As with all human phenomena, war has elements which have been constant for centuries. War also has significant elements which are variable, mostly having to do with context, but not entirely. What needs to be repeated at the outset, because it is a central axiom, is that war constitutes a form of violence. Violence, in other words, is the correct category under which to subsume the human activity of war-making. This essay will proceed inductively to illustrate its point. The creation of war has three distinct and notable differences which are physical, economic and symbolic types of violence.
Bombing in Iraq is not unusual. Internal UN documents that have been examined in the writing process of this essay, produced by the Office of the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, clearly show that intrusive sorties and bombing runs have been made over Iraq on a daily basis for a long time.
One part of one report analyzes 46 of 143 bombing runs conducted during 1999. It records 110 civilian casualties, 350 serious injuries, over 60 houses destroyed, and over 400 livestock killed - livestock, of course, are a significant source of food and income. There is some acknowledgment of these facts in both The New York Times and The Washington Post, (Myers1999, Suro 1999) for example, but the reality of these facts has still not penetrated our personal and collective psyche in North America. In other words, it has not become usable knowledge.
UN officials consistently file reports about their experiences of being in the vicinity of bombing. Frequently these bombings are accompanied by civilian deaths and material destruction. The weapons being used are not so-called precision guided munitions - in February 2001, they were cluster bombs. As William Arkin (2001) notes, commenting on this attack, these are weapons "that...