days after the invasion of Iraq commenced US troops
have entered the capital city Baghdad. It might not
have been with the speed initially anticipated but
neither did it arrive at the tail end of months of
prolonged fighting coupled with a heavy US casualty
rate. Coalition fears - and others hopes - that
stiff resistance would have made the penetration of
the city unprofitable have proved groundless. Vincent
Brownes apprehensions of 1000 US and British
military fatalities seem a long way off. And the neo
cons who appear to be at the helm of US foreign
policy are not yet ready to receive their comeuppance
from those who predicted the demise of their careers
as Shock and Awe seemed to become sand and dust, grinding
to a halt in the Iraqi desert.
casualties while both horrendous and high have been
considerably fewer than in other wars throughout the
past hundred years. This is more tactical than ethical.
The whatever it takes philosophy of George
W Bush always meant that, ultimately, high civilian
fatalities would act as no deterrent to the US achieving
its objectives. A week prior to the ground assault
on Baghdad, Red Cross doctors in southern Iraq spoke
of "incredible" levels of civilian casualties.
The organisations Roland Huguenin said doctors
were horrified by the casualties they found in a hospital
in Hilla, south of Baghdad: there has been an
incredible number of casualties with very, very serious
wounds in the region of Hilla. Many casualties
in this war have been sustained by what the journalist
Lara Marlowe described as the poorest of the
poor. Further indications that even more misery
was being heaped onto their already blighted lives
came from Fadela Chaib, of the World Health Organisation
who complained of an acute shortage of health and
Brigadier General Vincent Brooks sounded blasé,
bored almost, with questions from reporters about
civilian casualties. While we regret the loss
of civilian lives, they remain unavoidable as they
have been throughout history. But they were
entirely avoidable. In these matters it serves us
well to remember the words of former US secretary
James Baker: this is a war of choice, not a
war of necessity. The Coalition decided to invade.
It could have decided otherwise.
present our TV screens are awash with cheering Iraqi
civilians. There is no doubt that many are happy.
It would stir amazement if they were to be anything
else. They were subjected to the rule of the Baath
Party for decades. At the same time we should remain
mindful of how such images can be manufactured. Tony
Blairs 1997 election victory as British Prime
Minister saw a spontaneous crowd swamp
Downing Street. It was later revealed that the crowd
were made up of Labour Party members and their families.
The spontaneity was a charade meant to deceive the
public - a clear declaration of intent by the incoming
PM that his would be a government of spin and deceit.
This does not mean that the joyous scenes in Iraq
can be dismissed as some bourgeois fantasy making
in which all the actors are puppets. It just means
that we should never assimilate images uncritically.
Some Sky News coverage of the scenes in Baghdad yesterday
would inspire caution in even the most docile of viewers
- one embedded reporter made little attempt to hide
his glee at the sight of US troops. The latter to
their credit seemed much less gung ho than he.
we who have inhabited our own little conflict region
for so long know that the initial greeting of flowers
and tea can quickly turn to stones and bullets. Just
over a decade ago Colin Powell made the following
Hussein is a terrible person, he is a threat to
his own people. I think his people would be better
off with a different leader, but there is this sort
of romantic notion that if Saddam Hussein got hit
by a bus tomorrow, some Jeffersonian democrat is
waiting in the wings to hold popular elections
You're going to get - guess what - probably another
Saddam Hussein. It will take a little while for
them to paint the pictures all over the walls again
but there should be no illusions about the
nature of that country or its society. And the American
people and all of the people who second-guess us
now would have been outraged if we had gone on to
Baghdad and we found ourselves in Baghdad with American
soldiers patrolling the streets two years later
still looking for Jefferson.
anything substantively changed which would support
an opinion contrary to that offered by Colin Powell?
the time being the media seem content to convey an
image that the worst problem plaguing daily life in
cities like Baghdad and Basra is the widespread looting
which is taking place in the vacuum of lawlessness
created by the withdrawal of the Saddam regime from
the cities. But is the real looting just about to
begin? Uri Avnery rummaging through Ambrose Bierces
The Devil's Dictionary found that "coalition"
is defined as the cooperation between two thieves
who have their hands so deep in each others pockets
that they cannot rob a third person separately.
Coalition forces may find themselves having to dig
deep. Phase two of Invasion Iraq will certainly not
be over in 21 days.
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