FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Mocked When She Flew to Baghdad

by RICHARD NEVILLE

A book recently launched at Sydney University attracted a large audience and scant media attention. At first glance this may not seem surprising, as its author is not a Vogue model, shock jock, porn start or literary giant. She is a Christian; one of an unusual hue. Her faith is expressed in deeds, not platitudes and ghastly hymns. She believes John Howard, Tony Blair, George Bush – all self proclaimed  Christians  – committed  grave crimes with the 2003 shock & awe invasion of Baghdad. She was there – she saw it, she smelled it, she nursed the limbless children in hospitals, their mattresses soaked in blood. Her name is Donna Mulhearn.

Back then, “forty six per cent of Iraq’s population was below the age of sixteen,” Donna writes in her memoir, Ordinary Courage, “this is essentially a war against kids”.  She was right. In 2007,UNICEF reported the number of vulnerable children in Iraq had outstripped the country’s capacity to care for them. Half of Iraq’s four million people who had fled their homes since 2003 were children, most of whom were traumatized.

Not that the media gave a hoot about that. They were too busy stitching up Donna for “supporting  Saddam Hussein”, whom she didn’t support in the slightest.  It was the Australian Wheat Board which supported Saddam, thickly greasing the palms of his entourage, with a nod and a wink from neo-con Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer.

Donna arrived in Baghdad with the goal of doing good. She was part of the derided initiative known as “human shields”, which attracted civilians from numerous countries. Up to 500 shields eventually made their way to Iraq and played a part in protecting non military infrastructure, such as water purifying plants, hospitals and the decrepit telephone exchange. Donna was one of the first to arrive and the last to leave.

Back in Sydney, she was stunned by the media’s hostility. According to her memoir, the usually pleasant ABC drive time host, Richard Glover, treated her as a Saddam cheerleader and bombarded her with accusations. In the eyes of jingoists, she is “a traitor”. Yet her warnings about the impact of the invasion were accurate, much more so than the assurances of politicians. Some recent estimates place Iraqi civilian casualties at over 600,000. About 4 million Iraqis have been displaced, 2 million of them within Iraq and the rest primarily in Syria and Jordan. Over 8000 children are believed to have been permanently disabled. The reason John Howard and his colleagues have not been dragged to the Hague, is because in matters of international law, Australia often ducks its obligation to prosecute.

In September 2004, UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan proclaimed the invasion was not in conformity with the UN Charter. “From our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal”. As far as I am aware, not a single Australian Prime Minister has expressed regret at the scale of slaughter and mayhem unleashed on Iraqi by the unlawful attack and prolonged occupation. The bombs that continue to kill in Baghdad today are no longer triggered by us, but remain a bitter testament of our legacy.

When ‘shock and awe’ hit the heart of Baghdad  and John Howard went to his local Church, Donna Mulhearn and fellow shields huddled inside the city’s Water Treatment plant. Night after night bombs shook the city. “The tremors, the sirens, the fear, the smell of death…”.  In a rare lull, she visits the hospitals: “rows of beds mostly filled with children”. She sees a little girl, Rosul, who has was playing at home when flying shrapnel ripped out pieces of her chest and right arm. “The wounds are deep; the bones in her arm have protruded through her flesh; she has a collapsed lung and internal bleeding….”. On TV the media pundits are touting the joys of ‘precision bombing’.

Although the invaders had little interest in Iraqi civilian casualties, they were well aware that the bombing  human shields could be a PR disaster. The co-ordinates of sites hosting the shields had been sent to Central Command, for which Donna and her colleagues deserve credit. All sites where shields remained in place during the bombings survived intact. No shields were injured. Unlike the hapless US President, the motley crew of peaceniks and pacifists who descended on Baghdad in 2003 could truly say …. Mission Accomplished.

Ordinary Courage, by Donna Mulhearn, is published by
Murdoch Books, Australia.

RICHARD NEVILLE lives in Australia, the land that formed him. In the Sixties he raised hell in London and published Oz. He can be reached through his websites, http://www.homepagedaily.com/ and http://www.richardneville.com.au/

RICHARD NEVILLE lives in Australia, the land that formed him. In the Sixties he raised hell in London and published Oz. He can be reached through his websites, http://www.homepagedaily.com/ and http://www.richardneville.com.au/

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail