Murphy's Law: September 2, 2001


Iraq broadcasts story after story of civilian casualties from U.S. or British bombing. Some of these casualties are invented, and most of the real ones are from Iraqi missiles, shells and bullets falling back to earth. This is not mere speculation, but a phenomenon known from World War II experience. Remember, what goes up, must come down, propelled by gravity. The British were not the first to notice this when they calculated that some 25 percent of civilian casualties from German World War II bombing attacks on cities were from friendly fire. That is, British anti-aircraft shells eventually fell to earth and caused property damage and casualties. Most of the civilian casualties from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor were from American anti-aircraft shells and bullets falling back to earth. A lot of the anti-aircraft fire used defending Pearl Harbor were .50 caliber, and these bullets will kill you if they drop on your head, and injure you if they hit any other body part. The .50 caliber bullets weight nearly two ounces. This is four times heavier than rifle bullets, which will also kill or injure you if one drops on your head. Shell fragments often weigh several pounds, and have sharp edges as well. In Iraq, there have been instances of anti-aircraft missiles have fallen back to earth intact. Since these things weight several tons, they hit like a bomb. Normally, the missiles are supposed to self-destruct (explode) if they don't find a target. But even if they do that, thousands of fragments fall back to earth. Some of these missiles pieces weight ten pounds or more. Get hit by one of these and you are dead. Large objects coming down will damage buildings and vehicles. So the next time Iraq complains about civilian losses from U.S. bombing, keep in mind this form of friendly fire. U.S. warplanes are using precision weapons, Iraqi anti-aircraft gunners aren't.


Article Archive

Murphy's Law: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close