of us who fell for the pre-war hype expected Iraq
to be ruled by a new dictator this week, one more
inclined towards accommodating a Western need for
oil than the present tyrannical incumbent, and who
would also know his countrys subservient place
in the new world order. Instead we are witnessing
Coalition forces lost in the sand dunes without a
camel. We didn't know that they would fight
like this, the enemy is different to the one we war-gamed
said Lieut Gen William Walker commander of
the US 5th Corps.
account from Robert Fisk conveys something of the
success the Iraqis have attained in frustrating the
Coalition forces in their conquest of Iraq:
Iraqi general, surrounded by hundreds of his armed
troops, stands in central Basra and announces that
Iraq's second city remains firmly in Iraqi hands
... Basra - reportedly "captured'' and "secured''
by British troops last week - is indeed under the
control of Saddam Hussein's forces ... Basra remains
totally outside British control.
there is also an all too familiar anger etched into
the faces of enraged Iraqi mourners as they bury their
civilian dead. No fanfare, six gun salutes or embroidered
caskets to bid them adieu. Just plain cheap coffins,
reflecting their impoverished status in both life
and death. How often have we witnessed that in Palestine?
What resentment does it breed? How many does it drive
into the ranks of those determined to end their own
lives if they can take an eye for an eye?
still hopeful of an anti-Saddam uprising which would
serve as cover for the myth that the invasion is about
liberation should consider a report from John Daniszewski
of the LA Times:
far, the invading forces have been met more with
clenched fists than open arms. This has been true
even in cities and towns with large Shiite populations
that rose up against Hussein after the 1991 Persian
listened when after the opening salvo of bombs rained
down on Baghdad Saddam Husseins son Uday proclaimed
that this is the day that we have been waiting
for to defend the beloved land of Iraq and its beloved
leader President Saddam Hussein with our lives.
While considerably more will die to defend Iraq than
Saddam, their willingness to do so is prompting people
to ask, how is the Coalition going to take Baghdad
when it cannot take Basra?
sides appeal to God in these matters. Bush concludes
some of his addresses with God Bless America
while Uday claims victory will be achieved with
help from God. But as the philosopher Epicurus,
once reminded those around him, if the gods
listened to the prayers of people, all humankind would
quickly perish since they constantly pray for many
evils to befall one another.
that all those who are superstitious and adher to
priestcraft actually support the war. The front page
headline of The Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano,
blazed The Madness of This War.
in the midst of it all there still seemed a few moments
of light heartedness. Geoff Hoon the British Defence
Secretary was described as a donkey by an Iraqi minister.
Such language is evocative of the scathing World War
One indictment of Britains military planners
from the trenches - the British were an army of lions
led by donkeys.
days it is hard to believe that all those out fighting
with the British Army are lions. The British are supplemented
by the Royal Irish Regiment for whom the biggest dilemma
is trying to work out who are Catholic Arabs and who
are the Protestant ones. Of course it being IRAQ the
brainless sectarian thugs of the RIR will have little
difficulty persuading themselves that everybody is
in the IRA with a Q on the end of it and should therefore
be beaten. And for that no doubt, the loyal unionist
population of Ulster, will support them.
views of the war have been somewhat different if only
discursively. It all depends on what side the leadership
tell them to be on. If Gerry Adams were to announce
at the close of todays Ard Fheis bomb
Iraq hordes of party activists would stream
out of the RDS in Dublin screaming Iraqi bastards
and seeking anti-war protestors to attack and denounce
as contras who fail to understand the
revolutionary nature of the summersault as only the
faithful can. Wags have it that when the Sinn Fein
president was criticised for attending the early St
Patricks Day party at the Whitehouse his response
was that he was merely advising the president on how
to solve the crisis through a peace process. Whatever
he had to say George Bush appeared to have listened
because at the next presidential address to the nation
he denied ever having been commander in chief of US
forces and claimed that he had always opposed the
war on Iraq.
course humour in this situation has a limited currency,
particularly in the United States. The climate is
not propitious to be criticising the Coalition strategy
facetiously or otherwise. For his moral courage at
the Oscars, Michael Moore was booed and heckled. Paddy
Woodworth found while driving through the rural west
that a combination of talking to people and listening
to their views on the radio could prove very revealing.
Those who were critical of the president were by definition
treacherous anti-Americans not welcome in the land
of the free and should pack their bags for Iraq. We
in Europe who oppose the war are "moral morons".
Moral geniuses alone seem capable of supporting the
slaughter of Iraqi civilians. Anti-war protesters
should be caged by the police, like the rabid animals
they are. The particular author of such sentiment
found himself in the company of Uday Hussein who is
busy calling the Coalition hyenas. All of which brings
to mind former British Home Secretary Leon Brittanss
comment on discovering that he was viewed as a poodle
of Margaret Thatcher - zoological metaphors.
with it as we may, it seems certain that we shall
be dealing with it for some time to come. This is
a war that will continue to be waged well into the
foreseeable future. And the dust and the sand of Iraqi
deserts should not be allowed to blind us with a form
of moral glaucoma where we succumb to indifference
and the advice of the powerful which is, as Eddie
Holt points out, to carry on as before - keep
swimming in the afternoon if that is your gig - and
leave the "war" to the people in charge.
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