The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Bombing Baghdad Rather Than Ankara

Six days after the Bali bombing, Leunig, cartoonist with the Melbourne Age and a most singular talent, drew a scene in which two uniformed investigators are picking through the ruins of the Kuta street. One says to the other, "In terms of carnage, devastation and hideous human suffering it has all the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda bomb...and an American bomb for that matter!"
- David Bowman

Anthony McIntyre

The worst noise we denizens of Belfast hear at nights is that from British military helicopters in our skies and hoods careening around in stolen cars. While annoying they are not for the most part terrifying. The car thieves are the worst if you happen to be on a road and they come hurtling near by. But the threat, fear and din that they generate can be nothing like that gripping the civilian population of Baghdad. According to one report 2000 missiles assailed the city last night. More Cruise missiles have now been fired than were during the first Gulf War. The whoops and cheers of televised American sailors firing Tomahawk missiles which would an hour later rain down in the form of devastation and death created a climate more suitable for baseball and cheer girls. The whoop that launches a whistle of death conveys a self-confidence that there is more chance of getting killed in American schools than in the American military.

But what are the people who inhabit Baghdad going through? There is hardly any whooping there, unless in the form of a cough produced by acrid smoke inhalation? Our worst experiences here fade into virtual nothingness when compared to the fear in Baghdad. Who in that city would not exchange places with us even when at its worst here? We have seen countless reports from Coalition command and control centres. Even when reporting on the deaths of their subordinates military commanders remain clipped, detached and measured. The war takes on the appearance of being a sanitised operation both orderly and technical. The viewer is reminded of Jean Baudrillard's sensational Guardian article written days before the last Gulf war in which he claimed it was all an illusion and would not in fact happen. His point was to challenge the manner in which our knowledge is filtered and controlled to a point where such a war could be artificially created and we would be none the wiser.

Our viewing up to now occasionally allows us to see the inside of an Iraqi hospital. At first sight it seems as if the media are doing their job. But the result is to reinforce the image of a very orderly and efficient war. Military men come on our screens as if they were doctors to explain to us how they were performing some precision surgery to excise a malignant tumour. While the Iraqis are claiming that the country's capital has sustained 250 injuries amongst the civilian population, fatalities in that sphere seem to be minimal - a major achievement for US technology coupled with a PR awareness more than for its sense of humanity. The imagery from Baghdad while annoying is not exactly going to feed into our opposition in a way that would tip the balance in favour of those opposed to the war. What we do not see is the total disorder in Iraqi homes where panic and terror must reign, where parents must lie on top of their children all night in a vein act of protection; where the stench of fear and terror is anything but sanitised.

Iraqi spokespeople are claiming victory prompting the comment over here that maybe somebody from Sinn Fein is giving them PR advice. And wags claiming to have witnessed the mayor of Belfast buying eight wreathes after the same number of British marines died in a helicopter accident, have injected an element of light heartedness into what by every other measure is an atmosphere laden with tension and anger.

Meanwhile, when the cat is away the mouse will play. Turkey, long having waited its chance, has used the opportunity to invade Northern Iraq. But there is no sign of Ankara being bombed by the Coalition forces. Turkey's contempt for human rights coupled with the regime of torture, murder and disappearances it has inflicted on its citizens has failed to spur the ire of those who shout loudest about freedom for Iraq. And it is hardly the case that the Turks have not being signalling their intention for some time. At the end of August, Turkish defence minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu indicated a possible annexation of Kirkuk and Mosul, which he described as 'historic Turkish lands.' In September the deputy speaker of the Turkish Parliament, Murat Sokmenoglu, called for an autonomous Turkmen region comprising Kirkuk and Mosul. Total reserves in the Kirkuk field are worth an estimated $10 billion. According to Mohammed Noureddine - described by Red Pepper as an independent political analyst - 'freeing up these reserves would benefit Turkey, which has no oil of its own.' The US he claims 'needs its NATO ally to transport the oil safely to western markets." In January 2001 it was reported that Washington and Ankara had reportedly clinched a deal to establish a Turkmen Republic in northern Iraq if the US decided to force Saddam out.

This absolute cynicism on the part of those bombing Baghdad at the minute has led to circumstances whereby a web site poll conducted by the European edition of TIME magazine would receive an instructive response to the following question - "which country poses the greatest danger to world peace in 2003?" With several hundred thousand votes cast, the responses were: North Korea, 7 percent; Iraq, 8 percent; the United States, 84 percent.

The bombing of Baghdad had done little to swing those figures.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
- Thomas J. Watson

Index: Current Articles

25 March 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Fitting Ireland into Foreign Moulds
Paul Dunne


Republican Not Bandit Country
Anthony McIntyre


Denigration of Heroes

Proinsias O'Loinsaigh


Dodging Double Dicks at the Freak Dance
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain


Bombing Baghdad Rather than Ankara
Anthony McIntyre


21 March 2003

War In Our Time But Not In Our Name
Anthony McIntyre


Belfast Schools Against War
Davy Carlin


Not Your Father's Socialism

Kevin Donegan


Disturbing Secrets
Liam O Ruairc



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