Watching the daily carnage in Iraq, it becomes clear that our level of outrage has a correlation to whom the bloodshed is directed. The media is fascinated by numbers, with reports dictated by the scale and ferocity. Reports of American casualties receive far greater weight than do those of ordinary Iraqis, unless an attack is especially violent. The notion of human cost is not uniform and it would appear the administration is now employing tactics to continue the war, without those pesky American deaths to interfere. The death toll may well rise, but it will only be amongst the lowly Iraqis which don't require such considerations.
of a Seymour Hersh piece outlines the changing strategy in Iraq, at the expense of people the media will surely ignore:
Major U.S. news outlets are dodging the extent of the Pentagon's bombardment from the air, an avoidance all the more egregious because any drawdown of U.S. troop levels in Iraq is very likely to be accompanied by a step-up of the air war
Surely the media spinners in the White House are keenly aware that the air war in Iraq has been flying largely beneath the U.S. media's radar -- inattention that augurs well for a scenario of reducing U.S. troop levels while stepping up the air war. Hersh's reporting suggests that's in the offing: "A key element of the drawdown plans, not mentioned in the president's public statements, is that the departing American troops will be replaced by American airpower. Quick, deadly strikes by U.S. warplanes are seen as a way to improve dramatically the combat capability of even the weakest Iraqi combat units."
Mainstream news outlets in the United States haven't yet acknowledged a possibility that is both counterintuitive and probable: The U.S. military could end up killing more Iraqi people when there are fewer Americans in Iraq. "Lowering the number of U.S. troops in conjunction with a more violent air war and creation of an Iraqi client military, as some are suggesting, will likely increase the number of Iraqis killed," says Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee. "This would in effect be 'changing the color of the corpses' in order to make the continuing war more palatable to the U.S. public."
Collateral damage is such easy language to detract from the overt horrors. Much easier to use these words when not confronted with the loss of one of our own. Mistakes are made, bombs go astray and the media falls for the propaganda when it doesn't involve Americans. The Pentagon can cite dazzling statistics that speak to the relative accuracy of all these "smart" weapons and the resulting carnage is pushed aside. American blood cuts to the chase, but our humanity wanes when direct cost is murky.
I have little doubt that the administration will manipulate any potential drawdown of forces to make it appear a victory. What will remain, and what seems easily forgotten given the history, is the cost to Iraqis, which may well increase. A tidbit from the past that is haunting:
There is a strong precedent for such a politically driven strategy. Midway through 1969, President Richard Nixon announced the start of a "Vietnamization" policy that cut the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam by nearly half a million over a three-year period. But during that time, the tonnage rate of U.S. bombs dropped on Vietnam actually increased.
We go home, Americans rest in the notion that the troops are out of harms way and meanwhile the death continues. Bush will bank on acceptance of "foreign" casualties and adopt a strategy that forgets about general human cost. The media will fail because of the inherent racism that steers coverage(see any "third world" struggle). So, if we do move towards a withdrawal, I see no vehicle that will react with outrage to protect ordinary Iraqis. We will forget and the brown people will pay the price. Sad, but true.