

No matter. I hope the Goose gets in next year. And Bert Blyleven.

But, as a lifelong Cards fan, I am glad to say this is truly Bruce’s moment.