By Dave Lindorff
The idea that the U.S. could be considering classifying the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a “terrorist” organization, based upon some dubious evidence that the organization is supplying some weapons — in particular those shaped charges that have been so effective in roadside bombs against U.S. military vehicles — is pretty preposterous when you consider the source.
Whatever the truth about the activities of the Iranians, certainly when it comes to terror, the U.S. is unrivaled in the world today.
By the latest estimate, over 1 million people have died in Iraq because of the American invasion of that country, and despite a virtual media blackout over that entire country and the self-censorship practiced by the U.S. media regarding Iraq, more and more evidence keeps trickling out that the vast majority of those deaths have been caused, directly or indirectly, by the American forces. While we read in lurid detail about every bomb blast detonated by Shia and Sunni fighters that hit Iraqis or that kill or wound Americans, we hear barely a word about the killing of Iraqi civilians by U.S. forces, and it’s clear that adding up all of those publicized Iraqi-on-Iraqi attacks, you don’t come close to a million dead. Guess who’s killing the rest?
Nor are we getting any figures on the numbers of dead innocents in Afghanistan, where the blackout on reporting is even more effective than in Iraq.
What is clear is that American tactics are causing an unending slaughter in both places — clearly not just part of but central to the policy, and that is so serious that it has led to protests from Britain and other NATO countries that have soldiers in Afghanistan.
And let’s be honest: this is no matter of “collateral damage.” It is a deliberate policy of terror. As I’ve written before, when your army is killing vastly more civilians than enemy fighters, the deaths of innocents cannot be termed “collateral damage.” The deaths of enemy fighters are the “collateral damage.” The innocents are the targets.
Just consider one of the weapons being used by American forces, the so-called GBU-31. Marc Herold, a professor at the University of New Hampshire, who has been documenting the violence in Afghanistan, has investigated the use of this weapon and in a new article available at the Traprock Peace Center offers this description of how it works:
“Dropped from a plane and hurtling toward its target at 300 mph, the 14-foot steel bomb uses small gears in its fins to pinpoint its path based on satellite data received by a small antenna and fed into a computer. Just before impact, a fusing device triggers a chemical reaction causing the 14-inch-wide weapon to swell to twice its size. The steel casing shatters, shooting forth 1,000 pounds of white-hot fragments traveling at speeds of 6,000 feet per second. The explosion creates a shock wave exerting thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch (psi). By comparison, a shock wave of 12 psi will knock a person down; and the injury threshold is 15 pounds psi. The pressure from the explosion of a device such as the Mark-84 JDAM can rupture lungs, burst sinus cavities, and tear off limbs hundreds of feet from the blast site, according to trauma physicians. When it hits, the JDAM generates an 8,500-degree fireball, gouges a 20-foot crater as it displaces 10,000 pounds of dirt and rock and generates enough wind to knock down walls blocks away and hurl metal fragments a mile or more.”
Herold notes that several of these terror weapons were dropped by a B-1B bomber earlier this month on a group of Afghans during an open air market outside the town of Baghran, killing an untold number of civilians, including children. The U.S. military described this bombing as a “successful” raid on a gathering of Taliban leaders, and claimed no civilians were present, but the severely injured men, women, and children delivered to various hospitals following the attack gave the lie to this cover-up. Furthermore, given the extensive 2,600-foot radius of this weapon’s kill-range, it clearly is no “precision” weapon for targeting fighters, if any were even present.
Nor is this weapon the only example of American terror. Far from it.
Stan Goff, in his excellent report on the killing of Cpl. Pat Tillman in Counterpunch magazine, notes that one reason Tillman was killed by his own unit is that the members of his own separated team that fired on him had launched their attack upon a village despite the fact that not a shot had been fired from that village — a clear violation of the Geneva Accords, but an instructive example of how U.S. forces are actually operating in the field. (Tillman himself was also shot while standing up with his arms raised in a sign of surrender — another violation of international law.)
Reports are mounting that make it clear that the U.S. is using a deliberate strategy of terror in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The documented (and illegal) use of white phosphorus bombs, which spray wide areas with a substance that burns through flesh down to the bone, first disclosed in the devastating assault and leveling of the city of Fallujah in 2004, the widespread use of helicopter and fixed-wing “gunships” that inundate football-field-sized areas with bullets and fragmentation weapons, the use of delayed action cluster bombs and shells, the use of concussion weapons and napalm, all speak to a policy of indiscriminate killing.
Americans need to wake up to what the rest of the world already knows: The United States is indisputably the number one terrorist nation in the world today.
Indeed, the very Administration that is talking about calling Iranian Republican Guard troops “terrorists” is at this moment developing plans for an unprovoked aerial assault on Iran that would feature the dropping of 30,000-lb. bombs, all manner of anti-personnel weapons, and possibly even tactical nuclear weapons, on Iranian targets, many of them in populated areas.
There is a word for this kind of behavior: terrorism.
DAVE LINDORFF, a Philadelphia-based investigative journalist and columnist, is author, most recently, of “The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now in paperback), co-authored by Barbara Olshansky. A veteran investigative journalist and columnist, his work is also available at thiscantbehappening.net.