The Plastic Hippo

December 9, 2015

Messy business

Filed under: Media,Politics,World — theplastichippo @ 3:30 am
Tags: , , , , , ,
Michael Fallon mistakes Leytonstone for Kirkuk

Michael Fallon mistakes Leytonstone for Kirkuk

Well, all things considered in a rapidly developing situation and an ongoing fluid scenario going forward, it didn`t take long for the British government to change its tune.

Last Wednesday, immediately before the debate and vote to extend RAF airstrikes into Syria, the UK Secretary of Defence, Michael Fallon, made the remarkable claim that after 15 months of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq, there had not been a single civilian casualty. He went on to say that 70,000 “moderate” local gunmen would protect UK security by charging across the dessert to rout ISIL motivated only by a love of fish and chips, Vera Lynn, pork scratchings and an undying loyalty to Her Majesty The Queen. There was also some stuff about our “magic” missile that only blows up bad guys.

During the debate, the Prime Minister repeated these assurances and the vote was duly carried. About 10 minutes after the result was aired live from the House of Commons, the state broadcaster cut to a brave correspondent reporting from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus where six aging Tornado aircraft were being made ready to unleash hell upon our enemies. Under blue skies and bright sunshine, our brave correspondent interviewed pilots and a senior RAF officer as to their reaction to the vote. Local time was about half past midnight. There is a salt lagoon behind Akrotiri that sometimes smells a bit fishy and occasionally of a rat. Again the claims of zero civilian deaths and “magic” missiles were repeated. Two more Tornados and a further six Typhoons were deployed into theatre and the bombing began on Friday.

Interestingly, the first target was the ISIL controlled al-Omar oilfield in eastern Syria and the bombing raid was judged to be a complete success. Strangely, according to western media presumably briefed by the US led coalition press office, the al-Omar oilfield was “obliterated” by a combination of US and Russian bombing in October. Tell you what, for a murderous death cult the enemy must know a thing or two about civil engineering. If these stone-age barbarians can bring back an obliterated oil field into production in just six weeks imagine what they could do with flood defences and the Forth Road Bridge. You know that thing about truth being the first casualty of war? Well the remains of the truth have been shovelled into a body bag and lies on a slab in a makeshift morgue at what was once a civilian hospital.

It is obvious that curtailing revenue from oil production is a sound strategic objective and apart from a few technicians and engineers being vaporised, the oil wells are legitimate targets. However, some in the coalition against ISIL might be saddened at the loss of such a lucrative asset. The family of the leader of a neighbouring NATO member state for example, who might or might have not been buying and selling ISIL oil. Or a migrant British MP struggling to keep his polo ponies warm in the winter now that his equine state benefits have been removed. Even with the price of Brent crude plunging to 40 dollars a barrel, which of us would not be tempted by ISIL oil at seven dollars a barrel? As they are so fond of saying in Stratford upon Avon; “A horse, a horse, my legitimate expenses claim for a horse”.

The authoritative and influential UK Defence Journal crunched the numbers contained in the Ministry of Defence press release regarding civilian casualties in Iraq as a result of coalition bombing. Rather than “no civilian casualties”, it seems that there are “no reports of civilian casualties”. The “specialist” publication marketed for the discerning gentleman armchair warrior who likes to relax by looking at tasteful images of fighter aircraft, battle tanks and submarines states;

“RAF Tornado and Reaper aircraft have flown a total of 1,632 combat missions and have carried out more than 380 successful strikes in Iraq.
This record is a reflection of the rigorous targeting protocols UK forces observe, founded in the principles of proportionality, military necessity, the capability of our precision weapons and, above all, the skills and experience of our military personnel. We adhere to those same principles when taking action over Syria.”

The UK Defence Journal goes on to state that “around” 305 ISIL fighters in Iraq have been killed by British Reaper drones without harming any civilians. One can only imagine that the publication was passed around the cabinet table resulting in a shortage of Kleenex at Number 10.

By Sunday, Michael Fallon had suddenly stopped talking of zero civilian casualties and hinted that mistakes sometimes happen. He said that “war is a messy business” and that risk could not be eliminated. He went on to say;

“It is very important for the campaign that we avoid mistakes. You can’t completely eliminate mistakes in wartime, but we do our best to ensure that any civilian damage is minimised. I also have to be sure that what’s being proposed is absolutely consistent with the rules of engagement that I set and that the Prime Minister has approved.”

So in Iraq; 305 terrorists dead and no civilians Mr Fallon? The Iraq Body Count Project estimates “about” 500 civilians killed by the coalition since the air campaign began. They can`t be certain because precision weapons tend to spread body parts over a wide area.

With patriotic understatement, Michael Fallon described the bombing of Syria as “The new Battle of Britain” and has changed the narrative of an all over by Christmas “surge” to one of an open ended timetable. Having set the rules of engagement, approved by the Prime Minister, Fallon might wish to clear his diary and check the availability of Cameron and Tony Blair for a war crimes tribunal sometime in 2025.

On Monday, the US led coalition bombed a Syrian army camp killing three soldiers. They also killed civilians trying to protect their homes from ISIL. The Sydney Morning Herald reported;

“The US-led coalition says it is reviewing reports that its air strikes against Islamic State militants on Monday killed at least 36 civilians, including 20 children, in a village in eastern Syria.
The attack occurred on the mud-brick village of al-Khan in Hasaka province, which has fewer than 100 residents and is at the front line of a US-backed offensive conducted by mainly Kurdish forces. It’s near the town of al-Hawl, which fell to Kurdish forces on November 13.
Syrian media activists and a relative of one of the families said that the villagers had an altercation with IS militants and asked them to leave. The tension grew into an exchange of fire.
“The Islamic State sent reinforcements to the village … and coalition jets targeted the convoy,” said Khalil Khatouny, 27, who now lives in Germany. The air strikes killed IS members and civilians, mainly women and children, he said.”

War might be a messy business but a quick look at the share price of weapons manufacturers make it as lucrative as buying oil from ISIL.

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