The grand attack on Marja was scarcely out of the starting blocks before it claimed its first child sacrifices: five children blown to pieces in a rocket strike on "a compound crowded with Afghan civilians," the New York Times reports.

Up to 12 civilians in total were killed in the strike, which occurred, we’re told, when American artillery landed "a few hundred yards away" from another "mud-walled compound" from which U.S. Marines were reportedly taking fire. In keeping with the way of the modern warrior, the computer-guided rockets were launched from a base more than 10 miles away:  "Don’t fire until the GPS tracker sends back remote data indicating the whites of their eyes are within 500 yards, boys!"

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former black ops honcho now heading the entire "humanitarian" military mission in Afghanistan, immediately apologized for "this tragic loss of life," and even went so far as to pull the particular remote-control death device from the order of battle, for the moment. Well, Stanley, live by PR, die by PR — and as we noted here yesterday, the entire operation reeks of "Hamburger Hill"-style futility: sending in a great wad of cannon fodder to foster the illusion of momentum and success in an endless, pointless war of corporate profiteering and imperial chest-beating.

But the deaths of the five slaughtered children in Marja — just like the deaths of at least 500,000 Iraqi children from the pre-war, bipartisan sanction-strangulation of Iraq — are "worth it," of course. For while General Black Ops might take a single weapons system out to the woodshed for half an hour, he and his commander-in-chief will certainly not stop the all-out assault on the town, which is packed with civilians after U.S. forces encircled Marja just before the attack, cutting off the people who had been fleeing the widely-telegraphed operation.

The invading forces are also packed with civilians — the many media embeds that General Black Ops encouraged to provide the steady stream of heroic "Normandy landing" and "Battle of Stalingrad" type stories, with rugged leathernecks slogging their way through enemy fire, cracking wise and fighting on despite their wounds. But speaking of the filmic framing provided by the media embeds, here’s a curious fact: all the U.S. press reports state that the attack is being led by American forces, while the UK media are blazing banner tabloid headlines about "Our Boys Leading the Way in Helmand."

Oh well, victory has a thousand fathers, they say. And we know what the stench rising from the bodies in Marja says to our leaders: "It smells like … victory."



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