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Sometimes saying stuff is hard

By Richard O’Brien

“France drops 20 bombs on IS stronghold”

Sometimes saying stuff is hard. Like when you see a depressingly predictably headline like this, and you want to say “it’s not France, it’s their government”. You want to say that each of those 20 bombs carries a destructive power roughly equivalent to the Bali bombing. You want to say that even with laser-guidance systems, each of those bombs has, at best, a 50% chance of landing within 10 meters of its target. You want to say that according to the estimates of a number of NGOs, the casualties from those bombs will be 80-90% civilian.

And you want to say that the “IS stronghold” is otherwise known as the city and district of Ar-Raqqah. You want to say that the city has stood since 300 BC, and was Syria’s sixth largest city when the civil war began. You want to tell people that although it’s an IS stronghold today, last year it was a stronghold of the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra front, and the year before that, the Assad regime. You want to say how unbelievably terrifying the atrocities carried out on the citizens of Ar-Raqqah by all three of those occupiers have been since 2011. You want to say that those 20 bombs are part of a $10 billion a year industry, whose biggest customers until recently included Iraq and Syria. You want to say how that industry has made France one of the top 5 weapons exporters today. And you want to say that before the war Ar-Raqqah’s only significant export was cotton.

You want to say that before the war Ar-Raqqah was a district of close to one million Shia, Sunnis and Christians, and that today there are less than 400,000. You want to say how some of those people fled the terror of Assad, al-Nusra and IS, and the retaliatory airstrikes they called down upon them. You want to say that they fled because they couldn’t tell the difference between having their lives, limbs or loved ones taken from them by a bomb that was laser-guided, and one that was strapped to a person.

And you want to say that those people are the asylum seekers that so much hatred and blame is now being levelled at, by the same pissants who lead us down this path after 9/11. You want to say we’re making the same mistakes that created monsters like IS, and laws against our freedom that do nothing to protect us from terrorism, and everything to protect those lawmakers from us.

Sometimes saying stuff is hard. It’s hard because even if you can find a way to say all those things, you’re not sure anyone’s going to listen. Because sometimes saying stuff is easy. Stuff like “all terrorists are Muslim”, or “we should close our borders”, or “France drops 20 bombs on IS stronghold”.

 

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55 comments

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  1. John Maycock

    I support France and will be marching with reclaim on 22nd Nov

  2. roaminruin

    Really? Hand-wringing about sticking some rockets up the collective arses of a bunch of insane murderers? They set people on fire, they behead others and post the imagery on the internet, they rape enmasse including kids, they commit mass murder that rivals Hitler’s einsatzgruppen and you’re wringing your hands? Seriously? Oh of course – it’s all the west’s fault!

    With that attitude we’d all be under nazi rule today.

  3. Colin

    Like you said, Richard, “even if you can find a way to say all those things, you’re not sure anyone’s going to listen”. The first 2 comments demonstrate your point better than your article did.

    Sigh …

  4. roaminruin

    I see the error of my ways. I’ll drop ’em a line and we’ll arrange a camp fire rendition of kumbaya with ’em.

    Hug?

  5. Roswell

    I don’t support the bombing of Syria. I don’t support the terrorist groups either. I don’t like any violence. I just wish there was peace. But there isn’t, and we’ll always be divided.

  6. Kaye Lee

    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
    begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
    Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
    Through violence you may murder the liar,
    but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
    Through violence you may murder the hater,
    but you do not murder hate.
    In fact, violence merely increases hate.
    So it goes.
    Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
    adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
    Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
    only light can do that.
    Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  7. Roswell

    We all want the same outcome. We just want to go about it in different ways.

  8. jimhaz

    Good post, even though I support continued intervention. I have been wondering about bombing as strategy relative to troops on the ground. To clean out an area bombing has to be indiscriminate, whereas some bombing then drones, then a troop follow up can do this with at least some discrimination.

    [You want to say that those 20 bombs are part of a $10 billion a year industry]

    This is the fact that I resent the most. If democracy was real (which it cannot be under lobbyist power) then government approved international arms dealing would no longer exist.

    The problem is we need Russia and China to stop making the UN incompetent with their meaningless veto’s, so that pressure on the US to show an example can be applied by people power across the world.

    The power class talks endlessly about the benefits of international Free Trade and Environmental Agreements – but more taxpayer money has been wasted and resources made into rubble by practically every country due to the international trade of serious weapons.

    We need a NO Arms Trade Agreement. With a non-LNP government this is possible. We could sign up with NZ and at least 10 European countries fairly quickly.

  9. gangey1959

    I guess that’s why they say truth (or reality) is the first casualty of war. It’s all bullshit and cowardice, because ultimately it’s never the leaders who pay the ultimate price, let alone face the gun barrels.

  10. Roswell

    What I don’t get is that some people are quite happy to see innocent Syrian people die because innocent French people died. That’s primitive.

  11. Mick

    This article is saying that, in all likelihood, sadly, it will be the victims of insane murderers who will likely be bearing the brunt of the retaliation from France and the West. It just sucks on all fronts. It sucks for average uninvolved French people and it sucks for average uninvolved Syrians.

    I support all innocent people in conflicts like this. Syrian, French or otherwise. I support the innocent people in the neighbourhood in Belgium where most of the attackers in France seem to have come. And I pray for the children of Australia that they have leaders, families and friends who don’t encourage them to put out fires with gasoline.

    The author of this article is not saying this is all the West’s fault. This is about credit where credit is due and looking at the whole situation, not just the little teenage fundamentalists who are acting out fantasies of revenge. It’s about looking at the circumstances that would drive teens and twentysomethings to act in such abominable ways. Is the West innocent in the Middle East? Hardly. The Middle east as we know it has been shaped by western Foreign policy since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and it’s resources sought after and scandalously appropriated for the benefit of the West.

    France and the West are not the only people with legitimate grievances in this conflict, and the path to justice must address this. As horrible as the actions of these kids are, perhaps they believe for some reason, that the entire western world is at war with them. Perhaps they have family who no longer have limbs or lives because of the actions of western alliances. Perhaps they had family arrested and brutalised at the hands of American soldiers in places like Abu Ghraib. The heat of war does not always lend itself to rational thinking, and so hear we are.

    I have to stress too, that I say the path to justice and not peace, because peace can be the chilling silence of a million dead civillians.

  12. Colin

    gangey1959

    Truth is not the first casualty of war. It’s the second.

    People are the first.

  13. Möbius Ecko

    As Waleed Aly so eloquently and passionately proffered the first two posts here illustrate ISIL’s openly stated plan working.

  14. mark delmege

    Saying stuff doesn’t make it true.
    Stuff like
    ‘when the civil war began ‘
    .
    ‘Oh of course – it’s all the west’s fault!
    With that attitude we’d all be under nazi rule today.’
    .
    ‘The problem is we need Russia and China to stop making the UN incompetent with their meaningless veto’s, so that pressure on the US to show an example can be applied by people power across the world. ‘
    .
    ‘We need a NO Arms Trade Agreement. With a non-LNP government this is possible. ‘
    .
    Stuff like that is ignorant rubbish.

    Like the crap peddled in our media naming a nobody as the mastermind behind the Paris attacks.

  15. mark delmege

    Like the image above. I don’t think France has B2 Bombers. However I agree with your general sentiments about war. But defending ones country from outside aggression is another matter. If you don’t understand the history and context….

  16. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    @Colin Truth is still the first casualty because someone (the people doing the killing) are usually convinced that some people are not actually people at all.

    TheRealNews on youtube has some good discussions/ interviews about this and other subjects.

    Silent for the Sake of Arms Sales?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtRSbcjE-Ww

  17. John Maycock

    If you stand in support of France and want the evils of radical Islam defeated, stand with Reclaim Australia on 22 Nov.
    Rallies in all cities ,
    Brisbane

    1PM

    Emma Miller Place

    ​Roma Street

  18. Matters Not

    John Maycock, why do you want ISIL to succeed? Why are you willing to provide ISIL with so much support?

    How unAustralian is that.

  19. Kyran

    After reading your article, I tried finding a Pentagon news release from 2003. My recollection was that they declared their intention not to publish any civilian casualties statistics, as they may ‘confuse’ the issue. My pursuit has, to date, been unsuccessful.
    From what I have found so far, the estimates seem to vary from 60-90% of all casualties being civilian.
    Historically, wars occurred when two armies faced each other, blew the crap out of each other and the ‘winner’ was declared based on most left standing. Modern warfare seems to be opposing forces hiding in populated areas and using civilians as shields.
    One of the articles I read about the Pentagons obfuscation of ‘civilian casualty’ figures referred to a bombing of a munitions factory. Their contention was that they dropped small bombs on the factory, therefore the prospect of civilian casualties were minimal. The ensuing explosions of the munitions, which destroyed an entire suburb, was due to Da-esh’s munitions, not their ‘igniting’ bombs.

    http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CBwQFjAAahUKEwiRsKLzl5nJAhXC26YKHS98CMg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.usnews.com%2Fnews%2Farticles%2F2015%2F06%2F26%2Fpentagon-scrambles-to-explain-iraqi-civilian-deaths-in-anti-isis-hawija-bombing&usg=AFQjCNGRqUbeZvFv1J-OhVlnTcK2RQlJPw

    I consider Mr Maycock’s suggestion, that supporting one radical over another radical can promote anything other than radical behaviour, absurd. Ironically, another John Maycock is a writer for Independent Australia. He posted, two hours before your initial post, that he was considering going to the opposing march in Brisbane. Small world indeed, Mr Maycock.
    Thank you Mr O’Brien. Take care

  20. Colin

    John Maycock, I’d like a lot of evils defeated.

    Radical Islam, when it hurts or kills innocent people.

    Radical anything, when it hurts or kills innocent people.

    Terrorists, murderers and rapists of all creeds. (Take a look inside your local prison to see what percentage of them are Muslims.)

    Men and women of all creeds who hurt or kill their partners/children.

    Parents who use their children as pawns in family law disputes.

    Paedophile priests/teachers/youth workers etc and those who protect them.

    Corporate and banking greed, impoverishing billions worldwide.

    Government Ministers who treat asylum seekers as sub-human, and those masses who support them.

    Governments allowing the world and all its people to go to shit.

    Can I join the Reclaim Australia march in Adelaide to rally against those evils?

  21. guest

    John Maycock, this is just the kind of alarmist attitude that ISIL wants you to have. They are playing with your head. The amount of terrorism in Oz is tiny, tiny, tiny. So FROM whom are you “reclaiming” Australia and FOR whom do you think you are “reclaiming” Australia?

    For example, are you “reclaiming” Australia from ISIL and speaking on behalf of peace loving Ozzie people, including peace loving Muslim people, or are you just anti-Islam everything?

  22. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    Yes Kyran It is terrible that this sort of thing gets used to promote racist or xenophobic politics. Most people who fall for that stuff have very little idea about most subjects.
    As I have pointed out other places ALL the best human culture comes from the mixing of culture and ideas…..always. It is constructive culture and collaborative efforts that improve the human race.
    ….The pentagon is never honest about civilian casualties and some, including the Russians, say that the US has barely targeted IS in reality. The Russian backed SAA offensive certainly shook things up more than anything done by the US.
    Here is a fairly definitive list of the weapons used by opposition forces in Syria…..and if the opposition has it so does Islamic State….
    (OK it leaves out some I think….there are no British mentions…)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_equipment_used_by_Syrian_opposition_forces

    The prevalence of Eastern European weapons does not of course necessarily mean they were supplied by Russia. There are quite a few French ones though.

  23. Kaye Lee

    John Maycock,

    Could you tell me exactly how your way of life has changed? What are you trying to ‘reclaim’ and from whom? Are you fighting for all of us to have to follow YOUR religion and dietary choices? Must we all dress like you? To quote one of your typical supporters, please explain.

  24. diannaart

    @Roswell

    I agree.

    How can the murder of innocents in France be judged as more heinous than the continued murder of innocents in Syria (or anywhere).

    Anyway…. I hope to see a massive turn out of indigenous people at the “reclaim Australia” rally…

  25. corvus boreus

    John Maycock,
    I will not express my issues with the daesh (and other Islamic salafists) by attending your ‘we-claim straya’ rally.
    I will not stand with a bunch of braying bigots, herded by crypto-fascists like the UPF, who arbitrarily decry ‘leftists’ as ‘traitors’.
    Enjoy your public cloudshout to recruit for extremists, I won’t stand in that crowd.

  26. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    Cb ‘we-claim straya’ is a good one. : )
    ….and hear hear to the rest of your comment.
    This country is going downhill like…….a wagon of peanuts.

  27. Loz

    You can bomb the whole of Syria, and they will spring up in Pakistan, then you can bomb the whole of Pakistan and they will spring up in Afghanistan, then you can bomb the whole of Afghanistan and they will spring up in Iraq, then you can bomb the whole of Iraq and they will spring up in Iran. In the meantime countless innocent lives are lost, disabled or mentally ill through these constant wars.

  28. Kyran

    Thank you ChristGD. You just reminded me of a song from the late 60’s, early 70’s. Melting Pot, Blue Mink. I won’t thank you for the reminder about my age! I also recall a cartoon about the UN hearings on whether Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. The cartoon depicted two French businessmen with the caption “Should we show them the receipt?” Take care

  29. diannaart

    Kyran

    Michael Franti wrote this after 9/11

  30. Colin

    Roaminruin
    The campfire kumbaya idea might work. More than you can say for anything else that’s ever been tried.

  31. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    Michael Franti is great .Especially his ‘Beatnigs’ stuff. ‘television’ or ‘CIA’. His Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy I saw live….

    Faithless – We Come 1 is the melting pot of my generation (although there are plenty of other choices too)

    or perhaps Faithless – Weapon of mass destruction

    Whoops I think I replied to the wrong person.
    What I was going to say Loz is that it is time to stop hitting the Taliban and do a deal with them. They are moderate compared to IS. The US should have negotiated with them much earlier.

  32. diannaart

    Thanks Chris

    Am a major fan; truly awesome songwriter.

    …Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy I saw live…. much green my eyes

  33. John (A) Maycock.

    Hi folks, I am the other John Maycock that Kyran spoke of, and it seems now that I will have to go to the counter rally, just to bring the force back into balance; the John Maycock posting may be real, but he is not me.
    Indeed here is an article that I wrote about the reclaimers; https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/will-abbott-clamp-down-on-reclaim-australias-racial-hate-rallies-,7546

    Oh, and thank you for the bollixing you all have given my doppelganger.

  34. Michael Lacey
    1. The spreading destabilization of the Middle East is a threat to stability and security everywhere. With every gain made by IS more disaffected young Muslims throughout the West are attracted to its ideology. As Malcolm X said, “You can’t understand what’s going on in Mississippi if you don’t understand what’s going on in the Congo.”
      2.It appears “world leaders” have learned nothing from the conflicts of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya turning them into failed states that in the end creates even evils such as ISIS whose purpose is ever more terrifying ways of killing. Having created refugees out of millions of desperate people; I also remember a war long ago know that involved the incessant bombing of a simple third world country called Cambodia this destabilization caused another abomination the Khmer – What were and are politicians expecting?
      3.The spreading destabilization of the Middle East is a threat to stability and security everywhere. With every gain made by IS more disaffected young Muslims throughout the West are attracted to its ideology. As Malcolm X said, “You can’t understand what’s going on in Mississippi if you don’t understand what’s going on in the Congo.”
      What is happening now in Syria was predicted by Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker article “The Redirection” which documented how the US was working with the Saudis and the Hariri political faction in Lebanon to undermine Syria and Iran.
      4.Saudi Arabia is the author of global Islamic radicalism and a close ally of the US, interlocked with the western ruling establishment. The largest US weapons sale in history was to Saudi Arabia in 2011. Saudi Arabia’s connection to terrorism is universally acknowledged in academia because Saudi Arabia funds the “madrassas” that indoctrinated people into fundamentalist thinking and these people are in turn manipulated to serve the geopolitical agenda of the Saudis and Qataris and in turn their western allies. Religious schools in Afghanistan went from 2500 in 1980 to 39000 in the 1990,s with religious books for these schools funded and printed by the Americans.
      We want to reclaim Australia, why don’t we start with the truth!
  35. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    Cool corvus I hadn’t hear that and thanks John (A) Maycock for clearing that up. The dirty tricks people are willing to try…..

    And you have exactly got it Michael Lacey.
    There was a French or Belgian mayor on SBS news(I was eating dinner with the kids and it was hard to take it all in) who was talking of the militants in Syria and said “We knew they were going but we didn’t expect this when they returned…” (or words to that effect).
    Not just that but people in authority and others promoted and campaigned for people to go and fight and continually said they deserved ‘all support’. Anyone that spoke against this was shouted down as an ‘Assadist’ and supporter of totalitarianism. I wish I could get the conversations on twitter back that I had with people (think tank operatives included.)

  36. mark delmege

    Yes Michael Lacey Terrorism is policy. Nearly everything we are told is perception management. It’s why Putin said look what you have done.

  37. mars08

    @Kyran… when it comes to civilian casualties (theirs NOT ours)… the accounting gets quite creative:

    It is often been reported that President Obama has urged officials to avoid wherever possible the deaths of civilians in covert US actions in Pakistan and elsewhere. But reporters Jo Becker and Scott Shane reveal that Obama inserted a loophole.

    “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.”

    http://www.juancole.com/2012/05/how-obama-changed-definition-of-civilian-in-secret-drone-wars-woods.html

  38. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    Thanks for your article, Richard.

    I also like Colin’s comment:

    Colin November 18, 2015 at 1:58 pm
    gangey1959

    “Truth is not the first casualty of war. It’s the second.

    People are the first.”

  39. Matters Not

    Where do you read this?

    “offence” is a concept derived from Islam and as such is alien to the foundations of our legal system and our practice of democracy and needs removing

    Interesting. But also hilarious.

    Stop all forms of radicalisation within our shores until it stops

    No, it’s not Russell Coight. But I’ll bet he’s in awe. ‘Stop’ things until they ‘stop’.

    Then there’s basic ‘errors’ which will feature in the next Year 5 NAPLAN test.

    patriotism to Australia, it’s flag … . Social cohesion is our Government’s responsibility to its people. … MP’s are … grew fat of the back off our primary industry … culture and ideologies, needs to taught in our education …

    But I love this quote:

    “Our values are better than those of Islam’s extremist madmen and it’s time we said so”— Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian

    Even Dame Slap is a legitimate ally..

    Anyone know the source? Or should that be the ‘sauce’?

  40. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    The “Silent for the Sake of Arms Sales?” video from Real News was taken down….Molto terrible… : (
    I hope people saw it first. That shows how good Real News are I reckon. Worth subbing to.

  41. diannaart

    To our own detriment, continuing to generalise about people for the behaviour of the few; be it government or even religion simply causes the escalation of retaliation and vengeance.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-07/french-agent-apologises-for-sinking-rainbow-warrior/6753912

    Some of us can learn from mistakes, some of us continue to repeat them. Hopefully those capable of learning will continue to outnumber the bigoted – which explains the tiny turn-out of “reclaimers” who are too dumb to understand Australia was stolen by foreigners from England January 26, 1788.

  42. diannaart

    Relax with some Reggae from Phil Moncrieff, Yamatji singer/songwriter

  43. j marsh

    I wonder just where is ISIL getting their arms and ammunition from?

  44. mars08

    Weapons are important… but a steady flow of willing recruits is crucial…

  45. Matters Not

    j marsh read this.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/18/turkey-cut-islamic-state-supply-lines-erdogan-isis

    But instead, YPG-controlled territory in Syria finds itself placed under a total embargo by Turkey, and PKK forces are under continual bombardment by the Turkish air force. Not only has Erdoğan done almost everything he can to cripple the forces actually fighting Isis; there is considerable evidence that his government has been at least tacitly aiding Isis itself

    and this

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-phillips/research-paper-isis-turke_b_6128950.html?ir=Australia

  46. O'Bleak

    They come amongst us and they kill indiscriminately, anyone; Christian, Muslim, atheist, young, old, the healthy and the unwell. They have started a war and war is ugly. It is grotesque and it is barbaric and the only point to it is to WIN. And win quickly because the longer it continues the more will die and suffer. There is no nice way. There never has been. The failure of the Americans for decades has been their failure to accept that you cannot fight wars humanely. Letting these things drag on only increases the horror and horror there will always be. No amount of hand wringing will stop it. If the western world cannot stomach the fight and its’ consequences we have already lost. People will die. Lots of them. Would you have that amongst our towns and cities or in the battlefield our enemy has chosen. We know where they are and we know what we must do. It is hard and it tears at the conscience but it is the reality. We MUST fight and we must fight to win or just roll over and die. Which will it be? There is no third choice.

  47. Kaye Lee

    O’Bleak,

    You do realise that the Middle East has been at war for millennia with it having pretty much zero effect on us. This is NOT our war. No-one wants to invade us. No-one wants to enslave us. Our lifestyle is not under threat. And what of the innocent Iraqis and Syrians who are being killed by our bombs? Do you really think Australian troops would be able to tell the difference between someone fighting for IS and someone fighting for the Free Syrian Army or the Kurds?

  48. Matters Not

    Perhaps we could ‘nuke’ em? It’s quick. Worked with Japan.

    Really! What have we learnt? While the US might want to be the Sheriff, we should not be there. And we should never have gone there in the first place.

  49. diannaart

    Indeed MN

    We need look no further back than the 20th C to see how well bombing stuff works out for everyone – well for capitalism & the wealthy 1% – not so good for the majority of human beings, animals, life and the ecosystem, but who cares about that?

  50. O'Bleak

    Kaye Lee,
    I’d be more than happy for you to relay that message to IS. ” This is not our war”. I’m sure if you say it often enough and loudly enough they’ll just stop blowing things up and shooting people. Do you honestly think that this country will be spared if the Europeans don’t fight and win? Do you not understand the notion of collective defence. The French are a civilised people and they have witnessed the horror first hand. Their civility did not spare them and nor will ours. The Middle East has been subject to no more internal conflict than the rest of the world, the west included. They have over the centuries invaded western lands and themselves been invaded but that in no way weakens my argument. WE ARE AT WAR. They have attacked our friends repeatedly and they will attack us if the opportunity arises. Count on it. What of the innocents that IS has and continues to kill, day after day. None of our business that, eh? Okay if that continues as long as our way of life isn’t threatened? The Australian Army has had vast experience in fighting and working with other nations in overseas conflicts. Their ability to recognize friend from foe would greatly exceed yours or mine. This is a fight that has to be made. And I say that with no sense of pleasure and not without a deep wish that it were not so but they are a threat to every free nation on the planet. We ignore that fact at our peril.
    Have a nice day, Kaye.

  51. mars08

    What of the innocents that IS has and continues to kill, day after day. None of our business that, eh? Okay if that continues as long as our way of life isn’t threatened?…

    Oh flog me sideways! Is this tool for real?

  52. JeffJL

    So. After so long with the US bombing IS in Syria and Iraq (France managed to drop four bombs) there is suddenly targets for 20 bombs from France. If these were known targets then why were they not bombed previously?

    What happened in France (and Lebanon and Iraq) should ever be accepted by anybody. To use it to justify a clearly revenge only bombing mission is also unjustified.

  53. mars08

    The age of entitlement? We are entitled to bomb the Middle East as we please… and dismiss any “collateral damage”… and we are entitled to do it without fear of reprisal from angry, stupid, disillusioned murderers.

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