Somebody Blew Up Baghdad



And on the sixth day, the Lord gave us a double-digit body count. AP reports an Iraqi Defense official claim that 14 civilians were killed by 2 US cruise missiles that hit the Al-Shaab section of northern Baghdad. As the report puts it, “the area consists of homes and about 30 shops, mostly inexpensive restaurants and auto repair shops.”

Sounds like auto repair is going to be the least of the survivors’ worries. These folks undoubtedly will have funerals to get all gussied up for, and then there’s the ceremonial grabbing for supplies from the outstretched white hand of a US serviceman. And the kissing of Ahmed Chalabi’s ring when he helicopters in with Michael Jackson, Bono, and Chris Hitchens, of course. But, yeah, anyway, a few civilians died for Democracy.

But no one really knows how it happened. Fox News pin-up Geraldo Rivera maintains that they could be US missiles, but blames the whole nasty business on a sandstorm. CentCom is ducking responsibility. Good thing this was just an military mix-up and not, say, a paternity suit. Because “we don’t know that those are ours” rarely flies in court.

But God knows this war isn’t about legalities. This war, like Bush said Wednesday at MacDill AFB in Florida, is all about helping out the “long-suffering Iraqi people.” But this campaign of unabashed generosity, which we here in America call “shock-n-awe”, has run into some obstruction.

Not Tom Daschle type obstruction, where one does a press conference with a flow chart and a weatherman’s pointer and a grimace like the “Before” picture for a Metamucil print advert. No, this here is real obstruction. With guns mounted to pick-up trucks, and the cold, steely determination of natives struggling to repel an unwanted horde of invaders.

Because that’s exactly what American troops are. The mendacious US media can dredge up Iraqi atrocities from the Reagan era all it wants; left unmentioned by them is our role in facilitating a war between Iran and Iraq with no benefits for the people of either country.

Left unmentioned as well, amidst the constant barrage of interviews with retired generals and Presidential pep rallies at military bases, is the fact that this Iraqi war is a result of consistent failures of statesmanship by the Washington government, which clearly lacks the ability to resolve its own conflicts without the use of decisive force.

Two shooting wars in two years of President Bush, Secretary of State Powell, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice, and their policy experts and assorted hangers-on. Two of these, and more to come.

It’s antithetical to the American character, assuming there is still such a thing. The sight of the President at MacDill stumbling through his lines yet again, posing like a tough guy in front of a wall of the sort of poor men and women who die for the rich. Never before has he looked so ill at ease in the role, so much like a CEO running late for his pedicure, as when he confused Afghanistan for Iraq during the speech. Good thing he didn’t say Iran, or Michael Ledeen’s performance bonus would’ve kicked in.

Bush’s lips betrayed him, and those poor soldiers behind him, but enlightened the American people. The twitching form of the Commander-In-Chief suggests that he’s starting to see why folks used to say that war was hell, and that people were better off avoiding fights they weren’t prepared to finish.

Iraqi men, whether regular soldiers or just civilians, don’t miss the symbolism in the US mounting its news models to the hoods of tanks and allowing them to provide play-by-play of the stirring march of Baghdad. They see the casualness with which US talking heads justify an assault on their homeland in its proper context; as an unmistakable, ritualistic humiliation.

For how can it not be humiliating? How many times are we going to be subjected to effectively pornographic images of debased Iraqis before we understand exactly why they are there? They aren’t there to inform us, but to manipulate us. To provide a pretext for an authoritarian imposition of “American idealism” with unprecedented, catastrophic force.

ANTHONY GANCARSKI’s columns run regularly in CounterPunch. Emails are welcome at ANTHONY.GANCARSKI@ATTBI.COM

Yesterday’s Features

Pablo Mukherjee
Watch Their Lips

David Krieger
Shock But Not Awe

Linda Heard
Winning Hearts and Minds Bush—-Style

Imad Jadaa
The Beautiful Face of America

Adam Engel
Buckets of Blood

Patrick Cockburn
Kurds Unimpressed

David Lindorff
POWs, Torture and Hypocrisy

Robert Fisk
The Coup That Didn’t Happen

April Hurley, MD
A Doctor’s Outrage in Baghdad

Gloria Bergen
Chretien’s Shame

Reema Abu Hamdieh
The Smell of Death Surrounds Me

Website of the War
Iraq Body Count

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ANTHONY GANCARSKI is a regular CounterPunch columnist. He can be reached at Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com

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