FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Pounding the Life Out of a City

I have just witnessed the Reuters video feed of the bombing of Baghdad. What I have seen is a night sky lit by a sea of fire. An eerie illumination that is punctuated only by bursts of flame and brilliant flashes of light followed by mushroom clouds and plumes of smoke as missile after missile pounds the life from this city of 6 million people.

As as I reflect on what these images do not show, human beings being incinerated, bodies blown apart in what some will no doubt regard as a triumphant display of American force, I recall that more than 3 million of Baghdad’s citizens are under the age of 15 years old. I recall the story of a christian missionary in Iraq, an American, now dead, probably, who only this morning mentioned that life and normalcy were beginning to return to the streets of Baghdad.

I think of the images and stories that I have seen and heard of Iraq’s citizens: A bowling champion who gave one of his prized medals to a missionary that I recently met; People selling trinkets on the streets; children standing in food lines; I realize that what I am witnessing is a holocaust. This is my generation’s Dresden. What some people wish that we had done to Hanoi in America’s last unjust war.

And yet some people will hold America blameless for what is happening today in Baghdad. Cognitive dissonance will kick in and some will believe it when they hear that the people who are dying today are not dying at the hands American weapons. They are dying at the hands of Saddam Hussein, who may or may not already be dead himself.

These people will suggest that “everything we could do to avert war has been done”. That these are merely “surgical” strikes. That we are liberating the people of Iraq.

I will remind those people that the first action of this war was to attempt to destroy the leadership of Iraq. To cut Iraqi leaders off from their military.

At the time, I remember thinking that perhaps it was a humanitarian move. I remember thinking that maybe if we just kill Hussein, we will not have to firebomb Baghdad. But now it has dawned on me that one of the consequences of cutting off Iraq’s leadership from its military is that the leadership cannot order a general surrender. By cutting off communications in Baghdad, our leaders have assured its annhilation.

Mass murder masquerading as liberation.

I wonder what I could have done to avert this holocaust. I turn that question over in my head. If only I had been more persuasive in writing to my representatives; If only I had worked harder in the last election; If only I had persuaded more people to advocate Peace; then maybe things would be different.

I am kidding myself, of course. President Bush was never going to be deterred from this war once he had chosen his course of action. Nevertheless, I, like every adult American man and woman, hold a measure of blame for what is happening today in Baghdad. Our tax dollars are financing this slaughter. In the end, all I am left with is a great sense of shame, burden, and sorrow at the suffering and loss of life that I have helped to finance.

SALVADOR PERALTA works at the Mark O. Hatfield Library at Willamette University. He can be reached at: speralta@willamette.edu

 

 

More articles by:
August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omaorosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
Dean Baker
Fact-Checking the Fact-Checker on Medicare-for-All
Weekend Edition
August 10, 2018
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Militarizing Space: Starship Troopers, Same As It Ever Was
Andrew Levine
No Attack on Iran, Yet
Melvin Goodman
The CIA’s Double Standard Revisited
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Grifter’s Lament
Aidan O'Brien
In Italy, There are 12,000 American Soldiers and 500,000 African Refugees: Connect the Dots 
Robert Fantina
Pity the Democrats and Republicans
Ishmael Reed
Am I More Nordic Than Members of the Alt Right?
Kristine Mattis
Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: a Realist’s Perspective on the Environmental Crisis
James Munson
The Upside of Defeat
Brian Cloughley
Pentagon Spending Funds the Politicians
Pavel Kozhevnikov
Cold War in the Sauna: Notes From a Russian American
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail