Saturday, April 16, 2005

What I heard about Iraq

This is a long article. One to read slowly, reflectively. It's one snapshot after another of the war in Iraq - mostly quotes - filled with pathos and irony. One gets a sense of the sweep of war's reality and of the senselessness of this particular war. It's called What I Heard About Iraq by Eliot Weinberger. Here are some samples of what Mr. Weinberger heard:

I heard... a year after the first Gulf war, I heard Dick Cheney, then Secretary of Defense, say that the US had been wise not to invade Baghdad, since it would have meant getting "bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq." I heard him say: "The question in my mind is: How many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is: Not very damned many."

In February 2001, I heard Colin Powell say that Saddam Hussein "has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."

That same month, I heard that a CIA report stated: "We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction programs."

Two months later, I heard Condoleezza Rice say: "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

On September 11, 2001, six hours after the attacks, I heard that Donald Rumsfeld said that it might be an opportunity to "hit" Iraq. I heard that he said: "Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

I heard that Condoleezza Rice asked: "How do you capitalize on these opportunities?"
I heard an American soldier say: "The worst thing is to shoot one of them, then go help him," as regulations require. "Shit, I didn't help any of them. I wouldn't help the fuckers. There were some you let die. And there were some you doubletapped. Once you'd reached the objective, and once you'd shot them and you're moving through, anything there, you shoot again. You didn't want any prisoners of war."

I heard Anmar Uday, the doctor who had cared for Private Jessica Lynch, say; "We heard the helicopters. We were surprised. Why do this? There was no military. There were no soldiers in the hospitals. It was like a Hollywood film. They cried 'Go, go, go,' with guns and flares and the sound of explosions. They made a show - an action movie like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan, with jumping and shouting, breaking down doors. All the time with cameras rolling."

I heard Private Jessica Lynch say: "They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about." I heard her say, about the stories that she had bravely fought off her captors, and suffered bullet and stab wounds: "I'm not about to take credit for something I didn't do." I heard her say, about her dramatic "rescue": "I don't think it happened quite like that."

I heard the Red Cross say that casualties in Baghdad were so high, the hospitals had stopped counting.

We need to know these things. Really we do.

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