USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

Alexander Cockburn: Where are the laptop bombardiers now?

Posted by uscsjp on March 24, 2007

Pick almost any date on the calendar and it’ll turn out that the US either started a war, ended a war, perpetrated a massacre or sent its UN Ambassador into the Security Council to declare to issue an ultimatum. It’s like driving across the American West. “Historic marker, 1 mile”, the sign says. A minute later you pull over and find yourself standing on dead Indians. “On this spot, in 1879 Major T and a troop of US cavalry “

It’s three o’clock in the afternoon, Sunday March 18, one day short of the anniversary of US planes embarking on an aerial hunt of Pancho Villa in 1916;of the day the U.S. Senate rejected (for the second time) the Treaty of Versailles in 1920; of the end of the active phase of the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2002; of the 10 pm broadcast March 19, 2003, by President G.W. Bush announcing that aerial operations against Iraq had commenced.

This was the attack on Dora Farms outside Baghdad where some Iraqi whispered into his phone that Saddam Hussein was visiting his children. Down hurtled four 2000-pound bunker-busters and 40 cruise missiles. There were high fives in the White House situation room at news of a mangled Saddam being hauled from the rubble. It all turned out to be nonsense, like most military bulletins out of Iraq. The bunker busters all missed the compound. Saddam Hussein wasn’t there. Uday and Qusay weren’t there. Fifteen civilians died, including nine women and a child.

Here I was, a couple of days shy of four years later, in a used paperback store in a mall in Olympia, Washington, flicking through Tina Turner’s side of the story on life with Ike. My cell phone rang. It was my brother Patrick, calling from Sulaimaniyah, three hours drive east through the mountains from the Kurdish capital of Arbil, in northern Iraq. He gave me a brisk précis of the piece he’d file the next day. Every road was lethally dangerous; every Iraqi he met had a ghastly tale to tell of murder, kidnappings, terror-stricken flights, searches for missing relatives. Life was measurably far, far worse for the vast majority of Iraqis than it had been before the 2003 onslaught. He’d talked that day to Kassim Naji Salaman, a truck driver replacing his murdered brother at the wheel of an oil tanker. Salaman was now the sole bread earner for 18 women and children because so many of his male relatives had been killed “I can’t even visit the village where they live,” he told Patrick. “Soldiers or militia or just men in masks might kill me. I don’t even know how to send them money”.

I’ve had many such phone calls from Patrick since March 2003, as he returned time after time to Iraq, either to Baghdad or to the north. Unlike the embedded reporters he’s never felt moved to announce a “turning point”, as when they blew away Uday and Qusay on July 22,2003. CNN’s studio generals said on the news that night it was a big blow to the Iraqi resistance. Then Saddam was hauled out of a hole on December 15, 2003, just in time for Christmas. Maybe the death knell of the resistance, the studio generals exulted. Then came one “new dawn” for Iraq after another: the handback of Iraqi sovereignty in June 2004, the two elections and the new constitution in 2005. Now we have the “surge” into Baghdad, designed to whip the Shi’a back into line.

Contemptuous of all such bulletins, right from the start Patrick has relentlessly described the disintegration of Iraq, by measurements large and small. Remember that 13 years of sanctions ­- a horrible international onslaught of the health and well-being of a civilian population, enthusiatically supported by liberals in the US and Europe ­- Iraq’s plight was already dire. When the war began, Baghdad had 20 hours of power a day. Now it’s down to 2. Not thousands, not tens of thousands, but hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died. Not hundreds of thousands but two million have fled the country, mostly to Syria and Jordan. It’s the largest upheaval of a population in the Middle East since the Palestinian Naqba of 1948. Dawn after dawn rises over Iraq to reveal tortured corpses in the river beds, on the rubbish dumps, by the side of the road: bodies riddled with bullets, punctured by drills, whipped with wire cable, blown apart.

The U.N. says that in the two months before this last Christmas 5,000 Iraqi civilians were killed. The months since have probably been as bad. Saddam dragged his country into ruin. Then the US took it from ruin to the graveyard, plundering the corpse as it did so.

There’s plenty of blame to go round. You’d think these days that the cheerleaders for war were limited to a platoon of neocons, as potent in historical influence as were supposedly the Knights Templar. But it was not so. The coalition of the enablers spread far beyond Cheney’s team and the extended family of Norman Podhoretz. Atop mainstream corporate journalism perch the New York Times and the New Yorker, two prime disseminators of pro-invasion propaganda, written at the NYT by Judith Miller, Michael Gordon and, on the op ed page, by Thomas Friedman. The New Yorker put forth the voluminous lies of Jeffrey Goldberg and has remained impenitent till this day. (continued)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: