There Are No Signs That Iraq Can Be Bombed Into Stability

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Civilians flee clashes between Iraqi forces and ISIS fighters in western Mosul, Iraq, March 7, 2017. (Photo: Ivor Prickett / The New York Times)

Janine Jackson: More than 200 men, women and children were killed in a US airstrike in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq last month. As bodies were pulled from the rubble, the Los Angeles Times offered counsel to US readers. “The death toll is a tragedy,” wrote the paper’s Doyle McManus.

Well, other news reports bow their heads longer before the “human toll,” as it’s often called. But that isn’t the same as deep consideration of the war on ISIS — launched as  “targeted,” “limited” airstrikes,  and since expanded to include four countries, more than 50,000 bombs and, of course, over $11 billion handed out to defense contractors. But the worry, expressed in a recent New York Times editorial, was that Congress hadn’t officially authorized it: “duck[ing] their constitutional responsibility for making war by not passing legislation authorizing the anti-ISIS fight,” was how the paper had it.

We are joined now for an alternative view by Raed Jarrar, government relations manager at the American Friends Service Committee. He joins us by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Raed Jarrar.

Raed Jarrar: Thanks for having me again.

Well, if I can put it very crudely, the media assessment, or the assessment that you would take from media in the wake of the Mosul airstrike, is that civilian deaths are sad but unavoidable, especially because of ISIS and their methods. And the takeaway is, we can only hope that in the end it will have been “worth it.” The damage and the harm from attacks like the one that we just saw, in other words, is not ignored, but it stands itself as justification for further attacks. And so one hardly knows how to intervene in that logic loop, if the goal is really to stop the dying.

I would intercede with two points. The first one is that the level of civilian casualties to US airstrikes, and…

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