Monday, May 12, 2003

One of the media's favorite stories during the Iraq War was the coalition's use of precision weaponry. Unfortunately, they are not being nearly so eager in reporting the new details on the allied use of cluster bombs. These are weapons fired from the air or on land that contain dozens or hundreds of smaller detonation devices which they spray over the target area. The Pentagon claims only one civilian was killed by cluster bombs during the war, but in this they are counting neither those launched from the ground nor the 147 or so reported cases of people (half children) killed by unexploded cluster bombs after the war. Human Rights Watch has begun covering the situation here.

Because I've noticed new people starting to wander in to this blog, I'll just say here that I was in favor of the war, but do feel the American public needs better information than they've been getting, both to continue to make informed decisions for themselves and better understand the attitudes of the rest of the world. As I recently read in an El Pais story in World Press Review: "In the United States, people lost no sleep over the tragedy of Ali Ismaeel Abbas, the 12-year-old boy who lost his family and both arms to a bomb. Most of the media chose to ignore his story. From Omaha or Kansas was a war of American heroes against "death squadrons," a war of devoted army doctors attending the civilian population, a war that peaked with the rescue of U.S. prisoner of war Jessica Lynch. The media itself chose to brush over the bloodier images, offering their audience what it wanted to see."

Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim has returned to Iraq touting an anti-American line and contrasting his version of the Islamic Republic with the secular ideologies of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party. I suspect, however, that most Iraqis in the cities, where the political battles will be fought, will differentiate the secular nationalist ideology from the government which used it as propaganda. According to Juan Cole, among his other comments were a call to "jihad for reconstruction, and of love and amity, not of hatred and destruction." This caused me to wonder somewhat vaguely how that was phrased with the rest of his speech, as in Shi'ism only the Imam can issue a call to jihad, and in Twelver Shi'ism the Imam happens to be in occultation.
UPDATE: Upon further review, only the duty for offensive jihad is in abeyance, and all the normal types are still a binding obligation on all Muslims.

Persian exam and article revisions are now complete. Will work on NAQT stats during tonight's hockey game. I've also started organzing a session on "Teaching Early Islam" for Kalamazoo next year. It hasn't actually been approved yet, but I gather that's not a big deal.


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